The Nazi-punching “debate’ has quietened down somewhat of late…however, I recently stumbled across this post applauding it and was reminded of a few things that nobody ever speaks about regarding Nazi-punching.
Not only is it immoral to go around punching people in the face who are not directly attacking or threatening you with violence—it is also incredibly dangerous: you’re literally putting your own, and those around you—lives at risk.
These are just elementary and basic points, outside of the moral or legal framework which I have previously written about.
To summarise the moral question: violence is only acceptable as a means of self-defense: as a response to a direct, overt threat of violence towards you, or people around you.
This can be the only acceptable form of violence in my opinion—the law generally reflects this….not that it applies to state violence, carried out by the Police, etc (but that’s a matter for another day.)
Which brings me on to my next point—the Australian stand-up comedian, Aamer Rahman, recently performed a routine dealing with Nazi-punching.
Certainly, the topic has many opportunities for a skilled comedian—unfortunately, though Rahman seems to be promoting Nazi-punching…..
And mocking white liberals (I suppose I am one) for making the simple point that we shouldn’t go around punching people in the face just because they have abhorrent views.
Rahman, speaking about the unprovoked punching of the neo-Nazi Richard Spencer said:
And then every white liberal came out of the woodwork and started going: (Rahman imitates a soppy sounding white liberal)
“Mmmmm I don’t know…I don’t know if that’s what we should be doing….should we really be appluading someone for punching a Nazi?”
“Is that how we want to have political conversations?”
“Shouldn’t we hear people out?”
“If you punch a Nazi does that make you as bad as one?”
“You know what we should do with Nazis? We should debate them and we should defeat them in the marketplace of ideas”
Rahman then steps out of his imitation of the classic cappuccino sipping white liberal and, referring to the “marketplace of ideas”, responds:
Erm yeah, I don’t really know where that is. I would like to defeat Nazis on planet earth first, and then after we eradicate them here, you can fight them in the marketplace of ideas, fucking Narnia, Mordor, whatever imaginary realm it is—that you think Nazis can be constructively debated in, go for it, right?
Now, here’s the thing—this isn’t just immoral and silly, and a terrible tactic designed to backfire, it is also as Chomsky noted a “a major gift to the right”-wing themselves: essentially helping them to justify their own Nazi idealogy—who are the violent ones here?
Rahman then goes on to justify Nazi-punching by saying:
Do I support political violence?
We’re talking about punching fascists in the face—not suicide bombing, OK, relax!
The answer is still yes though Mr Rahman, and isn’t there a word for violence carried out for a political cause? Hmmm…..oh yeah!
IT’S CALLED TERRORISM!
Just apply this logic to any other aspect of life, or in fact politics:
For instance, the Tories, not to mention the majority of the Labour party have all carried out massive atrocities all over the world: just look at the weapons we are currently selling to the Saudia Arabian Government who are creating, according to Oxfam, “one of the world’s gravest humanitarian crises” through the Yemen “civil war”.
Essentially they are war criminals: does that mean I should go up and punch Theresa May in the face? Or Hammond, or Tony Blair?
You may think they deserve it—but what good does it do? Does it stop the Saudi bombing?
I think we all know the answer: we all know that even the suggestion is absurd, for obvious reasons.
But here’s the part that nobody ever speaks about or thinks of, it seems, not only is Nazi-punching an awful tactic….
IT’S ALSO FUCKING DANGEROUS!!!!
I speak as somebody who has trained in various martial arts since the age of 10—that’s over 20 years of my life spent learning how to fight.
But that’s exactly the point of training—not learning to fight, but how to avoid, or end a fight (in case you ever have to).
That’s the first lesson that any instructor worth their salt will teach you. There is a joke within the martial arts that crystalizes this:
The best form of self-defense training is a pair of Nikes and a racetrack.
The reason is that fighting is incredibly dangerous in multiple ways: violence once unleashed is so unpredictable that it can only ever be a last resort—when all other options have been exhausted.
The only predictable thing about violence is that it is unpredictable.
I have had my nose broken, more black eyes than I can remember: I’ve sparred with trained with guys who are built like brick shit houses who went on to compete in MMA—highly skilled fighters—but still, accidents happen….. I’ve seen a guy have his tooth knocked—it flew across my eyeline in slow motion…..
These are the kinds of things that happen under tightly controlled circumstances with people who are training together and are not trying to actually hurt each other.
Now, imagine what happens when you have people who are actually trying to hurt each other? It doesn’t even look anything like a cage fight—Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)—that is.
Even so-called “No-Holds-Barred” MMA fights are far more controlled than any real fight could ever be.
In a real fight there are no rules of engagement and no referee: meaning the most logical thing to do to win is to rip the enemy’s bollocks off, stab them with your keys in their throat, blind them by spitting in their eyes and clawing them, rip out the hair, and so on….none of which anybody can ever train for as it’s just too dangerous, but that’s how real fights look: but it gets far more dangerous than this.
An example of what can happen outside of the ring….chaos
There is an infinite number of things that can happen: first of all you could punch and miss or the punch has no effect: as soon as you’ve thrown that punch you are committed to action.
An example of when to hit/defend: self-defense: This man, I believe, from the movements and way he handles the aggressor, is a martial artsist—and as such tries to calm the situation first, only when the aggressor persists, and starts to throw punches, and throw his property around, does he defend himself: and only then with enough force to send me a message to the aggressor: This is how it’s done. The defender you will notice remains calm and relaxed: this is not just to try and descale the aggresor’s violence, it is also so as to allow him to think rationally, and move loosely:
So what happens when the Nazi hits you back? What happens if they grab you, pull out a blade and slit your throat? What happens if you hit them so hard they fall over, hit their head on the concrete and you’ve killed them?
What happens if they do they do same to you? What happens if they throw acid at you?
What happens if their pals are around and join in? what happens if the Police see you wailing on a guy?
Do you think any of this would hold in court? On a manslaughter or even murder charge?
Why did you hit him?
Well, he was a Nazi, your honor.
OK, so did he threaten to hit you?
No, he was just standing there talking to somebody—but he’s a Nazi….
Right, so you just went up and killed a man because he’s a Nazi, but he didn’t actually do anything to you?
But he’s a Nazi, your honor!
You think that’ll hold up in court?
I don’t think these guys—Rahman et al, realize just how dangerous fighting actually is.
You don’t get into a fight unless you really have to, and if that happens you do your best to get the fuck out of there.
Otherwise, you could get killed, your friends could get killed and so on.
This isn’t child’s play, this isn’t a school playground brawl—when you’re dealing with the real world, especially in the case of neo-Nazi’s you’ve no idea what they will do back to you and those around you.
In the US this is all the worse as guns are so freely and easily available, and and I don’t know if anybody else has noticed this, but it seems to be the white males—nationalists often—who do open fire killing many innocent people: now think about that, give them a reason and you could get killed and God knows who else could be killed or injured as well.
You just don’t play games like this—think about it. Think about how reckless it is to just go around punching people—again unless it’s the last resort purely for self-defense.
It may be all well and good to justify this violence under the guise of fighting fascism, but how is that any different to the Neo-Nazis going around punching Muslim hate preachers?
Is it now justifiable? again, the same issue, unless there is a direct threat of violence towards you—clear aggression—then neither is justifiable: both are exceptionally dangerous for the reasons I’ve stated above.
You can call me a sanctimonious white liberal if you want Mr Rahman, but frankly, I’d rather be that than somebody who endangers people and helps inadvertently spread the fascist agenda.
Some neo-Nazis have been reformed—some people do change their ways through debate..it does happen.
Debates and conversations about complex issues with people you (rightly) despise may be dead-ends sometimes, but the alternative you’re presenting here: punching people in the face is far worse.
Violence is a last resort unless you are a thug or a terrorist: I’m sorry if you don’t like that simple fact: but it’s the truth.
The last thing the left needs is a bunch of people going around throwing punches at neo-Nazis who are already hell-bent on looking for every reason to have a fight.
Trust me, many neo-Nazis—unlike Spencer—will not just stand there and take a blow to the face—they’ll hit you back, they’ll hit you hard and they may kill you, your family, your friends, other people around: who knows….
Violence is always unpredictable. Always.
At the risk of repeating myself again: such acts of violence can and must only be used as self-defense, and only when all other options have been exhausted.
One final note; I understand that Rahman is a comedian and as such, I hope I’m not missing out on the context here; from what I can gather though, the context is quite clear…
If you would like to answer to the points I’ve made Mr Rahman, please do: I certainly would welcome a debate in the much-loathed marketplace of ideas with you