by Susan Basko, esq.
There's a recent fad topic about Punching a Nazi. This topic started when a man was speaking with a journalist at a protest and another man, wearing a dark hoodie, ran up and punched the man in the face. The internet gossip line soon identified the man who was punched, labeled him a "Nazi," and said the person who punched him did it as some form of protest against his ideas. The words "antifa" and "diversity of tactics" got tossed around. An alleged partial quote from the man, taken out of context and with no sourcing, was offered as validation or justification that he "deserved" to be punched.
I am here to tell you this is all nonsensical and not to be involved with punching anyone, no matter what you think of their ideas.
Here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Not "Punch a Nazi":
1) A protest or any public event is a delicate balance where it can easily become violent and dangerous. If you are constructive, you want to keep any public gathering safe for all. If you are there causing trouble, the vast majority of other participants are wise enough to not want you there. They see you as a troublemaker and a thug, not as a noble hero or dashing masked man.
2) We are adults. We realize that people have viewpoints that differ from ours. We don't run through the streets punching people for having different viewpoints. Do you want to be punched for having your viewpoints?
3) The people or groups who are advocating violence against those who hold different opinions call themselves "antifascists." They are so hyped up in their own nonsense that they don't see the irony of this. The people wearing masks and punching people for holding different views are actually fascists. When they run through the streets attacking people, they instill fear and silence people. That sort of violence + fear + silencing = what fascism is all about.
4) The argument of the pro-punchers is that if a person holds a view that they find repugnant, that this justifies physically attacking the person. It is beyond my ken how anyone could have lived such an isolated, parochial life that they do not realize that everyone holds different views, and that a great many people hold views that others find repugnant or even shocking. In a pluralistic society, people get to hold such views, but are not allowed to physically harm or attack others. If the person you call a "Nazi" has made a direct threat to harm you immediately and is armed and ready to do so, then you get out of the way and call the police. If you are running up to people on the street and punching them, then you are the one that is antisocial and a criminal.
5) A big part of growing up is realizing that many others do not agree with us, but that we can live and let live. We do not need to control everyone's thoughts. We don't get to hit them because they have ideas with which we disagree. Even if we think their ideas are appalling or repugnant, we don't get to physically attack them. They have the right to hold their views and to walk on the streets unassailed.
6) It is a crime to punch someone, whether or not you disagree with their ideas. It is a crime to advocate violence, such as urging others to attack people on the street.
7) If you punch or attack a person, you are legally responsible for everything that happens to them. If the person has a heart attack or stroke, you are legally responsible. If the person gets a blood clot and dies, you are responsible. In a recent non-protest street incident in Chicago, a man punched another man in the head. The man who was punched fell into the street and was run over by a taxi and died. The man who punched the man is possibly being charged with murder. When you engage in a criminal attack upon another person, you are responsible for the whole chain of events that follows. You cannot accurately predict what that chain of events might be. Your motive in harming the person is usually considered enough motive for whatever ensues.
8) Normal civilized adults do not run around the streets punching people. Do you know who stands on street corners attacking people they think disagree with them? The Taliban. In the U.S., we respect the right of every person to walk on the street and not be attacked.
9) If you start justifying or engaging in violence against people because you disagree with their ideas, it is a very short, very slippery slope to where you may allow yourself to become a full-fledged criminal, or in your eyes - a martyr. Examples of people who have attacked others based on their beliefs include: Dylann Roof, who killed 9 Black people in a Christian Church because he thought it would start a race war; Timothy McVeigh, who exploded a federal building, killing 168 and injuring 600, because he disagreed with the actions of the ATF at an incident at Waco, Texas; the many acts of murder, arson, kidnappings, and bombings against abortion providers engaged in by people who find abortion immoral or repugnant; and many other such incidents. The logic behind these incidents is the same as the logic behind "Punch a Nazi": the untrue notion that you can control the flow of ideas by attacking or terrorizing those who hold those ideas.
10) Engaging in the "Punch a Nazi" nonsense means you are frittering away your time and energy on this negative, anti-social activity, when you could be engaged in productive, intelligent change. Worse still, if you get arrested and tossed in jail for punching someone on the street or for advocating such violence, you will have managed to make yourself socially neutralized. And that is just plain stupid.