Violence, extreme civil disobedience, destruction of property and severe disruption to bystander’s lives. These are all actions associated with a protest, at least on a large scale. They are also all wrong. If you argue that these things are all perfectly legitimate actions, then you can only do so when you disregard the political beliefs of the protesters.
To suggest that the left, or anti-nuclear, or animal rights protesters somehow have a special license to destroy property or even to seriously harm people is quite frankly ludicrous.
The beliefs of the alt-right are abhorrent, and when their protests descend into violence we should be quick to condemn them. However, if the ‘black-bloc’ carry out similar actions then they should be equally condemned, or potentially even more so.
To fight violence with violence is never the answer, and undermines otherwise legitimate criticisms of the left. Is it not obvious that is what the extreme right want to happen; to portray leftists as too angry and too quick to protest? To respond with violence is to walk right into that trap. It highlights the knee-jerk reaction many leading left organisations have, and in the long run can only end up with greater resentment from the general population.
The argument that as long as Yiannopolus and others are given platforms to speak, it is okay for aggressive tactics to be employed by the left is fundamentally immoral and wrong. Yiannopolous does not exist in a vacuum; there is a demand for his charisma, speaking style and abhorrent views. The alt-right have found an audience by appealing to those who feel ignored by the mainstream media and politicians. Responding to those feelings with violence only further justifies their existence. Instead, the left should engage with people and listen to their concerns. At times, it seems as though no one has thought about using dialogue to recognise the actual issues the vast swathes of forgotten America, and Europe, are facing.
Dialogue explains that the main cause of unemployment is not immigration, but a changing economy. Dialogue can explain that a lack of school places is an issue of funding, not immigration. Dialogue reminds us that we are all human, that the alt-right and their supporters are human, and that humans respond to conversations, not violence. We must promote discourse, for without it the chasm between us all will only deepen.
Instead of remaining on your moral high horse, decrying violence when it is committed by Trump supporters and celebrating when it is perpetrated by those on the left, we should see all violence as wrong. It is time to engage with the people of this country.
While we must continue to call out racism when we see it and protect those from black, minority and ethnic backgrounds, we must also continue to talk to those who we do not agree with. Unless the left do this, they will not succeed.
Image Credit: V@S