Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart News editor, writer, and new face of the alt-right, had been scheduled to speak at the University of California Berkeley last week. The speech was canceled because of violence that broke out on campus attributed to black clad, Black Bloc provocateurs, resulting in some $100,000 in property damage. The far right has accused the far left of being responsible for the violence. The far left has accused the far right for the violence. The responsibility might just rest with both extremes of the political ideological spectrum.
Black bloc is a tactic used by radicals attending otherwise peaceful demonstrations whereby,
“Liberal demonstrations are transformed into insurrectionary happenings.”
The use of the tactic is intended to engage police and other demonstrators in violent confrontations. The provocateurs dress entirely in black, covering their faces with ski masks and googles. This allows them to identify each other, while preventing police from identifying them, unless they get arrested. Black bloc protesters were seen battling police in Portland, Oregon, on November 9, 2016, the day following the election of the 45th President of the United States, and they were found in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2017, the night before his inauguration. The tactic can be traced back in the United States to the 1999 protests in Seattle, Washington, and violent protest directed against the World Trade Organization.
Professor Robert Reich, an early and strong proponent of Senator Bernie Sanders for President in 2016, appeared on CNN, saying this about the back bloc protestors appearing on the Berkeley campus in opposition to Milo Yiannopouslos:
“I raise the possibility that Yiannopoulos and Breitbart could have been collaborating with the agitators.”
While Professor Reich has suggested but not proven that the black bloc disruptors are the work of Breitbart and the far right, the Brietbart organization has been hard at work blaming the Democracy Alliance, a left leaning group alleged to be funded by the liberal billionaire, George Soros, for the presence of black bloc protesters at some recent public events. Other right wing publications have accused Soros of being involved in the 2004 Orange Revolution that helped elect in the Ukraine the corrupt, but NATO supporting, Victor Yushchenko, also alleging that,
“Soros-backed groups are, indeed, shaping the anti-Trump, Not My President protests.”
Breitbart has suggested that Soros-paid professional activists were behind the inauguration eve disruptions, the January 21, 2017 women’s marches, and the protest that followed the new administration’s issuance of the Muslim travel ban executive order. The attempts to attribute Mr. Soros as the source of soliciting anti-Trump agitators who were paid $15 per hour have gone back to March, 2016. However, there is no proof that these allegations are true. And of course Breitbart, along with Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, have accused Soros and his leftist agitators of being responsible for the Berkeley incident.
There are voices on the left who believe that the Occupy Wall Street movement was taken over and destroyed by the black bloc anarchists. Some believe that Occupy Wall Street became the Koch backed Tea Party of the left.
History confirms that Adolf Hitler utilized the 100,000 to 1,000,000 strong Sturmabteilung, otherwise known as the Storm Troopers, or the Brownshirts, to help himself obtain power by disrupting the meetings of his political opposition and to attack Jews in Germany from 1931 through 1934. We do not now know for sure if Professor Reich is correct, that black bloc disrupters are agents of the right. We also do not know if the claims by Breitbart and other right sourced outlets that the black bloc disrupters are agents of the left, are correct. Does it really matter?
Conservative Republicans from Glenn Beck to former New Hampshire Republican Senator and delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, Gordon Humphrey, have said that the new President’s supporters have channeled the behavior of those Hitler Brownshirts. Be they leftist anarchists or fascist Brownshirts, if you find yourself at the next march, demonstration, protest, or however you might categorize the gathering, watch your back. The person behind you dressed entirely in black might not be there for the same reasons as you.