Really, it's not a simple one. On the one hand, I can totally understand the visceral satisfaction of pasting one to the smarmy bad guys. OTOH, as many folks have pointed out, that doesn't make it right: the Nazi preaching his subtle hatred on the street is almost the textbook definition of why *really* believing in freedom of speech is challenging. That latter argument is pretty compelling to me.
But as I contemplated the rioting over Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, I realized that there's a much simpler and in some ways more important argument here: at this stage of the game, letting yourself get provoked into violence is incredibly *stupid*, and wildly counter-productive.
Look -- Trump and his cronies are attempting to build a fascist state. Their *primary* mechanism for doing so is preying upon the fears of Middle America: convincing them that Those Evil Liberals are selling out the country, are out to get them, and are full of Those Awful Terrorist Immigrants. They have brilliantly built a narrative that Normal White People are *victims*. Yes, it's bullshit -- but to people who in fear for their jobs, and have spent many years with the news telling them about every awful thing that might happen, it's compelling bullshit. The Dangerous Other is *always* the go-to tool of the fascist dictator.
And when they can show scenes of terrible violence caused by "the Left", against Trump's talking heads, that is *gold* -- it plays directly into that "we're the victims and must protect ourselves" narrative. Guaranteed, they'll be spinning that to explain why they just need to crack down a *little* bit.
(Of course, it is *such* gold, and *so* convenient, that I'm deeply suspicious of it -- I'd give better-than-even odds that Trump's own surrogates instigated the Berkeley riot. But unless proof comes out, that suspicion isn't going to get very far in the news.)
Anyway, it's just an example, but it's a telling one. This is why non-violent protest is so deathly important in any struggle for hearts and minds -- and make no mistake, so long as the US is still an actual democracy, that's what the struggle is. We *must* not feed into their narrative -- if we're going to win this thing, we have to be conspicuously better than they are.
That does *not* mean being meek or weak: we should be loud, we should be clear, we should have our message in front of the country every day and every way. But we should refrain from punching the Nazis, and settle for just telling them off...
This was originally posted via DreamWidth, at http://jducoeur.dreamwidth.org/1562740.html, where there are currently comments. Feel free to comment either here or there.