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MisterSwig

Proud Boy vs Antifa

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A Proud Boy, Rob, and an Antifa member, Luis, sat down for this BBC interview. It takes place in a marijuana shop in Portland. They start out relatively coherent, but as the interview progresses, the weed does neither one any favors. Despite that, I think important facts can be gleaned from their unique exchange in this nonviolent setting. I'll begin by providing my notes which cover the first ten minutes.

The moderator tries to prompt a dialogue between these two enemies. Immediately Proud Boy Rob addresses Antifa Luis directly and asks if he would take off his sunglasses. Rob wants to see his eyes to feel like they're "interacting." So right there Rob is expressing an interest in developing some sort of rapport with Luis, who not only hides behind sunglasses, but is also wearing a cap. Luis, however, ignores Rob and tells the moderator he won't remove his sunglasses.

The moderator then asks Luis what he thinks of Rob. Luis believes that Rob is "misguided, a bigot, a misogynist, violent towards women, racist, uneducated, and misguided." Yes, he said "misguided" twice. Rob basically rejects the "racist" and "bigot" labels: "you can't be a racist if you don't subscribe to race." In defense of his education, he says he likes looking up words in the dictionary. And I note that he does generally show more curiosity than Luis, who frankly acts like he'd rather be somewhere else. Rob admits to being a "violent man" and a "misanthrope," though to him that means he "doesn't trust anybody." But he also says "humans suck." So, yeah, violent misanthrope, which could explain why Luis has so many other labels for him. If someone doesn't like people in general, they're sort of an all-inclusive bigot.

Next the moderator asks Rob what he thinks of Luis. Rob says that Luis is also a "violent man." Not only does Rob have video evidence of this, but apparently violent men can recognize other violent men when they see them. Also, Rob thinks that Luis "ducks out of responsibility," because Luis whines about being arrested at rallies. In response, Luis believes he's "defending his community, those that are marginalized." He seems to use this as a justification for his violence, which might be one of the few things they both have in common, aside from a fondness for weed.

The moderator switches gears and asks Luis what he thinks about the Proud Boys claim of free speech. Luis answers: "Only the government can stop you from exercising your freedom of speech. Freedom of speech doesn't give you a right to a platform or microphone, nor does it mean that there are no consequences for your speech." He then ends with (perhaps drug-induced) nonsense: "hate speech is as powerful as words." It sounds like he's trying to convey a "words are violence" rhetoric, but can't quite get there. Rob sort of sees where Luis is going and contributes his belief that "you can trigger others by just being who you are." For example, if Rob says he loves Donald Trump, that could trigger a protester to punch him. So both of them appear to agree that words have the power to provoke violent consequences. Their disagreement, then, must be over the right to provoke violence. Rob thinks he should have that right, Luis does not.

Luis says one more interesting thing: "if you have two people having a friendly chat, and one is a Nazi, then you have two Nazis right there." This was his response to the Proud Boys associating with or including Nazis. Such an attitude might explain why Antifa labels people Nazis who are actually something else. But why wouldn't Luis instead see two Proud Boys? Why two Nazis? 

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