“The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists.”
Couple of weeks ago a video of a member of Antifa punching a supposed Neonazi exploded with wild cheers of joy. After all, what is more American than punching a Nazi, read the tweet that since grew into a meme.
For one: Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Speech is sacred, and should remain Sacrosanct. Now I understand that some might disagree, and to make it clear, for me Freedom of Speech is everything short of Hate speech that I will equate with call to action. That last one is unacceptable and should be harried by law without any kind of restraint or remorse. Everything else should be a fair game no matter what comes out of someone’s mouth. Someone says Martians are superior to Eartherners? Tough, ask the gingers how it feels to be without a soul.
When asked in an interview if it is ok to punch a Nazi, Slovenian marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek vehemently disagreed with the notion saying: “If a guy talks like that jerk [Richard Spencer], you should just ignore him.”, “Don’t even acknowledge him as a person.”
Now some might disagree, vociferously or reluctantly. It does not really matter why, but they would like to argue, that the “Nazi” had it coming, he deserved it. The thing is, in civil society, in the West at least, I would like to believe that we have ways to solve our problems without resolving to more basic instincts. For one, simply because of the unwritten law of reciprocity. If you can punch anyone you disagree with, you are sooner or later getting punched yourself, and then you have only yourself to blame, because you already instituted that disagreement alone as good enough reason to throw a punch at someone.
You don’t believe me? Just ask that member of Antifa who got shot in the stomach in the act of self-defence because he was harassing an attendee of Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech at the University of Washington. To be clear, the shooter later surrendered himself to police, and they let him go without pressing any charges. Something you will not see, from these “brave” individuals who dare take a punch at a “Nazi”.
The same violence perpetrated against a Trump supporter can be seen on this video, where the “protesters” against the President’s Trump travel ban cheered and yelled “That’s right Nazi boy!” after knocking the man unconscious. That all this was accompanied by the chants of “peaceful protest” is a mere farce at this point. It has been long since chanting “Peaceful protest” actually meant peaceful protest. These days, it means, either you bow down in submission, or the same “peaceful protest” will happen to you, so take note. On the same airport one of the counter-protesters in support of the President’s Trump travel ban had enough of being called “Nazi-scum” and lashed out.
The third case involves members of Antifa beating a woman on the street, brutally kicking her while she lied on the floor. All because the woman in question wore a ring with a Spanish flag on it, in Spain. Radical left responded by saying this was “poetic justice”.
I ask you, is that acceptable? Is that applaudable? Is that not worth the condemnation, and persecution it deserves?
This is the primary reason why words, no matter how hurtful to your sensibilities should never be countered with violence. It is not the same. And I would dare say, here is where the whole conundrum stems from. Treating physical violence on the same level as a disagreement of ideas or an insult thrown. No matter how much it aches your soul, that does not make it equal to kicking someone’s teeth in. That is why we have the phrase “a battle of wits”. If it comes to fists, so be it, but at least make sure that the fists were what lead to the fight.
Once you equalise throwing a punch to throwing an insult, the line separating the two categories disappears. There is no difference between the two, and if there is no difference, there is no stopping you from hitting someone because you disagree with his ideas about the world. That is a dangerous path to thread, and certainly one that will eventually back-fire.
To celebrate violence exacted upon someone you disagree with is disgusting. We should never condone it, and always condemn such an abhorrent behaviour. No matter who it comes from or who the target is. It is not acceptable. It is not debatable.
In the end, Pastor Martin Niemöller said it the best:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”