I believe that it is OK to punch a Nazi, or a Communist, or a member of ISIS. I say that because I believe in self-defense from a tyrannical government. But Alt-Right leader, white supremacist/nationalist, and all-around shitbird, Richard B. Spencer neither passes, nor carries out, public policy that deprives individuals of their rights. Is he a bigoted asshole? Yes. Is he a member of a totalitarian regime guilty of violence against others? No.
The title of this installment is an answer to the question posed by New York Times writer Liam Stack, “Is it O.K. to punch a Nazi?” The question is in response to the clobbering Spencer took from an unidentified male at the inauguration.
Stack is trying to stretch a bunt into a double, so I’m going to tackle him. It’s clear that Stack ascribes to the “Everyone I Don’t Like Is Hitler And Everything I Don’t Like Is Fascism Doctrine.” Though much later in his piece Stack writes, “For the record, Richard Spencer says he is not a Nazi…” the article begins by implying that Spencer is a Nazi.
Spencer, however, is not a Nazi, and not just because he says he is not, but because he objectively is not. Spencer advocates “non-violent ethnic cleansing,” which is a unicorn, because if somebody resists to being expelled from the States, violence would occur when they are forcibly removed; who is going to volunteer to resettle themselves just because a minority of white people want them to? What Spencer advocates is risible, but ethnic nativism and isolation both pre-exist fascism, and is not automatically equal to fascism. As far as I am aware, Spencer advocates for separation between races, not the exporting of white totalitarianism to all corners of the globe, nor does he call for a socialism in which the state is given control over the products of its economy to be distributed in furtherance of its ethnic hegemony. Fascism contains multiple components, and Nazism is how one political party employed it.
I’m going to check Ari Paul into the boards because he’s also trying to steal bases. He writes:
“Those who don’t underestimate the violent nature of white supremacy see these acts of intimidation—including the attack on Spencer—as self-defense…
Spencer advocates a white nationalism masquerading as nonviolent, despite his followers’ clearly apocalyptic fantasy language. His movement spurred an on-again-off-again-maybe-on-again armed march by Neo-Nazis against Jews in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports a spike in racist incidents following Donald Trump’s election, including several dozen bomb threats against Jewish community centers. Even if Spencer maintains he wants a nonviolent sorting of the races, many of his rabid followers are having none of it, and he’s canny enough to know it. Up until months ago, it seemed that the alt-right might be extreme and reprehensible, but still operating under free speech. But when a movement becomes so inherently racist and violent, we must judge the attack on Spencer in the right context.”
Paul must be clairvoyant since he’s able to trace back any racist incidents since the election of Trump to Spencer’s rhetoric. He blames Spencer for bombing threats of Jewish community centers, as well as a Neo-Nazi march against Jews, which has not occurred yet, if it ever will.
Paul must be a master linguist, since he defines self-defense as offense.
Though he is British and would therefore be cast in a movie as a villain, Charles C.W. Cooke plays the adult in the room. He writes:
“This is not mere philosophy; it’s practically important, too. Why? Well, because those who would carve out an exception for Spencer and his ilk are, whether they know it or not, opening the door to a suicidal debate as to which ideologies can be deemed sufficiently threatening to lose civilizational protection. I will grant happily that Nazism is incompatible with American liberty. But there are a good many other doctrines that share that honor, among them communism and radical Islam. Does this mean I can punch Angela Davis in the face, or that my doing so would be fine? Should I have been given a free pass and a shrug of the shoulders if I’d clocked Eric Hobsbawm? And how much latitude should we give to individuals to draw up their own lists of Acceptable Punchees? I happen to believe that the half of Democrats who want to ban “hate speech” are enemies of liberty. Can I assault them?
A great test of any free country is how it treats its dissenters. The man who agrees with the majority is in no more need of protection than the man who parrots the talking points of the cultural and political establishment. But the heretic — the man who for better (Martin Luther King) or for worse (Richard Spencer) declines to endorse the tenets of the status quo? That’s the guy who you need to watch. Within the bounds of liberty he may be reviled or championed, ignored or followed, and shunned or emulated. But he should never, ever be punched in the face for his opinion.”
The day after Spencer got his clock cleaned, the Women’s March took place in Washington D.C. These demonstrators thought they’d hit a stand up triple, but I’m giving them a yellow card.
Call me facetious and cynical for saying this, but the Women’s March was just the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democrats; this march would have occurred had Clinton won, and they would have made the GOP in Congress, rather than Trump, the subject of their ire. If Clinton had won, the march would have been a celebration, but it also would have served to put her on notice that the progressive base of the party will be keeping its eye on her.
The Women’s March website is standard liberal progressive boilerplate, under the guise of how they all relate to “women’s issues.” The broad (pun possibly intended) nature of their beliefs and goals devolves into vague and even contradictory statements. Example: They support BLM, but also support government intrusion into any allegedly inequitable component of society. How do they square denouncing bad police shootings with advocating a monopoly on violence to control the private sector? They can’t, and they don’t bother to.
The website frequently references Native American women and Muslim women, and states, “We honor and respect tribal laws and jurisdictions.” Does this mean Native American tribal laws, or Sharia? How do they square the Constitutional Amendments that they believe would make everything equitable with respecting tribal laws and jurisdictions (would these federal amendments apply to Native American reservations, or, say a Muslim enclave in or around Dearborn, MI)? They can’t, and they don’t bother to.
To argue for or against something by employing contradictory statements, or by redefining words so they mean the opposite of their actual definition is as nonsensical as the mixed sports metaphors I’ve been employing throughout this column. Almost as nonsensical is the fact that a demonstration that placed such a premium on reproductive rights (a phrase that means whatever pro-choicers want it to mean on any given day) sells baby onesies on its merch page.
If terms have only connotations and no denotations, it makes it very difficult for ideologies, doctrines and dogmas to actually be comprised of principles. Post-modernism does not lend itself well to legal frameworks. It will make it impossible for anyone of competing ideologies to understand, let alone engage in civil discourse with, one another.
Why can’t progressives and statists just be honest? Why do so many feel the need to obfuscate their motives, means, and goals? The proclivity to bastardize language in order to proselytize to the unconverted and support statism is one reason why the Left continues to lose elections. I don’t respect those who agitate for change yet refuse to be straightforward and upfront about it.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
Photo: Tim Goessman / New York Times