Dartmouth College professor Mark Bray defended the violence used by left-wing Antifa groups, arguing that they need to preemptively strike to avoid the rise of white nationalists.
Host Chuck Todd brought Bray and the Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen back onto “Meet the Press” Sunday to debate whether Antifa’s violent tactics are acceptable. Todd previously had Bray and Cohen on his show Wednesday night wherein Bray revealed that he supports responding to extreme right groups with violence.
“Considering someone died in Charlottesville, why do you defend confronting in a violent way?” Todd asked Bray on Sunday.
Bray argued that violence is necessary to stop white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups from getting too normalized or powerful, framing the issue as one of self-defense.
“A lot of people are under attack,” Bray said, “and sometimes they need to be able to defend themselves. It’s a privileged position to say you never have to defend yourself from these monsters.”
Cohen quickly chimed in that protesting with violence is not an issue of self-defense.
“No one is saying that if you’re slugged in the face you have to sit there and take it,” Cohen said. “The question here is, when white nationalists want to walk down the street, should people stop them? That’s a very different issue.”
“I think it’s a spectacularly bad idea,” Cohen argued, “to give one group the right to silence another group of people. It’s contrary to our values embodied in the First Amendment.”
“Fascism cannot be defeated by speech,” Bray asserted, contending that Antifa needs to strike now to prevent the proliferation of neo-Nazis.
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