Why the Left needs to avoid violence

By Staff Writer James Mellen III.

One of the first lessons I learned during my young career in political activism was taught to me by an older women during the Boston counter protest to the riots in Charlottesville. After the violence in Charlottesville my friend had worn a bandana on his neck out of fear of police use of CS gas. Within a half hour of us being at the protest she asked him to remove it, saying that anything that could make the left look violent would be used against us in the media, telling us of times that she had been doxxed (the leaking of one’s private information for use of threat) for her political beliefs. 

The center-left majority of the Democratic party and their supporters often advocate for taking the high road, and doing what is legal, even when their right wing counterparts are not. As a result they have pushed for an agenda of civic disobedience and nonviolence when it comes time for grassroots protest of the status quo, and for good reason; the status quo will defend itself by all means possible. 

This isn’t to say that the left is immune to violence, the Weather Underground was an organization that existed during the Anti-Vietnam movement, which lead bombing campaigns during the mid-1970s. In today’s political climate, the Anti-fascist movement (Antifa) advocates for the use of violence to fight the right. 

However these examples of leftist and liberal violence are a small part of the larger movements. The antiwar movement was hugely non-violent, and most modern leftist organizations do not advocate violence. 

This isn’t true on the right by any means, whose political ideology and movements often revolve around the use of violence. The reason for this comes down to a core difference between the left and the right, from the Ku Klux Klan to The Proud Boys the far-right movement in America has always been a movement of violence. 

All of the most casualty producing unrests in American history have been acts of far-right white supremacy, these movements and ideologies haven’t gone anywhere often times it has been replaced by more subtle groups like Richard Spencer’s white nationalist organization called the National Policy Institute. While these groups may not explicitly advocate for violence, it’s impossible to separate their ideologies from a long history of violence and intimidation. 

One Far-right organization called The Proud Boys has the use of violence very much imbedded into their existence as a club. The “Western Chauvinists” leader Gavin Mcinnes has publicly incited violence on multiple occasions. Going on record saying things like “I want violence, I want punching in the face. I’m disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough.”  

The line between the violence inciting far-right and the policy making center right blurs more and more every day. Trump is not alone in being endorsed by the far right, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was praised by popular white nationalist David Duke said of him “Steve King is basically an open white nationalist at this point. He is our guy.” Representative King had nothing to say about this. King did not disavow these comments, he also won his re-election earlier this month. 

The disturbing thing about the overlap between the far-right and the center right is what that means during the action of protesting. Mcinnis of The Proud Boys has encouraged the use of violence for the right under the pretense that they would receive protection from the police. Earlier this year The Proud Boys attended a rally in New york that Mcinnis attended and was escorted through the crowd by a group of NYPD. Footage from the rally shows Proud Boys beating protestors, while repeatedly calling him a “f*ggot”. This is why the Left has adopted a policy of nonviolence, they know where they stand. 

The framing of violence used by the left and the right is crucial to the examination of the group of Anti-fascists that protested outside of Tucker Carlson’s personal house earlier this month. No one but the front door of Carlson’s home was hurt in the protests, however doxxing and intimidation protesting are their own kind of violence. In many ways doxxing is the newest form of political violence in the American political climate. 

There is a long and interesting history in the usage of doxing by the alt-right, most notably during the gamergate scandal in the earlier 2010s. This has been a regular practice by the alt-right since then, however it has never been used on a high-profile target like Carlson. 

The left needs to adopt the same standard they have on violence to doxxing. The American establishment supports the far right, not the left. As long as that is true the only way to make change is to exploit this standard, and the only way to do that is through civil disobedience, not violence. Don’t turn into the thugs that the establishment wants us to be.


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