Punching Nazis

Peaceful response to fascism is a violent act

Adam Marquardt, Opinion Writer

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Common wisdom tells us that violence is never the answer, but when our friends and family are threatened by genocide, we cannot respond with business-as-usual. Punching a White supremacist does not make you a bad person.

In the past year, the “alternative-right” has gained an ever-expanding foothold in American political conscious. They have capitalized on growing unrest to spread White nationalism and anti-Semitism. These neo-Nazis have succeeded in placing members of their movement, like Steve Bannon, within high places in our government.

In the circles of mainstream liberals and conservatives, Nazism is discussed as if it’s an incorporeal theory, an idea that can be defeated through civilized debate. People often have this perception because Nazis do not immediately threaten them.

The idea that fascists are confused or lack proper conviction is a dangerous misconception, and the past year has undoubtedly proved this. Members of the “alt-right” want as big of a platform as possible to reach White males outcast from society. Nazis give a certain demographic of distressed individuals a target for their anger. If we want our democracy to continue, we must take a strong stance on how to respond to Nazism and anti-Semitism.

We have three options: to blatantly ignore them, to peacefully debate them, or to relentlessly persecute them.

The first option is a state of moral bankruptcy. If you have the privilege to ignore violent racism, you’re likely someone who isn’t confronted by racism regularly. If that’s the case, you must put yourself in the minds of Nazi targets, who have no other choice than to address the issue, since their lives are at stake. You have a moral obligation to reject racism because you are not directly affected.

The second option may seem the best, but it’s very dangerous. To effectively debate with someone, you must give their points a certain level of credibility. Yet, by engaging with their views as if they are rational, you put millions at risk. To rationalize their beliefs is to normalize the idea that the genocide of Black people is just, that Islam is incompatible with Western society, and that a cabal of shadowy Jews controls the world’s banks and media. Fascists will hang you upon the platform you gave them, and so, it is best to instead denounce them.

Though I don’t condone violence, it seems that when the “alt-right” tries to vocalize its opinion, there is more benefit in punching the Nazi than to engage him. Better yet, draw all attention away from the Nazi. Take his megaphone, scream until your lungs give out, do whatever you can to stop the Nazi from talking. Later, engage his audience, the people who were unconvinced, and persuade them that what they just heard was all lies. These are the people you can convince.

The response to the claim that Black genocide is good should not be an invitation to discuss the offender’s beliefs. Rather, it should be an immediate sign that this person is an enemy to what we stand for as Americans. It might not seem like America’s good for anything these days, but we can still be good at fighting Nazis; we’ve been doing it since the 40’s, and there’s no reason to stop now.