On Many Sides: Punching Nazis & The Importance of Nonviolent Resistance
Dear Black Bloc,
I don’t need to tell you how important it is that we win this fight for the soul of America. The future of humanity is at stake. I agree with your mission, but I cannot condone your methods.
A movement that remains peaceful in the face of violence has a moral high ground that’s impossible to call into question. That doesn’t mean we have to sit quietly and take a beating. If you want to show up with your home-brew shields and protect the vulnerable from the violent, I’ll be right there next to you.
But I draw the line at looking for a fight like I saw some of you do this weekend in Seattle. The minute anyone gets video of violent clashes between black bloc and Nazis, we give their leaders the ammunition to say, “we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
Obviously, this is a false equivalency. One side is engaging in acts of assault and battery, the other is perpetuating a centuries-long legacy of systemic white supremacy, colonialism, slavery, and genocide. Antifa comes equipped with two-by-fours and wooden shields. Nazis show up with assault weapons and kevlar. There’s no equivalency here. We should not make it easy for them to draw one.
Our best strategy for future actions is to outnumber the Nazis so thoroughly that they turn tail and run. When you start fights, you deter the young, the elderly, the disabled, and people of color from joining us in the streets. You also make it easy for privileged old white people who are ideologically aligned but not directly impacted to make excuses for staying home and we need them to show up because they’re the ones the police will serve and protect.
Finally, we have a moral imperative that goes way beyond optics. Our whole reason for existing is to refuse to dehumanize anyone, and that includes Nazis. When we go out of our way to punch Nazis, we become what we deplore. We may win some skirmishes with fists and two-by-fours, but we will not win our fight for the soul of this country if we sink to their level.
Please, at least think this over. No matter what you decide, please take good care. You’re human and valuable. You’re somebody’s baby. Never forget it.
I love you,