I don’t know whether Andy Ngo is a brave journalist striving to bring us the facts about dangerous left-wing extremists, or a vile fascist seeking to enable the far right and foment hatred against minorities. I can’t decide, because both of these claims are being made online by the kind of people I wouldn’t trust to reliably inform me of whether water is wet. What I am sure about is that the band of masked Antifa activists who beat Ngo up in Portland a few days ago are, without question, dumb as bricks.
You don’t necessarily have to deplore Antifa violence to accept this proposition, although I equally think that you don’t necessarily have to believe a person is pure as the driven snow to think that beating them up is the wrong thing to do. But even if you think that, on a moral level, the leftie protesters who surrounded the rightie journalist, threw milkshakes and punched and kicked him, were completely justified, the conclusion that they were also incredibly stupid is hard to escape.
You can pretty much discern this via the common defence offered for their actions: that attacking Ngo was fine because “he wanted to be attacked”. You see, Ngo goes out to film Antifa activities because he wants to provoke confrontations. He wants to be assaulted so he can catch it on camera and make Antifa look bad.
Now, if you think that’s the case…how deeply moronic would you have to be to give the guy exactly what he wants? How half-witted a gaggle of cretins, to say, “This man just wants to make us look bad”, and in response to helpfully make his job as easy as possible?
Because that’s all Antifa have done here. There are no burgeoning alt-right fascists out there reconsidering their life choices because of the assault on Ngo. But there are surely plenty of observers looking at the video of the attack, and the photos of Ngo’s injuries, and coming to a very definite conclusion about who the bad guys are here. As a rule of thumb, a large group of masked men beating up a solitary dude with a camera is never going to play well to the peanut gallery, and this is no exception.
This applies even if you do think Ngo is nothing but a lying Nazi working on behalf of white supremacists. In fact, it probably applies even more if you think that, given how strongly the right likes to push the narrative that they’re the victims and that the left are the violent, irrational ones. For anyone trying to convince the public that Antifa are mindless thugs rather than gutsy defenders of the oppressed, Antifa have themselves just provided a massive free kick.
You can call them freedom fighters if you like, but you sure can’t call them smart.