Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2019

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Sun editorial:

Intimidation of political opponents is not an acceptable means of protest


Richard Drew / AP

In this March 2, 2017, file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio in New York.

This was not political activism. It was street thuggery.

In targeting Tucker Carlson and his family Wednesday with an act of intimidation at the Fox News commentator’s home, Antifa committed a crime, pure and simple. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Hunting people down and terrorizing them is what monsters do. Trumpism has its own brand of such monsters now, but what the rest of Americans can’t tolerate is anyone using a reaction to Trump extremists to justify horrible acts like the one that took place at Carlson’s home.

The animals who descended on the home vandalized the property, shouted threats like “We know where you sleep at night” over a bullhorn and pounded on the door so hard they damaged it, with Carlson’s family cowered inside all the while. Carlson was not at home at the time of the incident, which no doubt added to his family’s terror.

This simply isn’t something any American should tolerate.

There are plenty of ways to express opposition to Carlson’s extremist political views — boycotting Fox News’ sponsors leaps to mind, as does demanding that any business that broadcasts the network in its public areas stop doing so immediately.

But what Antifa did went entirely beyond the lines of acceptability.

It was also patently stupid from political and practical standpoints. The attack gives President Donald Trump fresh ammunition to vilify and persecute the left, and it is almost sure to be used by his extreme loyalists to escalate the brutality they’ve displayed throughout the president’s administration.

Speaking of Trump, however, it’s important to point out that the characterization of Antifa as a highly organized group — as Trump and his supporters suggest — is preposterous. Instead, it’s a loosely knit association of people, some of whom are legitimately and justifiably focused simply on countering acts of violence from right-wing extremists. Notice that word “countering” — if right-wing violence goes away, so do those members of Antifa.

When Antifa activists step up to protect nonviolent protesters from being beaten by neo-Nazis, as they did last year in Charlottesville, Va., that’s a noble action. In stopping alt-right thugs from attacking peaceful nuns that day, Antifa served as protectors.

But when a splinter group claiming affiliation with Antifa targets individuals for intimidation and violence, as was the case with the incident at Carlson’s home, everyone should rise up and decry that behavior. That includes Antifa.

Indeed, if Antifa is true to its calling of countering extremist violence and intimidation, it should have moved against the cowards who carried out the attack.

We are no fans of Carlson or Fox News, and we’ll defend Americans’ right to speak out against his ideas to our last breath. But there are acceptable ways to do that, and none of them involve making threats, causing damage and instilling fear of violence.

Comedian Stephen Colbert put it well.

“Obviously don’t do this, but also, take no pleasure in it happening,” he wrote on Twitter. “Feeding monsters just makes more monsters.”