Liam Hehir on facsists

Liam Hehir writes about the fashion of calling everything and everyone fascist:

Is it OK to punch someone if you think they’re a fascist? Some people seem to think so.

Not long ago, disreputable Right-winger Richard Spencer was attacked on live television. Spencer is often accused of being a Nazi though he disputes that label.

He is undoubtedly a purveyor of white identity politics, however, and is notable for coining the term “alt-right”. At the time he was attacked he was being interviewed on the street during the Trump presidential inauguration. A man came up, smashed him in the side of the face and ran off.

A punch directly to the head is serious business. A blow to the cranium – even a relatively restrained one – can cause lasting damage. Spencer could have been seriously hurt or even killed.

Nevertheless, for many liberals in the United States and elsewhere, the sight of such a villainous personage being clocked caused much glee. The offender was compared to Indiana Jones, Captain America, the Blues Brothers and other pop-culture icons who were famous for their (fictional) assaults on Nazis.

Videos of the incident set to music went viral, with a former Obama administration speechwriter tweeting that, “I don’t care how many different songs you set Richard Spencer being punched to, I’ll laugh at every one.”

Since then, it has become clear that the idea of using violence against alleged fascists has gained some respectability.

The same people who were gleefully celebrating this vicious assault were also the same people calling for me to be bashed three years ago…for simply having different political views to them. They commit crimes with gay abandon and think nothing of calling for more crimes in order to silence political opponents. It is they who are the fascists.

Remember Nicky Hager saying in dark tones that he knew journalists conversed with me, but he didn’t publish the correspondence because he wanted them to mend their ways. In other words, he was saying unless they followed a prescriptive course of action approved by him then he would try to destroy them too. Little wonder then that the ones donkey deep involved in feeding out my hacked emails were also the ones who never wanted their own emails to see the light of day. I was called a fascist, but it was the media and Nicky Hager who were acting like fascists.

The rise of fascism in the US has not come from Donald Trump, it has come from those opposing Trump and people who are opposed to conservative voices speaking.

In the last week, Trump supporter and internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos went to speak at the University of California, Berkeley. When protests from pro-censorship students, faculty and activists turned into a destructive rampage, the event was canned. Trump supporters were reportedly attacked and video emerged of a young woman in a red hat being assaulted with pepper spray by one of the rioters.

Shortly afterwards, Gavin McInnes, a comedian and another prominent Trump supporter, was set upon by a mob outside New York University, where he had been invited to speak. McInnes, who co-founded Vice Media, had to be sheltered by the police after being burned by pepper spray.

The fact that the police protected him outraged one of the university’s professors, who was filmed shrieking and swearing at the cops that they should be beating him up instead.

We are also seeing fascist university professors trying to silence critics with SLAPP lawsuits in New Zealand.

There are all sorts of reasons why it is a bad idea to justify or encourage violence against those who hold repugnant views. Here are a few of them.

The first problem is one of definition. The word “fascism” has been robbed of all meaning through years of overuse. In fact, as long ago as 1946, no less than George Orwell wrote that, “the word fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable'”.

To listen to the activists of the Left and Right, both John Key and Barack Obama were fascists. No doubt Bill English will get the same treatment. When the man who attacked John Banks with animal excrement was convicted for assault, he responded by throwing more excrement at the judge, saying she was a “fascist judge”.

When everybody calls everybody else a fascist at the drop of a hat and violence against fascists is justified, how are you not inviting violence by all against all?

I’ve had death threats, I always lay a complaint and one person was convicted as a result of it. I’ve been threatened with bashings, most recently outside the High Court last week. My daughter was threatened with pack rape for the high crime of being my daughter. I’ve also been called a fascist, though one insane blogger likes to call me a crypto-fascist.

Secondly, the history of actual fascism shows that it thrives when fists start flying. The Nazis rose to power in an environment where physical brawling was part of the culture. When it comes to fighting in the street, ideologies committed to thuggery and passionate intolerance tend to have the advantage over the gentler forces of moderation and liberalism.

So if you are really concerned that fascism may rise again, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to applaud behaviour that recreates the conditions that enabled it to grab power in the first place. Don’t throw Brer Rabbit into the briar patch.

Then there’s the simple fact that it’s immoral to physically assault people on the basis of their political views – however gross they happen to be.

In the aftermath of the Spencer attack, it was truly weird to see outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post and Vox Media wrestle with this notion like it was a serious ethical question. Even popular comedy site Cracked weighed in, asking, “So are we allowed to just punch Nazis now?” Their answer? “It’s complicated.”

It really isn’t.

The whole point of liberal democracy is that political questions are resolved through votes and laws and not mobs and violence. People have the right to be grievously wrong and, as long as they do not call for the illegal overthrow of the state, to voice their wayward views. We really have no choice but to trust the public and our governing institutions.

Because if you think it’s OK to punch someone in the head  because you think they’re a fascist, then you might be one yourself.

In New Zealand it was a high crime three years ago to speak with politicians, journalists and therefore it was ok to hack, steal and threaten people’s livelihoods all because Nicky Hager disagreed with my political speech.

We know who the fascists are in NZ, they are the ones calling for boycotts, the silencing of opposing voices and the ones using legal jihad to enforce silence. Our media are no safeguard against the rise of fascism, they are involved in it themselves.

A very good column by Liam Hehir. Sadly the message will be ignored.

 

– Fairfax

 


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