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Violent responses to neo-Nazism are justifiable

An anonymous student contributor argues why physical force can be a necessary evil deployed in the fight against neo-Nazism and white supremacy.

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A neo-Nazi stands armed/wikipedia.com

Think on this statement:

 

‘Those who would advocate widespread social ‘cleansing’ through murder should be afraid to leave their homes.’

Do you agree?

Physical violence is the logical extreme of deterrents, and when we are violent towards neo-Nazis we are violent towards those who would advocate genocide. The aim of responding to fascism with violence is to show absolutely that in modern civilization fascism and white supremacy are intolerable worldviews. Supporters of such ideologies, in my view, forfeit automatically their right to free-speech.

‘tragically, we find ourselves once again in an ideological climate where it is acceptable to promote fascism in public’.

It’s worth clarifying that I don’t believe violence should be the sole response to such fascism: at the systemic level, at the level of policy and the courts, for example, or education, there are better options for stymieing the spread of fascistic ideology. Against actual neo-Nazis and white supremacists on the ground, however, such ‘diplomatic’ approaches often fail to prevent their violence (actual or intended) and the grievous harm their worldview’s entail. Violence against fascists and white supremacists is almost, if you will, a form of ideological (if not literal) self-defence. In the unique case of neo-Nazism there is no room left for debate. History (and the millions left murdered in the wake of fascistic thought) shows us that it is a demonstrably evil worldview.

Tragically, we find ourselves once again in an ideological climate where it is acceptable to promote fascism in public. Brazen, unashamed: in Charlottesville white supremacists marched unmasked, chanting Nazi slogans without fear of being identified. They were free to take pride in their world-vision. If a unique case cannot be made of blocking fascistic speech by force this not only signals that society deems such ideas potentially palatable, but, more abhorrent still, leaves ethnic minorities helpless in the face of their appalling slogans.

‘fascist hate-speech is designed to empty target groups of their humanity’.

If you are white, heterosexual, from a Christian cultural background, imagine for a moment that you are a member of an ethnic group that neo-Nazis would deem ‘degenerate’. You see outside your bedroom window on the street a several-hundred-strong march of fascists who chant ‘blood and soil’ (a Nazi slogan that refers to a belief in the inherent racial superiority of white people). How are you, now, supposed to feel safe in a society that defends such people’s rights to ‘free-speech’?

Despite laws prohibiting hate speech far-right hate groups only began to be listed as prohibited terrorist organisations after the murder of MP Jo Cox. Such legal action should be preventative, not just reactive. Since systemic or governmental challenges to hate speech have clearly not proved effective, in the case of fascism the general public should be permitted to take matters into their own hands on a case-by-case basis for the future safety of wider society.

‘it is an ideological malevolence that manifests in real murder’.

Contemplate what might have happened if Hitler’s Sturmabteilung (the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, more commonly known as ‘Brownshirts’) had been met at the polls or during Kristallnacht with equally strong and equivalently violent antagonists.

On one hand, one might argue that fascist rhetoric is not an act of violence in and of itself, and therefore cannot morally be met with physical resistance. On the other hand, such hate speech is designed to empty target groups of their humanity, and so justify their genocide. Such speech that de-humanises the Other in the minds of many is, in my view, a literal incitement to violence. It is an ideological malevolence that manifests in real murder; in Virginia one person died and 34 were injured after a vehicle ploughed into a group of counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally.

One may, in the end, argue that by responding to fascists with physical force that anti-fascists are no better than those that they oppose, equally debased. A line of thought oft-repeated by far-right apologists. To such people I would point out a key difference: fascists promote a worldview which, if successfully installed, would murder non-white people, Jewish people, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and all else deemed ‘unfit’ for a society founded on principles of white supremacy. Anti-fascists do not want to murder fascists. They want to deter them, and sometimes, they must be permitted to do so in the extreme.

 

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