Do you remember the guy? The one who was head of the CIA under Obama? Yeah, John Brennan. That John Brennan who called President Trump a traitor in 2018. Later he backed off, but just a little. Credit to Rachel Maddow that she didn’t really let him off the hook.
Fast forward to January 2021 and now we have Brennan firing opening salvos in order to surveil those in Washington, D.C. for January 6th. The comments were interpreted to mean he was going to help create a system of surveillance directed at those who disagree with the liberals. The much abused term “extremist” kept getting more and more inflated until it was clear that this was a purely political ploy by weaponing the intelligence agencies against the 75 million Americans who voted against Biden.
The New York Post quickly responded by pointing out that his words are what you would expect from a “liberal authoritarian”. Moreover, there are many unanswered questions about his role in spying on President Trump since at least 2016. So, in some respects, his threatening comments are just an extension of what he has been doing all along.
This issue of surveilling conservatives has been simmering for the last few months. Then, unexpectedly, in a conversation at the Harvard School of Government, with Juliette Kayyam in Mid-May, John Brennan suffers a near fatal brain fart by suggesting that antifa concerned him and that he acknowledged they dealt in vigilantism.
What will congressman Nadler say now? Remember he said antifa was a myth? Perhaps more interesting though is the conduct of FBI Director Christopher Wray in the background. As a complement to Brennan’s most recent comment, Mr. Wray’s views on antifa have had a most interesting evolution. In September 2020 he made comments similar to Nadler’s. Then, in March 2021, he admitted there is an organization called antifa but denied they had any involvement in D.C. on January 6th, 2021. Finally, on April 15, 2021, he acknowledged that the FBI was investigating violent attacks conducted by antifa. Then, a month later, Brennan states his concerns about an organization, the existence of which, he would have denied only a few months ago.
We are confronted with the possibility that Brennan figured out who the real enemy is. However, a more cynical analysis is needed in order to make sense of his surprising statements. Has antifa somehow accomplished what the democrats hoped to accomplish and now they are not needed? Or, is antifa becoming more of a political liability? Even the tiny bit of pushback seen coming from concerned citizens tells the democrats antifa is going to start making them look bad.
However, there is a disturbing historical parallel. Recall that Hitler had his brownshirts; violent thugs used to attack perceived opponents. Before Hitler was to become chancellor, the brownshirts had to be neutralized. That was the purpose of the “Night of the Long Knives”. This feels like the moment before the brownshirts were neutralized. Can we expect other events in the coming days where it appears that a noose is being drawn around antifa’s neck? They have been remarkably unscathed by law enforcement.
A more benign conjecture is that this is a step towards having antifa go underground until another time when democrats will really need their services. However, some have suggested that members of antifa cannot stop being violent. Some will foment yet some other attacks in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere. Should there be a hot summer for 2021, expect more violent outbursts.