When the ‘punching Nazis’ thing somehow became a thing to debate, many people in the UK looked on in bafflement at the people who said that it wasn’t effective. You can make the moral argument if you like, though I’ll refer you to the absolutely brilliant explanation of why ‘tolerance of all ideas’ is a flawed understanding of morality here: Tolerance Is Not A Moral Precept
Punching Nazis is effective. Back when the National Front was becoming a fierce political force in the UK, and the police were largely sympathetic to them, anti-racists and antifa united to ensure that no National Front rally or ‘patrol’ ever went unopposed. The streets of the UK were filled with running battles between punks and Nazi boneheads, and eventually the National Front just faded back to its core support. This is the issue with Nazis – they use tailored propaganda to draw angry, alienated people to their side to inflate their numbers. Most of the people marching with the National Front wouldn’t, if pressed, really agree with the basic principles of Naziism – they just wanted their lives to be less shit and were being told that it was the fault of all the brown people.
When the National Front marches and patrols were met with a bunch of angry punks willing to meet their threat of violence head on, the inflated support melted away, leaving the poor, sad, lonely little Nazi fucks with not much power and not much influence. The National Front still exists, but it’s mainly a laughingstock. They have to travel to each others’ protests and still can only muster about 20 people.
We got complacent, though. The BNP came along, with their suits and their ‘civil discourse’ about how some people were less human than others, and we figured that they weren’t *real* Nazis, so shouldn’t be met with the same reaction. They were ‘just talking’. Then the EDL, who thought the BNP weren’t extreme enough. Then Britain First. And suddenly we have fucking Nazis again, and they’ve taken control of a significant amount of political power, and people are suffering and dying because of it.
I’ll say it again: the existence of a Nazi is a threat of violence. They cannot be considered to be having ‘civil discourse’ at any point, because their entire existence rests on the principle that certain groups of people should be eradicated or subjugated. That is not civil, whether they’re speaking in a level tone of voice or not.
Read about the Battle of Lewisham. About the people who stepped the fuck up when Nazis were on our streets. Who risked their lives to beat back the tide.
And then step up.