My 2014 book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn includes this prescient quotation from a decade earlier:
'The lofty idea of 'the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology,' the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said in 2005. 'And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what Communism was for the 20th century: a source of violence.'
Indeed. One is also mindful of a famous aperçu by Ennio Flaiano, the Italian screenwriter who gave us La Dolce Vita and Nights of Cabiria:
In Italia i fascisti si dividono in due categorie : i fascisti e gli antifascisti.
"In Italy the fascists are divided into two categories: the fascists and the anti-fascists." In America the division is a little more lop-sided: There is no organized fascist movement except for the so-called anti-fascist movement: Antifa wear uniforms and masks on the streets of American cities and perpetrate violence with the support and connivance of powerful Democrat politicians and their hideously politicized police departments.
The consent of the latter is especially important: in the Democrats' northern fiefdoms the cops increasingly behave as they did in the party's old southern fiefdoms - they're there not to keep the peace but to ensure that their buddies in the Klan - whoops, sorry, I mean Klantifa - get to give the designated "troublemakers" a bloody good hiding. Thus in Portland, Oregon the police stood by and let Antifa beat the crap out of reporter Andy Ngo, steal thousands of dollars' worth of his equipment, and put him in hospital with a brain hemorrhage. But that's just policing as usual in a corrupt municipality increasingly without the law. As Democrat Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler put it last year, after his officers again sat back and watched as Antifa blocked streets and threatened and intimidated drivers:
I was appalled by what I saw in the video, but I support the Portland Police Bureau's decision not to intervene.
They're getting so good at "not intervening" it might be easier for the city simply to lay them off and contract out all "law enforcement" to Antifa.
The other advantage Klantifa enjoy is the enthusiastic support of Blue-Check Twitter, who were out in force celebrating Mr Ngo's hospitalization. Charlotte Clymer, communications honcho for the LGBTQWERTY "Human Rights Campaign" gloated:
Being attacked today on video taken by an actual journalist (because Ngo is definitely not) is the greatest thing that could have happened to his career.
You know it. I know it. He knows it. We all know it.
Well, I don't know whether I do know it. Mr Ngo is a contributor to the American website of my old chums at The Spectator, which is the oldest continuously published English-language magazine on the planet - it will celebrate its two hundredth birthday in 2028. So it would seem to be at least as much of an actual journalistic venture as The Huffington Beast or whatever. The rationales for violence made by the likes of Ms Clymer are getting cruder by the day. Identity politics isn't even about identity: Andy Ngo is a gay Asian, but because he's a gay Asian who disagrees with the gay enforcers of the Human Rights Campaign he's a "white supremacist". There's nothing sophisticated about this: To Ms Clymer, it's us and them. And, if you're part of the them, then you deserve that brain hemorrhage.
Insofar as I understand it, the old Portland, Oregon was that seen in the alleged telly hit "Portlandia". By the end of its run, the creators had fallen out with the feminist bookstore where part of the show was filmed, with the store owners denouncing the TV guys because "the show doesn't reflect the diversity of the Portland area and contributes to gentrification".
Say what you like about Ted Wheeler, the Portland Police Bureau and Klantifa, but at least they're not contributing to gentrification.
~I've been asked why I haven't yet commented on the Democrat presidential debates. Well, I don't have anything useful to say. It's like watching a play in a language you don't speak and have no possibility of mastering. For example, Senator Cory Booker:
We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans.
Standing next to him, Elizabeth Warren nodded enthusiastically, and the crowd went wild:
For my own part, I feel we don't talk enough about African-American Trans-American Muslima-American Undocumented-Americans.
This is how Democrats think, and on this basis they will choose their leader. Of course, Cory Booker is positing a false challenge because we all know the correct answer is that you can never talk enough about trans-Americans.
~Every so often on The Mark Steyn Show, we play a round of "Know Your Ensigns". So what ensign is this?
That was the flag of the British Crown colony of Hong Kong from 1959 until 1997. Yesterday, on the 22nd anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty from London to Beijing, youthful protesters broke into the legislature to object inter alia tothe Politburo's plans to introduce a law permitting extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. They held the building for eight hours, trashed it fairly comprehensively, and at the height of their occupation unfurled the old ensign and the Union Flag.
That's an obvious provocation, and one can well imagine the ChiComs choking on the images. In that sense, I'm not sure it was well advised. But I cannot recall in the long course of post-war de-colonization young activists flying the flag of the old imperialist as an emblem of freedom. We live in not just the proverbial "interesting times" but deeply strange ones.
~For Canadian readers just emerging from Dominion Day stupors, we had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with Tal Bachman's eulogy for the man behind the stellar careers of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Our Saturday movie date found Kathy Shaidle hopping a wagon train of bulk-order brides, and my Sunday song selection celebrated one of the über-standards. Monday found me in Canadian holiday mode with Conrad Black, "O Canada" and youthful excesses. Our marquee presentation was my continuing serialization of our twenty-eighth Tale for Our Time - the Erskine Childers classic The Riddle of the Sands: You can find Part Fifteen here, Part Sixteen here, Part Seventeen here and Eighteen here - or you can go back to the beginning and enjoy a good old binge-listen. If you were lost in maple-hued reveries over the long weekend, we hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing.
Tales for Our Time is made possible through the support of The Mark Steyn Club. As our third year cranks into gear, we are very grateful to all our members around the world, from London, Ontario to London, England to London, Kiribati - and hope to welcome many more of you in the years ahead. For more information on The Mark Steyn Club, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Oh, and do give a thought to our Third Annual Steyn Cruise sailing the Med next year and hitting all the high spots. We'll be attempting some seaboard versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Tales for Our Time, our Sunday Poem and other favorite features. If you're minded to give it a go, don't leave it too late, as the price is more favorable the earlier you book.