It is no secret that America is becoming increasingly more politically divides with each day. The vast majority of what we see are people insulting or degrading their political opposites on social media sites like Twitter. However, recently we have started to see this boil over into physical assault. This has started us on a dangerous path that, if not resolved in a timely manner, could have dire consequences on our democracy as a whole.
On Saturday, June 29th, Quillette contributor Andy Ngo arrived at a protest to document its events on camera. Shortly after arriving before one member of the Antifa crowd stole his GoPro camera. When he sought to get his camera back he was quickly met with kicks, blows to the head, and objects being thrown at him including milkshakes. These milkshakes were not ordinary, however. According to Portland Police, these cups were filled with quick dry cement, and were essentially as hard as rocks. Broken and battered, Ngo proceeded to go to the nearest hospital to be treated for his wounds. Fortunately he will make a full recovery with no permanent physical damage done.
The backlash from conservatives after this event was a burst of support for Andy and outright condemnation for anyone involved in his assault. It is important to note that Andy himself is not a conservative. He has contributed to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Quillette with many different perspectives. He is, however, very against Antifa and their goals as an organization. In a somewhat surprising fashion, some on the left began to blame Ngo for the attack. Here, a twitter user who claims to have worked under Hillary Clinton, states "Andy Ngo intentionally provokes people on the left o drive his content. Being attacked today on video taken by an actual journalist (because Ngo is definitely not) is the greatest thing that could have happened to his career." and "I'm not going to pretend that this wasn't Ngo's goal from the start." This sentiment was unfortunately not unpopular. To blame him for being attacked when simply acting as a journalist goes against our values as a nation and has no place in our political sphere, but is this surprising?
It is known that milkshakes were weaponized against Ngo and caused intense physical harm to him, this is following the trend "milkshaking" that has been occurring for some months now. Usually just using regular milkshakes, those on the left would go out and throw milkshakes on their political opponents. Carlos Maza of Vox says "Milkshake them all. Humiliate them at every turn. Make them dread public organizing." just a month before Ngo's attack. This is a direct incitement of violence that actually manifested in a journalist hospitalized. Before milkshaking, there was "punching Nazis" and the subsequent labeling of political dissidents as Nazis regardless of their actual stances. This attack is the result of years of incitement, and it is time for it to come to a swift, and permanent, stop.
From the very foundation of the United States, freedom of speech has always been at the forefront of our most important rights as a people, it is one of the very reasons we became a country in the first place. Political violence seeks to take these rights away. Attacking someone for participating in speech is fundamentally unamerican. This path only leads to war, and in times like these it is important to fight ideas with ideas, not fists.