Monday on CNN’s “Cuomo Primetime,” host Chris Cuomo defended members of Antifa’s violent altercations with law enforcement and journalists over the weekend.
Cuomo said, “Two wrongs and what is right. It’s been one year since Heather Heyer was killed for standing up to hate, and our thoughts still go to her family. We know what happened with racial tensions nationwide after that. And this weekend was built as round two, ‘Unite the Right,’ the sequel. Organizers planned to organize in Washington, D.C. this time. But the turn out of white supremacists was thankfully pathetic, which is why I didn’t have to cover it. Only a couple dozen showed up. Proof they lost membership? No. They’re still in force online, but they didn’t have the guts to show up, and that’s good. Counter protesters did. There were good numbers of them. The vast majority were peaceful, but peppered in the crowd were members of anti-fascist. They covered their faces, confronted police and berated journalists and that was wrong.”
He continued, “Now, you’ve been hearing it. There’s a lot of what-aboutism and spin going on. So all agree on some common understandings. A protester uses their voice—song, slang, slurs—but it is talk. Unless you’re justified in defending yourself and you hit someone, you’re a thug, you’re a criminal. You attack cops, you slap the media, you are in the wrong, period. But I argue to you tonight, all punches are not equal morally. In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument. If you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody that’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong. But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, physical, are they equally as wrong as the bigot they’re fighting? I argue no. Fighting matters, too, there’s no question about that. But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out. That’s what Trump did wrong last year.”
After playing a clip of President Donald Trump saying there is blame on both sides after the violence in Charlottesville last year, Cuomo continued, “He needed to call out the bigots and the white supremacists and he didn’t. Why? And why does he therefore have unprecedented support from these fringe elements of white power? Two wrongs, and what is right? The bigots are wrong to hit. Antifa or whomever, anarchists or malcontents or misguided, they are also wrong to hit. But fighting hate is right. And in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, those who oppose it are on the side of right.”
He added, “Civil rights activists, were they the same morally as the bigots, as the racists with whom they exchanged blows? Are people who go to war against an evil regime on the same moral ground with those they seek to stop from oppressing the weak? When you punch me in the nose for being Italian and say I’m less than, am I in the same morally wrong place when I punch you back for saying that? It’s not about it being right in the eyes of the law. You also have to have a right and wrong in a moral and a good and evil sense. That’s why people who show up to fight against bigots are not to be judged the same as the bigots. Even if they do resort to the same petty violence. The law will take care of that. How you disagree matters. We should be our best. But I am arguing Trump is wrong to create a moral equivalency between bigots and those who oppose them, making them equal wrongs. Those hateful few who take solace and encouragement from the president’s efforts, my message is simple: be aware there are many of us who see you as unequal, as less than. And you will be opposed at every turn because what you are about is wrong and fighting you is right.”