On Tuesday, Democratic senators again whitewashed violent antifa rioters as “peaceful protesters,” demonizing President Donald Trump for “bad-faith nonsense” for daring to speak the truth about the violence of the rioters.
“What we’ve seen in Portland are peaceful protesters in need of protection from federal officers,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said at a Senate hearing on “Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence” hosted by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). She argued that any mention of the antifa violence plays into a nefarious Trump narrative aiming to dismiss protesters.
“President Trump is deliberately trying to undermine the massive protests for racial justice by dismissing them as anarchists and antifa,” Hirono insisted. She condemned Trump for sending in federal law enforcement “outfitted as if for war.”
“To justify this unnecessary deployment of federal officers, President Trump and his administration have repeatedly portrayed Portland protesters as violent anarchists and members of antifa. But in the past four weeks, what we have actually seen are federal agents beating up on protesters,” the Democrat insisted.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also insisted that the violent mobs in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and elsewhere were truly peaceful protesters.
“This argument that Americans exercising their right to peaceful protest are anarchists, terrorists, and agitators is bad-faith nonsense” by “the president and his enablers who are calling peaceful protesters anarchists and terrorists and sending para-military forces,” Wyden declared.
He called “talk about leftist anarchy” completely “baseless.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proved slightly more reasonable. He admitted that some of the protests have also involved violent attacks and condemned the “few” behind it. Yet he argued that “Trump’s forces did not arrest the violent few, they attacked the peaceful many.”
He spread a false narrative about Trump’s use of federal agents. The Trump administration sent in federal officers following more than a month of violent attacks on the federal courthouse. Last week, after Gov. Kate Brown (D-Ore.) agreed to send Oregon State Police to defend the federal courthouse, most of the federal troops withdrew.
Yet Merkley suggested that Trump had withdrawn the federal officers in shame after claims of law enforcement abuse. “After national coverage of these tactics, President Trump retreated, withdrawing his federal agents from Portland. The protests since have been peaceful celebrations focused on the message of the BLM movement,” he said.
After the federal officers left, however, the violence and threats against police continued, even while the violence did abate somewhat.
Rioters appear to have stopped firing mortar fireworks at the federal courthouse, but they continue to set fires near it. On Thursday night, rioters burned a severed pig’s head with a police hat on it. On Friday night, they torched Bibles in a bonfire near the federal courthouse.
Later in the hearing, Cruz asked acting DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli whether the riots had ceased following the withdrawal of many federal troops.
“As I noted, last night, the local police declared a riot,” Cuccinelli replied.
As for the claim that rioters do not identify themselves as antifa, that is flatly false. Some have openly advocated for the “abolition” of “the United States as we know it.” Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, has highlighted the arrests of many self-described members of antifa who engaged in rioting over the past few months.
After his opening remarks, Cruz shared a video highlighting the antifa violence and riots. Democrats cannot whitewash this violence.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.