Flagging this from over the weekend, because it perfectly illustrates a point I made a few weeks back about how we shouldn’t glorify the people who punch Neo-Nazis. One of the Berkeley rioters looking to attack Nazis actually targeted a Syrian Muslim because he “looked like” a Nazi.
This is from an account from a student journalist, published by The New York Times:
Then I saw someone wearing all black walk up to a student wearing a suit and say, “You look like a Nazi.” The student was confused, but before he could reply, the black-clad person pepper-sprayed him and hit him on the back with a rod.
I ran after the student who was attacked to get his name and more information. He told me that he is a Syrian Muslim. Before I could find out more, he fled, fearing another attack. Amid the chaos came word the event had been canceled.
So a left-wing radical ended up attacking an oppressed minority in the name of social justice and fighting racism. You can’t make this up.
Here’s the heart of the problem: when you glorify, praise, or call for civilians to punch, assault, and kill Nazis, you are counting on those civilians to be able to accurately identify who the Nazis are. But people are stupid. Very, very stupid. And I’d be willing to bet there’s a negative correlation between a willingness to resort to violence and intelligence.
This is of course an extreme example. But there are literally tens of thousands of people– including prominent celebrities and Obama administration alums— who endorsed the “punch Nazis” rhetoric, and thousands of people who call each other “Nazis” at the drop of a hat. How many innocent people being attacked is an acceptable trade-off for “silencing” (emboldening, really) the handful of actual Nazis out there?
Perhaps I should hesitate to write this column, because I learned today that people like me deserve to be attacked as well.
We are done discussing if Richard Spencer should get punched. We already decided people who oppose punching him should get punched.
— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) February 6, 2017
Presumably the people who oppose me getting punched should also be punched, and so on, ad infinitum.
Again, I really can’t believe there’s an honest-to-god debate on this point. I was disgusted by a lot of rhetoric from the fringe right during the Obama years, but even then I don’t recall a mass pop movement to justify assault of one’s political opponents. I’m heartened by those–particularly on the left– who continue to call out this claptrap and continue to defend the fundamentally liberal notion that violence is never an acceptable response to even the worst speech.
[Image via screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.