Well, it looks like I’m late to the party (as usual), but I figured I’d share some brief thoughts on Richard Spencer getting punched. Having read different takes on the attack, I am most inclined to agree with the one offered by far left academic Freddie deBoer.
At times, I wonder if there’s any real point in having these discussions. As deBoer rightly points out, every political tribe found some way to spin this incident to reinforce their narratives. Of course, it’s no surprise that the United States is an intractably polarized society, so expecting people to find common ground is a Sisyphean task.
With that said, lefties who are celebrating these Antifa attacks might want to temper their enthusiasm a bit. As Hunter Wallace and Matt Parrott have remarked, now might not be a great time for the left to start a violent war. After all, leftists are always denouncing the white right’s heart of darkness, penchant for gun ownership, and tradition of hateful violence. So, their strategy is to then pick a fight with these hateful gun lovers?
Sort of reminds me of that scene in The Dark Knight where Lucius Fox calmly dissuades a Wayne Enterprise executive from attempting to blackmail Bruce Wayne – a secret vigilante who kicks the crap out of violent criminals. No, I’m not at all trying to compare alt righters to superheroes like Batman, but you get the point.
It’s also worth noting that these kinds of Antifa attacks are mainly launched in large urban areas where liberals and leftists already dominate the political and cultural landscape. Something tells me most Antifas wouldn’t have the temerity to pull off these stunts in rural, gun owning white enclaves.
Speaking of whiteness, what makes me uneasy about this whole “is it okay to punch Nazis?” debate is that cultural leftists have a very liberal definition of what constitutes nazism. To be fair, I can understand the intense hostility towards actual, avowed Nazis; the Nazi Party’s track record speaks for itself. However, I’ve come to conclude that any white person who deviates too much from liberal orthodoxy on race and immigration risks getting tarred with that label.
Take the supposed Fascist-in-chief, for example. Liberals and leftists alike are fond of comparing Trump to Hitler due to his inflammatory statements about Mexicans and Muslims. But let’s break his statements down a bit. When Trump spoke of Mexico sending rapists, he was referring to immigrants coming from south of the border. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he did not call for mass deportations of Latino Americans or their ethnic cleansing. Regarding Muslims, banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries – which, tellingly, doesn’t include Saudi Arabia – is understandably controversial. However, he has not signaled any intent to ethnically cleanse American born Muslims.
Still, that doesn’t stop the left from seeing Trump as ushering in the fourth reich. Since leftists don’t have a narrowly tailored definition of “Nazi,” any white person who looks at immigration and demographic change askance is suspect in their eyes. How long until white Trump voters – most of whom know nothing about the alt right – critical of immigration become legitimate punching targets? Finally, since I like to gratuitously claim that cultural leftists are the true global minority, it’s worth saying that if Trump is a fascist, then most of the world is fascist!
That aside, I won’t tell lefties and Antifas that they shouldn’t punch Nazis, real or otherwise. If they believe that it’s okay to assault those who espouse repugnant views, that’s their prerogative. However, they then forfeit the right to cry foul whenever one of their own is violently attacked. That’s why, while I am firmly against violence, I have no sympathy for, say, the Antifas who were stabbed in Sacramento back in June.
I’ll end this post by using a football analogy, even though it’s my least favorite sport. Whenever the quarterback is in the pocket, he’s afforded certain protections. Defensive players cannot perform even slightly late hits, and must take care when tackling the quarterback. However, the second the quarterback leaves the pocket and tries to scramble, defensive players can treat him like just another running back.
While admittedly a strained analogy, I view political violence in a similar fashion. So long as one is not engaging in violent behavior that isn’t self-defense or inciting violence – and yes, there is a big difference between directly inciting violence and saying something offensive that provokes violent reactions – he should not have to fear physical assault; but the second one leaves the pocket and starts throwing punches out of the blue, he should be, within reason, fair game. In other words, while we shouldn’t cry for Antifas when they’re violently attacked, I also don’t think one should be able to shoot an Antifa just because of a thrown punch .
Make of that what you will.