The Internet Debates: Is it OK to punch a Nazi?
Last Friday, after Donald Trump's inauguration in Washington D.C., white supremacist Richard B. Spencer was punched in the face while being interviewed by a journalist. Spencer was describing the meaning of Pepe the Frog, when an unknown person dressed in black came out of nowhere and hit Spencer in the ear. Reeling from the attack, Spencer was then spat on by another protester. “This was three physical assaults, really serious physical assaults, that occurred," Spencer said. “I'm afraid this is going to become the meme to end all memes."
Spencer raised eyebrows last November when he encouraged the audience at a conference to give Nazi salutes while saying “Hail Trump!" On Spencer's old website, Alternative Right, he once asked: “Does human civilization actually need the back race?", “Is black genocide right?" and “What would be the best and easiest way to dispose of them?" After video of the attack was posted online – just as he feared – Spencer became the butt of jokes across the Internet. The incident also started a rousing debate on Twitter: Is it ok to punch a Nazi?
Most people agreed that, yes, it is acceptable to punch a Nazi:
"Punch them" is, like, Nazi 101, I don't see the problem here https://t.co/3qc4MkluMe— N*I*C*K (@N*I*C*K) 1485012470.0
Who said punching Nazis is wrong? Punching Nazis is the most 'Murican thing one can do. Captain America does it! https://t.co/aAblNg3JdO— Kara Calavera (@Kara Calavera) 1484962960.0
we feel like well damn, if u can't punch a nazi who the hell can u punch https://t.co/K1FPiMIohl— shonda rhimes wrote crossroads (@shonda rhimes wrote crossroads) 1485180834.0
Would you punch a Nazi? #disruptj20 #Inauguration #Inaugurationball— Anonymous Hacker Antifascist Book Club 🏴🌊🌹⚒️⬅️ (@Anonymous Hacker Antifascist Book Club 🏴🌊🌹⚒️⬅️) 1484968319.0
Be like Captain America. Punch a Nazi square in the face. https://t.co/eaXVijuKrc— Patrick Gaertner (@Patrick Gaertner) 1484327014.0
There is a smaller group of people who think it's wrong to punch Nazis.
If it's okay to punch people you think are Nazis, is it okay to punch communists? Historically, those guys have an even higher body count.— [shrug emoji] (@[shrug emoji]) 1485127395.0
"oh ok liberals so it's not ok for police to use excessive violence but it's fine to punch a nazi???" um. yes. yes, exactly.— bucket barnes (@bucket barnes) 1484967144.0
I'm a pacifist so I'm not gonna punch any nazis. But I highly endorse all of you doing so.— Milton Compton. (@Milton Compton.) 1485191536.0
The debate also inspired people to share this video of Woody Allen from his 1979 masterpiece “Manhattan" where he discusses the appropriate way to handle Nazis.