Free Speech, the ACLU, and Nazis

There’s this thing going around where someone says, “Would you quit talking about freedom of speech? The First Amendment is only about what the government can do.” This is like saying, “Would you quit bringing up social media? I already said I don’t like LinkedIn.” I mean, it isn’t exactly a non-sequitur, but one feels the question hasn’t been addressed.

There is clearly a great deal of confusion around these issues, and a lot of failure to think things through. There are still those who see free speech as some sort of idealized principle that stands above the class struggle, as well as those who are willing to chuck it out entirely because it’s inconvenient at the moment. In particular, the American Civil Liberties Union is coming under attack from various quarters (including the ACLU in California) for insisting that the government not prevent white supremacist organizations from holding public meetings. I keep hearing the question posed as if the only choices are to use the legal system to prevent them from speaking, or to give them free reign to spread their hate and permit them to grow. I would like to state my vehement oppositions to both of these programs.

Nazis are often spoken of as a hate group that wants to kill people. I think this is because they are. They want to murder African-Americans and Jews, often Muslims and First Peoples, frequently Gays, probably trade unionists, and certainly Communists.

But legally, it gets kinda tricky, on account of they don’t publicly say, “You, in the White Power tee-shirt, go kill that Muslim standing next to the tree. Do it now.” Since, in essence, they are saying that, but couching it in terms such as, “purity of the races,” and “we will not be replaced by Jews,” and, “make America great again,” the law has a bit of trouble.

Many liberals are reacting to this by saying, “If we can establish, through history, and action, and by reading their propaganda, and other means that they really want to kill, and are inciting others to kill, then we should be able to use the law against them. If the law does not, at present, permit us to do so, let’s reinterpret or change the law.”

At which point those of us with even a working eighth-grade knowledge of history become very, very frightened, because we know what will happen when the law changes to permit that sort of interpretation. Hint: It isn’t the right wing that suffers.

But there is good news. Not only is changing the law (or selectively enforcing it, or reinterpreting it) not the only way to fight Nazis, it isn’t even the best. Not by miles. In fact, it may well be the worst.

By using the state against these people, it gives them “anti-establishment” credentials, at a time when millions of people are becoming more and more hostile to the established order. It allows them to pretend to be oppressed, and many people have a habit of giving sympathy to the oppressed.

Nazis and white supremacists prey on the backwardness and ignorance of society, pulling in the most repulsive elements and then recruiting among the hopeless and the angry and those desperate for a way forward. The way forward does not involve relying on the capitalist state—the state that exists to defend the system that gave rise to the very miseries that provide the breeding ground for fascistic elements (as for its opposite, the fight for socialism).

The way forward involves the masses, the oppressed, the working class, organizing and moving directly against white supremecy and Naziism. Anyone who paid attention to what just happened in Boston knows how effective this can be.

To ask the state to use its power against them is to give the state more weapons to use against us. To shut white supremacists down and shut them up with our own power—with the united force of masses—is not only the best way to defeat them, but it is a springboard for further struggles.

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114 thoughts on “Free Speech, the ACLU, and Nazis”

  1. Not to mention, I don’t get mad at the ACLU for advocating a hard line on Constitutional freedoms, because that’s what the ACLU is for. Anyone who thought it was their own private attack dog is sorely mistaken. Even when I believe the ACLU is factually incorrect about the legal standing of a piece of speech, I am not liable to be upset that they are, in effect, opposing my own position. They do what they do, and the organized masses do what we do, and that’s okay.

  2. My issues with Antifa have to do with when they substitute personal heroism for the action of the masses, and with the lack of a clear program for moving forward. I do not question that their hearts are in the right place.

  3. When Antifa is doing what police provocateurs are paid to do, it’s time to rethink their tactics.

  4. I want the ACLU to continue to make me uncomfortable – protecting the rights of people who I would hesitate to speak up for. That’s not only its duty and responsibility – it’s the duty of all of us, even though we often fall short.

  5. Matt, no one’s saying they’re all provocateurs.

    But I will note that based on the videos, the violence started when the cops failed to keep the two groups apart, and Antifa idiots attacked the racist idiots.

    As for proof that provocateurs love black bloc tactics:

  6. All the accounts I’ve seen suggest that the violence started the night before, when fascists surrounded and assaulted peaceful counterprotesters. Later, when they again threatened violence against others, antifa and others took them seriously.

    When you hit somebody, and the next day you threaten someone with a fist, and a third party clocks you before waiting to see if you were going to follow through on that punch – you’re still the assailant, and the third party is reacting defensively.

  7. Matt, I agree that the past matters, but when people have a legal permit to march, those who attack the lawful marchers are the attackers.

    For an imperfect comparison, take a tangled history like that of the Palestinians and the Israelis. If one group has a permit to march legally, is the other entitled to attack because they have a history of conflict?

  8. Based on the videos, the idiots were marching under the terms of the permit when the other idiots attacked. The threat excuse has to meet a basic test: Is it a credible threat of imminent danger.

    Remember that every right you’re prepared to take away from the far right will be taken away from the far left, if Santayana and Marx are correct.

  9. I’ve been working mostly off of witness accounts – not necessarily any direct overlap with what was filmed. The pastors say they were being charged by the Nazis when the Antifa stepped in.

    At no point in this thread have I suggested taking any rights whatsoever away from anyone.

  10. The pastors felt threatened after the fighting began. Whether they were correct to feel threatened is another issue. Were any of them hit?

    There is no way to support limiting the right of the far right to speak or march without advocating taking away rights.

  11. I did not at any point support limiting anyone’s rights. That is not a thing that I did, Will. Rather than asking me to characterize their accounts, why not read them yourself?

  12. I read Cornell West’s account. He said what he felt after the fighting broke out. Whether he was accurate is another matter, since it seems none of his group was hurt.

    If you support attacking people who are marching lawfully, you support limiting the right to protest.

  13. But people attacking others is not lawful marching, Will. According to Traci Blackmon:

    “Yes, they had a permit for the park. They did not have a permit to harm people,” she added. “They did not have a permit to throw full bottles of water and full cans of soda and splatter urine on people who did not agree with them.”

    The group she was with did not engage in any acts of violence, Blackmon said. It was the neo-Nazis who led the violence, she said, while clergy stood peacefully in protest before they were attacked.

    “There were clergy standing on the steps to the entrance of the park singing ‘This Little Light of Mine.’ Neo-Nazi groups burst through them with shields, began to beat them and trample on them,” she said.

    What right am I abridging by suggesting violent response to further threats of violence (and apparent, imminent violence) by those individuals is justified?

  14. Frankly, I think the antifa idiots are a bigger threat to the USA than the neo-Nazis/KKK/white supremacists (hereafter, “Nazis”).

    Nazis have been a part of our society since WWII (in fact, they’ve been a part of US society since the founding, they were just called by different names). They hold demonstrations every year. Prior to 2017, most of us never heard about the majority of their marches because nothing happened. If a tree falls alone in the forest, does it make a noise? That all changed when Pres. Trump was elected. First, Nazis became bolder. Second, people stopped ignoring Nazis. What hasn’t greatly changed (as far as I can tell), is the number of Nazis. They’re like germs. You can kill 99.9% of them with bleach, but there’s still some hanging out. Nazis are ebola. Really, really virulent. Itty bitty distribution.

    On the other hand, I have been truly astounded at how commonly people believe that violence is an appropriate response to Nazi speech. When the videos of Richard Spencer went viral, there was a real debate about whether it was okay to punch Nazis – and a lot of people concluded that, yes, it is acceptable to punch Nazis. When antifa attacked the Nazis at Berkeley, again, a lot of people thought this was not barbaric.

    I’d much rather have .01% of the population be Nazis than 40% (yes, I pulled this out of the aether) of the population believe that violence is an appropriate response to objectionable speech. Lots of Americans hate communists and socialists with as much passion as people hate Nazis. Mao made Hitler look like a wannabe monster. Stalin is another example of a monster Americans use to justify hatred of communism/socialism. Thus, if it’s okay to punch Nazis, it must be okay to punch communists and socialists. Anyone with an 1/8th of a brain should be able to see that this leads to “Bad Things.” The 40% of the population that thinks it’s okay to attack Nazis has the potential to be influenza. Not very virulent. Major distribution. While antifa is nowhere near 40% of the population, I blame them for the recent popularity of the violence is an acceptable response to hate speech phenomenon (yes, I also blame the Nazis).

    The prescribed cure for “bad speech” is more “good speech.” It worked in Boston.

  15. Kuku, this is the text of a blog post I made today:

    At the end of July, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted this in Neo-Nazi Misfits Join Unite the Right | Southern Poverty Law Center:

    “Over the weekend, the country’s largest neo-Nazi group announced plans to attend an alt-right rally next month in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is expected to draw thousands of extremists.”

    The actual turnout? The best estimates I’ve seen were around 500. The killing of Heather Heyer overshadowed the truth: Charlottesville was supposed to be a show of strength. It was instead a show of political irrelevance. My suspicion is the leaders of the alt-right were grateful for the counter-protesters who gave them an excuse to cancel their own protests. They knew the numbers that would show up on their side would be tiny.

    I congratulate the peaceful counter-protesters who came out in the thousands and tens of thousands to show how very insignificant the alt-right is. It’s a shame a few on the left used this an excuse to engage in violence instead.

  16. Reading through, nothing there attributes urine to the antifa that I saw – pepper spray and pink paint are the only things specifically attributed.

  17. Heard a probably apocryphal anecdote about dissuading white nationalist public demonstrations, paraphrased here:

    “Best thing to do is ignore them, let them know no one gives a shit about them. If one feels obligated to go, do as a German town once did to Neo-Nazis fawning over some dead asshole: Make it known that for every one who marches, a certain amount of money will be donated to a Jewish group in their name. Then cheer every single one that passes, and thank them profusely for their generosity.”

    Or show up in black masks wielding bats, pepper spray, and urine balloons. Burn cars and tires in the street. Break store windows. Stab a police horse. Threaten reporters recording your counter protest. Lob M-80s willy-nilly into a crowd. Bust a dude’s skull with a bike lock. Punch every Nazi you see, even if the dude you lay out is really on your side and just had a shaved head.

    I swear the leadership of antifa, if there is such a thing, has to be either controlled by people with a vested interest in expanding the right wing and authoritarianism or the most idiotic mouth-breathers ever to claim sentience.

  18. “All the accounts I’ve seen suggest that the violence started the night before, when fascists surrounded and assaulted peaceful counterprotesters.”

    How many injuries did you hear about?

    I don’t want to put too much significance on the number of injuries. But putting aside one dead and around 20 injured from one car, it was widely reported that the total injuries on both sides was 15 to 17. 35 total injuries, 19 confirmed by the local hospital.

    There were 300 to 500 white supremacists there, and apart from that one who may have been acting independently, at most 5% of them actually injured anybody.

    Various people on multiple sides had firearms, and not one of those shot anybody even when getting the worst of a fight.

    Have you ever seen people fight with long sticks — pool cues or whatever — where they actually meant to hurt people, and people didn’t get hurt? Broken heads, broken arms, stove-in ribs. Collarbones.

    My tentative conclusion is that in this particular incident, they weren’t trying to do much violence. They wanted to look dangerous for the TV cameras, but they did not actually want to hurt people much. The injuries came when people who didn’t particularly want to fight got shoved together by the crowds and things got out of hand.

    It was mostly political theater. People wanted to look violent but they mostly didn’t try to hurt each other. With all the cameras and cellphones, and some drone videos, there are hardly any shots of actual violence. Some people sprayed each other with pepper spray and mace. There were a few shots where somebody threw something every 10 seconds or so. There were some shoving matches — basicly two lines of people and somebody from one side would rush to the other side and push on people who pushed back, until he would run back to his side. There were shots of one woman who rushed into the nazi side and they pushed and pulled to get her out of their ranks, and at one point she fell down and they helped her up and pushed some more. There were pictures of people waving their sticks and one guy beat his stick on the ground and made some tapping noises.

    Once in the morning a group of 20 clergy etc got surrounded by a nazi group, and some antifa came and saved them. Cornel West said they would all have been killed otherwise. I have not found any video of it, and there were no reported injuries.

    This was not a violent riot. There was very little violence apart from the car which shocked everybody and was not in the script.

    There were a few videos from the night before. Lots of video showing a group of around 100 people walking with lit torches. A little bit showing people without torches approaching the marchers, sometimes getting within 6 feet of them or even closer. A couple of shots of people swinging their torches and the people without torches backing off. No one obviously hurt.

    Hardly anybody on either side was actually trying to hurt people, beyond pepper spray, smoke bombs, urine balloons, and a few thrown water bottles etc.

    “When you hit somebody, and the next day you threaten someone with a fist, and a third party clocks you before waiting to see if you were going to follow through on that punch – you’re still the assailant, and the third party is reacting defensively.”

    It mostly didn’t happen. We’re arguing hypotheticals. Mostly you didn’t hit anybody, and the next day they didn’t hit you.

  19. There are *always* wannabe rebels at these marches, not just in America, and they’re usually part of the Antifa crowd. Throwing rocks, bottles, etc., imagining that they’re engaging in urban warfare. This kind of macho bullshit has happened at every march I’ve ever seen. Which is also why these groups are so incredibly easily infiltrated by provocateurs, much like the radical anarchists of the previous century were, and to the same effect. To agree that they mean well, and even do some good things, does not mean closing one’s eyes to the destructive effects of their tactics.

  20. @Nathan S.

    “Best thing to do is ignore them, let them know no one gives a shit about them. If one feels obligated to go, do as a German town once did to Neo-Nazis fawning over some dead asshole: Make it known that for every one who marches, a certain amount of money will be donated to a Jewish group in their name. Then cheer every single one that passes, and thank them profusely for their generosity.”

    I like the cut of your jib, sir. That idea of donating is brilliant.

    I think there are a lot of problems in this country worth organizing to fight. But for right now our Nazi problem is the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe, and I agree with those who say that giving them attention gives them more excuses to claim legitimacy than they deserve.

  21. As Steve says above, the Boston model is a really good one to follow. Showing that there are thousands of rational, people compared to their small number of lunatics is a good thing. The people really are the power–they often just don’t remember that.
    Ignoring Nazi’s is, unfortunately, a lot like ignoring a plague. Given the right conditions it can spread in what seems like a heartbeat and kill everything it touches.
    In these times, showing people that there are real alternatives to embracing hate and currying favor is the path to combating these things. The people actually waving Nazi flags around are small in number but there is a pretty large group who aren’t very disturbed by the beliefs of those Nazi’s chiefly through vast ignorance of what is causing their situation.
    I’m not sure how to reach the deluded masses who listen to the right wing propaganda machines but keeping those groups from tilting into full blown fascist thought patterns is a very worthwhile goal.

  22. “I’m not sure how to reach the deluded masses who listen to the right wing propaganda machines”

    From personal experience talking with a few of those deluded people, there’s (at least) 3 things: Stop lying to them, stop suppressing debate, and stop embracing identity politics. When the only reasonably voiced critiques of Trump’s blunders come from conservative sources, when bringing up criminality statistics in an effort to find solutions to black people dying is viewed as an offense against humanity, when one says only white people can be racist… Most aren’t deluded, they’re just tired and have turned to outlets that lie to them about different things. They also didn’t (and I’m assuming never will) have a fascist bone in their body considering how against big government they seemed.

  23. Steve Halter: “Ignoring Nazi’s is, unfortunately, a lot like ignoring a plague. Given the right conditions it can spread in what seems like a heartbeat and kill everything it touches.”

    What are the reasons we usually provide for the rise of the Nazis in Germany? Are they applicable to the USA in 2017? Treat the disease, not the symptoms. If the Nazi population grows, attacking the Nazis more vigorously won’t decrease the number of Nazis.

  24. “If the Nazi population grows, attacking the Nazis more vigorously won’t decrease the number of Nazis.”

    Unless we attack them vigorously. If we kill them faster than they can recruit more, eventually they will all be gone.

    That approach worked moderately well for the Turks with their Armenian problem.

    I’m having trouble thinking of other examples where it worked well. The Picts are gone, but it appears they just integrated into some non-Pict society rather than get killed off. We still have remnant native american populations getting in the way in the USA, though a variety of individual tribes are gone.

    I guess assimilation is the goal. Rather than kill all the nazis, we could put them into re-education camps and don’t let them out until we are sure they have converted. That approach worked pretty well for the communist chinese and the communist vietnamese.

  25. Nathan S.:I was speaking more in terms of how to influence masses of people rather than individuals, but:
    I’m certainly against lying to people.
    I’m all for debate (that’s rather what we do here). Although, debating Nazi’s is rather like debating flat earther’s. It’s often better to back away slowly as there are clearly some parts that have flown lose in those mechanisms.
    Identity politics is a slippery phrase. Used in fashion, (1) identity politics is clearly a wedge that is used to create friction between groups of people who should really realize that they all share a common enemy. Used in fashion (2) it means that you should embrace the hatred. I would be for (1) and against (2).
    There are lots of reasonably voiced critiques of Trump’s blunders that do not come from conservative sources.
    People use statistics for all sorts of reasons. Often improperly.
    I’ve seen the “only white people are racist” from two approaches. One is a fairly technical definition of racism and the other isn’t.
    Learning to tell the difference between liars is one step into removing delusion. If you just switch from blue to green Kool Aid, you are still drinking Kool Aid and still deluded. This is, of course, an ongoing and imperfect process.
    Their stance on big government is fairly irrelevant for the subset who don’t disapprove of the things the Nazi’s are saying. If you agree with Nazi’s you are a fascist.

  26. kukuforguns:”Treat the disease, not the symptoms.” Yes, that is the intent of my phrase, “Given the right conditions…”
    Jonah:Killing people is not a good plan and neither are “re-education” camps.

  27. @Nathan S.
    You wrote “When the only reasonably voiced critiques of Trump’s blunders come from conservative sources, when bringing up criminality statistics in an effort to find solutions to black people dying is viewed as an offense against humanity, when one says only white people can be racist”

    You are in fact buying in to a lot of the conservative rhetoric. You will find tens of millions of liberal people in the country with reasonable criticisms of Trump, with support of the Black Lives Matter movement without pretense that black-on-black crime never happens, etc…

    And as for racism – a black guy, a Latino woman, a transvestite Indian-American can be racist too. But the important thing to consider in this country is that white people hold the overwhelming majority of political and economic power. Racism is ugly no matter who the racist is, but it’s worse when the racists are setting prison sentences, hiring job applicants, promoting employees, approving or rejecting loan applications, or teaching children. If people of Hispanic descent had all the economic and political power in the US, then Hispanic racism would be the biggest racial problem in the country. But right now we the whites hold all of the cards, so our racism is the big problem.

  28. “we the whites”? What do you mean, “we” white man? Sorry. I’m a white man. I just couldn’t pass up the Lone Ranger reference.

  29. “And as for racism – a black guy, a Latino woman, a transvestite Indian-American can be racist too.”

    There is an argument going around in leftist circles that tries to redefine racism. They say that anybody can be *prejudiced*, but to be racist you have to have power. All whites and only whites have power, so all whites and only whites are racist.

    “But the important thing to consider in this country is that white people hold the overwhelming majority of political and economic power.”

    There we go. You don’t take the extra step of redefining the word.

    Of course not all leftists redefine “racism” this way. But the ones who do, claim that all leftists define racism this way, and anybody who does not is really a racist and not actually on the left.

    They show up enough and are vociferous enough that a lot of people feel like that is what leftists do. Maybe because when they throw this shit around at liberals who disagree with them, usually the people who disagree leave rather than keep arguing indefinitely about it, and people feel like the ones who are left in possession of the battlefield are the winners who do represent the left.

    I don’t have any particular conclusions about that. It seems like there are various things that could be concluded from it, but they’re all obvious.

  30. Mike S. It can also be argued that the black voting bloc, that voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in the primaries and stopped Bernie’s growing opposition in its tracks, led indirectly to Trump’s victory. So they do have demonstrable power when they wish to wield it. Remember as well that Jews are less than 3% of the population, but because of their concerted effort, the US political establishment has a ridiculously skewed attitude towards Israel despite Jews still facing enormous prejudice. And also look at the influence of Cubans in Florida, and therefore national, politics. Minorities, when working in concert, can have enormous power regardless of racism by “those who hold all the cards”.

  31. @Will Shetterly,

    Your arguments in that post are compelling. Thanks for correcting many of my misconceptions.

    But I think part of my points with respect to racism still stand. While there are a lot of whites living in poverty in the US, according to 96% of America’s wealthiest 1% are white.

    If I get into a “Black Lives Matter” discussion with friends again – I probably won’t, I’ve withdrawn from social media for the sake of my blood pressure – I’ll try to make your argument and link to your post.

    But I think poverty for non-whites is exacerbated by the fact that the people with the highest wealth are still almost entirely white.

    @Jonah Thomas,

    I have seen the things you describe, in which people – usually on the left – redefine words to suit their position and then condemn people that might otherwise be allies for disagreeing.

    But as far as I can tell, this is just part of a larger problem. The trolls dominate the discussion, and the reasonable people drop out. Then each side is left to believe the other side only has trolls in it, because that’s all they see.

    So yeah, me and a lot of other people will make the argument that white racism is a problem without playing 1984 with the word racism.

    Frankly, I would be screaming at the friends and extended family members that voted for Trump if I thought it would have any useful effects. But – to the benefit of the President and his supporters – I feel hopeless. It’s painfully obvious to me that a voter’s choice in this country is between very bad Democrats or “so bad they make Democrats look good” Republicans. But the propagandists know their trade, the party determined to enslave us all directly has over 60 million devoted supporters.

  32. Steve Halter: “I was speaking more in terms of how to influence masses of people rather than individuals”

    What’s the difference?

    Perhaps my definition of fascism is off, but I was under the impression it’s impossible to be a fascist and also want the smallest government one can get away with. Racist, bigoted, etc., sure, but I didn’t get a whiff of that from the people I talked to either.

    Mike S.: I wasn’t trying to say that those were my beliefs, apologies if it came across that way. I merely am trying to say that those with the concerns I listed have their reasons, and they are far from delusional… and I sympathize.

    They are people who’ve seen their kids being taught in high school and college white male guilt like it’s some sort of original sin and being unable to even debate it without being labelled racist or misogynist. They who have seen people spit on and burn the flag that was draped over their son’s coffin because of some trigger-happy racist cop twelve states away. It is not yours or their burden to take responsibility or apologize for white assholes any more than it is Cheech Marin’s for the Sinaloa Cartel.

    That isn’t to say I don’t sympathize with your thoughts, in fact I probably identify more with them. There are certainly racists in positions of power in this country, and of course the majority of those will be white. However, I certainly agree with those I talked to in that racial identity politics is not a cure – or even a palliative – for that problem.

    “But I think poverty for non-whites is exacerbated by the fact that the people with the highest wealth are still almost entirely white.”

    How so?

  33. Nathan S:It is a matter of scale. If it takes 4 hours of intense personal discussion to persuade some, that doesn’t scale to 20 million people very well.

  34. @Nathan S.

    I think it’s human nature to feel more comfortable with people that are more like you in appearance and speech, even if you would never consciously choose to mistreat someone based purely on race.

    So if I’m X, I’m more comfortable interviewing in a place where most of the people I see are X, and I’ll probably do a better job conveying my skill and competence. Likewise if I myself am interviewing a candidate, I’m more likely to think favorably of someone of X demographics, without consciously realizing it. I’ll be more comfortable shopping in stores where most of the staff and clients are X. I’ll be more comfortable in restaurants and bars where most of the staff and clients are X. Same for schools. Same for business conferences and seminars. Same for golf courses.

    In the modern US, that means that the white wealthy guy, even if he never intends to be racist, is more likely to increase the value of housing in a mostly-white neighborhood by buying or building a house there. He’s more likely to spend his money at the restaurant restaurant with a white owner and mostly white staff. He’s more likely to feel comfortable when a white contractor comes over to look at the property and give an estimate on the new addition. He’s more likely to pay the expensive fees to join the country club with the mostly white members. And while he’s out golfing, the young caddy he meets and decides would be a good protege to take under his wing is likely to be white. He’s more likely to buy his vacation home from a white realtor. He’s more likely to invite a white business partner than a non-white one out for drinks to celebrate their latest deal, and that in turn increases the possibility that the next big deal he has is with the same white partner. He’s more likely to invite the white neighbors over for a barbecue, and when they discover a common interest like fishing they’re more likely to decide to open a restaurant together.

    And again, none of these ‘more likely’ things is a sure thing. There’s no conscious choice to be racist, no conscious choice to exclude others. But over the course of a lifetime, if a few financial decisions each year are swung in the favor of another white due to that unconscious bias, multiplied by millions of people across the economy it’s enough to give whites a big advantage.

    Thus whites remain at the top of the wealth pyramid, and non-whites have fewer opportunities.

    (And no, I’m not saying all whites have it easy.)

  35. Steve Halter: It pretty easily scales, if 20 million people put in the 4 hours to do so… which makes it so unfortunate that so many (on both sides, but mostly the left) are not talking to or even removing contact with those who voted differently.

    Mike S.: Much of that argument is based on implicit bias being fact, or at least implicit racial bias being orders of magnitude stronger than class bias. Or location, family, or common likes bias. Of course the guy in your example is going to be more likely to do all those things with a white person, the population percentages bear that out. What needs to be proven is that there is a difference between the probability taking into account all biases stripping out race, and the actual occurrence. A fiendishly difficult proposition even to define the occurrence… which is why it makes me surprised that so many social ‘scientists’ accept implicit racial bias as gospel instead of just a possibility.

    “Thus whites remain at the top of the wealth pyramid, and non-whites have fewer opportunities.”

    Yep, although looking at percentages that seems to me most likely only to be a corollary to, “Rich people remain at the top of the wealth pyramid, and poor people have fewer opportunities.”

  36. Mike S., lest there be any doubt, I’m not saying racism is over or that it doesn’t affect rich people. For example, while police killings don’t look to be racially biased when you factor in class, drug laws continue to have a racial effect that might be due to black poverty being more urban than white poverty or it may simply be that cops are quicker to arrest black drug users.

  37. Nathan S:Presupossing 20 million people willing and ready to explain isn’t really a scaling solution. That just transfers the problem to getting 20 million such people.

  38. “The trolls dominate the discussion, and the reasonable people drop out. Then each side is left to believe the other side only has trolls in it, because that’s all they see.”

    And people tend to drop out of discussions that trolls on their own side dominate, too. Those guys aren’t a lot of fun unless you’re looking for that kind of thing. And if you are, maybe you’re a troll too.

    So the result is that these discussions mostly have no effect on anything, when we used to think they might.

    The trolls are more a defensive weapon. They don’t win their owners anything much, except to prevent things that might possibly happen if they weren’t there.

  39. Eh, seems to me the problem of finding those 20 million people is less daunting than concocting some kind of genetically engineered anti-propaganda campaign. Interesting question is whether it’s the willing or the ready that’s more of an issue.

    Don’t leftist groups have a ‘Talk to a Republican Day’? And the reverse? Thought that was a thing in college back in the Bronze Age when I was there, or at least scheduled debates. Worst case scenario, one learns about the enemy… which is one of the reasons I’d love to sit down with a true believer and pick what little brain is rattling around in there. Can’t find any in my neck of the woods, perhaps because searching too hard would either put me on a watchlist or in the hospital. Or maybe they’re a dying breed. One can only hope.

    And addendum to my comment to Mike S.: I am not forgetting the fact that there are historical reasons, some more disgusting than others, why the distribution of wealth favors whites more than pure population ratio would imply. Minds much greater than mine have taken a crack at some kind of resolution to this – I hold out little hope for an easy one. I can only support things I know won’t make the situation worse, which means I can and will never support idpol. Or antifa.

  40. Nathan S:One technique for spreading ideas might be to participate in discussions on various topics on some blog where someone (say an author or something) introduces topics of interest and import. Maybe even a place where people feel free to dream a little.
    Sometimes right leaning people might listen or even join in the discussion.

  41. I either lean so far right that I’m a little left, or lean so far left that I end up a little bit right. “What little brain is rattling around in there” is less than an optimal hook to get my considered attention.

  42. Steve: Could be, but who knows?

    kuku: The ‘true believer’ comment was in reference to dyed-in-the-wool zealots – those who actually support the genocide of others and would assist by their own hand. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.

  43. Thank you for clarifying. I’ll drink my morning tea and revert back to my normal curmudgeon level.

  44. There’s a new Forgotten Weapons video up today – usually helps me with that problem.

  45. Fa v. Antifa seems like the ultimate buy-in on identity politics. I think the monolithic “system” is inherently racist and classist, founded as it is on the twin genocides of the “taming” (slaughter) of indigenous peoples, and slavery. But by ridiculing the tiny handful of genuine white supremicists that exist and raise a ruckus, the mainstream media can pat themselves on the back for a job well done while leaving the subtle and elegant classism and racism that underpines the whole superstructure disguised and undisturbed. Antifa seems to amplify and accelerate this phenomenon, providing further cover for the class warfare being successfully waged by the oligarchs against a divided populace. Make no mistake, these poor white neo-nazi trailerpark denizens are getting screwed just as hard or harder by this Goldman Sachs economic regime.

  46. Krager:Being poor and white isn’t an excuse for being a Nazi. Being poor is the class they may currently be in; being a Nazi is a very poor choice they have made.

  47. Indeed. Similarly, most people don’t engage in murder-suicides when they face economic desperation, yet some do. You can blame the individuals, or you can focus on what breaks them.

  48. Steve: I sometimes have difficulty understanding the modern meaning of some words. Can you tell me your definition of Nazi? I get carrying a swastika flag and the salute, but is there more to it than that?

  49. RSM:No modern meaning needed. If you put on the symbols and call for the suppression/elimination of other “races” then you are a Nazi. Meet the new Nazi-same as the old Nazi.

  50. I thought this was an interesting article:
    From a post by Logan Rimel, parish administrator at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley, Caifornia.

    When and how to react to armed, threatening people is a very real problem. As skzb indicates above, overwhelming numbers (as in Boston) seems to work well as the right seems very willing to attack people when the numbers are on their side but react very differently when they are in the small minority. Typical bully behavior.

    Free speech is very important. The Nazi’s can speak, but everyone else has the right to speak also and to show that the sounds the Nazi’s are making do not represent the ideas of most people.

  51. Steve H.: I have a different take on the events we’re discussing. From my viewpoint, the current situation has been evolving rapidly since the February 1, 2017 riot at Berkeley. Campus Republicans had arranged for provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to speak. Before the event even began, a group of 100-150 masked individuals dressed in black disrupted the event, threw molotov cocktails, lit off fireworks, threw rocks, and were generally violent. This is the event that brought antifa to my attention. They turned a peaceful event into a mass riot. The Berkeley police essentially let the rioters riot. Antifa came ready for a fight. No one else came ready for a fight.

    On March 4, numerous demonstrations were scheduled in cities around the country, including at Berkeley. Antifa showed up again and again came prepared to fight. One of the demonstrators also came ready to fight. He became known as stickman. Depending on your viewpoint, he defended his fellow demonstrators or attacked innocent antifas. Either way, he was effective. Stickman was arrested. The conclusion from the alt-right was that they could not rely on the police for protection and that the police were biased in favor of antifa. The alt-right had to protect themselves. It was after the March 4 rallies that alt-right began to bring shields and clubs in large numbers.

    Antifa is, by design, leaderless. As such, I am reluctant to condemn all antifa members. Some might be good people who want to act within the law. However, at every event since Feb. 1, 2017 at which they’ve made an appearance, they’ve been at the forefront of the violence. They have been responsible for starting a lot of the violence. Can they do good things? Of course. So can the Nazis. Do I condemn the Nazis. Yes. Do I condemn the antifa’s demonstrated willingness to initiate violence and rejection of free speech. Yes.

    In Charlottesville, a group of militia armed with semi-automatic rifles showed up. They do not consider themselves alt-right. They state they came to protect everyone’s freedom of speech. From all accounts that I’ve read, they were more helpful than the police or the National Guard at breaking up fights. Their presence was not seen as a good thing by many attendees, who were intimidated by their appearance. The militia became so disgusted with the behavior of the alt-right that they left early, before Heather was killed. The escalating armament by potentially interested individuals has an obvious end-result.

    You say “the right seems very willing to attack people when the numbers are on their side.” I don’t see that, not unless you call antifa the right. Maybe you can identify a relatively recent (2016-2017) example of when a larger group of “the right” attacked a smaller group. There has certainly been enough violence recently that I am not familiar with all of it. I also want you to consider who you consider the right. Pretty much every Republican – including Pres. Trump – has denounced the Nazis and white supremacists. If you are calling them the right, why? I reject the characterization of political ideology on a one dimensional scale where a person is either right or left. See here for two alternatives.

    Finally, getting back to skzb’s reference to the ACLU, my disappointment with it has nothing to do with the actions it has taken to promote free speech. Rather, it has been the ACLU’s retreat from that stance. If the state is not going to protect the right to free speech – and that’s what I saw in Berkeley and Charlottesville (but not Boston) – then speakers have a right to protect themselves. Unless the state is willing to guarantee the safety of people at political rallies, the state has no business prohibiting people from having the means to protect themselves. So, the ACLU’s decision not to protect the right to speak of people who arm themselves seems like a retreat to me. I give money to the ACLU. I’m willing to see if their position evolves.


  52. Steve Halter- you see? That is what I am struggling with, right there. I have been staying out of this conversation because I kept finding myself taking positions I had a hard time defending. Philosophically, I think infringement of anyone’s right to speak is difficult to defend and, practically, is going to cause more problems than it solves.

    The trouble is, to pretend that all speech is just an exchange of ideas where the best ones will inevitably win is to ignore the power of context. Ignorant, racist words from some dipshit down at your local Win-Dixie might make you question the education system in your county. The same words from 2000 inbred dipshits carrying flaming torches, shields, clubs, and automatic rifles will make you question your choice to live in that county. The same words from the legally elected President of the United States will make you question your choice to live in this country. Or maybe just to live at all as member of the same species that can produce such ugliness.

    And, yes, some of the nazis might have picked their team because of resentment of an economic system that is oppressing them, but boo-fucking-hoo. They could have followed Eugene Debs instead of Adolph Hitler, that choice is on them.

    As Jake Blues said, “I hate Illinois nazis.” I can’t help it, I really, really do too. So, while I still support their having the right to meet in public and work their mouths, I just want to put my fist in when they do. If I had been at Charlottesville, and I want to make it clear that I by no means had the moral strength or conviction to take time off from work and my life to counter-protest, but if I had been there, I don’t think I would have stayed by Mr. Rimel’s side and suffered being threatened patiently. I would have wanted to run in with the antifa.

    Morally and legally, there is no difference between Elwood driving across that bridge scattering nazis and what James Alex Fields did. Who can see footage of Charlottesville and not feel horror? But I can’t watch that scene in the Blues Brothers and not want to cheer.

    I suppose it is just my broken cross to bear.

  53. Larswyrdson: Let’s keep a couple of things straight: First, infringement on the right of speech by mass action is not the same as infringement on the right of speech by the state.
    Second, it is possible, and okay, to disapprove of someone’s actions while still taking pleasure in them. Let me go way over the line and quote from my own work: “If I had known about it, I would have told him it was the wrong way to fight and shaken him by the hand.”

  54. I agree that increasing legal prohibitions against speech would be a bad move. I also agree that using mass action to make life harder for hate speakers is justifiable.

    The difficulty is, just as with legal remedies, group on group confrontations are fraught with moral dilemmas once you start getting into the nuts and bolts. Whether you are shouting someone down, blocking their access to a public forum, mocking them with loud speakers, or meeting their clubs with clubs of your own, whatever you do that prevents someone from saying what they want to say is going be met with counter-resistance and escalation… unless it is cowardly white supremacists and you have them well outnumbered.

    It seems easier to justify when the target of your wrath is utterly indefensible, and I stand by that characterization of the alt-righters in Charlottesville (kukuforguns, that is what they call themselves. If you don’t feel they are part of what you think of as the right, join the counter-demonstrators). It gets muddier when it is a clown like Bruno Y who can pull a mantle of semi-respectability over himself. But no matter who you are blocking, you need to make a moral calculus of how far you are willing to go to make your disapproval clear.

  55. When ISIS claims that they are Islamic and that they are in charge of a state, I believe them.
    When Lenin claimed to be a socialist and that the USSR was a socialist state, I believed him (ok, so I’m not quite that old, you got me).
    When Pres. Trump says his travel ban is not intended to obstruct immigration of Muslims, I believe him.
    I believed Pres. Clinton when he said he did not inhale and when he said he did not have sexual relations with that woman.
    When antifa creates its own kristallnacht, I believe them when they say they are anti fascist.
    When Pres. Obama said that you can keep your insurance plan, I believed him.

  56. kuku- yes, very good, but we have a two party system. Point out, please, all the political leaders of the Right who have not courted the alt-right vote to gain political power. And please apply the same test to your analysis, that they can’t have said one thing and acted in a completely different way. Or said one thing, and walked back on it two days later.

    If you don’t want to be associated with them, don’t associated with them.

  57. We only have a 2 party system because people believe have bought into the identity politics of a 2 party system. Greens, Libertarians, United States Pirate Party, etc. exist and want your votes. I was so disgusted with both major parties this cycle that I re-registered as independent. I have no particular allegiance to the right. If you were characterizing the left in the same way you characterize the right (without acknowledging the problems of the right), I would ask you the same questions. My point is not that the right is good (which is something I don’t believe). My point is: (1) that both major parties in the US are corrupt and need reform; and (2) that you should not trust any political group’s representations without independent verification.

    I’ve several times in this thread disassociated myself with the alt-righters (Nazis) and antifa. I just disassociated myself with the Dems and the GOP. I’ve got no shortage of groups with which I’m willing to disassociate. But, if there was any group that I would join in the demonstrations it would probably by the militia if I felt I could trust them to be impartial (unlikely).

    The GOP courted independents, and gun-owning Democrats, and homosexuals, etc. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle would court child rapists if that would help their cause (for example, Gov. McAuliffe). So I’m unimpressed that GOP politicians courted the alt-right.

  58. Every now and then Puerto Rico has a referendum. They can vote to leave the USA and be independent, or apply for statehood and eventually become a full-status US state, or let the status quo continue.

    There is a lot of reason to believe that they would be better off with either option besides the status quo. But in each referndum, they vote for one.

    And neither independence or statehood ever get a majority. Because there are three choices. So every referendum leaves them with the status quo.

    If they had only two choices, probably the status quo would lose the first try.

    Or if it was a choice between independence and statehood, probably one would get a majority and the status quo would be gone.

    If they got to vote for as many as they liked, probably more than one would get a majority and the higher majority would win.

    or if they got to vote for one and then a backup choice, something would get a majority. They wouldn’t be stuck.

    We have a two-party system because people are aware of the limits of our voting. There is no point voting for a third party because third parties can’t win. So it’s two-party.

  59. Jonah:In the last two referendum’s, a majority of those voting chose statehood. For a variety of reasons, the US Congress has decided to ignore those results to date.

    Back in 1987, I interned in New Jersey for Bell Labs and they put all of the interns up at Rutger’s University. My two roommates were both from Puerto Rico and they explained that roughly half the people (then) wanted statehood and half wanted to stay a Commonwealth. And then there were approximately 6 people who wanted independence. Six is a slight exaggeration, but in orders of magnitude is really not that far off.

  60. The weekly standard piece was interesting in that it is a good example of the sort of right wing propaganda piece that will come from any example of an overly aggressive use of force.
    The “antifa” in Will’s link seem to be clearly over a line; although I do wonder if there weren’t police provocateurs present as Will asserts they like to do. Also, we don’t really have the context–just the money shots.
    If you aren’t a police provocateur and want to oppose Nazi’s, you should make sure the people you punch are indeed Nazi’s.

  61. I”m always amused by the hoops humans jump through to excuse bad deeds by their side. (Yes, this includes me.)

    It’s very unlikely that provocateurs would beat someone in uncontrolled circumstances. That could go wrong too easily, and provocateurs want to blend into the mob. Their usual tactic is to break windows, throw rocks, etc.

    And while I’m not denying the possibility provocateurs were involved, Occam’s Razor says it’s just Antifa.

    Provocateurs completely fail to explain the guy with the bicycle lock who was arrested for trying to crack skulls.

  62. Will:Not going through any hoops. It probably was non-police dressed up in black. You keep bringing up police provocateurs when you find it convenient.

    If someone is beating people indiscriminately then it would seem they are just a thug. If you aren’t working against “fa”, it would seem hard to claim to be an antics rather than an antieverybody.
    Since Antifa isn’t an actual organized group, it seems rather hard to say who is or isn’t one. This does, of course, provide ripe opportunities for anti-propaganda as you have pointed out.
    As the Weekly Standard piece merrily pointed out, it was a “Bernie Sanders supporter” who performed the Washington softball shooting. Not everybody who claims to be an X represents all of the members of group X.

  63. Steve H, apologies for the hoops comment. I was just awake and feeling snarky and should’ve known better.

    I bring up provocateurs because some were caught on video behaving in the traditional black block way, masked and with rocks ready to throw. I agree provocateurs might beat someone, though their bosses would not be happy, I suspect.

    If you’re dressed in antifa fashion, using antifa rhetoric, and doing antifa shit, you’re antifa. That’s the point of the tactic: anyone who does that is antifa.

    And anyone who says it’s wrong to use the extreme members of a group to damn the group should not cite the alt-right guy who killed Heather Heyer.

  64. Will:No problem. It is hard to reign in snark when we are surrounded by boojum’s these days.

    Nazi’s have already damned themselves through their actions. When the actions of a group result in 80 million or so people being killed then that group is extreme. The damning flows from the group to the members and not the other way at that point.

  65. I hear you on the booums!

    For all that I despise Nazis, I gotta note American Nazis and Hitler’s Nazis are about as different as American communists and Stalin’s communists, yet Americans use the same argument for silencing both.

  66. They said the same of American and Russian Communists. There is no way to suppress the right without the likelihood the same tools will be used on the left.

  67. “If you aren’t a police provocateur and want to oppose Nazi’s, you should make sure the people you punch are indeed Nazi’s.”

    I’d say you should make sure to not engage in violence at all. Also, stripping out any editorializing from the article I posted still leaves a half-Japanese libertarian and his Samoan friend assaulted for trying to have a “day of freedom, spirituality, unity, peace, and patriotism”.

    “For all that I despise Nazis, I gotta note American Nazis and Hitler’s Nazis are about as different as American communists and Stalin’s communists, yet Americans use the same argument for silencing both.”

    Yeah, those false equivalences are apparently fairly popular. I have to say though, I’m pretty sure “Punch a Marxist” hasn’t caught on. The reverse, however…

  68. I”m old enough to remember “Kill a Commie for Christ”. I’m not sure when it started, but you could still see bumper stickers with it in the ’60s.

  69. As you’ll note above, I agreed with skzb that mass action against the far right without violence has been the most effective tactic. If you are saying that everyone other than the Nazi’s should shut up then that is a fairly odd form of free speech.

    Whether for good or bad, the inaccuracies and innuendos in much of the article left me suspicious about the remainder.

    If someone labels themselves as something they are doing so for a reason. American Nazi’s aren’t calling themselves Nazi’s out of a notion of peace and love.

    I don’t see any Marxists marching to call for genocide so bringing Marxists up is a red herring.

  70. I was more thinking of the present, or I suppose at least post-Soviet era. True, though… slightly different context as Commie implied support for the extant Russian murderous regime, as Nazi now implies support for the extinct German murderous regime.

  71. “If you are saying that everyone other than the Nazi’s should shut up then that is a fairly odd form of free speech.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever even implied that. I’m saying that everyone other than the Nazis should stop engaging in violence, or even showing up to protests with gear that suggests violent intent… if you even feel it’s necessary to show up to a gathering of a few hundred dipshits with tiki torches. Think of what the headline for Charlottesville would have been if there had been no counter-protest, only public ridicule. Or that a separate protest across the city from them gathered fifty times the people.

    “I don’t see any Marxists marching to call for genocide so bringing Marxists up is a red herring.”

    To some, putting the amount of unregulated power into play that a change to a Marxist system requires leads inevitably to large amounts of people suffering and dying – gulag system or no. Comparing today’s Marxists with Soviets, Maoists, or even Chavez is unfair, but then again so is comparing the tiki-bearers to concentration camp guards.

    Found this interview with Christopher Cantwell, if you’d like to delve into the mind of the enemy:

  72. Nathan:Hopefully you mean, “…everyone should stop engaging in violence …” rather than “…everyone other than the Nazis should stop engaging in violence…”

    “To some … leads inevitably to large amounts of people suffering and dying ” — Well, some would be wrong. See last 10 years of discussion here.

    “comparing tiki-torch bearers to concentration camp guards” The guards did not just emerge fully formed. At one point they were just hate filled torch bearers also.

    The only people calling for genocide are the ones who call themselves Nazi’s (or variants). This doesn’t seem to be a coincidence to me.

  73. I mean that I only consider someone a Nazi is if he or she is actively engaging in violence. A mindset, however despicable, or the voicing of that mindset, however offensive, is not an excuse to punch someone in the face.

    “The guards did not just emerge fully formed. At one point they were just hate filled torch bearers also.”

    Sure, the German communists of the 30’s thought beating them up was a solution to their hate. We know the end of that road.

  74. Nathan S:That seems reasonable, especially for those who are unlikely to have the hateful mindset immediately directed at them.

    So, you propose no bounds on the voicing of hate? How about if one of these (or a group (or a few hundred)) decide that standing real close to old Jewish women while yelling their full invectives is a great thing to do. Suppose some of the old people have heart attacks. Is that all fine?

  75. Not at all. It is not fine. What is also not fine is an equivalent crowd of people – not police – showing up to kick teeth in.

    Harassment (which is what you’re describing) is illegal. If it qualifies as felony harassment and someone dies, that is murder. Credit to where it’s due: the tiki crew got a permit to speak their filth. No one was forced to listen, they did not kidnap and subject anyone’s Oma.

    Do you believe vigilantism to be an appropriate response to your hypothetical?

  76. Steve H., Free speech does not give anyone a right to harass anyone. This Jewish woman could charge the yellers with several crimes, I suspect. Given your description, a credible threat of imminent danger would probably apply.

    ETA: Crossposted with Nathan.

  77. Nathan S:You keep bringing up vigilantism but I believe I already said that non violent mass protest is the most effective opposition in general.
    However, if I came upon a group of racists yelling at little old women I would hope that I would aid the little old women in addition to notifying the authorities as needed.
    If there didn’t happen to be laws against harassment would their behavior be wrong to you? Is it the law or the wrongness of the action which you (and Will) find to provide a limit to free speech.

    The tiki bearers did not in fact have a permit-they had a judicial order:

  78. I hope I would also come to the old woman’s aid.

    If there weren’t laws against harassment, I would support creating them.

    All of my positions are based on what I think is right, not what I think is legal.

  79. “If there didn’t happen to be laws against harassment would their behavior be wrong to you?”

    Why, no, perfectly kosher. I’d throw my own grandma into the mix and pat them on their lily white bottoms and laugh at all the Jewesses in distress.

    But seriously, if people show up holding sticks and wearing masks to a gathering of commies, hippies, yuppies, dildos, racists, vegetables, or whatever which are exercising their right to free assembly I am going to side with the whatever, not the masks. Don’t care what the whatever are talking about unless they are threatening imminent violence – say, a lynch mob. Apologies for the barb regarding vigilantism, although I consider myself riposted with your own.

    “The tiki bearers did not in fact have a permit-they had a judicial order”

    That… doesn’t really change the point I made, does it?

  80. So the tiki-bearers both threatened and committed nunerous acts of violence prior to being attacked, by every witness account I have seen. They doused peaceful counter-protesters with gasoline and waved torches at them Friday night. They chased and shot at counterprotesters the next day. They menaced a black church till it was felt necessary to evacuate it for the safety of those inside. They charged a peaceful group of clergy.

    At which point, why THE FUCK is anyone still defending them? How many acts of unprovoked violence do Nazis have to commit while chanting “Blood and Soil” before we can concede they are worse in everu demonstrable metric than the black bloc or antifa (not, you will note, the same thing, although there is significant overlap).

  81. Will:Doing the right thing is what we all try to do.

    Nathan S:Everyone in Charlottesville was acting legally as far as assembling right up until they weren’t. The legality is fairly moot.

    I won’t ever going to side with people with Nazi symbology and slogans wether they have masks or not. I’m not going to punch them unless they act but I’m not going to let them silence me.

    Doylist:Yeah, Nazi’s are bad. Seems odd to have to argue that.

  82. Ain’t nobody here defending Nazis, and implying we are is like suggesting we must support child rapists if we don’t believe in burning them alive in the center of town.

    I keep looking for evidence that the racist idiots committed the first violent act, and I keep failing to find it. I do find evidence that their strategy was to keep from committing the first act so the leftists would look awful. It’s the same strategy Hitler used to rise to power, so anyone who’s afraid that could happen should not play their game.

    Regarding their strategy:

    A sample: “Mosley, who took over leadership of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa earlier this week, cautioned against extreme violence: “If this rally turns into a crazy street brawl that we started, that’s not as good as if we had gone there, said what we had to say, and let the left look like idiots.””

  83. doylist: If I was forced at gunpoint to choose between joining Antifa or the tikis, it’d be Antifa every day and twice on Sunday.

    Note that I am not and have never defended what they are or what they say, almost all of which disgusts the hell out of me and does make me want to punch someone. The implication that I or anyone else here have done so is disingenuous at best. I am defending a right that means nothing – IS nothing – if it is not applied to everyone.

    As to initiation, eyewitness accounts are notorious at the best of times – and a huge crowd, especially at night, is pretty darn far from ideal. Both sides are blaming the other for initiating violence – to the surprise of no one at all. Am I wrong in thinking that large scale arrests would already have taken place if it could be proven either way? Or even half-proven in the case of the luau crew?

    Steve Halter: “Everyone in Charlottesville was acting legally as far as assembling right up until they weren’t. The legality is fairly moot.”

    I’ll try my own hypothetical, in the form of a thought experiment: Pretend that you’re walking past a street preacher on a podium, and he’s going for the gusto, I mean really pulling out all the stops: fire and brimstone, homosexuality is an abomination, women are to be seen and not heard … think Westboro Baptist kind of thing. A man, offended, confronts him, handing his jacket to his friend and rolling up his sleeves. A low voiced – impossible for you to hear – yet heated conversation ensues, then they’re suddenly on the ground, fighting. You help other bystanders pull them apart, scratched and bruised, both accusing the other of throwing first. No one on the outside, including you, saw who did. With whom do you side?

    Mull that, then add another detail: the preacher was a Salafi Muslim. Now? And another: the offended man exposed tattooed SS runes when he rolled up his sleeves. Different? Try a bunch of combinations, keeping the facts of the event the same, just change around the two people. Make the preacher into a jolly woman exhorting people to brush their teeth or they’ll get gingivitis, or the offended man a ping pong savant with a lisp.

    To end a post that is too long and more than likely too unreadable: What was accomplished by and what were the consequences of the counter-protest in Charlottesville? As my grandfather would say, “Was the juice worth the squeeze?”

  84. Calling them “tiki bearers” and pretending they’re not like “real Nazis” because they haven’t gained enough power to commit genocide YET is a mealy-mouthed and disgusting defense of them, and it’s pretty disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Will and Nathan, you both seem much more invested in pooh-poohing the threat they pose and condemning their enemies. It’s evasive and equivocating, and it gives cover to their actions. Do I think either of you are secret Nazi sympathizers? No, I do not. I find the notion ridiculous. But pretending that ignoring them is a superior course that would diminish them, not embolden their rise and have a chilling effect on minorities shows an appalling lack of historical perspective on white supremacy in the US, and claiming those who fight self-proclaimed Nazis are *starting* anything is ludicrous. The modern antifa movement is almost entirely formed as a defensive measure in communities where fascist violence has begun to organize. In the Twin Cities, most recently, the upswing in antifa presence followed directly when confederate flag flying dudes in pickups started patrolling somali immigrant communities and beating them up – with minimal police response.

    If you want to peaceably oppose Nazis and help organize your communities to defend against them in ways that will encourage anitfascists to stay peaceful, I strongly suggest spending ten bucks to join the IWW’s General Defense Committee, whose community-self defense model is centered around an independent solidarity union organizing model which permits defense but believes that militancy is generally a tactical and strategic mistake.

    Get to know these folks, help them out, and then you’ll have a basis for an informed critique of antifa theory and practice. Right now you’re simply not very credible on the subject.

  85. Doylist, have you seen the Marist poll showing that Antifa and the alt-right are equally popular? Given recent developments like images of Antifa beating up photographers and breaking their cameras, I suspect Antifa is even less popular now.

    This is a country of 326 million. The entire alt-right could only get about 500 people to come to a lawful national show of force in Charlottesville. You may be terrified of them, but I’m terrified of our government.

    Note that I am not saying most Antifa do not mean well. I am saying their tactics do more harm than good.

  86. I am saying you are ignorant about their tactics. You literally do not know what they are doing, who is doing what, or why they are doing it.

    I have neither advocated government action nor spoken of popularity in this thread. Nor does the word “terrified” occur in anything I have said. I am not sure what windmill you are tilting at, but it continues not to be anything I said.

    Again, if you want to peaceably oppose Nazis, I strongly suggest you join the GDC & learn about ongoing community efforts to accomplish just that.

  87. “Calling them “tiki bearers” and pretending they’re not like “real Nazis” because they haven’t gained enough power to commit genocide YET is a mealy-mouthed and disgusting defense of them, and it’s pretty disingenuous to pretend otherwise. ”

    I don’t call them Nazis because they aren’t. They wish they were, not unlike how a part of antifa sees themselves as allied soldiers in 1944. Giving them that – to be called what they wish they were and aren’t, is something I am loath to do. Tattooing a swastika on oneself and saying “Jews will not replace us” doesn’t make one a Nazi, just like throwing a black mask on doesn’t make the bat one carries a Garand. Personal foible, semantics… call it mealy-mouthed if you wish. If you’d like, I’ll say neo-Nazi or white supremacist from here on. Not calling them Nazis defends what they are and what they stand for? I have problems with President Obama, but him not saying the phrase “radical islamic terror” isn’t one of them.

    “I am saying you are ignorant about their tactics. You literally do not know what they are doing, who is doing what, or why they are doing it.”

    From accounts I’ve seen they don’t either.

    Considering how antifa’s moves are eerily similar to the 1930s communist pushback I alluded to earlier, that it is commonly associated with assaulting journalists and damaging property, and the fact that the assholes they fight are tickled pink to have an opposition with optics nearly as bad as their own, my informed critique is that whoever is fighting this astonishing meteoric rise of neo-Nazis and white supremacists is doing a terrible job. I’d rather give those ten bucks to a vending machine.

  88. Nathan, when I say the GDC is involved with nonviolent organizing and suggest people interested in nonviolent organizing get involved with them, why do you jump to the conclusion that they are responsible for the violent actions you are critiquing or that they have negative optics focused on them? If you are unsure who the GDC are and what they do, why not google the GDC and learn about them?

    Right now, you just look silly, and your critique of antifa groups proceeds in almost complete ignorance of who these groups are and what they actually do.

  89. Doylist, so long as Antifa condones the violent shit, the violent shit’s relevant. Saying they are attacking speakers and journalists to make a better world doesn’t change what they’re doing. If you asked me if I’d rather be beaten up by a group of racists or anti-racists, I’d choose the racists because at least I’d see their faces and know how to identify them in a line-up.

  90. What part of the Boston counter-demonstration did you not like? I keep referring to it as what appears to be a useful model.
    You guys keep bringing up Charlottesville. Mostly we aren’t talking about the same things.

    One problem is that while there aren’t very many white supremacist Nazis going to these things, the President seems to like them. There’s a good place to hang fear of government from.

  91. Will: “If you asked me if I’d rather be beaten up by a group of racists or anti-racists, I’d choose the racists because at least I’d see their faces and know how to identify them in a line-up.”

    And if it was KKK instead of Nazi’s? Then it is all the same to you?

    If we want to play who is the worst goon, I give you 150 years of White Supremacists fighting the Lost Cause. Strange Fruit? Sound familiar?

    No, ignoring them doesn’t help.

  92. “Calling them “tiki bearers” and pretending they’re not like “real Nazis” because they haven’t gained enough power to commit genocide YET is a mealy-mouthed and disgusting defense of them, and it’s pretty disingenuous to pretend otherwise.”

    “Calling the extreme left “progressives” and pretending they’re not like “real Communists” because they haven’t gained enough power to set up Gulags YET is a mealy-mouthed and disgusting defense of them, and it’s pretty disingenuous to pretend otherwise.”

    They do talk about setting up gulags, and they do threaten people with them. They pretend it’s all joking fun, like they don’t mean it. Some of them call themselves “tankies” to claim they are literally Stalinists.

    Obviously they need to be suppressed along with the Nazis.

  93. Were the violent events in Berkeley – including toward the press – not antifa? I have no problem believing that leftist groups are more splintered than the right ones. Seems to me that if yes is the answer to that question, better public relations at the very least and possibly a name change are required. If no, they have no system in place to stop the fringe elements from acting in a manner that not only hurts their image, but helps the right.

    I sympathize with the cause, and I’ve certainly done more than most in finding info to try and understand why they act the way they do, but it is inarguable to me that antifa leadership is either nonexistent, impotent, or radical. If I feel the way I do, imagine how those with less time or inclination, or those more right of me – in my estimation a good bit over half the country – feel.

    Antifa1: “Hmm, we need overwhelming numbers to fight white nationalism effectively without violence. What’s the best way to appeal to the over 99.9% of America that isn’t a piece of shit?”

    Antifa2: “Uhh, how about we make our organization socialist, anarchist, and communist?”

    1: “…”

    2: “What? Do I have something on my face?”

    1: “Add in black masks and a knack for shutting down college speeches and I think we’re on to something.”

  94. Nazi’s, Stalinists, Maoists, Khmer Rouge, Czarist, are all ways of spelling totalitarian authoritarian suppressionists.
    They may espouse different economic systems but what they really want is power.

  95. Steve H, you should include Antifa in that list, because people who want to be able to silence speakers are desperately craving power.

  96. Will:It certainly isn’t an exclusive list; there are far too many examples that would fit. I don’t really know enough about the antifa at this time to judge.

  97. Thank you, Steven, for the perspective. It is hard in the cacophony of input to frame and to then argue a case that doesn’t use the government as the tool to counter and refute our political and ideological adversaries’ methods. The fact that those methods have been honed for years to be most effective on their targets means we can’t rely on the rightness of our cause to simply win over the common man.

    This and the previous post have been extremely helpful.

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