News & Politics

SPLC Leads Cuomo, DeBlasio in Condemning Proud Boys 'Hate' but Ignoring Antifa in NYC Brawl

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones via AP)

A brawl erupted Friday night between members of the violent group Proud Boys and Antifa. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-Left group that brands mainstream conservatives as “hate groups,” focused on the Proud Boys and ignored the violence of Antifa, leading New York’s liberal Democrats to do the same.

The SPLC has branded the Proud Boys a “hate group” and largely ignored the violence of Antifa, branding the masked thugs “protesters.” The brawl took place after Gavin McInnes gave a speech featuring a plastic sword, re-enacting the execution of a Japanese socialist.

The Proud Boys is an organization dedicated to championing maleness and Western Civilization in a culture that increasingly demonizes both. Tragically, the organization encourages violence as a means for members to prove their manhood. Conservatives should condemn this tactic, just as liberals should condemn the tactics of Antifa. Proud Boys members have appeared at white nationalist rallies, although the organization has insisted that it does not support such views. The SPLC identified some of the Proud Boys thugs Friday as “skinheads,” known white supremacists.

Sadly, the SPLC presented the clashes as entirely the fault of the Proud Boys, reporting Tuesday that “Those who were beaten appeared to be people who’d shown up to protest the event, although the attacks took place blocks away from the club.”

While the SPLC linked to a bystander’s video showing Proud Boys members beating up Antifa thugs, neither the SPLC report Saturday nor the one published Tuesday makes any mention of the N.Y.P.D. video showing masked Antifa thugs hurling a bottle at the Proud Boys before the fight ensued. While Proud Boys were rushing at Antifa, they may have started the fight.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, Antifa robbed one of the Proud Boys members, and police arrested Antifa thugs in connection with the robbery. According to the SPLC, police arrested Antifa activists but not members of the “hate group.” By reporting the situation this way, the SPLC suggested that New York police were biased in favor of the “hate group” and against the innocent “protesters.”

Naturally, this one-sided view came out in statements from liberal politicians. The SPLC praised six New York politicians for echoing their concerns about the “hate group.” Like the SPLC, the politicians conveniently forgot about Antifa.

“The bottom line is that I hold the President responsible for demonizing differences, fanning the flames of racism and division and creating a fire of hatred and violence,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement calling the FBI to launch a “hate crimes” investigation into the incident. His statement referenced the SPLC’s “hate group” label but left out any mention of Antifa.

“These vile acts of racism, division and discrimination are repugnant to American values, and have no place in our state,” Cuomo added. “Why did this club invite the Proud Boys, a hate group with a history of inciting violence? Do you believe they have a positive contribution to the political dialogue at this time?”

In order for a crime to be considered a “hate crime” under New York law, a specific offense must be committed “targeting a victim because of a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.” The SPLC reported that Proud Boys members yelled, “Faggot!” and “He was a f*cking foreigner!”

Even so, this clash involved Left-wing Antifa thugs fighting Right-wing violent thugs. It seems less a case of violence targeted against someone due to national origin or sexual orientation and more a case of partisan violence between angry activists.

Cuomo was far from the only Democrat who condemned the Proud Boys without mentioning Antifa. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood tweeted, “I’m disturbed and disgusted by last night’s attacks involving the so-called ‘Proud Boys.’ Hate has no place in New York.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the N.Y.P.D. is “fully investigating” the “attack involving the Proud Boys.” He added that “hate is never welcome in NYC and we will punish those responsible — whether they threw punches or incited violence — to the fullest extent of the law.”

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, the second-highest elected official in the city, unloaded on the Proud Boys. “I am disturbed and disgusted by the videos I’ve seen of members of the neo-fascist, white supremacist Proud Boys group engaging in hate-fueled mob violence on the streets of New York City,” James declared in a statement.

“New York will not become the next Charlottesville, and we refuse to let the actions of a hateful few define our City,” she added. “Given the clear homophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments expressed in the videos, I strongly encourage Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to pursue hate crime charges in this matter.”

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a gay man who has gone public with his HIV diagnosis, retweeted an SPLC tweet adding, “New York City will not tolerate this kind of hate. Hate is not welcome here.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer tweeted, “The NYPD must fully investigate this weekend’s abhorrent & hateful Proud Boys attack in the Upper East Side.”

None of these public officials mentioned Antifa, who according to the N.Y.P.D. video may have started the brawl by throwing a glass bottle.

The violence of the Proud Boys has no place in public discourse, and neither does the violence of Antifa. In today’s culture of demonizing men and Western Civilization, the Proud Boys stand for important things, but conservatives must stand firm against political violence.

Tragically, the SPLC redefines Antifa thugs as mere “protesters” while branding the violent Proud Boys more than just thugs but a “hate group.” At least six prominent New York Democrats echoed their rhetoric, ignoring the presence and violence of Antifa.

New York may investigate this clash as a “hate crime” perpetrated by the Proud Boys, but it is actually something far worse. This political violence is a clash between true believers: where Antifa is willing to throw bottles and the Proud Boys are willing to keep beating up Antifa thugs while they’re down.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) warned in his new book “Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal,” that as Americans lose their close personal connections, they are seeking deeper meaning in politics. They turn politics into a battle between good and evil.

Both Antifa and the Proud Boys are doing this. Antifa sees everyone on the Right as a fascist, and the SPLC helps this view by redefining mainstream groups “hate groups.” The Proud Boys rightly see cultural trends against men and against Western Civilization, but they choose violence in pushing back — and their willingness to welcome white supremacists is very concerning.

This kind of political violence is arguably a small civil war based on demonizing opponents. The SPLC has long egged on this kind of demonization that leads to violence, and its “hate map” inspired a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C.

If the SPLC wants to be taken seriously, it should accept the fact that if the Proud Boys is a “hate group” — a dubious position — then Antifa certainly is also a “hate group.” Unfortunately, it seems Democrats are quite willing to repeat the SPLC’s one-sided attacks.

Americans who support civility must condemn this kind of rhetoric. Political violence is a scourge on both sides, and both sides must condemn it.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.