Beinart is one of the few left-wing pundits I frequently enjoy reading. I disagree with him far more often than not, but he's obviously very bright, a fine writer and hasn't completely lost his mind to The Resistance. Unfortunately, in this article his opposition to Antifa is far too tenuous, and he is intellectually dishonest in continuously asserting that they are largely only attacking or menacing racist Neo-Nazis.
The movement’s secrecy makes definitively cataloging its activities difficult, but this much is certain: Antifa’s power is growing. And how the rest of the activist left responds will help define its moral character in the Trump age.
The violence is not directed only at avowed racists like Spencer: In June of last year, demonstrators—at least some of whom were associated with antifa—punched and threw eggs at people exiting a Trump rally in San Jose, California. An article in It’s Going Down celebrated the “righteous beatings.”
His one nod to the fact that these thugs are hardly freedom warriors.
What’s eroding in Portland is the quality Max Weber considered essential to a functioning state: a monopoly on legitimate violence. As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent. With help from other left-wing activists, they’re already having some success at disrupting government. Demonstrators have interrupted so many city-council meetings that in February, the council met behind locked doors. In February and March, activists protesting police violence and the city’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline hounded Mayor Ted Wheeler so persistently at his home that he took refuge in a hotel. The fateful email to parade organizers warned, “The police cannot stop us from shutting down roads.”
Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.
This is absurd unless you assume, like Beinart that the American Right
promotes authoritarianism. There's simply no evidence of that. (In anticipation of replies: Please don't trot out comments of or links to Neo-Nazis. They don't represent the American Right anymore than Antifa represents the American Left---although you will find far more left-wing, semi-mainstream voices apologists for Antifa that their counterparts being the same for Neo-Nazis.)
Antifa traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. When fascism withered after World War II, antifa did too.
And any attempt to compare the Age of European Fascism to current American is disgustingly hyperbolic.
Alas, Beinart didn't quite have the courage of his convictions and was probably afraid of the inevitable backlash he would received from the Left, for this article.
Here is a conservative view of Beinart's article. Frankly, I think the author was too kind to him. He probably was too giddy over finding a left-wing pundit criticizing, in any way, Antifa