If you don’t like punching Nazis, you’re going to hate this


What do you think of a man who threw flares at ICE vehicles and buildings?

An armed man was fatally shot Saturday after throwing what authorities called “incendiary devices” at an immigration detention center in Washington state and trying to set a commercial-size propane tank on fire, according to Tacoma police.

About 4 a.m., 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen threw “lit objects” at buildings and at cars in a parking lot, police said, causing a vehicle to go up in flames. Court records show the man was arrested last year at a protest at the privately owned detention center, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the man an “anti-immigration enforcement protester.”

There’s an argument to be made that he was committing acts of violence and that he was a terrorist. I’d disagree; a terrorist is trying to intimidate civilians with fear, while Willem Van Spronsen was targeting the tools of institutional oppression to stop terror. Violent, yes; terrorism, no. Read further in the article, and buried in bland language is the purpose of his act.

The attack came as thousands protested at ICE facilities nationwide ahead of the agency’s planned mass arrests of undocumented immigrants on Sunday. The Trump administration has said it will target about 2,000 families for deportation, focusing on as many as 10 cities. Seattle is not among the cities reportedly being targeted.

The Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats is owned and operated for ICE by a private company called the GEO Group, according to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which puts the facility’s capacity at 1,575 — one of the biggest immigration detention centers in the country, the group says. As ICE faces calls to improve conditions for migrants in its custody, some have called on the government to stop using privately run detention centers.

There is the truly criminal act, the state terrorism we stand by and watch: private companies paid by the government to imprison innocents for being born in the ‘wrong’ place.

He wrote a farewell letter. He knew he was going to die.

He wrote,

there’s wrong and there’s right.
it’s time to take action against the forces of evil.

evil says one life is worth less than another.
evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here.
evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary.
the handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane.
beware the centrist.

He was right. Will Van Spronsen is a human being who acted against evil.

ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm is only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend. Will gave his life fighting ICE we may never know what specifically was going through his head in the last hours of his life but we know that the NWDC [Northwest Detention Center] must be destroyed and the prisoners must be freed. We do not need heroes, only friends and comrades. Will was simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what he loved; fighting for a better world.

Comments

  1. davidnangle says

    I keep telling myself that my single vote in 2020 is worth more than my body thrown against the barbed wire now. But every day living in a country with concentration camps I feel guilty

  2. kome says

    Weird how law enforcement is willing to negotiate for hours with conservative white men actively shooting cops, black churches, or Jewish houses of worship and somehow manage to take most of those suspects in alive. But if you attack Nazis, I guess negotiations are over and authorities won’t hesitate to end your life.

  3. microraptor says

    kome @2: That’s because you might have a milkshake, a raw egg, or even a banana cream pie, which are all far more dangerous and destructive weapons than things like assault rifles or explosives.

  4. logicalcat says

    So where are the libertarians? You know the ones who say they support the 2nd amendment because there is a change our government could become authoritarian? Where they at?

  5. says

    Seems to me throwing explosives at a propane tank risks getting someone not connected with ICE killed, like the immigrants apparently housed in the building. I find myself suddenly wondering how long it will be before a major incident such as a fire does occur at one of the detention centres, resulting in multiple deaths.

  6. Saad says

    logicalcat, #4

    Same place the proponents of religious freedom hang out when a Muslim’s religious freedom is being debated.

  7. Dunc says

    Seems to me throwing explosives at a propane tank risks getting someone not connected with ICE killed

    I think it’s worth remembering that the claim that he was “trying to set a commercial-size propane tank on fire” comes from the police who killed him. Maybe he was, or maybe he wasn’t, but I’m not going to accept it as gospel just on the word of the cops – they have a substantial history of killing people and then lying about the details.

  8. stroppy says

    Hmm. That said, there are a lot of ways monkey wrenching can go sideways, especially when you’re talking about things that explode…

  9. consciousness razor says

    Dunc:

    I think it’s worth remembering that the claim that he was “trying to set a commercial-size propane tank on fire” comes from the police who killed him. Maybe he was, or maybe he wasn’t, but I’m not going to accept it as gospel just on the word of the cops – they have a substantial history of killing people and then lying about the details.

    Well, I’d be surprised if they made up this detail (below), but finding a burned out car would be something more than just some words from some cops, no?

    About 4 a.m., 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen threw “lit objects” at buildings and at cars in a parking lot, police said, causing a vehicle to go up in flames.

    If you were really in the mood for a conspiracy theory, the police did that too, to cover up their murder of a nonviolent protestor. But I’m not in that kind of mood.
    Of course, there’s no way to know whether he was “trying” to set the propane tank on fire. Maybe it would’ve been accidental, if it had actually happened. Maybe some guards/police/whoever were near it, and the point was (or would’ve been) to kill them? I don’t know. The police spokesperson also (according to the report) didn’t know whether the guy had fired the rifle he was carrying. So we don’t know much of anything. Most likely they could at least show it was his rifle, not a random one planted by the investigation.
    If he didn’t do anything “truly criminal,” I’ll be surprised. I don’t know whether he “acted against evil,” but I also don’t see anything to suggest that the way he acted was good. If it’s two bad guys trying to hurt each other, in a dumb action movie let’s say, you probably shouldn’t root for either of them, and maybe you should leave and ask for your money back.

  10. whheydt says

    From what I was reading yesterday (haven’t looked at the local news site yet today), there was little or no ICE activity in the SF Bay Area. This was being attributed to two causes. The first being that a lot of outreach and education was done in immigrant communities ahead of the day, mostly around “Know Your Rights”. The second was a judicial order to ICE that no one be removed from the country without being given sufficient time to talk to a lawyer.

    Who knew that requiring ICE to allow people to talk to lawyers would throw such an effective spanner in the works?

  11. says

    From some of his friends: his goal was apparently to destroy the vehicles ICE used to transport migrants — specifically, some buses. He failed at that. That he set fire to some ICE cars fits with that.

    Also note that he did not fire on the police, they simply decided to end the threat in the only simple-minded way they know how: by murdering him.

  12. petesh says

    Thank you, PZ. Willem Van Spronsen may have been wrong, but he was clearly principled. We don’t know everything about what happened, but apparently four cops shot him. Van Spronsen undoubtedly intended to do serious damage, and certainly was ready to die. That does not mean he was ready to kill, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that until further notice. I am roughly his age, and I respect his decision. Of course, it’s mostly been buried by a flurry of racist tweets. I like to think I’d have done a better job of broadcasting my intent than he did. But I fundamentally support him.

  13. doubtthat says

    With the benefit of hindsight, how do we view the Weather Underground? To me, they are the best case scenario for this type of protest – the only people they accidentally killed were people in their own group. No innocent bystanders were killed.
    That being said, could they be described as successful? Is this the best model?
    Interesting historical note – Ayers was not prosecuted because the insane abuses of the US Government were revealed when the details of COINTELPRO were revealed. The FBI behaved so atrociously they passed on a trial for a guy responsible for dozens of bombings.

  14. stroppy says

    Despite the stated objectives, I’m not down with “anarchy.” We’ve got enough of that spilling out of the rotting fish head stinking up the Whitehouse.

    whheydt has a smart point.

    IMO.

  15. Dunc says

    consciousness razor, @ #9: There’s a big difference between setting fire to vehicles and blowing up a large propane tank. And if, as you admit, “there’s no way to know” whether he was trying to do that, why did the police say that he was?

    I’m not saying he wasn’t armed, nor am I saying that he wasn’t using flares to set fire to vehicles. I am saying that we should be cautious about accepting the police’s account at face value, because it’s not a “conspiracy theory” that they often lie about these events to present themselves in the best possible light, and the people they kill in the worst – it’s a very well documented and repeatedly verified fact.

  16. azpaul3 says

    Non-lethal violence like punching Nazis or throwing milkshakes is one thing. Potentially lethal violence like throwing incendiaries at potentially explosive objects like cars, busses and propane tanks is something else entirely.

    The former is civil disobedience. The latter is terrorism.

    That you would support this terrorism because you agree with the politics is bad, PZ. You know better.

  17. Dunc says

    Cars are not “potentially explosive objects”, no matter what you’ve seen in the movies.

  18. vucodlak says

    I wouldn’t say it’s that I like punching Nazis, so much as it is that the inherent violence of Nazis’ existence requires a violent response. Unfortunately, we’re well beyond the point where merely harrying them off the streets is sufficient because, as Willem Van Spronsen so correctly points out, they’ve gotten to the point of building concentration camps and rounding people up.

    What do you do with the implements of genocide? You destroy them. What do you do with concentration camps? You liberate them. What do you do with the architects and foot soldiers of genocide? You do whatever it takes to stop them.

    Willem Van Spronsen died doing the right thing. He won’t be the last, unfortunately. Last time we were in a place like this, 70-85 million people died; roughly 3% of the world’s population. How many will it be this time, I wonder?

  19. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    @stroppy

    In other words, you’re more devoted to order than justice.

  20. vucodlak says

    @ freestinker, #21
    Timothy McVeigh deliberately murdered hundreds of people, including children. He built an enormous bomb, positioned where he thought it would cause maximum casualties, then ran away because he was also a coward.

    There is no reasonable comparison to be made there.

  21. freestinker says

    @ 22
    PZ said: “There’s an argument to be made that he was committing acts of violence and that he was a terrorist. I’d disagree; a terrorist is trying to intimidate civilians with fear, while Willem Van Spronsen was targeting the tools of institutional oppression to stop terror.”
    Timothy McVeigh was not trying to intimidate “civilians with fear.” He was “targeting the tools of institutional oppression to stop terror” as he saw terror.
    From Wikipedia: “A Gulf War veteran, McVeigh sought revenge against the federal government for the 1993 Waco siege, which ended in the deaths of 86 people—many of whom were children—exactly two years before the bombing; the 1992 Ruby Ridge incident; and the United States’ foreign policy. He hoped to inspire a revolt against the federal government, and defended the bombing as a legitimate tactic against what he saw as a tyrannical federal government.[6] He was arrested shortly after the bombing and indicted for eleven federal offenses, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was found guilty on all counts in 1997 and sentenced to death.”
    The comparison is certainly “reasonable.”
    Similarly, PZ’s line of logic absolves the 9-11 attackers, too.

  22. consciousness razor says

    There’s a big difference between setting fire to vehicles and blowing up a large propane tank.

    So what is the big difference? Is one of them not dangerous, while the other is? I don’t think that’s it, so what do you think it is?

    And if, as you admit, “there’s no way to know” whether he was trying to do that, why did the police say that he was?

    They saw him, so that may have been fairly apparent from his behavior.
    I don’t know, but they might know. That is a big difference.

    I am saying that we should be cautious about accepting the police’s account at face value,

    Okay, but like I said, there isn’t only a story from the police. There is other evidence, which might eventually be publicly available. I don’t know … they should’ve been wearing cameras, so maybe we’d have that too.

    because it’s not a “conspiracy theory” that they often lie about these events to present themselves in the best possible light, and the people they kill in the worst – it’s a very well documented and repeatedly verified fact.

    FFS, it’s a very well documented fact that there are conspiracies. But we can’t merely assume that about this specific case, on the basis that it’s true of other cases. If your theory is that they conspired, which is something people do from time to time, then I’m not saying that can’t be a good theory, so long as the evidence supports it. It doesn’t sound like you have much evidence to support it.

  23. stroppy says

    #20 Khantron, the alien that only loves

    “In other words, you’re more devoted to order than justice.”

    No. Try again.

  24. vucodlak says

    @ freestinker, #23

    Timothy McVeigh was not trying to intimidate “civilians with fear.”

    Bullshit. He knowingly and deliberately blew up an office building full of people. He didn’t blow up an empty armory, he didn’t bomb a parking lot full of FBI vehicles, he blew up PEOPLE to terrorize government officials and those who support them.

    He chose a time when the building would be packed with people, to ensure maximum casualties. He chose a soft target, because he wanted maximum damage with minimum personal risk. He murdered a bunch of clerks, office workers, and children rather than targeting people who might fight back because he wanted to terrorize, rather than actually fight and risk his own hide.

    He deliberately targeted civilians to incite fear. That’s terrorism.

    Willem Van Spronsen targeted vehicles used to round up people and take them to concentration camps. He directly targeted the means of oppression, knowing he would most likely die in the process. He targeted machines, not people, and he did it to make it harder for ICE to commit the evil acts he (and many of us here) objected to. That’s not “terrorism” by any reasonable analysis, but even if it fits the legal definition (which, in the US, is basically ‘anything the most fascist members of the government don’t like’) it was wholly justified. What McVeigh did was not, even by his own supposed standards, justifiable.

  25. PaulBC says

    I see this as an act of suicide by someone who was driven beyond what he could bear. I’m not going to make a statement for or against. In my opinion, it was not an effective political act. As an act of conscience? Well, this looks like a man with a conscience, but I don’t see this as an act with value. I’m happy nobody else was hurt, and I don’t give a rat’s ass about the property damage.

  26. longdog says

    One gets the impression that PZ’s never heard of the phrase “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”.

  27. consciousness razor says

    vucodlak:
    Don’t act like you’re against violence, when you say something requires a violent response.
    It’s actually not required. That’s certainly true, so let’s start there.
    Maybe you could get around to saying something — anything — coherent about what it is that you think you’re opposed to, whether Nazis are doing that thing or you’re doing it or the fucking pope is doing it. It’s not violence, because you’re not opposed to that. Instead, you think it’s fucking required. Remember?
    What kind of requirement is it? Is it a requirement for everybody? Is it a requirement for specific people in specific circumstances? Is it really the existence of a group with “inherent” properties which makes it a requirement, or is it something else? How the fuck is this supposed to work?
    You never make any of that clear, in any of your boring revenge fantasies. I doubt there’s much demand for it, but maybe you should consider publishing it in the form of a badly written screenplay or cartoon, instead of posting that shit here.

  28. freestinker says

    @26
    “Timothy McVeigh was not trying to intimidate “civilians with fear.”
    Bullshit. He knowingly and deliberately blew up an office building full of people. He didn’t blow up an empty armory, he didn’t bomb a parking lot full of FBI vehicles, he blew up PEOPLE to terrorize government officials and those who support them.”

    It amusing that you ignored the rest of the content and focused on a minor point, and still blew it.

    The building that McVeigh blew up: “By the 1990s, the building contained regional offices for the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Secret Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs vocational rehabilitation counseling center, the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).”
    These weren’t “civilians,” unless ICE agents are also civilians. They were agents of the Federal Government, which McVeigh decided were evil oppressors, and especially agents of the ATF, the Secret Service, and the DEA.
    Much like you and PZ have declared war on those you disagree with.
    You support violence to further your ideological ends.
    Own it.

  29. vucodlak says

    @ consciousness razor, #29

    Don’t act like you’re against violence,

    Never said that I was! Never pretended to be. And do you know why? Because I’m not against violence. I’m against many acts of violence; rape, torture, blowing up children and civilians, deliberately targeting civilians, carelessly using violence in a way that harms bystanders, and on and on the list goes.

    I’m absolutely willing to support violence in certain situations. I’m absolutely willing to use violence in certain situations. I have, in fact, done so. Some of the violent acts I have committed I am ashamed of, while in other situations violence was best of a lot of bad options, and I’ve never lost much sleep over it.

    You want a list of those situations? Way, way too long, but “people are being put in actual concentration camps” is a situation where violence is required. Whether it is the violence of one law enforcement agency being used another, or some other kind, is not something I’m prepared to say. I absolutely support Willem Van Spronsen’s actions, and there are other actions I would support as well.

    What kind of requirement is it? Is it a requirement for everybody? Is it a requirement for specific people in specific circumstances? Is it really the existence of a group with “inherent” properties which makes it a requirement, or is it something else? How the fuck is this supposed to work?

    Oh jesus fucking… we go through this shit every time. Every time I answer one of your questions you come back with ten more, half of which are the same questions as before slightly rephrased but which you still demand I answer every goddamn time, because if I don’t you’ll accuse me of not answering them like it’s an asinine gotcha game. When I finally get sick of playing your game and leave, and you then declare the next time this comes up that I’ve never answered your questions. So I’m going to try to keep my answers very short this time, and if you don’t like them, well, tough shit:
    1.) A moral requirement
    2.) No
    3.) Obviously
    4.) If there were no concentration camps, and there are no Nazis/fascists, then opposing such things in any fashion is pretty fucking pointless.
    5.) How does what work? Violence? That depends on the specific acts and specific contexts. In this case, destroying vehicles used in putting and keeping people in concentration camps means that those vehicles cannot be used any longer. If enough people destroy enough vehicles, then it damages the ability of ICE/CBP to haul people into the concentration camps. This is not a complicated concept.

    You never make any of that clear, in any of your boring revenge fantasies.

    I’ve been clear that I support punching and milkshaking Nazis. I’ve explained why, repeatedly, in numerous threads past. Blah blah demoralizing yada yada counters their invulnerable ubermensch and ‘everyone secretly agrees’ narratives which damages their recruiting ability boo fart and also drives them off the streets etc yawn. Been through that a hundred times. You don’t like the answers I give, so you pretend I never gave any. Fine, whatever, I’m not playing that game this time.

  30. chigau (違う) says

    consciousness razor #29
    When did vucodlak say they were against violence?

  31. chigau (違う) says

    refresh before posting
    refresh before posting
    refresh before posting

  32. chigau (違う) says

    freestinker
    Doing this
    <blockquote>paste copied text here</blockquote>
    Results in this

    paste copied text here

    It makes comments with quotes easier to read.
    also
    if you could provide the source of the quote

  33. vucodlak says

    @ freestinker, #32

    It amusing that you ignored the rest of the content and focused on a minor point, and still blew it.

    I ignored the rest because it wasn’t relevant to the discussion, which was that he deliberately blew up a whole lot of people without the least regard for whether they were actually connected to the bloody raids he that he claimed justified his actions. How often do officials from the Depart of Veterans Affairs, HUD, and Social Security Administration raid militia and cult compounds? How about the kids in the office day care, were they responsible for Waco, too?

    What, do you think every person who works for the government is issued a gun, a badge, and endowed with the power to arrest people? Because that’s not how it works. There are many in the employ of the DEA and ATF I would consider civilians, because they never carry weapons or arrest people. They’re office workers and accountants and administrative assistants. And the people in the DVA, HUD, and SSA are pretty much exclusively civilians. Plus, you know, the janitors and visitors and delivery people and the bloody kids who were also in the building.

    When you indiscriminately bomb civilians for a political agenda unless you’re looking to foment terror. Yes, he claimed he was trying to start a war, but how exactly was his bombing of a bunch of people who were largely completely unconnected to the events at Waco/Ruby Ridge supposed to accomplish that?

    These weren’t “civilians,” unless ICE agents are also civilians.

    ICE agents carry weapons, conduct raids, haul people off to concentration camps, and… what else? Oh yeah- Van Spronsen didn’t attack ICE agents, he attacked their fucking vehicles. There’s a vast difference between destroying property used for nefarious ends and blowing up a random group of people just because a few of those people were tangentially connected to some other people who botched a couple of raids.

    Much like you and PZ have declared war on those you disagree with.
    You support violence to further your ideological ends.
    Own it.

    Yes, in certain cases and contexts, I support the use of violence, and I have used/would use violence myself. Like nearly every other human being on the fucking planet.

    If that means going to war with people who put children in concentration camps, well, that’s exactly what my grandparents did.

  34. DanDare says

    Is this the first shot of a rebellion?
    Has democracy been taken away by those in power?
    If laws are inhuman and opposed to human rights does the rule of law collapse?
    What levers are left to peacefully correct the situation?

  35. PaulBC says

    DanDare@38 “Is this the first shot of a rebellion?”

    I would consider that something on the scale of John Brown’s raid, and no I am not eager to go there.

    James Hodgkinson’s shooting of Rep. Scalise is also significant and politically motivated. I don’t think that was really the first shot of rebellion either. It was a desperate act rather than part of an intentional plan as Brown’s was.

  36. consciousness razor says

    vucodlak:

    Because I’m not against violence. I’m against many acts of violence; rape, torture, blowing up children and civilians, deliberately targeting civilians, carelessly using violence in a way that harms bystanders, and on and on the list goes.

    So here’s what you do. You give excuses for why you engage in violence, and you assert (based on nothing at all) that somehow it’s necessary, for somebody, somewhere, sometimes. What you don’t say is what’s wrong with it, in the cases listed above (or others not listed, perhaps). You don’t say why anybody should be against those things. You just say that you are — maybe you’re serious, maybe not — but you don’t say why. Saying why might be difficult for you, because as you just said, you don’t have a general objection to offer against it. At least I can credit you for honesty about that, even though you’re not thinking clearly about the implications of it.

    So I’m going to try to keep my answers very short this time, and if you don’t like them, well, tough shit:
    1.) A moral requirement
    2.) No
    3.) Obviously
    4.) If there were no concentration camps, and there are no Nazis/fascists, then opposing such things in any fashion is pretty fucking pointless.
    5.) How does what work? Violence? That depends on the specific acts and specific contexts. In this case, destroying vehicles used in putting and keeping people in concentration camps means that those vehicles cannot be used any longer. If enough people destroy enough vehicles, then it damages the ability of ICE/CBP to haul people into the concentration camps. This is not a complicated concept.

    1) You give no reason why any of it’s morally wrong, nor do you say why doing anything about it (much less your specific proposal) is morally necessary. Moral reasoning it is not. You can attach the word “moral” in front of any other word you like, but that does not make it so.
    2) Why not? Every one of us is obliged to refrain from lying, cheating, stealing, as much as possible…. And I would say harming each other is very generally something that we morally need to avoid. It’s hard to see how you could be talking about a moral obligation like that, if it’s not about almost everybody (whenever possible) in almost every situation. On top of that, it in fact contradicts some basic obligations regarding nonviolence that almost everybody recognizes (except you and Nazis, along with all of the other bullies in history). It can’t be the case that these contradictory claims are both correct. We can give reasons why nonviolence is good, why we should avoid harm, etc…. That’s what you can’t do, which is basically what tells me that you’re wrong. Have you considered the possibility that you’re wrong about this? What do you think considering it would be like, if you had?
    3) Then obviously you should specify, if you think it needs to be specified.
    4) That doesn’t answer anything I was asking.
    5) I wanted to understand how this whole thought process is supposed to go in your head … how somebody could come to same conclusions as you, whatever exactly those are (if you were specific in #3 above, let’s say). What you do is just say a bunch of shit, without bothering to justify it, which isn’t good enough. Trump can do that, and I bet you could do better. But if you did, I bet you wouldn’t be saying the same things as you are now. Maybe you should be saying something else. I think that’s probably the right option.

  37. John Morales says

    CR:

    Every one of us is obliged to refrain from lying, cheating, stealing, as much as possible

    I am under no such obligation. So please exclude me from your supposedly universal set.

    (Bah)

  38. vucodlak says

    @ consciousness razor, #42

    1.) If I have to explain to you why concentration camps are morally wrong, then I can’t help you.

    2.) If a Nazi asks you if they are Jews in your attic, the moral response is to lie your ass off. If your family is starving, it is not immoral to steal a loaf of bread from someone with plenty to spare. If someone is harming another, it may indeed be moral to use violence to stop them from doing so. I can’t really even speculate on whether violence is a possibly moral course of action without some specifics but, by way of a Nazi-free example:
    If the neighbor seems to killing his partner, then I can A.) call the cops, which is an act of violence or B.) attempt to intervene myself, which would almost certainly entail the use of violence. I know situations like that very well- violence is practically a guarantee, no matter how much you try to deescalate. Sometimes threats will suffice, but threats are still violence. Of course, I could also C.) ignore them, secure in the knowledge that whatever happens over there, at least I didn’t sully my precious moral superiority by descending to their level.

    3.) “Is it a requirement for specific people in specific circumstances?” is asking for specifics in response to a generality. I just gave you one specific set of common circumstances in the above. Violence isn’t the first thing I’d choose, but it’s unlikely that it can avoided. It is, so far as I can see, the most moral choice.

    4.) I did my best to parse your question. If you don’t like my answer, then ask better questions.

    5.) Alright, again, I have no idea what you want from me, so let me ask you something that might prove illuminating for both of us. This is a situation I’ve experienced; you tell me what you would have done:
    You’re 16 years old. Two of your friends have decided to leave their homes, because friend A’s family has given them an ultimatum to be straight or get out, and friend B’s only family, her father, is severely physically abusive. You’re mostly along as the muscle, meaning you lift heavy things and may have other responsibilities as the situation warrants.

    Understand that police and social services are worse than useless. The cops will arrest your friends, and force them to return home. Friend A will almost certainly go to jail, because their family won’t take them in, and friend B stands a very good chance of dying at her father’s hands if he finds out she’s trying to leave. Social services, on the other hand, has one office that’s split between 7 local counties. If you’re lucky, they might look in on your friends in 3 months’ time. Even if you want to chance calling the cops, it would take a minimum of 30 minutes for them to arrive at this time of night, because the only local law enforcement is the sheriff, whose office closes at 6PM, meaning literally the whole force will be off duty, and all emergency calls are routed to the state police.

    You’re trying to move things out of friend B’s house without waking her father. This fails- the father wakes up, ambushes and attacks friend A with a baseball bat. Friend A is down and bleeding, and the father is currently promising to kill friend B.

    You were in another room; the father hasn’t noticed you’re there. The father is a fairly big guy, but so are you, and you have a gun given to you in case of something like this.

    What do you believe the moral course of action is, in this situation? At any point in this situation, even. You can choose to have refused to provide help at the very beginning, for example, but whether you choose to be involved or not that assault will happen.

    I know what I did and, yes, it involved violence. I’m curious what you believe the moral course of action would have been, since violence is so clearly off the table.

  39. ck, the Irate Lump says

    It’s probably worth point out for the “What If…”-ers that antifa activists still have a body count of zero, while their opponents, far right ethno-staters, Nazis and ICE, all have significant casualties (every year). So, maybe we should look at the actual harm, rather than the theoretical harm.

  40. consciousness razor says

    There is no reason to exclude you, John Morales. So I won’t. Now if you had said “bah humbug,” maybe that would suffice…. But as it stands, you have not made an especially compelling point.
    vocudlak:

    If I have to explain to you why concentration camps are morally wrong, then I can’t help you.

    You’re either being dishonest or incredibly obtuse. If you explained that concentration camps, etc., involve violence, and you explained why that was a problem, that would definitely be coherent and comprehensible. It’s the sort of thing most people, unlike you, would say.
    But I’m not asking them. I’m asking you, and you don’t get to pretend to be them. You reject that line of thought, so you would have to offer something else, which you actually believe is true (and not any old bullshit that’s convenient at the moment). It’s true that you can’t help, because you don’t offer anything like that. With just a bunch of bare assertions, you’ve got nothing. Or maybe I should it’s worse than nothing, given what you’re doing with them.

    What do you believe the moral course of action is, in this situation?

    There are lots of details in your story, and I don’t have much to say about most of it. I haven’t been arguing against self-defense. That can be necessary, in the ordinary sense that in fact there aren’t other, better options available. If there are others, so in fact you can avoid that type of situation (by running, hiding, etc.), then you should avoid it. That’s also why it’s defense and not offense. You don’t run into it or provoke it; it is something that came to you as it were, so you have no other choice.
    I don’t know about your story or how much of your version of it is true, but it is not the case that Van Spronsen was engaged in something like self-defense. All he did was find a way to get himself killed and make it into headlines. Zero people were helped, and zero immigrants can live better lives because of it.
    Self-defense is not about pointing to some harmful/bad thing out there in the world and “defending” (however ineptly) against that. Because you very typically have many other options, when that’s the sort of thing we’re talking about. And in any case, that’s not how people use that term, which is the sort of thing I’ll happily support.
    That’s why no honest person, who understands the words they’re using, would claim that that particular option was “necessary” or “required.” Because that’s simply false: there are other options, meaning it isn’t the only one, meaning that the one you happened to pick isn’t needed. I don’t see a way around that, without bullshitting or talking nonsense.
    You’ve been clear enough, in this thread and several others, that you’re endorsing violence other than self-defense. That’s where our disagreement is, and if your personal experience genuinely does have something to do with self-defense, I don’t think that will get us anywhere. I could also tell you about defending myself when I was attacked, but that’s also not relevant now.

  41. John Morales says

    CR:

    There is no reason to exclude you, John Morales.

    Well, you might feel I am under that obligation, but I most certainly do not.

    But as it stands, you have not made an especially compelling point.

    I’m telling you I have no such obligations, contrary to your claim.
    But fine, ignore the counterexample to your purported universal rule, which in your mind is not “an especially compelling point”.

    Just for you: I am really a dog. With a waggly tail.

    (Huh. Almost like I didn’t feel obliged to not lie, eh?)

  42. John Morales says

    Hm, quiet. So. CR to vucodlak, above:

    You’ve been clear enough, in this thread and several others, that you’re endorsing violence other than self-defense.

    Pre-emptive self-defence, which is what I interpret vucodlak to be advocating, is still self-defence. Not all threats are proximate.

    CR:
    My impression is that you imagine that violence is intrinsically immoral, rather than circumstancial. But, if I am wrong, then where you and vucodlak differ is only when it’s applicable.

    (Also seems to me that whereas vucodlak has been there and been tested, you are relying on your self-estimation. And I value empiricism.)

  43. consciousness razor says

    You’re not a counterexample, JM, just wrong, like a flat earther. I’m aware that such people exist. It’s good to know that they’re out there, making false claims and making themselves look ridiculous. It’s at least good for a laugh, if they’re not doing anything too harmful. So they’re not entirely ignored. But their false beliefs are just that, and that itself doesn’t count as evidence of the Earth’s flatness. If they present relevant and substantial evidence or reasoning, that shouldn’t be ignored. But merely presenting yourself (or your contrary beliefs) doesn’t cut it. Let me know if you think it should work some other way.

  44. John Morales says

    CR:

    You’re not a counterexample, JM, just wrong

    <snicker>

    Really.

    So I am wrong in thinking that I think that I have absolutely no such obligations, in your estimation.

    I’m aware that such people exist. It’s good to know that they’re out there, making false claims and making themselves look ridiculous.

    The irony is palpable.

    But their false beliefs are just that, and that itself doesn’t count as evidence of the Earth’s flatness.

    Your certitude regarding my openly proclaiming that I feel no obligation whatsoever to not lie is itself a false belief.

    I demonstrated that when I told you that I am a dog.

    That was a lie (of is this the lie? ;) )

    So. You think I am in denial that I have breached one of my obligations, right?

    Heh.

    (Me, I think I’m making fun of you and your supposed obligations)

  45. consciousness razor says

    My impression is that you imagine that violence is intrinsically immoral, rather than circumstancial. But, if I am wrong, then where you and vucodlak differ is only when it’s applicable.

    I don’t know how to interpret “intrinsically,” so I’m not sure what to say. I think that something isn’t immoral, if nobody is harmed — a less politically-oriented version of Mill’s harm principle, if you like. Being gay? There is no harm done, so a claim that it’s immoral is false. If the reason you say it’s bad is because “god says so” or “the Bible says so” or “I say so,” then you haven’t given me a good reason that relates how it affects somebody who could experience some kind of harm.
    I would say violence is obviously harmful, if not intrinsically so. (If you know what the word “violence” means, I guess you should probably know that much.) Thus, you need a good justification for it. Maybe that can be done in some circumstances. If a doctor harms a patient in some way, it may save their life — that’s an example of the kind of justification I have in mind. So it’s not hard to imagine circumstances when some kind of harm is warranted or appropriate or the best option that anybody has. If that makes it “circumstantial” and not “intrinsic,” then go ahead and use that terminology if you like.
    I don’t think that’s what the difference is about. I suspect vucodlak would like to think that their merely talking about self-defense (which basically everyone accepts), but that’s not really what they’re supporting. Maybe it’s deliberate, maybe they’re honestly confused, or who knows … that, I certainly don’t know.

    (Also seems to me that whereas vucodlak has been there and been tested, you are relying on your self-estimation. And I value empiricism.)

    But I have had to defend myself, like I said before…. Even if that weren’t true, personal stories and anecdotes aren’t the same thing as empiricism. We’ve got empirical evidence of all kinds of people, around the world and throughout history, engaging in violence and nonviolence. We can see what the consequences were like in this wide variety of different cases, without having to experience all of it personally. Maybe vucodlak does have a better grasp of it than me (if any of that even plays a role in how they think, which I doubt), but it’s definitely not because one of us told a story and the other didn’t.

  46. John Morales says

    consciousness razor,

    I don’t know how to interpret “intrinsically,”

    per se. By its very nature.

    I would say violence is obviously harmful, if not intrinsically so.

    Well, you seem to have interpreted it correctly.

    Let’s compromise: violence is potentially harmful; as in a security guard applying an arm lock on someone who pulls out a knife. It need not be. (e.g. milkshakes)

    So it’s not hard to imagine circumstances when some kind of harm is warranted or appropriate or the best option that anybody has.

    So far, so congruent to vucodlak’s stance. Right?

    If that makes it “circumstantial” and not “intrinsic,” then go ahead and use that terminology if you like.

    Come on, such coyness is beneath you. There is no “if”, it is evidently the case.

    (You yourself wrote “circumstances when”!)

    I suspect vucodlak would like to think that their merely talking about self-defense (which basically everyone accepts), but that’s not really what they’re supporting.

    I acknowledge your suspicion, but (as I wrote) my personal interpretation is otherwise.

    (I’m about as familiar with them [posting corpus] as I am with you, so there’s that)

    Anyway, thanks. Enough, I don’t want to spam the thread.

  47. doubtthat says

    @ ck, the Irate Lump

    That’s why I asked folks’ opinion on the Weather Underground. They carried out dozens of bombings and the only body count was three of their own members who blew themselves up.
    So, best case scenario for this type of aggressive resistance. They managed to avoid killing innocent bystanders. So, cool.
    But, looking back, can their efforts be described as successful? Did they accomplish anything? Is this a good strategic model to follow, even if the moral aspect is removed?

  48. aramad88 says

    Oh my God, you’re actually lionizing an ARSONIST now?? And a stupid one at that – attempting to ignite or detonate a fuel tank adjoining or on the property on which the people he was fighting for were kept. If it caught, then all the imprisoned are the most likely to be barebcued – because they’re in cells, they can’t just leave. Their escape is dependent on first being freed. (Have a look at the “Fire to the prisons” banner at the linked article – who do you think is in those pictured cells??)

    PZ: “There’s an argument to be made that he was committing acts of violence and that he was a terrorist. I’d disagree; a terrorist is trying to intimidate civilians with fear”
    What. There’s no doubt about this. ICE staff are civilians, and he committed a suicide attack against them with methods posing an indiscriminate threat to anyone nearby, for political reasons. That’s terrorism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_terrorism). The fact that I agree with his opposition to ICE (I’m an immigrant myself, though I pass for white) does not cloud my judgement.

    And from the linked source:
    “All we know about what lead up to this comes from the cops, who are notoriously corrupt and unreliable sources for such a narrative. The story that we do have is that Will attempted to set fire to several vehicles, outbuildings and a propane tank outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma which houses hundreds of immigrants awaiting hearings or deportations. He successfully set one vehicle on fire and then exchanged gunfire with Tacoma police officers who fatally shot him. He was pronounced dead on the scene. We find his actions inspiring.”

    Notice that even while they caution that the account of events is in need of independent verification, they accept it provisionally and praise him on the basis of that account. They praise him even given the possibility that he fired at police. Disgusting.

  49. aramad88 says

    Also, for those not sure of whether the rifle found on him was genuinely his, or something planted by police, please go to the third image of the manifesto and read the bottom paragraph. He makes clear that he intentionally brought a weapon and 6 magazines.

  50. lochaber says

    ICE agents routinely violate human and civil rights, and deny their targets fourth amendment protections.
    They can literally disappear people and deny them access to lawyers, the press, or their family.

    How else do you fight corruption and evil like that other than with violence?

    We are continuing to edge closer and closer to Nazi Germany. How far do we let things go before we take action?

  51. says

    @aramad88

    There is very little reason to believe that HE was trying to blow up a propane tank. No, the police is not a valid source, they lied too often.

    He went out there to destroy ICE equipment, cars and buses specifically, which he did, he had no plan of killing people. Considering what ICE does, this is a heroic act. He had a weapon, which is more than understandable, considering that he knew that he would be shot at, so he knew that there would be reason for self defense.
    No, people who are working for ICE are not civilian, at least not the thugs going out and doing the raids and even if they were, nobody working for ICE is innocent, just as no one working at Auschwitz was innocent. That is not necessarily a reason to kill them, but again, that wasn’t the plan to begin with.

    So yes, HE was a damn hero. At least he did something to stop this madness.

  52. lochaber says

    hey aramad88>

    What’s up with your handle? do you happen to be 31 years old, or are you just a fan of a certain Austrian fascist?

  53. John Morales says

    [lochaber, aramad88 has previously responded to your query: it is a birthdate in yy format]

  54. lochaber says

    John Morales>

    thanks, I’m rather intermittent on these boards, at best, so I missed that.

    Even so, I’d be really hesitant to use that as part of my handle, considering the rise of visible white supremacist ideology lately. Especially considering they keep criticizing antifa. It’s not a good look…
    I’d likely find something else altogether to distinguish my base handle, or if I really needed that date, go with the 4 digit or a Roman numeral format or something to make it less likely to be confused with common nazi identifiers…

  55. dma8751482 says

    My only objection to what he did is that ultimately it won’t change a thing. Even if he did succeed in damaging a few vehicles- they’ve got hundreds more to take their place.

    While I dislike the violent approach, I feel that if it must be done then it ought to be decisive and yield immediate results- for example, rendering whatever database they use to keep track of illegal immigrants unusable (or better yet, laced with false information that makes the whole system untrustworthy to its intended users). In this case, the only thing he’s accomplished is giving them a reason to militarize further in the name of “security”.

  56. John Morales says

    lochaber, no worries. I hope aramad88 (not the most obscure anagram) takes heed.

    The nym is not neutral, alas.

  57. aramad88 says

    @Turi1337
    “He had a weapon, which is more than understandable, considering that he knew that he would be shot at, so he knew that there would be reason for self defense. … That is not necessarily a reason to kill them, but again, that wasn’t the plan to begin with.”
    That doesn’t work. If he knew he was entering a situation and took a gun with him to fire back when in that situation, that is a person intending to shoot people. If all he wanted was suicide by cop, why bring 6 magazines?? That shows intent to fire and fire and reload and fire some more.

    Also, I find it slightly funny that Turi1337 is saying he did not want violence, this was not an act of intentional violence etc while others including lochaber one comment before is saying not only that this was a violent act, but also “How else do you fight corruption and evil like that other than with violence?” Folks, was this a violent act or not?

    (My answer = yes, definitely, and likely terrorism too.)

    @lochaber
    Yes I was born in 1988. I didn’t remember the HH thing at all when I was naking this handle, I just mashed my first and last names to get aramad and then added the birth year without it occurring to me. 1988 would have been better.
    “Especially considering they keep criticizing antifa. It’s not a good look…” I’d criticize nazis too, but I don;t hang out on their boards as they are disgusting, and they don’t hang out here.

  58. John Morales says

    aramad1988:

    … without it occurring to me. 1988 would have been better.

    So, why not change it? Nobody will be confused, and you would garner respect in this place thereby)

    (You seem smart enough that I need not go into the pros and the cons, and surely it’s a pretty easy effort to essay.)

  59. chigau (違う) says

    aramad88
    If you click on “Logged in as aramad88”, you get to your Profile Page
    once there
    you can put anything you want into:
    first name
    last name
    nickname
    and then you can choose combinations for
    display name
    .
    Now that you know this, will you continue to use a nym that indicates “heil hitler”?

  60. aramad says

    Holy shit, I thought a new account was required. Which I tried to do, but that requires a new email address… this way is easier.

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