On violence and the Nazi

25 Jan



When not preoccupied with US President Donald Trump, public debate has been focused these last few days on the morality of punching a Nazi upside the head.

The Nazi in question, Richard Spencer, founder of the alt-right, was giving a television interview when a black-garbed assailant hit him and ran away.

The question, is violence ever acceptable, even when directed against someone who wants to eradicate you and yours for no reason other than that he or she doesn’t like who you are, is still bouncing round the internet and mainstream media. I’d assess the majority verdict thus far as no, violence is never acceptable.

So to those blessed with such moral certainty, I’d like to pose the following questions.

  1. You are a woman living with a violent partner. So far your partner has attacked only you, but suddenly you are witnessing him/her beating one of your children. You violently attack your partner to save your child. Are you wrong to do this?
  2. You witness an unconscious woman being raped. You physically attack the rapist, because talking to him nicely about why what he’s doing is unacceptable doesn’t seem a feasible option. Are you wrong to do this?
  3.  You are a police officer attempting to prevent a crazed individual from mowing down pedestrians in a car he’s driving through a crowded shopping mall. You shoot this individual to stop him, and save others from death and injury. Are you wrong to do this?

I could go on, but you get the idea.

I doubt there is a more ludicrous statement than “violence is never acceptable.” There are situations in which violence is the only feasible option. The question is, was the situation in which the Nazi got punched one of those situations?

Knowing nothing of the history and motivation of the black-garbed assailant, it’s difficult to assess. If he or she had lost family in Nazi concentration camps, I can fully understand how he or she might attack Spencer for espousing the same vile dehumanising hatred that caused millions of family members to be calculatedly murdered.

I also think that if you are going to argue for the mass eradication of fellow humans because you don’t like who they are, you probably ought to expect the occasional smack in the head. Free speech is always risky.

I very much doubt that if faced with the loss of my family and an individual such as Spencer endorsing their slaughter I would be capable of thinking in the moment, how do we best go about dismantling the structures that permit the rise of fascism, as was suggested by one commentator. I imagine I’d be reacting from my gut and that gut reaction might be physical, even though I’m afraid of violence and don’t enjoy witnessing it.

Yes, we do have to apply our intelligence and imagination to this question, particularly in view of the US President’s fascist leanings and increasing signs of our own government’s tendencies in this area, however, fascism has never been defeated solely by intelligence and imagination: violence has always been necessary.

I’m not overly concerned with the fate of the Nazi. I do wish that even a fraction of the moral outrage surrounding the attack on the Nazi could be directed towards the global epidemic of violence against women. Imagine if every time a woman was punched somewhere in the world, the internet and mainstream media publicly shamed the perpetrator, and entered into vigorous debate on the immorality of punching women. Punching women has become normalised. Punching Nazis not so much, it would seem.

All I can say to those who unequivocally state that violence is never an option, is, use your imagination. Violence is not nice. Violence is frightening. Violence hurts. Only deeply disturbed people enjoy it. There are situations, however, in which it is the only option and if you aren’t willing to even consider the possibility of such a situation, you might find yourself part of the problem.




23 Responses to “On violence and the Nazi”

  1. Sam Jandwich January 25, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    Yikes – well this certainly serves to demonstrate why the section criminalising hate speech is so important. One would hope the things he says would land him in court if he did so in Australia.

    … and look, if he were found guilty and sentenced to some sort of penalty, wouldn’t that be an instance of the State doing violence to him? Is officially-sanctioned violence really that different from someone punching the guy, especially in a jurisdiction where what he’s doing hasn’t been criminalised?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson January 26, 2017 at 7:28 am #

      The many varieties of violence. I thought about that but decided to give it a post of its own.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. 8 Degrees of Latitude January 25, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    Good argument. I think the answer is that violence is always to be avoided except in extreme instances. And the example instances you cite, where deterrent or neutralising violence is called for, exactly match circumstances where, I think, it is fully justified. One caveat: It should be commensurate with the threat, and it should cease as soon as the target is prevented from continued action. (The requirement to measure your response is a recurring fear of mine in the rape situation you nominate: I’d personally be hard pressed to cease beating the shit out of the perpetrator until I was pretty sure he was damn near dead. But that of course is my problem.)

    All that said, I confess I did get a guilty giggle out of seeing that ridiculous American Nazi nutcase cop a beautifully executed flying uppercut on the street.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson January 26, 2017 at 7:26 am #

      Thanks, 8 Degrees.
      “I am in the Force and the Force is with me” is my guide. Being a Star Wars tragic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marilyn January 25, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

    My father started abusing me sexually when I was 6, when I was 12 he threatened me with a pistol and death if I reported that he ”wanted to show me how babies were made now that I had my periods”, I ran away and cowered in the corner screaming.

    I did the same until he attacked me again in our own dining room drunk out of his brain. I picked up a plate and decked the bastard before he could rape me.

    It is about the only time I can remember when I have used violence against anyone but he deserved it and when the bastard finally died he was senile, shitting his pants and hated by most of the planet.

    So I ask the ”violence is never ok mob”, should I have let the bastard rape me when he goal was to get me pregnant or for any other reason at all?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. doug quixote January 25, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    Violence is often necessary.

    Those who have no swords can still die upon them, as Tolkien put it in The Lord of the Rings.

    The world has been at relative peace for seventy years, largely thanks to the enormity of the likely result of all-out war.

    There is a greater good.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Frank January 25, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

    I’ve never understood why the Left have to resort to violence and deck someone with an elbow to make a point. They behave like Fascists to me. Maybe it’s the violent Left who are the Nazis. National Socialist Workers Party and all that. Go figure.

    The poor guy Spencer was being interviewed by Zoe Daniels from the ABC when he was attacked by a flying masked assailant. I can well understand why you would indeed punch someone from the ABC even an annoying babbling women like Zoe Daniels – being the smug low-life hypocrites that they are and all that, but If the Left are so sure of their argument, why do they resort to violence? Surely a well argued point of view should demolish your racist opponent without a flying elbow to the side of the head or calling him a Nazi on a blog.

    He was in the process of being interviewed. Do we ambush our opponents and kick them when they’re down? It cuts no credit with me. Remember the attacker was well disguised in a black balaclava and black jumpsuit. He looked like – well, a Nazi to me. But what would I know?

    To call Spencer a Nazi sort of diminishes your argument and is a bit like the pot calling the kettle, err – black! Heavens forbid. Let’s not talk about that useless prick, Obama. Leave him for another day…

    Jennifer, please write a blog post about the glories of the Great Sun-god, Donald Trump. I will support you to the – hilt! You will babble as I stroke your sweet spot. I will strike down any scum bag that tarnishes your noble womanly honour. (Doug Quixote, I’m looking at you.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 26, 2017 at 7:22 am #

      Frank, I’m on it. The offer in regard to my sweet spot did it for me. And the chivalry. Oh, the chivalry! How I have missed it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote January 26, 2017 at 10:03 am #

        Bullshit, however well cooked, is still bullshit.

        Frank is the master of the well cooked turd.

        Eat it if you like, but don’t complain to me after.

        🙂 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

        • Sam Jandwich January 27, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

          “Well-cooked” in this instance meaning “barbecued to buggery”. That’s why the Right call themselves the “Right” – they think they’re right even when they’re wrong, which is most of the time.

          It must be hard to live like that, hence the descent into satire.

          Liked by 1 person

          • havanaliedown January 28, 2017 at 9:02 am #

            It’s actually a label created to smear anyone who is not of the “Left” as a Nazi. Soviets and Nazis have nought but a cigarette paper between them: disobey = death, or Do-what-we-say-ism.

            Nazi is a contraction of Nationalsozialistische…Yep, it has “Socialist” in there.


            • allthumbs January 28, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

              Read a fucking book . read a few you narrow minded git. Read a little history, from a book, not some potty closed looped website from which your above opinion originates from. “yep it has “socialist” in there”.



              • havanaliedown January 28, 2017 at 2:25 pm #



              • doug quixote January 28, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

                Nazism was cobbled together to appear like a wolf in sheep’s clothing; rather like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, for a modern example.

                What’s in a name?

                Fools like Havana can’t tell their arse from their elbow, Carl. 🙂


      • allthumbs January 28, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

        Frank just grabbed your pussy Jennifer, it wasn’t an offer, it was Trumpian foreplay.

        Liked by 1 person

    • 8 Degrees of Latitude January 26, 2017 at 7:34 am #

      Well, you’re frank, Frank. You gave me a good laugh too, so thanks for that.


  6. paul walter. January 26, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    Yes, Spencer is a Nazi…odd to see a lefty belt a righty, usually the other way round.

    I must admit i had mixed feelings about it.

    I think I resolve Jennifer Wilson’s point, some what neglected, by proposing that here is a difference between a women reflexively fending off a beating against the aggressive violence of a drunken punk king hitting someone outside a pub, say.

    Eg, is self defence the same as premeditated/ aggressive violence?

    PS, rereading the article, I see Jennifer Wilson raises the issue of provocation…I think Section 18c was referred to and under the circumstances the hit is explicable far more easily than say with a skinhead beating up an Indian student half his size, much closer to an emotional reaction, but something that carries its own cost as to credibility..

    Spencer did immediately set to work to distract the subject away from his own racism by exploiting the event to the establishment of his own victimhood and therein lies the flaw in the tactic. But, understanding Spencer’s own violence, if you like, somewhat reverses victimhood status back to Spencer’s assailant.

    Perhaps it is useful to see the incident as more in the light of an example or comment on a society that is becoming a bit psychically unhealthy. Given police redneck and domestic violence, or even the state sanctioned psychological violence directed against Centrelink beneficiaries as a feature becoming epidemic and endemic, this is where the real depression emanates from for this writer. After all, even Senator Eric Abetz reacted some what “violently”, when a member of his familly was subjected to an extortion letter from Centrelink


    • paul walter. January 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

      I could have mentioned the violence directed against asylum seekers in the detention centres. This seems a very obvious example of open fascist violence of the sort Frank might deny.


  7. paul walter. January 29, 2017 at 5:07 am #

    There ARE ways of solving these sorts of problems. Technology in this day and age can save all:


  8. allthumbs January 30, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    The guy that gave Spencer the people’s elbow didn’t look black to me, but in this day and age does it matter? What I thought fascinating was that the assailant and the victim both ran away in opposite directions. Cowardly fucks both of them.

    Spencer’s recent speech in Texas:


    “In America, we have a very peculiar conception of race. This has been perhaps the most racialized continent. It was a place that was an open country. It was an open country for Europeans who confronted people who were radically different than they were. And that confrontation, I’ll be honest, was terrible, bloody and violent. It was terrible, bloody and violent, but we conquered this continent. Whether it’s nice to say that or not, we won. And we got to define what America means, we got to define what this continent means. America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men.”

    Look at Spencer, see Spencer run, look at Spencer run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 30, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      No, he was dressed in black, allthumbs, I don’t know what he or she looked like.

      “We won.” He sounds just like Trump.


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