Following the Antifa assault on Quillette journalist Andy Ngo in Portland and the terrorist attack on a Tacoma ICE facility, Wikipedia editors added these incidents to the Wikipedia page on Antifa, but left-wing editors removed them in just the latest case of Wikipedia editors protecting Antifa. Several editors, including an open Antifa supporter, subsequently made mocking comments about Ngo and one praised the attack on ICE.
Another violent incident reported in Newsweek last year was removed with some questioning Newsweek’s reliability. Wikipedia editors have also sought to remove mention of the FBI categorizing Antifa as engaged in terrorist activity. Some administrators, who hold more power on the site than regular editors, have intervened in the dispute to sanction Antifa critics.
Quillette editor and journalist Andy Ngo was attacked by Antifa activists in Portland, Oregon, at the end of June. The attackers sprayed Ngo with silly string, punched him repeatedly in the face, and threw a milkshake at him, the latter an increasingly popular form of assault being used by radical leftists against those they perceive as “far-right” figures. Ngo was subsequently hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage resulting from the assault. He was one of several attacked that day by members of the far-left movement, who were targeting a protest by the Proud Boys.
Wikipedia editor “Wumbolo” sought to update the Wikipedia article on Antifa to mention the assault. He then fought with other editors over a specific claim from Portland police that the milkshakes Antifa were throwing at people contained quick-drying cement, which could cause corrosive damage to the skin. All mention of the Ngo assault was subsequently removed by editor “Carptrash,” whose profile page includes multiple images of himself in an anarchist shirt, one time while brandishing a blunt instrument.
When the inclusion of the incident was brought to the discussion page of the article, several editors objected to mentioning Ngo’s assault in the article with one claiming it wasn’t clearly tied to Antifa. Editor “Grayfell” stated such “protests” had become “routine” and argued there was no evidence the assault on Ngo was “significant” enough to mention. Grayfell has been a regular contributor to the Antifa article, removing mentions of violence from the page since right after it was created.
A further discussion began on having a section for Antifa attacks on journalists citing incidents such as the violence against Ngo and Antifa terrorizing Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s wife at their home. This suggestion was rejected by numerous editors, with editor “Tsumikiria” claiming neither were journalists and making derisive remarks about Ngo. Tsumikiria’s profile page shows apparent bias as the editor expresses support for Antifa “in combating fascism in both word and action.” An editor was briefly suspended as making “personal attacks” by raising concerns about the profile page.
In a discussion on the cement milkshake allegations, “Tsumikiria” at one point dismissed the claims by mockingly stating, “I can link to blue checkmarks saying that the white particles on poor Andy’s face are nothing but coconut shaves.” Self-proclaimed socialist editor Simonm223 also derisively commented on Ngo, falsely attributing the cement claims to him and stated it was “nonsensical chatter from a blogger who got upset he got ID’d for his contributions to a racist blog.”
Battles over Ngo’s assault moved to the articles on Ngo and “milkshaking” as well. Editor Wumbolo feuded with other editors over issues such as them calling the Portland Police Department’s cement milkshake allegation a “hoax” and repeatedly trying to change the description of Ngo’s attackers to “antifascist” rather than Antifa or remove mention of the group altogether. Wumbolo was subsequently reported for his edits about Ngo’s assault and these edits cited to justify banning him from making any edits related to Ngo.
The attack on a Tacoma, Washington, ICE detention facility by self-identified Antifa terrorist Willem Van Spronsen prompted a similar response from editors. When an editor attempted to mention the attack, editors undid the edit claiming “Antifa” was not mentioned as the article specifically called him an “anti-fascist” instead and editors also suggested his self-identification as Antifa was not sufficient. Doug Weller, a former member of the site’s Arbitration Committee often likened to a Supreme Court, argued the attack was not important in relation to Antifa. Weller has regularly defended Antifa from criticism on the article’s discussion page.
Socialist editor Simonm223 did support mentioning the incident, but argued Spronsen should be presented as merely claiming to be Antifa, though stating he had Antifa contacts who confirmed Spronsen was “one of ours.” While arguing for this “neutral” representation, Simonm223 praised Spronsen’s actions as “meritorious” and described him as trying to “liberate” a “concentration camp” echoing Democratic attacks on immigration detention facilities. Responding to the discussion, editor “Satunalia0” accused editors of “whitewashing left-wing terrorism” and called them a disgrace, which prompted Simonm223 to reprimand him for incivility. Saturnalia0 had previously backed away from political articles over fights about Antifa.
Prior violence from Antifa was also targeted recently as editors removed mention of a Bernie Sanders supporter who was attacked by Antifa for having an American flag. The editor who added the incident noted it was covered in Newsweek, prompting some editors, including Weller, to suggest the outlet was not a reliable source. Conflict also renewed over Politico’s report that Antifa were considered terrorists by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. A commanding majority of mainly left-wing editors have supported a proposal to remove any claim of federal authorities considering Antifa terrorists.
Many Wikipedia editors protecting Antifa, including Weller and Tsumikiria, have edited articles about Antifa opponents, such as the Proud Boys. Contrasted with their objections to well-sourced descriptions of Antifa as a violent far-left group, they repeatedly sought to label the Proud Boys as “neo-fascists” based mainly off one Democrat’s characterization and claim the group “promotes” political violence citing their statements about defending themselves from Antifa. These editors also characterized free speech social media site Gab as far-right and anti-Semitic and pushed bogus conspiracy theories claiming the DHS and Sarah Palin referenced the Fourteen Words white nationalist slogan.
Such bias is consistent with Wikipedia’s general left-wing bias, including listing Trump as an advocate of “neo-nazi” conspiracy theories, defending the anti-white bigotry of New York Times editor Sarah Jeong, and misrepresenting the results of the Russia investigation. The site’s owners have still faced a backlash against efforts to achieve an even more progressive diversity agenda.
(Disclosure: The author has been involved in disputes with several of the parties mentioned in the article)
T. D. Adler edited Wikipedia as The Devil’s Advocate. He was banned after privately reporting conflict of interest editing by one of the site’s administrators. Due to previous witch-hunts led by mainstream Wikipedians against their critics, Adler writes under an alias.