And no violence, either!

Just as I oppose all bans on free speech as it’s been construed by the courts, so I oppose all forms of violence against those whose views we abhor—except in self-defense.  Never in my life would I go to a demonstration carrying a weapon, just as the brave African-Americans who marched in the streets of the Sixties South didn’t carry weapons, for they were practitioners of civil disobedience. Dogs, clubs, fire hoses: they did not fight back, and never initiated violence. And make no mistake about it: segregation back then was far more of a threat than white supremacy is now: we don’t have much to fear from the neo-Nazis, but blacks were regularly killed by Southern racists. And not just blacks, either: remember Goodman, Cheney, and Schwerner?

In my last post I wrote this:

Well, what happened in Charlottesville was not a violation of the First Amendment, and the violence arose not because the right-wingers called for people to attack blacks, Jews, or immigrants. It happened because both sides came looking for a confrontation, carried guns or clubs, and the police, unprepared, did a lousy job of planning and keeping the groups apart. Had the bigots and Nazi sympathizers just marched, and not said a word, the same thing would have happened. Would you object to the mere presence of such people as a provocation?

Someone questioned that, and I noted that yes, the idea there would have been violence without white supremacist speech was just my opinion, but one based on the observation of things like the rioting by Antifa and their supporters in Berkeley before Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak—and he never spoke.  The mere presence of one’s opponents, I aver, is sufficient to make some call for the banning of not just their speech, but of their appearance in public.

It is a mistake to think that violence is solely the recourse of the Right. In fact, I’m starting to realize that one thing that distinguishes the Regressive or Control-Left from the Progressive Left is the former’s willingness to engage in violence that’s not self defense. Think of Antifa—or the thuggish packs of students who roamed around The Evergreen State College brandishing baseball bats.

Case in point: this Twitter exchange. Arel and Snider would simply ban the presence of “neo Nazis”.  Now that would solve the problem!

70 Comments

  1. yazikus
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I’m not a gun-toting protester, but I think it behooves us to remember that one reason some groups haven’t embraced open-carry is that it would be very, very dangerous for them. The state does not equally protect all citizens’ right to bear arms.

    • Posted August 16, 2017 at 3:14 am | Permalink

      You should get rid of that ‘right’ – it is a primitive hangover from the past. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” was clearly obviated by having a standing army & armed police. I do not object to guns for hunting, but I do to the use of them hunting people.

  2. Tom
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Banning the REAL Nazis in Germany actually contributed to the undermining of the Republic since it brought a supposedly Democratic system into disrepute.
    The real solution was and is supporting the LAW and controlling the hotheads.

    • Craw
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Communists were banned in Russia, nazis were banned in Germany, Protestants were banned in Sweden, Christians were banned in Rome. How well did those bans work?

      • Posted August 16, 2017 at 3:15 am | Permalink

        …guns were banned in Britain… [except for hunting] – oh, that worked.

  3. Craw
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    “You have a man, you have a problem. No man, no problem.”

    Just clarifying who their intellectual antecedents are.

    • Tom
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Josef Stalin?

      • ratabago
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        The novelist Anatoly Rybakov admitted to making up the quote. It comes from his novel Children of the Arbat . But I think it characterizes Stalin, and the purges, quite nicely.

        • Les Faby
          Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          +1

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      “You have a man, you have a problem. No man, no problem.”

      No woman, no cry.

  4. Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Arel and Snider are vile, racist thugs.

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Starting to wonder who’s paying Comrade Dan’s bills.

  5. Historian
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I must dissent from the view that we have little to fear from the neo-nazis, particularly if we define the term as to be a generic description of the extreme far right to include the likes of KKKers, neo-Confederates and white nationalists. It takes relatively few people to create massive disruptions. As the nation continues to polarize, the far right is likely to gain more adherents, especially when Trump is reluctant to criticize it. These groups will gain adherents because they harp on the theme that white Americans are losing out to other groups such as African Americans, Jews, and Muslims. In other words, appeals to the worst in people can be a successful strategy. The Atlantic has a nice article on explaining the appeal of the neo-nazis and their ilk. In one word, it is the appeal of victimhood.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/the-worlds-worst-support-group/536850/

    Our supposed democracy is threatened when challenges to its legitimacy is ignored. This doesn’t mean that these groups should be suppressed for expressing their ideas. What it does mean is that the far right represents a real threat to the republic by creating instability and eternal vigilance is necessary to counter the threat. The far right represents a much greater to democracy than the far left if for no other reason than their much greater numbers. Those people who try to draw an equivalence between the far right and far left are ignorant of the realities of American life or else are apologists for the far right.

    • Tom
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Shades of Weimer?

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      They are only equivalent when violence becomes the basis of argument and the guns come out.

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Well said. I agree that the far right is much greater threat than the far left. Both should be challenged. Just like what is done here, by our host and most of the commentaries.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I agree that the danger posed by today’s Far Right is no trifling matter. About half the Republican party — roughly corresponding to the quarter of the US public that still “strongly approves” of Donald Trump’s performance in office — is stone-cold crazy. This is the half of the GOP that still thinks Barack Obama is Kenyan Muslim and that recently told pollsters they would approve if Trump postponed the 2020 elections to prevent illegals from voting.

      In the early 1960s, William F. Buckley, Jr., and a few others sought to purge similar elements from the responsible conservative movement. But then, after passage of the mid-Sixties Civil Rights Acts, Nixon’s GOP launched its vaunted “southern strategy,” giving the Dixiecrat bigots a new nest to roost in. Since then, the Grand Old Party has flung open its doors to successive waves of the religious right, the Tea Party, the Birthers, the alt-right, and the rest of the wingnut menagerie.

      Ideologically, this gang has little in common with the more mainstream Republicans that constitute the Party’s other half. But come election time, the GOP is as dependent on their votes, and their manic campaign energy, as a junkie is his fix. They provided the margin of Trump’s yoooge electoral college victory last Fall, and their numbers are generally sufficient to cow those in the mainstream with threats of being labelled a “RINO” and of facing a far-right opponent in the party primary.

      Of course, the remedy here is to foster more free speech to expose them, not to stifle the speech of the wingnuts, however repugnant it may be.

    • Taz
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      The extremism of the far left and far right feed off each other, like high and low pressure systems. The rhetoric of the regressive leftists is gaining adherents for the far right, and vice-versa. When you have universities with courses called “The Problem of Whiteness” you make it much easier for right-wing demagogues to recruit. And no doubt Antifa will gain recruits due to the actions of the fascists in Charlottesville. Eventually you’ll have the government demanding more power to “restore order”.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      There is no polarization where I live. The far right might be vile but I’ve seen nothing to suggest they hurt democracy.

      In fact since Trump has been in office the public dialogue has been enormous. People a e paying attention, for better or worse.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Spare us from those who would find the censoring of any speech “an easy issue.”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      But you already censor it in many circumstances. It’s a matter of where you draw the line.

      I quite agree, it isn’t an ‘easy issue’ and never will be.

      cr

  7. Ken Pidcock
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    If the antifa resistance had not been active, there wouldn’t have been any “many sides” for Dolt 45 to hide behind. Passive resistance isn’t just right. It’s politically very effective.

  8. Carey
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The definition of violence keeps expanding. It used to involve physical harm. Then it came to include speech. Now, according to Snider, the mere presence of Neo Nazis is violence. Personally, I think we should stick to a narrow definition of violence.

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      If we keep expanding the meaning of the word ‘violence’ we’ll have to come up with a new word for actual violence to distinguish it from eating tacos with a fork or not including enough WoC on the Medieval Literature sylabus.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Eating tacos with a fork is pretty bad. Almost as bad as frozen margaritas.

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Mis-pronouning is literally murder, dontchaknow.

      • Carey
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Now that literally can mean either literally or figuratively, this is true.

        • Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          I can remember a few years ago before it became obvious that the usage of “literally” had changed to mean “figuratively,” someone spoke the phrase “He literally shit on my face” and I laughed soooo hard. The speaker couldn’t understand why I was laughing so hard.

  9. tubby
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow, so they’ve moved from words are violence to existence is violence.

  10. Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I think “#AlwaysPunchNazis” is pretty much pre-emptively violent, and is, in fact, an inherently violent ideology. (Should we ban it?)And, of course, fists turned into clubs turned into pepper spray turned into guns so now punching Nazis is a euphemism for what’s really going down and will eventually go down.

    Richard Spencer preached non-violence (for selfish reasons of course, but that’s not the point) and he got punched. Then he became a martyr and infinitely more popular with the more violent right who came out with weapons to “defend themselves” from anti-fa. Then anti-fa brought weapons to “defend themselves” from the Nazis (And there are cases where they did defend innocents from thuggish Nazi’s but those defenders weren’t carrying weapons so they were technically “peaceful” anti-fa – so hard to keep them separate). Now we have two sides bearing arms to “defend themselves” and just waiting for a shot to go off.

    When the bodies fall, Nazi Punchers and those chanting their inherently violent ideology will be as culpable as the Nazis because actions are beholden to a different moral calculus than ideas. Ideas and minds can change, but you can’t take back a punch, or a bullet. A gun toting progressive is drastically more dangerous than an unarmed Nazi. I don’t expect anything better from a Nazi. They deserve to be mocked and belittled, laughed at and jeered. But they do not deserve to be legitimized by angry idiots who need an obvious villain on whom to let their moral guard down. I do, however, expect better from a progressive. There are factions in this country far larger than the white supremacy movement that actually believe that progressives are just as bad as Nazis. They believe that promoting a woman’s right to choose is morally the same as genocide. It doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. Breaching the social contract of non-violence that allows disparate ideologies to exist in a common community by legitimizing violence against one group, no matter how profane their ideas, will legitimize violence from those who think you are the Nazis. Right or wrong has little value when the fists and bullets start flying. Don’t feel so comfortable in your own righteousness to think that you are safe from the righteousness of others! This is why you get arrested for actions, not ideas and why getting arrested or attacked for ideas is the basis of fascism. Break that contract, and suddenly Trump and his ilk has an excuse to use that breach against you. Nazi-ism isn’t a difficult ideology to refute, resorting to violence to refute it is just lazy.

    • Tom
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the violent goons of both sides have one thing in common they are challenging the authority of the laws that are keeping them apart.
      Whether play acting or in deadly earnest they continually press the limit of our tolerance of their intolerance.

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Justin Zimmer: “A gun toting progressive is drastically more dangerous than an unarmed Nazi.”

      Please tell me that you mean “gun SHOOTING” (or perhaps “misusing” is the better word)progressive.

      Most places in the U.S. (not counting NYC, Chicago, D.C., etc.) you’re surrounded by progressives who are “toting.” You just don’t know it.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Someone carrying a gun, unless they are professionally trained and able to stop themselves from using it, is much more dangerous than someone who isn’t.

        In most cases, gun-toting IS a problem. It’s so often some person with a fantasy of saving the day and being a hero, but who actually has no idea how to act in such situations.

        • Brujo Feo
          Posted August 15, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Heather: no argument with your first sentence, but it’s a tautology.

          It’s your second and third sentences that I question. I first might ask for your evidence–and be specific–but my real complaint is that such statements usually assume that police have such training and judgment, and licensed private citizens do not. Which is not borne out by statistics.

          OTOH, if you’re limiting the comment to those jurisdictions which require no licensing, training or any qualification by other means, I won’t argue with you.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted August 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            I assume that police have good training. I don’t assume all have good judgment as it’s clear that plenty don’t from their actions. (I know those of ours in NZ that use firearms do – most of our police don’t have guns. We have specialized units called AOS – Armed Offenders Squad.)

            I don’t assume that all civilians are amateurs either, or have bad judgement. I am quite sure some are perfectly capable and competent, and safer than some police officers.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 17, 2017 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Well said, Justin!

  11. Randy schenck
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I think we have to clearly say and define, free speech yes, and violence no. That is all I have tried to say and I think our elected officials are the people obligated to attempt assurance of this. You cannot give one group a permit for their protest and give the opposition a permit for the same time and place and then say, gee I hope it all works out. I believe many cities have specific locations where they allow rallies and protests or marches. The permit laws will clearly show this and it must be followed. Does not matter where you live in the U.S. or what group you are. The rules apply equally to all. If you think this is an illegal encroachment on your free speech under the constitution, have at it in court.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      +1.

  12. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    No matter Arel’s rhetoric, whoever throws the first punch is the bad guy!

    • darrelle
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      An addendum, they could both be bad.

      • Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Or, one could be a “bad guy” and the other a “good guy who does a stupid thing.”

        • darrelle
          Posted August 15, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Yes indeed. I’ve been that guy.

  13. Harrison
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Endorsing violence is a great way to turn your counter-protest organization into a domestic terrorist organization, and to turn police power against yourselves rather than using it to your advantage to take down your violent opponents.

  14. Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    The US is starting to resemble Northern Ireland.

    An obsession with historical grievances, the fetishisation of statues and pageantry, the rise of ultra-loyalist and a correspondingly violent opposition.

    The good news is that it only took a few centuries to sort itself out.

    • Tom
      Posted August 16, 2017 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      And if Mr Trump himself is toppled and Mr Pence takes over, perhaps a conflict between a staunch catholic President supported by the RC churh and evangegelical protestants?

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 17, 2017 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        That might be worth the popcorn…

  15. Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Of course Comrade Dan wants to ban political opponents. He’s trying to usher in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

  16. Brujo Feo
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    “…just as the brave African-Americans who marched in the streets of the Sixties South didn’t carry weapons…”

    Well, not ALL of them were unarmed. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deacons_for_Defense_and_Justice.

    And then, of course, in other locales we have the Panthers…

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Well, yes there were some armed groups too.

      But the important thing to ask here is; who was successful; who are remembered for turning the tide on our racist past?

      It sure wasn’t the people with the weapons.

  17. Andy
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Please, Jerry, familiarize yourself with the very long history of Antifa, from the Battle of Cable street, to the Nazi-hunters of Post-war Germany, to the successful rout of racist skinheads in the 1970s UK.

    It’s not a nice thing, sure.
    It would be great if it were not necessary.

    But your nation is failing. It is necessary.
    Don’t like it? Fix your nation.

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your patronizing comment. I am familiar with Antifa: see the new article in the Atlantic about the “movement” and its history.

      Violence is never the solution a civilized society should use to resolve its differences. I find it amazing that you think that antifa is necessary now–for what? In a society full of guns?

    • Paul S
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Failing, how so? If you’re referring to the current administration, we’ve endured racists, bigots and buffoons before.
      PEW estimates 46m people in the US were born elsewhere, the highest immigration rate in the world by a large margin.
      Do we have problems, sure, but failing as a country, I don’t think so.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted August 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      There is no comparison between those actively violent skinheads and any of the people Antifa has gone up against in this current situation.

      Milo is not a violent skinhead.
      Not even the ones carrying Nazi flags were equivalent to the skinheads

      And most right wingers are not Nazis and haven’t been calling for violence.

      • allison
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        I suspect the family of Heather Heyer might disagree with you there.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          Based on a sample of one?

          cr

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

            Actually, I take that back. Allison’s riposte is worng if applied to MW’s last sentence; with respect to his first one it’s probably applicable.

            (Note to self – read whole thread before commenting)

            cr

  18. rickflick
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting that Trump has just come out and doubled down on his contention that violence came from both sides.
    The problem I see with angry mobs like Charlotte had is that even though the vast majority have rather reasonable limits to how they want to express themselves, there often will by one in a hundred or a small clique determined to push the envelope. Thus, hundreds of well meaning protesters become labeled as violent and beyond the pale.

    • Posted August 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      “It’s interesting that Trump has just come out and doubled down on his contention that violence came from both sides.
      The problem I see with angry mobs like Charlotte had is that even though the vast majority have rather reasonable limits to how they want to express themselves, there often will by one in a hundred or a small clique determined to push the envelope. Thus, hundreds of well meaning protesters become labeled as violent and beyond the pale.”

      Even worse is the fact that ALL the well meaning protesters are on one side, since Nazi’s, and white supremacists are by definition not well meaning, while those who oppose them by definition are, it’s only their method of opposition that is questionable. It’s that distinction that Trump, his allies, and his apologists are intentionally ignoring.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 15, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. The conditions in Charlotte were very unbalanced. Trump can’t help but return to support his base. Famously, he claimed not to know who David Duke was, while he was on tape denouncing him for being a racist a few years earlier.

      • Bernd Jendrissek
        Posted August 16, 2017 at 1:49 am | Permalink

        Your last paragraph is circular. You define “well-meaning” by which side of Nazi / not-a-Nazi one is on, but that ultimately circles back to “Why are Nazis bad? A: Because the mean harm.” And to suppose that one is well-meaning just because one opposes some harm-meaning group, well that’s just bloody naive.

        This isn’t a univariate landscape with just a single good-evil axis that’s r=1.0 correlated with pro-Nazi/anti-Nazi. There are multiple ways of being evil (or good, for that matter). Dehumanizing one’s ideological opponents in order to legitimize the initiation of violence against them, is one of the other ways of being evil.

        • Posted August 17, 2017 at 1:28 am | Permalink

          “Your last paragraph is circular. You define “well-meaning” by which side of Nazi / not-a-Nazi one is on, but that ultimately circles back to Why are Nazis bad? A: Because the mean harm.” And to suppose that one is well-meaning just because one opposes some harm-meaning group, well that’s just bloody naive.”

          No I define which side is not well meaning based on the fact one side are racists, and bigots. And that imo puts their opponents on the moral high ground whether they use violence to oppose them or not.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 17, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

        Exactly!

  19. Filippo
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    ” . . . what happened in Charlottesville . . . the violence arose . . . because both sides came looking for a confrontation . . . and the police, unprepared, did a lousy job of planning and keeping the groups apart.”

    I subjectively perceive that “friendly persuasion” and appeals to the “better angels of their natures” in order to keep the groups apart – in other words, the “de-escalation” so emphasized by those who advocate recruiting sociology majors instead of military veterans for police forces (and who themselves don’t have to labor in the vineyards of violence) – was not likely going to work with these two groups.

    I reasonably gather that, in the absence of any other successful strategy, police physical force is acceptable for keeping such groups apart, especially if it can prevent murder, although I’m not sure what the police could have done to have prevented the miscreant from driving into the crowd. I assume other police forces will incorporate the Charlottesville incident into their “Lessons Learned” file.

    Per local Raleigh, NC news reports, the slogan-chanting crowd which toppled the Confederate statue in Durham, NC – none of whom arrested (although the Durham police chief the next day said to the effect that some of the group would be charged with a felony) – felt it necessary to taunt the police. Apparently, success is not complete unless the police are taunted. The police have to discipline themselves to stand there and take that abuse. What is the “carrot” to prompt one to make a career of law enforcement and have to endure such abuse? Whom do we expect to become police officers?

    Am reminded of Hitch on human primates: “A half a chromosome away from a chimpanzee. And it shows.”

  20. Posted August 16, 2017 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    I think that when it comes to Nazis, the Left has the right idea ‘- “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them”

    Or is that Sam Harris?

  21. Posted August 16, 2017 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Donald Trump has spoken. Technically, he is partly correct – I don’t see how you can claim it was an innocent protest when so many people had guns.

    Anyway, I have a compromise. Leave the statue there, but make the inscription reflect reality e.g.

    “In memory of Robert E Lee. He fought and killed his fellow Americans in order to keep humans enslaved.”

    • Posted August 16, 2017 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      Does America want to fight the Civil War again?

      After 150 years, it is not time to reconcile the two sides?

    • Posted August 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure I’d leave the statue, but by all means, remember Lee – for what he was, not a hero.


%d bloggers like this: