There was a Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday morning downtown in my home city of Waterbury. Later that afternoon a group blocked the interstate that runs through the center of the city. The police arrested 28.
The next day’s edition of the (Waterbury) Republican-American featured several photos of people being arrested for disrupting the highway. They are almost entirely young white persons. Antifa indeed.
These were two different events held by two different groups. People who wish to divide this country want you to believe otherwise. Some of you are taking the bait. Don’t do it.
BLM and Antifa
The Black Lives Matter protest in Waterbury was led by Jalia West, a young woman who is a recent graduate of UConn’s nursing program. See the mutual admiration that Jalia and the Waterbury Police Department have for one another here. See Jalia’s rejection of the second protest here.
Trump is right to label Antifa a domestic terrorist organization after this weekend’s riots. The Left disapproves. But it was the Left that wanted to do the same thing last summer to people on the Right after the El Paso shooting.
It’s been less than a year, but who even remembers that now? Who remembers how the Left jumped on a summer of mass shootings to declare domestic gun groups the equivalent of foreign terrorists? Who remembers how only those shootings that fit the narrative stayed in the media spotlight? Who now remembers that just this past January Senate Democrats in our state legislature wanted a new police department to combat only “right wing” hate crimes and violent extremism?
That was quite the narrative the Left was foisting on the country. And, just as he has on so many other occasions, Trump just stole it out from under them. And, just as in those other occasions, he was right to do so.
In terms of lethality, guys like the El Paso shooter are (thus far) much worse than Antifa. But they tend to be lone nuts who spent too much time on the internet. By contrast, if you’re looking for an extremist ideological conspiracy fomenting attacks on our nation, Antifa fits the bill, especially after this past weekend. And remember, it was the Democrats who were in the market for a domestic terror threat to organize against.
What We Can Do
Some concrete steps. Back in his day, Bobby Kennedy joked that he wasn’t worried about the Communist Party USA because every third member was an undercover FBI agent. Today’s FBI ought to do the same to Antifa. Take a break from serving the Deep State coup against Trump and do something useful for your country for a change, FBI.
Are the Antifa members too young to pull it off? Find young-looking agents. If our space program and cell phones can take a cue from Star Trek, why can’t our law enforcement take a cue from 21 Jumpstreet?
That’s the first thing to do. Here’s the second. When Islamists stage a terrorist attack, peaceful Muslims are told they must do more against the violent extremists within their community. After this weekend, the same should be said to the Left about Antifa. Democrats must be made to disown it. Other activist groups should disavow them, as Black Lives Matter has done here in Waterbury.
The Left should give Antifa, and similarly violent entities, no quarter. Some of their own causes, like the legitimate grievances of African-Americans, are Antifa’s first victims. An obvious-no-brainer-low-hanging-fruit of an issue like the death of George Floyd has been turned into a discussion about riots.
We all, whatever our politics, will unite in opposition to that. The Left wants Americans talking about racial justice? Here was the perfect chance. But now almost everyone’s gone back to their corners and back to throwing insults at each other. African-Americans will be the first to recognize that Antifa hasn’t done them any favors.
The Republicans’ Need
Finally, the Republicans are in dire need of a new strategy in the matter of minorities in general. After Muslims were massacred in New Zealand, I attended a rally the local Muslim community held here in Waterbury. Speakers expressing solidarity with them in their time of mourning were entirely of the Left: anti-gun activists, Trump haters, etc. All the local politicos were Democrats.
And honestly, even if a Connecticut Republican were there, what would he say? Our last candidate for governor ran on a platform of repealing the state income tax and nothing else. That won’t mean much to the guy worried about his family being killed back in Yemen. Even if liberals are the real racists, as I wrote here a few days ago, mainstream conservatives haven’t shown the concern for racism that would win friends among African-Americans.
Likewise, when my friend Austin Ruse tagged me yesterday with a study from a few years ago purporting to show no racial disparity in lethal acts of police brutality, and a long back-and-forth ensued between him and my colleague Christina Bennett, I had the same thoughts as I did at the Muslim rally. Even if those stats are true (and I’m not sure they are, overall) Candace Owens-style talking points will win even less, not more, votes to the GOP. And, therefore, to the causes guys like Austin and I fight for.
People who say “Believe my statistic and not your own lying eyes, what about Chicago, what about the black family, etc.” will not help, especially in response to those with whom we have the most in common in the African-American community. Better to start with what we share with those who are our allies in the community, most especially the deep well of faith among African-Americans, and build out from there. That means listening to the stories they tell, as David Mills has written here on The Stream.
As we did in the fight for traditional marriage, we need to be right there in the community. We can’t be folks ready with social media talking points to say it ain’t so whenever an incident causes an uptick in concerns about racism. That is something I am seeing all up and down my Facebook newsfeed.
Social conservatives were doing a better job in making these connections some fifteen years ago than we are right now. The more the old (pre-Obergerfell) fight for marriage is in the rearview mirror, the more we forgot the need to stay close to minority communities. We need to remember it again. To do that, we need to show a true commitment — which is also a genuinely Christian and conservative commitment — to their interests and concerns.
Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut Action. He lives in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife and their seven children. The views expressed on The Stream are solely his own.