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By Jason Michael
After empowering the ultra-far-right Nazis in the United States, Donald Trump condemns even the violence of those resisting their rise to power. In Britain and the rest of Europe it’s the same. So it’s time to get tough.
“Violence is always wrong,” my mother used to tell me after giving me a hiding for fighting at school. The irony of a grown – formidable – woman of 5’4 thumping a wain to give him a lesson in non-violence always seemed to be lost on her in fairness. I hope she never reads this. But what I learned growing up was that, yes, sometimes violence is the right and only response to the threats and actions of others. Anyone who thinks otherwise really ought to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka, or any of the other mass extermination centres operated by the Nazis in eastern Europe during the holocaust. So you might well imagine my consternation when Donald Trump condemned the violence “on many sides” after neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville, resulting in the murder of one young counterdemonstrator.
Let’s be under no illusions here. There is absolutely no comparison between the violence of white supremacist, race-hating Nazis and the violence used by those who oppose them. If history has taught us anything – which I fear, having witnessed people like Trump come to power, it hasn’t – it is that no amount of violence against Nazism can be condemned. We’re not talking about common or garden varieties of racism here. No one is suggesting we should hunt down and beat up every ignorant racist. We are talking about “Roman” or “Red Hand of Ulster” saluting, “blood and soil” chanting, swastika flag waving Nazis.
…and this from the father of Godwin’s Law!
In case you have been living in a cave somewhere in the arse end of nowhere for the past few years, Nazism – real Nazism – has come back into fashion. Emboldened by the dog whistle politics and overtly racist opinions and policies of politicians like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marie le Pen, and the British Prime Minister Theresa May, white ethno-nationalism has come out from beneath the rock it has been hiding under for the past seventy years. What differentiates these people from your average knuckle-dragging racist is that they are educated, middle class, and highly politically motivated. When it comes to the subversion of democracy and seizing power rapidly we know they have form. Through people like Steve Bannon we have seen just how effectively they have mobilised racist opinion to gain access to power in the world’s mightiest super power.
At what point, do you think, will they tire of their recent achievements and form an orderly queue out of the White House, out of the halls of power in the United Kingdom, and go back to their homes? Once ideologies like this gain power, gain influence over the media and public opinion, it becomes increasingly difficult – every passing day – to remove them. Fascism is corporatism. It eats away at workers’ rights, corrodes human rights, and challenges the value society places on life – all to the benefit of big business and private industry. After gaining power, as we saw with Mussolini, Hitler, Pinochet, and others, it soon gains the protection of big money. Considering the state of western democracy right now – with its complete and utter impotence in the face of rising right-wing populism – we have already crossed that line.
Do we negotiate with these thugs? How did that pan out for the socialists, communists, church leaders, and liberal politicians in Germany after 1933? Not very well! Before the roundups of Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Gypsies began, these “traitors” – wasn’t that what Jo Cox’s killer was shouting as he hacked her to death? – were picked up in short order and interned in concentration camps like Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen, where they were tortured and murdered. How well do we think we will manage to reason with people who believe they are protecting the sacredness of white blood from pollution and who consider us “race-traitors?”
When these people come to power – and that hour is already upon us – people like me and you (if you happen to agree with people like me) will be put on lists. We will be the first to go. That’s how it works. Their intended crimes against racially and ethnically different minorities – and all other out-groups they happen to deem “undesirable” – can’t go ahead with us calling them out. At that point we have a choice; either shut up and join the party or continue doing what we’re doing. But by then it will already be too late. It’s the man or woman out there – however much I deplore violence – in Charlottesville clattering these brutes with a spade handle that I respect.https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/897625471881330692
During the Civil War in Spain and then again on the beaches of Normandy and all across Europe members of my family were pumping these bastards with lead. Some never came home. Some came home with medals. They have all been remembered as heroes – and heroes they are. What, does fighting Nazism only get to be heroic when our government says it is? Nonsense! Fighting the evil of Nazi ideological racism – even with force – is good and necessary whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. You can quote me on that.
When Donald Trump refuses to condemn these Nazis – white supremacists, white nationalists, patriots, whatever – by name; opting rather to blast the violence on “many sides,” what he is doing is equating Nazi racism with the “extremists” who oppose them. Robert Brown – or “Big Rab” as my granny knew him – was one of those anti-Fascist extremists. He left Glasgow with James Maley in 1936 to fight the forces of Franco and Hitler. He enlisted to go and fight the Nazis again in 1939. There are very few killer extremists I have time for, but see my uncle Rab – I’m not worthy to be his nephew. What we need now, more than at any time between then and now, is guys and gals like Rab and his pals. If we fail to nip this in the bud it will be curtains.
The Great Enabler
2 thoughts on “Let’s not Condemn Violence on “Many Sides””
A “they’re running us over with cars, so let’s do the same to them” argument does not persuade me. There is a difference in fighting in a war against Nazis and trying to beat up every idiot who’s a swastika-waving bigot.
The idea of Nazis dragging us down to the point that in our political lives that our answer to those we despise is to beat them up or try to kill them makes me ill.
I share your uneasiness JR, but I fear we – as a society – are underestimating the power and potential of Nazism. My article did cover the question of beating up your average bigot. That is unacceptable, but Nazism is quite another thing. I would highly recommend that trip to Auschwitz.