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NeoNotes — Consider historical context to violence

Pardon, are you telling me that someone being hit by a baseball bat on the street should consider historical context and the political associations of who just hurt them?

Are you saying that violence if it's for the right cause is justified?

I admit I am biased. I'm not so much a hardcore libertarian that I believe the non-aggression principle is an absolute, but I do think violence and aggression should be the last resort. And even then, you must recognize that you risk everything by violence.

What is to stop someone else from deciding that it's a good cause to thump you over the head? Once the excuses start, what's to protect you from the politics of the day?

Most of the progressives I know are pagans. Of those that I talked to this last week both online and offline, about half thought hate speech should be banned outright. Probably about a third thought that violence was justified if it was against Nazis, etc.

Part of the problem is that many of those were all set to lump Republicans and libertarians in with the Nazis, especially if we didn't denounce the Nazis loud and fast enough.

I don't think religion should be mixed with politics. You'll notice that one of the tags isn't "politics." it's "ugh-politics." TPY is my pagan slice of life blog, Pagan Vigil is my politics blog. I like to keep the two separate. This situation spilled over big time.

Help me to understand.

You seem to be talking about a level of abstraction so far removed as to be almost useless. I'm sure you didn't mean it that way and I've probably overlooked something.

Granted, I wasn't at Charlottesville. I was just a convenient target so to speak. Kind of a guy who knows of a guy who knows this other guy sort of thing. But almost all the exchanges I had hinged on free speech and justified violence. There wasn't talk of history, just who "deserved" what they got. It was very practical, very "in the moment."

Fair criticism. This thing consumed a lot of time this last week and I am probably too close.

I thought I had drawn a line between what people were saying and the violence. I don't think the message of BLM and the Nazis are the same. I reserve judgement on the black bloc and the antifa until they demonstrate they are about something other than masks and violence.

I still think people have the right to say what they want. As a pagan, I've counted on that freedom and insisting on that right has gotten me through some bad situations. I don't like violence, I don't think it has a place at a protest. And yes, I think violence distracts from the message.

How much of the violence at Charlottesville was defensive? We don't know. Except for the car, we also don't know much about who did what. What I have seen is people overwhelmingly blaming the neo-Nazis not because what they had done, but because of what they said.

As H.L. Mencken said, "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."

I’m a bilagáana born on the Navajo reservation, I’ve spent most of my life in the Four Corners region. I’ve witnessed and lived with widespread marginalization of minorities that most Americans can’t be bothered to notice. When BLM first started to hit the headlines, my friends reaction was what about the Diné? What about the Hopi? What about the Ute? Don’t their lives matter? For a long time in Arizona, there was a sheriff so racist that we joked about being arrested for driving while brown. America has a huge urban crime problem, especially with “black on black” crime. At least one major factor is households headed by single mothers. There’s also the ongoing militarization of police forces. These are areas that I believe I have common cause with BLM. Every time I’ve tried, I’ve been told that none of this matters. This leads me to believe that it is less about fighting oppression and more about staking out a political position.

I could be wrong. I hope I am. Maybe I didn’t communicate well. Maybe I tried to talk with the wrong people. Maybe I’m reading the wrong news stories. All this is possible. What I am seeing with BLM is a group that wants everyone else to sit down and shut up. I’m probably misinterpreting.

You didn’t mention antifa or the black bloc. I probably misunderstand here too, but it seems they are less about politics and more about disrupting. The masks don’t help.

Again, maybe I am reading the wrong news stories. But it seems to me that there are many more on the left demanding that people with differing opinions must keep silent. Or else. I don’t know much, but I know that all other things being equal (which they usually aren’t), the side that can’t stand dissent is usually wrong.

That's what worries me most about this. Once people decide that some labels deserve free speech and others don't, where does it stop?

Is violence justified? We’re a long way from Bull Connor and his firehoses. And yes, I am very concerned about police corruption and runaway police power. I’m not convinced that all police are racist towards “blacks”. I know that not all “whites” are racist, but many in BLM don’t agree.

If violence is okay if it’s an marginalized minority, doesn’t that give the Nazis the license to do what they want when they want? I don’t think I could find an outside group that supports the Nazis and their ideas, that would seem to make them marginalized.

But I’m only one guy in a rural area. I’m probably not seeing everything.


I said that the same reasons used for letting BLM, antifa, and the black bloc commit violence could be used to justify the neo-Nazis committing violence.

Literally the only difference is who is deemed morally correct at the moment.

Okay, I don't understand.

Is there another reason why violence is morally justified?

ETA: Please explain why context matters to violence victims.

I don't agree with what the Nazis say. But they have every right to say it.

Just as BLM has every right to say what they say.

I don't think anyone should be allowed to shut up anyone else through violence or intimidation. Their history shouldn't matter. Their intentions shouldn't matter. No one should get a pass because of their victimhood. No one should be allowed to shut up anyone else through violence or intimidation.

Violence now matters more than what people long dead did, no matter what the ideology.

Pardon, but what context will convince a shop owner that it's okay that his window got smashed in?

What context will convince someone lying bleeding because they disagreed with a protestor?

In the moment, these victims, these bystanders won't see a difference between violence from group A or violence from group B. They will resent the violence no matter where it comes from. They will also resent people who tell them violence was justified.

As of yet, no one can say who started the violence in Charlottesville. We do know that the neo-Nazis were vastly outnumbered. Which by your own statements, could lead to "justified" lashing out. Except for a few film clips, no one knows what happened other than a car hit some people and a woman died.

We know that some members of BLM use violence. We know that the antifa and the black bloc regularly use violence. We know that most bystanders are going to be threatened by violence no matter who uses it. Why does "justified" violence get a pass?

No, you didn't say "justified," I've had a lot of exchanges since a week ago Saturday and they are probably running together in my head.

I agree that the contexts and the histories are different.

The key question seems to be under what circumstances is violence accepted even if it is regrettable? I'm remembering things like St Paul in July of 2016, or Tef Poe's March 2016 message for "white people," or what Yusra Khogali has written several times. Frankly I don't see what makes that different than what the neo-Nazis and white supremacists say and do. Only the targets change to protect the guilty. These aren't isolated events.

Yes, there's a tragic history and yes, there is injustice today. But is it as bad as BLM says? Are the causes what BLM says they are? If I can be highly skeptical of what white supremacists claim, shouldn't I be just a little critical of what BLM says? Especially when Khogali speaks, I honestly don't know why BLM hasn't kicked her to the curb. She does much so very much more harm to their cause than good.

I guess what I am saying is that the label (and history and context) has no vice nor virtue. If I don't deserve automatic adulation for being "white," (actually a mutt, but that's a much longer story) than no one deserves automatic pity and moral authority for being "black." We shouldn't judge groups by skin color. It's up to the individual to be hero or victim.

If that is so, then I have a hard time seeing the need for violence no matter where it comes from.

We're back to what someone says. And what someone else hears.


Racism is racism. If you excuse racism from (insert group here), all you're doing is swapping one set of privilege for another.

I'm not discounting anything. I saying that we shouldn't take what anyone says as ultimate truth even if they have the approved political label. I have every reason to be skeptical of neo-Nazi claims, and I have reason to be critical of BLM. Aren't they going to be critical of me?

I am not justifying anyone's racism.

I am saying that BLM is very selective of the oppression and marginalization they recognize.

Let them speak for themselves

You mean other than the fact that entire page didn't acknowledge the problems that any other "race" faces today. You know,as in the examples I gave above.

Understanding oppression and marginalization isn't limited to skin color.

I'm sorry, but I have to stop you right there.

Huckleberry Finn, one of the greatest books against the evils of racism, racial oppression, and slavery was written by a "white" gent. It's a book regularly banned for using a n word, when hardly anyone notices Huck's turmoil deciding what to do with his friend. And hardly anyone notices that Jim is the only honorable adult man in the entire book.

Gloria Steinem. Heather Booth. Anthony Romero. Tim Wise. Abraham Lincoln. John Brown. William Wilberforce. George Orwell. Albert Einstein. Every one of them understood more than enough to take a stand.

If you really want equality, you can't use skin color to dismiss people or their understanding.
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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