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Some Thoughts About Nazi Punching
By Leah Mueller
I refuse to punch Nazis to show I'm superior to them. It's like executing murderers, a valid idea on the surface, but when you think about details, the whole concept falls apart like sawdust in a hurricane.
Consider it for a moment.
If you punch a Nazi, what is that asshole going to say to himself? “Oh, someone hit me hard, and therefore I'd better settle down.” Mollified, the neo-Nazi crawls away and retreats to his basement bunker, goes back to harmless internet trolling. Sorry. That won't happen. Instead, the Nazi gets even more enraged, and comes back with an army of fellow Nazis. He dips his hand into a pond full of fascist fire ants and scoops up the most virulent fistful he can find. Then it's all-out war.
On the other hand, the one thing a Nazi wannabe hates is to be ignored. He can't stand to show up on a street corner, one that has been cordoned off according to permit policy, and have no one waiting to spew bile at him. He has a constitutional right to speak, but you don't have to listen to his bullshit. If you do show up, either be prepared to argue, or keep your distance. Have another rally a mile away.
Violence is a terrible way of getting your idea across. Sure, some peoples' views are so vile that you want to punch them in the face. Why waste words? They won't listen. But if you physically hurt someone, you will also hurt yourself. Not only could you get into a heap of legal trouble (“Sure, I punched him, your Honor. He was being a Nazi”) but when you hit someone else, you're slamming your own body into another person's. Violence to others is physically injurious to yourself, unless you're a Ninja. It might feel great at the moment to vent your spleen against injustice, but when you're still treating your dislocated shoulder at the physical therapist's office, months after the punching incident, you might ask yourself, “Was this all worth it?” Meanwhile, the neo-Nazis continue marching, unabated. Your flailing did nothing to stop them.
If you're advocating the punching of neo-Nazis and not actually doing it yourself, you're a keyboard warrior and I don't even want to bother with you. Antifa has an arsenal of defensive tactics, and I don't agree with all of them, but at least they're out walking their talk. You and I are probably too old, too middle-class, and/or too chicken to serve on their front lines. Go out and do something constructive. Buy a meal for a homeless person, or a blanket, or a pair of shoes. Volunteer at a shelter. Door-knock for local candidates who will actually make a difference in your community.
Meanwhile, read this.
Daryl Davis is black, and he's not out there telling people to punch Nazis in the face. He's rehabilitating KKK members by actually talking to them, and has convinced over 50 people to leave the Klan of their own volition. Now, THAT'S grace. And, for an amusing, truly creative approach to the neo-Nazi problem, the little town of Wunseidel, Bavaria has an answer for you.
In 2014, sponsors agreed to collect money for each step marched by the neo-Nazis, then donated the money to an agency which specializes in helping folks rehabilitate themselves by renouncing their membership in hate groups. The event was a huge success.
I don't know what impresses me the most—the fact that the town devised such an ingenious way to deal with the ongoing problem of neo-Nazi marches, or their belief that neo-Nazis are not necessarily irredeemable, and some of them can eventually adopt a more enlightened mindset. In the US, we tend to believe such people will remain hateful for the rest of their lives, and nothing can be done to change their minds. But as Daryl Davis and the town of Wunsiedel have shown, sometimes even the most deeply entrenched, hateful views can shift in amazing ways. However, punching neo-Nazis is not the way to affect such a transformation. In fact, it's much more likely to have the opposite effect.
I'm not saying these folks are poor, misunderstood souls who just need a little love to turn their lives around. They are bitter, hateful people, but not all of them are hopeless. Besides, violence begets violence. States that have the death penalty breed more violent criminals, rather than fewer. Children who are beaten by their parents are more aggressive than those who receive gentle punishments. And neo-Nazis who are punched will punch back even harder.
Now, show me the CEO of Halliburton. There's a guy I'd LOVE to punch...