On Tuesday, August 4, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas chaired a U.S. Senate hearing that was named “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.” The far-right Republican, during the hearing, claimed that “anarchist violence” and Antifa have been out of control at the George Floyd protests. Journalist Natasha Lennard, in an article published by The Intercept on August 5, dissects Cruz’ “political theater” and lays out some reasons why the hearing was a embarrassing farce.
During the hearing, Lennard notes, Cruz slammed Democrats for failing to condemn the “terrorists” and “Antifa” members who killed federal security officer Dave Patrick Underwood in Oakland in late May. Problem: the man who is facing murder charges for the fatal shooting of Underwood, Steven Carrillo, has nothing whatsoever to do with Antifa. Rather, federal law enforcement, NBC News has reported, believe that Carrillo is connected to the racist far-right Boogaloo movement. Robert Justus, Carrillo’s alleged accomplice, has been charged with murder.
Discussing Cruz’ misleading claims, Lennard explains, “Cruz’s implication was clear: the left killed Underwood. Right-wing extremists have carried out 329 murders since 1994. In the same period, a grand total of zero murders have been attributed to Antifa participants. Yet Underwood was killed by a member of the far right — one of 329 murders carried out by right-wing extremists since 1994. In the same period, a grand total of zero murders have been attributed to Antifa participants….. (Carrillo) is an open adherent of the boogaloo movement, which is aimed at hastening a second civil war.”
Lennard points out that Sen. Dick Durban of Illinois tried to set Cruz straight about Carillo’s political views, but facts were not the senator’s concern.
“Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., pointed out Cruz’s error after the Texas Republican’s first mention of Underwood, noting that the killer was on the far right,” Lennard explains. “This did not stop Cruz raising the killing again later in the hearing, once again within the context of a blustering speech about Antifa. The hearing was just the latest stage for baseless overtures on the threat of the far left. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, made numerous attempts to change the afternoon’s focus onto a more worthy target — deadly white supremacist violence — to little avail.”
According to Lennard, even the testimony of a former FBI agent during the hearing did not sway Cruz from making wildly misleading claims.
Lennard writes, “One of the few voices of reason throughout the afternoon, Michael German — a former FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice — noted the ‘sensationalized’ focus on the far left has ‘distracted from focus on the deadly threats’ posed by the far right. ‘As a matter of policy, far-right violence is deprioritized,’ German said.”
Another important point is that Cruz, like so many other far-right Republicans, tends to lump Antifa and anarchists together. But in fact, Antifa (which is short for anti-fascist) are not anarchists have nothing to do with the anarchist Black Bloc movement. Antifa and the Black Bloc are totally separate movements.
Lennard, describing Cruz as a “racist police apologist,” also points out that Cruz “closed the proceedings with a frenzied tirade about the dangers of Black Lives Matter — purported criticisms that bear no repeating.”