In the wake of Alt-Right, white nationalist related murders in the past three weeks, liberal pundits continue to come out against any form of violence against fascist, terrorist groups.
A popular theme to the condemnations stems from two schools of thought, consequences, and pacifism.
Consequences being first that the optics of violence helps the right, but also that punching is illegal and can be damaging to those doing the punching.
Legality should not play a role in stopping self-defense. Antifa and others are not trying to make it legal to punch to anyone, there is a reason they wear masks and often run away after. They are more interested in doing what is right, not what is legal. And yes, they know the legal ramifications of their actions and are willing to take the risk. They are putting their own freedoms on the line for the greater good.
Violence is not being sought, but rather implemented when it is the only form of defense against a violent organization calling for the mass extermination of millions of people.
When it comes to optics, we can use the punching of Richard Spencer on January, 20, as an example.
In Spencer’s own words he was terrified after being assaulted, he planned to attend the Women’s March the weekend after the inauguration and didn’t show up out of fear for his safety. Spencer was already a public figure who was punched while being interviewed by an international television station, but the message was sent to his followers. That message is that they are not safe to stand in the streets and spread their message of genocide. Not punching him would have shown him he is safe to stand on the street espousing his abhorrent views, without consequence.
Professor George Ciccariello-Maher, in an interview with Abolition Journal, had this to say about the punching of Spencer:
“I think what is being missed is the fact that this is a praxis, that this is not simply a performance—it’s not an expression of frustration. It’s an actual political practice that is constructive and creative. The effects that punching Nazis creates include, first, as Richard Spencer through his own absurd inability to think strategically has admitted, it has made his life a living hell already. He admitted that it’s making it very difficult for them to organize. He’s admitted, in other words, everything that many of us have said about how Nazis need to be treated and about this famous apocryphal quote from Hitler that says, ‘If someone had recognized early on and crushed our movement with the utmost brutality of violence, then we would never have been able to grow.’”
Don’t be fooled into believing the Alt-Right is only taking up violence because someone punched Spencer. The alt-right has long been preparing for war, they are holding training courses and teaching each other how to make weapons to bring to rallies.
They are doing so, not only to protect themselves from Antifa but also attack them, all under the guise of “free speech rights.” They understand that people mobilizing to deplatform them is a threat to any attempt that they have to organize, and thus are doing everything they can to carve out space for themselves.
Unfortunately, it appears that when these neo-Nazi fascists show up armed in towns like Berkeley, California, many liberals seem to believe the best way to counter them is to stay home and bring them no attention.
Recently, in Portland, Oregon, a man was shouting anti-Muslim slurs at two teens on a train. Upset by what they were witnessing, several men approached the man to stop him. This man was carrying a knife and slashed their throats. The Southern Poverty Law Center discovered that this man empathized with Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber, was pro-Hitler and Nazi ideologies, and anti-semitic. A spokesman from SPLC has emphasized that, while standing up for others can do wonders and diffuse a situation, it is best to leave any type of confrontation to the police.
This man, a white nationalist terrorist, was harassing someone, armed, and obviously ready to kill. Waiting for the police, who more often than not protect alt-right white supremacists, especially in Portland with a long history of systematic racism. Two heroes stepped up because it was the right thing to do. Standing by and doing nothing is to condone such violence. They lost their lives saving a woman who very well could have lost hers at his very hands.
You can’t “leave any type of confrontation to the police,” as the SPLC suggests. It’s unrealistic to think, with their history of racism, they would do much to help the Muslim victim and would instead aid the oppressor.
Sure, the little old lady on the train should probably call 911 instead of intervening, but any able-bodied person should step in and defend the victims. Liberals ran to the store to buy safety pins after the election to show their solidarity and defense of such victims, and yet we should stand aside and let this harassment continue?
If we stand by and do nothing, we are making the streets a safe place for them to spread these ideas. We didn’t end slavery by standing aside, we fought slavers.
This is where these misguided liberals turn to pacifism and bring up the Civil Rights movement and its use of non-violence around Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, King was non-violent, yet he refused to condemn violence and riots.
“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard,” King said weeks before his assassination.
King did famously disagree with Malcolm X on the use of violence, but to say that violence didn’t play a huge role in the Civil Rights movement is simply naive. That ignores the amazingly important role Malcolm played in the movement, or the Black Panthers, or the thousands if not more, that gave their lives fighting against an abusive and oppressive police state.
Non-violence sounds wonderful, but it’s not always possible. Liberalism fetishizes non-violence.
“We don’t have civil rights because of non-violent struggle convincing white people that they were wrong. We have civil rights – a very limited accomplishment, we should be clear – because non-violent movements that were militant, that were also engaged in self-defense, existed alongside openly combative and violent movements, and because people were rioting in the streets and rebelling and demanding justice and appealing to the ethical foundations of the country as well as pushing beyond those foundations to demand equality. Just as we’re having these conversations today in part, not because people suddenly realized that mass incarceration and police murder were wrong, but because people took to the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore aggressively, violently, burning things down, in an attempt to press forward this conversation.”
Sadly, liberals paint a whitewashed revisionist version of King’s legacy. They stopped listening after “I have a dream,” and ignore the reality of the situation. At the time King was accused of provoking violence through his tactics. King wasn’t an idiot, he knew he would provoke state violence and the community would respond. To call him totally non-violent is simply ignorant.
It is also important to note that it is time and time again it is white liberals who are condemning the actions of violence among not only the Civil Rights Movement but also the anti-fascist movement. White liberals who came into institutionalized power through centuries of violence against people of color and other minority groups now demand those same groups ask nicely for their freedoms.
Ask yourself when white men have ever taken something without violence? The United States was formed on the violent takeover of Natives. The country was built on the backs of Africans violently taken from their homes in Africa. Slavery was defended through violent means, and the rights of those later freed were fought against through violence such as public lynchings carried about by civilians and police. And all of that barely scratches the surface of white violence against marginalized groups.
Why would white men be afraid of the Alt-Right? They have the least amount to lose should the alt-right movement win further power and begin to realize their goals of ethnic cleansing, yet in the face of continued violence and terrorism, these liberals continue to dictate how the most marginalized of communities must react.
They did the same when people took to the streets in Ferguson, and they are doing the same now as people take the streets around the country to combat these injustices.
Liberals need to wake up to the reality they are facing and heap praise and solidarity onto those willing to risk everything for the greater good.
Antifa and others like them are calculated self-defensive actions against a rising threat of greater violence and mass extermination. We know the end goals of these fascist, neo-Nazi groups and we must stop them before it’s too late and before more lives are lost.
This post originally appeared on It’s Going Down.
Parts of this post also appeared on Dan Arel’s blog