There’s a logical flaw in your argument.
If, like you said, that people who hold regressive views can’t shut up about them, AND Just Cause protection laws allow for people to file grievances against fellow employees, then why haven’t all the hidden white supremacists and Nazis been fired already? The answer seems to be that either the white supremacists and Nazis have been all fired already (which we know is not true) or it IS possible for a Nazi to keep his or her ideology out of the workplace.
But all this is besides the point. I’m not defending Nazis and I don’t want to defend Nazis.
In your post, which makes a lot of good points, you decide to ignore and leave aside the “social media outrage machine.” But THAT’S the point of what I’m talking about. That’s the important thing here. Employees who are revealed to be white supremacists or Nazis aren’t getting fired because all of a sudden they’re violating hostile work environment laws, because if that was the case, they would have been fired before being outed. They’re getting fired because the “social media outrage machine” is trying to pressure employers into firing them, and the employers are capitulating. Just look at what’s happening with all the recent sexual harassment stuff that’s been recently going on. The Weinstein Company didn’t just suddenly fire Harvey Weinstein because it discovered all the shitty things he had done, they knew about that for years, it was the social pressure on them that caused them to finally take action. It was mob justice.
My point is that in the case of Nazis and sexual harassers, we like the outcome of mob justice, but the nature of a mob is that you can’t control it. You ask the question of:
I have two answers for you. The first is that a Conservative who deeply supports trump could very well feel threatened by someone who flipped him off. That could very well create a hostile work environment. This is especially so down in DC and VA, where many people work for a government agency or for the administration itself. My second answer is it doesn’t matter. If the mob turns against the biker, and applies that same social pressure to her employer, she could get fired just as easily as a Nazi.
But as I was thinking about all this last night, I realized that there’s a larger point that I’m trying to make with all of this. I’m not against Nazi punching or Nazi outing because I’m contrarian or because I don’t see the threats or harm that Nazis pose, I do, very much so. I realized last night that my larger point is that with the election of Trump, with the sudden more visible and open acceptance of white supremacists, the Left is making decisions that I don’t fully think we(they’re) fully thinking through).
After September 11, 2001, the way the entire US viewed the world changed. As a result of the 9/11 attacks, the US instituted a whole bunch of laws (both legal and not) that sacrificed personal freedom for the sake of security. As a country, whether you agreed with President Bush or not, we lashed out irrationally. In 2003, in response to the Iraq War, Johnny Depp said that “America is dumb, it’s like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive.” Say what you will about Johnny Depp, but his quote is spot on. It describes the US perfectly. The US got injured, and it lashed out instinctively, without thinking, just like a puppy would. We got into wars that in hindsight were stupid and unnecessary. We passed laws that gave tremendous power to agencies like the FBI and NSA to surveil us. It became common to fear and be suspicious of Muslims and others people who weren’t white. I could go on and on. My point is that after 9/11, the US changed in ways that, in hindsight, we realize were not only wrong, but detrimental to the fabric of our society and the foundation of our democracy.
The thing with laws though, is that while they may be hard to repeal, at least they’re codified. At least you can point to Statute X and say we need to get rid of THIS! What’s happening now is in many ways worse than what happened after 9/11 because we’re not changing the law, we’re changing what society thinks is acceptable.
Just like after 9/11, what we’re doing now, what we’re normalizing, whether it’s punching Nazis or doxxing them, will have unforeseen consequences. At the time, the Patriot Act was hugely popular, but in hindsight, I would guess that pretty much every Democratic lawmaker who voted for it wishes they could take back that “Yes” vote. But like I wrote above, at least the Patriot Act is a law. If you want to get rid of it, which still isn’t easy, at least there’s an established method to do so.
What I see a lot of people doing now is so much scarier to me. Again, not because I want to defend Nazis, but because making it socially acceptable to punch someone for his or her thoughts or using social media to “out” someone for an activity you don’t like will have repercussions that I don’t see anyone thinking about. I see the biker flipping off Trump as a direct repercussion of this “outing” mentality. Once we unleash the mob on Nazis, there’s no way to rein it back in when it decides to turn on something else.
I think the people on this forum are well meaning, and truly care about social justice and equality. I am too. People want to fight Nazis, and I do as well. I just think that a lot of people are reacting to Trump, to Charlotteville, to everything that’s going on recently emotionally, without thinking. They’re reacting to this the same way that people reacted to 9/11. America is acting like the “dumb puppy” again. What I want, what I wish people would do, is to take a step back, calm down for a second and think about what they’re advocating for. Because it’s not just punching and outing Nazis in isolation. Making it acceptable in society to do those things starts us on a path that I honestly don’t know where we’ll end up. But what I do know is that unlike a law that can be repealed, trying to change what’s acceptable to a society is much more nebulous and challenging.
The problem with breaking societal norms for Nazis is that even if Nazis were to suddenly and magically disappear, those broken norms where those actions are now acceptable are still in place. As an example of this, I’ll once again go back to Nazi punching. Even if Nazis suddenly and magically disappeared tomorrow, the people who want to punch them will not decide to go back to their normal lives and holster their fists, they’re going to look for someone else to punch. Once you give people the tacit permission to punch someone they don’t like or disagree with, you can’t put that genie back in the lamp. Rare is the group or organization that accomplishes their goal and decides to end. No, what happens is that the group or organization picks a new goal or a new target. People may just want to punch Nazis today, but tomorrow it will be a different group. Just look at the March of Dimes organization:
The organization was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, to combat polio. After Salk’s polio vaccine, did the March of Dimes say “Hey guys, mission accomplished, you can all go home now?” No, of course it didn’t. The goal of the organization evolved over time. There’s a name for this and it’s called “Mission Creep.” Since 2005, research and prevention of premature birth became the organization’s primary focus. Their current goal has literally nothing to do with their original goal.
While it might feel good to punch a Nazi, society giving an individual tacit approval to punch someone else can lead to completely unforeseen consequences. And while we might cheer for a Nazi being fired from his or her job, the weaponizaiton of social media scares the crap out of me and will also lead to more unforeseen consequences. The biker giving Trump the middle finger is a perfect example of this. Today it’s a woman telling Trump to go fuck himself getting fired. Tomorrow, people could be punching someone else because they don’t like their views on healthcare or immigration, or someone who works for a religious hospital or college could be fired for being photographed coming out of Planned Parenthood or buying birth control at a CVS. A Rabbi could be fired for being seen going into McDonalds. An Imam could be fired for going into a liquor store.
I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t fight Nazis. I’m certainly not telling people that being a Nazi is the same as giving the president the middle finger or any other ideological point of view. What I’m trying to bring attention to are the unforeseen consequences of our actions. Like I wrote in a previous post, if you’re OK with a Nazi getting outed on social media and getting fired, it’s only a matter of time before something similar happens to someone else that you may agree with.
At the end of the day, we’re making thought crime acceptable. Today it’s thought that we find abhorrent and despicable. Tomorrow? Tomorrow I have no idea who’s going to be targeted, and neither does anyone else, and that’s not a good thing.