On Punching Nazis

Image: Indiana Jones punches a nazi. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paramount Pictures


By now many of you have probably seen or heard about the nazi Richard Spencer (leader of the “alt-right”) getting sucker-punched while giving an interview amidst inauguration protests last Friday. There has since been much gnashing of teeth over whether some liberals have been too tepid in their condemnation of it, or whether self-styled free speech warriors are overstating the significance of the event, or whether an exception to non-violence should be made for nazis because – well, they’re fucking nazis. Anyway, I’ve grown sick and fucking tired of hearing about it and explaining my position in response to others’ opinions, so imma just rip off that band-aid and give my full opinion here and now and be done with it. 

1. Punching people for their ideas is wrong, even if their ideas are also wrong. In fact, unless it’s in response to a direct physical threat to you or your loved ones, punching anyone for any reason is wrong so just stop fucking punching people, okay?

2. We cede the moral high ground when we start employing double standards. I get it, Spencer is a nazi and nazis are really hard to feel sorry for. But what about people engaging in lawful protests or peaceful civil disobedience who get clocked by thugs in red MAGA hats?  When we express outrage over those, the Right will say “If you can punch our guys, we can punch yours” and they won’t be wrong. It’s self-defeating and intellectually dishonest to not hold ourselves to the same standards as our opponents. 

3. Richard Spencer is a scumbag piece of crap. Nazis are crap. The alt-right is crap. White supremacy, white nationalism, obsession with skin pigmentation – it’s all heinous, ridiculously stupid, evil crap. No conversation about Spencer’s assault should fail to emphasize that while he has the right to think and talk about his beliefs without the threat or fear of violence, his beliefs are crap. 

4. In a mythical world governed by cosmic poetic justice, where what we put out in the universe comes back to us, every nazi would deserve a sucker punch. Because really, if your whole identity revolves around trying to figure out how to expunge tens of millions of people from the earth or their homes based on something as arbitrary as skin pigmentation, then you are a horrible person. But we don’t live in that mythical world; we live in this one, governed by laws that must be applied equally to all, because they’re being enforced by fallible humans who will not always be equipped or motivated to distinguish the nazis from, say, the atheists or the apostates. 

5. Do not ask me to rend my garments with anguish over the undignified treatment of the nazi. His dignity is not my concern – and seeing as how he’s a fucking nazi it would seem his dignity isn’t a big concern for him either. Also, do not demand that I make this the defining issue of my generation or agree that it makes the short list. Or the long list. Do not insinuate that if I do not talk about this to the exclusion of all other issues I am tacitly endorsing it, because I’ve denounced Spencer’s assault repeatedly here & elsewhere.

Spencer’s right to free speech is as sacred as mine. Trying to silence him through violence is not ok. But I am under no obligation to hand him a platform and a megaphone to help him disseminate his repugnant ideas. 

About Godless Mama

Godless Mama is a liberal, atheist, anti-theist writer and parent seeking to make the world a better place through the spread of secularism and the exposing of the harms of religion. In addition to GodlessMama.com, she contributes to a number of other political and atheist pages and blogs.
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2 Responses to On Punching Nazis

  1. Kaian says:

    Agreed all round. Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brent says:

    Thank you for great, incisive analysis! Your #1 point helped me clear up something that’s been bugging me and I couldn’t figure out why. Lots of people are using an analogy to Captain America punching nazis (or to Indiana Jones, as depicted above)… but those analogies fail to separate the ACTIONS of nazis (and their threat of harm) from the IDEAS and SPEECH of nazis.

    Liked by 2 people

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