On Non-Violence and Double Standards

1) Violence or threats of violence directed at those exercising their right to free speech are deplorable. This principle applies whether or not we approve of the speaker or the content of what is being said.

2) The charge of a double standard with respect to acts of violence legitimately applies to the right and neoliberal center but also, unfortunately, to the left.

Not only have many leftists endorsed “punching Nazis” some have acted on the assumption that it is justified to do so, one of these having been arrested for multiple assault during the Berkeley protests against a campus appearance by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Others actively supported or defended the disruption of right wing ideologue Charles Murray’s appearance at Middlebury College during which the event moderator was attacked and suffered injuries.

3) The near certainty of an emboldened white supremacist movement and increased racist violence was one of the reasons many of us regarded it as profoundly important that a Trump presidency not materialize. Unfortunately, significant elements of the left did not take this potential seriously, arguing that the left “was under no obligation” to prevent it. Having failed to invest themselves sufficiently to head off a far right insurgency then, many are advocating violent means to confront it now.

4) The views referenced in 2) and 3) are based on a mistaken perspective with respect to what is necessary to confront the dominance of the political right and to motivate the overwhelming majority supportive of a progressive agenda to actively participate within a movement to advance it.

Violence has no role within the movement now nor at any time in the forseeable future and should be forcefully repudiated.

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