There weren't "some very fine people" on both sides of the violence in Berkeley last weekend -- the far Left was beating their peaceful opponents down in the streets.
From a distance, demonstrations that devolve into violence instigated by mobs of "anti-fascist" thugs can look blurry, a muddled melding of political extremists from both sides spoiling for a fight. But the distinctions were brought into focus in Berkeley last weekend.
In a compelling account of his experience in the thick of the violence, The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash introduces readers to the well-meaning activists who tried to rally against hate, but found themselves on the receiving end of a public beatdown dealt by Antifa in the broad California daylight. Though "anti-fascists," by definition, explicitly set out to oppose fascists, the victims of their violence in Berkeley, Labash shows, were not fascists at all.
"Unity, peace, love, truth—these simple things," is the message Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson told Labash he promotes. Gibson organized the "Liberty Weekend" in Berkeley that drew hoards of Antifa rioters. Per the article, Gibson's followers, many of whom support President Trump, are not movement conservatives, nor are they white supremacists. They're a politically diverse group of people frustrated by censorship and by the Left's impulse to label decent Americans as racists and bigots.
Proving their point, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., referred to Gibson's Liberty Weekend as a "white supremacist rally" and asked the city to pull his permit.
These terms, fascist and white supremacist, are probably used in ignorance by some, but are straw men for others, constructed to justify violence and intimidation.
Labash's full article is well-worth a read. Judging by the resolve he documents on both sides of the conflict last weekend, this problem is not going away anytime soon.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.