Well, folks, someone who I never thought would acknowledge antifa has actually plesantly surprised us by warning against the threat of such a group, as well as other leftist extremists. Former CIA Director John Brennan discussed such a concern on Tuesday with Professor Juliette Kayyem of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Jerry Dunleavy and Daniel Chaitin reported for the Washington Examiner.
The conversation in question took place during a "Getting to the Point with John Brennan" virtual event through the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
The relevant response did not come until the question and answer period, about twenty minutes before the close of the event.
Kayyem paused reading out questions from anonymous attendees to repeat a "sense of balance," which she had referenced earlier, though she nevertheless once more solely discussed her concerns to do with the far-right:
Kayyem: I wanted to get a sense of balance, or--I don't want to do both sides--but how should not just America, but the world, be thinking about left-wing politicians and left-wing radicalization? We know that here in the United States, the FBI is mostly concerned with right-wing, just given what we've seen, but, as one listener, one viewer says, 'you focus on a lot of threats regarding right-wing politicians, do you see the left engaging in similar dangerous rhetoric?'
Brennan: Well, I am concerned about some of this rhetoric that's coming from the left. Again I think idealogues on both ends of the political spectrum are dangerous, and there are individuals on the left who are engaging in vigilantism themselves. They fall under this broad group of antifa, anti-facscist elements, but I do think that idealogues are just blind to reality. And they do not look for ways to allow people from across that politicial spectrum to live peacefully together. So I am concerned that, including some politicians in Congress who are far-left, are just, I think almost stoking some of these concerns that people have that America is sliding into a socialist state. I don't believe it is, but I think the rhetoric and the words that politicians use need to be very carefully crafted because some of the statements that are made tends to provoke counter attacks from the other side and that again just separates us from into left and right wing in this country.
Kudos to that viewer for forcing the conversation to finally address left-wing violence and rhetoric. And, though I never thought I'd say this, kudos to Brennan, too. It does make it almost even more disappointing that it couldn't have been addressed in such a way during the conversation, instead of waiting until the last few minutes of the event. Was it really that hard? Apparently it was, since Kayyem could not have made her preoccupation with right-wing extremism, with the Republican Party even, more obvious if she tried.
Kayyem addressed concerns the FBI had with right-wingers. But, Christopher Wray, the FBI director under former President Trump, hit back on Democrats who would claim that antifa is just an "idea," as Biden himself has, including as a presidential candidate.
As Katie reported in September:
"Antifa is a real thing. It's not a group or an organization. It's a movement, or an ideology may be one way of thinking of it and we have quite a number, and I've said this quite consistently since my first time appearing before this committee, we have any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists and some of those individuals self-identify with Antifa," Wray said.
Attorney General Bill Barr has also confirmed the investigations.
"People are pouring through all of the video trying to identify people to hold people accountable," Barr said during a recent interview with Townhall. "I think Antifa and Antifa like groups are at the center of it."
It really cannot go unaddressed that Kayyem had also equated the Republican Party itself with right-wing extremism, in the context of the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. She appeared to go through painstaking lengths to do so as a theme of a significant portion of the conversation.
It's worth stressing that Republicans unequivocally condemned what happened that day. A bill to set-up a commission on what took place on January 6 has bipartisan support, at least when it passed in the House, and those Republicans who have come out in opposition have made reasonable arguments after reading the bill, as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has.