There’s at least one part of antifa that Trevor Noah likes: the name. “It’s short, it’s punchy—excuse the pun—and, most importantly, you don’t have to know how to spell fascist,” he said on The Daily Show on Thursday night. But otherwise, Noah has some concerns about the left-wing activist groups who identify as “anti-fascist,” who have opposed the alt-right using counter-protests, doxxing, and sometimes by punching white nationalists.
It’s those extreme tactics by a fringe element of the movement that led Noah to compare the group to “vegan ISIS,” criticizing them for, among other things, breaking Starbucks windows as a “symbolic” statement. “Most people see that and think, ‘Great, now I have to walk a whole block to the next Starbucks,’” joked Noah, questioning the efficacy of antifa’s methods. “It definitely doesn’t convince the Starbucks guy, the person who’s gonna be in the store cleaning up the glass saying ‘Yeah, they made a good point about fascism. I understand what they mean.’”
While antifa has also done some good, Noah argues that these violent members, some of whom join for the wrong reasons, can undermine the rest of the group’s message. “When you think you’re punching Nazis, you don’t realize that you’re also punching your cause,” he said. “Because your opponents will just use every violent incident to discredit your entire movement.” With Fox News (and accordingly, Donald Trump), looking for any opportunity to play the victim, that’s not something the left can afford right now.