It’s truly extraordinary to observe the way that the left tries to justify, blame, or excuse the violence that has been rocking major U.S. cities since June.
There’s the old fallback, employed by the likes of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden–blaming Trump, who has done nothing but denounce the violence, overtly, since day one.
There’s the outright endorsement of the violence as an effective means of pushing back against “oppression,” pointed to over the weekend by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Then there’s the wild, backward approach taken by an adjunct Harvard professor writing for the MIT publication Technology Review, which blames the riots on…those who are documenting them.
The piece, “How an overload of riot porn is driving conflict in the streets,” has the inflammatory subtitle, “Weak organization forced right-wing agitators to rely on video and social media. Now they have a machine to spread a narrative of lawless rioting.”
I’m sorry, when you have video flooding social media of hoards of black-clad, masked agitators looting, setting fires, assaulting strangers, hurling objects at police officers, and covering property with their stupid grafitti, this isn’t a narrative.
This is a news story.
And it’s one that the mainstream media has been all but ignoring (except to briefly assure the public the “protests” are “firey but peaceful.”)
The author, Joan Donovan, declares:
Since June, right-wing media makers have recorded and circulated videos of violent altercations at protests in cities including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. Fed into a media ecosystem with an established bias toward highlighting violence and rioting, the videos have mobilized white militia and vigilante groups to take up arms against Black Lives Matter and “antifa” protesters. This feedback circuit has created a self-fulfilling cycle where white vigilantes feel justified in menacing and physically attacking racial justice protesters—and inspire others to do the same.
Setting aside the almost laughable fact that she thinks its any kind of trend that white vigilantes are out there attacking racial justice protesters (you know if it was, we’d be hearing about it every single moment on every single cable news channel till kingdom come), it’s extraordinary that this esteemed academic actually thinks the problem is that right-wingers are documenting the riots, instead of the fact that they’re actually happening.
As a scholar of social movements and media studies, I see an alarming split between the types of content consumed by right-wing reactionaries and left-wing social justice advocates. Given the way media accounts shape public perceptions about protest and define who has recourse to the “legitimate use of violence,” the kinds of content shared within these hyperpartisan media systems play a powerful yet often invisible role in mobilizing white vigilante groups. If social-media companies do not act swiftly to stop calls for violence against protesters, the situation can only get worse.
Amazing! She marvels at the difference between the media consumed by those on the right and the left, yet only seems interested in this virtually-mythical “white vigilante” reaction to the media they consume.
What about the violent rioters, who are being arrested in droves, harassing strangers while they dine in Rochester, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C.?
How many incidents of widespread looting and arson have there been in the wake of George Floyd’s death? How many police departments have been working overtime trying to quell the violence?
Journalists Andy Ngo and Julio Rosas, two out of a small handful of reporters who are willing to hit the ground and document the ongoing unrest, are each a far cry from white vigilante sympathizers (remember, they called George Zimmerman of the Trevon Martin case a “white Hispanic”).
Ngo, the gay son of immigrants who identifies as left-of-center, has been documenting Antifa violence for years and has even testified to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate on his experience.
If you’ve followed his content for any length of time, you’ll know the majority of his reporting involves simply uploading video of Antifa violence to Twitter with brief explanations as to what is happening.
Ngo is a good, old-fashioned reporter who is chasing the facts–a vocation that seems to be dying in our hyper-partisan media culture of today.
As the publication, he writes for, The Post-Millenial, notes, despite being assaulted by members of Antifa who recognized him during one of their “protests” last year (long before COVID or George Floyd’s death, of course), Democrat lawmakers Sen. Maize Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) maligned him during his testimony.
Hirono famously refused to condemn the terrorist organization, and she and Nadler both refuse to acknowledge it even exists.
Wow. Antifa apologist senator Mazie Hirono just walked out of the senate after refusing to denounce Antifa!pic.twitter.com/BfmK38H8Rm
— Support Independent Media (@BarrettWilson6) August 4, 2020
As PM explains, “Mainstream media wants this to be true, Donovan appears to want this to be true. But it’s a lie, and all of these efforts put into trying to tell the American people that the violence and rioting is merely a small portion of the unrest rocking the nation today are doing more harm to leftist ideas and candidates than they are to those on the right.”
“Donavan’s argument that media is to blame for the clashes and violence is an attempt to maintain a narrative that paints rioters as heroic protestors and anyone who opposes their tactics as the enemy.”