Smart Ideas: Should Nazis Be Silenced, Shunned, or Rehabilitated?

Members of the National Socialists Movement and the White Knights of the Klu Klux Klan march in Frankfort, Ky., in 2012.
AP Photo/John Flavell
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Aug. 21, 2017, 12:17 p.m.

The case against free speech for Neo-Nazis

Hadley Arkes, interviewed on The Seth and Chris Show

“The Nazis deny the very premises of the American regime, that all men are created equal and government by the consent of the governed.” Implicit in allowing the Nazis entrance into the marketplace of ideas is to say that we are free to choose their ideas. And that, in turn, is “to say that the truths of the Declaration of Independence weren’t truths at all; they were just one opinion among many,” and that the Nazis’ ideas are just as legitimate as others. “There’s something quite irrational about that.”

We must help white supremacists "unlearn" their ideology

Dave Algoso, writing for Wired

With their identities outed, white supremacists who participated in last week’s Charlottesville events have faced societal retaliation, including lost jobs, shunning by their families, and petitions to expel them from universities. Their punishments “are necessary but will have unintended consequences.” Shunned participants will still return to their online forums and Twitter feeds, where they first found these ideologies, and their punishments may deepen their involvement. “When part of your identity is challenged, you double down on it. Movements unify when under attack.” Therefore, society needs to follow up after punishment and “help white supremacists unlearn the ideologies,” a task that the nonprofit group Life After Hate has already started. Religious groups and families can also help in this effort. “By reining in the extremes, we can shift the middle ground toward justice” and delegitimize other forms of white-supremacist ideology as well.

Mueller's middle-ground option

Ryan Goodman and Alex Whiting, writing for Just Security

Missing from public debates about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ability to indict or prosecute a sitting president is a middle-ground option: presentment. In the past, grand juries have been able to issue presentments, which are “like reports of wrongdoing without a criminal charge.” This option has “fallen into general disuse in federal proceedings” in recent years, but it was considered by Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski’s legal team and perhaps should be considered now. The presiding judge of a case determines if a presentment can be made public, but “congressional interest in impeachment could provide a special reason for presentment and for conveying the grand jury’s decision to Congress.” Obtaining presentment in secret should be another option, although the risks (including the possibility of the presentment being leaked) could outweigh the rewards. Finally, presentment may be a way for state attorneys general to pursue the president.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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