Welcome to the Regressive Left in the Trump era: no “safe spaces” for those you oppose

January 21, 2017 • 1:15 pm

I was saddened to hear about the violence in D.C. this weekend, with over 100 people arrested and substantial damage to property.  If a march is to succeed, it should be nonviolent, as was the case with the civil rights and Vietnam marches in the Sixties (yes, I know there was some violence).  If the Left is to keep the moral high ground, we simply can’t go around physically attacking those whose views we don’t like. In fact it’s ironic, because when progressives do this, they’re implicitly denying someone a REAL safe space: a space to be free to express your opinions and remain physically safe. “Safety” refers to freedom from physical attack or illegal harassment, not to freedom from hearing views you don’t like.

As a conscientious objector, I’ve always adhered to the nonviolent philosophies of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, for if you start violence, you lose credibility.

Here’s a white supremacist, Richard Spencer, getting punched in D.C. during the anti-Trump rallies:

Spencer is odious, but he doesn’t deserve to be punched. And yet here’s atheist Dan Arel, whose behavior has become increasingly bizarre, defending that punch on Twitter: 


Stephen Knight (“Godless Spellchecker”) weighs in:

And a few other unhinged tweets by Arel:



I guess Arel thinks that gives us license to punch anyone we don’t like. I no longer have any use for Arel, even though at one time he wrote a good book on godless parenting.

But wait, there’s more!


More excuses for violence; this one is particularly pernicious:


Dave Rubin chimes in with a tw**t by CNN correspondent Jake Tapper, probably referring to Rosie O’Donnell’s claim that Barron Trump was autistic (no evidence for that, I think):

One more from Rubin:

Peter Boghossian decries the violence:


More people defending the violence against Spencer:


And Sarah Silverman strikes back:


We were all worried about Trump supporters creating violence if Hillary Clinton won, but here we have exactly the opposite outcome.  Let’s knock off the violence, the punching, and the destruction, folks. It’s neither productive nor progressive. Even a white supremacist deserves to have his say without being physically attacked.

185 thoughts on “Welcome to the Regressive Left in the Trump era: no “safe spaces” for those you oppose

    1. Oh really. So we have the right to punch anybody whose speech we find odious? And the puncher should get off free?

      What kind of country do you want to live in–one with vigilante justice?

      I presume YOU will be the judge of those whom it’s okay to punch.


      1. I continued below to make the discussion more readable so I hope you don’t assume I’m being rude by not replying directly.

    2. Before advocating violent force against someone whose speech you dislike, recall that the people with most capacity to apply force in the world today are people such as Trump and Putin.

    3. You think that you will advance a just cause by punching those who disagree with you? That’s your plan to fight back against fascism, by employing fascist tactics? You’re playing right into their hands. That’s just what they’re hoping you’ll do.

    4. This is not the main issue, but ‘brave puncher’?

      Someone, identity hidden by a hoodie, sucker punches a man lawfully exercising his first amendment rights in conversation with an interviewer and then runs away. This is your notion of bravery?

    5. People like you always seem to think you’ll be forever considered to be on the “right side” of things. It never even occurs to you that, if you let things go on like this, eventually you too will be considered odious, and then suddenly you’ll be wondering how anyone could commit violence against you and be praised for it.

    6. Do you remember this?


      A Trump supporter at a rally sucker punched a protestor in the face as he was being peacefully let out by police. It was a shameful act of cowardice, and for me, epitomized all that was wrong with the Trump campaign and its appeal to people.

      If you want to sink to that level, so be it, but don’t pretend this was in any way a brave or laudable act. It was a failure. Lowlife racist pigs like Richard Spencer lose the argument every time they open their mouths. Why stoop to violence that just generates sympathy and legitimacy for what he stands for.

      1. Another point–where does it end? If it’s okay to punch a Nazi, how about a pro-lifer? Someone who opposes gay marriage? Anyone wearing a “Trump” hat? Many people on the left consider those people “odious” and “Nazis,” so why not?

        Tolerating Freedom of Speech is not easy. That’s why most countries don’t allow it.

        Oh yes, and PZ Myers and most of the crowd on his blog are applauding the attacker.

        1. It is obviously not good, since the man was not a Nazi. Neither is the average Trump supporter, and they should not be met with violence. Nazis calling for ethnic cleansing are a different matter. They will only remain peaceful for as long as they are met with overwhelming opposition, both intellectually and physically. As soon as we let their speech be normalized, they will act out on it. For those worried about free speech – there are numerous countries where promoting national socialist thought is forbidden and met with state sanctioned violence. Free speech is at no risk in those countries.

          1. “Free speech is at no risk in those countries.”

            Oh yes it is. For example:

            “The speaker who filed the case before the Strasbourg Court was convicted of publicly “disparaging a person who is an object of veneration”, namely “Muhammad” the “prophet of Islam”, in a way likely to arouse justified indignation, in violation of section 188 of the Austrian Criminal Code.”


          2. You don’t think everyone who supports Trump is a Nazi; plenty of other people do. Who gets to draw the line regarding who is an acceptable target of violent physical assault and who isn’t? And what will the line be regarding just how much violence is allowed against such people? And how often will it be allowed? Do they get beaten with aluminum bats every day? Only on Wednesdays?

            Do you really not see the problems with what you’re advocating?

            “Free speech is at no risk in those countries.”

            You clearly haven’t been watching what has been happening in those countries.

            1. As a native of one of those countries I’ve never had my right to free speech threatened, perhaps because I am not a nazi. Incidentally, the accused in the link is about as close to a nazi as you can legally get, being a member of a far right party founded by former SS members. For the record, I do not agree with the court ruling or beating of that guy.

              People who can not tell a Trump supporter from a real nazi can easily be taught to discern them. Personally I think people who lump Trumpists with nazis know very well who is a true nazi and are just using (regrettable!) hyperbole.

              As for the regularity and severity of the beatings, I believe they should happen irregularly (so as to stay unexpected) but often enough to make an impression. They should also not be severe enough to cause lasting damage so as to leave room for escalation if need be (i.e. nazi speech turns into action).

              1. So your basing your new system of violence on personal, incorrect assumptions e.g. well, even when the speech of not-so-real Nazis is threatened, it still doesn’t mean free speech is under threat, simply because your personal speech hasn’t been threatened yet. And we can teach everybody the difference between real Nazis — as defined by you, of course, because the government will surely put you in charge of that and not use it to silence their opposition — because everybody except for Nazis is smart and reasonable and this will all work out wonderfully.

                You’re desperately twisting yourself into illogical knots in order to justify your wish for violence against people you dislike, rather than just admitting that violence against speech is wrong. Perhaps you should step back and think about why that is.

              2. (this is in reply to BJ below, there is no way to reply directly to him for some reason)

                BJ, I understand your arguments and your concerns make perfect sense. I am not advocating for a Department of Nazi Punching or a systematic doling out of violence. I am advocating for a civil society that is educated and vigilant enough to recognize and punish (by social ostracization and the occasional public punch) nazis. This is entirely possible within the limits of civil society and in fact I would consider it a sign of a healthy community.
                Of course, given where civil society is heading, this is a pure utopian fantasy.

                P.S. I’m a long term reader but don’t follow the comment section normally, I don’t know if it’s good form to keep discussing things here for days after the original post has been made. Is it?

              3. @pck
                So far as I know there’s no rule about continuing discussions. PCC does have a Rool about not monopolising threads but I don’t think that applies in this case.

                The only counter against long-running discussions is that after a few days it’s faded from topicality and most people won’t see it.


    7. The question here isn’t whether a Nazi deserves to be punched, or even whether it feels good to punch a Nazi. (Under the right circumstances, the answer to those questions is undoubtedly “yes,” which is why moviegoers cheer when Billy Jack beats up the bad guys.)

      The issue is what effect the resort to violence has on the message and the movement — and, even more importantly, on the protester who resorts to it. As to those issues, the bad consequences invariably outweigh the passing satisfaction of punching out a Nazi.

    8. You are a thug then.

      Why stop at a punch?
      ‘Brave’ puncher? It was an unexpected sucker punch.
      People, many people have died from sucker punches, if they get knocked out and slam their heads into the ground.

      And, if one side can punch, why not the other?, leading too…?

    9. There is *nothing* brave about sucker punching anyone and escaping in the anonymity of a crowd. Such people- and those who break windows and overturn cars, are not *protesters*, they are cowards and vandals.

      1. Indeed. And it’s not brave when you are part of the overwhelming majority, and your victim is pretty much alone.

    10. For various reasons I haven’t commented on this site for a long time even though I come here every day. However after seeing the comment by pck, I couldn’t let this go without adding my thoughts. I’ll start by saying that Trump is a dangerous, barely literate, ill-informed scumbag and the Nazi guy is even worse. However, as odious as they are I would never feel that it was acceptable to hit them or anyone else (other than in the unlikely event that I or others were at risk of immediate physical harm).
      I speak with some experience on this subject as I have been the victim of such violence. My experience differs to the incident in the video only in that the Nazi was ‘sucker punched’ for his political views whereas I was ‘sucker punched’ for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, by someone I had never met. The guy that hit me was a mindless, violent imbecile who just wanted to hurt someone after an argument with his girlfriend, unfortunately I happened to be nearby. The important thing to understand here is that both me and the ‘Nazi’ were punched for arbitrary reasons existing in the mind of the attacker. Both attackers felt they were justified in lashing out because they were pissed off, full of hate and thought that smashing someone in the face was appropriate.
      What sort of society would we live in if we all got to choose who we punch based on how we feel? When the choice is that of an individual the choice is arbitrary and fueled by prejudice. Just keep your fingers crossed that the next thug you bump into has the same views as you, otherwise you may be in trouble.
      As it happens I am lucky to be here – I was hit from behind and landed on concrete, on my head. I spent three weeks in hospital with a broken skull, eye socket and jaw. I had two lots of surgery and now have a metal plate in my face. I also have permanent blind spots on my right side because of the eye damage I suffered. The worst bit was actually a six inch long mouth ulcer which lasted for months due to the surgical incisions that just wouldn’t heal. I then had to go through the hugely stressful process of dealing with police and attending court etc. Now almost 15 years later I’m extremely anxious in large groups and crowded areas. And all because somebody thought it was OK to punch me in the face because they wanted to.
      I read nearly every week about some poor soul who was ‘sucker punched’ and ended up in a morgue. Around the world there will be many people who left home tonight and will never return because some thug decided to attack them. Why the hell do you think you or anyone else should have the prerogative to smash someone in the face?
      I can think of a thousand ways to deal with this Nazi and his friends, but none as counterproductive and damaging as being arbitrarily violent. When Spencer and his ilk speak about the violence and double standards of the left they will no longer need to rely on the confirmation bias of listeners, they will have something much more powerful: confirmation.

  1. Ironically the attacker made the case for Mr Spencer and on film.
    Now he can point to it as an example from personal experience.

  2. That was disgraceful. Emotionally I quite liked seeing the guy get whacked, but my reason says that if I condone violence here, then I’m condoning it always. We lose the moral high ground.

  3. My first reaction upon hearing that Spencer, an appalling man, was punched in the head was to be appalled by this action. I have not watched the clip. I have no interest in seeing this man get punched.

  4. I agree with the post. I think you should only use the amount of force that is directed towards you, or in the act of protecting yourself or another from bodily harm. We can defeat the racists and the homophobes without violence. As it has been said when we resort to violence first we lose all credibility. We simply make their points for them. If you can punch a bigot for being what he is, then a bigot can punch you for being what he thinks you are. So let’s sharpen our minds, use our voice, and find ways to convincingly reason with people. Hugs

    1. Such is the polarization of social discourse at the moment that there are bigots on *both* sides of the debate. They have different values of course, some of which are not very appealing, but few deserve to be called ‘evil’ as so often happens.

      Does anybody want to ‘punch a bigot’ and find out too late that he or she is armed? To escalate the violence and find that armed vigilante groups roam the streets to protect ‘like minded people’?

      It’s a lot harder to reverse violence once each ‘side’ has a list of injuries and deaths to get revenge for. Let’s not go there.

      1. I agree. Sadly it seems some people on the progressive side have lost their understanding of what we are to stand for. Hard to advocate for a better society while proclaiming it is ok to go around assaulting everyone you disagree with. Hugs

  5. *whiny liberal voice* we must respect nazi’s right to free speech.

    Seriously these people don’t give a shit about decorum. They’re taking away people’s health care, want to trample women’s rights, and espouse ethno-nationalism.

    Good luck with being nice. Now shut up and get out of the way.

    1. Look everyone! Not only a big-time Roolz violator (and therefore never to post here again), but an advocate of vigilante justice. Just to show you that Arel isn’t a one-off

      We should certainly be punching all Republicans, and if I didn’t try to be civil, I could characterize your ignorance in some unprintable words.

      1. “We should certainly be punching all Republicans..”

        Now I’m confused. I thought you were advocating against this sort of violence.

  6. I have a hard time with this one. Keith Olbermann was on Bill Maher last night, and when talking about this he said he opposes gratuitous violence, but he didn’t think this was gratuitous.

    1. I’m sure he would consider it “gratuitous” if it was committed against someone he agreed with.

      You really shouldn’t have a hard time with this.

      1. “I’m sure he would consider it “gratuitous” if it was committed against someone he agreed with.”

        I think there’s a difference between punching someone who espouses hateful things, and punching someone you simply disagree with.

        1. To clarify. No one on this site has ever said anything that would inspire me to use violence against them, but if someone suggested we should exterminate the Jews, he’s fortunate not to be within striking distance.

        2. The people doing the punching will always think they’re justified. Hatefulness is in the eye of the beholder.

          1. “Hatefulness is in the eye of the beholder.”

            While there might be some gray areas where it’s in the eye of the beholder, but if someone thinks things like genocide qualify they need more than a punch.

        3. Who gets to decide what’s hateful? Who draws the line regarding what is an offense of free speech that legitimates violent physical assault against the speaker and what doesn’t? Who will decide just how much violence is allowed to be perpetrated against such people?

          Do you really not understand the problems with the view you’re espousing?

          1. The amazing thing is, that very few who espouse these ideas seems to acknowledge the other big totalitarian system of the 20th century.

            And does not seem to realize, that virtually any argument that justifies physical violence against “adherents” of one, works equally well against “adherents” of the other, for the very same underlying reasons.

            Since they in many instances are influenced by marxist ideas, members of organizations started by marxists, or members of other flavors of radical organizations on the left, they are in essence working hard to justify the right, for anybody, to hit themselves.

            If the situation was not so serious, it would be hilarious.

  7. I expect things to get much much worse. It’s impossible to just shame people who are shameless.

  8. Unsurprising, since the liberals in name only have been conflating expression they don’t like with violence for some time now. If speech is violence, then speech can be answered with actual violence. QED.

    Unacceptable. Irrational. Counterproductive.

  9. I’m (almost) speechless. Why should anyone think that freedom means you have the right to physically or verbally harm anyone whose opinions you don’t agree with, but not vice versa? Unfortunately, this is not a new development in our country. It pops up virulently at times of stress. I could cite numerous historical occasions (You, too, Mr. Historian?). Many of us may be angry enough to imagine resorting to violence, but don’t succumb because we are not violent people.
    Someone(s) has/have to remain sane and work together on positive solutions to the hatred and violence. Otherwise, we’ll quickly turn to “an eye for an eye” justice and be like street gangs or cultures in which families must carry on vendettas for centuries.

    1. “I’m (almost) speechless. Why should anyone think that freedom means you have the right to physically or verbally harm anyone whose opinions you don’t agree with, but not vice versa?”

      I agree with you completely.

      What if the assailant had hit him with a metal pipe? That’s OK? If there were three of them who jumped him and stomped him, would that be even *more* justified? What if, while falling, a senior or a kid hits their head on the brick building? Collateral damage, OK too?

      If I had been there, I would tried to intervene on behalf of the victim- and I wouldn’t have cared who he was or what his politics were.

      1. I also would have intervened, and then Spencer would have been forced to suffer the indignity of being saved by someone born to Jewish parents 😛

  10. I have family at the march today. Hopefully they aren’t anywhere need the fights or took my advice to leave the immediate area if any violence broke out. We’re supposed to go get fancy chocolates for my birthday next week, and that’ll be difficult if they’re in jail (Yes, it’s all about me!)

  11. Apparently people who denounce Trump as Hitler and their supporters as Nazis regard the Sturmabteilung as a role model.

  12. This is how the opposition will fail, by making stupid moves like this, and by infighting and pettiness. The women’s march today was already becoming fractured by competing agendas of different groups. Inciting violence cedes all moral ground, and provides justification for whatever action the party in power takes, in the public view.

    1. Yes, responding to disagreeable speech with violence is only going to help racists recruit more followers. It has even been suggested that the punch was staged, precisely for this reason.

      1. It’s possible it was staged, but the opposition also has to be the side of facts and evidence, and we have none to confirm that.

      2. It’s much more likely that it wasn’t staged. Even on this single blog post, we’ve seen several people say that this is perfectly acceptable behavior.

  13. One can pursue one’s political ends quite aggressively yet remain totally nonviolent, as Dr. King explained in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

    I wonder how many of these protesters, or those who condone their conduct, have taken time to read it.

  14. There are times when you have to fight back – when you or other people are attacked, democracy is in danger and the rule of law fails. When you are sure the you will find neither protection nor justice. In Germany, this “right to resist” has even been enshrined in the constitution – for obvious reasons.

    Last I looked, neither in the US nor in Germany democracy is in immediate danger. By all means resist, but not in a way that makes YOUR actions a danger to democracy.

    Unfortunately, self-righteousness makes many people think they have the right to take away the rights of others: It starts with de-platforming and shouting down those who think differently, then violence is legitimized – and used.

    It is always wrong when “they” do it, but seems to be OK when “we” do it, because hey, we are the good guys…

    1. Great post!
      The “de-platforming” perhaps has some connotations that I don’t like, but I think you’ve captured both sides of this question quite nicely. (There is a difficult philosophical question at the core.)
      I love your final sentence, “It is always wrong when “they” do it, but seems to be OK when “we” do it, because hey, we are the good guys…”

  15. These are the sorts of problems that naturally arise when justice comes to be seen as the partisan of a particular side in a cultural antagonism. It has become increasingly clear that, for far too many on the ‘social justice’ left, supposedly being on the right side of history justifies a double standard. ‘Social justice’ often leads to the removal of Lady Justice’s blindfold, teaching her to administer justice according to identity and ressentiment. If you are supposedly on ‘the right side of history’ the same laws don’t apply to you.

    One of the things about more classical liberal values, in contrast to modern versions, is that they can encourage a certain modesty about social ends, focusing rather upon neutrally applied principles by which we can co-exist respectfully amidst our differences. Modern visions of social justice have a far clearer sense of the shape that society must take, a utopian or messianic vision for humanity, and the failure to attain such a form is proof of injustice (often a vision founded upon blank slateism). Against such approaches, classic liberal principles don’t define justice so much by the result that must be achieved, but by the rules by which the game of society must be played, rules that are evenhandedly applied to all. This difference couldn’t be more significant.

    There are many people on all sides of current cultural struggles that will appeal to liberal principles when it is convenient to them, then wilfully abandon them when they favour their opponents. The idea that they must play by the same rules as their wicked opponents is offensive. Can’t everyone see that society must take the form their ideology envisions for it and that anyone who opposes that vision must be evil?

    1. Hear Hear!

      The historical, political and philosophical myopia that (to my mind) are on display through their arguments and actions, is to my mind, equally terrifying and breathtaking.

  16. With a stroke of the pen my beloved wife just became uninsurable again for a pre-existing condition. A guy who victimized widows for profit is to be our next Treasury Secretary. One of the only options for care for low income women is being de-funded. Just a few of the reasons I’m avoiding Trump supporters today.

    1. “With a stroke of the pen my beloved wife just became uninsurable again for a pre-existing condition.”

      Not yet. As the NYT puts it:

      “The Trump executive order should be seen more as a mission statement, and less as a monarchical edict that can instantly change the law.”


      Still, every facet of the ACA is in danger. A lot depends on whether the Republicans can come up with an alternative that can pass.

      In any case, good luck to your wife.

  17. I found it amusing that Trump was talking about how American streets were violent and full of crime and I’m thinking “No, they’re not.” Then I see protestors destroying stuff and attacking people and I’m thinking, “I see Trump’s point.” They are playing right into his tiny hands.

    1. Yep and the generally misinformed start shouting with glee how the BLM group is a bunch of thugs and how white people are suffering just as much and on and on.

  18. One the advocates of violence (for that’s what they are) seem to forget is that by normalizing violence against those they disagree with, they legitimize violence on the part of those who disagree with them. On the part of anyone who disagrees with anyone. This is not a solution to any problem. It is, in fact, a giant step backwards in societal development.

    1. Well said. Back when I used to argue against pro lifers, I took pride in the fact that I could point out that religious right wingers were the ones who were not concerned about the sanctity of life, what with all of the anti abortion violence. Every time a leftist committed an act of violence against RWNJs I cringed, knowing that this would cost the left the moral high ground.

      We can’t just say that we have better ideas than them. We must also behave according to those ideals.

      1. Well said Cindy. It is not enough to have the best reasonings, we have to also present that reason in a manner those who don’t want to hear will not be able to just blow off. Hugs

  19. Trump/Pence 2020! Don’t want it to be true, but I think Maajid Nawaz’s prediction was right: Trump will be a two term President. I don’t think he’s intelligent enough to be anything more than a useful idiot, thus incapable of being successfully impeached (not sure about members of his team / Cabinet). The Democrats (at least a lot of them) have learned nothing from this election, blaming their loss on Russia and the FBI. The identity politics, political correctness, calling everyone racist, and needless violence continues, possibly worse than before the election. I seriously predict 12 whole years of a Republican in the White House, possibly 16. Seems like it really will take Democrats that long to ditch their current issues. Hopefully, I am wrong, but some people I know don’t even see this year as a real loss. Somehow, despite having Republicans control all three branches of government and having enough state legislators to be one legislator short of passing a Constitutional amendment, Hillary winning the popular vote by three million is all that matters. Welp. Looks like it’ll be at least a decade of Republican rule… 🙁

    1. If I would venture a guess, I think that as well, and, I wouldn’t be surprised if we will experience 16 or even 20 years of republican dominance, that will probably also grow much stronger, before it wanes.

      Or, what will be classified as republican, but in reality will (I think) be more in line with current European populism, which mixes ideas from both the traditional left and right together with a resurgent nationalism.

      The irony is, to my eyes, that these physical and verbal attacks, overreactions, inane accusations, moral outrage and chest thumping, is rapidly making such an outcome almost a certainty.

      1. While I’m not a whole-hearted supporter of the the stages of grief model I offer the following:

        denial – Trump won’t win
        anger – Trump has won
        bargaining – let’s resist Trump’s actions
        depression – why do people still not like us
        acceptance – we must address our own failings *first*

        Once people regard Trump as an unpleasant ‘corrective medicine’ then progress will be made. As an outsider I’d guess that the Democratic party can’t reform fast enough to put up new policies and new candidates for the next Presidential election. Perhaps the one after.

        1. “Once people regard Trump as an unpleasant ‘corrective medicine’ then progress will be made.”

          I think this is very important. Progress in this regard will only happen when the left begin to acknowledge that the rise of Trump (and the other populists) is a more or less direct consequence of some of their own most cherished beliefs and policies.

          And, to acknowledge failure and to give up some of your core beliefs, like globalism, multiculturalism and identity politics (including what counts as main stream feminism today), will, I think, take much longer than 4 or 8 years.

          But what drives the political changes now, are the practical consequences of applying these ideologies.

          And, what is more critical, I think, is that to reverse (or find solutions) to the societal, economical and cultural changes now in motion, and stabilize our societies, will take much much longer because the inherent inertia will be formidable.

          A political opposition emerging from this historical vise some time in the future, will, I think, for many reasons, look very different.

  20. Apparently Jon Stewart got in trouble in with his fellow lefties when he stated that his friends with some Trump voters, and that they are not literal Nazis. That people are individuals who have various reasons for voting the way that they do and that it is counter productive to demonize millions of people. Predictably, Stewart was accused of being a Nazi himself.

    Asra Nomani voted Trump. I had a brief exchange with her on Twitter during the election. She is a lovely person. She is not Hitler, despite what hysterical anti-Trumpers would say.

  21. At that moment that he got punched, I felt kind of bad for him. I wouldn’t have felt bad if someone had totally exposed him for his views and made him look foolish. I can’t help but wonder if sympathy for a man sucker punched could blossom into sympathy for the man’s bad ideas for people susceptible to such bad ideas. Do we really need to encourage people to release the racist within?

  22. I find it far to easy to imagine that, ten years from now, the actions of a resurgent fascist-right will have begun dismantling essential civil protections from London to Berlin to Washington, D.C.

    At such a time, many of those who condemn the assault on Spenser will muse ruefully, ‘We should have done more to stop them.’

    I wonder what how exactly such people will quantify those preventative actions that we all had failed to muster.

    1. Why stop at punching people you deem to be odious (even if they have broken no law). Be specific on the degree of violence you feel is justified. On a scale from a slap to a bullet in the head – where would you draw the line? Would it depend on how much you personally disagreed with them?

      1. Also, in thinking about whether it is permissible to employ violence against people we deem to be Nazis, let’s not forget that Godwin’s Law exists for a reason.

        Besides, given the combination of a hyperventilating media trying to make the most of any tenuous link between Trump and fascism or Nazism, rampant political tribalism, each side’s paranoid fear and hatred of the other, and abysmal historical education in public schools, I really don’t trust the great American public’s ability to discern who are and who are not the Nazis in their society.

        1. Just checked the facebook posts of a friend. She’s been spending the last several months engaging in twitter wars against pro-trump people. She used to write witty retorts, lately, it’s just been “F*ck you.”

          She also *approved* of the punch. It’s as if everyone has “permission,” to say/do whatever they want, as if there were no consequences. We know there will be- and collateral damage.

          “I really don’t trust the great American public’s ability to discern who are and who are not the Nazis in their society.” Now, it seems, I can’t even trust my *friends.*

        2. The tragedy is, I think, that the protesters in many instances, (as it appears from their words and actions) are much further along the road to totalitarianism, than the individuals and groups they claim to be nazis…

          I think the apparent monumental failure of our school systems, rife with postmodern and culture and social constructivist ideas of knowledge, will come back to haunt us for a very long time.

  23. Some aggressive guy gets his rocks off by sucker punching someone else. He chooses a nasty weirdo to punch, because he finds it easier to rationalise his violence that way. People applaud him because they don’t like the nasty weirdo either, and because they are feeling a bit aggressive too. The nasty weirdo gets a sore head and some extra publicity. The nasty weirdo is still the only hero in this story and the only one who has something to say.

    All those cheering from the sidelines are like spectators at a cockfight. They are there to see blood (it doesn’t matter who’s) and to make sure that peace doesn’t strike.

    1. “All those cheering from the sidelines are like spectators at a cockfight. They are there to see blood (it doesn’t matter who’s)…” Exactly. Unless it’s *theirs” of course. Then that would be wrong.

  24. Characterising all protesters as the regressive left is simply a way of “othering” a group you don’t like. From my reading of posts from friends across America who are participating in marches and protests, many are socially or economically conservative yet find no consolation in Trump’s inauguration.

  25. A further frustration of mine is the seeming abandonment of political persuasion for the catharsis of tribal signalling on both sides of the aisle.

    Yes, it feels good to punch white supremacists. It also plays well to the progressive crowd, much as a John Oliver rant might. However, does it win anyone over, or simply further poliarize people and even provoke sympathy for a deeply unpleasant person?

    Does any of this advance the crucial cause of opposition to Trump, or is it just a further example of the progressive left’s narcissistic fixation on its own psychodramas and sense of moral superiority over political effectiveness? Freddie deBoer has written a lot that is worth reading on this.

    1. In fact, much of the reason why Spencer was in front of a camera to begin with was because of the progressive left’s fixation on presenting Trump supporters as ‘LITERAL NAZIS!!’. This encouraged the media to foreground the ugliest fringe of his supporters, who were delighted to take advantage of the oxygen of publicity this afforded them as the supposed cutting edge of this populist, anti-establishment movement.

      If the progressive left were less fixated on reliving the struggle against the Nazis or their favourite sections of the Harry Potter novels (‘OMG, it’s like when Voldemort took over Hogwarts!!!’), they might not encourage and empower the worst of their opponents.

  26. I remember reading a short story in high school about a brave white knight who set out to defeat an evil black Knight.

    When the white knight set out on his journey , his armor was bright and shiny. Along the way, he kept finding “shortcuts” which enabled him to get ever closer to defeating the evil black Knight. He beat up a peasant here, a peasant there, slapped some people around. Over time his armor lost its shine. It became grey, and dull. Soon he was committing atrocities, which were completely justified in his mind, since his mission was righteous and pure. Well, after a series of atrocities, he noticed that his reputation preceded him. That people looked upon him with fear. His armor had turned black.

    OK, crap storytelling on my part, but you get the point 😃

  27. The term “regressive left” in reference to this violence seems to imply that there was ever a time when the left was not violent. There has never been such a time. The line of descent is thus: Robespierre, Blanqui, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Kim, Castro, Pol Pot, various African dictators, including Mugabe. The plan is always the same: kill (or, failing that, drive into exile), everyone in the current regime and all their supporters, and all who resist the revolution, and when this is done, utopia well appear as if by magic.

    1. Spot-on parody of a blinkered right-wing nutjob railing against the monolithic left! Just the right mixture of paranoia and magical thinking. I’ll bet you can really troll ’em in the comments sections over at World Nut Daily and Free Republic and in the alt-right threads of 4chan.

      Well played, sir!

      1. +1

        The gentleman forgot to mention the outstanding humanitarian achievements of the right over the centuries… I won’t start a list here.


        1. The so-called “far right” is an offshoot of the left. Mussolini was for twenty years a prominent communist before he broke off to start the Fascist Party. It was a split in the left, was not over socialism, but nationalism versus internationalism. That’s why the fascists use the same methods the left have always used. The mainstream right shuns mob violence, and usually disdains even “peaceful protest”.

          1. This… gentleman is standing on his head, he can’t tell his right from his left.

            “The mainstream right shuns mob violence, and usually disdains even “peaceful protest” ” – because the mainstream right usually has the tanks and guns and money to crush the opposition.


            1. In today’s democracies, the mainstream left has the tanks and guns just as often as the mainstream right does, if not more often, yet the mainstream left encourages its supporters to go out on the street and protest. Its leaders, writers and news organs are infatuated with the idea of street protest, romanticize past episodes of protest and rioting (such as those of 1968), lionize left-wing rebels and guerrillas, promote protest leaders into their ranks, sponsor and organize protests, and speak of protests as a vital part of democracy. Its press reports protests as proof of the popularity of an issue, though in fact, protests are not a reliable indicator of popularity, since a few thousand protesters can make headlines when millions opposed stay home.

              The mainstream right, though it does not like ochlocracy, tends to treat protests leniently, to avoid the barrage of hostile press it would receive from left-wing media if it acted otherwise.

        1. I don’t think right or left has anything to do with it. It is simply a degenerate form of democracy where demagoguery and appeal to violent passions take over the body politic. It is as old as civilization. The Greeks called it Ochlocracy.

          1. Well, it’s ochlocracy, all right, but left and right have everything to do with it. Since the goal of the left is to seize the wealth of the rich by any possible means, and permanently prevent the rich from recovering their wealthy state, violence is hard to avoid.

            1. “the goal of the left is to seize the wealth of the rich by any possible means”
              Given that western Europe has had left leaning governments (they all set up sociaised medicine, extensive welfare, free education, high government spending) for 60 years how do you explain the fact that there are 489 billionaires currently residing in these socialist hell holes.

              1. I think Pelegrino Nuzkwamia is energetically attacking an enormous straw man of his own creation.


              2. The mainstream left has been following a Fabian plan of gradual, stealthy government takeover of all industries and leftist takeover of all liberal institutions since the 1880s, and it was well on its way to entrenching socialism in the West by 1980, and subjecting nation states to an international, undemocratic, left-leaning supreme authority, but then came Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who applied the reverse gear at high speed, and a few years later came the collapse of the entire Soviet bloc through profound bankruptcy. Leftist economic ideas lost all credibility as a result of this. Simultaneously came the PC revolution, quite unforseen by the government, or pretty much anyone, producing a great wave of innovation and a large tranche of new billionaires. The Left’s only response was to use the law to harass Bill Gates into retirement.

                We now live in a world that the Left never anticipated and does not understand at all, but generations of evolving dogma mean that leftism is as resistant to evidence as any religion.

                The Left cannot create equality by Fabian means as long as innovation keeps happening, but it cannot stop innovation as long as there is competition between nations, so one of its new strategies is economic strangulation in the name of “saving the planet”. You will observe, if you take the trouble to look, that Green parties are dominated by ex-Marxists, and that though they are keen on carbon reduction, they are virulently opposed to nuclear power, which is the one technology we have that would be sure to produce that result while still keeping the lights on.

                The Left has no credibility whatsoever. It is predicated on false economics (manifestly), false sociology, false psychology, false history, false ethics, and even false human biology, but due to the left’s successful permeation of education, the arts and the media, achieved to a considerable degree already by the 1930s, and pretty much entirely today, there is virtually no educated and cultured person under sixty today who has not imbibed large amounts of Leftist propaganda through their education and entertainment, often without knowing that it was Leftist propaganda.

                If not for the persistent suffusion of propaganda, Leftism now would be completely dead.

              3. It’s very amusing. “They were working on it for a century, but then Reagan and Thatcher saved us!”

              4. Well, you’ve convinced me, Peregrino.

                Also, the sky is orange, the sun rises in the west, and 58.9 isn’t the atomic weight of cobalt.

                I was wrong to accuse you of being a parodist; you’re actually the house historian in post-factual Trumpworld.

                Either that, or a Turing machine programmed to spew right-wing gibberish.

              1. Heck, we just had a large thread the other day where nearly everyone here agreed that people should be able to pass on their estates to their children (or whomever else they see fit).

              2. You’re a moderate. Moderate means not using all possible means. Fabianism means gradualism, and, by implication therefore rules out some possible means, but the essence of the left is to use all possible means. The classic Marxist/Blanquist starts with violence, and assumes peace will come eventually. The Fabian avoids violence, until it becomes a last resort. Leftism doesn’t depend on the feelings of any one person. Any large leftist party will contain a mix of Fabians and Marxists (who may quietly, or even vociferously, despise each other). If Fabianism appears no longer to be working, the Marxists will take over, so that leftism can achieve its goals. History shows that leftism adapts, and turns to violence when violence holds more promise, or to peaceful means when peaceful means seem mute effective. We have Fabianism in the West because that’s more effective in a liberal system.

            2. Well if that be true we have no left in the USA since both parties are the tools of the oligarchy and are dedicated to the further enrichment of the already obscenely rich to the detriment of all others.

              1. All representative systems are inherently oligarchic. Indeed, it’s hard to see how any large state could be effectively governed other than oligarchically. There are factions in the ruling class, and one (or more) of those factions is leftist. You may ask why rich people would be leftist. The answer is that concentrating wealth in the state gives more power to whoever controls the state, and they see themselves as the rightful controllers of the state.

  28. I’ll deliberately try a basement-cat-advocate’s post:
    Why is it OK to kill someone indirectly by taking away their health insurance, but not OK to use a minor (and possibly staged for the camera!) amount of force to prevent that?

    1. I can give you 3 reasons:

      Because violence doesn’t prevent that, it’s useless.

      With your “logic” you can justify violence against anyone you don’t like, so again it’s useless.

      NSA will fill in a check box: promotes and approves political violence (this makes me a little sad).

  29. I must disagree with (only) the last bit. I expected very little violence from Trumpers, and much more from the Left.

    America is not France. In France rioters win, but here they lose. Want more Trump? This is the sure and certain path to his landslide re-election.

    1. Indeed, as I said somewhere in the comments that people who may be leaning toward this man’s bad ideas, may have come a smidge closer to them after witnessing this.

    1. If you really believe that, I would ask that you voluntarily withdraw from commenting on this site, because that comment is just plain dumb. Plus Spencer is not a Nazi–at least not the kind we fought against.

      1. No, of course I don’t believe that. Fact remain that it’s ok for Richard Spencer to get sucker punched. He gets to continue with his hateful, nazi inspired rhetoric and the rest of us get to take solace in him being humiliated.

        I don’t know what it is you think you’re accomplishing by defending Richard Spencer and shaming others on the left. My guess is you don’t either.

        1. “Fact remain that it’s ok for Richard Spencer to get sucker punched… rest of us get to take solace in him being humiliated.”

          It was not “OK,” it was criminal assault. He was not “humiliated” he was *injured.* (Not seriously, apparently, be he could easily have been.)

          I, for one, take *no solace whatsoever* in cowardly violence from the right or the left. But I’m happy to know that if *you* ever get sucker-punched, someone will have thought you deserved it, too.

        2. You think he was the one humiliated? The only people who have been humiliated by this are the assailant and those trying to pretend that there was nothing wrong with what he did. It’s the opposite of humiliation: it is yet more fodder for talking about the left as a violent, sociopathic monolith.

  30. What people think or vote is their own business and is never a valid justification for the use of violence, at least if you want to call yourself a liberal.

    I think political violence could be justified if the state uses or permits unjustified physical force against some of its citizens.

  31. From a democratic and pluralistic starting point, a good argument about the freedom of expression will begin with the assumption that it exists unconditionally and we ferret out in which carefully described circumstances it should be curbed. The discourse with the “Regressives” went differently. Their starting assumption is pessimistic and misanthropic towards communication. Words are violence already, and contribute to an “unsafe” world where everyone runs a gauntlet of a million cuts by microaggression. Their project begins with declaring ideological “safe spaces”, Churches of Communication where the ideologue preaches, everyone shuts up and listens, and nobody disagrees. I was dismayed to learn that the argument by them is usually in Dan Arel’s words “Let’s not also forget, free speech does not mean speech without consequences.”, which is a standard idea also uttered by the FTB and Orbit blogging crowd, and the YouTube Regressives (another example of their uniform, dogmatic beliefs).

    The implicit warning was always disconcerting for two reasons. The first is that these people already demonstrated that they don’t care about the truth, only vague dogmata, and that those “consequences” can be triggered by any perceived heresy. In fact, fierce in-fighting between the ideologically pure and purer blew their faction apart. Any attempts to even understand the Regressive ideology, from Teh Patriarchy to Intersectionality were frustrated by them. Rather remarkably, even years laters, little “manifest” was produced even by prolific bloggers who rather indulge in characteristic me-me-me heroically “fighting the good fight” prose (and shrill cries to “educate yourself” white binarist cis-het scum). It makes sense. The Catholic clergy refused to lay bare their teachings, to allow themselves more power and control and the pregorative of interpretation in the moment. In short, what speech triggers “consequences” is part subjective and to decide for the local Regressive Gauleiter or the Flock, with the trusted old effect that followers “virtue signal” and try to outdo each other in piety.

    The second half is the question what is meant by “consequences” once a heretic is identified. They made clear that “consequences” doesn’t mean counter-speech, better ideas, ridicule or mockery, “It’s sad that Charlie Hebdo were gunned down, but …“. They tend to dislike satire, even once famously urging Dawkins to undersign a treaty of sorts that forbade photoshopping (I don’t blame Dawkins, he wanted to show goodwill to the Regressives). It makes sense from their bleak outlook that free thoughts are suspicious, dangerous and heretic. When they elected “Pepe the Frog”, a free-for-all meme to represent the Alt Right, they unwittingly expressed that in the end, they are at war with memes themselves, for they slip from Regressive control and unnerve the fragile authoritarian mind as it struggles for orientation and clearly identifiable “sides” — so the whole thing must be denounced. In infividual cases, “consequences” means “fair game”. Doxing, shunning shaming, smearing, defamation, libel, telling outright lies, using their platforms and outreach to snipe dead lowly characters for some comment section transgression — the Regressives of online atheism alone mastered it all. Ironically, some of those things they allowed themselves are exactly the things where some sensible limitation of freedom of expressions would be necessary.

    Putting it together, once a heretic is identified, “everything goes” and that’s where Dan Arel and the commentary of Regressives neatly fits into the landscape as it appears to me from a more bird’s eye perspective. My problem is not so much the punch itself, though that certainly hurt and Spencers views are themselves intolerant. It’s much more the symbology that “everything goes” and not just against demagogues, and preachers of hatred like Spencer, but in effect against everyone the Regressive finds heretic for they never showed concern even for the casual detractor, contrarian or the devil’s advocate.

  32. Pretty certain that Spencer is a white nationalist, not a white supremacist. There is a difference. I don’t really see an inherent flaw in the white nationalist argument, whereas there’s an obvious one in the supremacist argument.

    There are several ethno-state countries in the world, and I don’t think it is inherently wrong to argue that one’s country should also be an ethno-state, particularly if demographic change is recent and accelerating. Japan is the sort of country I’m thinking of here, but it’s far from alone.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I’ve never seen Spencer argue that whites are superior to other races, merely that they should be entitled to having a homeland that is majority white. I think that’s a pipe dream for the United States, but much harder to argue against for European countries. Poland for Poles, if the majority of Poles want that, isn’t something I’d be prepared to condemn them for.

    1. Just ran past this interesting new post on Quillette…

      The New Trump-ian Order

      I think it is very important to be careful and precise when using terms like fascism and nazism, and, I often get the feeling (as you describe) that many seem to equate nationalism with nazism.

      And, even in cases where people really are racists that is still just one aspect of what nazism originally ideologically contained.

      Or, to phrase it another way, are all racists nazis? To my mind, that is not a true statement either.

      1. Here’s some more to deplore: Gavin McGinnes starts flailing wrist “punches” cuz he was “provoked” (by some free speech maybe?): https://youtu.be/btmCaxSr8l8
        Number of tweets condemning this by Free Speech Warriors like Dave Rubin, Sargon, Milo and Lauren Southern? Zero as near as I can tell. Doesn’t fit their narrative I guess. Plus, IMO, Dave needs to show he can lick Trump’s boots with the best of them (Hannity) to make his dream come true of capitalizing on the “opportunity” he keeps talking about presented by the Trump administration. What “opportunity” you ask? IMO it’s a personal one for Dave: getting a Trump or Trump confidant on to interview. In the mean time Rubin focusses like a laser on threats to free speech from the largely powerless political left. I’d love to have him prove me wrong… maybe invite Gary Kasperov on to discuss Putin. But until then…. (BTW, I’ll give him credit for having people like you on: much more balanced perspective).

      2. Also, Dave did an innaguration show with That Guy T who’d just praised Gavin for his assault on the protester. Not a peep from Dave about that. Selective outrage.

  33. Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but I think you are wrong on the facts. I was at the January 21 march. There were no reports in the media about violence of any kind, and I certainly didn’t see or hear of any. There was violence the previous day, the day of the inauguration, which is lamentable but had NOTHING to do with the Womens’ March.

  34. At times like this, it is worth bearing in mind that a certain section of the left has been systematically eliding the distinction between physical violence and strong political disagreement for some time.

    Richard Spencer represents an odious position and is an extreme case. However, arguing that the articulation of unpopular viewpoints on campus and elsewhere is ‘violence’ and dulling any sense of a distinction between physical safety and immunity from ideological opposition and challenge leaves some crucial distinctions exceedingly fragile.

    On the one hand, the breakdown of these distinctions enables persons on the progressive left to present their opponents as ‘violent’ for disagreeing with them and to characterize themselves as victims. On the other hand, it supposedly justifies their retaliation to the ‘ideological violence’ of these viewpoints with actual physical violence.

    A culture of radical empathy is conducive to a sort of violence, as Paul Bloom and others have observed. The progressive social justice left so empathizes with particular groups and persons perceived to be victims that any challenge to them is perceived as serious violence, justifying merciless retaliation. Such empathy is a great way to spark the unchecked violence of the mob. It plays to visceral instincts and tends to override reason and balance. One of the things that true justice entails is resistance to the potential of the partisan sentiment of empathy to overrule equity.

    We should be under no illusions that this sort of thing will stop with characters such as Spencer. When, as happened a few days ago, a man is shot in a violent protest against a Milo Yiannopoulos talk, is that justified? Milo is an unpleasant agitator, but the notion that his provocative rhetorical attacks upon the sacred cows of progressivism constitutes ‘violence’ is used to justify the chucking of rocks at police, the throwing of punches, and the shooting of his supporters. The carelessly hyperbolic rhetoric of the social justice left greases the surface of the plane of social antagonisms, enabling us to make some incredibly dangerous moves from ideological opposition towards physical violence extremely easily.

    1. eliding the distinction between physical violence and strong political disagreement for some time.

      From The College Fix:

      “”Using offensive words is an “act of violence,” according to a majority of students recently surveyed in a nationwide poll.

      These numbers indicate a growing trend among college students to equate using certain words to violence. The nationwide online survey asked 1,000 college students aged 18 to 24 if “choosing to use or not use certain words can constitute an act of violence.”

      A majority of respondents, 53 percent, agreed some words equal violence, with 21 percent “strongly” agreeing and 32 percent “somewhat” agreeing. Only 21 percent somewhat disagreed with the statement, 13 percent strongly disagreed, and the rest said they didn’t know.””

      “”Last month, Southern California students protested a mad scientist-themed party at Harvey Mudd College, claiming it represented “violence against disabled people.””


      Now, who wouldn’t want to punch someone who commits an act of *violence* against the disabled, eh?


      1. Truly horrifying. But remember, according to all of these people, free speech isn’t under attack, only bad speech is.

  35. A punch in the face, or similar act of political violence, I can never abide.

    A pie in the face, OTOH — on rare occasion, under just the right circumstances, I can get behind that.

    “Propaganda of the deed,” I believe that’s known as.

      1. Now, that’s funny, I don’t give a shit who ya are (unless you’re a neo-confederate, I suppose, in which case maybe it ain’t, but too effin’ bad for them).

    1. “A punch in the face, or similar act of political violence, I can never abide.”

      While I certainly understand that rationally, watching this Nazi, emboldened by the election of his guy to the presidency, being interviewed in public by a major network, disgusted me. Seeing someone sending him the message that no matter how emboldened he may feel there are still people willing to risk criminal prosecution to show him he can’t spew his hate with impunity, made me happy. And if it came down to it, I’d be contributing to the assaulters defense fund, and not Spenser’s medical bills.

      1. “Seeing someone sending him the message that no matter how emboldened he may feel there are still people willing to risk criminal prosecution to show him he can’t spew his hate with impunity, made me happy.”

        Glad that you’re happy. The message he sent was that sucker-punching someone within the anonymity of a crowd and running means he likely will get away with it. And you’re assuming of course, that he had Some Deeper Message he was trying to impart, other than impulsive mayhem where you’re sure not to get caught, is fun.

        It also means that black kids *who had nothing to do with it any of it,* will probably be *further* harassed by the police. (Kid was wearing a hoodie, so we know he’s black.) Will you be equally happy when that happens?

          1. Have you come up with any answers to even some of the questions that your views raise yet? I’ll bring them up here for you again:

            Who gets to decide what’s hateful? Who draws the line regarding what is an offense of free speech that legitimates violent physical assault against the speaker and what doesn’t? Who will decide just how much violence is allowed to be perpetrated against such people?

            As someone who had over half of his ancestors from several generations killed (Jews during the Bolshevik revolution and Nazi Germany) and is alive today only because a handful of them escaped Russia in the early 1900’s, it is absolutely shocking to me that people like you are too clouded by emotion and their desires to see their ideological enemies brutalized to even comprehend the inevitable and historical results of your positions.

            1. Islamic supremacists – ISIS, for example – truly believe that what they are doing is moral and righteous. They are defending the faith. They are defending their way of life. They are making the world a safe space for Islam. They do not think of themselves as ‘baddies’ when they rape Yazidi girls or behead infidels. No, they praise Allah with the knowledge that they are doing his work and making the world a better place.

              As far as ISIS is concerned, the rest of the world is filled with *evil* degenerates who pose a very real threat.

              Evil is never done so fully and so gayly, as when it is done by a false principle of conscience. – Pascal

              1. Exactly. Those committing or condoning violence for ideological reasons always think they’re the only ones doing it for the “right” reasons.

                And it never occurs to those condoning such violence while denigrating those they find to be hateful and violent that they won’t always be considered “right” by so many people, and will then be left wondering how anyone could possibly turn their previously condoned tools of violence against them (since they’re such great people and everything).

              2. I agree. Sincerity of belief is never an excuse. (I used to use Hitler as an example – nobody ever suggested he wasn’t sincere – but ISIS is possibly an even better example).


            2. I’ve said repeatedly I agree it is “wrong” to punch someone because you disagree with them. It’s also wrong to kill someone who raped, and murdered your daughter, but got off on a technicality. Perhaps that clarifies how I “feel” about punching Nazis.

      2. As I said somewhere else in this comments section, Mike, the question isn’t whether a neo-Nazi deserves to be punched, or even whether it feels good to punch a neo-Nazi. (Under the right circumstances, the answer to both those questions is undoubtedly “yes.”)

        The issue is the effect the resort to violence has on one’s message and the movement — and, just as more important, the effect violence has on the person who commits it. On those issues, the bad consequences invariably outweigh whatever passing satisfaction is to be derived from punching a Nazi.

        Take the black college kids who desegregated lunch-counters in the Jim-Crow south, for example. They certainly would’ve been justified — morally and legally — in punching the lights out of the dumb rednecks who dumped food on their heads. But their cause would suffered, and they themselves would have been diminished, for their having done so. They resisted so that their movement might succeed.

        Those of us opposing Donald Trump should do likewise.

        1. All the modern movements that increased rights and freedoms for others were peaceful, and nearly all the modern movements that restricted them were violent revolutions by authoritarians.

          1. Clarification: I mean movements increasing freedoms within their established societies. I’m not talking about people who fought off conquering nations and such.

          2. And governments love violent protestors as they don’t need to provide any justification should they wish to restrict rights.

            MLK was a greater threat to the US Government because he was a sympathetic, peaceful figure. People could empathize with him and perceive him as a victim of unjust racism. Now, what if MLK had gone around punching racists? It might have felt good, but the civil rights movement would have been dead in the water and the government could justify keeping black people down.

  36. A guy was shot on Friday at an anti-fascist protest against a Milo Yiannopoulos talk on campus. This report suggests that he was mistaken for a white supremacist by the shooter on account of a misunderstood tattoo, when he was actually there as an opponent of fascism.

    It is important to bear in mind that, by justifying the punching of Richard Spencer, we risk justifying the vigilante violence of random members of the public who, besides not following any due process, can’t even be depended upon to recognize the people they claim to be fighting against.

    On this point, it is also important to observe the way that certain groups on the left have been systematically blurring the differences between the following groups: conservatives, Republicans, members of the white working classes, people living in red states, Trump voters, Trump supporters, alt-right, white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. As the distinctions between these various groups is lost sight of, the justification of violence, hatred, or discrimination in the case of the ugliest of these groups tends to spread to the others by unjust association.

    1. I watched the full video and Spencer said that neo-Nazis hated him and that he is no Nazi.


      I would like to see confirmation over the coming days as to what exactly he is all about.

      1. Spencer, from my understanding of him, is an articulate and polished white nationalist and supremacist. To my knowledge, he isn’t an advocate of violence, nor is he neo-Nazi. He is very unpleasant individual, who has opportunistically taken advantage of the attention given to him by liberal quarters of the media, who wish to tar Trump supporters by association with him and his ilk. Unfortunately, they are playing right into his hands and drawing a lot of public attention and sympathy to an ugly and fringe position that they would be much wiser to ignore.

        1. Yup, that talk by him everyone made such a big deal out of had about 200 people in attendance. The vast majority of people on both sides wouldn’t have known about him or that lecture if the media wasn’t so obsessed with using the Nazi brush on Trump. Barely anyone knew Spencer’s name.

          Now look at him. Not only do people know his name, but his audience has grown immeasurably.

    2. It is also important to bear in mind that there is a certain sort of unpleasant person who finds catharsis in violence and will jump at the opportunity to engage in socially sanctioned violence. As soon as open season is declared on a certain type of person, such individuals will joyfully undertake their acts of violence under the banner of morality. Indeed, their willingness to engage in such violent acts is presented as proof of their moral zeal, when it actually is evidence for their appetite for violence.

      We should be under no illusions: there is a high possibility that, had he lived in different times, the sort of violent anti-fascist protester who would gladly punch someone like Richard Spencer in the face or attack an accused paedophile would also have been leading the lynch mob against the black man accused of raping a white girl or beating up the man accused of a homosexual act.

      1. And this is why social justice has attracted so many bullies (it’s why any popular and overzealous ideological movement on any political side attracts them): these people get to bully, denigrate, humiliate, and stomp on others, all while being praised as virtuous paragons of justice.

        1. Scot Alexander’s post The Ideology is Not the Movement is a must-read here, as is this classic passage from Vaclav Havel. Like other movements, there are a lot of different reasons why people subscribe to the ideology of ‘social justice’, beyond or in addition to actually believing in it.

          1. People who want a prestige belief system can prove that they belong to the moral and intellectual elite by employing the ideological shibboleths and vocabularies of the social justice academic in-crowd.

          2. People who need a way to process the wounds of their past can turn to social justice ideology as the scar tissue.

          3. People belonging to minority or disadvantaged groups can turn to social justice ideology to gain a sense of importance and the ability to hit back at others.

          4. People who struggle to hold their own against others can use social justice ideology as a means to call for special treatment and discriminate against their competition.

          5. People who feel guilt can turn to social justice ideology as a means of self-flagellation.

          6. People who should feel guilty can turn to social justice ideology as a means to absolve themselves of guilt by working to make others the scapegoat for the past sins of their groups.

          7. People who like to bully others or act violently towards others can turn to social justice ideology as a means to justify their violent and abusive tendencies.

          8. Business can turn to social justice ideology as it distracts from its own injustices, sells products, increases markets and the labour force, gains cachet for neoliberalism, and associates market values with social justice values.

          9. Governments can turn to social justice ideology as it enables them to distract from the sort of systemic class inequalities that the traditional left would focus on, and which led to the rise of Trump, emphasizing primarily symbolic social justice issues instead (the last several years have witnessed lots of government attention to issues of LGBT rights, rather less about the drugs crisis facing the country and the economic despair in the heartlands). Social justice ideology also serves as a means of enforcing power (read the Havel article I linked earlier) on populations at home and justifying overseas intervention.

          10. Modern Western societies can turn to social justice ideology to help them to absolve themselves of their historic sins by scapegoating certain unappreciated sections of their population. Social justice ideology also offers itself as a convenient ideology for multicultural and post-national societies.

          11. Liberalism can turn to social justice ideology because it can present itself as continuing the Civil Rights movement and appreciate the halo effect of justice that affords.

          12. Hollywood can turn to social justice ideology because it enables them to distract from the concrete injustices and hedonism of the film industry with lots of shallow gestures that fuel its self-congratulatory culture and play well to the kids on Tumblr.

          13. Social media can turn to social justice ideology because online what you say matters so much more than what you do and articulating social justice ideology is a cheap way to gain justice.

          14. Social conformists and the fearful turn to social justice ideology in order to fit in and not be ostracized.

          15. Religious people can turn to social justice ideology in order to jump on culturally ascendant bandwagons, regain a sense of moral high ground, and downplay the alienating features of their faith.

          16. Young teens turn to social justice ideology in order to find identities and communities in a cultural context where given identities and communities are weak and often hard to come by.

          Many further examples could be listed. However, it is imperative that we understand the many individual and social ends that social justice ideology serves beyond its ostensive ones.

          In some respects, such an ideology calls out to be understood as a Dawkinsian ‘meme’. While it really shouldn’t be reduced to the features that make it socially useful, its widespread appeal and traction owes an immense amount to the way that it serves so many different parties’ interests.

          1. In recent years, I’ve found eight, nine, and twelve to be the most fascinating. Seeing the left not only abandon the working classes, but embrace corporatism and corporate interests, has been pretty eye-opening.

            Look at what happened with that awful Ghostbusters remake: Sony managed to convince a bunch of media outlets that the only reason people disliked the trailer on Youtube was because it starred women, and then the media convinced feminist and social justice communities throughout the internet that this was the case. We had a bunch of supposedly left-wing people fighting for the interests of a corporation. It’s not like that was an isolated incident, as it’s been happening over and over. People would rather win petty fights and signal their virtue than fight for anything significant.

  37. Where is the outrage among the ‘non-regressive left’ when police shoots minorities with no provocation? Where was it when Tamir Rice was shot? Where was the outrage among the ‘non-regressive left’ when NDAP protests were going and they were met with violence that left permanent damage on some of them? Where is the outrage among the ‘non-regressive left’ when Muslim women receive daily threats of violence and discrimination?

    Apparently, the ‘non-regressive left’ spends its outrage defending provocative neo-nazi trolls, sexist and anti-feminist trolls, and bashing stories about women with Hijab.

    Perhaps if the ‘non-regressive left’ spent more time being ‘left’ rather than showing off its ‘moral superiority’, it could be taken more seriously as ‘left’. For the meantime, I prefer reading people who constantly struggle, write, and try to promote values of the ‘left’, regardless of if you want to call them ‘regressive’ or not. Even if they laugh or enjoy getting this nazi punched, since little flaw is negligible against the effort that they make in promoting real values of the left.

    Good night sir.

    1. Your entire post was one giant strawman.

      I suggest you read through the comments in order to get some perspective on the matter that isn’t clouded by empty virtue signalling.

    2. Yes, let’s debase ourselves by sinking to the level of our worst opponents. In no time, you won’t even be able to tell who is on what side.

      Oh, it seems we’re already there (hint: that’s why it’s so important to speak out when it happens on the left. We didn’t speak out when it started, and only managed to recognize the danger once it was proving to be metastasizing). Horseshoe theory in action. Oh well.

  38. Even if you think it’s morally okay to punch certain people, surely even a few moments’ consideration should lead you to realize it’s not pragmatic.

    It’s not going to change their views nor stop them proselytizing.

    It’s going to give them attention and a victim angle to play up.

    It’s going to reduce any inhibitions toward violence they have, possibly leading to a punch in your direction. Or something worse than a punch.

    This is just the human inclination to rationalize and justify what our id wants to do. It tickles the baser parts of our brains to inflict pain on an enemy, even vicariously. But regardless of the moral concerns it’s just bad strategy.

  39. well done.BTW, Spence is a UoC grad.

    From: Why Evolution Is True To: imlieb@yahoo.com Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2017 11:15 AM Subject: [New post] Welcome to the Trump era: no “safe spaces” for those you oppose #yiv1156815105 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1156815105 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1156815105 a.yiv1156815105primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1156815105 a.yiv1156815105primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1156815105 a.yiv1156815105primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1156815105 a.yiv1156815105primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1156815105 WordPress.com | whyevolutionistrue posted: “I was saddened to hear about the violence in D.C. this weekend, with over 100 people arrested and substantial damage to property.  If a march is to succeed, it should be nonviolent, as was the case with the civil rights and Vietnam marches in the Sixties ” | |

  40. There are times when I’d think the appropriate reaction to a Nazi (or even just a white nationalist) would be to punch him. But his simply existing? We can do better than that!

  41. A couple extra points:

    1) Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are listed as purveyors of hate speech by the SPLC, right along with actual Nazis.

    2) During the election, Bernie supporters were accused of being white supremacists (and misogynists too)

    3) If you are born white, you are automatically a white supremacist (use Google, there is tonnes of literature on this)

    *You* might think that it is ridiculous to believe that Maajid Nawaz is a Nazi, but there are folks out there who truly believe it.

    So, think about the above, before you start endorsing violence.

    1. So PCC is a “white nationalist” according to Dan Arel. And seeing as how white nationalist = Nazi, and it is OK to sucker punch Nazis…

      Oh, by extension, everyone who comments on WEIT is a Nazi by the standards set forth by Dan Arel and other illiberal leftists ergo we are all owed a sucker punch to the face for being so awful!

      And this is why so many of us argued against the “righteousness” of punching those who have thoughts that we disagree with.

      1. To me this is all just so very sad. We’re not on opposite sides. These perceived micro-aggressions are so insignificant when compared to what we are facing from the current administration. And people like PCC are the voice of reason and tolerance. Simmer down, SJW. Let’s all get on the same page and fight the good fight.

  42. Sorry in advance Jerry. I live in Canada and the issue I’m referring to is worse here, so understand my inability to hold back my opinion.

    I’ll keep repeating myself. Close down the Gender Studies departments. It’s a training ground for SJWs who believe inane nonsense, openly hate cis white men and any republican, argue epistemology needs to be changed to suit their conclusions and openly argue their opposition’s speech is violence while their own violence is necessary.

    I know half the people here buy into at least half their propaganda… but you elected Trump. When will people wake up and realize the Right attempted to have a conversation for years… and we all know who always managed to put an end to it and indulge in divisive and untrue political propaganda… feminists.

    What clue do well intentioned feminists and liberals need to start thinking about this honestly? Do we need a woman’s march that promotes Sharia Law? One where a speaker was a woman who kidnapped, tortured and killed a man? A march where the attendants, mostly women, defended a man who sucker punched a woman who happens to disagree with their beliefs?

    I’m sorry. I know I came off as rude to Jerry last time. I don’t intend to… but for goodness sake, when will we admit the obvious? Women aren’t angels…they are flawed like men, and this movement of theirs is the Trojan horse used to infect and destroy classical liberalism.

    I don’t even want to talk about the nonsense of rape culture, the wage gap, manspreading, the pink tax, videogames being sexist, etc. Just think about that yourself. Do your own homework.

    The safe space nonsense was never legitimate. They were always bullying. They were always feigning victimhood for attention and approval to sit on their lazy asses and receive more of mommy and daddy’s money.

    Hitchens saw this coming. Camille Paglia did too. So did Christina Hoff Sommers. And Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And Thomas Sowell. And Jordan Peterson. And many others… but somehow we still allow this nonsense to create these authoritarian violent marxists with chips on their shoulders and demands that will never be met because they will always change. More issues will be created… because their epistemological framework is CONCLUSION –> Invent Data

    If you don’t want Trump for another 4 years… wake up everyone. We must purge the fascists and the anti-intellectuals, even if they scream at you that they’re feminists. Compare Trump to the women’s March… it makes him look like a genius. And now compare white nationalists to the women’s march… it makes them look like Ghandi.

    Do you want social harmony, science and tolerance back? Well get rid of those who oppose it in your movement! Present a viable alternative to Trump’s intolerance, anti-science and divisional rhetoric. It’s that simple.

    And Thank You Jerry for taking a stand against those people here who promote violence. But we must all go further. Dishonesty, smearing, shaming tactics and bad science aren’t things we can afford either.

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