There a multitude of problems with this, the first is that hugging them would essentially validate their belief that they deserve to be the top priority in other people’s lives, the second is that nationalist groups don’t really care about proof.
As I said above, the modern white nationalist footsoldier rage has it’s roots in a sense of entitlement and (empty) promise of opportunities. They do not think they’re the victims because The League Of Nations is going to make them pay staggering taxes until their grandchildren are old enough to retire, they think they’re the victims because they couldn’t walk into a relatively simple well paying job that would secure them a car, a submissive wife, a house, etc.
Juxtapose their situation with those that they’re blaming for this - and they’re still pretty well off because most of those people also do not have a simple, well paying job that gets them the Nuclear Family kit but they also have to worry about being over policed, accused of hate crimes, murdered without consequence to the perpetrator, etc. They’re still ahead of many groups who don’t advocate for genocide.
When people are so heavily invested in a narrative that they can’t see that they’re actually better off than the people they’re blaming for their problems, they’re heavily enough invested that they don’t really care what “proof” the other side wants. Hence why sites like Infowars continue to get massive traffic when their lead speakers are incapable of keeping a story straight or fact checking any claims.
Firstly the Free Hugs Project does not approach people for hugs, that’s an invasion of their space and likely to be very upsetting to a lot of people. The Free Hugs Project offers people who approach a free hug and lets people who don’t want them go past. Secondly, hugs are not magic - they do not magically transform monsters into saints - plenty of horrible people get lots of hugs and are still horrible.
Secondly, Spencer didn’t share the video - otherwise he would have demanded they cut the part where he’s seen looking like he’s going to cry after he got a single pop to the face. It seriously undermined his credibility and changed his status from “the dapper leader of the alt-right” to “that guy who got punched in the face and it was hilarious”.
It also changed the conversation from “Isn’t this guy with the strangely Nazi-like arguments who assures us he started this whole movement and isn’t really bad or a Nazi well dressed and so dignified” to “is it okay to punch Nazis like this guy?”. He was no longer a prospective ubermench but just another spoiler rich kid who talks big in the locker room but is weak when he puts his spikes on.
This is exactly the kind of sentiment that allows the system to become so broken that marginalized people are murdered simply for existing and for white hate groups to operate openly - you remove all consequences from the perpetrator by villifying the victim and place all burden of fixing the problem on the people who are suffering the most so as to claims some sort of Ivory Tower Academic High Ground. I mean, for starters - when you have people openly saying the want to reject your society and your values, what makes you think demonstrating those values again is going to change their mind?
Literally no violent hate movement has ever been stopped by hugs and fluffy “you can be better” mumbles. The only people who advocate this kind of nonsense are the people who never have to live under the kinds of conditions that they tell others to just smile about. Slavoj Zizek is an iconic Ivory Tower academic who is regularly criticized for sanctimonious lecturing while failing to provide a viable alternative and Arno Michaels is a man who, by virtue of having been a villain in the past now need only be a vaguely decent person to be comparatively a saint and offers no real insight into any experience but his own.
Indeed, Arno is so oblivious to this that he fails to recognize that Spencer is in no way, shape or form the same brand of Nazi that he was. (Without even considering, or remembering that it was not hugs - but being held accountable for being a failure as a father by his wife that made him start to realize his errors)
His whole argument is based in the assumption that, like he was in his own youth, Spencer is moulded by poverty, abuse and a lack of opportunity (and somehow non-violence will fix this). The reality is that Spencer is an independently wealthy brat who had never been struck before in his life and had been marketing himself as a modern day intellectual aristocrat.
While the ultimate solution is certainly not more Nazi punching, if you’re really opposed to Nazi punching then you should be advocating for Nazi arresting, prison rehabilitation programs and stimulus packages to elevate the quality of life so that types like Spencer have no masses of poor, angry people to recruit.
Not to pretend that other people asserting their right to be treated as human is the real problem (since simple cause and effect and linear times confirms it is not).
Now you’re misrepresenting the iconic puncher:
Also the rise of hate crimes against people who Nazis disapprove of, so maybe before we worrying about the safety of Nazi dignity we should be worried about misinformation and the safety the people targeted by them? No amount of Nazi hugging brings people back from the dead or undoes trauma.
Is there some historical hate leader who magically stopped being racist after a hug?
- Albert Speer had a loving wife and children, so regular access to hugs, but stated himself that he didn’t see the evil of the actual Nazi regime at the time simply because he didn’t want to.
- Exalted Cyclops Claiborne Paul Ellis only started to question his creed when he noticed that his supposed “allies” in the city council crossed the street to avoid walking near him, then shifted his views when the promise of deciding where money was spent made his co-chair with Ann Atwater.
- Imperial Wizard Johnny Lee Clary had many acts of kindness of sympathy extended to him by Reverend Wade Watts (before and after Clary torched Watt’s church) but didn’t abandon the Klan mentality until the Klan turned on him
- Arno Michaels began his journey away from the White Power movement after his wife chastised him over being an inadequete father to the extent he radically self harmed.
- Numerous people have decided to leave hate groups after being rehabilitated in a prison program (not in the US, but in civilized countries where they try to rehabilitate prisoners)
I am, however, unable to find any hate group leader who decided to stop his crusade because a stranger gave him a hug and told him he doesn’t need to be racist any more. Empathy is great, but without accountability all you’re doing is rewarding them for their deeds with a free hug.