A longtime, popular bookshop in Portland, Oregon has been terrorized into closing early this week by the Antifa domestic terrorist group.
Antifa — short for “anti-fascists” — is an international umbrella organization of leftist extremist militant groups that fight with white supremacists and neo-Nazis at demonstrations and riots. At least, that is what they allegedly do. At the Capitol riots last week, it wasn’t so clear.
But Antifa has a visceral hatred for author and journalist Andy Ngo, who is aggressive in his video coverage of demonstrators. In 2019, Ngo was targeted by Antifa and said he suffered traumatic brain injuries after being assaulted by their members while covering “protests” in Portland.
Once he recovered, Ngo continued to work, but he also wrote a book describing his experiences and the activities of Antifa to further spread public knowledge about the group. Most publishers wouldn’t carry it, and even Powell’s is offering apologies for having had the courage to list it.
Amazon carries a critique and review of the book — which isn’t even out in publication yet — but does not carry the book itself. In the meantime, while President Donald Trump has already been banned from all possible forms of public media communication, many conservative freelance journalists are finding that they, too, are being sidelined and in some cases, banned as well.
Ngo is among those on the list to be censored by Big Tech and Social Media.
“There are people in the mainstream media pushing for this,” warned Ben Shapiro, a conservative right-wing commentator who broadcasts his program via YouTube, owned by Google.
So far, Shapiro has not been yanked from the internet. He has cited New York Times writer Sarah Zhang, however, as a member of The Establishment who has advocated for the banning of Andy Ngo from Twitter.
Ngo would go to Antifa rallies, film the demonstrators and then subsequently post the footage on the internet; he would also identify the people who had been arrested. That is perfectly legal, and credentialed journalists sometimes do the same, sometimes in war zones in foreign countries, many times for six-figure salaries.
“And when I say rallies, I mean riots,” Shapiro commented.
In Portland, Oregon, Powell’s Bookstore announced it would not carry Ngo’s book physically, hoping it would stop the demonstrations by Antifa, and said the book would only be available online and even then, it would not be promoted.
In fact, a disclaimer was posted on Powell’s website rather than the usual synopsis summarizing the new book. Instead, the bookstore was driven to posting an apology:
At Powell’s, a lot of our inventory is hand-selected, and hand-promoted. And a lot of our inventory is not. With several million titles available online at any given moment, complete hand-curation is not possible. Unmasked by Andy Ngo came to us through an automatic data feed via one of our long-term and respected publishers, Hachette Book Group. We list the majority of their catalogue automatically, as do many other independent and larger retailers. We have a similar arrangement with other publishers.
This book will not be on our store shelves, and we will not promote it. That said, it will remain in our online catalogue. We carry books that we find anywhere from simply distasteful or badly written, to execrable, as well as those that we treasure. We believe it is the work of bookselling to do so.
Below was a link urging the customer to “Please see our full commitment to free speech” where the store says, among other things, “We will use our platform to amplify righteous causes. We will, however, also continue to carry a broad inventory because we believe it is the best way to do the fundamental work of bookselling, which is to make available and disseminate ideas and foster dialogue.”
How sad is it, when a nationwide American literature merchant has been forced into feeling the need to justify its business decisions on inventory selection out of fear of a domestic terrorist group that threatens to burn all the books in its Portland, Oregon flagship store?
Not that any of this helped.
The Antifa protesters who were gathered outside Powell’s Book Store explained that they stopped the release of the book that would be like stopping the release of ‘Mein Kampf.” Hence, their continued presence.
Shapiro pointed out that all this is the world of Censorship swallowing America.
“If the idea here is that bookstores can only carry books that the Left agrees with, and just like it is the idea here that Facebook is only allowed to allow posts that Facebook agrees with, or Twitter is only allowed to allow posts that Twitter agrees with . . . and not only that: If you are an outlet that does not implement the same standards as Facebook or Twitter does, with regard to its policing of content [so] that you can have your web service removed, [then] the culture of free speech is dead,” Shapiro observed.
“And then once the culture of free speech is dead, then it’s just a question as to when the law changes, right? Because the culture, the law always follows the culture,” Shapiro noted.
“The minute that the culture of free speech dies in America . . . it’s really just the Supreme Court standing between the Left and the destruction of actual legal free speech in the country.”
Shapiro is not the only one commenting on the frightening direction taken by social drama.
On his personal Twitter page – as opposed to his “official” State Department Twitter page – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was extraordinarily blunt about the events of the past several days. “Censorship, wokeness, political correctness, it all points in one direction – authoritarianism, cloaked as moral righteousness,” he wrote.
Censorship, wokeness, political correctness, it all points in one direction – authoritarianism, cloaked as moral righteousness. It’s not who we are as Americans. It’s time that we simply put woke-ism to sleep. pic.twitter.com/NuRFjwp1TS
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) January 13, 2021
This, remember, is only in a small corner of America. Consider New York City. Or Congress.