As the nation becomes evermore aware of Antifa activists and the violence they bring with them wherever they rear their masked faces, left-wing college professors seem set on helping the militant left-wing group advance its goals.
Many were shocked last week after Mark Bray, a visiting scholar at Dartmouth College, penned a Washington Post opinion piece in defense of Antifa violence. Bray defended Antifa’s violent tactics designed to “preemptively shut down fascist organizing efforts” on the grounds that “physical violence against white supremacists is both ethically justifiable and strategically effective.”
Bray defended his stance on an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Again he argued that Antifa’s political violence is somehow “self-defense” against “white supremacy and neo-Nazi violence” and “legitimate response.” Bray argued that “what people did in Boston, what people did in Charlottesville.” is the only way to stop white supremacy from “becoming established.”
It appears other campus professors agree. Indeed some are going beyond Bray, not only defending Antifa tactics but also appearing to organize their own Antifa cells.
Last week, Purdue University Professor Bill Mullen and Stanford University Professor David Palumbo-Liu launched the “Campus Antifascist Network” (CAN) — an apparent Antifa network for college kids.
Mullen, a professor of American studies, on Wednesday described CAN as a “big tent” that “welcomes anyone committed to fighting fascism.” Mullen said that the purpose of the group is “to drive racists off campuses.”
Speaking with Inside Higher Education Magazine, Palumbo-Liu — who is a professor of comparative literature — effectively said that feelings are more important than facts. Pointing out that many of Antifa’s targets aren’t actually fascists is “literally an academic argument in the worst sense of the word. We need to pay attention to what is happening, not the labels that we feel are most fitting,” he said.
Georgetown professor Mark Lance, a far-left philosophy professor also seemed to support violence against so-called “fascists” on the grounds that their mere existence is somehow an act of physical aggression. According to Lance, anyone who acknowledges the reality that there were two radical, violent sides involved in the Charlottesville violence is just a lazy person who doesn’t understand the “fascist” threat.
“If you find yourself thinking that there is something to these comments of Trump’s about “both sides,” if you want to pick apart what you take to be bad behavior by anti-nazi protesters …, if you want to condemn people putting their lives on the line in the streets because they aren’t sufficiently focused on kindness and light, then I think you should seriously consider the possibility that what is actually motivating you is a desire to find an excuse not to do any real work,” Lance wrote in a post on Facebook published on April 16.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner the next day, Lance predicted that — far from rejecting Antifa violence — the radical group would become part and parcel of the mainstream progressive left. “I’m seeing more concrete productive discussion between anti-fascists and others on the Left these days than ever before in my life,” Lance told the Examiner.
“There is reason to think that it will become integrated into an emerging coalition that includes Sanders supporters, democratic socialists, dreamers, the Movement for Black Lives, environmentalists, [and] Native American organizers,” he continued.
Several academics have shown they believe they are engaged in some sort of noble struggle.
The most obvious evidence of this is the case of Eric Clanton, a former professor of philosophy at a number of colleges including Diablo Valley College and East Bay community college, who is facing charges for assaulting someone with a bike lock and chain during in the midst of violence that broke out during a rally at the Berkeley college campus in April. Video footage appears to show Clanton intentionally swinging the lock-and-chain at a pro-Trump activist and smashing him in the head with it.
Last week, however, Clanton launched a defense website, in which he portrays himself as a victim, even appearing to suggest he was framed, and makes no reference whatsoever to why he is facing prison in the first place.
“My name is Eric,” he wrote. “I’m currently facing years of prison time as the result of accusations made in the most shockingly hateful parts of the internet. On April 19th I began being targeted by a dedicated swarm of internet trolls known for spewing racism, xenophobia, and misogyny onto the web,” he said.
(photo credit, homepage image: C64-92, Flickr; photo credit, article image: Jake Mohan)