EVAN: Ladies, gentlemen, and the rest, it has been almost two whole years since we released a “Culture War Correspondence”, the feature formerly known as “Evan and Gordon Talk”.
You can thank/blame my co-writer for its momentary revival, and I’ll let him be the one to introduce the topic for this week-
GORDON: “Is it OK to punch Nazis?”
Some of you may remember back in November, when alt-right spokesman Richard Spencer was clobbered during an interview with an Australian news channel, an event which prompted many across the nation (and indeed, the world) to ask that very question.
EVAN: When you first broached this topic with me I remember saying “Is the answer not ‘always’?”, to which you responded “Not by my book, no.”
That in turn led to me greenlighting this whole thing, because I think that may be as much a surprise to our readers as it was to me at the time.
GORDON: I guess part of that stems from who you define as a “Nazi”. I mean, sure, there’s the folks who stomp around in jackboots with swastikas tattooed over their chests…
…But there’s plenty of folks- including Richard Spencer, who totally is a Nazi- who claim to be simple “White Nationalists”. As if there’s any ****ing difference.
I guess that’s to say I probably wouldn’t lay the almighty smackdown on someone’s bigoted grandma, y’know?
EVAN: It sounds like your stance, if you want to really boil it down, is to attack the able-bodied or “those who can take it.”
GORDON: I don’t know if I’d say it’s about attacking those who can take it. Not that I’m in favor of wailing on the feeble (something that the Nazis, for the record, are all too eager to do), just that I don’t view someone’s bigoted grandmother as an actual threat.
If Agnes winds up pulling off the retirement-home-putsch, that might be another story.
EVAN: But let’s say Agnes spends all of the time in her retirement home mailing out alt-right fliers, what then?
GORDON: Oooh. That’s a good question. Is Agnes actually managing to incite folks to violence? Is she calling for the genocide of all save for the Caucasians?
EVAN: If you boil this discussion down we’re left with the question “When is it okay to attack others?”, and I think a pretty reasonable response would be, “In self-defence, to protect ourselves.”
If we boil that down further, however, we’re left with “How do we know when we’re in danger?” How do “we”, and I use the term broadly, know that we’re being threatened.
I present for the consideration of both you and our readers the following comic that Spencer tweeted soon after he was clocked in the jaw:
GORDON: Did we mention that Richard Spencer is a piece of ****?
EVAN: And also, if this comic is an indication whatsoever, absolutely a Nazi.
GORDON: I guess one of the most appealing things to me is a slogan I’ve seen posted a few times on leftist FB pages:
“Make Racists Afraid Again”
Which is something I think people need to factor in- especially today.
The election of Trump has been viewed by so very, very many Nazis as a vindication and endorsement of their heinous ideology. And in total fairness, it kinda was an endorsement of their ideology. But I think them getting walloped is just a reminder that, in spite of the administration, calling for genocide is still something of a social faux-pas.
I mean- would anyone be outraged if I walked into a biker bar and started cussing out a bunch of Hell’s Angels?
EVAN: There’s certainly something to be said about the right to free speech, as far as it’s protection not extending to how people respond to whatever raw sewage happens to be pouring out of your mouth.
But I think that you also raised an important point, in that words that seek to suggest violence being met by violence is pretty logical.
i.e. if I start talking about hurting group of people that same group hurting me first isn’t out of the question.
GORDON: Since we seem to be in agreement over that, I figured I’d bring up the recent (violent) protest at Berkeley, in which anarchists (not students, as folks repeatedly mistake) prevented alt-right spokesperson and notorious **** Milo Yiannopoulos from giving a speech.
I’ve seen a lot of folks bring up the issue of tolerance, multiculturalism, and pluralism. The irony of it being mostly conservatives bringing up this point seems to have been lost on ’em.
EVAN: I’m glad you brought that up, actually, because I think there are even a handful of liberals who are taking that approach, being that people should be allowed to say what they’d like, within reason. I believe Twitter is the same, in that Yiannopoulos was allowed to keep his account open only until he began inciting his followers to harass comedienne Leslie Jones.
Reddit is yet another one. You can believe what you’d like, but as soon as you start going out of your way to attack others you’ve gotta leave.
GORDON: I think that’s a really interesting point. That a good slapping in the here and now isn’t about heralding the return of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades (though how awesome would that be?)- it’s about preventing the need for such a thing. A stern, simple “Talk racist **** get ****ing hit” reminder.
EVAN: With that said, while we haven’t come to the firmest of conclusions regarding punching Nazis in general, would you say we’ve at least decided on and justified our opinions regarding Spencer being laid out?
GORDON: I certainly would.
EVAN: All that being said and done, this concludes a Very Special Installment of Evan and Gordon Talk/Culture War Correspondence! I can’t tell you when to tune back in for the next one as I have no idea when that might be!
GORDON: And here I was thinking I’d get to have the final say.
I guess you beat me to the punch.