Following a series of incidents involving protesters pelting U.K. political figures with milkshakes — the latest being pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage on Monday — leftists are saying that such physical attacks against ideological opponents are nothing if not effective and even "absolutely hilarious."
Tommy Robinson, former English Defense League leader, has been hit in public with milkshakes a number of times recently, and "alt-right" YouTube figure Carl Benjamin got multiple servings of the same as well.
Writing for New Republic, Matt Ford contended that "milkshaking is so potent against Farage and his brethren" because it "humiliates them."
Nigel Farage doused in milkshake on the campaign trail youtu.be
More from Ford's piece:
Throwing a milkshake at someone is rude at worst. It may also qualify as assault in some jurisdictions, especially in the United States. British political and media figures condemned the incidents. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said that politicians "should be able to go about their work and campaign without harassment, intimidation and abuse." Tim Farron, the leader of the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats, said, "I'm not laughing along with the attack on Farage. Violence and intimidation are wrong no matter who they're aimed at. On top of that, it just makes the man a martyr, it's playing into his hands."
Yet Ford noted that "nothing animates the far right or shapes its worldview quite so much as the desire to humiliate others — and the fear of being humiliated themselves. It's why 'alt-right' trolls, projecting their own sexual insecurities, enjoy calling their opponents 'cucks.' It's why they rally around blustery authoritarian figures like Donald Trump who cast themselves as beyond embarrassment, shame, or ridicule. They brandish humiliation like a weapon while craving release from it."
Ford also pointed out that persistent Antifa violence has led to opponents' "fear of public clashes" with the masked, far-left civilian army, all of which has had an "intimidating and profound" effect.
Amid complaints that the Farage milkshake incident was inherently violent or could lead to more pronounced violence, Aditya Chakrabortty noted in an op-ed for The Guardian that "chucking a milkshake is not political violence at all; it is political theater, of a kind shared down the ages and across countries."
In the same vein, the headline of an Independent article on the Farage milkshake incident characterized the act as "absolutely hilarious."
"For several weeks now, Nigel Farage has been visiting every part of the country, delivering a stump speech on Brexit that is a lie from start to finish, and no politician has done anything to stop him," Tom Peck, a political sketch writer, noted in his piece. "The sum total of the resistance he has thus far met is £5.25's worth of salted caramel milkshake. Not great, but it's better than nothing."
But not everybody agrees
In a notable retort to the "absolutely hilarious" headline of Peck's piece, we have the following clip showing Piers Morgan asking Peck himself if he'd find it funny if anti-Brexit politician Anna Soubry had a milkshake thrown at her.
Peck is deft enough with his pen, but he's clearly pushed out of his depth — for a few funny moments, at least — after being cornered by Morgan's pointed question:
Another Independent op-ed took the opposite position from Peck's piece, as Kate Townshend wrote that while she can't "feel much pity for a man whose rhetoric makes me want to claw my own ears off," she wouldn't have tossed a milkshake at Farage, either.
"I can't help but imagine the moment some unknown liquid from some unknown assailant hits you is pretty terrifying," Townshend noted, adding that she'd be a "hypocrite to condone it for Farage" when she wouldn't want it happening to political figures she likes.
More from Townshend's piece:
On the one hand, nobody should have to walk around in fear of having things thrown at them, but on the other, a temporarily milky face is also just not a satisfying redress.
I'd far rather see the Brexit Party nosedive in terms of its expected votes on Thursday. I'd far rather see Farage unemployed and ignored by every media outlet currently so keen to provide him with a platform. I want him irrelevant, not just slightly damp and embarrassed.