In HBR Talk 89, Whammon's spaces: the gatekeeping of human rights considerations, we pointed out victim identitarians’ pattern of systematic elimination of spaces in which men’s issues can even be discussed on men’s terms, under men’s control, without feminist supervision. Spaces for discussing human rights issues, most of which feminists have designated as “women’s issues,” are women’s spaces. Discussions in these spaces are women’s discussions, and men had better not trespass… but men don’t need their own spaces in which to discuss their experiences, because the whole world is a men’s space. How’s that for a catch-22?
We pointed out that this pattern was starkly demonstrated in feminist responses to men posting their experiences as victims of sexual violence when #MeToo was coined. Accusing them of “invading a women’s moment,” feminists crowed, “Go create your own hashtag!” then complained, when some of them created #HimToo and #MenToo, that they were distracting from #MeToo. The message was clear: All public discussion of sexual violence victim’s experiences is reserved for only female victims. Men are perpetrators, and only perpetrators, so shut up, guys. Nobody gave you permission to talk about your human rights.
In HBR Talk 91, we talked about the newer phenomenon of milkshaking, which, while intended to seem like a harmless statement of disapproval, carries the possibility of unknown threats. To that point in time milkshakes had just been milkshakes, but as we explained, nobody knows what substance is in the assailant’s container until it gets dumped on the target, and the phenomenon of acid attacks in the UK under other circumstances is neither new, nor small, so it has to be taken seriously when any liquid is dumped on a person, no matter what it looks like. In the Cambridge attack, we also saw that our opponents are not above baiting or forcing someone into a self-defense situation, then isolating that moment of self-defense from context to try to use it against us in the court of public opinion.
We’ve been accused of exaggerating or even mischaracterizing the issue of such violent protest, mostly with reminders that guys… the whole world is a men’s space and men have all the rights, so there’s no need for spaces just for men, or discussion of just men’s issues. Nobody is silencing men, we’re told. Men never have to worry about being attacked in public places, we’re told. These are problems only women face, we’re told. So stop sucking up all the air in the room, you whiny man-babies!
Besides, it’s not victim identitarians who are violent. It’s you ebil, over-privileged muhsoggekneed oppressive patriarchal overlords! Never mind that the list of violent incidents that can legitimately be traced back to men’s rights advocates is completely empty. It’s all you, guys. Victim identitarians dindu nuffin!
That, of course, is why gay vietnamese journalist Andy Ngo is able to cover Antifa’s protests at a variety of public speaking events, often those in which contentious issues are under discussion, without fear for his safety…
Oh, wait… no.
No, he’s not.
Mr. Ngo has been attacked repeatedly for the crime of showing up at such events, asking tough questions, and engaging in media coverage that takes him way off the victim identitarian reservation. Recently, he was violently assaulted and battered, and his was camera stolen. In addition to physical battery, his assailants targeted him with pepper spray and thrown milkshakes, some of which police say may have contained quick-dry cement. This allegation has been downplayed on social media as “not a big deal,” but anyone who works with cement can tell you otherwise.
Dry cement mix is mostly calcium oxide. The US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a permissible exposure limit to address the inhalation hazards of working with it, largely due to what happens when it comes into contact with water.
According to both Poison Control and the National Precast Concrete Association, when combined with water, concrete mix produces calcium hydroxide. This can reach a pH of 12 or higher within a couple of minutes. That’s far more alkaline than your skin’s natural pH of about 5.5, and slightly more than chlorine bleach sold for laundry use, which generally has a pH of around 11. Skin contact with it can go unnoticed long enough to cause burns, and depending on the length of time, these can be severe. It can be especially dangerous if it gets in the eyes or mouth. If swallowed, it can cause stomach burns. If inhaled, it can irritate or damage the lungs. Wet concrete is also abrasive and hygroscopic, meaning it draws moisture out of the skin. It contains chemicals and metals that can cause allergic contact dermatitis, leading to a red rash or even blisters. There wouldn’t have to be enough of it in a milkshake to make it solid or even thick, just enough to create little pockets of caustic, alkaline substance as the powder binds with water in the mix. It’s doesn’t have to be like getting hit with a brick, as some have described. It is a personal-use chemical weapon. Using it this way is incredibly malicious and dangerous.
And that was Antifa’s response to Ngo covering their counter-protest at an event attended by the Proud Boys.
The Proud boys aren’t a men’s rights activist group. They’re kind of traditionalists, a self-described “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” From the rest of their description, they approach politics from a libertarian, maybe constitutionalist-conservative perspective. They do not ally themselves with the alt-right’s racial narratives, either, but do state their opposition “the left.”
They also provocatively refer to themselves as “western chauvinists,” which is probably “the left’s” main objection to them. Cambridge dictionary defines chauvinism as “the strong and unreasonable belief that your own country, sex, or group is the best or most important.” Wikipedia accuses them of white nationalism, but the proud boys website invites men of “all races, all religions, gay or straight” who love the west, so their opponents’ objections to them are either manufactured entirely, or manufactured as a cover for opposition to yet another group ceated to promote masculinity that doesn’t conform to feminist narratives. As a result of their opposition to each other, there has been a long history of violence between Antifa and the Proud Boys, with Antifa attacking anyone they consider to be even associated with the Proud Boys.
That objection to nonfeminist masculinity must be why Antifa attacked Mr. Ngo last November at a #HimToo rally, as well. Can’t have those uppity men objecting to being victims of sexual violence, can we? After all, men already have all of the rights, remember? How dare they tread on this obvious female territory!
In the most recent incident, video evidence shows Antifa protestors not just assaulting a completely nonviolent Andy Ngo, but doing so upon recognition of him, not upon provocation… and then pursuing him down the street to continue the attack after he attempted to disengage.
Because more than one person was documenting the protest, supporters of Antifa are once again left scrambling to deal with the de-legitimizing nature violence has upon their stated cause. They have had to engage in some pretty hypocritical apologia in order to defend this, and they’re not getting the kind of response they’d like from the public. Thugs don’t garner any sympathy. They can cause fear, and they can intimidate people into avoidance or other forms of compliance, but they cannot change minds.
So, Antifa’s supporters began repeating a statement Trump once made, for which they have roundly condemned him in the past: There was violence on both sides. I’ve seen none, however, who have been able to bring themselves to argue that any of it was committed by Mr. Ngo. Instead, they have attempted to justify the attack by labelling his reporting inflammatory and provocative. Go looking for trouble, his critics have said, and it will find you. He wuz askin’ for it!
Yeah, you heard that right. The logic is, this person deserved to be the target of a violent assault, battery, robbery, and possible chemical attack, all because he and his journalistic nose were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I guess it’s a-ok to blame a male crime victim for the actions of his attackers, right? Especially if it’s necessary to support your spin on a politically damaging incident!
And they would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling other documentarians. And that brings us back to the last lesson of the day:
We know our movement is profoundly hated by our political opponents. We know they are going to lie about us every chance they get, with full support from establishment media, huge platforms, and no compunctions whatsoever. Two things are on us: One is to avoid giving them free ammunition - that’s obvious - and the other, the best weapon we have, is documentation. It is no coincidence that Mr. Ngo’s recording capacity - his camera - was as much a target of the attack on him as he, personally was. Solid, irrefutable evidence is the only way to counter professional liars. This is going to have to be the approach taken by as many of us as possible.
Always… always be recording.