Trump, allies blame Antifa. They’re looking in the wrong place | Opinion

In whitewashing the Jan. 6 insurrection by comparing it to the Black Lives Matter protests, Trump and his allies may have exposed more white than they intended

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s defenders continually point to the social justice protests that followed George Floyd’s murder as they excuse the mob violence by the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. There’s no doubt police cars were set on fire. officers injured, windows smashed, stores looted and businesses destroyed as protests against police violence erupted across the country. 

Although Trump and his allies point to Antifa, a leaderless collection of anti-fascists as the culprits, the evidence seems to point in another direction.

Leaked documents exposed by The Intercept reveal “law enforcement offices across the country were sharing detailed reports of far-right extremists seeking to attack the protesters and police.” 

Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security issued a report detailing how white supremacists were encouraging followers to capitalize on the unrest by targeting the police with Molotov cocktails and firearms. The document went on to describe how “users of a white supremacist extremist Telegram channel attempted to incite followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo’ — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.”

Vice News reported that right-wing infiltrators, “hardcore ‘accelerationists’ … were encouraging their neo-Nazi followers to go to the protests and carry out acts of violence against Black people.”

Accelerationism is radical white supremacist ideology that believes the best thing white supremacists can do is accelerate the demise of western governments. The goal of accelerationism is to burn everything down by using violence both to target enemies and instigate an overt and extreme response from the government.

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According to the Minneapolis police, the masked, umbrella-wielding man accused of inciting the riots and looting was identified as a member of a white supremacist group that aimed to stir racial tensions amid largely peaceful protests.

“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” a department arson investigator wrote in a search warrant affidavit. “Until the actions of… ‘Umbrella Man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful.”

In Las Vegas, three men who self identified as “boogaloo boys”, a far right group calling for a violent civil war, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to instigate violence at the protests against George Floyd’s murder.

After a night of destructive protests Richmond, Va. Mayor Levar Stoney said white supremacists “marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter,” “spearheaded” the violence.

Even as the evidence that right wing racists were taking advantage of the protests mounted, Trump and his right wing echo chamber focused the blame on Antifa.

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 “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade told his audience he didn’t “see any indication that there were any white supremist [sic] groups mixing in.” and parroted the company line by claiming “This is an Antifa organization. It seems that the first time we saw it in a major way was Occupy Wall Street. It’s the same mindset.” 

In contrast, Howard Graves, senior researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center said “I have not seen evidence of infiltration into the protests on the other side, but I am certainly aware of the far-right trying to leverage these events and cause mass chaos.”

In whitewashing the Jan. 6 insurrection by comparing it to the Black Lives Matter protests, Trump and his allies may have exposed more white than they intended. Apparently, the only thing the two have in common is the participation of Trump supporting, right-wing racists in both.

Chuck Ardo, a retired political consultant in Lancaster, Ohio, previously served as press secretary to former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and as communications director for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. His work appears occasionally on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. 

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Capital-Star Guest Contributor
Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation on how politics and public policy affects the day-to-day lives of people across the commonwealth.