A lot of people on the Left, including many who still call themselves “liberals,” have been talking themselves into the idea that it’s a heroic act to “punch Nazis” and that we should all rally behind the Nazi-punchers. They are missing the real lesson of Weimar Germany.

In the years leading to the Nazi takeover, there was no shortage of volunteers willing to punch Nazis. The National Socialist and Communist factions used to brawl in the streets all the time. But this did not slow down the arrival of murderous totalitarianism. Aside from the fact that Germans were merely being offered two variations of totalitarian ideology, the main impact of the brawls was to get everyone used to the idea that political disagreements should be settled with fists and knives and guns—instead of with arguments and voting.