Let me begin with the understanding that some of you will brand me a sympathizer, or tell me to check my privilege, or think that I’ve revealed myself as a libtard beta cuck. You might say the vile, repugnant monsters you’re fighting only understand one language: the iron fist. You might say centuries of oppression and systemic violence justify a response in kind. Perhaps you believe yourself a part of the “Master Race” sent by God Almighty to rule the Earth over all non-Aryans. Perhaps you think back to that iconic comic book cover depicting Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in his goddamned mouth and think to yourself “If Cap’s punching Nazis, it’s probably the right thing to do.”
Perhaps I am a privileged, white-power-sympathizing, libtard beta: I’ve been guilty of far worse paradoxes in my life. I don’t intend to discuss the merits of modelling your life after comic book characters (besides which, Frank Castle is a far better role model than Steve Rogers) or the logical fallacies inherent in racism. I don’t have time to break out Writings On Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence to find a pithy quote from Tolstoy, or paraphrase Theodore Parker about the “long arc.”
I do, however, want to talk about morality: specifically, the morality of violence and advocating violence. Many of my friends are self-described liberals and progressives, and many of them have taken up the “Punch a Nazi” banner in the days after the violence in Charlottesville. I find this deeply troubling and problematic.
Friends, I want you to hear me out on this one. I understand your anger – your rage – at white supremacists and neo-fascists assaulting, maiming, and murdering counter-protesters. Your rage is justified. Calling for, condoning, or performing counter violence is not.
In what’s known as the Categorical Imperative or Formula of Universal Law, Immanuel Kant urged us to act only on those maxims which we can will to be universal law. That is to say, essentially, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Perhaps you see where I’m going with this…
When you call for, or perpetrate, violence against these alt-right, Sieg Heiling doucherockets, you are implicitly condoning the violence they wish to perpetrate against all people different from themselves. You are operating under the maxim “Assault other humans if their viewpoints differ from your own.” As it’s very unlikely you can will that maxim to be universal law without logical inconsistency resulting, it’s not ethically correct. Let’s look at a few examples:
- If it’s morally acceptable to punch someone in the face for marching with the Third Reich’s flag, it’s morally acceptable to drop-kick a Pride marcher waving the Rainbow flag.
- If Antifa is morally righteous macing Vanguard America, then surely VA is ethically correct in bashing people over the head with their weird, rolling-pin-emblem shields.
- If it’s OK to throw Molotov cocktails at Klan members, it’s OK for them to tie a noose around a black man’s neck.
It’s a slippery slope, and one that plays right into the hands of these ignorant fucks. When you deny the Categorical Imperative of condemning all forms of violence, you give them the opportunity to engage in whataboutism. When you punch a neo-Nazi marching and saluting and chanting and waving the flag of the losers of World War II, you give them moral ammunition to use against true Americans who believe we’re all created equal.
When you engage them at a physical level, they win.
Make no mistake, however; I’m not suggesting we tolerate the vile vitriol these small, spiteful people spew. No, it should be condemned vociferously. I’m also not suggesting you engage in pacifism if one of these shitgibbons takes a swing at you (that’s a decision you should make for yourself). If you see a neo-Nazi, or a “white nationalist,” or a member of the “alt-right” assaulting someone else, I believe you’re morally obligated to give whatever aid you can (the maxim being “Protect your fellow humans from harm so long as you don’t unduly put your own life at risk.”)
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “That’s great, but these Nazi scumbags would do far worse to me in a heartbeat,” and you’re probably right. It’s quite probable that they lack a solid ethical foundation on which to act. Does that mean you should abandon yours? Further, these are neo-Nazis, and they’re a far cry from Hitler’s Germany. These twatwaffles can only dream of a world where they have an iota of the power and control of the Reich.
Or, perhaps, you believe – as the Bruces do – that Kant was a real pissant.
Maybe you don’t really think about ethics and morality much. You probably should. Demagogues and real fascists thrive on moral ambiguity and indifference. I’d urge you to seek out the work of Immanuel Kant and John Rawls. Here’s a good site to get you thinking.
Maybe you’re a Nihilist, or follow Natural Law Theory. If so, I probably haven’t swayed you. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the morality of violence.
P.S.: I’m aware I made a consistent theme of ad hominem attacks on the alt-right, white supremacist, neo-Nazi fuckholes whose tiring rhetoric from the losing side of several conflicts throughout history is the root cause of the problem I tackled. However, since the point of the essay is not to convince these people their actions are immoral, but instead to persuade those on the left not to stoop to their level, I’m pretty sure I’d get a passing grade from my old moral philosophy professor.