03 February 2017

Punching Nazis and Burning University Campuses → Attacking Jews

I am extremely disheartened, if not frightened, by how many of my supposedly progressive online contacts on social media have lately been condoning violence against those with whom they disagree. First, many were posting to say that punching Richard Spencer was perfectly acceptable because he is a Nazi. Of course, Spencer’s views are reprehensible, but literally condoning violence against him sets a terrible precedent. In an age when so many get their information about current events solely from headlines or from unreliable sensationalistic sources, I anticipated that the next step would be to start calling people bigots, whether true or not, just to excuse violence against them. Sure enough, some I know are again justifying violence by demonizing Milo Yiannopoulos with a barrage of insults ranging from calling him a “Trump supporter” (which he is) to calling him a “white supremacist” (which he is not), all in the name of curtailing freedom of speech. Label someone a Republican or a conservative and many conclude they therefore have nothing of value to say; label someone a Nazi or white supremacist (even someone of Jewish background) and many conclude that a violent response is not only appropriate but necessary.

 So what’s the next step? For decades, Islamists, their supporters and their apologists have been attempting to delegitimize and demonize Israel by spreading all manner of lies and distortions, including falsely blaming Israel, Zionism and the Jews for atrocities like ethnic cleansing, apartheid and even genocide, and then condoning slaughter of civilians by painting global terrorism as some honorable form of resistance for which Israel and the West are ultimately to blame anyway. I therefore predict an escalation in attacks on Jews worldwide, and that the Far Left and even so‐called progressives will leap to excuse it all away so long as the attackers call all the victims Zionists. With all the effort that has been put into convincing the world that Israel and Zionism are the most repugnant things on earth (in what has been called “the greatest smear campaign in the history of the world”), calling anyone a Zionist will make attacking him seem like the only reasonable response, and anyone who disagrees will be labeled a conservative or an Islamophobe. (I hope I am wrong about that.) Replacing freedom of speech with calls for violence against those with whom one disagrees is very dangerous indeed.

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