When is it fine for an all-white gang to assault an Asian American in broad daylight? When he’s a conservative journalist. Where is it fine to do this? Portland, Ore. How do you do it? By all means necessary.
The footage of Andy Ngo being ganged up on by black-clad, masked protesters in Portland shows the truth behind the cool slogans of radical chic. Ngo, a physically slight man, is punched in the face, has what appears to be a rock thrown at him when his back is turned, and is doused in milkshakes that, Portland police believe, contained cement mix, which can cause skin burns. It looks like a racist assault, but it’s alright, because they’re attacking a ‘fascist’.
‘Fuck you, Andy Ngo,’ one of his male assailants shouts.
‘Fucking owned, bitch,’ adds another member of this group that boasts of its egalitarian and feminist principles.
‘What’s the matter with Portland?’ Andy Ngo asked in Spectator USA last November, after being insulted and intimidated while he tried to cover an earlier Antifa demo. ‘Why did I, a Vietnamese-American gay journalist, receive this reaction from a self-described anti-racist social justice movement?’
The answer, Ngo wrote, was that he has tried to report honestly on Antifa — which, as Ngo wrote last year, is a ‘far-left movement of communists, socialists, and anarchists who agitate for revolution’, and who revel in ritualized violence against their enemies. If Ngo is not with them, he must be against them. And if he is against them, then he is a ‘fascist’ and deserves what he gets.
This is the logic of ‘By all means necessary’, the moronic line coined by Malcolm X, and familiar from the Malcolm X t-shirts issued to liberal white Humanities’ students on their first day in graduate school. Typically, the t-shirt shows Malcolm X, carbine in hand, peering out of a window as he tries to protect his family. Not against white racists, but against his fellow radicals, the sectarians of the Nation of Islam who would eventually murder him.
The story behind that image, and the false impression given it is reproduced without context, tells us everything we already know, or should know by now, about the radical fetish for violence. The revolution is built on a dream of purgative violence, and eventually it eats its children. Given America’s long history of political killings, it’s appalling, though not especially surprising, that those with a soft spot for Antifa’s cult of righteous violence appear to be justifying the assault on Ngo — rather than decrying it as an assault on his constitutional rights, and on what remains of America’s civic culture.
‘Looks you like were attacked by a small family of pigeons,’ quipped Parker Molloy of ‘the nation’s premier progressive watchdog’, Media Matters. Looking forward to more one-liners from her about the KKK.
Charlie Warzel, who writes for the New York Times, says that ‘the situation is fucked’ — he won’t say who by — and that ‘violence should be unacceptable’. Not ‘violence is unacceptable’, but violence is conditionally unacceptable — which is to say, acceptable under certain circumstances.
‘There are also serious risks involved with putting yourself in volatile situations,’ Warzel concludes. ‘Any journalist should know that.’ So Andy Ngo got what was coming because he wasn’t enough of a journalist for the legacy media, and was asking for it because he went to a bar in a short skirt.
C.J. Werleman, who has been accused of plagiarism in the past, falsely accused Ngo on Twitter of being ‘one of the leading amplifiers of Islamophobia’ in the US and, again falsely, accused Ngo, who happens to be the son of a Vietnamese immigrant, of participating in ‘white supremacist instigated violence’. The implication being that Ngo got what was coming to him.
Werleman also accuses Ngo of promoting Proud Boys events. The basis for this accusation is a tweet in which Ngo reported that he had been informed of the Proud Boys’ march: ‘Source w/knowledge tells me Proud Boys hosting event in downtown Portland on June 29 — almost exactly one year after the “Battle of Portland.” Unknown if antifa will show up to fight again.’ Ngo attached a clip showing violence from last year’s rally.
Rather than ‘promoting’ the Proud Boys, Ngo’s tweet is a model of digital journalism: cultivating sources in traditional fashion, and making as value-neutral a report as he can — rather than editorializing or speaking down in the manner of the Times or the Post, or simply making it up, which is what Werleman is doing here.
Werleman is shooting the messenger. This, figuratively, is what the thugs in Portland did to Ngo on Saturday. Literally, it is what will happen to an ‘enemy’ journalist at some point in the near future if Antifa are allowed to continue carrying their radical play-acting into the streets. The police in Portland have previously been accused of indulging Antifa while taking a tougher line on their antagonists, the bizarre straight-Pride cult that is the Proud Boys. Ngo has previously documented that Antifa members in Portland have threatened and attacked him for his reportage.
Intensification is in the nature of political violence, for it is sacrificial in logic, and ever higher levels of violence are required to sustain the buzz. Imagine the outcry if a CNN anchor had been attacked by the Proud Boys or some other group from the hooligan fringe of the right — a fringe group that had been endorsed by Fox anchors, as CNN’s Chris Cuomo has supported Antifa. Then ask yourself if it seems logical that Ngo would be attacked, and that left-wing media would rush to discredit him.
The answer is yes to both questions. This is what we get when the media delegitimizes the opposition, and when it indulges violent radicals who demonize their ideological enemies as ‘fascist’. From there, it’s only a small step to silencing them by all means necessary. This has become a fact of modern American life, though it is by no means necessary, or even realistic. Meanwhile, journalists like Andy Ngo deserve all our support for their necessary reportage.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA.