SL 693

Peter Beinart does a good job explaining antifa. He says that while antifa activists use troubling tactics, they aren’t anywhere as noxious as Neo-nazis.

I’m not cool with the harassment of parents of neo-Nazis who have been doxxed.

Should college students stay away from white supremacist rallies and not counter demonstrate? Does this give the Nazi’s more power? There a rally going on in town tonight. Since neo-Nazis aren’t a huge problem in this area, I’m not sure that we’ll attend. I have a big problem with protests that become Instagram moments.

Interesting article by the ACLU defending the free speech and assembly of horrible groups.


14 thoughts on “SL 693

  1. Sigh… not too many thoughts right now. I have to teach there in less than a week. Today I went to get my computer on campus and before that I had lunch with my friend downtown after she had attended the memorial service to the woman who died. I wore purple. I parked in the garage where the young man was beaten, I walked on 4th st. and took photos of the memorials to Heather (which Instagram and facebook would not let me post, they would go gray — extremely weird, never saw this before, I haven’t tried again). Yeah… I’m just trying to process all this.


  2. On a completely different note:

    “A Florida woman is facing drug charges after police caught her snorting cocaine off her iPhone in a Lee County middle school parent pick-up line.

    “A school resource officer says he was on the second floor of Lexington Middle School in Fort Meyers when he spotted 39-year-old Christina Hester in her car in the parent pick-up line, chopping a white powdery substance on her iPhone screen with a credit card. He says he then saw Hester take a cut straw and snort the cocaine.”


  3. When I was a kid in England, we would turn up to National Front and British Movement demonstrations and counterprotest and disrupt as much as possible. It mattered to do this for lots of reasons, including the signal to immigrants and the children of immigrants about the way that kind of racism would be treated. I was always non-violent, but friends of mine weren’t always, and I approved of that. The police tended to protect the fascists, so part of our job was to interfere with that. It was part of a long tradition, and was usually led by a smattering of local Labour Party politicians and/or trades union officials (the counterdemonstrating, not the violence).

    We had total confidence that the fascists weren’t armed, whereas in the US, now, I would assume that some of them are armed. That makes a difference.

    In this case (Charlottesville) the counterprotestors have played a key role in destabilising even further Mr Trump’s Presidency. Without them, no story, and no-one for him to blame. So good on them.

    But, if a fascist spoke at a meeting on my campus, I would recommend either staying away or, ideally, as large as possible a silent countermobilization. No violence, no noise, eerie silence. That would evade the stupid ‘free speech’ discussions (I think neo-Nazi organisations should be illegal, and racist speech should be prohibited, but they are not, and it is not, and we want the arguments to be about fascists, Trump, etc not about free speech). I’ve also seen it be creepily effective. But, that would require, of course, leadership and self-discipline that our activists probably can’t manage.

    I agree about the harrassment. I’m even pretty uneasy about the doxxing. Not that there’s any problem with it in principle (march with Nazis and you give people carte blanche) but the spread of the practice is dangerous.


    1. When you say “racist speech should be prohibited,” you mean that Charles Murray should be jailed, right? And librarians who stock the works of Ulrich Phillips should also be jailed, right? I mean, there’s no exception for refined speech by educated people, right?


  4. I would assume that some of them are armed. That makes a difference.

    You don’t need to assume. There were large groups of openly armed men in military-style uniforms at Charlottesville.


  5. I once heard a really interesting defense of extreme free speech, meaning no exceptions for anything. Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice said it is really important to let Nazis and other vile human beings have free speech. Let them give their rallies and publish their vileness. Because that’s how you know who they are and where they live. If we make them bottle up their ideas by imprisonment, fines, or doxxing, they won’t stop thinking those thoughts. If anything, they’ll think them even more. So, let them talk and monitor them. If they step over the line from speech to action, then you’re ready for them.

    I kinda like that.


    1. I think counterprotesting counts as somebody else’s free speech. I also don’t think that it counts as doxxing if they are marching on a public street. That’s, once again, somebody else’s free speech.

      And I think that marching in formation with clubs or standing in military uniforms with guns is already over the line from speech to action.


  6. No, I don’t think Charles Murray should be jailed (or even prohibited — or even intimidated by students egged on by faculty who don’t have to deal with the consequences). I think that well drawn laws such as those in the UK and Germany which severely restrict certain kinds of racist speech are absolutely fine. I even think that in both those countries those laws have played a significant role in preventing harm, and restricting the rise of a fascist right. IN Germany holocaust denial is illegal — it would be fine to make it illegal here too. The idea that Nazis have some sort of right to march in Skokie is silly. Now – the instrumentalist/strategic argument that Laura attributes (I think generously) to Nat Hentoff can be sensible too. It all depends.on the circumstances. In Germany I think the prohibition of Holocaust denial and Nazi organisations has, in fact, reduced the number of thinkers of those thoughts compared with a Hentoff-like free speech regime, though. Maybe it wouldn’t work that way in the US though. And — yes, I understand that in the US there’s now a reasonably stable interpretation of the Constitution as containing extremely liberal protections on speech.

    MH — yes! but even if there were no arms visible I’d still assume the worst!


  7. I didn’t mean to say that it was Hentoff’s idea, only that I saw him articulate the strategic arguement really well.

    I don’t think Germany’s policies on free speech and Nazi’s are useful for us in the US or are anything we should emulate.

    First of all, we’ve never had many Nazi’s here (pro-fascist, anti-semitic, Steve can fill in the blank here). Those guys in Charlottesville are a small group of total losers. Very small. I don’t think we should make any policy based on the ideas of such a small group of losers. We should denounce them and whatever, but recasting a long tradition of our liberal free speech and overturning Supreme Court rulings because of a march of two hundred guys who haven’t had sex in ten years seems a little hasty

    Secondly, I’m not sure that outlawing Nazi ideas in Germany has worked all that well. I’ve hung out with post-war Germans. Sometimes they say things under their breath that makes me uncomfortable. It’s black humor stuff, but it’s a little too black for me.

    Thirdly, the biggest fascism threat isn’t from the idiots in Charlottesville. It’s the voting booth. We elected a demogogue. If Trump was slightly more adept, we would be in serious, serious trouble. And curtailing free speech laws won’t stop Trump or another Trump. Education would be a good start, but we probably need more than that.


    1. I’ve been around Germans at academic conferences, So, well educated. They don’t just say things under their breath. Do not get them started on the Turks. Blatant racism.


      1. Tulip said:

        “I’ve been around Germans at academic conferences, So, well educated. They don’t just say things under their breath. Do not get them started on the Turks. Blatant racism.”

        In general, PC is primarily a US thing. Eastern European are (in my experience) almost never PC, unless they’ve been soaking hard in that culture. And they don’t feel bad about it at all. (Heck, Russians almost never feel bad about the whole 1945-1989 Eastern Europe thing.)

        The Eastern European attitude (unless the person is making a huge effort to fit in in the US or has more or less grown up here) is typically, “look at those black people walking around as if they owned the place!” (forgetting that they themselves are the newcomers in this scenario). And they’ll say it, too. That attitude is very uncommon among actual indigenous white Americans (and certainly almost never voiced)–but it’s typical of internet racists. Hence, although I haven’t seen this in real life myself, I can connect the dots between that EE attitude and EE in the US being more susceptible to alt-right recruitment.

        With regard to Germans, I have German in-laws. Germans really do think that they’re better than you and me–more careful, harder working, more diligent, etc. And it’s kind of hard to argue with the German in-law in that respect, as he does the work of three normal Americans. (He is squirm-inducingly funny on the subject of how Americans spend so much time at work and work so little.)


  8. This kind of story cheers me greatly. I wish them well on doing this. I think showing how horrible the Nazis are isn’t enough. I think Trump won in large part because he was horrible in a way the rest of the Republican field was not. They need to be seen as both horrible and ridiculous and cowards.


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