In Defense of Freedom…and Nazis

by Justin Robbins

It became clear on the morning of November 9, 2016, the future would contain ample fodder on which people like me, the chronically righteously indignant, might focus our ire. Readers of this blog will recall it took me little time to assail chalky alt-right mouthpiece Richard Spencer, and his jack-booted heel-clicking welcome of the election results.

To my surprise and chagrin, I must now rise again…in his defense. A pox on those who made this necessary.

However, it is exactly at times like this when our attention must be on the greater issue; the inalienable freedoms of our citizens to speak their mind, and to peaceably assemble. It is a much bigger picture, and more important than a festering little white-head, seen in here getting popped in our nation’s capitol, on Inauguration Day, while exercising these very freedoms.

I’ll confess my gut reaction was a nagging sense of justice. I came quickly to realize this was, in fact, feeding the normalization of violence in response to disagreement. Something that can not be acceptable in a nation which has moved beyond dueling as a means to settle disagreements.

On balance, this sucker punch was not even the day’s most egregious affront to this most critical of our nation’s founding principles. The Interior Department shut down Twitter accounts of National Park employees who re-tweeted pictures of the comparatively dismal turnout at the new president’s coronation. There were also unprecedented limitations on press access to the inaugural celebrations.

It is clear this president intends to enhance his brand by pretending to be the victim of, and cultivating an adversarial relationship with the press. In and of itself, this is perfectly fine; preferable even. However, he has also (already) demonstrated the authoritarian tendency to control the message by controlling the messenger; the free press.

Notice, please, his censorship of unfavorable information is not an assault on the press…or the “mainstream media” for that matter.  It is rather an assault on the people served by that information; the citizen. It is on us. At best, it betrays the president’s pathological insecurity about himself, his agenda, and his image. At worst, it is his declaration that the common people need not be bothered with any criticism of the Dear Leader, and may in fact be stifled in their efforts to share, or even discover facts.

What does this have to do with Richard Spencer getting sieg-heiled in downtown D.C.? Sadly, everything. Indeed, the very same everything about which the leader of the free world seems to know exactly nothing.

“If liberty means anything at all,” wrote George Orwell, “it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Put perhaps more succinctly by Rosa Luxemburg, “The freedom of speech is meaningless unless it means the freedom of the person who thinks differently.”

These are the thoughts foundational to the arguably most important, and First Amendment to our Constitution. The people shall not, must not and, dare I say will not allow themselves to be either sequestered or silenced. If we cannot by peaceful means, through reasoned argument, non-violent action and free and democratic processes, resign to irrelevance the most morally repugnant and intellectually bankrupt of our species, we have little hope of a world without Trumps and Spencers.

Of Spencer, it may help to realize he (when struck) was being interviewed by an Australian news agency, probably for their listeners’ amusement. Yet, today, he again has national news headlines. Might I suggest we let him spew his bile from the rooftops until all can hear it for the ignorant, impotent, terrified rhetoric it is; and can choose freely to mock him. Also, to stand ready with a better message.

In the meantime, for the sake of freedom, and that I might never need type these words again: don’t punch the Nazi.


17 Comments on "In Defense of Freedom…and Nazis"

  1. Brietbart News just announced Spencer hired the assailant.

  2. Spencer and his like seem very ignorant to me. All people are of the same human species. Hard to understand all the bigotry in this nation. Always counterproductive. Basically it comes from ignorance and fear. And of course Trump has made the most of it. I would guess he looks down on many of his supporters who simply do not have a clue.

  3. Thanks so much for being the voice of reason.

  4. The writings and warnings of American Fascism by Vice President Wallace can’t be shared enough in my opinion. What is a Fascist? What do American Fascists want? Read Wallace’s 1944 definition and find out…

  5. On behalf of all my ancestors who died in Treblinka, I’d punch him too.

  6. Richard Spencer really isn’t a likable guy …And that is largely dependent on all his past and present, spoken and written words. The man and all other Fascists, White Supremacists, Identitarians, Neo-Nazis, and KKK will never be happy until the day they can start extermination of people in America who are not them.

    The underlined word here is “Extermination.” Richard Spencer spouts genocidal ideologies that in the living memory and history of our country today, have all ready killed millions and millions of innocent people…. Just because of their race and creed…. They don’t want to talk to people of Color and Religion to work out their differences, they want to eradicate them from view.

    So I am not losing any sleep, that Richard who wanted to be a leader of these kind of like-minded, sick twisted people got punched in the head. I realized the minute I saw that video my face drew a wry smile of pleasure across it. And it widened as he ran down the street, scared shitless, and away from the camera….Yea it wasn’t right, but I laughed anyway. I laughed for my ancestors.

    Have you ever tried to reason with these kind of people. They are as a general rule not in a debating mood. They Believe in Richards words of “Peaceful ethnic cleansing.” When in history has there ever been peaceful ethnic cleansing?

    The Dictionary Merriam-Webster Definition of Ethnic-Cleansing as follows: “The expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity.”

    One side of my family lived that “Peaceful ethnic cleansing” in Poland with the Nazi’s and then with Russia, and my other side of the family came from Ireland when the British came along. My grandparents came to America for something better than the “Peaceful ethnic-cleansing” they had seen ravage their family members in Europe. And like all good Americans, They fought against the Ideologies of people like Richard Spencer in the second world war for this country.

    Today, It is just as important to keep the fight up against the Spenser kind of hate….. Though the pen in my case is always mightier than the fist and I will use that writing instrument first and foremost against the likes of people like Spencer.

  7. It doesn’t bother me because that kind of hate generates that kind of hate…you know. I don’t endorse it of course…but I won’t cry over a hateful person getting their comeuppance. And I agree that their own words and hate are the best way to show them for what they are…you have to point to these kinds of people, their words and the people they hang out and support regularly (El Trumpo) early and often to make sure people don’t forget or just pretend they are wackjobs instead of a prime moving part of the Trump election machine. One even wrote his inauguration speech – after Trump originally took pub pix of himself writing it.

  8. Except that Orwell was a badass and fought the fascists with gun in the Spanish Civil War. He even took a bullet to the throat. He didn’t turn the other cheek. Nazis are made for punching.

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