Know Your Enemy, and Don’t Underestimate Him
Our nation faces a crisis of public order and political legitimacy unprecedented since 1861. We need to face honestly and prayerfully the threats marching in our streets and colluding behind the scenes. In any protracted struggle, we must seek the Golden Mean between brashness and defeatism.
On the one hand, you must emphasize the genuine advantages your side enjoys, to keep people’s hopes high enough that they continue resisting. So they turn out to vote, for instance. You at all costs don’t want them to sink into despair, and decide that their only hope is to surrender and beg for mercy.
Don’t Panic, Don’t Despair
I was working to boost our spirits in my column where I cited Matthew Banta, the crybaby would-be arsonist whom police busted in Wisconsin. Remember him? He’s the Antifa rioter who wielded a flame-thrower, in the hope of burning down buildings. The same guy, when cops busted him, collapsed in a fetal ball and started sobbing like an infant.
I contrasted him with the cool-headed Good Samaritan Kyle Rittenhouse. He’s the young man who enraged Antifa mobs by putting out the fires they set, so they mobbed him and tried to kill him. Even though he was prone on the ground, assailed with a wooden skateboard and fired at by the rioters, he save his own life by shooting his assailants, without injuring any innocents.
It would be comforting to think that the civil unrest the left has promised us, however we vote in November, would play out along such lines. Antifa, as callow and cowardly cry-bullies, would push us all too far. Then the “good people” out there would step forward and coolly resist. The Antifa thugs, after the first round of fighting, would crawl back to their mother’s basements to lick their wounds and whine on Facebook. Maybe file lawsuits against people who shot at them in self-defense.
It’s a hopeful scenario, one that I’ll confess helps me to get to sleep at night.
Don’t Underestimate the Enemy
But there’s another danger, that of overconfidence. If we get smug, we might strike too soon or too clumsily and be shocked when our efforts fail — or even blow up in our face. Or we might naively think that someone else, someone out there besides ourselves, will do the heavy lifting. And by the time we realize that there’s nobody here but us, it will already be too late.
We often hear the dangers of appeasement. That’s mostly from people like the neoconservatives, who have political and financial interests that hinge on America throwing its weight around. They speak in sonorous tones of the lessons of history. But for most of them there’s only one moment in history and just a single lesson. For them it is forever September 1938, and we are always at Munich.
Any leader who counsels caution, compromise, or disengagement from foreign problems they cast as Neville Chamberlain. That is (on their reading of history), a timid appeaser who overestimates his enemies, and hands them huge advantages (such as wealthy Czechoslovakia) by betraying vital allies. All in the hope of (in Churchill’s timeless words) “feeding the crocodile in the hope of getting eaten last.”
The Opposite of Appeasement
There are other moments in history, of course. One that too few of our leaders still remember is August 1914. That’s when the leaders of a peaceful, prosperous Europe followed their short-term interests straight into an inferno that almost destroyed our civilization. Each nation that marched into World War I was convulsed with enthusiasm and self-confidence. Citizens cheered as their armies marched off to war, fully expectiing them to come back victorious by Christmas. Had those leaders, or their people, or the press who led mass opinion, had any idea of the price each nation would pay, they would have been desperate to negotiate some compromise. By the time the price was clear, though, it was far too late.
It’s in that spirit of trying to help each of us soberly assess the threats that we face that I’d like to present to you another Antifa warrior. He’s not a laughable nitwit like the weeping arsonist. He seem more like the cold, devoted ideologue of the kind that “trained Marxists” in Black Lives Matter specialize in producing. Men like him took over Russia in 1917, China in 1949, and Cambodia in 1975 — in each case seizing power and launching genocides. In each case no “mainstream” analysts imagined the destruction right down the road. Those who were far-sighted enough to issue warnings got written off as cranks.
We have no idea how many thousands more like this warrior are out there, protected by blue-state mayors and governors, funded by whoever is paying to fly these terrorists all across America, and put them up in hotels.
Antifa’s First Combat Death
Meet, then, Michael Reinoehl. He’s the Antifa soldier who in cold blood gunned down Trump supporter Aaron Joseph Danielson for taking part in a Patriot Prayer rally in Portland last week. As The Sun reports:
The shooting came as a caravan of Trump supporters clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, as multiple arrests were made in the 95th night of demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.
Video shows the moment the man was shot at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street.
In one video taken from across the street, a man appears to yell: “We got a Trumper right here.”
One man on a skateboard moves past as another man crosses by him.
A man then opens fire, shooting a gun twice as the shots ring out.
The gunman and another man nearby then sprint away from the scene.
He Tried to Fight Federal Marshals
It wasn’t Democrat-led local police who tracked Reinoehl down, but federal marshals — whom Joe Biden would control if he wins in November. When they confronted Reinoehl, he didn’t curl up in a ball and cry. He came at them with a gun and threatened to kill them. So the marshals shot him dead.
The liberal news source Vice did a flattering profile of Reinoehl after his killing of Danielson, but before authorities found him.
It turns out Reinoehl was an Army veteran, so he had significant combat training. He had been serving as “armed security” for Black Lives Matter riots for several nights. He characterized the Christian Trump supporters who appeared as “far-right,” a running theme in mainstream media accounts, offered without any evidence.
Reinoehl claimed that the shooting was in self-defense, because Danielson might have tried to “knife” him or his friend. No knife was found on the scene. Danielson had a handgun, which was lodged in his waistband, since he never drew it. He did hold up a can of bear repellent mace just before Reinoehl shot him.
They Stalked the Trump Supporters
The Oregonian reports:
Reinoehl is seen hiding in an alcove, reaching into a pouch or waistband, as Danielson and a friend, Chandler Pappas, walk south on Third Avenue.
Homicide Det. Rico Beniga wrote that Reinoehl “conceals himself, waits and watches,” as Danielson and Pappas walk by south on Third Avenue.
After the two men pass, Reinoehl followed them, walking westbound across the street moments before the gunshots were fired, police said.
Police are charging Reinoehl with second-degree murder. Hours before marshals found him and he forced them to shoot him, Reinoehl told the Vice reporter, “I see a civil war right around the corner.”
God help us, and grant us peace. But we must be prepared.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”