Punch a Nazi: Answering Violence with Violence is still Violent

Jonathon Chatham, Staff Writer

“Punch a Nazi.” It seems every American loves violence more than anything else, and take it out on some Nazis, since why not – they killed all those Jewish people back in World War II right? Punch ‘em; they shouldn’t exist; they’re mass murderers; how could we not punch them? They have rancid political views, hate minorities, and are disgustingly discriminatory. Punch a Nazi, punch a horrible person, punch a racist.

So, I’m just putting this out there, but, punching people is violent, and, get this, violence is bad. I understand these are very simplistic ideas. Everything that has been taught to me personally, as well as through history, is that violence should never be the answer. Anything that leads another to harm is not conducive to conversation, an idea that has been at the core of this country, and so many others, for centuries. Ideally, nobody would fight, so I must ask, why would we incite the very violence that many hold in a negative light?

One may ask if people are actually punching Nazis? When the one of the top results for “punching Nazis” on Google is the site “canipunchnazis.com,” which upon clicking directs you to a page featuring the words “YES It is always OK to punch a nazi” and features a video of a prominent neo-Nazi and self-proclaimed “white identitarian,” Richard Spencer, being punched on repeat. Do I support Richard Spencer? No, not in any way, shape, or form, I personally find his political beliefs and actions inside and outside of his political dealings to be abhorrent and deserving of serious attention from some kind of government body. But that doesn’t enable any kind of ‘street-justice;’ it is for law enforcement or whoever else has the legal right to be involved to deal with. And that isn’t even to mention the aforementioned website, which proudly proclaims “punching Nazis is not only ethical, but imperative.” Another website, theestablishment.co, appearing as the second result for “can I punch Nazis” and first for “should I punch Nazis” and even on opposite searches such as “don’t punch Nazis.” So, it is reasonable to say that people are punching Nazis given the fact that so many different sources corroborate the idea that punching Nazis is okay.

As described by KIRO7 news, “…he gets punched. People cheered as he was knocked out. In a photo uploaded around 4 p.m. on Facebook, which now has hundreds of shares, the man appeared to have possibly crawled out of the light rail and next to the McDonalds, where no one helped him.” Think about that in nearly any other context. People cheered as someone was being knocked out in a public place, publicly embarrassed online, then as that same man struggled to find help, nobody came to his aid. Was this man a good person? No – he was arguing about how certain people don’t deserve welfare, reportedly harassing an African-American man, and topped off his outfit with a Nazi armband. Even in the event that he did punch someone, being beaten down by a group of people is in no way ‘proper retribution.’ It is more akin to gang violence. Does he deserve to be punched, cheered when he goes down, and left without help? No. In no scenario should someone deserve to be punched, especially when they haven’t incited or taken part in any violence. To call back to the beginning of this piece: violence is bad, so we shouldn’t do it, so why is it considered okay?

There is a quote from writer, biochemist, and philosopher Isaac Asimov, that “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” So, don’t be violent. If you must oppose someone, oppose them with words, and if those don’t work, disenfranchise them without physical harm, because that is the one thing we should be avoiding at all costs.

And I must ask, has punching down on a group ever had the effect you want it to have? When a white supremacist drove into a group of counter-protesters during an alt-right rally, did it diminish the voice of those counter-protesters? Or did it encourage that movement, especially immediately after the rally, when the attack was still fresh in people’s minds? Violence serves to strengthen the emotions of those being attacked, so why would it make any sense to strengthen the emotions of the people you are trying to go against?

Under no circumstances are Nazis good; their political beliefs are inherently bad because they are based on the hatred and violence towards others. It is also okay to hate Nazis, it is okay to want them to wholly disappear. It is okay to think they are the most negative humans on this planet. I personally abhor anyone who claims themselves to be a Nazi or a white supremacist because they represent they absolute worst of society. However, we can’t think they are less than human,  and deserve violence, because once someone thinks another ‘deserves’ violence, who really is in the wrong?