Trump’s compulsion could get Americans killed | Editorial

Posted Jun 18, 2020

On May 31, a peaceful group of 200 marched to protest the death of George Floyd in tiny Oregon town of Klamath Falls. They were met by hundreds of townsfolk armed with guns and bats chanting “Go home” and “U-S-A.”

The march was no different than those happening in hundreds of American towns, but this one occurred just hours after the circulation of a Facebook post that read, “There are two buses heading this way from Portland, full of ANTIFA members and loaded with bricks. Their intentions are to come to Klamath Falls, destroy it, and murder police officers.”

Another post warned that Antifa is coming to “burn everything and to kill white people, basically.”

Antifa never showed up. In fact, throughout the last three weeks, there has been virtually no sign of the diffuse militant group in any of the protests throughout the country.

So how do you suppose this myth has begun? And why have similar calls to arms been reported in dozens of places from the Midwest to the Pacific coast, even though there is scant evidence of any Antifa involvement at all?

Time’s up: While most people regard these protests as a call for racial justice, President Trump — who uses fear and paranoia as his governing principles — sees Antifa phantoms, determined to bring chaos to your village.

It is an addled and dangerous interpretation of this solemn American moment. But if the aim is to elicit panic with misinformation, Trump is succeeding, because his narrative is circulating wildly through the digital whisper networks and fake media accounts, inciting vigilantism from Evansville, Ind., to Snohomish, Wash.

Trump uses Antifa as a buzzword, a policy driver, and a campaign fundraiser. He has even tried to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization, even though Antifa isn’t an organization; it is a vaguely defined group of protesters without centralized leadership or a defined structure, which has emerged in opposition to far right groups such as neo-Nazis. As its name suggests, it is anti-fascist, and it does engage in violence — just very little of it since Floyd was murdered.

Trump even suggested that the 75-year-old man put in the hospital by the Buffalo police was an “Antifa provocateur,” tweeting that “he fell harder than pushed…could be a setup?”

Attorney General William Barr climbed aboard, claiming that the organized protests had Antifa fingerprints and that the Justice Department is investigating “certain individuals that relate to Antifa.” Administration wannabes like Sen. Tom Cotton played along, stating in his controversial New York Times op-ed that the real danger is “cadres of left-wing radicals like Antifa.”

Pure mendacity.

As early as June 2, The Nation obtained an FBI report about the DC-area protests that indicated its Washington field office “has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence.”

And last week, the Washington Post had nine reporters review 13,000 arrests made by federal and local officials in dozens of cities, and found that the arrest records “make virtually no mention of Antifa. Law enforcement officials who had braced for the purported invasion of Antifa militants. . . .acknowledge the threat has not appeared.”

The president’s piffle and fake social media accounts, however, terrify the yokels to stock up on ammo in anticipation of an Antifa incursion where peaceful protests are planned.

Nobody pretends that Trump can unite the country anymore. Even before the despicable use of force in Lafayette Square — where he ordered priests to be gassed so that he can stage a photo op with a bible — this administration wasn’t exactly marching in step with the rest of the world, so it always needs a bogeyman.

But the absence of Antifa’s influence on these protests is a profound reminder of how many people have been beckoned to this march for racial justice. Trump clearly doesn’t care, just as he doesn’t care about putting lives at risk.

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