#PunchaNazi became a trending hashtag this week as the fallout from Charlottesville and the President’s rather inept handling of the situation spread. The violent tendencies of the extremists on the right-wing of American society is nothing new. One only needs to look as far back as Oklahoma City and the abortion clinic bombings of the 1990’s to realize the right has long used violence as a tool to try and influence American society and public opinion. The Democratic Party regained power in the south during and after reconstruction using violence against freed African-Americans and Republicans, be they carpetbaggers or locals who had switched parties. The American right used violence in the 1910’s and 1920’s to maintain a social order in the south and in some northern cities that they viewed as “American.”
However, we on the left have a history of achieving progress through non-violence. Whether it was Gandhi in the Indian Subcontinent or Martin Luther King Jr. here at home non-violence has worked at some times. It can be argued though without the violence of two leftist groups – the African National Congress (ANC) or Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) Civil Rights never would have been achieved in South Africa or Northern Ireland. It is also argued by some that Indian independence and African-American Civil Rights owe itself as much to the violent tendencies of the likes of Subhas Chandra Bose and Malcolm X/Stokley Carmichael as much as to Gandhi and MLK Jr. Some would argue Gandhi and MLK Jr. were elevated as leaders by a white establishment and white media who were less threatened by them. MLK JR’s reliance on northern white approval (particularly among Jewish-Americans according to some who question MLK Jr’s legacy) it is argued by some actually held the movement back and made it a conservative and incomplete effort for true Civil Rights.
As I watch soccer games here in the US since Donald Trump became President, I notice more Maoist symbols in the crowd, more Che Guevara flags and even the occasional hammer and sickle. The overlap between soccer supporters culture and the new millennial left is something I’ve learned is massive, particularly during the last election. From this perspective I see a growing reverence for violent leftist figures among younger leftist Americans, which manifested itself on social media this past week.
Is this a good thing? If we begin to advocate violence in the place of non-violent civil disobedience where exactly is the line drawn on where violence is justified and where it isn’t?
After the jump vote in the poll. Feel free to leave comments in the comments section.