Let’s get the easy part out of the way right off the bat: No, you should not punch a Nazi:
- You shouldn’t hit people. Violence is not a good thing. This was explained to me when I was six and my mom told me that I wasn’t allowed to bite my sister, get this, even if she made me really, really mad! So: no hitting. Ever.
- It might not be robbery, but it is definitely assault and battery. Illegal, is what I’m saying. I’m sure the judge would not be swayed by the, “I thought he was a Nazi!” defense. It isn’t like law says, “Don’t strike people unless you really want to.”
- “But Nazis are violent!” Right. And you aren’t. That is one of the many reasons you are better than them.
- “I was defending myself!” If someone physically attacks you, absolutely defend yourself! I’m a big advocate of learning how to defend yourself. If someone is taking a swing at you, however, their political ideology is the least important thing about them. Their haymaker right will hurt regardless.
With that out of the way.. yeah, Alt-Right leader, Richard Spencer got punched on Trump’s Inauguration day. And now, there is this big debate about how we should feel about this. My question is:
When is a Nazi not a Nazi?
If you watch that video, he’s answering questions before he gets sucker punched. He gets asked if he’s a Nazi and he says, “No I’m not a neo-Nazi…. Neo-Nazis don’t love me, they kind of hate me actually. Those people don’t like me, to be honest.” And right after that: BOOM!
Here’s the thing: Spencer wasn’t lying. He’s not popular with neo-Nazis. The cliché about the Marxist/Communist left is that they can’t stay unified because they are always arguing about obscure doctrinal points that only they care about. But the right is also plagued by the Judean People’s Front problem. The radical politics of the right can be just as splintered as those on the left.
The place to begin might be with mainline conservatives who are closely aligned with the Republican Party. The keeper of that flame for most of Post-World War II history was William F. Buckley, founder and editor of National Review and longtime host of a talk show on PBS, Firing Line. Here, for example is Bill Buckley in 1988 debating libertarian candidate for President, Ron Paul. Yes, the irony of the arch-conservative Buckley debating libertarian Ron Paul on public television is one we will just have to live with for now.
In many ways, Buckley was responsible for the Alt-Right by becoming the gatekeeper for the respectable right. In the 1960s, he excommunicated the notorious John Birch Society from the respectable right. While Buckley certainly was anti-communist, he thought that maybe, perhaps, accusing Dwight Eisenhower of being an active agent of the Soviet Union, as the JBS did, probably hurt the cause more it helped. The JBS meanwhile threw out Willis Carto, notorious antisemitic organizer, around the same time because while the JBS certainly believed that the Communists conspired to take over the world, it was wrong to think that the Communists were just a front for the International Jewish conspiracy. Today’s Alt-Right hasn’t progressed far from the same kind of squabbles. Spencer, for example, published The Great Purge, a book filled with essays by former writers for the National Review whining about how Bill Buckley ruined everything when he wouldn’t put up with their overt racism.
Spencer is outside the neo-Nazi end of the radical right. There are clearly identified neo-Nazis on the left, most of them show up on The Daily Stormer and Stormfront. How do you know they are neo-Nazi? They tell you. One article on Daily Stormer is entitled “Hitler was Right,” Stormfront well sell you Nazi patches to decorate your clothes. They aren’t trying to hide it. These neo-Nazis really don’t like Spencer. The reason is, as it always is with Nazis, neo or not: the Jews. Spencer’s intellectual inspiration is Paul Gottfried, the man who coined the term “Alt-Right.” Gottfried is Jewish and Stormfronters are not happy about that. “Jews are not alt-Right, sorry not sorry. It’s a white movement for white people. Some old nation-wrecker coining a term to describe a makeover for the Conservative party in the US doesn’t have a monopoly on words.” Spencer is thus polluted by his association with Gottfried and other Jews as well as his idea that Jews are not behind all the evils of the world. Daily Stormer is run by Andrew Anglin, and until very recently, Anglin and Spencer pretty much loathed each other.
The point is that, if you wanted to punch a Nazi and you punch Spencer, you haven’t punched a Nazi. You’ve punched a racist white nationalist who wants to establish a white homeland in North America, but you haven’t punched a Nazi. Which is the final reason you shouldn’t punch a Nazi. Because you could be wrong.
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