It has been an awful, awful week.
I am a Minnesota resident. The death of George Floyd at the knee of Derek Chauvin was horrifying, and in my mixed group of acquaintances I have rarely heard such universal agreement on a contemporary issue–every person I know believes that it was monstrous.
Now, after a period of peaceful and powerful protests, our state has suffered through widespread rioting. Governor Tim Walz admits that he underestimated the scope of the problem, and Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has appeared helpless as his city has been gutted by fire and looting.
The chaos has led to the Minnesota Republican Party to call for the resignation of both Walz and Frey. I was initially inclined to be skeptical of this, particularly for Walz; a transition of power in the middle of a crisis is suboptimal, and Walz to this point has handled his job adequately.
The situation continues to escalate. Walz and Frey are under pressure, and they have both dialed up the political heat by a notch or two. They’ve turned to an old trope to deflect responsibility: blaming white supremacy.
At his 1:30 AM press conference Saturday Morning, Governor Walz alluded to the presence of white supremacists amongst the provocateurs in the rioting. At his 10 AM presser the same morning, he spoke repeatedly of “outside forces” entering the state and “coordinating” their efforts, referencing conversations he held with individuals working for national security. Walz avoided identifying the “forces” as much as he could, but that didn’t stop Mayor Frey from dropping names.
This has now been widely disseminated on twitter. Joy Reid, whose initial thread has been retweeted over 50,000 times, has continued to amplify this throughout the day.
If white supremacists were at the heart of the riots, it would indeed be a huge story, a horrifying return to the days of the KKK and late Reconstruction. Americans would rightly be shocked by this. So would Minneapolis residents, who would no doubt question why Mayor Frey let white supremacists have the run of the city for three days.
The problem is that this narrative is false. While it is possible, even likely, that a handful of bad-actor supremacists have descended upon the Twin Cities to get a piece of the action, there is no real evidence that they are yet a significant factor in the violence.
However, it is clear that outsiders are involved in the violence. Numerous images of rioting in multiple cities appear to depict young white men instigating violence over pleas from local African Americans to desist. But it is not white supremacy that appears to be the source of these individuals. Instead, there is another outside force involved, and it comes from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
Antifa has joined the fray, and everyone is worse for it. It was clear as early as Friday morning that outsiders were gravitating to Minneapolis like moths to a lamp.
And Antifa-aligned social media accounts have been actively coordinating and promoting violence in the Twin Cities for days.
This has been confirmed by analysts on the ground who know what they’re talking about. Antifa is active in Minneapolis.
The key quote from the article:
Leggat, the security consultant, said intelligence reports from his colleagues indicate most of the hard-core protesters in Minneapolis are far-left or anarchists, and that far-right groups have not yet made a significant appearance. He said looting is typically done by locals – usually people with no criminal record who just get caught up in the moment.
Antifa advocates violent revolution in favor of what they consider an anarchic new order. They want to destroy the structure of our society. This is only tangentially related to police violence, but they are willing to exploit the tragedy to drive toward their own goals.
You aren’t hearing about this from Minnesota’s leadership, and you aren’t hearing about this from the Left, because it is politically inconvenient. It is easier to blame a political “other” than admit that bad actors from one’s own side of the aisle are at fault. Sadly, what should be a shared tragedy has become another political shouting match. “White supremacy” is trending at 400,000 tweets as of this writing; for many on the Left, the narrative has already been installed.
And the anger that our nation felt, with something approaching unity, toward the death of George Floyd, has been replaced yet again by partisan bickering.
In this case, the victims aren’t the political enemies of the Left. This is not a time to pretend that a little partisan dishonesty is somehow the great injustice of the moment, and we must be cautious in allowing our political debates to cloud the real issues. The true injustice was suffered by George Floyd and his loved ones. The remaining victims are the people in the communities that are being invaded. It is their livelihoods, their grocery stores, their libraries, and their neighborhoods that are being destroyed.
It is simply a shame that the leaders who have allowed this to happen cannot be honest about who is doing the damage.