Last night, Trevor Noah addressed the Antifa movement that has gotten a lot more attention in recent days because of the violence they incited in Berkeley, CA over the weekend.
The Daily Show host referred to them as “vegan ISIS” and said when they think they’re “punching Nazis,” they’re only “punching their own cause.” He also mentioned some of the good they accomplish by exposing and doxxing neo-Nazis online.
But the critics came out in full force the next day, condemning Noah for being critical of Antifa.
Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast called comparing Antifa to ISIS “remarkably ignorant,” pointing out that the killer in Charlottesville who committed “an ISIS-style attack” wasn’t an Antifa member but a neo-Nazi.
Seth Simons of Paste Magazine went even further with his criticisms. He told his readers they shouldn’t watch the segment “unless you like to get your heart rate up first thing in the morning,” and called it “six minutes of half-hearted down-punching at a group Noah and his writers make scant effort to understand.” He accused Noah of taking “Fox News’s side” and “legitimizing right-wing propaganda” (he used a montage of Fox News clips to prove that they can use one act of violence to smear the entire Antifa movement).
He then took some personal shots at Noah:
What… is Noah good at? Is he funny? No. Is he smart? Also no. Does he have good politics? Hahahahahahahah. He’s… rich, I guess? And does okay enough impressions? Is that it?
Noah also took some heat on Twitter.
Noah is one of the very few people on the left who has publicly disavowed the violence of the Antifa movement. Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement condemning the violence that took place in her home state of California. You really haven’t seen any other high-profile Democrats doing the same because they simply fear a backlash like Noah has faced. But in reality it should be as easy as Republicans who were quick to condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis by name in the wake of Charlottesville (aside from President Trump of course). Just as the alt-right deserve shaming when they express hate or incite violence, so should Antifa.
I personally don’t usually agree with Noah’s weekly assessments of what goes on in the news, but he deserves credit for occasionally going after people on his side of the aisle. Earlier in the summer, he mocked Democrats for their struggle to rebrand themselves. And just this week, he defended First Lady Melania Trump from her critics who were going after her choice of shoes as she was leaving the White House before heading down to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
When you compare Noah to his competitors, specifically to Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers, you’d quickly notice that among the political late-night comedians, he is the only one who isn’t mean-spirited. Noah pokes fun at Trump constantly, but he doesn’t feel the need to sharpen the pitchforks and that’s because he doesn’t have to. That’s what makes him stand out. And it seems like ancient history since Colbert, Kimmel, and Meyers went out of their way to full-throatedly go after Democrats, who even in the era of Trump are still worthy to ridicule every now and then.
So I commend Trevor Noah for being able to call political nonsense on both sides — or as Trump would say “on many sides.” Because in such hyper-partisan times, it’s rare to find someone, especially in political entertainment, to acknowledge when their own side is at fault. It actually takes courage to do so. Let’s just hope Noah doesn’t lose his courage and cave to his critics.