I rarely read contemporary non-fiction but this book caught my attention. I follow Andy Ngo on Twitter and have seen his videos of the ongoing rioting that is still happening in Portland. He often covers riots and violence that I never see on TV. I also saw how Antifa went after him on social media which actually added to his credibility with me. I am working on some fiction where insights into Antifa might be useful, so I picked this book up. Besides, as a true crime author, I thought it might be something worth exploring.
I know there are bound to be a few of you that will claim, “Antifa is a movement – it’s not an organization. They didn’t riot this summer, the riots were all caused by right wing extremists.” I won’t wade into that debate because nothing I write is going to change your perspective. Let me share a true story from this spring. A friend of mine was elected to a position in a rural Virginia county’s Republican Committee. Three days after the announcement of his position in the newspaper, someone shoved a handwritten note in his mailbox. It opened with “Greetings from Antifa” and went on to say that they were “a direct antifacist group” and he had been declared to be a fascist. It was signed with the group’s three arrows stabbing downward. I have a photo of the note I keep on my phone – I’m not sharing it because I don’t want to jeopardize any criminal investigation that may be underway.
The note was a threat. If any of us had received it, we would have felt threatened. It was shoved in a mailbox in the middle of the night by cowards. It was a message – ‘we know where you live,’ a form of doxing, which I later learned is an Antifa trademark tactic. So while you may say that the group doesn’t exist or that it is just an idea – let me say that they receive funds, legal assistance and I have seen their tactics in-use…even in rural Virginia.
Andy Ngo’s book, Unmasked, is a disturbing read, mostly because it is well documented and rings true. These anarchist cells are a dangerous threat to our nation, if not the world. Mr. Ngo has been on the front lines from their most recent incidents of violence and has done a very good job of organizing the book to cover not only the history of these movements, but their dangerous tactics.
I particularly liked his no-nonsense reporting of the media cover-up of Antifa’s violence. The sympathetic press and half of the politicians of our nation refuse to acknowledge the role Antifa has clearly played in incidents – all of which are confirmed and footnoted in Ngo’s book. I found it truly amazing that while I was reading it, on The View, Joy Behar said Antifa, “…doesn’t even exist.” Her position on this was so well written about in Ngo’s book, it was almost creepy to hear her words. (God no, I don’t watch The View – but I did see a link to her comment on Facebook.)
Extremists on both sides are horrible – be they right or left. This book focuses on one organization but also does not pull punches with the right wing groups out there. Antifa is a danger because they want to take down the United States and do away with capitalism…period. They believe that the ends justifies the means – so violence is perfectly acceptable to them. They are dangerous– having nearly killed the author of Unmasked at one point in their attacks. Others have died by their actions as well, as you can read about in this book.
My criticism of the book is mostly in the history chapter. I would have expected a little more there, such as the 1920’s anarchist movements and bombings in the US and around the globe. It was covered, but only lightly. I would have liked to have seen more about other radical groups such as the Weather Underground or the Symbionese Liberation Army. Then again, I’m a historian – so that is what I would have liked to have read more about.
What I found probably most disturbing was how politicians had responded to Antifa in terms of dismissing charges against them or cowering to them in other ways. In some ways, I feel they are courting the devil by not taking a stand against the Antifa threat.
I think Unmasked is an important book because it bypasses the mainstream media’s ignoring the Antifa threat or even reporting on it. It is well footnoted and supported. Ngo’s writing style is crisp. I like the structure of the book. I didn’t want to read his origin story first, and he didn’t disappoint – he put me, as the reader, in the thick of the action from the start. I encourage people to pick this book up and read it if you want the inside story of this domestic threat to our nation’s stability.