This has been one of the more frustrating times for me as a person. All over the Twittershpere, White moderates are coming out to defend Richard Spencer, the leader of the #AltRight because he got punched in the face by the Black Bloc while giving an interview on the street.
I'm not sure which part of being a good person also includes defending Nazi's, but amazingly there has been no shortage of people who claim to be "liberals" coming out in defence of Richard's right to publicly preach hate.
Nick Spencer, ironically is the lead writer of Captain America. You know, the guy that's famous for punching Nazi's.
Well, that is until Spencer got a hold of him. Then he became a Nazi.
(For the uninitiated, Hydra started off as a Nazi organization).
Now, far be it for me to call Nick Spencer and anyone else hand wringing that a man who champions genocide should have his face punched in on sight a Nazi sympathizer, but this ability to split hairs when it comes to the violence that is hate speech is peak White privilege and it must be addressed.
I've never met nor seen Nick Spencer, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess he's a White guy.
(I was right. I honestly just googled him to get his pic to prove a point.)
Now, being a White guy comes with a whole lot of privileges in our society. Most notably, if a Nazi lined us up against a wall, guess which one of us he would kill first? Actually, guess which one of us he would kill, period. The answer's not Nick Spencer. This reality, which may seem "far fetched" really isn't. If a Nazi could kill either myself or Nick Spencer right now, he would gladly kill me. That is a fact. There is no such thing as a non-violent Nazi. Naziism is violence incarnate. As much as people like Richard Spencer and anyone else may skirt around the violence of their beliefs, the violence is an inseparable part of those beliefs.
Whether you're talking about the forcible separation of races (which has never happened at any point in human history, ever) or actual genocide of "different" human races...it's a welcome reality for Nazi's and that reality can only be attained through violence that they are ok with.
The very existence of a Nazi is a clear and present danger to you...unless of course, you're a White guy. Then that violence becomes as much of a threat as someone launching a nuclear bomb at you.
This was his response after I related how at 8 years old I was choked by an adult White male who got mad I was playing tag too close to his sports car which was worth "more than your little nigger life". The best this White dude could come up with is a nuclear explosion in comparison to his "fear" of violence. This is exactly why in cases like this, these otherwise well meaning people end up defending the indefensible.
The violence of the ideology is something out of movies and history books and not something that could affect them at any point on any day if these people had their way. It's a purely hypothetical, existential danger that's so far removed from their every day existence that "defending" the right for people to preach this kind of murderous ideology is simply a thought exercise and not a fight for survival.
The supposed virtue of non-violence as an ends and not a means is worth more to them than the lives of people that people like Richard Spencer would gladly uproot or snuff out if they could.
This is not a new battle. Dr. Martin Luther King lamented that it was White moderates who were the true threat to equality, because they valued "order over justice". Ironically, these same White moderates trot out Dr. King every time they want to quell any sort of resistance to hatred that isn't centered around strongly worded letters.
Again, these people are fighting quite vigorously for Spencer to say things like this without reprisal:
Now, as a White man neither Nick Spencer nor Jonathan Wilson have the very real experience of dealing with people that would gladly start this genocide. I do. Quite a few times. I know that there is no reasoning with people that entertain murdering millions of innocent people. It's a very real, clear and present threat to me. I've felt these people's hands around my throat, I've felt their spit in my face (twice), I've felt the bullet from their air powered rifle as it penetrated my skull and I felt that same bullet in my hands as I plucked it out of my skull on Christmas day. None of those people (except for one of the guys that spit in my face) was a Nazi, but they shared the same hatred.
The fact of the matter is, on a visceral level, White moderates still see themselves as "White". So they identify and empathize more with other White people than they do people like me. They see someone who's "just a guy" who's exercising his rights and saying something some people (including them of course), may not like...whereas I see someone who will gladly kill me. Today. And kill children that look like me. Today. And commit any other number of horrors against people that look like me. Today. Simply for existing. And that's where they are missing the point and if they weren't so wrapped in their privilege / White identity, they would stop themselves enough to wonder why they are empathizing with monsters like Nazis and not people that don't look like them.
It's a very tough battle, because privilege like that is unearned, so the majority of the time it goes unexamined. They don't see racial hatred as violence until it becomes physically violent, even then, they see it as an aberration, not a logical conclusion.
Violence in defence of your life is always justified. Free speech always has limits in our society, you can't go around yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre and claim it's your free speech because the resultant disorder and danger to people's lives outweighs your "right" to say what you want, where you want, when you want. I only wish people would take that same approach when it came to hate speech.
If only every time someone said hateful things something caught on fire. Maybe then we'd treat hate speech as the danger it is to all of us.
The reality is, hate speech is like someone lighting an invisible fire: the resultant disorder and threat to peoples lives is just as real, but unfortunately, only some of us will get burned.
p.s. Richard Spencer is highly educated and he's never been shy about his views.