To Punch or Not to Punch


On Jan. 21, alt-right leader Richard Spencer was punched in the face during an interview.

Richard Spencer has been an extremely divisive figure recently, his claim to fame being his Nov. 19 National Policy Institute speech which he concluded by shouting, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” His supporters in the audience erupted in applause, both at the white-supremacist motifs in the speech and the Hitler-esque proclamation, and a disturbingly large number of them shot their arms out in a Nazi salute. This was one of the most terrifying things I have seen.

Thus, as a Jew, and just as a person, I was ecstatic to see Richard Spencer get punched in the face; it truly made my day.

Even though the video was hilarious (I have it bookmarked on my browser), I have to say that punching hatemongers in the face is the absolute wrong way to shut them down. This is not to say that I feel bad for Richard Spencer or sympathize with him in any way; I abhor what he promotes and I wish to see it utterly destroyed. The punch, however, only helps Spencer.

First of all, violence against Richard Spencer makes him the victim instead of the offender that he is. The last thing we should promote is any action that gains sympathy for him and makes him a martyr of his cause. Furthermore, one of his opponents being violent momentarily (hopefully) turns the tables on who is the bad guy in the situation. The punch makes the white-supremacist’s opponents, the ones who are not racist and antisemitic, look like the villains and takes the focus away from Spencer’s destructive and horribly offensive words.

Punching Richard Spencer also put him right back in the limelight, giving him more media attention and further legitimizing his and his supporters’ hateful beliefs. I had not heard much about Spencer since the uproar about his speech at A&M died down, and while I think it is important to closely watch dangerous figures like him, I was glad that his negativity was no longer dominating the news. But now, because he was punched, all of his vile ideas are being given the spotlight again.

If we put him in the news, we have to understand that we are essentially saying that his abhorrent beliefs are newsworthy. The less air time his ideas get, the more obscure, evil and ridiculous they will seem.

Lastly, the punch did absolutely nothing to fight Spencer’s claims. A fist to his face does not provide a rebuttal, present facts or share an alternate opinion. Fighting fire with fire is not helpful. The only beneficial way to fight these beliefs is to refute them with facts and logic; only then will they be revealed as the loathsome and ignorant ideas that they are.

Moral of the story: if you ever feel like punching Richard Spencer in the face, please do so, but with powerful, factual arguments instead.

– Ali Hurst – Asst. Castoff Editor –