During Tuesday evening’s first presidential debate the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, dismissed Antifa as simply “an idea.” His answer came during a segment of the debate dealing with violence in cities around the country.
“Antifa’s an idea, not an organization,” the former vice president said when asked by President Donald Trump to condemn the group according to Fox News. Biden failed to offer any criticism of the violent far-left group.
Biden’s downplaying of Antifa came after debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News directed a question to President Trump concerning recent rioting. “You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left-wing extremist groups, but are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland,” Wallace said, according to the National Review.
Trump replied, “Sure, I’m prepared to do that. I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing not from the right-wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
After Trump ended his answer by saying, “I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about Antifa and the Left because this is not a right-wing problem,” Biden alleged, without any evidence, that “white supremacists” posed a greater threat to the nation and that “Antifa is an idea, not an organization, not militias.” He attributed the quote to FBI director Christopher Wray.
While Wray did technically use those words, the referenced quote was part of a larger piece of testimony the FBI director gave earlier this month. Wray’s testimony stated that Antifa was a “real thing.” He noted that his bureau had conducted “any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists,” including individuals involved in Antifa.
Wray’s testimony continued, “We look at Antifa as more of an ideology or a movement than an organization. To be clear we do have quite a number of properly predicated domestic terrorism investigations into violent anarchist extremists, any number of whom self-identify with the Antifa movement.” He concluded that the FBI had observed individuals identifying with Antifa “coalescing regionally into what you might describe as small groups or nodes” that are under investigation.”
Further evidence of Antifa’s very real existence was given by Attorney General William Barr.
“I’ve talked to every police chief in every city where there has been major violence and they all have identified Antifa as the ramrod for the violence,” Barr said.
Journalist Andy Ngo, who was covered Antifa for years and was the victim of a violent assault by Antifa rioters last year, strongly disagreed with Biden’s downplaying of the violent anarchists. If Biden made the comment last year, I think it would be excusable,” Ngo said. “But by now, we’ve had months and months of rioting where there are clear Antifa-organized elements. We’ve had hearings in Congress related to Antifa. There is evidence in the criminal complaints against some charged showing Antifa ties.”
Ngo offered his opinion on why Biden might have said what he did about Antifa. “Biden’s statement shows that on this subject, he – and the Democrats – want to keep the liberal status quo, which is to downplay and deny the threat of the organized militant far-left.”
Ngo concluded, “What people need to know about Antifa is that it is an ideology and movement that includes organized cells or groups. You don’t maintain sustained months of rioting in places like Seattle and Portland without members, participants, and money.”