On Spectrum of Extremism, Far Left Takes Relatively Little Space

In Violence and Hate On

President Trump defended his belated condemnation of white supremacists who engaged in violence in Charlottesville, Va., by arguing that he was exercising caution in casting blame. Then he returned to his original position that there was ample fault on both sides.

Asked about Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who characterized calls for the firing of Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, as “the same purveyors of hatred and ignorance who precipitated the recent violence in Charlottesville,” Mr. Trump suggested that blame should be shared.

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” he asked. “Let me ask you this: What about the fact they came charging — that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”

Antifa, or anti-fascist activists, certainly used clubs and dyed liquids against the white supremacists, according to the New York Times reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Hawes Spencer, who covered the violence in Charlottesville. Other counterprotesters included nonviolent clergy members.

But there is one stark difference between the violence on the two sides: The police said that James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio drove his car into a crowd and killed at least one person, Heather Heyer. Mr. Fields was charged with second-degree murder.

Comparing Antifa to Mr. Fields’s act is like “comparing a propeller plane to a C-130 transport,” said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

“Using the fact that some counterprotesters were, in fact, violent, creates a structural and moral false equivalency that is seriously undermining the legitimacy of this president,” Professor Levin said.

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