It’s Time to Stop Crying About Antifa

Donald Trump and just about every Republican wants you to fear Antifa. They’ve spent weeks villainizing racial equality protests, portraying them as lawless, filled with Marxist thugs and violent anarchists hellbent on attacking cops and destroying American cities. To hear Trump tell it, left wing extremism is the greatest threat to Americans’ safety.

But the numbers just don’t add up.

A recent analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a centrist think tank, found that left wing violence is far less deadly than right wing violence in America. According to the CSIS database, which looked at nearly 900 politically motivated “terrorist incidents” in the U.S. since 1994, antifascists are responsible for zero murders since 1994 and left wing violence is responsible for 21 deaths since 2010, compared to 117 deaths due to right wing violence from white supremacists and other extremists. Extending back to 1994, right wing extremists are responsible for 329 deaths. As the brief reads, “far-right terrorism has significantly outpaced terrorism from other types of perpatrators.”

Indeed, the disparity between left and right wing extremes is striking. And it’s even more jarring when you consider the current crusade President Trump and Attorney General William Barr are currently undertaking against so-called far left extremists. Back in May, the president vowed to classify Antifa—a loosely organized left wing movement with no clear leadership—as a terrorist group despite sparing evidence. Barr has used the supposed threat against federal buildings to justify sending federal agents (mainly CBP) into American cities to put down the “violence.”

It’s become evident in recent days that federal deployment in cities like Portland and Seattle isn’t about quelling violence, but rather inciting it. Trump and Barr hope to cultivate an image of lawlessness in major cities—lawlessness led by Antifa “thugs,” anarchists, and Black Lives Matter protestors—that can only be stopped by the federal government. Video and anecdotal evidence has consistently shown federal agents using excessive force and tear gas against peaceful protestors who were supposedly threatening them. DHS and other federal law enforcement attempts portray the attacks against them as vicious and rationalize their own violence has been comical.

Casualties aren’t the only statistics that define extreme political movements, though. CSIS analysis concedes its definitions of left and right wing don’t necessarily line up with current American political factions (though they are awfully close). Even still, the statistics tell a very clear story. Left wing protests and organizations didn’t suddenly become murderous overnight. Instead, they’ve run into violent political opportunists who see the expedience in portraying them as lawless and evil while ignoring gun-toting right wingers who overran a state house and demanded the country be reopened just a few months ago. Trump, Barr, and other Republicans will continue lying about left wing political violence. But the numbers don’t.