GOP Trying to Criminalize Dissent? Ted Cruz-Sponsored Bill Uses 'Antifa' and 'Left-Wing Activists' Interchangeably

A resolution introduced this week by Senators Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy calling for the Antifa anti-fascist movement to be designated a domestic terrorist organization has been criticized for using "Antifa" and "left-wing activists" interchangeably, and possibly implying that all manner of dissent could be considered terrorism.

The resolution, introduced Thursday, is titled, "Calling for the designation of Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization." It states that the Antifa, a left wing autonomous, militant anti-fascist movement, "believe that free speech is equivalent to violence, have used threats of violence in the pursuit of suppressing opposing political ideologies."

But the resolution also denounces actions by protestors "affiliated with Antifa" and "left wing activists."

The resolution states that journalist Andy Ngo was "intimidated and threatened with violence by protestors affiliated with Antifa" and that he was "physically attacked by protestors affiliated with Antifa."

It also states that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees were subjected to violent threats after their personal information was posted online by "left wing activists," and that "according to the Wall Street Journal, an ICE officer was followed by left wing activists and 'confronted when he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp.'"

The Journal article was not a news story but rather an opinion piece — written by Ngo — about a mob that surrounded an ICE officer in Portland in June 2018. Ngo's piece does not contain the word "Antifa."

On Friday, behavioral scientist and National Observer reporter Caroline Orr quote-tweeted a post by Cruz on the resolution and stated: "They're trying to criminalize dissent. Read the bill. They use the terms 'antifa', 'affiliated with antifa', and 'left-wing activists' interchangeably. They want to call you a terrorist for opposing the Trump administration too strongly or loudly."

They’re trying to criminalize dissent. Read the bill. They use the terms “antifa”, “affiliated with antifa”, and “left-wing activists” interchangeably.

They want to call you a terrorist for opposing the Trump administration too strongly or loudly.

— Caroline Orr Bueno (@RVAwonk) July 19, 2019

Orr pointed out that the bill seeks to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization even though there is no actual organization behind Antifa.

"But look at the terminology: 'affiliated with antifa'; 'left wing activists'. This has nothing to do with public safety," Orr tweeted, and reiterated, "They're trying to criminalize dissent."

Cruz had tweeted that "Antifa is a terrorist organization composed of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their extreme agenda through aggressive violence" and that "time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their central purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views."

Orr commented that ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection "are responsible for far more deaths in the past year than antifa in the past three decades." She also tweeted that in 30 years of antifascist activity in the United States, there has been one confirmed fatality, while over 20 years of far-right extremist activity from 1990 to 2012 in the U.S., there have been 670 fatalities, more than 3,000 non-fatal injuries and more than 4,000 attacks.

Antifa Ted Cruz Bill
Police clash with demonstrators as they try to clear 'Antifa' members and anti-Trump protesters from the area during a protest on June 4, 2017, in Portland, Oregon. Police used tear gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets to clear the crowd. A protest dubbed "Trump Free Speech" by organizers was met by a large contingent of counter-demonstrators who viewed the protest as a promotion of racism. Scott Olson/Getty