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< Back to question Is it okay to punch Nazis? Show more Show less

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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Punching Nazis begins a cycle of violence

In the face of evils like bigotry and fascism, it’s tempting to take the eye-for-an-eye route, punching Nazis as an attempt at retribution. However, this approach only causes more of the violence we are trying to avoid.
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The Argument

A common idiom states that “you can’t fight fire with fire.” In other words, it is fruitless to respond to an attack by using the same methods that your attacker used on you. In the context of Nazi-punching, it is clear that this is exactly how we are responding to the threat of hateful, bigoted belief systems; we are normalizing the use of violence as a means for silencing and controlling opposition. Though this effort may pay off in the short term, it could damage our society greatly over time. After all, normalizing and even encouraging such targeted acts of aggression will continue the cycle of violence that the Nazi Party started in the 1940’s. If left unchecked, this attitude will pervade our culture in dangerous ways, teaching our children that using violence to solve problems and silence dissenters is an acceptable way to run a democracy. This worldview would no doubt allow for more violence, from bullying to domestic abuse to war, to be deemed acceptable in our culture. Put simply, we cannot achieve peace through violence, and to suggest that we can is to degrade the moral character of our society as a whole. Instead, we must approach the modern Nazi threat with the intention to end the cycle of violence that they began.

Counter arguments

Our society already normalizes countless types of violence, from police brutality to domestic abuse to constant warring overseas. Even violent video games and slasher films are insidious examples of this effect. If these instances of normalized violence have not degraded the character of our society, there is no reason to assume punching Nazis would be the final nail in the coffin. If anything, this act of aggression is more justified and virtuous than the other examples in society today. Further, this argument relies on the slippery-slope fallacy, implying that if we consider punching Nazis acceptable, our culture will instantly fall into anarchy, with people beating each other up for no reason in the streets. Needless to say, this massive jump is an exaggeration of the real effect Nazi-punching has on our society.


Rejecting the premises


    This page was last edited on Monday, 7 Sep 2020 at 07:27 UTC

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