ForumTouchy Subjects ► Nazi Punching
Saw this floating around Twitter. Figured it would be a good kicking point for this thread.

I felt like he could have articulated his thoughts a bit better, but overall some solid points.
  
The pen is mightier than the sword and also more ethical.

Edit:
I just saw the context for this in the other thread. Here are some responses to that conversation.
I'm not advocating killing Nazis just yet (I do think killing Nazis during WWII was appropriate, and such conditions may arise again if we are too reserved in our tactics now).
The full list of conditions during WWII that made it appropriate to kill Nazis is as follows: we were at war with the Nazis. That's it. It would still be murder to kill a noncombatant Nazi. (Some were executed after the war, for war crimes, but that's another issue.)
It also limits the number of people willing to spread Nazi ideas if they think they might get punched for it.
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." You punch a peaceful neo-Nazi, you're going to make more neo-Nazis.
Around the middle of the video he talks about how non-violent tactics are just annoying and now he's actually afraid. Sounds pretty effective to me.
Fear is what galvanized this entire movement. You're trying to douse a fire with gasoline.

Also, I'm really disappointed in some of you. This should not be controversial. Don't punch people who aren't hurting someone because you disagree with what they're saying. Use your words, friends.
  
What if it's possible to beat rationality into people who hold irrational beliefs though? I know I'm in Lewis C.K. "But maybe" territory here, but maybe more beating on people for saying stupid shit should make for a better world...
  
If that worked our justice system would not have needed to evolve.
  
Maybe that's only because people historically took too much trauma to the head. What if we kept a strict "below the neck" policy?
  
Most ethnonationalists don't consider themselves Nazis and most Nazis don't consider themselves genocidal. The party line is either "I am not a Nazi" or "I am a Nazi and the Holocaust didn't happen and I don't condone violence."

Ignorance is a forgivable crime. I have personally built bridges to people who have those leanings and through respectful discourse and mutual listening convinced people to look at material that contradicts that small bubble and through education have led them away from ethnonationalism after showing how it sows hatred and violence.

This only worked because the people themselves, the so called Nazis, were against violence and; Once shown that their views foster violence, parted from these sub groups.People shooting up abortion clinics didn't stop women from marching for their reproductive rights to their bodies. If anything, it strengthened the movement and became a rallying cry for women and girls everywhere. Now, punching Nazis, a much less terrible and heinous and scary act, is not going to discourage people from being Nazis. In fact, if violence escalated, if someone went out and shot a Nazi who was minding her own business, maybe buying groceries or something, I guarantee you many people would see what was happening and would either sympathize with the ethnonationalists or outright join them as they would become the morally superior group who is opposing the group of violent, masked, murdering terrorists.

I don't see any situation where unprovoked violence against peaceful illiterates or ignorant people is a good idea. Wilful ignorance or purposely deluding ourselves our putting cotton in our ear to hear how a Nazi actually feels because we've already written them off as subhumans is not going to help, either.

They have crazy, insane, wildly incorrect and bizarre views and opinions, but aside from a few hate mongers most are just humans who got misled down a bad path and they can be guided off of that path through dialogue, discussion, debate, and discourse. Punching them will only seal them further in their echo chambers and will have the effect of strengthening Nazism, not weakening it.

Edit: Felt remorse about insulting the terrorists, removed those paragraphs.
  
Perhaps I'm missing something, but Richard Spencer is neither illiterate nor ignorant.
  
I understand, Fwip, your confusion.

What I meant to say is that I am talking about punching Nazis in general and not Richard Spencer in particular. I have learned that Richard Spencer isn't a literal Nazi, only a figurative one. Its easy to misconstrue and conflate white nationalism with Nazism or "basically a Nazi" just like some people on the right confuse Democratic Socialism with Stalinism as "basically a Stalinist".
  
Well, you know, Nazis have never wanted to be called Nazis.
  
I agree with that.

The times I've been successful in persuading someone away from being a sort of Nazi is getting down on their level and saying to them that I understand they don't believe in committing genocide and in some cases don't even believe it happened. By showing that I don't think they are monsters through self education about them, I am able to dispel barriers of communication and in most cases talk people out of being a Nazi.

My ultimate goal is to have no Nazis and no Nazism and I believe education and dialogue is the most effective tool to this end and active listening skills have always worked better for me to win people away from it than making pre judgments or assumptions has worked out for me.

I can sympathize with Nazi punchers in that they perceive people through a certain lenses of fighting murders or genocidalists etc. these assumptions haven't served me to talk people out of it because the specific ill line of thinking most share in common is racial and national separation and segregation. Once I have shown that I understand what they are actually advocating, I am then able to bring in materials that show segregation is a bad idea and people will almost always listen to me because I didn't cast judgment on them and I most certainly didn't punch them. Although I don't encounter them often, the times I do I am more often able to talk them out of being a white nationalist than I fail and this I see as an effective strategy to reduce white nationalism, to persuade people of their own volition to leave the cult, leave the following, and thereby reduce its numbers and its impact.

If I am wrong, and I am often wrong, and punching people is an effective way to reduce or combat Nazism, then I would certainly encourage people to follow their own wisdom and encourage or condone violence, maybe find some white nationalists on the street and beat them up. I personally haven't found it to be an effective method of combatting it. While I have no issue with self defense against Nazis, I can Nazi how hunting them myself, finding them on their turf, and punching them is an effective strategy to reduce their numbers or their influence. If anything, it seems to make them more fuhrerious.
  
I agree with that.

The times I've been successful in persuading someone away from being a sort of Nazi is getting down on their level and saying to them that I understand they don't believe in committing genocide and in some cases don't even believe it happened. By showing that I don't think they are monsters through self education about them, I am able to dispel barriers of communication and in most cases talk people out of being a Nazi.

My ultimate goal is to have no Nazis and no Nazism and I believe education and dialogue is the most effective tool to this end and active listening skills have always worked better for me to win people away from it than making pre judgments or assumptions has worked out for me. .



Education and dialogue can only go so far, however. Generally speaking, when people with strong opinions hear evidence or other challenges to their opinion, their belief gets stronger (take a look at the backfire effect). I think this is one of those things that you just cant really get rid of, and will only go away with time. People who believe in the Nationalist Socialists movement, or Nazi movement, most likely aren't going to change, but as the generations go on, the population of mixed race people go up, and people of color are more accepted in our society, then I think it will finally vanish.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's just my 0.02$
  
Thank you for bringing up the backfire effect, its real and its true and that's a great point. If you put someone on the defensive their mind pulls up defenses and further cements their existing opinion. I agree with you that's a great reason to avoid making judgments about people because it further solidifies the distance that needs to be bridged in order to have mutual understanding and dialogue. Although I am often bad at it, (see: deleted paragraphs insulting terrorists), practicing active listening skills is going to be the best way for me to be able to reach people with different opinions from mine, and I do need a lot, lot more practice. Right now most of my practice is just biting my tongue when I'm about to say something foul about someone else! And I don't always successfully bite it!

Still, trying and failing at listening I think is a better tactic for me personally than trying and possibly succeeding at incurring violence.
  
Still, trying and failing at listening I think is a better tactic for me personally than trying and possibly succeeding at incurring violence.


I agree with you, violence will only make things worse.
  
The full list of conditions during WWII that made it appropriate to kill Nazis is as follows: we were at war with the Nazis. That's it. It would still be murder to kill a noncombatant Nazi. (Some were executed after the war, for war crimes, but that's another issue.)
I strongly disagree. War is just the political stamp of approval that gets slapped on murder. The reasons killing Nazis was appropriate are numerous and existed before the war started. Poland was literally invaded because Hitler knew that leaders like Chamberlain valued non-violence too highly.

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." You punch a peaceful neo-Nazi, you're going to make more neo-Nazis.
"Yet he did not attribute his success, foolishly, to "his star," or to any magic. He said, truly, that the reason why such greatly superior numbers quailed before him was, as one of his prisoners confessed, because they lacked a cause, a kind of armor which he and his party never lacked. When the time came, few men were found willing to lay down their lives in defense of what they knew to be wrong; they did not like that this should be their last act in this world."
–Thoreau, "A Plea for Captain John Brown"

There will always be a few men wholly devoted to the Nazi cause, but the redeemable ones are going to be a lot more reluctant to face violence for the cause.

Fear is what galvanized this entire movement. You're trying to douse a fire with gasoline.
More like fighting fire with fire

Don't punch people who aren't hurting someone because you disagree with what they're saying. Use your words, friends.
Characterizing ethnic cleansing as a mere disagreement is absurd. Water Phoenix's discussion tactics are great for the ignorant who genuinely just need to be walked back from a very extreme place. Richard Spencer is not one of those people. Putting Richard Spencer on the news is a win for Nazis. It says, "Hey, this stuff is still up for debate. Society should engage these totally valid ideas as if we didn't learn our lesson 70 years ago." Richard Spencer getting socked in the face on the news is not a win for the Nazis. It says, "These ideas are totally ridiculous. We firmly established how incredibly fucking wrong this guy is, like 3/4 of a century ago. It's painfully obvious that no number of fact checks and disclaimers will ever actually mean anything to a significant fraction of the population, so we're going to communicate this in a language you understand: *POW*" Many, many people can and should be engaged in discussion. You shouldn't punch people just for supporting Trump, or for being Republican, or liberal, or whatever. You should punch people who are legitimizing Nazi ideas, and you should punch people who are creating an imminent threat. There should absolutely be heavy discussion of where the line is, but I have yet to be convinced that the line should be drawn at "violence is never the solution."

There are plenty of things discussion can solve. For everything else, there's punching Nazis in the fucking face.
  
Malcolm, you are literally advocating terrorism as an effective way to terrorize people away from being a Nazi.

Has there ever been a time in your life where someone successfully used terror to make you back down from any of your ideals or principles? Do you know or have you met anyone who has ever been terrorized into abandoning their ideals?
  
War is just the political stamp of approval that gets slapped on murder.
And that stamp has very important legal and ethical significance. "Murder" is literally defined as "intentional unlawful killing". There are legal/ethical justifications for killing, short of a declaration of war. For instance, it is also acceptable to kill a Nazi in self-defense. However I'd be interested to see if you can name a circumstance when one would have been justified in killing a Nazi civilian, even during the war, who was not involved in violence or the war effort.
More like fighting fire with fire
If you think you can and should kill enough neo-Nazis to quell the entire ideology forever, then (1) you're a violent authoritarian, and I'm more scared of you than of neo-Nazis, and (2) I think you're probably wrong.
Putting Richard Spencer on the news is a win for Nazis. It says, "Hey, this stuff is still up for debate. ..."
Then maybe don't put Richard Spencer on the news. It's not like our only two choices are "punch Nazis in the face" or "give them free exposure on TV". Also, punching him draws way more attention to him and his ideology.
Richard Spencer getting socked in the face on the news is not a win for the Nazis. It says, "These ideas are totally ridiculous. ..."
You know what else says "these ideas are totally ridiculous?" Saying "these ideas are totally ridiculous." Punching him when he's not physically threatening anyway says "I don't know how to refute your claims, so I'm just going to brutalize you instead."
There should absolutely be heavy discussion of where the line is, but I have yet to be convinced that the line should be drawn at "violence is never the solution."
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." It's a last resort when all peaceful means have failed.
  
And that stamp has very important legal and ethical significance. "Murder" is literally defined as "intentional unlawful killing". There are legal/ethical justifications for killing, short of a declaration of war. For instance, it is also acceptable to kill a Nazi in self-defense. However I'd be interested to see if you can name a circumstance when one would have been justified in killing a Nazi civilian, even during the war, who was not involved in violence or the war effort.
I mean if anyone starts assembling anything that looks too much like a concentration camp, it's open season on them and anyone who enables them, war or no. Nonviolent strategies should still always be in play as well, but protecting victims always takes priority over protecting oppressors. Saying that violence is only okay when it's state-sanctioned is abandoning morality in favor of blindly defending the status quo.

More like fighting fire with fire
If you think you can and should kill enough neo-Nazis to quell the entire ideology forever, then (1) you're a violent authoritarian, and I'm more scared of you than of neo-Nazis, and (2) I think you're probably wrong.
The goal is not to kill Nazis. The goal is to shut down people like Richard Spencer, by any means necessary, to slow the spread of their ideology and protect those in imminent danger, the same way controlled burns are used. As in firefighting, it's one of many tactics that should be used together. Some people punch Richard Spencer, some people talk down the more salvageable souls.

Then maybe don't put Richard Spencer on the news. It's not like our only two choices are "punch Nazis in the face" or "give them free exposure on TV". Also, punching him draws way more attention to him and his ideology.
He was literally punched mid-interview. That's why there's video of it. Attention is not inherently good. The framing matters, and in this case, the punch changed the framing. Instead of normalizing news footage ("Is being a Nazi a good idea? We don't know, we're just going to present both sides as equally valid because that's how we think balance works."), the framing became "Is Nazi ideology so bad that you should punch Nazis?"

You know what else says "these ideas are totally ridiculous?" Saying "these ideas are totally ridiculous." Punching him when he's not physically threatening anyway says "I don't know how to refute your claims, so I'm just going to brutalize you instead."
People condemned the shit out of his ideas back in November when he was in the news (no punch required, he was given plenty of attention). In all the interviews that followed, he was celebrating Trump shifting the Overton window such that he could actually convince people of his ideology. Now he's trying to convince people that he should be able to walk down the street without getting punched. The punch had a wider impact and a more clear anti-Nazi stance. To me, it looks an awful lot like punching was more effective.

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
That's only true if you buy the premise that all problems can be solved exclusively through non-violence. Pretty much all of history suggests that premise is wrong. Violence should not be the only strategy, but it should be on the table.
  
I'm just reiterating what Malcolm is saying, but war makes murder legal, not ethical.

Ethics does not derive from legality. For an on-topic Godwinning, the Nazis who worked the gas chambers were not breaking any laws. And the Jewish resistance fighters were breaking all sorts of laws.

Reasoned discussion with Nazis has, historically, a very low success rate.

And there's a difference between punching a guy who literally leads "heil victory" chants at his speeches and, say, punching my great aunt Carol at Thanksgiving dinner because she advocates regressive taxation. You talk politely with aunt Carol, but no amount of conversation is going to convince Richard Spencer that "oh wow I guess Jews really are people, huh, man I sure messed up there haha."
  
Even though conditioning people into better beings through behavior modification (i.e. gratuitous assbeating) really does appeal to my inner unethical evil skinnerian clockwork orange psychologist researcher nature, in my philosophical heart of hearts I do hold the realm of ideas to be a sacred forum subject only to reasonable criticism and discussion. If you try and suppress ideas by force, no matter how good natured your intentions, you're just as bad as every other despotic goddamned Nimrod who's ever tried to annihilate ideas and ideals with force, and your tyranny will deservedly fall as every other tyranny has.

You're justified in forcibly bringing zealots down only after their idealism has been translated into attempted practice.
  
You can advocate not punching nazis when you're in a group that would be targeted by many of their twisted ideals. In the mean time, I'm going to resume advocating for fists in their face for promoting violence against marginalized groups and being complicit in said promoted violence.
  
I think one ought to be able to defend oneself in the realm of ideas, but it is foolish to assume that the realm of ideas is a pure meritocracy. To emphasize rationality above all else is to ignore the very real and very powerful irrational components driving the human experience. Anger, empathy, boredom, exhaustion, anxiety, violence, love, and fear will beat your rational argument over the head with a bat, toss it in a dumpster, and set it on fire before you can blink. You have to be ready to defend yourself on all fronts. Sometimes this means showing compassion for those who have only shown hate. Sometimes it means smacking Nazis before they gain enough power to do damage. If crushing would-be tyrants is tyranny, then I vastly prefer a defensive tyranny whose sole victims are aspiring tyrants to one which scapegoats the most vulnerable members of society. History has shown how insidiously free speech and tolerance can be used to destroy themselves by those who are willing to use them in bad faith. A society that values the right to free speech must suspend that same right those who would destroy it—Tolerance exists reciprocally or not at all.

Basically, the realm of ideas is where you justify your cause, but the tactics used to defend and promote your cause must have a much larger scope if you want to achieve anything.
  
First, I did not imply that legal implies moral or vice versa. But I maintain that it is unethical to kill or even assault someone who has not committed or threatened violence.
You can advocate not punching nazis when you're in a group that would be targeted by many of their twisted ideals.
I am so sick of this flavor of ad hominem. It's used all the time against men during debates on abortion, and it's just as logically absurd and morally repugnant in this case. There is no reason we cannot make moral claims concerning things that do not directly affect us. I am allowed to call pedophilia evil. I am allowed to called the Rwandan genocide evil. And I'm allowed to call unjustified violence against Nazis evil.

It seems we've reached an impasse due to differing beliefs concerning the effectiveness of violent suppression of nonviolent extremist ideologies. I think history is on my side, but I don't know how we can convince those of you who disagree.
  
I guess you can go back in time to the 1930's and try debating the Nazis there. See if peaceful discussion prevents the Holocaust.

But if I only get one shot at time travel, I'm gonna kill Hitler.
  
Doublepost: Punching Nazis Totally Works - an account by someone in the punk scene in the 90's, about getting Nazis out of their space through violence.
  
Shooting Hitler in the past is a whole different can of worms (involving the ethical implications of time travel, etc.), and I'm not going there.

Your article is a very poor example. In that case, the neo-Nazis were violent aggressors. They threw punches first. All those involved in instigating gang violence in that situation (including, in some cases, the anti-neo-Nazi gang) should have been arrested and imprisoned. I know gang violence is a difficult problem, but it's a distinct problem from the one this thread concerns. Honestly Fwip, I wouldn't have thought you were the kind of person to condone this kind of vigilantism. It's disturbing and shameful.
  
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