CNN's Chris Cuomo argued Monday night Antifa protesters are wrong to hit people, police, and reporters, "but fighting hate is right" and in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, "those who oppose it are on the side of right."
Cuomo said "all punches are not equal morally" when it comes to bigots. However, he acknowledged that two punches are actually equal "in the eyes of the law."
"People who show up to fight against bigots are not to be judged the same as the bigots, even if they do resort to the same petty violence," Cuomo said.
"Fighting against hate matters," he added.
"I argue to you tonight, all punches are not equal morally," he said. "In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here's the argument: if you're a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you're not about any virtuous cause. You're just somebody who's going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong."
"But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no. Fighting against hate matters," Cuomo concluded.
From Monday's Cuomo Prime on CNN:
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Here's the closing argument. Two wrongs and what is right. It's been one year since Heather Heyer was killed for standing up to hate, and our thoughts still go to her family.
We know what happened with racial tensions nationwide after that. And this weekend was built as round two, "unite the right", the sequel. Organizers planned to rally in Washington, D.C. this time.
But the turn out of white supremacists was thankfully pathetic, which is why I didn't have to go there and cover it. Only a couple dozen showed up. Proof they lost membership after being exposed again last year as a bunch of hateful losers? No. They're still in force online, but they didn't have the guts to show up, and that's good.
Counterprotesters did. There were good numbers of them. The vast majority were peaceful.
But peppered in the crowd were members of Antifa, or anti-fascists. They covered their faces, confronted police and berated journalists and that was wrong.
Now, you've been hearing it. There's a lot of about what-aboutism and spin going on. And it's kind of sickening to me. So, let's all agree on some common understandings. A protester uses their voice, song, slang, slurs, there's a huge range, but it is talk.
When you use your hands in a violent way, you are a rioter. And unless you're justified in defending yourself and you hit someone, you're a thug, you're a criminal. You attack cops, you slap the media, you are in the wrong, period.
But I argue to you tonight, all punches are not equal morally. In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here's the argument: if you're a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you're not about any virtuous cause. You're just somebody who's going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong.
But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no. Fighting against hate matters.
Now, how you fight matters too. There's no question about that. But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out.
That's what Trump did wrong last year when he said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides?
DNALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there's blame on both sides. You look at both sides, I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it.
TRUMP: And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: No, and he proved he still believes that when he wrote this before this year's first anniversary.
The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to all Americans.
He needed to call out the bigots and the white supremacists and he didn't. Why? And why does he therefore have unprecedented support from these fringe elements of white power? Two wrongs and what is right? The bigots are wrong to hit. Antifa, or whomever, anarchists or malcontent or misguided, they are also wrong to hit.
But fighting hate is right. And in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, those who oppose it are on the side of right. Think about: civil rights activist, were they the same morally as the bigots, as the racist with whom they exchanged blows. Are people who go to war against an evil regime on the same moral ground as those they seek to stop from oppressing the weak?
When you punch me in the nose for being Italian and you say I'm somehow less than, am I in the same moral place when I punch you back for saying that? It's not about being right in the eyes of the law, but you also have to know what's right and wrong and immoral, in a good and evil sense.
That's why people who show up to fight against bigots are not to be judged the same as the bigots, even if they do resort to the same petty violence. The law will take care of that. How you disagree matters. We should be our best. But I am arguing that Trump was wrong to create a moral equivalency between bigots and those who oppose them, making them equal wrongs.
Those hateful few who take solace and encouragement from the president's efforts, my message to you is simple. Be aware, there are many of us who see you as unequal, as less than. And you will be opposed at every turn because what you are about is wrong, and fighting you is right.
Thank you for watching.
"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon is going to pick up the show right now.
It's a tricky argument. I know I'm going to get some heat. I understand that.
The law will take care of what you do to me and what I do to you. But to make it moral equivalence, when you're coming at me because I'm saying that you don't matter in this world as much as I do, those are not equivalent motivations that lead us into the confrontation.