Let’s be real, Yvette Felarca does not carry much of a wallop. It’s unlikely that she did much damage, punching as hard as she could, and under other circumstances, there’s a good chance her attempt to fight would have been laughed off with a snarky “you punch like a girl.” Then again, having thrown the first punch, she might also have learned how a punch feels when it lands on her, but the guy she punched didn’t respond in kind.
Yet, Felarca’s defense in court was that her punching the guy wasn’t a crime because she was defending herself from the person who never touched her.
A middle school teacher in Berkeley, California, accused of punching a neo-Nazi during a 2016 protest is arguing that standing up to fascism is not a crime.
Yvette Felarca, 47, was arrested last month for her involvement in a held in Sacramento.
Felarca, who is a member of an activist group called By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), has been charged with felony assault, as well as two misdemeanor counts of inciting and participating in a riot, according to KPIX TV.
Whether Felarca’s conduct rises to the level of a felony battery is dubious. She used no weapon and did no damage, even though her punching bag had his hands in the air. But had she been able to inflict pain, her argument for doing so, and defense, is that she was entitled to wail on the guy because he was a fascist.
Felarca said, “Standing up against fascism and the rise of Nazism and fascism in this country is not a crime. We have the right to defend ourselves.”
Stand up? Okay, whatever that means. Defend? Absolutely. But pre-emptively use force against someone?
Back in 2016, Felarca told reporters that the goal of the demonstration was to “shut down the Nazi scum.”
“They are organizing to attack and kill us,” she said at the time, according to Al Jazeera. “So we have a right to self-defense. … That is why we have to shut them down by any means necessary.”
By any means necessary is the name of the gang to which she belongs, and it provides not just a name, but a rationale for the use of violence. Felarca might not have much of a punch, but she could do some damage with a knife or gun, and her defense works just as well with a deadly weapon. After all, if her belief is that these “fascists” are going to kill her, then it would be foolish, no nuts, to do nothing and wait for her to die. So it only makes sense that she would use violence first.
And indeed, this is what her attorney argues in her defense.
Felarca’s attorney Shanta Driver said, “I think anyone has the right to self-defense. I think what’s shown in that video is partial and incomplete.”
By invoking the words “fascism” and “Nazism,” does law go out the window? Inter arma enim silent legēs. Are we at war? Have we reached the point where stopping them “by any means necessary” justifies the first violent attack?
And indeed, the hysteria that’s gripped so many following Charlottesville would appear to make this idea seem not entirely far-fetched, as the entirety of the left, and a fair number of others, has come to believe that the fear of white nationalists is not only real, but serious enough to rationalize resorting to violence.
Some will agree with the general proposition, but disagree that it’s acceptable for the left to engage in pre-emptive violence, to be relieved from law and norms before a hand is lifted against them. But if anything has become clear in the past few days, you don’t get to micromanage hysteria or the actions of the mob. Once people get worked up into a frenzy of feelings, things take on a life of their own, a momentum that overwhelms thought.
The mob doesn’t care whether you think it’s gone too far. The mob feels that it must use any means necessary, and they’ll roll over you if you stand in their way just as they will their enemy. By your questioning their actions, even if not their good intentions, you are just as much a part of the problem as the fascists. You are the enemy. They will beat you too.
Are you ready to start punching people for their repugnant beliefs? Are you ready to kill them? Are all laws, all norms, off the table, because you fear them so much, because you’re so swept up in the righteousness of the mob that you’re ready to use any means necessary? While this appeared inane, and people like Felarca were hysterical outliers, the frenzy following Charlottesville suggests that many have assumed this fatalistic belief that the time has come to be the fascists to stop the fascists, and that violence is now acceptable.
Over the course of about 24 hours, progressives on the twitters went from tearing down statues of confederate generals to the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, to a call to eliminate “classic” movies that are racist and sexist. The ACLU went from defending Milo to representing white supremacist Jason Kessler to denying white supremacist’s speech is free speech. It’s spiraling out of control fast. To some the question is simple, good v. evil, which justifies whatever they want it to justify, including violence.
If you accept the excuse, then there is nothing that can’t be rationalized as they must fight their evil by any means necessary. Are you good with this?