Is it OK to punch a Nazi? Yes. The question of “is it acceptable to punch Nazis” also applies to white supremacists and members of the alt-right. The answer to that is also yes, it’s OK to punch them too, and here’s why:
After alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer was punched in the face by a member of the anti-fascist movement on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, he said this to The New York Times: “I don’t think I could go out to an inauguration event without bodyguards or a protest or a conference.” Spencer added: “I am more worried about going out to dinner on an average Tuesday because these kind of people are roaming around.”
I, for one, think those statements are the height of irony, especially coming from a man who has actively worked to make sure Jews, feminists and people of color feel isolated in their communities in the U.S. This man, with all his white privilege, feels unsafe going out into the world for fear of being attacked for his views? What about all the people who feel unsafe because they might be attacked by a member of Spencer’s alt-right community for their race, religion or skin color?
It’s important to note that Richard Spencer doesn’t call himself a Nazi, but I’ll call it like it is.
In the months since Trump’s inauguration, Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated in Missouri and Philadelphia. Some 63 incidents of mosques being vandalized, threatened or set on fire have been reported between January and July of 2017. Am I supposed to be skeptical of the alt-right’s involvement in and encouragement of such incidents?
The world cannot be seen in binary terms, for the most part. Many things do not fall under black or white, but rather in the shadowy, grey area where things are murky and debate is necessary to discern the justifiable from that which is not. However, I was confused when discussing the “OK-ness” of punching a Nazi, many of my friends and colleagues argued violence is never acceptable. I say that’s bullshit.
Violence for the sake of violence is inappropriate. However, oftentimes violence is the only way to stop your oppressor from treading on you. In those cases, violence is justified and even called-for. Additionally, punching a Nazi can be cathartic. If you’ve ever cheered while watching Indiana Jones punch a Nazi in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, or if you smiled to yourself when the photo of Captain America punching Hitler popped up on your Twitter feed, then you know that hitting a smug Nazi face with your left hook could be a therapeutic form of stress-release.
Artist’s depiction of Richard Spencer getting punched in the face. pic.twitter.com/WP0ZQDVfHa
— bob calhoun (@bob_calhoun) January 20, 2017
To me, this is not an argument about the suppression of freedom of speech. Punching a Nazi is a way for those who have been oppressed to rise up against those who hurt them. It’s time to let Nazis, white supremacists and the alt-right know that there is recourse for their actions.