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    #2 Beyond Pacifism and Debating Antifa

    The PloughCast, The Violence of Love, Part 2

    By Peter Mommsen, Susannah Black and Patrick Tomassi

    March 23, 2021
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    How did Bruderhof founder Eberhard Arnold’s militant nonviolence manifest, and subvert, the spirit of his age? And what really happened in Portland this summer?

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    About this Episode

    In 1920, Eberhard Arnold founded both the Bruderhof and the magazine and publishing house that are now called Plough. From the beginning, Christian nonviolence was a core part of his understanding of what it was to be a Christian and a witness to the Gospel. But this peaceful living was in no way passive, safe, or milquetoast. Learn more about Eberhard Arnold’s understanding of what he was up to. Is there such a thing as Nietzschean Anabaptism? Probably not, but this was nonviolence with a backbone – and he practiced it, and led others, in what was surely one of the most dangerous places and times to insist on that way of life in the past several hundred years.

    And what does it mean to oppose, or practice, political violence today? Should one punch Nazis? And if so, who is a Nazi? What is Antifa, what are the Proud Boys, and how and why did they make Portland their battleground this summer? Patrick Tomassi, a native Portlander, did the unthinkable: he actually talked with all of those involved. Hear about his interviews with Antifa, with Proud Boys, with BLM activists and with local business owners and police. Learn about the way that these groups use each other, and the media, to create narratives, which reinforce their own understanding of the conflict, and learn about how they understand what they are aiming at.

    • I. Beyond Pacifism: What can we make of the tradition of Christian nonviolence? (1:25)
    • II. Intermezzo: We share news from the Plough network. (24:59)
    • III. Beyond the Black Umbrellas: Patrick Tomassi reports on his reporting about Portland’s Antifa. (27:45)
    • IV. Recommendations: Joseph Margulies “Who Deserves to Be Forgiven,” Alfred Hitchcock “To Catch a Thief,” and Daryl Davis “TED Talk: Why I As A Black Man Attend KKK Rallies.” (37:55)

    Recommendations

    Transcript

    Susannah: Should all Christians be pacifists, and can it ever be a Christian's duty to kill?

    Peter: And jumping ahead a hundred years to Portland, Oregon, we'll be speaking with a native Portlander, Patrick Tomassi, about his interactions with Antifa and the Proud Boys and a great new article he wrote.

    Susannah: I'm Susannah Black, senior editor at Plough.

    Peter: I'm Peter Mommsen, editor of the Plough Quarterly, and this is The PloughCast. So, Susannah, this is the second of a six-part series that we'll be doing on The Violence of Love, our new issue of Plough Quarterly. And it's about violence, nonviolence; last time we talked about the problem of political violence, and we also talked about some early antifascists, the White Rose student movement in Germany, in 1943. Also in Germany, but not in 1943, was Eberhard Arnold, the author of our first piece that we're going to discuss today: Beyond Pacifism: Seven Theses on Christian Nonviolence. And Eberhard Arnold is the founding editor of Plough and is also the founder of the Bruderhof. He died in 1935. What was your impression of reading this article, his seven theses, which are, you know, kind of provocative, given that most Christians don't agree that nonviolence is a necessary part of following Jesus?

    I. Beyond Pacifism: What can we make of the tradition of Christian nonviolence? (1:25)

    Susannah: Before we talk about the specific theses, my impression is just – he's a voice from a kind of a different world. And I just – I'd be interested to – not, not a different world in the sense that he's looking at questions that we're not looking at, but that his surroundings, his like, imagining his surroundings; the political and social things that are going on as he's writing these things was such a huge part of me reacting to them that I was wondering whether you could just sort of describe a little bit more what the sort of political and social movements, of essentially Weimar Germany, were as he was growing up and as he converted and began to try to live out his ideals. What was his story?

    Peter: Absolutely. So, Eberhard Arnold was a Protestant theologian and philosopher. He was very active in Berlin in the revival movement that was sweeping through the Lutheran churches at that time. Actually, during World War I, he was pretty patriotic and pretty supportive of Germany's war effort. Although increasingly, over the course of the war, he was troubled specifically by the social injustice that became ever more obvious during the course of the war. And then particularly by – so he had been drafted, but he was let go after a few weeks driving ambulance because of his tuberculosis, which was pretty advanced. So instead, he became a chaplain to soldiers who came back from the front and what he saw there just appalled him after the war.

    So they [the seven theses] span a time when he was first worried about the threat of Bolshevism in Germany, which was real, particularly in the early 1920s. And then, of course you get into the last few years of his life, 1933–1935, where he's living under a Nazi regime and the community, the Bruderhof that he founded, is being raided by, you know, the SS and Nazi police and getting in all kinds of trouble for their Christian convictions. So these seven theses aren't written from an ivory tower. You're right, Susannah, they're written out of a context of direct confrontation, first with Bolshevism, Marxism, and then with literal fascism.

    Susannah: Yeah. And actually, as we were, as we're sort of looking forward a little bit to the Patrick Tomassi piece that we're going to be discussing, another thing to kind of remember about what he was [pause] the world that he was living in, is that it was a world where literally communists and fascists were clashing on the streets and where there was a lot of pressure from, you know, whichever side you were kind of tended to be politically affiliated with, to support the idea that clashing on the streets was a good idea. A good thing that you should punch Nazis.

    Peter: Yeah. I mean, that's, you know, that's, that's really, really true. So Eberhard Arnold is actually on my mother's side, my great-grandfather. And my grandfather remembers growing up in Berlin, in 1919, during the German revolution and actually walking over the trenches where the sort of socialist and nationalist sympathizers are shooting at each other and they would have this ceasefire during the time that the kids would go to school and they'd walk over these little planks over the trench to get to school, they would stop shooting. And then they'd shoot during the day while the kids are at school and then the kids would kind of walk home. So this is what his kids were doing when he was thinking through and writing some of this stuff.

    Susannah: He was looking right in the face of a maximized version of essentially, not a failed state, but a political society that was committed to – that was completely drawn up in political violence as a sort of normative thing. That just kept on happening.

    Peter: That kind of puts today's Weimar comparisons into a better perspective because honestly, my kids [going] across trenches to school. Hopefully I never will [see that].

    Susannah: Yeah. So do we want to look at some of these theses, like one at a time, or maybe read them out and then choose a couple to discuss?

    Peter: I think we should. And the first thesis is the one that is the most controversial one, the one that from which all else follows: in the name of Jesus, no one can shed human blood. He writes “in the name of Jesus Christ we can die, but not kill. This is where the gospel leads us. If we really want to follow Christ, we must live as he lived and died.” So in the name of Jesus, we can die and not kill. And if that's true, then a whole bunch of other things are true. Second thesis, for instance, thus there can be no Christian state.

    Susannah: Because the state is by necessity, according to Romans 13 even, does, you know, part of its job is to shed blood. And therefore, if it's true that there that a Christian can't shed blood, then the state has to be something that is essentially outside of the kingdom of God.

    Peter: Exactly. The state is, as the power that is instituted and authorized by God to maintain order by violence, is outside the perfection of the kingdom. The kingdom of perfect love promised by the prophets and which the early Christians looked forward to. But then the other theses go in a bit of a different direction. And maybe we should first start by talking about these two because they’re getting into the problems with pacifism which he also has some pretty significant objections to, so I just described him as a pacifist, but I'm not really sure he actually would have welcomed that label.

    Susannah: But I mean, this is something that like, we've talked about a bit, but it's actually something that we, I think disagree on. Although I, you know, my ideas about this are confused. How do you, like, what does it mean that a Christian can't shed blood in the sense of like, what do you do about ideas of immediate self-defense or defense of others? Like, if, is it, is it really the case that if somebody was like attacking, you know, one of your kids, you would feel like you couldn't, you couldn't kill them in order to stop that?

    Peter: So I think that is obviously the classic objection, right? To, to Christian nonviolence, but the way that Eberhard Arnold sees this, and for that matter, I see it too, is that it’s actually the wrong way of asking the question in terms of sort of ethical hypotheticals. Our call as Christians is to be the body of Christ in the world. To live as he lived; die, as he died. As he said, Jesus never used lethal violence. He told his disciples not to use lethal violence. His whole way of the cross was one of accepting suffering, of dying, not of killing and in his teachings, in the Sermon on the Mount, he just goes into great detail about what that means, we’re to be meek, we’re to be merciful, we’re to be peacemakers, we’re to accept the second blow, we're supposed to go the second mile, if forced to go one, you know, if asked for the coat, you give the shirt.

    This is not just an ethical rule that you have to apply willy-nilly. It's rather that we are called to live a life of perfect love and in that life of perfect love and living the way Jesus lived. If it's inconceivable to imagine Jesus killing someone during his life, then it should be inconceivable for us too. Then what that means in terms of how to react in a situation, I don't think from this tradition, which is the Anabaptist tradition, you come at it that way, you say, I want to live a life of perfect love. And in that situation, I need to pray to God to show me what does it mean to express the love of Jesus in this situation? And I will tell you, this is completely unrelated to Eberhard Arnold, but one older Bruderhof sister I knew was Ilse von Köller. She was actually a German trapped on an island that was being overrun by the Russians at the end of World War II. And she had her baby and she was identified as the wife of a German officer and they were all lined up to be shot and she held her baby over heart because she wanted the baby to die first. But then she looked into the eyes of the commanding officer from the Russians. And just said, “I tried to look at him in love and he called it off.” So I think there is often a false narrowness and the sets of alternatives we imagine in situations of violence that Jesus shows a different way. And we kind of have to have the courage to be as apparently irresponsible and illogical as he was in the path that he went, because what he did in his life didn't make a lot of sense. Certainly no political sense and no sense in terms of his own self-defense or defense of his family. That's a long answer, but it's a big question.

    Susannah: It is a big question. I feel like I've definitely not gotten to the end of it. We probably won't on this podcast and I still do disagree, but I also think that sort of looking more closely at the way that he was thinking about these things, it does kind of illuminate it more. So like the way that I kind of started to think about it, is that he's really saying, and this I agree with, is that we're supposed to be living in the culture and customs of the kingdom of God. Like we're already living in that kingdom. We're physically inhabiting other kingdoms, but we are raised in a different kind of family culture and the family culture of this family of God is one where we don't use aggressive force against other. You can make some very fine distinctions about what it means to use violence.

    Peter: I think that's important because the objection you'll sometimes hear is (and this is the classic one – Luther goes into this) how a father will discipline his child, at least did back then. You spank your child to teach them not to do bad things. And in the same sense, the state disciplines us. But the Anabaptist and, and frankly, this goes back to the early Christians because they were not really into violence too much, either pointed out, a father never kills his child to discipline the child. And so there's a question: what is love? If the father's love, the mother's love is modeling God's love for us, that tells us a few things about where lethal violence comes in. And there's a difference between coercion and pressure and discipline, and actually turning a living person into a dead one.

    Susannah: The Romans 13 question probably still would incline me not to be a complete pacifist, but I can more easily see the distinction being actually killing. And so if you can stop someone who's trying to kill your kid – if you can coerce them physically, would physical coercion to stop someone from attacking someone be okay, according to your understanding?

    Peter: I think even the way of framing it as okay, is the wrong one. So I'm going to stick to my guns and say we're called to a way of perfect love. And if my way of trying to express perfect love to someone is to physically prevent them from doing something bad, I absolutely will, just as I would grab the steering wheel away from my daughter if she's driving funny when I'm teaching her.

    Susannah: Okay. That actually makes a lot of sense. Like it's not good for someone to become a murderer.

    Peter: No. But then the other piece of this, and there is actually a long literature on what it looks like when nonviolence is practiced, for instance the Anabaptist churches in Colombia during the war between the FARC guerillas and the government there have typically been nonviolent, some of the Anabaptist churches in Nigeria being attacked by Boko Haram have kept to nonviolence. It's often assumed that using violence is the practical and realistic way of addressing a situation of danger. Ironically, though, violence is often the worst way to respond when somebody is attacking you. If what you care about is saving yourself and your family, nonviolence can be a far more effective way, and maybe not incidentally actually requires more courage.

    Susannah: This kind of gets into maybe a few more of Arnold's theses here that martyrdom, or like suffering violence, suffering harm to your body as a way of potentially protecting others or as a way of refusing to compromise on the principle of nonviolence is itself something that requires great physical courage. It's not a wimpier option. I've sort of been reflecting on the idea of the cross as a battle and the cross as the definitive battle where Jesus, as a commander, puts his body in between us and the danger that we face and takes all that violence into himself. And that obviously took the greatest courage that anyone's ever exhibited and the greatest physical courage that anyone's ever exhibited.

    Peter: N.T. Wright in his book Jesus and the Victory of God has a beautiful passage on particularly the Gospel of John's account of Jesus' crucifixion and of the cross as Jesus’ kind of enthronement. And it goes into it really deeply that it is a place of victory. And it's not incidental that the early Christians, starting with Paul in Ephesians, but then also Ignatius of Antioch and others, constantly use military metaphors, but they weren't really metaphors to them. Military metaphors for what it meant to be a follower of Christ. So we're meant to put on the armor of God, but early Christian writings are just strewn with this kind of military idea that you're joining up with this army, that you're joining a soldier's life, but the warrior fighting is against spiritual enemies, not physical ones. And you're going to use the weapons of the spirit, not the weapons of sword and spear that shed blood. And it's really interesting. And that's often lost in a lot of moderate discussions of nonviolence, which tend to be very irenic and, and pacifistic and like “we don't want to stir the pot too much.”

    Susannah: I mean, as I mentioned before, I'm reading Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne, and there's this kind of odd section where she talks about people who are sort of more militaristic in their language about Christianity. They can draw on some of the more militaristic language in the New Testament and in the Book of Revelation, but then there's also options to draw on more gentle language about Jesus. And she seems to be saying, why not just choose to draw on the more gentle language? But the way that you put it, Pete, it almost seems to me as though first of all, that's not the way that we approach scripture, choosing the bits that feel good to us. And second of all, there is a kind of pacifism that doesn't even like what it is that the military language is getting at. It doesn't like that fighting spirit. And that seems to me to be a lot ickier in a way.

    Peter: I think it’s a huge problem. There is a strain of Christian pacifism that is just really embarrassed by King David and Joshua. Jesus wasn't, and the early church wasn't. And so if we are, I think we're kind of missing the point. Along with this, how do you like the way he kind of takes Leo Tolstoy to the woodshed?

    Susannah: Can you describe that? That is pretty brutal.

    Peter: Well I think I'm just going to read it. “One example of false translation of God's language,” and he's talking about exactly what you were mentioning about a sort of false forms of passivism, “is the ineffectual and passive pacifism of the sword advocated by Leo Tolstoy.” So he says “Tolstoy at least starts with the Sermon on the Mount, but he understands that the words of turning the other cheek and going the second mile as meekly submitting without clearing up the facts and without protesting against evil. To him, the good means simply yielding to an evil feat without exercising the freedom of will. Thus, he, in fact, advocates the other-worldly resigned piety of the established church that elsewhere Tolstoy so sharply condemns. The attitude he demands is in effect utmost passivity – a kind of Buddhism.” And that was probably a bad word to him. “Although he speaks a lot about Jesus, we have to regard Tolstoy as a sort of sectarian monk.”

    Susannah: That was just so brutal.

    Peter: Well, by contrast Jesus’ commands in the Sermon on the Mount have an active meaning of positive content. He says, ‘I am a King, and you will see the son of man at the right hand of the throne of God. You will have to recognize my rule, you who now commit the outrage of killing me’” and is putting words – I'm paraphrasing Jesus’ attitude as he's being killed. I'm contrasting that to the kind of passive, you know, I-wouldn't-kill-a-fly attitude that he associates with Tolstoy.

    Susannah: I mean, he is very aware of Jesus as the one in the Book of Revelation who comes with a sword sticking out of his mouth. That's the other kind of thing to really grasp hold of here that Arnold is not in any way iffy about the physical resurrection of the dead. This is not a giving-up or submitting to death. This is a grasping hold of life. In the fullest sense, this is not a passive being-okay-with-evil. This is actually the way of fighting for the good and fighting to win. This is doing what Jesus did. Going to the cross for the sake of the joy set before him, not as a kind of like Kantian, self-abnegating almost self-hatred. It's almost the opposite of that.

    Peter: Right. And I think this is what we were getting at before. And when we're talking about our disagreements, Susannah, is for him, nonviolence is not the standalone Kantian principle that you apply in hypothetical ethical situations. It's just part of this whole new way of life, but that's not separated from the issue of nonviolence. That also includes sharing all possessions. So whenever he talks about violence and nonviolence, he's also talking about capitalism, about mammonism, about what it means to live a life without possessions and without worry; about being like the birds of the air. There's a reason why he felt drawn to voluntary community of goods. He's talking about absolute forgiveness. These are all different facets of the same thing. They're not standalone ethical principles that we apply against ourselves or against each other, which then leads me to the other point which is that he's not using nonviolence as some type of new rule of orthodoxy where either you're nonviolent and you're a good Christian, or you're violent and you're a bad Christian.

    None of these things are a kind of you're-in-you're-out rule. They literally are not a dogma. Dogmas have their place, but these are not dogmas. They are a way of life. And nonviolence is one expression of it. The fact that we put our faith in the spiritual battle rather than the physical battle shows our faith in the resurrection of the dead. And ultimately that the Kingdom will come, because if we don't have the courage of our convictions when it comes to the guy coming with a gun, what makes us think we're going to have the courage of our convictions when we're facing our own end? What we really believe [is] that the Kingdom, the coming Kingdom, is the reality that matters. And that will also matter physically. Yeah. And so we're not going to resolve this now. We probably never will, but I think that it's ironically the sort of Niebuhrian realists, you know, it's nice what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, but we can't really do it when the bad guys come. That is the one that is left less hopeful and less realistic about what the world really is, if it's true that Jesus is who he says he is. So that’s kind of my rant.

    Susannah: It was a good rant. You, you got that rant on.

    Peter: Okay. Yeah. I'm not sure that Kristin Du Mez [would] approve of my rant.

    Susannah: No, I think that was toxic masculinity. I'm sorry. Yeah. I'm sorry. Yeah.

    Peter: Yeah. Maybe I'll even become a vegetarian soon. We're going to take a break now, and then we'll be back in a few minutes to talk about Portland and Antifa and the Proud Boys and to speak with the author of a new article in Plough called “Behind the Black Umbrellas,” Patrick Tomassi.

    II. Intermezzo: We share news from the Plough network. (24:59)

    Susannah: So, this is the part of the podcast where we give a little sort of report from the field, so to speak. Pete and I are both kind of in different parts of the Plough world. Pete is living in Fox Hill, upstate New York. I am living in Queens, downstate New York. And my kind of role for the past couple of years has been to be the intermediary, weird, sort of social ambassador. I've been the ambassador to lots of people. And one of the things that I'm really excited to talk about from the broader Plough community in New York is the fact that friend-of-the-pod and Plough writer, Tara Burton, let me know recently that KGB Bar, which is the bar that we have done some of our issue launches in, has reopened. It survived COVID. Lori Schwartz, the manager of that bar, has been a great friend to Plough and has just been really wonderfully welcoming and has been a great hostess. And I'm so extremely pleased – of all the places that I really did not want to go out of business because of all the restrictions on dining – KGB Bar was right at the top of the list and they've made it through. So join us in the aftertime when we are able to do our launches there again.

    Peter: As soon as I have my vaccine, I'm going there. So up here in upstate, what we are doing to kind of do a bit of community in COVID and this depressing time is maple-sapping. So the great thing about maple-sapping, actually making maple syrup, is first, you get out into the woods and you have a reason to be slogging around, through the disgusting snow, hauling around buckets of maple sap, but then you get to sit around a fire and it's not quite as good as KGB’s drinks, but you can come up with some pretty good things around a maple-sapping fire. And so our family together with some of our neighboring families just got our buckets up. We actually hung eighty buckets on maple trees. And so we're aiming to have a great season. I'll keep you posted, Susannah. But you know, I'm trying to get Lori at KGB Bar to actually make a maple-sap-based cocktail. I'm told it’s a thing in Korean saunas. Well, we better get on to our next topic.

    III. Beyond the Black Umbrellas: Patrick Tomassi reports on his reporting about Portland’s Antifa. (27:45)

    Peter: We'll now start the second part of our podcast, and I'm really glad to be welcoming our contributor, Patrick Tomassi from Portland, Oregon on with us. Great to have you, Patrick, and we're going to be talking about his article “Behind the Black Umbrellas: Debating Violence with Portland's Antifa.” It’s one of my favorite articles in this issue. And it kind of ties in really neatly with the question of violence: can violence ever be good? And maybe first, Patrick, you've lived in Portland a long time. Could you just describe what led up to this article? Because this wasn't just like a one-time-think piece, but you've been sort of reporting this story the entire year with all the craziness that we've read about coming out of your home city.

    Patrick: I didn't become aware of Antifa’s existence until around the previous election in 2016 when there was a lot of, a lot of back and forth. Portland was legitimately dangerous. It'd be in downtown Portland right after that election. So Antifa in Portland started to be really well known, but it was just sort of this background thing, Oh, there's this thing called Antifa. They were Black, they're anarchists. And that was more or less all I really knew about them. They, they interacted with Andy Ngo who's sort of famous, conservative commentator-provocateur or something. Anyway, that was about all I knew about them. And then after the murder of George Floyd, it became common to see Antifa activists with Black Lives Matter and other groups at the same events and stuff.

    And so that that just led to trying to understand what is actually going on. Later in the year in November, Portland was called like an anarchist jurisdiction, but being here it was still very unclear what was actually happening. I would I read the New York Times or NPR or whatever. But a lot of my relatives watch FOX News and read conservative newspapers. So we would be just not just like, not on the same page, but I used the phrase in the article that it was like being [in] an alternate universe with the same timeline where we have an election coming up that happens in both universes.

    There are protests in Portland and that's happening in both universes, but the events that actually go along with this are completely different. I couldn't piece out what was actually happening. I would try to read the local press, The Oregonian and OPB (or Oregon Public Broadcasting) and stuff like that to get a better sense, but it was still very hard to figure out what was happening. So we had a family argument, or a family discussion, my mom keeps saying it wasn't an argument, it was just a discussion. But we were discussing whether or not it was unsafe to go downtown, whether the city was actually on fire. That was the phrase that people kept saying, “Portland is on fire.”

    And I hadn't actually been downtown. And I realized that that might be a problem if I was trying to figure out what was happening. I had no direct experience of it at all. I started going to the protests after that. And then shortly thereafter, the center of the protests moved from downtown to the neighborhood that I live in because the Portland police union building is in my neighborhood. I could actually walk to protests and then walk home and not have to worry about if roads would be blocked and I wouldn't be able to drive, which happened numerous times. Then I started going to those as well. But I didn't have necessarily even have the sense that I was going to write about it. I just kind of wanted to understand what was happening. I actually don't remember how the piece for Breaking Ground came. I emailed Susannah and said, “Hey, I've been seeing this stuff. Do you want a piece?”

    Susannah: I forgot what the sequence was, but when you mentioned the possibility of doing this piece for Breaking Ground, which is a sort of Plough-affiliated website that I edit with Anne Snyder, I jumped on the idea. So I sent you down there and I was a little bit worried about your safety. And I remember doing research to try and figure out how to have you not get milkshaked or something.

    Patrick: Concrete milkshake would not have been a great experience, I don't think. But I think as far as who is doing violence: In addition to writing, I'm also the dean of boys at the school where I teach. And you see this happen with, with kids here. If you have a couple of bad attitudes, it can have a huge effect on the dynamic of an entire group. And that can affect the attitudes of kids whose attitude would otherwise be good. And I think when you have people who have varying degrees of comfort with violence at the same protest, people who might not be comfortable with violence start to become comfortable with it as it becomes part of what's happening.

    There was one interview that I did that didn't make it into the article that was with an organizer with the democratic socialists in Portland and asked him what he thought about all of this. And it was sort of like, well, you know, Antifa, I don't know a problem with violence, in principle, I have a problem with how we're perceived. So even like the DSA, who are not known for going around breaking windows, they're saying that violence as a political tool is fine, or we think it's fine, but we want to make sure that if we're using that tool well.

    Peter: What I found amazing about the article is the way that it actually modeled a different way of approaching this problem, because you talk to so many different kinds of people. So you talk to a lot of people involved in Antifa, you talked to people who are sympathetic to the BLM protests. You also talked to Proud Boys, at least a few of them who would talk to you. Was it difficult to get into those conversations with all those different kinds of actors in this pretty charged situation?

    Patrick: I think in a certain respect, it was easier than I thought it would be. For particularly – particularly talking to Rose City Antifa, I did not have any idea starting out how I was going to do that. And I went to their website and found out there was an email address and I emailed them and they got back to me the same day or the next day. So those sorts of things, just reaching people was much easier than I thought it would be. I had no idea of how to contact Proud Boys, but then they had a protest, again almost in my neighborhood, or a rally. How you talk about violence with people who are comfortable with violence is a very tricky question. Because for example, I would use the word violence to describe throwing a Molotov cocktail into the Portland police union building. To me, that's fine. Antifa would explicitly see that as not violence.

    Peter: Just property damage. And they'll get out in time.

    Patrick: Exactly. They've got insurance, but then when they want to talk about the violence of the state, that entirely shifts. And when you're saying the homelessness in Portland is violent in the sense that like, there are people living on the street while other people amass wealth, but homelessness is not caused by going around and hitting people with baseball bats. It has to do with jobs. It has to do with housing. So somehow discriminatory housing practices are violent, but breaking windows or attacking buildings, which also affects people's lives down the road, is not.

    Peter: You conclude your piece with a very different element with an extended interview with Daryl Davis, which I found absolutely fascinating. Many of Antifa told you that they kind of saw their job as punching Nazis. If more people had punched Nazis back in the 1930s, they feel Hitler might've been stopped in his tracks. But you spoke with a man who believes that doesn't work and has actually got some successes to prove it.

    Patrick: Right. I think that Daryl Davis is the kind of person that we can look to, not to say that everyone is going to go start befriending neo-Nazis and Klansmen. But that he models the fact that people can change. He models the fact that that dialogue is possible.

    Peter: I love that quote from him, “You can't punch the Nazi out of a Nazi.”

    Patrick: “You can't punch the Nazi out of a Nazi,” and he's somebody who knows Nazis.

    IV. Recommendations: Joseph Margulies “Who Deserves to Be Forgiven,” Alfred Hitchcock “To Catch a Thief,” and Daryl Davis “TED Talk: Why I As A Black Man Attend KKK Rallies.” (37:55)

    Peter: Well, that concludes the second part of our podcast. And before we sign out, we will as usual give our recommendations. So I want to talk about an article that has kind of been in my head recently. It appeared in the Boston Review by Joseph Margulies, a professor at Cornell, and is called, “Who Deserves [to be Forgiven].” And I won't get into it here, but it touches on a lot of the things we've been talking about. He writes about the New York Times who profiled [Klete Keller], an Olympic swimmer who participated in the Capitol riot on January 6th and is now essentially asking for forgiveness. And they gave him, you know, a very sympathetic review. The point of it though, is to say, actually, everyone deserves a chance at forgiveness, and we need to expand the range of people to whom we're prepared to offer forgiveness from just famous Olympic athletes with a lot of good friends. But of course, they should be forgiven too. So check it out. Joseph Margulies, “Who Deserves [to be Forgiven].”

    Susannah: And mine is actually something that I just re-watched on Valentine's Day. The Hitchcock romantic comedy with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, To Catch a Thief. I hadn't seen it in a couple of years. And it held up, absolutely. So, if you haven't seen it in a while, or if you've never seen it, it's probably time to watch To Catch a Thief again.

    Peter: That concludes our podcast for today. Please sign in for our next episode, which will be next week. That'll be the third of this six-part series on violence, and nonviolence, “The Violence of Love.” See you then.

    Contributed By Peter Mommsen Peter Mommsen

    Peter Mommsen is editor of Plough Quarterly magazine. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, Wilma, and their three children.

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    Contributed By Susanna Black Susannah Black

    Susannah Black is a senior editor of Plough.

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    Contributed By portrait of Patrick Tomassi Patrick Tomassi

    Patrick Tomassi is a teacher and writer in Portland, Oregon, his native city. He helps organize the annual New York Encounter and is a contributing editor at Veritas Journal.

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