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Is it okay to punch Nazis? Show more Show less
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In 2016, a video of white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face by an unidentified assailant went viral. As it did so, a question that was first asked in World War Two rose to the surface of public debate again: is it morally permissible to punch a Nazi? Some consider these increasingly-publicized acts of violence to be slippery slopes that endanger free speech and compromise morals, while others consider games of whack-a-fascist to be their God-given right, as well as their moral duty.

No, it's not okay to punch Nazis Show more Show less

Punching Nazis might sound satisfying, but if we want to uphold our morality, both individually and societally, we must find other means to mitigate the threat of fascism.
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It's not okay to punch anyone

On a gut level, it might feel good to see someone as evil as a Nazi get punched. However, pacifists realize that violence is an evil in and of itself, and even the worst people deserve to be treated humanely.

The Argument

When people argue in favor of punching Nazis, many point out the evils of their actions and beliefs. Nazis are characterized (accurately) as sick, twisted monsters who wish to destroy values integral to our modern, democratic society, seeking the ruin of equality, freedom, and justice. While this is certainly true, many Nazi-punching advocates miss one crucial part of every Nazi: each one of them is a human being, just like the rest of us. While this fact in no way mitigates their heinous worldviews, it is an important one to consider nonetheless-especially to a pacifist. This belief system maintains that violence is never morally justifiable, regardless of context. Instead, disputes should be settled peacefully, and human beings must be treated with respect and dignity-even ones as evil as murderers, pedophiles, and Nazis. To use violence on another human being is to violate their most basic human rights. Though this may sound like a hard pill to swallow, a widespread cultural acceptance of violence would be a reality even more difficult to deal with. By normalizing violence in any form-from war to domestic abuse to Nazi punching-we sacrifice our morality, both personally and societally. Nazis are terrible people-but people nonetheless. We must value the fundamental rights of the individual if we are to flourish as a society.

Counter arguments

In many instances, inaction is just as powerful as action. By refusing to use force to stop the threat of facism, so-called pacifists enable the spread of the violence they claim to oppose. Though pacifism looks good on paper, it cannot be feasibly implemented into the real world without serious moral issues. Moreover, this argument implies that all violence is equally wrong and unjustifiable, when in reality, some violent acts are far worse than others. Namely, punching a Nazi is far more acceptable than facilitating the genocide of an entire race of people. It is fallacious (and profoundly Kantian) to argue that violence is never acceptable, especially when considering that some lesser violent acts can be used to prevent greater ones.

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    This page was last edited on Sunday, 23 Aug 2020 at 02:52 UTC

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