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.”
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.”
Antifa is a terrorist organization composed of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their extreme agenda through aggressive violence. Time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their central purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) July 18, 2019
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.
To federal law enforcement: investigate & bring legal action against a Mayor who has, for political reasons, ordered his police officers to let citizens be attacked by domestic terrorists. https://t.co/5xyCDARICl https://t.co/c0Tf3SsKEf
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 30, 2019
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.
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.
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.
Another blue wave? This expert says it just might happen
In July 2018, the most widely respected analysts were decidedly uncertain whether the Democrats could retake the House. On July 6, Cook Political Report, for example, listed 180 seats as "solid" for Democrats, with 12 likely/lean and 3 "toss-up or worse." If the Democrats won all of those and the 22 GOP-held seats described as "toss-ups" — they'd still be one seat short of a majority, at 217.
This article first appeared in Salon.
It’s not Democrats who are making guns a political issue: It’s all the dead bodies
We can’t keep up. We can’t keep up with the lies, we can’t keep up with the racism, we can’t keep up with the anti-immigrant hysteria, we can’t keep up with the firings and resignations, we can’t keep up with the flat-out lunacy, but most of all, we can’t keep up with the dead bodies.
In a single week, between Sunday, July 28, and Saturday, Aug. 3, there were three separate mass shootings in this country. In Gilroy, California, at a popular garlic festival, a man wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying an AK-47 style assault rifle, killed three people and wounded 13. Two of the dead and several of the wounded were children. The shooter had six high-capacity magazines in his possession: one was a drum magazine holding 75 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, and the other five held 40 rounds. He had bought the AK-47 and ammunition just three weeks before he opened fire on the festival goers.
Fox contributor suggests Medicare for All would increase mass shootings
On Friday's Fox and Friends, Fox contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy suggested that Medicare for All would increase the likelihood of mass shootings by lowering access to mental health care.
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) noted the lack of mental health care in his state, noting that if mass shooters got the treatment they need, they might not go on murderous rampages.
"And I would just say, Medicare for All is going to make that worse. You're going to have less reimbursement for people in the mental health profession," Campos-Duffy said.
"We already have a shortage of that. So, if you're worried about mental health -- which we should be -- in light of all those events that we're seeing, then we really should consider, what will Medicare for All do to our mental health services?"