To Punch or Not to Punch: Rambles

Ongoing debate off and online, academic and in the deli line, we wonder what is the best, most successful, path forward through 2017 and beyond. Someone punched a Nazi and everyone took a moment to reflect on their personal ethics, and for the record, non-violence is great. So is punching Nazis. A fist to the face is power at it’s purest. One takes over the existence of another, even just for a moment. I have a feeling the Nazi & the Puncher will remember that split second for the rest of their lives, its meaning perhaps changing over time and context.

I slapped a kid, and no, he was not a Nazi. We must have been in 3rd or 4th grade, out on the playground and for reasons I don’t remember, I hit him in what I later would learn is a Bitch Slap.

I’ve kept that memory and looked at it over the years, thought about impulse control and physical altercations and the different ways I use my body.

The incident remained unspoken of until college. The Kid and I found ourselves in the same place and he casually tossed it out — hey, remember that time you hit me in the face?

I do. I didn’t know you did, though.

I apologized.

I don’t support corporeal punishment or the death penalty or any form of nonconsensual physical contact. Partners, parents, strangers.

I also acknowledge that my gut instinct and internal compass points unwaveringly towards Punch The Nazi.

Immense change has been accomplished with non-violent philosophies and practice.

Immense change has been accomplished with violent philosophies and practice.

Physicality is power. Whether it’s millions in pink hats outside the Capitol or a slap in the face.

I think the power is in inconvenience, in reverberating, in obstructing, in altering a moment to the degree that one has no choice but to be affected.

Millions can block streets, overtake news headlines, present a visual sea of consensus but the dozen or so men who hold and abuse their power didn’t see a thing. They weren’t inconvenienced, they weren’t obstructed, their day was not altered to the point of submission.

Phone calls and letters can disrupt and inconvenience an office. Chains can shut down a City Hall in the name of Black Lives.

What if we book every White House Tour with protests and sit in the halls, unmoving, of every elected official. What if we chase them down with the fervor of a news reporter, relentless until we are telling the correct story. What if we keep punching Nazis and homophobes and racists and shitheads who still carry the Confederate flag with pride.

I don’t know. But I think they would remember it.