Bear with me, because I don’t fucking care about a late January back-to-back against the worst team in the league this year.
Ok, so there’s a simple concept called “tolerance” that is an important part of a modern, pluralistic society. There’s an irony in here that we used to generally hold that tolerance was a good thing for society even though we rarely practiced it. And now that our institutions have generally enforced tolerance in practice—you’ll risk getting fired for expressing intolerant views, for example—we have some people questioning whether tolerance is actually an ideal we should be aiming for.
But anyway, some neo-Nazi guy named Richard Spencer has been consistently expressing intolerant beliefs and advoating intolerant actions, and he got his face punched by a protestor in Washington D.C. And the stupidest political theorists of our era have asked, “is this not the same intolerance that Richard Spencer himself expressed?”
No. Not at all. There’s something Karl Popper calls the “paradox of tolerance” which states that full tolerance means tolerating the intolerant, which inevitably leads to the elimination of tolerance. To avoid this, society must not tolerate intolerance. John Rawls has a similar idea in A Theory of Justice.
While an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger.
Neo-Nazis like Spencer have beliefs that are incompatible with a just society. Their expressed ideas like racial superiority and ethnic cleansing inevitably involve violence. There’s a progression to it, and this was the case with Nazi Germany as well as other genocides throughout history.
Let’s take one of Spencer’s stated goals: voluntary ethnic cleansing to turn the United States into a homogeneous white country. As he puts it, the government would non-violently encourage non-whites to leave the US, and therefore it isn’t genocide or ethnic cleansing as practiced by Germany or in the former Yugoslavia. This plan entails distinguishing citizens by skin color, giving primacy to white citizens. It is also, of course, impossible to achieve non-violently. While Spencer and other neo-Nazis claim that it would be handled legally and with incentives, there’s the simple fact that non-white citizens would not be able to leave en masse at once.
The absurdity of the position of voluntary ethnic cleansing is not an accident. It is the first step that leads to a position where the government would be obligated to enforce the whites-only policy and forcibly remove non-whites from its borders. That is precisely what happened in Germany in the 1930s. It is a ridiculous, impractical idea that sets the justification for mass-murder. The Nazis believed they had tried to deal with the “Jewish question”—it’s merely an idea!—non-violently by suggesting they and other undesirable groups leave their society. But the fact that they did not, that these others did not bend to their will, was proof that they were degenerate and subhuman and a threat to their society, and therefore needed to be destroyed, to be murdered.
Neo-Nazis like Spencer are laying the ideological groundwork for mass murder. There is no compromise position on legal apartheid and mass, forced deportation based on skin color. This is very different than political debates about, say, income equality. Put simply, we have begun an era where the spread of neo-Nazi ideas and policies is a threat to our society and our free institutions.
You have no ethical or political responsibility to tolerate such ideas and policies, because to do so is to destroy tolerance itself. Punch a Nazi. You’re doing it for the love of everyone and everything they hate.
Sharks @ Avalanche
6:30 PM Pacific
Prediction: Fuck Nazis, always, and forever.