The world erupted when Richard Spenser, an outright Nazi, was sucker punched when giving an interview. There were two notable responses. Gleeful catharsis, prompting the trending "punch a Nazi" meme, and consternation.
"Violence is never the answer" is often the rallying cry for those hoping for a civilised world with civilised discourse.
It is a notable goal, and one we should never stop striving for.
But what are we to do when the other side is not willing to behave in a civilised fashion? The truth is, I don't know. Violence shouldn't be the answer. It should never get there. And yet... and yet...
Some background on Mr. Spence. This is a man who has quoted from Nazi propaganda and denounced Jews. He's refused to denounce Hitler. He advocates the "peaceful" genocide of non-whites and aims to create an all-white nation for the "dispossessed white race."
He is educated, which means he's probably just as aware of the incredible importance of genetic diversity to species survival. He's chosen to ignore it. He's presumably aware that a minor adaptation like increased melanin in the skin to protect against the sun (or the lack of melanin in order to acquire as much vitamin D as possible in regions where there isn't much sun) does not constitute a different species entirely and is certainly no basis for inferiority or superiority. He's chosen to ignore it. He's probably well aware of the enormous impact that non-white cultures have had on the development of culture, mathematics and science. He's chosen to ignore it. He knows all this. He doesn't care. Reason and evidence have absolutely no impact on his worldview, or the worldviews of people like him, whatsoever.
So, does that justify punching him? Or Nazis in general?
No, not by itself. He and people like them are welcome to believe whatever they want to believe. The problem is when they move to make their beliefs reality.
Genocide, peaceful or otherwise (clue: there's no such thing as peaceful genocide, for fuck's sake), is an act of violence. Calling for it, making people feel unsafe in their own damned country (or any country), is an act of violence. Anyone who claims "but they're just words" fails to understand the violence of words.
The terrorist who struck the mosque in Quebec and murdered six people was a Trump supporter, moved to action by the words of the 45th president of the United States and the terrifying people he's surrounded himself with and their horrifying rhetoric. Terrorists are recruited with words. People are moved to action with words.
So, does that justify punching Mr. Spencer? Or Nazis in general?
Jesus fuck, I don't know.
I do know that words are no use against the hate of Spencer and his ilk.
I do know that historically, words did nothing to stop the rise of Nazi philosophy, and the gut-wrenching, tragic result of that rise.
You know what did?
But what do you do if the other side, a side calling for the genocide of millions of people based on skin colour, refuses to talk? What do you do if they simply will not listen? What do you do if they plunge ahead with their hatefulness and threaten everything you hold dear?
Is it okay to punch Nazis?
I'm, sadly, unashamedly in the uncivilised camp of "yes."
I know it's rough. I know it's not civilised. I know we could be so much better. Sometimes, though, we have to take a stand, and we have to take up arms.
Violence is not the answer, I know. Until it is.
People in the millions sacrificed everything putting down the Nazis. They did it with the words "Never Again" on their lips. And they died hoping those words were true.
If punching a couple of Nazis prevents what happened then from happening now, then always punch Nazis.
After all, an eye for an eye makes the world blind. And then where would it stop? We'll all be punching each other until the life of the earth is over and it is consumed by the exploding sun... if we even make it that far. I am aware of this. I understand the other side. But i'm staring into a world where the wish for non-violence is permitting the other side to inflict horrendous violence on others. Being not a target of Nazis and their modern ilk, I feel the call for non-violence is a privilege of mine; one that others are not as fortunate as me to have.
Violence should never be the answer.
But in this world of ours, sometimes it is the only answer we have.
It does not speak well of humanity, does it?