author: nicholas giokas | contributor
“Punching someone is the universal sign for “I don’t have any arguments left,” which is insane because there’s a treasure trove of arguments against fascism.”
Over the past month there has been a fairly worrying trend. It began on Inauguration Day, when Richard Spencer was punched, and continued as people called for more violence against the Alt-Right. Now, the logic was, and is, that it’s morally okay to punch a Nazi in the face and, I won’t lie, the moral argument is relatively sound (Nazis aren’t exactly great people). But, to those of us on the Right, we knew what this rhetoric was – calls for violence against anyone who isn’t a Leftist. I was often given the lines of “Well, if you’re not a fascist, you have nothing to worry about” or “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” While it’s funny to hear Leftists quote George W. Bush, I was still worried. That’s because anyone who is Right of Center knows that conservatives in any debate with the Left are one ideological stance away from getting Godwin’s Lawed and called a fascist. So, we knew that it wasn’t long before the goalposts shifted.
And they shifted hard. At Berkeley, people who were going to attend a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos were attacked, beaten, and pepper sprayed. These people, while likely members of the “Anti-PC” Right, were hardly Nazis. The same justification was given, but with some amendments. If you watch the footage that came from the riots, it was no longer solely Nazis that were the targets; there were chants of “Kill all Capitalists” and “Liberals get the bullet, too.” So, now “Bash the Fash” rhetoric was openly being trained on people on the Right. Adding to this was McGill students calling for their peers to “Punch Zionists.” By this point, we’re far beyond the Pale because there is no shred of doubt that people of the ideological right, like myself, are now targets for violence even though we’re anti-fascists. If you think I or other conservatives are going to just roll over and go back on our principles because you threaten us, you’ve got another thing coming.
The absolutely insane thing is that now I’m the “enemy” that deserves to get beaten, even though I’ve been on the anti-fascist team since the beginning. This is why the “Bash the Fash” rhetoric is so unbelievably stupid: you’re turning potential allies into your enemies. Because why on earth would conservatives like myself help you if we know we’re the next targets? Why should we support you if we know you’re going to stab us in the back? It’s absolutely ludicrous that those on the Right, who are ardent anti-authoritarians, are being forced out of the movement to stop fascism. You don’t succeed as a political movement when you alienate everyone except for the small number that pass your ideological purity tests.
The next question is inevitably, “Well, how do you stop fascism?” Not by punching them, because, believe it or not, if you would pause and read a history book you’d realise that creating an environment of violence and chaos is exactly what they want and how they succeed. How you beat fascists is by out-debating, out-organizing, and out-fundraising them. Which is pretty easy on all fronts, because they’re fascists, which is why the “Bash the Fash” rhetoric is so shortsighted. Fascism relies on lies and fear that can be pretty easy to dispel if you sit down and give it a shot. Punching someone is the universal sign for “I don’t have any arguments left,” which is insane, because there’s a treasure trove of arguments against fascism.
What do you gain from punching someone? Nothing but self-satisfaction. What do you lose? Everything – allies, your moral high ground, time spent justifying your stupid actions that could be spent on more productive things, the list goes on. Violence, especially when you are being proactive rather than reactive, is always the least efficient means of furthering your political goals.
So stop parroting your edgy, middle-school logic and go out and do something that’s actually productive like, I don’t know, maybe persuading people to join your cause or engaging with people to build a coalition to further your goals. Overall this “Bash the Fash” B.S. is lazy, echo-chamber-driven, shortsighted logic. You’re better than that. There’s better ways to fight authoritarianism than that. So, stop making me and others like me your enemy and maybe have us be your allies. We’re more than willing.