Nazis, Nazis, Nazis! All liberals, progressives, anti-fascists and even some conservatives can talk about right now are Nazis. Is it okay to punch Nazis? Should we let them speak? Should we even kill them like those badass people in those badass movies we watch?
There are many lessons of the holocaust for Americans. One of them is to let in people fleeing oppression. Another big one is kill the Nazis
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) January 31, 2017
All this talk of violence against Nazis has brought out the worst type of person on the web, the Internet tough guy.
These types fill comment sections on articles about child molesters and rapists. They write long replies claiming they would enact the most otherworldly pain on these perpetrators if only they could get their hands on them. They vent their anger at universal villains from behind a keyboard without any responsibility to prove their talk with action.
This same cyber tough guy attitude is on full display surrounding the vague threat of American Nazis. Some on the left, who years before were chiding people for celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden, have pulled a 180, pounding their chest in performative toughness.
Nazis must be punched, they say, but how many of them are willing to take to the felony battery charge to prove that point?
There’s a fringe group on the internet called Wehraboos, people who dress up like Nazis and obsess over Nazi culture and military strategy. Not necessarily because they believe in Nazi ideology, but because they like the aesthetic. It seems like the #Resistance is doing the same thing except with Nazi resistors. They are essentially live action role playing the French Resistance or Inglourious Basterds, believing they are some kind of historically important vanguard against Nazi occupiers. They are living Internet heroes if only they signal to everyone else how violent they’re willing to be against Nazis. But only if the situation arises.
This is a huge but. How many of these Internet tough guys, who are comprised of journalists, business leaders and so-called intellectuals, actually would throw the punch. How many of these pale, limp-wristed, private school-educated wimps could actually throw a punch without hurting themselves? It doesn’t really matter because they’ve already let their Twitter followers know the terrible acts of toughness they’re capable of sans evidence.
This Nazi frenzy is tantamount to a moral panic. People on the fringes of society are doing something bad and both the media and public in conjunction elevate the threat to irrational levels. And then the reaction to the problem is more harmful than the original threat of a bunch of white nationalist losers spouting their garbage on the internet.
Because how many Nazis are there really? Certainly the white nationalist Richard Spencer and his followers could be labelled Nazis. But the label is being extended to rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes. Some extend the label to everyone wearing a Make America Great Again hat.
This writer wants to puch all Breitbart writers.
Make the world a better place.
Punch a Breitbart writer today.
— ❄️ Ashley Lynch ❄️ (@ashleylynch) January 29, 2017
And who knows how far the definition of who gets hit will go?
— Charlotte Kosche (@charlottekosche) February 2, 2017
Most Americans grew up watching Nazis in films and movies as the ultimate bad guy. We loved seeing Indiana Jones punch them or Captain America bash them with his shield. There’s no moral ambiguity with fighting Nazis and it lets Americans relive our finest historical moment, liberating a continent from evil.
But this is not 1944. We are not the greatest generation. We’re soft. We spend most of our time online and spent most of our childhood indoors. And so did the so-called Nazis who so many wish to physically assault.
But if one of these Twitter tough guys in the media actually does have the guts to punch a Nazi, I’ll be the first to call them Captain America while they’re sitting in a jail cell.