Last week I was out in the smoking area at school, we were having a lively discussion about whether it is appropriate to hit someone if they do a NAZI salute or use racial slurs. There were a couple of people who said “If they saw someone doing the NAZI salute and saying ‘sieg heil’ or ‘blood and soil’ they would clock them.” I was trying to explain to them, that if you do through the first punch, you make yourself and others who also find bigotry offensive look almost as bad as the people you are standing up against. You fan the flames of hatred and it becomes a powerful force against a positive movement.
I know that some might think this attitude is naive or even cowardly. To me it takes a lot of strength to hold back that anger, when I hear stuff like that, not to just clock the person. I severely dislike bigotry and hatred, but I know the moment I give in to my feeling of disgust, I give them power over me. They want people who think like me to resort to violence to prove their point. It is like in “Batman The Dark Knight Returns” when the Joker is trying to get Batman to commit murder to bring him down to the Joker’s level. In this analogy of course the Joker is ultra violent and murderous, where as in the scenario I stated in the first paragraph using speech as a way to bring us down to their level. Unless the other person who is saying the vial and nasty things actually physically assaults me, I will not lift a finger to harm them physically.
See in the battle of ideas, this is a battle of words and of the mind. Those with the best ideas will rise to the top as long as they do not resort to violence. I will argue all day with a racist and try to show them the error of their thinking. Let’s be honest if i had to argue all day about the subject with that person, there is likely nothing I or anyone would say that could change their mind. Just like I could not convince this other person that kicking the crap out of a bigot is not the best way to trying to change their mind. I had help trying to convince the person too about 6 others tried to convince him as well. Some people just can not be reasoned with.
This is the same issue on a much larger scale that we have had with extremist in the Middle East. The U.S. has been trying to force our beliefs through violence and regime change. If we want to bring the region into the 21st century we are going to have to change our approach to the situation. First off STOP SELLING WEAPONS PERIOD, TO OTHER COUNTRIES! Second pull all our troops out of the region making sure we collect all the weapons we have brought over there. Third close down Guantanamo bay and make that if we try anyone there that it is done fairly and due diligence. For those we release we should try and help make sure that those people are taken care of, if they are innocent, they have been held there for a long time without trial and they deserve some sort of compensation. Four gradually as the tensions start to die down try and get food and medical supplies to the civilians. Though it will take a long time to earn the trust of the people in the region. This would be just the beginning of the healing process.
In order for us to have a lasting peace on this planet we must rise against the violence. We can not defeat an idea with violence it only strengthens their position eyes of those who would follow them. As I said before and I will say it again the only way to defeat an idea is with a better one. If you have to resort to violence to support your idea it probably is not worth a damn.