2017 has filled my social media with celebrations of violence from self-proclaimed pacifists. Friends who are otherwise staunchly anti-violence celebrating the hashtag #PunchANazi.

 

This is emblematic of the paradoxical ‘Social Justice’ movements as seen on college and university campuses throughout the western world. Proponents of this ‘social justice’ have very reasonable demands. Equal rights. Simple. As a bleeding-heart liberal myself, I couldn’t be happier that the left has an outspoken and internationally powerful movement to galvanize support … in theory.

In practice, the movement is almost as bad as what it fights against. So here’s is why I won’t #PunchANazi.

Because we become the monsters we fight

It’s clichéd to quote Nietzsche these days, but the statement holds true.

‘Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster … for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you’.

The word ‘Nazi’ has been watered-down like no other. These days it can refer to someone who disagrees with you in a YouTube comment section. Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) as they are mockingly called (initially by the alt-right but increasingly by the mainstream) are the alt-right without the self-awareness. In their fight against ‘Nazis’ (i.e., anyone who even slightly disagrees with them) they have wholeheartedly embraced authoritarianism.

Because what are the practices of censorship, thought-policing and threats of physical violence than the tactics of monsters?

Because it’s regressive

For decades, the right has had the benefit of extremely effective branding. From Thatcherism, to the Tea Party, and even Brexit. ‘Brexit’ wasn’t just a side in the EU Referendum. It became the name of the referendum, thereby setting the agenda. Remainers were forced to fight against leaving, instead of for staying. Likewise, the alt-right have incredible power to shift the conversation. Not because of genuinely strong arguments, but a connection to the primitive mind that the left simply can’t exploit. In debating immigration, for instance, the right has the easy appeal to the fear of ‘the other’ while the left preaches acceptance and multiculturalism.

If civilization is the process of overthrowing the lizard brain (our instinctive aggression and territoriality) then the right has long been trying to pull us backward. And it’s effective. After all, an appeal to our animalistic drives is easier than an appeal to our humanity.

In contrast, SJWs have successfully branded themselves as whiny children. They bear the weight of responsibility for the negative attitudes towards millennials. They refuse to allow opposing views for fear of people being ‘triggered’ (a psychological term relating to PTSD, that has been diluted to mean ‘feeling annoyed’). They scream over people like neuroscientist Sam Harris, they ban people like alt-right journalist and author Milo Yiannopoulos from college campuses. While I’m no fan of Milo, you don’t defeat bad ideas by ignoring them. You let them defeat themselves as they reach reasonable ears.

By giving into violence, we undo the work of civilisation.

Because it’s the Streisand Effect … but with Nazis

‘Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself’ — Albus Dumbledore

Think back to when you were a child. To when you were discovering swear words for the first time. One day an authority figure, be it mum or dad or a teacher, overhears and scolds you. In that moment swear words gained a power that no other words had. By scolding you, that authority figure imbued those four-letter words with magic.

Likewise, if something is suppressed, be it a word, an idea, or a wolf crouching in the bushes, we can have an instinctive need to uncover it. After all, if we don’t it could cost us our lives.

Censorship gives an idea power. Suppression breeds extremism. SJWs gave white supremacy its power. Of course, there are other factors, but censorship gives a power and drive they wouldn’t otherwise have. Nothing gives more power to an idea than trying to suffocate it. It’s the Streisand Effect. If you try to hide something it only causes it to grow faster.

Of course, that isn’t helped by the unscrupulous nature of right-wing politicians. From UKIP to the Republican Party, the right seems willing to do whatever it takes to impose their will. Republicans elected a man whose ex-wife has outright stated he had raped her (later clarifying that she had not meant it in the ‘criminal sense’, God knows what went on there). Then during the EU Referendum, the Leave campaign shamelessly plastered a lie in 3ft letters on the side of a bus. So, while the left may not be perfect, the right’s complete lack of integrity is a massive advantage in politics.

You can’t defeat an ideology by sticking your fingers in your ears.

Because it’s dangerous (and ineffective)

And so, Charlottesville, August 14, 2017. White supremacists swarm the streets in defence of a statue of Robert E. Lee. A man who literally fought to keep black people as slaves. In a scene straight out of the 1950s, white supremacists march through the streets with torches and come face-to-face with the ‘alt-left’ (AKA reasonable human beings). The problem comes when good people throw fists. Chaos ensues.

Then escalation. Retaliation. Murder.

The KKK and groups like them have always been terrorist organisations. And it was an act of terrorism that killed Heather Heyer.

But as with any terrorist organisation there is an idea at its core. An idiotic, vampiric idea that feeds on primal fears. And like a vampire, it shrivels up and dies in the light of day.

Not because it’s wrong. Because it’s just stupid

Make no mistake, there’s no moral issue with punching a Nazi. If anyone deserves to be punched it’s the Nazis. But punch someone for an ideology and there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.

It’s not morally wrong. It’s just stupid. Like so many actions of the SJW movement it is bafflingly stupid.

A moment’s reflection would convince almost anyone that violence is no way to stop violence. History has shown that time and time again. But history has also shown us a another path.

Because there’s a better way

Wars aren’t won with fists. They aren’t won with swords or guns or even bombs. They’re won with words. Every previously pacifistic advocate for #PunchANazi has had their mettle tested and failed miserably. Violence begets more violence, and that is what we saw in Charlottesville. The violence of a few escalates into disaster.

If your true colours come in bloody shades, you have no place in the modern world. Go find an island and have your very own Lord of the Flies scenario.

For the rest of us, it’s time we stop paying lip service to Martin Luther King Jr. and heed his words:

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’.

Or succumb to your basest urges and destroy everything you’re trying to protect.