No, It’s Not OK to Punch Nazis

No, It’s Not OK to Punch Nazis August 15, 2017

Pillow Fight, Piazza Maggiore, Bologna;

A while back, there was a discussion circulating on facebook and twitter about how it was morally acceptable to “punch a Nazi” because they were so reprehensible that their rights to, well, not be subject to violence, were lost.  (See the New York Times for some of this discussion.)  Now, to be sure, in my facebook feed and discussion groups, and in my twitter feed, it was largely a matter of people objecting to the idea that this is OK.

But yesterday it resurfaced, in the form of a status update on facebook which I’m sharing text-only:

If you voted Republican but claim you’re not racist, I have a thought experiment for you. Imagine you were in Charlottesville caught in the middle between those torch-bearing Klansmen and those protesting them. Who would you fight with? I think your answer says something very important about you.

Now, this statement got 27 likes, no comments.  Perhaps that meant complete support, or perhaps that meant that no one was willing to say anything in response and get into an argument with a friend.  And, look, this is just one person.  She’s middle-aged, like me, she supports Democratic causes and tends to share atheist memes and “nonreligious channel” Patheos posts, e.g., by The Friendly Atheist, that are critical of Christians, but this?

Yet she’s now advocating violence.

Folks, if you’re caught in the middle, the answer isn’t to take sides, and get involved in the melee, by taking the right side and punching the right people.  The answer is to leave the situation.

Note that here hypothetical isn’t about “what would you do if someone attacked you?”  Its premise is that you need to initiate a violent confrontation, and are called on to do so with the correct alliance.

This is a real problem.  Yes, white nationalists are bad, but our nation, as a democracy, makes its decisions about law and governance in the voting booth.  If my perfectly ordinary, white suburban mom friend, who I knew back-in-the-day but haven’t seen in years, who, except for her politics, posts quite ordinary things about hobbies and work and her daughter, is cheering for violence, that’s a problem.


Image:  Pillow Fight, Piazza Maggiore, Bologna;  Because if these were Nazi vs. Antifa pillow fights, I wouldn’t mind.

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