Quantcast
Connect with us

Ted Cruz’s dangerous resolution suggests that all forms of political dissent could soon be considered terrorism

Published

on

- Commentary

Last week, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Ted Cruz  of Texas introduced a resolution to designate “antifa,” which the Anti-Defamation League defines as “a loose collection of groups, networks, and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements,” as a “domestic terrorist organization.”

ADVERTISEMENT

This article was originally published at Salon

In fact, antifa is a constellation of many different activist groupings, with no official leader or clear hierarchy. As the New York Times has noted, its membership count is “impossible to know.” That didn’t stop the two Republican senators from claiming that “Antifa are terrorists, violent masked bullies who ‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism, protected by Liberal privilege.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” traces its ideological roots to 1920s and 1930s Germany and supposes that if people had opposed the Nazi Party more aggressively, Adolf Hitler might never have come to power. The ADL reports that many people who act within antifa are anarchist or very left-wing, but that “since Trump’s election, some people with more mainstream political backgrounds have also joined their ranks.”

In their resolution, Cruz and Cassidy reference the “violent demonstrations” on June 29 in Portland, Oregon, where writer right-wing Alex Ngo was assaulted while covering an antifa protest against the “far-right nationalist” group known as the Proud Boys.

After the incident, Cruz called for a federal criminal investigation of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat who is also the police commissioner of the city.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Cruz and Cassidy also point to antifa activists occupying the areas outside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices, as well as posting the personal information of ICE officials online.

But the Republican senators’ resolution is little more than a political stunt.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cruz and Cassidy’s resolution, which is entirely non-binding, won’t actually change U.S. law — because there is no existing law to change. The Patriot Act defines domestic terrorism as criminal activity that appears intended to “intimidate or coerce” civilians or influence government policy using violent methods. But, domestic terrorism is not a specific crime under U.S. law. Labeling a group as domestic terrorists give federal law enforcement broader powers to conduct investigations of other crimes, but does not itself define any criminal activities. criminal make. Furthermore, since antifa isn’t a singular group, as mentioned above, its definition under this resolution is unclear.

The designation of what “groups” are called terrorist, domestic terrorist or hate groups is extremely loose. For instance, the Pulse Nightclub shooter was charged with terrorism, while the Ku Klux Klan is legally considered a “hate group,” not a domestic terror organization. And while the federal government keeps a list of foreign terrorist groups, there is no public list of domestic terrorist groups.

Some outlets have thought it worthy to equate the confrontational tactics of antifa to political violence on the far-right. But as the ADL has pointed out, “To date, there have been no Antifa related murders,” yet “right-wing extremists” have “ murdered hundreds of people in this country over the last ten years alone.”

Just last week, James Alex Fields Jr., an avowed neo-Nazi, was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years for the violent assault he committed during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fields deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring several others.

ADVERTISEMENT

Free speech activists have expressed concerns that the Cruz-Cassidy resolution could set a precedent for more groups to be labeled domestic terrorist organizations.  As National Observer reporter Caroline Orr noted, Cruz’s resolution uses the terms “antifa” and “left-wing activists” interchangeably. Most dangerously, it suggests that all manner of dissent could be considered terrorism.

Cruz’s move looks to be a transparent attempt to saddle congressional Democrats with a divisive political debate, declaring themselves either against antifa or in support of it, invariably alienating some of the party’s supporters ahead of a critical presidential election.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Commentary

Trump unleashes yet another maddening scandal as he opens the door to Saudi Arabian interference

Published

on

I don’t often talk about how mad I am. I don’t often talk about how mad I am, because talking often about how mad I am prevents me from speaking clearly and rationally. I want to speak clearly and rationally. There is so much need for speaking clearly and rationally amid the endless streams of waste and filth polluting our public discourse.

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

But I can’t speak clearly and rationally at the expense of morality. Morality often begins with a feeling. The Gospels tell us of Jesus looking on the poor—he could hear and smell their misery—and he was “moved with pity.” But another way of putting it, another way of translating σπλαγχνισθεὶς, is that the rabbi felt compassion “in his guts.

Continue Reading

Commentary

What the Trump impeachment inquiry means for the rest of the world

Published

on

Once again, the United States is experiencing the profound drama of Presidential impeachment proceedings. But, dissimilar from the past, this time the implications for the rest of the world could be large.

Consider the two modern predecessors to today’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump’s attempt to persuade Ukraine’s government to begin a criminal investigation of one of his leading Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.

The first was the slow-brewing crisis that began with a midnight break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972. This impeachment went on for two years and consumed the American political system. It finally ended in President Richard Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. The second was the special counsel investigation of President William J. Clinton, who was impeached in the U.S. House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate in 1999.

Continue Reading
 

Commentary

Cynicism may be the real threat to impeachment

Published

on

Cynicism is to democratic politics what rust is to motor vehicles. Both are corrosive if left unchecked. Rust will destroy a vehicle, and cynicism, if it becomes endemic, will ultimately destroy democracy.

This thought struck me after some recent conversations with a few friends and acquaintances about the possible impeachment of President Trump. The cynical view of the process is that all politicians are corrupt in one way or another; they act based on self-interest and not in the public interest. In this view, Trump is no different; he is just doing what politicians do. This type of public cynicism may very well be the greatest impediment that Democrats face during the impeachment process. As David Brooks recently wrote in the New York Times, “it’s a lot harder to do impeachment in an age of cynicism, exhaustion and distrust” especially when Trump’s actions are viewed by many as “the kind of corruption that politicians of all stripes have been doing all along.”

Continue Reading