Law professor, constitutional scholar, and nationally recognized legal commentator Jonathan Turley said that “Antifa is winning” and is leading an “anti-free speech movement in the United States” because the radical left-wing organization believes free speech “is a tool of oppression.”
“In my three decades of teaching, I have never seen the level of fear and intimidation that we have today on our campuses,” Turley said on Aug. 4 in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.
“Many professors are afraid to voice dissenting views of the current protests or other issues out of fear that they could be accused of racism or even physically attacked,” he said. “To put it simply, Antifa and these other extremist groups are winning, and few people seem to be taking notice.”
The hearing was titled, “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.”
During Turley’s appearance before the subcommittee, Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked him to elaborate on comments where he said that Antifa is “profoundly anti-speech and violent.”
Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, began by referencing the Antifa Handbook and noting that that the para-military group rejects free speech. “Specifically,” Turley said, “they object to statements like ‘I may disagree with what you have to say, but I would give my life to defend it.’ They reject that. They believe that free speech itself is a tool of oppression, and that has been the message on campuses.”
Turley said that Antifa and other groups like it are alive and well in communities and on college campuses, despite those who may say Antifa does not exist because it does not have a headquarters or clear chain of command.
“What I thought was disturbing about these statements of ‘Antifa is a myth’ is that many of us on campus have been dealing with Antifa for years and Antifa is winning,” Turley said. “There is a tremendous movement, an anti-free speech movement in the United States.”
When it comes to the protests, Turley said he thinks both the far-right and the far-left are doing things that are wrong; however, he has a deeper concern.
“My greatest concern,” Professor Turley said, “and the one that I would hope members would look at, is this anti-free speech movement that Antifa is part of. I’ve been teaching for 30 years. I have never seen the level of fear and intimidation on campuses that we see today.”
Turley added that faculty and students alike are afraid to speak their minds in regards to specific issues because they are worried about the backlash and are afraid of being labeled as a racist—or worse.
“We’ve had law professors who have been physically attacked, have required police protection—that’s the environment we’re developing,” he said. “And for people that think that Antifa and groups like it can be allies, they don’t know Antifa.”
“That alarm that I have is because I’m watching my profession, the teaching profession, die with free speech,” he said.
He further described how school administrators do not protect free speech by allowing speakers to be barred from speaking on campus, if the student body protests it.
“The message is clear to faculty, it’s clear to students. There’s a new orthodoxy that you should not confront, and you certainly shouldn’t disagree with,” Professor Turley finished.