Senator Ron Johnson (WI, R) recently described his perspective of the January 6th Capitol Hill riots, saying that he might’ve been concerned for his safety had the protesters been affiliated with AntiFa (Anti-Fascist Action).
Senator Johnson, during an interview on the Joe Pags Show, illustrated his perspective, saying, “Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned.” Johnson later expanded upon this sentiment, saying, “Now, had the tables been turned — Joe, this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
An easy explanation for Johnson’s sentiment could be related to the fact that AntiFa paramilitaries are left-wing activists, often seeking to use violent force against right-wing figures like Senator Johnson. However, it’s likely deeper than that. Many conservatives have expressed frustration regarding what they perceive as a ‘tendency for the media to attack right-wing riots but not left-wing ones.’ Expanding, it’s perceived among many conservative thought leaders like Senator Johnson that AntiFa and other left-wing paramilitaries are more likely to use violent action on police officers than many conservative activists.
Many critics of such sentiments expressed by people like Senator Johnson have rejected claims of equivalency between the January 6th, 2021, riot and the Summer 2020 riots inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Thus, such critics have pointed to the fact that the January 6th riots resulted in 5 deaths– one being a police officer– and left nearly 100 other police officers injured. While true, such critiques only focus on the results of January 6th riots without providing any sufficient comparison in the Summer 2020 riots. Thus, a study conducted by the ACLED– a non-profit monitoring political unrest– has outlined stats regarding an event during the Summer 2020 riots that was most similar to the January 6th riot: the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone– nicknamed “C.H.A.Z.– was a riot in which a large group of rioters stormed seized control over the Seattle Capitol Hill area, clashing with capitol and city police. At the end of the rumble, the ACLED described that nearly two dozen civilian casualties resulted, alongside an additional 21 police casualties.
However, while the Summer 2020 riots did result in more casualties than the January 6th riot, that does not mean that Senator Johnson nor his critics are correct; it is simply unfair to say that ‘left-wing riots are more violent than right-wing ones,’ and vice versa. Oftentimes, over-condemning one side can let the other side off the hook. It is important that Americans condemn political violence from both sides.
US NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF
PHOTO CREDITS: POLITICO