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August 26, 2017

“If you feel safe now, it’s an illusion born of your relationship to power.”
Posted by Patrick at 05:53 PM * 152 comments

From a post by Logan Rimel, parish administrator at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley, Caifornia.

I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean.

In Charlottesville, my “nonviolent” stance was met with heavily armed men. They came with bats, clubs, plywood shields painted with swastikas, brass knuckles, tear gas canisters, and wooden sticks. Not to mention the guns. The heavily armed militia were everywhere. They liked that they made you feel nervous. It was fun for them.

They came to hurt people, and they did.

Let me take a moment to be clear—I do not advocate for violence. I trust, however pig-headedly, that all of creation—including all people—is both capable and worthy of salvation. That there is no such thing as a lost cause with God. I cannot explain this trust; it is a part of me deeper than rational faculty. To commit violence against another human being is to commit violence against the image of God in them. To me, it is a sin. I do not believe God requires us to sin. But it seems apparent to me that the world sometimes does.

I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety.

And so I come to this—white liberal Christian friends, I’m talking to you. I’ve seen a lot of condemnation of “violent response,” lots of selective quoting Dr. King, lots of disparagement of antifa and the so-called “alt-left,” a moral equivalency from the depths of Hell if I ever saw one. You want to be nonviolent? That is good and noble. I think…I think I do, too. But I want you to understand what you’re asking of the people who take this necessary stance against white supremacy, the people who go to look evil in the face. You’re asking them to be beaten with brass knuckles, with bats, with fists. To be pounded into the ground, stomped on, and smashed. You’re asking them to bleed on the pavement and the grass. Some of them are going to die. And you’re asking them to do that without defending themselves.

Are you willing to do that? Are you going to to go out when the Nazis come here, to the Bay Area, next week? Are you going to offer your body to them? No? Are you willing to take a bat to the head? To be surrounded by angry young men who want nothing more than to beat you unconscious, like they did Deandre Harris? Are you going to rely upon a different type of violence—that imposed by the state—to protect you—even knowing it is a danger to your neighbors? To outsource the violence your safety requires to someone else? Or are you just not going to show up, at the rally or afterward? To choose passivity over pacifism—because let’s be clear, nonviolence is still about showing up.

If you are unwilling to risk your bodily integrity to stand against literal Nazis, but you are willing to criticize the people out there who are taking this grave threat seriously but not in a way of which you approve….I just don’t know what to say to you. Truly. Your moral authority is bankrupt and you’re not helping. You’re a hypocrite.

Everyone wants to feel safe. You are not safe. Your Muslim neighbors are not safe. Your immigrant neighbors are not safe. Your black neighbors are not safe. Your disabled neighbors are not safe. Your indigenous neighbors are not safe. Your Jewish neighbors are not safe. Your transgender neighbors are not safe. If you feel safe now, it’s an illusion born of your relationship to power. But make no mistake—you may not be the canary, but we’re all in the same coal mine. These people have been “community organizing” for DECADES. They are base-building and they have the White House. They have infiltrated law enforcement. They are in every legislative body and on every school board. You are not safe.

Comments on "If you feel safe now, it's an illusion born of your relationship to power.":
#1 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2017, 07:15 PM:

I do not feel safe, even here in Minneapolis. I grew up Jewish, and there were people in the synagogue with numbers tattooed on their arms. I am Pagan and bisexual. I am not as vulnerable as my Black and Hispanic neighbors, but I feel very strongly we must all stand witness as best we can.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2017, 07:22 PM:

White people saw MLK as the lesser of the evils in the civil rights fight - the greater evil was the people like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, who would get violent if they had to.

#3 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2017, 08:09 PM:

The German magazine Stern is currently taking flak for a cover showing Trump doing the Nazi salute. This is the reflex that says it's always an exaggeration to call someone a Nazi.

It isn't. Not in this case.

The Nazi salute is forbidden in Germany. IIUC, it can't even be depicted. Stern appears to be relying on the drapery over the arm to render it legal, but that's not the point. The point is: When Germans tell you your leader is a Nazi, listen. They know whereof they speak.

#4 ::: Claire Eddy ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 12:53 AM:

I am about as safe as they come--a little old white lady.

Who is as angry beyond belief.

I will go to demonstrations. I will stand in lines. And hell yes, I will be willing to take a punch.

Because democracy is an equal coin--I may disagree with you on political issues but I believe that we all are patriots.

#5 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 04:36 AM:

That Stern cover also has an obvious symbolism with Trump wearing an American flag to put a vague legality over the salute. It fits both Trump in particular, and the way that patriotism is generally abused in American politics as a cover for abhorrent behaviour.

A lot of people in the public eye today are inclined to mis-represent Stephen Decatur's toast, missing the desire to do right. Trump is only the most blatant of the current moment.

#6 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 06:23 AM:
They came with bats, clubs, plywood shields painted with swastikas, brass knuckles, tear gas canisters, and wooden sticks. Not to mention the guns. The heavily armed militia were everywhere.
And if the antifa come similarly tooled up, then either they have a battle against the cops who try to arrest them (though not the Nazis) or if the cops don't arrest them, the inevitable result is a battle against the Nazis in which a lot of people, neither Nazis nor antifa, may be hurt or killed or their property damaged. How does that help?
#7 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 06:51 AM:

The word "antifa" doesn't resonate for me. No doubt I'm insufficiently politically conscious, but to me it's too like the name of some alien species in one of those '60s SF stories. An antifa looks something like saga pedo but 100 feet tall and taking over the world.

#8 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 12:49 PM:

If it takes you two days to condemn Nazis, if you pardon a man who prided himself on running what he called "concentration camps", you shouldn't complain when others depict you as what you are.

#9 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 02:45 PM:

Odalchini #7: "Antifa" was the alt-right's dismissive insult for anyone who dared stand up to them. It stands for "anti-fascists", and when someone uses that for an insult, you know all you need to know about their relationship to American politics.

The more militant opponents of the alt-right promptly took up the word and claimed it for their banner, and you know, I'm okay with that.

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 04:22 PM:

Actually, "antifa" is originally German, and goes all the way back to the first lot. There's a good article on it here.

The passage from the post that PNH cites that speaks to me—and the reason I retweeted it—is:

To commit violence against another human being is to commit violence against the image of God in them. To me, it is a sin. I do not believe God requires us to sin. But it seems apparent to me that the world sometimes does.
#11 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 04:46 PM:

Dave @9:

The right-wing extremists, including those who walk around with Nazi symbols or white hooded robes, coined both the phrases "alt-right" and "alt-left". It's probably not a good idea to coöpt their chosen language.

#12 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 05:05 PM:

Friend of a friend said (paraphrasing) the far right made up the term 'alt-right' because everyone already knew what Nazis looked like, and 'alt-left' because everyone already knew what civil rights activists looked like.

#13 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 05:12 PM:

Race Traitor Xopher #12: I actually do have problems with the "alt-" terminology.

They can call themselves alt-right, but I'm not buying it -- they're no relation to American conservativism.

Likewise, I'm not an "alternate" left -- I was part of the original, liberal, left long before it got co-opted by the "neo-liberals", aka the left wing of the globalist plutocrats.

#14 ::: Theresa Ann Wymer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 05:30 PM:

My question is how is calling someone an "anti-fascist" considered a BAD thing?

I'm going to keep asking that. It seems to croggle minds.

#15 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 06:38 PM:

Theresa Ann Wymer @14:

The people I see calling Antifa a bad thing come in two groups: The fascists&sympathisers who are using Antifa to say that the left is as violent as they are, and those on the left who have bit hard into the "non-violence resistance" bit and feel that any meeting of violence with violence is bad.

The last group is exactly who the original article is addressing.

Years ago, when watching the movie Ghandi, one scene struck me as to the degree of non-violent protest that Ghandi was able to inspire. Ghandi's forces arrived at the place of protest -- a salt plant, guarded by British militia, if I recall, and on the side of the road leading to the gates, set up tables, manned by medics -- and press. One by one, an Indian would walk up to the doors, get clubbed and beaten by the guards, and would be dragged away by the medics to their station. Then the next person in line would step forward, get beaten, and treated by the medics.

With that in mind, I hear the original author as saying that she is NOT willing to do that, but that is what it would take to protest, if it weren't for Antifa standing between her and the Nazis. She wishes it weren't necessary, and is unwilling to do it herself, but is glad that someone is.

#16 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 07:17 PM:

I read it the same way, Buddha.

#17 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2017, 10:32 PM:

Buddha: The additional challenge is that Ghandi's tactic relied on the guards' basic humanity—their inability to just keep clubbing people indefinitely. At some point, the guards became so heart-sick they were unable to continue.

This is not something we can rely on with our current batch of fascists. It's not impossible that they would relish the opportunity to abuse their opponents. "Lefties offering themselves up for beatings? Sweet!" Therefore Ghandi's approach would likely be...problematic.

#18 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 03:25 AM:

I think the thing we need to remember about non-violent resistance as a tactic is this: it works best if it's performed by a large number of people who have very little - preferably nothing - to lose by being killed, against a vastly more powerful enemy who is well aware they have an awful lot to lose by being seen to kill them.

This is not the case in the USA at present. The violent right-wing radicals do not see themselves as having anything to lose by killing those opposed to them - indeed, by contrast, they see themselves as having a great deal to gain from it. (This is due to classic bully logic - having people afraid of speaking against you works just as well as having people speaking for you). If they kill their opponents, they are demonstrating their strength, showing their power, and indeed gaining in power (particularly if they do this with no consequences from a legal and policing apparatus which appears to have been largely hamstrung, and which is, in many cases, comprised of people who support their positions).

I'd be very careful about when and where one chose to conduct a non-violent protest, these days.

#19 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 07:51 AM:

Jacque @17, Megpie71 @18:

I agree. It's been long said that if Ghandi had tried his protests against German occupiers, Hitler would have had him shot.

#20 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 09:52 AM:

Were it not for the fact that I have a duty of care to my most wonderful boyfriend (who would be up shit creek without a paddle, or, indeed, a boat without me) and the fact that I'm a coward, I'd be getting some brass knuckles and learning how to fight. These people want to kill me, and him, and my friends, and people I don't know but who nevertheless don't deserve it.

Dave Harmon @ 13:

How are the so-called alt-right not related to American conservatism? Modern American conservatism as represented by the Republican party has come to power through the related tactics of the Southern Strategy, racist dog whistles, and appealing to white resentment. Their policies have the effect of disproportionately negatively affecting non-white people. The Libertarian party fellow travellers pay lip service to social equality, while standing for social and economic policies that also disproportionately harm non-white people.

You could make the argument that the Republican party is not actually conservative on the basis of their actions and policies, but they've been claiming the conservative mantle anyway. That's not a definitional issue for "alt-right", though, but rather one for American politics.

The term "alt-right" is this generation of racist assholes' attempt at coming up with a term that's not tainted with associations with white supremacism, anti-Semitism, the KKK, and Nazism. Too bad for them that they went and associated it with white supremacism, anti-Semitism, the KKK, and Nazism. The AP has decided that "alt-right" is a euphemism that they don't want to use except in quotes or adding "so-called" in front of it, and I respect that position. I'm happy to call them what their are, and not their mealy-mouthed euphemism. But I don't think they're not related to conservatism, because, at least for what the word's come to mean in the US, they very much are.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 10:24 AM:

Fascists only understand the argumentum ad baculum. They come out onto the streets intending to be violent, and a non-violent response to that equates to surrender.

The only possible response to fascism,the only one that works, is to confront physical force with greater force, and, when the dust settles, bring the bastards to trial. It is worth recalling that three of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg -- Schacht, von Papen, and Fritzsche -- were acquitted.

It has taken centuries of struggle by many men and women -- and a hell of a lot of them gave their all -- to achieve the precarious state of social justice that the Western world has won since 1945. This is not something that is going to be lost without a struggle. Frankly, I want to see us build upon and beyond it.

#22 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 10:57 AM:

Buddha Buck @19: Hitler would have had him shot.

Assuming he wasn't summarily put down by J. Random Jackboot in the street.

KeithS @20: But I don't think they're not related to conservatism, because, at least for what the word's come to mean in the US, they very much are.

It has been compellingly argued, in fact, that this was their objective all along:

But note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades....
#23 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 10:57 AM:

I am physically unable to fight. So far none of those pusbags has felt free to stand in the grass triangles at the main intersection, or in front of the post office, and protest against the people who have been protesting in favor of peace and coexistence every Friday for years. But if they do...a clever person on Tumblr noted that there is no perceptible difference between the dots created by a laser pointer and a laser sight, at least to people whose closest brush with a shoot/don't-shoot situation is waiting to see what happens in a movie. Also, laser pointers labeled "for the amusement of cats" exist.

#24 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 11:02 AM:

Jenny: I'd be really careful with that, especially in states with loose carry laws.

#25 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 12:20 PM:

Jenny @23: I like it! Keeping in mind that in SOME areas that might be a very unsafe thing to do...

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 01:44 PM:

Jenny #23:

That's a dangerous thing to do unless you're prepared to back it up with potentially lethal force.

#27 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 02:20 PM:

as megpie71 and jacque say - Ghandi's passive resistance could only work against the English, who had after all some shreds of decency even in their colonial incarnation. It would not have worked in let us say a Portuguese or Belgian colony.

Mandela tried passive resistance against the white supremacists in S. Africa. This ended in the Sharpeville massacre and Mandela's radicalization - he then formed the armed wing of the ANC as Umkhonto we Sizwe, Spear of the Nation, to counter the violence of the state. Mandela was an armed terrorist.

The US Nazis, aided and abetted by Russian hackers and bots, are doing their very best to depict the opposition as violent 'alt-left' 'antifa' movements. These are lies and must be called such.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 02:24 PM:

The name is "GANDHI" not "GHANDI". It's in the spelling reference, for goat's sake!

#29 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 02:50 PM:

Josh Marshall has a good question, should we be punching Nazis ?
See
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/should-we-be-punching-nazis
" it is precisely the aim of fascistic groups to shift the basis of civic dialog, space and politics from law to violence. To put it another way, they are trying to shift the basis of society and power from law, voting, equality to force, violence and the domination of the most powerful. And in this case we mean power as expressed by the superior ability to wield violence. Once we’ve moved from one to the other, fascists have to a significant degree already won. The Nazis and white supremacists are literally trying to create a “both sides” situation. We should not help them.

Philosophies that seek to destroy democracy and the rule of law don’t merit equal validation by a democracy. "

This is true but I am not wholly convinced. If the state will not protect us against violence, as it demonstrably does not in this administration, I do not see what countervailing powers can protect us. I am an old white man - perhaps I have to put on a suit and power tie for the next protest and hope that attracts some sympathy from the police and journalists.

#30 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 03:16 PM:

Fragano @28: I did check—Buddha Buck's spelling. So it's all hir fault. <g,d&r>

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 03:37 PM:

It's easy to think in absolutes: violence is bad; free speech is good. I'm certainly prone to it myself. But...I'm increasingly uncertain that it's a good way to go through the world. There's an upswing in trolling by people who use those absolutes against us, gaming the letter of the rules to lead us away from the spirit.

I'm getting pretty fucking tired of being played.

Violence is bad...but sometimes it prevents worse things. Free speech is good...but what precisely constitutes free speech? Is violence excusable in the defense of free speech? Is a curtailment of free speech necessary to prevent violence?

Absolutes are for teenagers. Adults have to take nuanced decisions and own the consequences of them.

(Corollary: we're going to disagree. We need to learn to live with that without tearing each other to pieces.)

#32 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 03:38 PM:

Some people who show up dressed as antifa are violent, and that's why they're showing up: they want to break things and hurt people.
Whether they're actually antifa or are provocateurs is something I can't answer.

#33 ::: Tim Bartik ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 03:49 PM:

I think the overwhelming evidence from political science research and other social science research is that in a democracy, seeking to oppose fascist or racist groups with violent tactics is probably counter-productive. It increases public support for "law and order" solutions to problems, it increases the public's willingness to distance itself from "both sides", and it gives the right-wing groups exactly what they want: a violent confrontation.

See, for example, the following paper, which finds, during the 1960s, the following, to quote the paper's abstract:

"In the 1964, 1968 and 1972 presidential elections, proximity to black-led nonviolent protests was associated with increased county-level Democratic vote-share. By contrast, proximity to black-led violent protests caused a substantively significant decline in Democratic vote-share."

https://www.princeton.edu/csdp/events/Wasow04092015/Wasow04092015.pdf

#34 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 03:50 PM:

There's a common misperception that all anti-fascist fighters are "antifa", and that antifa are a single entity. It's actually a set of responses to fascists, not an organization, and the black-robed violent people are generally Black Bloc anarchists, not specifically antifa.

#35 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 04:12 PM:

Fragano @28, Jacque @30:

I checked too -- I went with Jacque's spelling, and double-checked against my own first spelling...which was wrong.

I should have known; I have one of those tricky "dha" Devanagari combinations in my name. But then, any Indian heritage/geneology for me probably comes from my Indo-European background, which is to say, hundreds of generations out of date.

#36 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 06:13 PM:

abi @31: (Corollary: we're going to disagree. We need to learn to live with that without tearing each other to pieces.)

And we need to figure out how to deal with those who are happy to tear to pieces those who disagree with them. (In a gentler age, I would have said "arrest them," but I'm not sure how far we can rely on this solution, these days.)

Buddha: That's really embarrassing. Gandhi is the third term in the cribsheet. ::redface:: I didn't even remember it was there to look at.

#37 ::: George S ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 06:33 PM:

Like Josh Marshall, I enjoy the idea of punching Nazis. And I've long had a soft spot the European punks who were always happy to brawl with fascists. Some people do deserve a good kicking. It's always seductive and sometimes necessary if you don't want to live under the next Reich.

And yet, I have a couple of concerns. In practice, "punching Nazis" may get pretty ugly and sordid:

Four "black block" members gang up on what a Mother Jones journalist calls "An apparent alt-righter." They have him on the ground and they're kicking him and beating him. One black block member carries a "No hate" sign. The beating stops when an African-American journalist steps in to help the man being beaten.

I have no idea what the man on the ground did. Maybe he was a piece-of-shit Nazi. Maybe he worked for the extinction of liberty. And yet, the person I most admire in this video is the journalist who steps in to stop the beating.

There may come a time, all too soon, when we have to fight. God only knows that there are people out there itching to do evil, and that Trump will cheer many of them on, and pardon them when he can.

But if Iraq has shown us anything, even a terrible government may be better than Hobbes' bellum omnium contra omnes, the war of all against all. When civil order truly breaks down, people will support almost anyone who promises to restore it. And the black block members kicking somebody 4-on-1 may not be ready for their right wing counterparts. There's a huge number of conservatives out there who own AR-15s and who dislike liberals, but who still believe in the rule of law. If civil order breaks down, I honestly don't know whose side they'll be on.

Honestly, I think we should hold onto the rule of law as long as we can. Work to turn out the Democratic vote for 2018. Let the Nazis and the KKK make themselves odious in the eyes of the public. Use violence only in self-defense or the defense of others, as permitted under the rule of law.

And whatever we do, let's not allow people like RH/WF decide who's a Nazi and who it's OK to punch.

#38 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 07:13 PM:

my problem with 'antifa' is that their definition of 'fa' and mine differ. i'm not interested in smashing the state, ending capitalism, or bringing about the glorious anarchic non-state.

so, it's hard to make common cause with someone with whom i have so little in common - even if that thing is hatred of Nazis.

#39 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2017, 11:34 PM:

@Fragano Ledgister no. 26: If you were careful to use it in clear air and from cover, who would even know? Send a Nazi diving for cover, make him look stupid, and go home whistling. (If carrying a laser pointer won't get you into trouble with the law.)

#40 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 04:06 AM:

The only absolute is that the only absolute is itself?

When Sweden started seeing anti-fascist counter-demonstrations, there were roughly three strands of people on that side. You had the people who were there to hold placards and shout; you had the people who were there to hold placards, shout, and if needed be violent to protect themselves and the people in the first group; and then you had a very small minority who were there only to fight.

Jenny Islander @ #39:

I suspect that "I had a laser aim-point on me!" would count as "immediate threat of life" for self defense purposes, should someone painted with a red point decide to open fire. I would, personally, prefer to not be the reason for that excuse, especially if I wasn't the person being shot. It's also surprisingly hard finding air clean enough to not give at least a smidgen of a track back, in anything approaching a city environment.

#41 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 09:10 AM:

abi @31

Violence is bad...but sometimes it prevents worse things. ... Adults have to take nuanced decisions and own the consequences of them.

Very much agreed.

I was trying to think what more to say about this, and decided my opinion is covered by two items from the Making Light front page commonplaces.

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

#42 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 09:50 AM:

A laser pointer is a weapon. Treat it like a gun. It's very bad manners to point one at a person you do not mean to harm. It can damage your victim's eyesight, and that's whatever your jurisdiction calls "bodily harm", even if your victim is a Nazi. Idiots pointing laser pointers at aircraft to dazzle the pilots are a real nuisance and people have been fined or jailed for doing that.

#43 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 09:59 AM:

Jacque #36: And we need to figure out how to deal with those who are happy to tear to pieces those who disagree with them.

Bearing in mind that "those who are happy to tear to pieces those who disagree with them" may be on the far-right – Nazis – or the left – anti-capitalists, animal-rights activists, climate change activists (try a 'fracking' project in the UK and see what you get) or even anti-fascists.

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 10:40 AM:

Jenny Islander #39: That's a bit too much of the "they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..." for me.

#45 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 11:09 AM:

Ingvar M @40: I suspect that "I had a laser aim-point on me!" would count as "immediate threat of life" for self defense purposes

In the same way that pointing a toy gun at someone and threatening them as if it was real ("But I wouldn't really have shot them!") qualifies (I believe) as assault with a deadly weapon. If the target believes they are under threat, it's a threat, for the purposes of the law. (AIUI)

I sympathize with the desire, but maybe just don't?

Odalchini @43: Bearing in mind that....

Yes.

There are reasons why the laws are supposed to apply to everyone.

#46 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 11:39 AM:

Honestly, I'd be most worried that the idiot who was "painted" with the laser pointer would start firing his weapon indiscriminately and injure or kill innocent bystanders.

And be able to justify it as "self defense" -- because how could you prove it was a harmless laser pointer and not a sniper somewhere?

#47 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 02:25 PM:

Cassy B.: And AIUI, the law would likely back him up.

#48 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2017, 07:27 PM:

cleek@38 writes:

...i'm not interested in smashing the state, ending capitalism, or bringing about the glorious anarchic non-state. [...] so, it's hard to make common cause with someone with whom i have so little in common...

For us, it's also not that easy to make common cause with someone who isn't interested in smashing the state, ending capitalism or bringing to reality our glorious dreams of fully-automated gay luxury space anarchist utopia, but nevertheless everyone needs to do their part when the Nazis come to rally in our town. If we can all just stop trying to be precious, ideologically pure snowflakes, for a few seconds so we can deal with early onset fascist revolution, that would be really nice.

#49 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 12:12 AM:

Jenny Islander #39: Given my cat could figure out there was another red dot in my hand, I wouldn't assume you're all that safe. Laser-painting someone with a toy is a bluff, and the other side likely has real guns to call it with.

KeithS #20: OK, I'll take back "no relation"... but I'm just old enough to remember when a fair portion of the GOP was focused on economic conservativism and the status quo, and the racists had to be careful what they said. Even Nixon backed down from blocking desegregation, and had supported a civil rights bill as VP. AFAICT, the turning point was Nixon's pardon -- after that, the GOP was stepwise taken over by his former henchmen, who ran riot during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

From there we saw a progressive radicalization and abandonment of the ideas of a Loyal Opposition, and of compromise in general. That tearing down of the political community was what ultimately freed the racists (among others) to come out into the open.

#50 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 12:48 AM:

j h woodyatt @48 re: precious, ideologically pure snowflakes, for a few seconds

That's unjust. It is problematic that some people try to conflate causes so that they can claim that supporters of cause X are also really supporting cause Y.

#51 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 01:37 AM:

A bit of follow-up from that same Mother Jones reporter who shot the video referred to @37:

Most of the stories linked to a video I shot of five antifa protesters beating a right-wing activist. Little else from my two days of live-tweeting was picked up by news outlets. The beating I filmed was newsworthy, yes, but it should be viewed in the context of the rest of the day. Sunday’s violence was minimal compared with the extreme violence at April’s white supremacist rally in Berkeley. And while Sunday’s counterprotesters were intolerant of the far-right activists, the overall mood was festive. Organizers later declared the day a “victory against white supremacy.”

By focusing on scattered violence, reporters glossed over the bigger story: The Bay Area has become the latest target of fascist and other far-right groups promoting disruptive rallies across America, often in cities where they know they are not welcome.

#52 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 11:15 AM:

Joel Polowin@50:

It is problematic that some people try to conflate causes so that they can claim that supporters of cause X are also really supporting cause Y.

It's also problematic that some people and not others are expected to be pragmatic and non-ideological when called to unite in opposition to reactionary proto-fascism. As if the fascists in the middle 20th century were defeated by well-dressed conformists showing up to work on time and writing polite letters to their newspaper editors. This happens a lot: antifa breaks a few windows and bloodies the nose of somebody who went out of their way to provoke it, and somehow this is seen as morally equivalent to the SA and the MSVN.

Not at all equivalent, and pretending otherwise is a very telling move.

#53 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 03:15 PM:

[*] MSVN?

#54 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 03:38 PM:

"The Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN, "Voluntary Militia for National Security"), commonly called the Blackshirts..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackshirts

#55 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 07:31 PM:

Yeah, my typo. Sorry about that.

#56 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2017, 08:00 PM:

j h woodyatt @ 52: antifa breaks a few windows and bloodies the nose of somebody who went out of their way to provoke it Incitement to riot is not an excuse to riot; punching someone, IMO, is a good way to lose people who sense that something is badly wrong with this country but might be repelled by the simpleminded solutions proposed by the allegedly-alt right. Further, I do not think analogizing our situation to "the fascists in the middle 20th century" is any more useful (or accurate) than the mainstream right in the US claiming that every US failure to use force against anything less than abject surrender is a new Munich. I am not a "precious, ideologically pure snowflake"; I'm looking for a way through this mess that has a chance of leaving us with habitable territory rather than a smoking ruin.

#57 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2017, 05:01 PM:

One things that comes to mind: the Fascists rose at around the same time as the pre-WW1 political consensus was failing. In the UK, that gave us the rise of the Labour Party as well.

In the 1970s there was certainly industrial turmoil, and Scargill was somebody that any government was going to have to deal with. He picked a fight with Maggie Thatcher, and that was part of what killed off the old-style Labour. The fascist-types saw a chance, and grabbed it with both hands.

The Conservatives of today aren't those of Macmillan or Heath, though you can see the links. The only party in British politics that looks remotely similar to what it was in the 1960s is the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

#58 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2017, 08:28 PM:

Don't know why I didn't notice this before, but unlike the Old Left and the New Left, the alt-right are telling us they're not some neue rechts, they're still the alte rechts, Nazis and KKK and other racists.

#59 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2017, 10:53 PM:

abi #31:

My biggest qualm about the line of reasoning you're going down is that it's really not easy to figure out where to stop it. If we accept showing up with clubs to bash the Nazis, then do we also accept the same thing for the alt-right? (That is, a bunch of people who are somewhere on the far right, but are mostly not Nazis or Klansmen?) The violent protests in SF a couple days ago chased off some kind of alt-right rally--were they actually Nazis? Every time someone tries to have a conservative rally in Berkeley and they get run off by an angry mob, am I supposed to try to dig deeply into their organizers' political beliefs to decide how to feel about that?

I mean, slippery slope arguments are probably too common, but it's *really* common to see people blurring everyone who supports Trump, or even everyone on the right, into that same category. Milo and Ann Coulter got violent protests keeping them from speaking in Berkeley awhile back, and they're slimy publicity hounds, but probably not Nazis[1]. The one person I know personally who is involved with antifa does not seem to me to make much distinction between actual Nazi or Klansman, and generic Trump supporter. (That's about 37% of the population from 538, and about half the voters on Election day.)

Am I also supposed to cheer an angry mob breaking up a Trump rally? What would US politics look like, if that were commonplace? Why usn't the next step right-wing goons breaking up BLM protests or pro-choice rallies in places with a conservative majority?

I think I'd rather see violent protest, actual threatening behavior (like the torch carrying Nazi/Klan types at Charlottesville), and the gang of thugs beating up the alt-right guy, and the like handled by the police and prosecutors and courts. It seems like all the other ways we can handle that stuff are likely to work our badly for us.

[1] Though I kind-of suspect that both planned speeches were at least as much a publicity stunt (announce the speech and get free publicity from the ensuing riot) as anything else.

#60 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 02:35 AM:

albatross 59: The alt-right ARE Nazis. Richard Spencer admitted that they made up the term because 'Nazi' had such negative associations.

#61 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 11:16 AM:

albatross #59: I mean, slippery slope arguments are probably too common...

Yes, they are, especially since they started getting weaponized. At some point, you really do need to counter with "if you let a camel stick it's nose into the tent...".

Failing to punch the camel's nose is how the GOP found itself being taken over by the Tea Partiers... so now the modern Nazis and white supremacists have a place at the table and are dragging the Overton Window, trying to recast themselves as "just a different point of view".

Insisting that we need to tolerate the intolerant is not just rules-lawyering, it's disingenuous. Liberalism may be a Big Tent including many different goals, but we still need an immune system to defend against those opposed to our basic principles.

A right to free speech does not include the right to force your views on others, and it does not include a natural right to a pulpit in your opponents' homes and communities.

#62 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 12:19 PM:

Incidentally, Charlottesville has also been dealing with a different "camel's nose" situation, fairly successfully.

Here in C-ville, we have a City Council of five members, who choose their mayor from among them as "first among equals" and public representative. The executive role is held by a hired City Manager, currently Maurice Jones.

The current mayor, Mike Signer, raised some ire with his original campaign for his Council seat, when he not only set a record for campaign funding for a Council race, but IIRC added a digit to the previously-usual numbers. Eyebrows went up further when he was chosen mayor, and when he went on to rearrange the public-comment rules for council meetings introducing a sign-up system to make the meetings "more orderly".

Now... well, things have been "interesting":

1) During the riots, it seems Signer tried to barge into the city's command center and pull a Haig, claiming authority over the City Manager and Chief of Police Al Thomas, and threatening to fire them. (He has no such authority under law.)¹

2) After the riot... the next City Council meeting descended into chaos, as the citizenry simply ignored the new rules. Wes Bellamy (the Vice-mayor)² managed to take things in hand, and turn the meeting into a public-comment session. When Signer then tried to declare the meeting canceled and left, the other councilors did not follow.

2) Since then, "someone" leaked a memo from him where he demanded "explanations" from the City Manager for a variety of things including his being excluded from a command center where he was not in fact supposed to be. (Apparently, this was preceded by a Facebook post, likewise attacking the City Manager and Chief of Police. I haven't seen that post.) Signer accuses Jones of the leak, IIRC at least two other Councilors think it was Signer himself.

3) The City Council was not pleased. They have reprimanded him, and restricted his powers as Mayor for the remainder of his term. From the article:

On August 30, his fellow councilors held a three-hour closed door meeting to discuss the “performance and discipline of an elected official.”
Afterward, Councilor Kathy Galvin said the elected officials had accepted Signer’s apology and were not requesting his resignation, a signal of the gravity of the confrontation.

I'm pretty sure that at this year's election, Signer will find that his money's no good here.

¹ The context makes it relevant that both the City Manager and the Chief of Police are black, while Signer is white.
² Also black.

#63 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 01:15 PM:

#61 A right to free speech does not include the right to force your views on others, and it does not include a natural right to a pulpit in your opponents' homes and communities.

it includes the right to assemble and speak your mind without being beaten up by those who disagree with you. even Nazis are entitled to that. like it or not.

#64 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 03:27 PM:

albatross #59: Why usn't the next step right-wing goons breaking up BLM protests or pro-choice rallies in places with a conservative majority?

My first snarky reaction to this was "we do have 'right-wing goons breaking up BLM protests'. We call them 'police' "

My second reaction was that posting such a thought was more likely to make heat than light. But then you also wrote that you'd rather see violent protest, actual threatening behavior (like the torch carrying Nazi/Klan types at Charlottesville), and the gang of thugs beating up the alt-right guy, and the like handled by the police and prosecutors and courts. As if the police had made any attempt to halt the actual Nazi violence in Charlottesville. Or as if it wasn't up to an amateur on social media to find the Nazis who put DeAndre Harris in the hospital that day.

"Let the police handle it" only works if the police will handle it. What do we do in a reality where the police are rarely part of the solution and all too often part of the problem?

#65 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 03:33 PM:

It's the Nazis who have been bringing armed militia to their gatherings. Personally I think there's far more overlap between the white supremacist groups and the militia groups than the militia groups publicly claim.

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/23/545509627/armed-militias-face-off-with-the-antifa-in-the-new-landscape-of-political-protes

#66 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 05:23 PM:

Avram #51:

By focusing on scattered violence, reporters glossed over the bigger story: The Bay Area has become the latest target of fascist and other far-right groups promoting disruptive rallies across America, often in cities where they know they are not welcome.

So, I'm pretty sure disruptive rallies in cities where you're not welcome are:

a. 100% protected by the first amendment.

b. Descriptive of a lot of activism I strongly support. (Think of gay rights/trans rights rallies in very red states. Or antiwar rallies during the height of the war fever w.r.t. Iraq.)

I think when we start justifying mob violence to suppress that kind of rally, we ought to think very hard about whether that same thing won't be turned against us in the future, either by the other side or by zealots on our own side.

#67 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2017, 07:01 PM:

cleek 63: [A right to free speech] includes the right to assemble and speak your mind without being beaten up by those who disagree with you. even Nazis are entitled to that. like it or not.

It also does not include the right to be the ones doing beating-up.

albatross @66: Your operative word here is "disruptive." If the "disruption" is shouting others down and waving signs, all well and good. If the disruptions become more violent, then we're back into "can we depend on the police to handle it?" territory. As C'ville & al suggests, too often: no.

#68 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2017, 05:00 PM:

Back in the 80s, I had several conversations with people in which they argued that because I supported the lunch-counter sit-ins in the 60s, it was hypocritical of me to criticize the abortion clinic sit-ins of the 80s. If the tactic was acceptable for one group, it must be acceptable for all. The fact that the one was an attempt to gain people's rights, and the other was an attempt to refuse people rights was ruled to be unimportant. I was encouraged to make moral judgments about tactics, but not about politics. I was told that having principles, regardless of what those principles were, was the most important thing and that it was inappropriate of me to judge people as long as they had some sort of conviction. In the intervening years, I have decided that this is fundamental moral cowardice.

The slippery slope argument is often deployed in this same fashion, as an attempt to keep people from making moral judgments about the movement, its stated goals and aims, as well as its practical outcomes, and to judge only the tactics that said movement uses. This then causes people to argue that the fast and antifa are morally the same because they use the same tactics.

In the end, there is only us. You and me. And we need to make moral judgments, and we need to not shrink away from them. We need to look, clear-eyed, at the way in which the world is evolving, complex, and contextual. I am not happy about the fact that the police will not do their jobs and protect people, but this is a fact on the ground that we need to take into consideration. And when we criticize antifa for protecting peaceful protesters, I think we are indulging in a moral cowardice.

#69 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2017, 05:21 PM:

The characteristic sign of a fascist party is an armed militia. In fact, the party itself is the militia. When armed men in camo turn up as the escorts of a uniformed group bearing torches, it looks to me as if we have an outbreak of fascism.

The last one took a united planet to put down.

Samora Machel, the leader of the liberation of Mozambique, once pronounced that the time to kill a crocodile was in its shell. This one isn't in its shell any more.

We're not talking about an ordinary adversary, or even of a traditional anti-system opponent, who would change the rules fundamentally if elected. We're talking about an enemy who would throw out the rule book, declare large numbers of fellow-citizens to be outside the law and unworthy to even breathe the air, and start a process of making America white-only. They openly marched with firearms. And we are worried that defending against armed thugs is violent?

Am I the only person who thinks that there's a slight problem of priorities here? We have a Nazi movement rising to meet its Führer, and farting in his face alone, pleasant as the idea is, doesn't solve the problem. There is no reasoning with gravel, or Nazis.

#70 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2017, 06:49 PM:

Lydy Nickerson @68 - I don't criticize antifa people for protecting peaceful protesters. I *do* criticize the individuals who go far beyond that. It's somewhat similar to how I don't criticize Muslims collectively, only the ones who engage in terrorism. Really, in both cases, the individuals who use the name of a group while acting in ways that are highly incompatible with the goals/principles and good of the group -- the ones who appear to regard situations as opportunities to participate in violence, and probably wouldn't be involved if violence was off the table.

#71 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2017, 11:51 PM:

Nor, I hasten to add, do I criticize Christians generally, only the ones who in one way or another cause trouble for others. Likewise other groups. I don't see a lot of atheists causing a lot of trouble in the name of their faith, though some of them can be obnoxious proselytizers. So to speak.

#72 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 01:25 AM:

Lydy Nickerson @68: Well said.

#73 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 01:59 AM:

Joel Polowin @70
"probably wouldn't be involved if violence was off the table."

What exactly are you suggesting there? If you don't care one bit about fascism and you just love violence, this is... um... NOT where you end up. Look for those people in the Marines, or the boxing ring, or as prison guards, or any number of other places. This is a long and crooked road to walk if you just want to punch somebody.

The only sense I can make of that is that maybe you're trying to draw a line between violence with handwringing, and violence without: sure, maybe sometimes it's necessary to meet Nazi boots with Red* ones but if you've already reached that conclusion before some ISO-standard observer reaches it, and you're therefore prepared (and not appropriately reluctant), then you must be a bad violent person.

If you really believe that... well, I'll be over here with the premature anti-fascists.

*Or anarchist, or unionist, or eventually, years down the road, maybe even liberal... The violence-with-handwringing brigades don't have a good track record as far as arriving in time for the battle, alas.

#74 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 02:09 AM:

Devin @73 - I'm not saying that those people "don't care about fascism one bit". I'm saying that I believe some of them are more interested in violence than they are about fighting fascism. Some of their actions -- vandalism, in particular -- have no connection to fighting fascism whatsoever.

#75 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 07:23 AM:

Vandalism rarely has any direct connection to fighting anything, yet it does seem to frequently happen when people who are angry at injustice find themselves in the street in a state of emotion.

It seems to me far more plausible that this vandalism results from sincere people of real conviction, but imperfect discipline, rather than that it results from insincere people who only mildly dislike Nazis but just couldn't otherwise come up with any excuse to punch anyone or smash anything. (Developing strong feelings about Manchester United would seem to provide FAR MORE opportunities than anti-fascist activism, for instance.)

Also, I notice that we've now pivoted from "oh, they're just bloodthirsty" to "well somebody broke a window." That pivot makes me, personally, furious: I guess I'm supposed to wring my hands over that? And condemn the person who broke it? But at the same time, another generation of black children gets to grow up fearing white men with torches and that's, well, it's also very regrettable of course, we really do wish there was something (anything!) we could do about that... but not something (or anything) so radical as "support someone stands up to fascists, but who might also perhaps break an innocent window."

It's hard for me to see that argument made without concluding that there is a moral hierarchy represented, and in that hierarchy "terrorizing black children" is not so weighty a sin as "property damage."

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 09:20 AM:

Devin:
and after sports championships, and sometimes other things that shouldn't inspire violence.
Some people like violence, and any excuse is good enough for them.
(Alcohol may be involved, as well.)

#77 ::: oldmanfoley ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 11:37 AM:

Any protection from violence afforded by condoning violence of any sort is illusory.

#78 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 11:56 AM:

Devin: I agree that property damage is not in the same category as the violence perpetrated against minorities. But you appear to be saying that a certain amount of property damage, and excessive violence, perpetrated by the "defenders" of those minorities, is to be expected and must be tolerated. And with that I strongly disagree.

#79 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 12:57 PM:

Joel@78: You sound dangerously close to arguing that protests are fine as long as they don't inconvenience anyone. That's not how protests work. If it gets to fighting in the streets, as it has, indeed, gotten to, stuff gets broken. Throw a brick at a fascist, hit a store window. Is this bad aim, or deliberate? How can you tell? How can you tell who threw the damn brick?

Here's the thing: we know, for certain fact, that the fash are showing up with the intent of violence. That is the thing that must not be tolerated. This cool, dispassionate judgment of how the antifa conduct themselves when in the midst of a chaotic street fight is frankly condescending and bizarre. I'm given to understand by people who have actually been there this this sort of things happens fast, is chaotic as hell, and many things are not as they appear later. Cooly judging, later, who exactly crossed the line is a moral superiority dance, divorced from actual facts on the ground, which are largely unknowable. Unless you were actually there, and possibly not even then, you can't really know the provenance of the broken window or the broken nose.

#80 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 01:45 PM:

Lydy: I've been in street fights twice -- one-on-one, rather than a large-scale event, but still. One was about six years ago, when a driver merrily blasted his horn as he passed me on my bike, a case of "spook the cyclist". My telling him off led to his assaulting me. The other was a year ago, when a pedestrian took exception to me biking on the sidewalk, slowly, beside a street that was busy with auto traffic. He ran after me and shoved me off my bike. I, in turn, ran after him as he fast-walked away and tried to stop him by holding onto his backpack.

I sure wasn't thinking much during these altercations. As a police officer pointed out diplomatically when I reported the latter incident, someone of my stature and health should *not* be getting into fights; I should get as much identifying information as possible, disengage, and call the police. But both times, without any clear thought, my intended response was proportionate to the original assault.

So I suppose I *am* claiming some degree of moral superiority over those who escalate things significantly.

#81 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 02:15 PM:

Lydy Nickerson:

Nobody here has any problem at all with using violence to defend yourself or others from attack. The one eyewitness report I read from Charlottesville described antifas protecting people from attack, and it's clearly a good thing they were there for that.

The issue I have, and I think several other people here also have, is using violence to shut down political rallies you find offensive or threatening, not because they're attacking you now, but because they're supporting evil beliefs and policies. That's also what I took abi's post, above, to be raising as an issue.

The recent attempts to have right wing rallies in SF, where we have footage of right wingers getting chased or beaten by angry mobs, that's what I'm concerned with. That's a really awful way for politics to work. I believe that accepting it will lead us, as a country, to some very bad places. That's why I'm opposed to it.

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 03:37 PM:

albatross, there's one side of this that's much more likely to show up armed, armored, and looking for fights, and nearly always it isn't antifa.

#83 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 03:54 PM:

Lydy Nickerson #68:

I'm quoting a chunk of text here because I think this raises an interesting issue:

Back in the 80s, I had several conversations with people in which they argued that because I supported the lunch-counter sit-ins in the 60s, it was hypocritical of me to criticize the abortion clinic sit-ins of the 80s. If the tactic was acceptable for one group, it must be acceptable for all. The fact that the one was an attempt to gain people's rights, and the other was an attempt to refuse people rights was ruled to be unimportant.

I think it's really important to distinguish goals and tactics.

I'm opposed to our continued military involvement in Afghanistan. I'm also opposed to someone carrying out a campaign of assassinations and bombings in the US to get us to pull out of Afghanistan. The goal is good; the tactics are evil.

I'm opposed to building a big wall between the US and Mexico. I'm also in favor of peaceful protests and voting as methods to bring about political change. People organizing peaceably and voting for a big wall between us and Mexico are pursuing a bad goal, but with good tactics.


I was encouraged to make moral judgments about tactics, but not about politics. I was told that having principles, regardless of what those principles were, was the most important thing and that it was inappropriate of me to judge people as long as they had some sort of conviction. In the intervening years, I have decided that this is fundamental moral cowardice.

I think the disconnect here is that we need to judge on both, but separately. Good ends can be pursued by bad means, and we should call out the means in that case. Bad ends can be pursued by good means, and we should call out the ends in that case.

One reason I think this is important: We can't all agree on what ends would be good, but we might still be able to come to agreement on what ends are acceptable. And that's to everyone's benefit, because it means we can have a stable political system where we decide who gets power based on votes, rather than based on who can muster more muscle or kill more people.

#84 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 03:55 PM:

And, of course, under this whole discussion, lies unspoken the fact that, in theory, we have a group formally tasked with showing up, armed, to prevent violence and defend people's right to peaceful free expression.

Sadly, these days, that service doesn't seem to be reliably on offer for its intended purpose.

#85 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 05:18 PM:

Joel Polowin @78

Tell you what... Can you bring into existence some force (human, moral, or otherwise) capable of reducing fascist terror WITHOUT breaking any windows?

If not, then yeah, I'm willing to accept some number of broken windows. I accept that some percentage of surgeons will screw up and some number of patients will die under the knife, after all. I even accept that some of those surgeons are in it for the money, or the ego trip, instead of just to help people. And that sometimes that greed or ego contributes to surgical error.

There are limits: we* want a police force, and we accept that those police will sometimes arrest the wrong person, but we** do not accept our police shooting people of color just because they can. That's too high a price. But the odd wrong arrest? As long as it's handled without excessive brutality, and corrected quickly, it's probably just the cost of doing business. (I say this as someone who has been arrested for a crime I did not commit, without brutality, and who was released as soon as the DA looked over it. It was an error, and I wish the arresting officer hadn't made it, but the price was not too high.)

*Well, I'm ambivalent on that point myself, and I'm sure Citizen Woodyatt feels similarly, but let's say some kind of policing is okay, at least for the sake of argument.
**Hopefully including everyone in this thread, but sadly not including an awful lot of people in this country...

#86 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2017, 08:57 PM:

IMO (and apropos of this topic), this is the Tweet of the Week, from Megan Amram (@meganamram):

I think the people who fight back against the hurricane are as bad as the hurricane. If u really were a liberal you'd let urself drown

#87 ::: Jeremy Leader sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2017, 01:41 AM:

oldmanfoley @77: When you say:

Any protection from violence afforded by condoning violence of any sort is illusory.

Are you saying we shouldn't have police forces to enforce our laws? Personally, I would love it if we could have a society that keeps order without any violence or threat thereof, but I'm old enough and cynical enough that I don't believe it's possible any time there are more than a few people involved.

#88 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2017, 12:11 PM:

Devin @85: "Any" windows? Of course not.

But I think we're getting to "acceptable losses" territory. "Can't make an omelette without breaking eggs." Some of the comments I've been seeing have been incredibly blasé about those eggs being really expensive. If the subject was "acceptable losses" in a military action, there would be a strong push against any unnecessary losses. Here, the losses are not lives (yet), but injuries, property damage, and -- perhaps most important -- social capital. It is still important to push back against unnecessary losses. If it's put as "tolerable" losses rather than "acceptable", that might shade the meaning better.

#89 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2017, 02:13 PM:

Further thoughts:

The loss of social capital is enhanced by the [profanity] right-wingers trying to apply as much inflation as possible via various media.

There's also an element of geek fallacy. Even if people are on your side, or at least share some of your goals, you don't have to accept any/all behaviour.

#90 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2017, 03:21 PM:

Joel Polowin @88

I would be a lot more sympathetic to that argument if I had ever seen it deployed in the form "we should do X* instead of Y because the losses likely to follow from Y are unacceptable/intolerable."

Alas, it only ever seems to exist in the form "we shouldn't do Y."

Also, do you know what makes ME want to smash a window? It's some comfortable sort saying "ah, yes, another generation of terrorized black children, that's bad... but have you seen how expensive window glass is these days?"

I am an anarchist, and so I think humanity is worth more than property. I know it's a radical notion (though it's my understanding that a sizeable minority of Christians believe something similar).

If you want to play reductio ad absurdam, I'd say that "let's smash every window in the US to show kids we hate fascism" was, well, some kind of plan. It'd certainly make a splash. I would agree with the criticism that there are ways to make the same point that cause less damage, and that broken glass can be dangerous. (That's the "let's do X instead of Y" argument, above.) Or, for that matter, the argument that that plan is basically nonsense and we should paint "nazi punks fuck off" on every window in the US instead, say (still not a sensible plan, but a step in the right direction.) I have nothing but contempt for the argument that "those windows cost over a billion dollars, while a generation of terrorized black children is only worth some implied, smaller, pricetag."

You have, regrettably, chosen to make the second argument (by implication). I don't think you WANT to be making that argument, but you have.

*At least, where X is not either tantamount to "let the Nazis terrorize black children" or something we've already tried that demonstrably will not happen, like "wait for the cops to sort it out."

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2017, 03:39 PM:

Devin, the problem is that a lot of people are saying "peaceful protest means we SHOULDN'T fight back". That's what Joel is pushing back against, the we-must-be-pacifists-always argument. The people using it seem to think the choice is either no violence at all, or all-out war.

#92 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2017, 09:17 PM:

I just heard an interesting argument. They characterize Antifa as a well-regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state.

Not sure I agree, but that does sound like Antifa. And I do like it for its thumb in the eye to the RWNJs.

#93 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 12:01 AM:

albatross @66, first, did you read the linked article? Because if you did, and found it to be a justification of mob violence, then I don’t know what to tell you.

(Here’s the link again, so you don’t even have to scroll up.)

Second, “think very hard about whether that same thing won’t be turned against us in the future”? Really? Do you seriously imagine that if the left refrains from violence now, that they will somehow avoid the violence that has been afflicted upon every single leftist movement in American history?

#94 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 01:06 AM:

PJ Evans @91
I don't see that reading at all. But okay.

#95 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 03:19 AM:

albatross @83: I think that the distinction between means and ends is often artificial. The two of them tend to be in a dialog with each other. If the means do not support the ends, then they are bad means. If you are trying to stop littering, putting flyers on the windshields of all the cars in a parking lot is counter-productive. It is also useful to note that means shape the people employing them. So I think we have a lot of agreement, here.

However, I'm very much in agreement with Devin. I would smash all the windows of the world if I could stop brown children from being terrorized by cops in this country.

Much of the criticism of antifa really sounds like the stuff I was told on the playground. "Just ignore him and he'll go away. Responding only makes it worse." It wasn't particularly true when I was six. It is very, very much not true in the current political situation. They want us to shut up and sit down, be polite so that they can ignore us. Take our beatings and go home chastened. Fuck that noise.

Much of the criticism of antifa ignores what I think are the two most important issues. The first is that the fash are inherently violent. In both word and action, they are about violence. The second point is that the cops are on their side. It's terrifying to realize that our public servants are on the side of the fascists, but it is also true. Our institutions have failed us. And because that has happened, antifa are absolutely necessary.

Does reactive violence every cycle out of control? Yes, it can. But please attend to the fact that the usual cycle is that the cops create intolerable conditions which cause this to happen. Kettling, gas attacks, and other escalations tend to come, not from antifa, but from the cops.

#96 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 09:00 AM:

#67 - It also does not include the right to be the ones doing beating-up.

Then maybe "antifa" should quit beating up people who do nothing more than say things antifa doesn't like.

Pick one: glorious defenders who stand between the Nazis and the meek, or people out looking for a fight.

#97 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 09:22 AM:

cleek @96, why do we have to pick one? Every antifa I know would not beat someone up unprovoked; nonetheless I believe that there are some who would, or who believe that the presence of white supremacist belief is sufficient provocation. I believe that the latter are in the wrong but I do not believe that every representative of a belief system or political position must answer for the conduct of every other adherent of that system or position.

Some antifa beat up right-wing or perceived right-wing people unprovoked. Some right-wing people march with torches and guns. Not all. Not even most, I believe. Tarring every member of a group of individuals with a single brush born of the behavior of a subset is a thing that I am against in the name of a cooperative and diverse society.

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 09:47 AM:

95
Kettling, gas attacks, and other escalations tend to come, not from antifa, but from the cops.

And, as in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, the cops will use those even if the protesters are completely peaceful. And they'll lie about it afterward, to justify it to the media.

#99 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 10:23 AM:

cleek @96:

Are you familiar with the term "agent provocateur?"

I suspect that the so-called "antifa" who beat people up without provocation may not have been antifa, but were those who were trying to give the resistance a black eye.

#100 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 10:59 AM:

#99 - No True Antifa! except, see #97.

regardless of their intentions, "antifa" has made themselves the violent counterparts to the actual Nazis. and because of their other left-leaning positions, they've become the 'left' side of this and have effectively diluted and turned this into a left/right issue. it should have been the easiest thing in the world to get Americans to side against Nazis. but no. instead, this has taken the shape of just another stupid partisan fight: "violent extremists!"

well done.

#101 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 11:04 AM:

Lori Coulson @ #99:

While that is not unlikely, there are people who "naturally" fall into having anti-fascist sympathies who nonetheless turn up at these things primarily in order to have a fight. Just because they're anti-fascist does not imply that they're not spoiling for a fight. But, I'd guess well over 50% chance (for each individual) that they were provocateurs, but probably not more than 90% chance.

My memory of Swedish anti-racist (well, probably anti-fascist, since I think pretty much all of the racist fuckwits who were out marching were probably perfectly fine with right-wing fascism in addition to their hatred of people who look different) demonstrators in the 90s says that 1%-3% of those turning up regularly did so explicitly to pick a fight (that would be the third strand I alluded to in #40). While I cannot speak for how things are in the US, I would be surprised if that third strand didn't exist.

#102 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 11:29 AM:

regardless of their intentions, "antifa" has made themselves the violent counterparts to the actual Nazis.

It's sure nice that you know all the antifa and their motivations. /s

#103 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 01:20 PM:

Paraphrasing someone elsenet:

If left alone without any fascists to protest, antifa will eat Nutella and play Pokemon Go.

If left alone without any statue tearings-down to protest, alt-right, Nazis, white supremacists, etc. will lynch my friends of color and bomb my synagogue.

#104 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 01:58 PM:

Cleek #100 - given the election last year, and the ongoing hate crimes against Jews, people of non-white skin colour etc, in the USA, I find your idea that it would be easy to get America, an amorphous blob if ever there was one, to be against fascism, to be astoundingly naieve.

And that's not without even considering American history and the effects of the current crop of hate radio, tv stations and social media.

#105 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 04:44 PM:

Estelendur @103

Hey let's be fair here: I can speak from experience and say that there is a definite minority of antifa who, left alone, would be dicks about veganism on the internet. It's not all sunshine and roses.

#106 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 04:52 PM:

This is the conversation i have been wanting to hear. Especially, recently, Lydy Nickerson @68 and 95, Fragano Ledgister @69, Jacque @84, Xopher @92, and estelendur @103.

#107 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 05:41 PM:

Devin@85 writes:

*Well, I'm ambivalent on that point myself, and I'm sure Citizen Woodyatt feels similarly, but let's say some kind of policing is okay, at least for the sake of argument.

For the record, I am no kind of anarchist. I see the pragmatic value of institutional democracy and orderly public processes. The furthest I'm willing to go toward endorsing anarchism is that, if forced at gunpoint to choose between anarchy and the fascist anti-democratic mob, I'll choose anarchy every damned time.

#108 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 05:50 PM:

A friend of a friend (possibly also of a friend) lives in CHarlottesville, and they posted about how the nazis had come to town in increasing numbers at various times over the year. Every time, more of them, dominating the public spaces. Lack of opposition merely emboldened them.

Then I recall the work of various Jews in London after WW2, when there were still fascists and anti-semites around. Unfortunately for them, a large number of young jewish men were being demobbed at the time, fresh from military training about how to hurt people.
Net result was that fascists got beaten up every time they showed their heads in public. A brutal but effective way of owning the public space, so that people who were targetted by the fascists could go about their business in peace.
I suspect the police turned a blind eye as well, since strictly speaking such violence was illegal.

So the question is, why is it okay to public be a fascists and proclaim the superiority of the white race, and how evil jews and blacks are and hint loudly at getting rid of them all?

At which point does a society say this speech is not protected? So far the main lines are to do with sex, murder and violence. If I were to proclaim the rightness of men having sex with women of any age, with or without their connent, I would expect some sort of opposition. Yet it's okay to be a fascist, and talk about how Hitler had the right idea.

#109 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 05:57 PM:

Whilst my brain is turning over, the USA is somewhat hobbled by it's 'freeeedddooomm' rhetoric. Here in the UK, if a large group of people turned up armed to have a rally and intimidate others, the police would arrest them for carrying offensive weapons and breach of the peace etc. Thus the offensive potential is somewhat limited.

But even here we have problems, the biggest being the orange order marches, where a bunch of bigoted clowns march through Catholic areas to intimidate the locals. Fortunatelty they are slowly dying away, but it is taking a long time. The impact of them is however reduced becaue of all the other things that are done to ensure that Catholics have political representation and involvement. Defeating fascists, and there isn't much difference between the orange order and fascists, takes a long time and requires resources, none of which the American government seems willing to put forward.

#110 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 06:04 PM:

cleek @100: it should have been the easiest thing in the world to get Americans to side against Nazis

Nah. It was pretty tough to get Americans to side against Nazis back in the 1930s. Not only were there people like Elizabeth Dilling, Father Coughlin, and Henry Ford who argued that seeing Europe conquered by the Nazis would be better than letting Communism spread, but Americans who did volunteer to fight early fascism were later harassed by our government as “premature anti-fascists.”

I see no reason to expect a nation that was so reluctant to fight the Nazis back then to be eager for it now.

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 06:21 PM:

110
Not only were there people like
And Charles Lindbergh.
He and his buddies (like the ones named) put a lot of time and effort into trying to convince us that we shouldn't be involved in that war.

#112 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 07:49 PM:

guthrie at #109: the USA is somewhat hobbled by it's 'freeeedddooomm' rhetoric

Even in the USA, freedom of speech is not absolute. There are exceptions such as fraud, libel (construed more narrowly in the USA than in the UK), and immediate incitement to violence.

I see the current discussion as about expanding the scope of what counts as immediate.

  • White supremacists who march unarmed? Denying them a parade permit would be viewpoint-specific violation of freedom of speech.
  • If they carry weapons in their parade, even if they don't propose to use them before the next election? That goes beyond mere speech, even if the guns are holstered and the swords are peace-bonded. Even if they're toy guns and costume swords.
I'm prepared to consider arguments that Nazi emblems are weapons.

#113 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 09:39 PM:

Another interesting class of restrictions on "free speech" are things like those applied to the Westboro Baptist Church regarding their picketing of military funerals. As "peaceful" as those demonstrations were, they came to be seen as sufficiently odious to be made unlawful.

Canada's laws on "hate speech" are somewhat more restrictive than provisions in U.S. laws, I think. We still have our incidents, and they've been on the rise in the last year. Last week saw the sentencing of a teenager who went on a vandalism spree last November, targeting several places of worship. And we had the disposition of four Canadian Forces members who, as members of the "Proud Boys" (self-proclaimed "Western chauvinists"), disrupted a Native-Canadian ceremony last year. This latter matter was unsatisfying to many people: the four had black marks put on their records, and will be required to take additional training and will generally be watched pretty carefully, but the charges were dropped. And their group has proclaimed the dropping of the charges as a victory of sorts. This strongly suggests that they're not really going to learn the lesson properly.

I *hope* I'm seeing a shift toward a greater variety of speech being considered as too odious to tolerate. And better enforcement. Because I really *hate* what I'm seeing in terms of people proudly proclaiming intolerance, and while I might reluctantly put up with it if it stayed as merely speech, it's drifting into violence and political events that I don't think that are ultimately survivable.

#114 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2017, 10:05 PM:

Re American attitudes toward Nazis in the 1930s: I would like to recommend The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses, by Stephen H. Norwood.

#115 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 12:53 AM:

Xopher @92 - I know that the phrase "well-regulated militia" spawns endless debate. But I have trouble seeing antifa as "well-regulated". Are they even as "well regulated" as the little communes of, um, weapons enthusiasts, which seem to generally have at least some kind of command structure? Mind, this question is coming from a Canadian who regards the currently-legally-agreed-upon interpretation of "well-regulated militia" as bizarre at best.

#116 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 01:25 AM:

The ammosexuals think they're a well-regulated militia even when they live alone in the woods and shoot at anyone who trips their bellwires. They are thus estopped from claiming the Antifa aren't well-regulated enough.

#117 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 03:22 AM:

j h woodyatt @107
Wasn't meaning to brand the black rose on you or anything, sorry. But if you're backing out on smashing the state, we might have to release your seat on the SS Gay Luxury Space Anarchism too.

#118 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 04:25 AM:

Devin @ 117: So, um, just how gay does one have to be to get a seat on SS Gay Luxury Space Anarchism? (Asking for a friend.)

#119 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 05:56 AM:

Hey, I don't make the rules. You'll know in your heart if fully-automated luxury gay space anarchism is right for you. (In its original, commie context, one could simply suggest that it was enough to be ready to make out with Yuri AND Valentina, at least if everybody's wearing the suits. Alas, there's a shortage of well-known, attractive, space-traveling anarchists to use as examples.)

#120 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 02:24 PM:

Hi Devin,

I'm the guy carrying the red flag to the antifa parade. I'm here to smash capitalism— especially imperialist capitalism— and I'm totally unwilling to let capitalists escape their richly deserved wrath, by— to take one relevant example— selectively editing their dictionary, so their definition of the word "state" is carefully crafted to give them a practical monopolization of the culturally acceptable use for force.

Further, that gay luxury space anarchism probably needs to be fully automated, or I'm likely to have some quibbles about how labor and wealth is allocated.

In any case, when it comes to facing down the Nazi mob, consider me a reliable comrade.

Love, james.

#121 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 09:05 PM:

guthrie @108: If I were to proclaim the rightness of men having sex with women of any age, with or without their connent, I would expect some sort of opposition.

Or you would be president.

#122 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2017, 11:43 PM:

Xopher @ 116: The ammosexuals think they're a well-regulated militia.... Really? Since SCOTUS decoupled that from bearing arms, why do they bother with the claim?

#123 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2017, 02:08 PM:

#104 - to be sure, there are plenty of racists in the US. but actual support for actual Nazis is nowhere near a majority, even among Trump supporters. every Nazi rally i've ever heard about in the US has been met by protestors who outnumber the Nazis/KKK by a couple orders of magnitude.

the only group likely to get less support in the US than Nazis is ISIS or al-Q.

#110. check your calendar, this isn't 1935. a lot of things have changed.

#124 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2017, 04:53 PM:

CLeek #125 - there's a couple of things there though. One is that, absent any sort of pushback, fascist ideology can spread and influence people massively beyond the actual numbers.
Secondly, what is the difference between a fascist and a racist?
Thirdly, the issue here is that the US government is carrying out activities not much different from nazi's, fascists or whatever you want to call them. They're cheering it on. Then there's the apparent desire of some law enforcement and politicians to permit fascists to gather and promulgate their ideas and scare locals into submission.

#125 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 10:22 AM:

Avram #93:

I hadn't read the linked article before (I have now), but I didn't think it was the article justifying mob violence--I think some of the posts here are.

There is a basic argument here: If there are people expressing really offensive ideas peacefully, is it okay to run them off with violence or the threat of violence?

This isn't just a hypothetical question. As I understand it, a previous round of antifa-linked protests/riots in Berkeley were carried out to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking there. Other violent protests (I don't think they had anything to do with antifa) happened to try to shut down a speech at a university by Heather Macdonald, and another such protest shut down a speech by Charles Murray.

It seems to me that this is a live issue, here and in the wider world: is it acceptable to use mob violence to shut down fascists who aren't attacking anyone, but are just speaking. How about the alt-right, which (fuzzy though the term is) sure seems to include people who aren't fascists. How about vocal Trump supporters? When someone wants to express really offensive ideas, and people on your side know that they can show up in sufficient numbers to beat those people up and run them off, should you support that?

That's part of what I read in abi's post, which I started out responding to.

#126 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 11:17 AM:

#124- "One is that, absent any sort of pushback, fascist ideology can spread and influence people massively beyond the actual numbers. "

no doubt. i'm not even close to thinking we shouldn't push back when they scuttle out from under their rocks. but we can push back without being aggressively violent about it. we don't have to beat up people who are merely speaking their (warped) winds.

"Secondly, what is the difference between a fascist and a racist?"

the uniform?

"Then there's the apparent desire of some law enforcement and politicians to permit fascists to gather and promulgate their ideas and scare locals into submission. "

gathering and promulgating ideas are perfectly legal. even scaring people is legal, up to a point.

#127 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 12:36 PM:

"assault - Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner."

#128 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 03:49 PM:

albatross @125: If there are people expressing really offensive ideas peacefully, is it okay to run them off with violence or the threat of violence?

Well, one issue there is the question of whether the offensive ideas are really being expressed peacefully. Milo Yiannopoulos has a history of using his college speeches to point out vulnerable students (trans students, or Dreamers) for later harassment by his fans. I’m sure he’d claim that he doesn’t endorse the harassment, but I’m also sure that’s bullshit.

The sentence Patrick picked out for the headline of this post — “If you feel safe now, it’s an illusion born of your relationship to power” — is relevant here. The Charles Murrays, Heather Mac Donalds, and Milo Yiannopouloi of the world are support structures in the machinery of white supremacy. They provided justification for the violent oppression of non-white people, safe in the knowledge that their own wealth and whiteness will keep them safe while they make life more dangerous for the people unlike them. Until now! Now, it looks like they actually have to run a bit of risk to advocate for oppression. Now they actually face some small chance of suffering the fate that they would inflict upon others. Of course they’re upset! I find it hard to feel sorry for them, though.

#129 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 04:04 PM:

Cleek #126. You aren't persuading me here. If it's okay for the fascists to promulgate ideas and scare people, it's definitely okay for antifa and others to march against fascists and scare them too.
Where did we come into this again?

#130 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 04:05 PM:

Guthrie @124
I would say racism is a conscious or unconscious belief system that certain people are superior or inferior based on skin color and/or other physical traits, and the consequent oppression of those people. It is very widespread, contaminating most if not all cultures.

Fascism is a political system of "might makes right", that a strong, preferably absolute, rule is the best way for people to be governed, often combined with the idea that most people are too (dumb, uneducated, whatever) to make decisions for themselves. I would say most or all facists are racists, because they usually believe that some groups are inferior. Sometimes they believe inferior groups should be killed.

Racists are not necessary facists. They often believe that their superior group should have *more* power, but not necessarily absolute power.

This is, of course, my off-the-cuff thoughts.

#131 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 05:23 PM:

Magenta Griffith #130:
Fascism is a political system of "might makes right", that a strong, preferably absolute, rule is the best way for people to be governed ...
Fascism is usually placed on the right of the political spectrum, but of course that description could equally apply to many far-left regimes.

... the idea that most people are too (dumb, uneducated, whatever) to make decisions for themselves.
That is a very widely-held view among liberal elites.

#132 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 06:45 PM:

There's some dispute over whether Mussolini actually said "Fascism is corporatism", but it's one of the differences between nazis and racists. Some racists don't care about corporatism, some nazis don't care about the Confederate South Rising Again and would rather have the non-master races owned by corporations instead of individuals, preferably in a modern industrial economy instead of agriculture. Some racists aren't totalitarians, and are even ok if minorities have civil rights as long as their daughter doesn't marry one. Some fascists are racists but don't have the history of US slavery affecting how they think about minorities (e.g. Europeans may be more influenced by colonialist racism; different toxicities.) Some racists are monarchists (e.g. Russian anti-Semitism.)

#133 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2017, 11:29 PM:

I don't think there's much inherent connection between fascism and racism. Was fascist Italy or Spain a lot more racist than the US or UK at the same time?

Now, anyone calling himself a Nazi is surely racist (and racially obsessed). But almost nobody in the US, including far-right types and overt racists, wants anything to do with Nazis.

#134 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2017, 12:16 AM:

Avram:

The Charles Murrays, Heather Mac Donalds, and Milo Yiannopouloi of the world are support structures in the machinery of white supremacy. They provided justification for the violent oppression of non-white people, safe in the knowledge that their own wealth and whiteness will keep them safe while they make life more dangerous for the people unlike them.

Every political activist on Earth could make an equally-convincing case for why it was okay to use violence to shut down people whose ideas he disagreed with. (That is, not convincing at all to people not on his side.)

Consider the arguments made in the runup to the Iraq war, and then later when we were debating pulling out, where people opposing the war were "giving aid and comfort to terrorists." Surely it's right to use violence to disrupt *those* peoples' public speeches, right?

Or what about the kind of people who support criminals terrorizing our communities, and even justify shooting our boys in blue? I mean, freedom of speech is fine and all, but surely you can't feel like *that* kind of slime deserves it! They're supporting the enemies of civilization!

My not-too-informed guess is that you could get a lot more people to accept either of those justifications than the one you just spun out. Get it widely accepted, and antiwar rallies and BLM protests get shut down by angry mobs busting protesters' heads till they get the message.

Until now! Now, it looks like they actually have to run a bit of risk to advocate for oppression. Now they actually face some small chance of suffering the fate that they would inflict upon others. Of course they’re upset! I find it hard to feel sorry for them, though.

Gee, I wonder if maybe there's some reason other than sympathizing with someone why you might support keeping them from being threatened with violence to prevent them speaking in public.

When you're done justifying and normalizing using violence to shut down your political opponents, is there some reason you imagine that those opponents won't go ahead and do the same thing? Why doesn't this end up with politics largely driven by who can get the most goons to show up? Is there any reason at all to think this will make US politics work better?

#135 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2017, 02:08 AM:

albatross @134, are you under the impression that left-wing protestors are not already met with violence? Anti-war and BLM protests get met with tanks and tear gas and kettling, routinely.

#136 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2017, 05:24 AM:

Seriously, there's a fucking huge inherent connection between fascism and racism. Italy and Germany both conquered countries based on the fact the locals were racially inferior; what passes for fascist intellectuals of the time were all about how the white man was superior to all other races.

The issue is that it is possible to merely be racist without being fascist, but if you are a fascist, you are racist by definition.

Odalchini #131 - whataboutery is boring and stupid, try something else.

#137 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2017, 05:29 AM:

Albatros #134 - so what was your solution to this problem again? You seem to be saying that none of these solutions will work, but then don't bother putting in any of your own.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, in England fascists were prevented from hurting people in London by their targets fighting back. Maybe the issue is that the governments in many places in the USA are too near to fascism already, thus will clamp down on any protesters no matter what, and you don't want to admit that.
Heck, what happened to that oil pipeline that was diverted through an Indian reservation?

Today's difficult question - why has the USA reverted to authoritarian rule?

#138 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2017, 06:39 AM:

guthrie #136: calling 'whataboutery' is a boring and stupid diversionary tactic, especially when it's misplaced – try something else.

My point, which of course you understood, was about the difficulty of defining fascism by categories which apply widely to non-fascists. If you've got an intelligent response to that point, by all means let us see it.

#139 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2017, 06:58 AM:

guthrie@#137:

Today's difficult question - why has the USA reverted to authoritarian rule?

This article on the The Atlantic tries to answer that question: How America Lost it's Mind. It's a long, but fascinating read to this non-American who's only observed America from the outside. I think the key quote is:

But also starting in the ’90s, the farthest-right quarter of Americans, let’s say, couldn’t and wouldn’t adjust their beliefs to comport with their side’s victories and the dramatically new and improved realities. They’d made a god out of Reagan, but they ignored or didn’t register that he was practical and reasonable, that he didn’t completely buy his own antigovernment rhetoric. After Reagan, his hopped-up true-believer faction began insisting on total victory. But in a democracy, of course, total victory by any faction is a dangerous fantasy.

#140 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 07:54 AM:

guthrie #137: Today's difficult question - why has the USA reverted to authoritarian rule?

Oh, it hasn't yet... it's just that there's some folks who are trying to make it so, and unfortunately they're making progress.

The thing is, maintaining a democratic republic is difficult, it needs a lot of money and energy to continue protecting people from each other and from their government. This became even more so with the civil rights advances of the 50s and 60s -- that added even more structure and balance that needs to be maintained. There's always a way for people to cut corners for their own purposes -- profit, dominance, or just laziness. And every time someone does that, it chips away at the grand structure that keeps things working.

I still think the key mistake, the one that led to everything afterwards, was pardoning Nixon and Agnew. After that, the guys at the top would always know that there was an escape from justice... and while some of the henchmen involved with the Watergate did get prison terms, it wasn't enough people, or enough time, to break the cabal. And the cabal that formed from the pieces of Nixon's crew kept chipping away over the decades, claiming more executive power, eroding the checks and balances, and undercutting their opposition at every level.

For these people, politics wasn't about cooperative leadership, much less representing the masses -- it was a blood sport, where money and power were the only goals and weapons. And the Democrats didn't realize until too late how the rules had changed. That cabal within the GOP spent decades not only targeting the Democratic leadership, but also "purifying" their own party of people who thought in terms of negotiation or "loyal opposition". In both parties, they hobbled and eventually removed the specific people who were standing up to their abuse. That eventually left the GOP controlled by the extremists, and the Democrats with a sort of political "battered wife syndrome"; after Reagan and Bush I, even when the Dems had the numbers and/or the Presidency, they didn't have the leadership or resolve to reverse the GOP's structural gains. Instead, they kept trying to compromise and make deals, while their opponents just kept advancing.

But in this process, they also damaged the structure of their own party, cutting away the elements that actually represented their own popular base -- and the folks who were skilled at actual negotiations. Enter the Tea Party, with a few billionaires backing them and a successful example to follow....

#141 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 09:43 AM:

#129. "You aren't persuading me here. "

clearly.

but again, i'm talking about the fact that "antifa" members have physically attacked people they don't agree with - not in self defense, but initiated the violence. and that's actively harmful to everyone's efforts to push back against actual Nazis.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 11:56 AM:

141
And they've also BEEN attacked, just for being there.

Antifa isn't the lot that shows up with high-powered weapons and armor.

#143 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 03:18 PM:

Again, equating anti-fascist responses to a singular leftist Antifa "group" is misunderstanding the underlying issues. Antifa is a collection of responses to fascism. Black Bloc antifa fighters promulgate violence against anyone who disagrees with them. They are not the sole face of antifa, nor should they be used to justify anti-antifa attacks.

Fascists were the ones bringing guns and violence to a peaceful rally in Charlotte NC. Antifa were the people who stepped in between the fascists and the peaceful counterprotestors, at the risk of their lives.

Claiming that violence only begets violence is a back-handed way of allowing fascists free rein. When you disallow antifa or any counter protest from fighting back against fascist violence, you allow precisely the kind of situation that led to Heather Heyer dying in Charlotte.

Antifascist encompasses many people; some who are simply going to stand peacefully in public; some who are going to prepare for violence and fight back; and some who take the fight to any conflict just for the pleasure of it. Arguing about the justification for protecting ourselves just allows the fascists to gain more strength.

AIDS activists were very familiar with this rhetoric; ACT-UP was widely considered to be too violent or too strident, but GMHC or HRC alone could not get the political strength to make changes happen. Only when AIDS patients stood up, fought back, and acted up did the establishment take them seriously, along with the other gay and lesbian groups. The same thing is happening here with fascism, the nazis, and the white supremacists.

Don't fall for their propaganda; they're out in various states claiming that the Black Man and the Jew are to blame. If you let that slide unchallenged, they'll come for you next.

#144 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 04:03 PM:

#138 - my dear Count, I appreciate you are still traumatised by the loss of your family lands etc all those years ago, but I would have expected you to be able to differentiate liberals from lefties from anarchists from socialists, etc. Just as you might expect us to distinguish conservatives from classical liberals from american libertarians and from fascists.

#145 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 04:07 PM:

Cleek #141 - so to come in again, do I have to condemn every possible act of violence by anyone identifying as Antifa?
I think the difference here is that you maintain such violence is bad and counterproductive. I and others say it might be in some circumstances, but really it is normal part of such violent confrontations, which is why I keep bringing up the British experience of violence against the fascists, which somehow hasn't caused a massive backlash.

#146 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2017, 04:58 PM:

Odalchini@131:

You say:

... the idea that most people are too (dumb, uneducated, whatever) to make decisions for themselves. That is a very widely-held view among liberal elites.

I think I've had a reasonable amount of exposure to both liberals and elites in my life. While I've certainly heard exasperated questioning of why poor conservatives appear to consistently vote against their own interests, I haven't heard any serious suggestions to try to keep them from making those decisions for themselves. Most of the people I know who are fighting things like gerrymandering and voter suppression are liberals, and some are arguably elite.

Can you provide any concrete specifics to back up your accusations?

#147 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2017, 02:34 PM:

Ginger @143 -- Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia, --not-- Charlotte, NC.

#148 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2017, 06:24 PM:

Jeremy #146 - I couldn't work out why they thought that it mattered if some liberals thought most people were too dumb, given the topic under consideration is how to stop the rise of fascists in the USA. There is of course the broader consideration of elitism and how that is related to the rise of a populist extremist right wing movement, but it isn't as if they've provided an argument about it.

#149 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2017, 04:18 PM:

Ginger #143: No yielding on that point, ever.

#150 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2017, 12:35 PM:

Lori @ 147: Dang, yes, I know the difference. Typed too fast, emotions too intense.

#151 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2017, 02:55 PM:

Ginger @150: I was SURE that you did -- I added the comment for anyone out there who didn't.

I'm STILL rattled about Nazis trying to take over one of my favorite places to visit.

#152 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2017, 10:04 AM:

Things that make me unhappy right part lots. The current ongoings in Catalonia is making me slightly queasy. The fact that it literally is in another country is faint relief.

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