Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Nazi-punchers of the World Unite

Much furore has been generated since an anonymous person in a hoody interrupted a TV interview that white supremacist, Richard Spencer, was giving on the occasion of Trump's inauguration. It was one small punch for a man, one giant punch for Mankind. But since then liberals have debated the rights and wrongs of punching Nazis and those with sympathies for Mr Spencer have accused the left of abrogating the rule of law and of being domestic terrorists advocating violence. They have, from my point of view, done this utterly disingenuously which is the way they usually do anything. But, you might be surprised to learn, I don't berate them for this. This is because there is one thing that those on the right get absolutely correct. They realize they are in a war and they are prepared to do whatever it takes to win it. 

One small punch for a man. One giant punch for Mankind.

I have mused on the Nazi punching for very nearly a couple of weeks now. First of all, like many, I find it funny. Who wouldn't land a blow for their beliefs, or against ones they regard as disreputable, if they could? You can be sure that many on the right would love to hurt someone on the left. Some even do. White domestic terrorists of the right wing persuasion are amongst America's most dangerous citizens. But let's be honest enough to say the reverse is true as well. Even whole religions have revenge narratives. The Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, is a 22 chapter revenge narrative where all God's enemies are given a proper punching. Many Republicans, I'm sure, love it. But I'm sure many feminists, too, dream of the day that they can ram the patriarchy back down its own throat. These narratives are seen as being about justice but justice is often not much in vogue today. People seeking social justice are referred to as SJWs (social justice warriors) in a very deprecating way.

I look at this whole scene in a very historical way and I think that's the way we should look at it. A lot of people are called Nazis or fascists today. Some suggest Trump is. Others say Bannon definitely is and, certainly, reading quotes accredited to him it seems as if he wants to destroy civil society as we know it. Personally, I think that Trump doesn't really believe much at all. He is not a person of political conviction. He just believes in the aggrandizement of Donald Trump. He wants to build as many golden hotels with TRUMP on the top in 10 foot high letters as possible. He could care less about political ideology. This is not so for all the people on his staff, not least Bannon. The historical angle becomes useful when comparing these people to known and actual Nazis. As in the actual historical Nazis. We just went past the 84th anniversary of Hitler's rise to become Chancellor of Germany. It had taken him almost ten years to get there from his failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923. 

What we see in an historical analysis of Hitler's rise is that he used fear and intimidation to achieve it along with a vigorous politically-motivated narrative. It was, in the parlance of today, very much "Germany First". That is to say that he wrapped his ideology in a flag and this is something a lot of fascists do. But its important to note that this is never what the actual agenda is. Behind the slogan are always lots of ugly truths just waiting to be discovered. Or put into action. Germany First meant death to Jews, people of various frowned upon sexualities and various differing creeds. It meant death or imprisonment for many simply for vocally disagreeing with it. For Germany to be first, it seems, others had to be exterminated. We know that there are those within the Trump administration who are very much more ideologically motivated than Donald Trump and they surely see a slam dunk when all the branches of government are being ruled by the same party at the present time. This is a time to put ideological ideas into action. Trump wants an Attorney General who was too racist to be made a judge and an education secretary who doesn't believe in public education. These are just two examples.

But its not this I'm primarily concerned with here. What I am concerned with is the other side, those who OPPOSE Trump. This side is more interesting because the very relevant question at this time is "What are they going to do about it?" In their rhetoric the Trump administration is Nazi, white supremacist and racist. This is not an exhaustive list. One can easily add corporatist to the list and probably misogynist too. How does one oppose such people? Does one oppose such people by being mealy-mouthed? Maybe one opposes such people by signing petitions? Maybe you oppose them by posting memes or being sarcastic about them or complaining about them in discussions with your friends? Maybe you oppose them by going on marches and holding up banners? Hey, maybe you oppose them by punching them!

But I wonder if the liberals have any balls. I wonder if they have any lines in the sand. I wonder this because, if they don't, I see them living in a right wing fascist state for a long time. Liberals are known for things like tolerance, understanding and freedom. But if you tolerate a white supremacist for too long, understand them and give them freedom then you may find that your fellow citizens of color are given the shitty end of the stick of life - as well as lots of other fringe elements in society too. Toleration, understanding and freedom are not absolute goods. They function only within boundaries. Absolute amounts of any of them become self-refuting. So I wonder where the liberal boundary lines are? But in wondering about the lines I wonder how real the lines are because a line that is not policed and vigorously defended is not a line at all. That means you have to put your neck on the line. Are there liberals prepared to put their neck on the line? There have, historically, been such people. Without the loss of millions of allied lives the world might today be run politically by the axis powers. Without people of color prepared to stand up to injustice and not bow the knee America today might still be racially segregated. If the Union hadn't fought maybe the Confederacy would be in power today. To the extent we have a knowledge of the past we know that political freedoms are not given. They are won and paid for in sacrifice and in blood.

In short, politics is a matter of confrontation. Those who want to conquer love pacifists for they care not for their morals. They only care to win. But do liberals care to win and what will they sacrifice to secure the win? Token gestures here and there are all well and good. We may note the Women's March recently and protest marches in various places about Trump. But that hasn't stopped Trump forging ahead with his plan with new Executive Orders seemingly every day. I foresee a time when some may have to choose between a peaceful family life for themselves or influencing the direction their country goes in. And please be in no doubt: it will take this. Political power is only achieved because no one stops it when someone takes a liberty. Ten people taking action is seen as extremism. Ten million people taking the same action is seen as a popular uprising. Numbers count here. I have long said to myself over many years that if you can put millions of pairs of feet on the street for whatever cause then you will get immediate action. But people have to be prepared to get off their behinds and take that action themselves. It is a strict numbers game. And you may have to count the cost. This is why I say liberals have a choice: peaceful family life or political freedom and justice for all. Be in no doubt: fascists are happy with apathy.

Richard Spencer, I think, deserves a punch. He is not a reasonable man. He is not open to debate to convince him that his white supremacist views are incompatible with more liberal points of view. He is a hate preacher who wants to disadvantage other sections of society based on a belief and based on something those he despises could not change anyway: their skin color. I have said repeatedly over the last ten days that if no one had opposed Hitler with violence (Hitler himself used violence to intimidate his opponents and help him achieve power in the first place) then we might all be talking German today. The analogy holds because Hitler started off as a vocal nobody but, left largely unchecked, his rise led to tens of millions of deaths. Who doesn't think that that should have been opposed vociferously and physically as soon as possible in the light of our historical knowledge today? Any right-minded person would. So if we see people with the same kind of ugly and discriminatory thinking today what should we do?

If you could go back in time would you kill Hitler? What about if you knew what some current person with political power would become? In the end you have to fight for what you believe in or cooperate by your silence in whatever agenda rules the day.

Make your choice but know this: there are no lines in the sand if you aren't prepared to defend them.

PS Some may say that violence begets violence and I don't necessarily disagree with that. However, the equation remains the same: where is the line and what are you prepared to do to defend it? Whilst actual, physical opponents exist some measure of response will always be about how much, and in what way, you are prepared to push back. Doing nothing is not a solution.

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