Prominent Dems tepidly denounce Antifa violence
Following Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s condemnation of Antifa, University of California system President Janet Napolitano offered her own tepid support for free speech.
In an August 29 press release, Pelosi condemned Antifa members for “inciting violence,” saying that “endangering the public” is unacceptable “no matter the ideology” of the perpetrators. The statement followed a spat of left-wing violence at UC Berkeley, including an incident in which Antifa member stalked and harassed a conservative student.
“The violent actions of people calling themselves Antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted,” Pelosi wrote, calling on citizens to “use this sad event to reaffirm that we must never fight hate with hate, and to remember the values of peace, openness and justice that represent the best of America.”
Just a few days after Pelosi’s remarks, Napolitano echoed the sentiment during her keynote address at the American Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting on Thursday.
“How can we safeguard both truth and freedom of expression when confronted with provocations that endanger our campuses and communities?” she asked, referring to violence “at Berkeley, Middlebury College, and Charlottesville, on the University of Virginia campus.”
Napolitano argued that it is possible to “promote liberal democracy” without believing “the myth that all sides of an argument have equal value,” insisting that “it’s a falsehood to equate white supremacists or neo-Nazis with those who oppose their ideologies.”
Immediately after unequivocally declaring that “there is no place in American democracy for white supremacy,” though, Napolitano added that “there will always be a place in America for freedom of expression, even when it’s hateful, [and] we must counter the hate and falsehoods by shining a light on the facts.”
To that end, she called on “political scientists everywhere” to embrace a “public service role” by going beyond their teaching and research duties “to help the public distinguish between evil, long-discredited ideologies and the voices of reason, tolerance, and moderation.”
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