BBG Watch Media Commentary
Some visitors to the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) website were astounded by a report posted on August 17, 2017 which suggested that Antifa could be “arguably a group of human rights activists so dedicated they will risk life and limb to protect democracy” even though the report acknowledged to a limited degree Antifa’s use of violence.
One person, who signed as Dan, commented under the report on August 20, 2017:
“Antifa concerned with protecting Democracy. Lol.
Antifa are as authoritarian and thuggish as their opponents, don’t confuse Anti Fascism with them.”
ALSO SEE: Voice of America discovers Antifa may be a human rights group, BBG Watch, August 23, 2017.
Before July 5, 2017, the Voice of America did not have a single reference to “Antifa” on its main VOA News English-language website while showing hundreds of labels in its reports — such as “neo-Nazi,” “fascist,” and “alt-right” — to describe Donald Trump and/or some of his supporters.
The VOA report offers what Is seen by critics as a somewhat sympathetic view of Antifa and seems to excuse acts of violence perpetrated by its supporters, or at least does not take them very seriously. The report does not provide any specific examples of Antifa’s violent acts, some of which were directed against journalists.
The Voice of America is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). Both VOA me BBG are still run by officials appointed during the Obama administration. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, VOA reporters and editors posted a number of one-sided attacks on Donald Trump and even on Hillary Clinton’s one-time Democratic opponent Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA’s management was so sure that Hillary Clinton would win that, for the first time in VOA’s history, it had no pre-written bio for the Republican presidential candidate on the election night. Two “Hillary Clinton Wins” programs were pre-written and ready for broadcast. Critics say that they have never seen such bias, partisanship and sloppy and naive journalism by the Voice of America since at least 1945. In a 2016 VOA commentary, which lacked any balance, Senator Bernie Sanders was called “undemocratic.” In 2017, VOA News suggests that violent Antifa activists with roots in communism and anarchism may be protecting American democracy.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, one of VOA reporters posted a meme of Donald Trump with a Nazi swastika over his head on a personal but publicly viewed Facebook page. Another personal Facebook post by a VOA reporter referred to Trump as “F*ckface Von Clownstick.” The Voice of America also posted online a foreign language video in which Donald Trump was called “punk,” “dog,” “pig,” “con,” “buls**t artist,” “mutt,” “idiot,” “fool,” “bozo,” and “blatantly stupid.” without attaching a rebuttal or a response of any kind. The video, which violated the VOA Charter, was eventually removed, but some of the anti-Trump personal Facebook posts by VOA reporters can still be seen online.
Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO John F. Lansing insisted, however, in an interview with NPR that the Voice of America employees have the “greatest respect for the President.”
We repost full text of Voice of America (VOA) news report “‘Antifa’ Protesters United by Extreme Protest Tactics.”
VOICE OF AMERICA
August 19, 2017 5:47 AM
[AP Photo Not Reposted]
Howard University students pause at the site where Heather Heyer was killed by a car in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 18, 2017. About fifty Howard University students visited the site where Heyer died while protesting a white nationalist rally on Aug. 12, 2017.
It’s pronounced AN-ti-fa — short for anti-fascists — and it is arguably either a violent far-left militia or a group of human rights activists so dedicated they will risk life and limb to protect democracy.
Their participation in the Charlottesville protest last Saturday may have been behind President Donald Trump’s assertion that “many sides” contributed to the violence that left three people dead.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said at a press conference hours after the violence occurred. “On many sides,” he repeated.
[AP Photo Not Reposted.]
Black-clad protesters take part in a May Day march, May 1, 2015 in Seattle.
Visibility has grown
The antifa in the United States have grown more visible over the past year, coinciding with the rise in visibility of the white nationalist movement, or alt-right. Experts say antifa groups are not centrally organized, and their members may espouse a number of different causes, from politics to race relations to gay rights. But the principle that binds them — along with an unofficial uniform of black clothing and face masks — is the willingness to use violence to fight against white supremacists.
The antifa have their fans among some peace-loving activists. The prominent writer, academic and activist Cornel West attended the Charlottesville events and praised the antifa for protecting nonviolent activists.
“If it hadn’t been for the anti-fascists protecting us from the neo-fascists,” he told the Washington Post, “we would have been crushed like cockroaches.”
[AP Photo Not Reposted]
President Donald Trump pauses as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 15, 2017.
Open to violence
Mark Bray, lecturer at Dartmouth College and author of the upcoming Antifa: the Anti-Fascist Handbook, writes, “Anti-fascists argue that after the horrors of chattel slavery and the Holocaust, physical violence against white supremacists is both ethically justifiable and strategically effective. … They put forth an ethically consistent, historically informed argument for fighting Nazis before it’s too late.”
But the antifa’s openness to violent tactics has also left them vulnerable to criticism from both left and right, in particular from President Donald Trump.
“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said Tuesday during a news conference. “What about the alt-left? They came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
Group’s use of violence rejected
The Anti-Defamation League, which describes its mission as fighting “the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” has spoken out against antifa actions. Oren Segal, director of the League’s Center on Extremism, told CNN that his organization opposes antifa’s use of violence.
“It helps the white supremacists’ narrative of victimization become a more effective talking point,” he said.
The conservative National Review magazine labeled antifa “a vague and dangerous ideology” in a June 2017 article about the movement. But Segal argued on CNN, “there’s extremist ideology and then there’s extremist tactics.”
[AP Photo Not Reposted]
Armed police officers fill downtown Portland, near City Hall, during rival “anti-hate” and “free speech” rallies, June 4, 2017.
Threat puts stop to parade
While debate continues over antifa tactics, antifa protesters are a dependable presence at conservative events. They protested last year at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio; at a Washington, D.C. “alt-right” conference in November 2016; at the Trump inauguration in January; at a string of protests in Berkeley, California, in February, March and April; at a conservative rally in Portland, Oregon, in June; and at the Charlottesville event last weekend.
A Portland, Oregon, parade was canceled in April after two antifa groups announced their intention to protest the participation of the local Republican Party in the festivities. Following those announcements, the business association sponsoring the parade received an anonymous email threatening that 200 people would rush into the parade to attack local Republicans.
Explaining the parade cancellation, Rich Jarvis, spokesman for the Rose Festival Foundation, told The Oregonian newspaper: “If we can’t provide safety for our fans, there’s no use in trying,” he said. “Our official position is, we’re extremely sad about this.”
END OF VOICE OF AMERICA REPORT