Why Sarah Silverman wasn’t happy ‘alt-right’ leader Richard Spencer got punched in the face

Gabe Friedman

It seemed like something that might possibly unite the Jews: Richard Spencer — figurehead for the infamously white nationalist “alt-right” movement — was punched in the face at an anti-Trump inauguration protest on Saturday.

While giving an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Spencer was explaining the meaning of the Pepe the Frog symbol — a formerly harmless cartoon co-opted by the “alt-right” during the campaign season that the Anti-Defamation League has since entered into its hate symbol database. A masked man then appeared and punched Spencer in the side of the face before running away. Spencer didn’t press charges.

For some tweeters, the moment was the perfect opportunity to mock the maligned movement leader. Footage of the punch went viral and inspired a variety of memes and remixed videos featuring music for comic effect.

But as The New York Times pointed out, the incident also sparked a debate on whether it is OK to punch someone, even if that person is a neo-Nazi. (Spencer has repeatedly said, as he did again on Saturday to the Times, that he is not a Nazi and that the term is outdated.)

In the midst of that debate, Spencer found an unlikely defender: liberal Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman.

Silverman tweeted that the man who punched Spencer was “wildly misguided” and lamented that the attacker would never be open to learning about non-violence.

Silverman then proceeded to respond to several tweeters who took issue with her.

On Sunday night, Silverman revealed that she wasn’t fully aware that Spencer (and not some random Trump supporter) was the one who was punched and appeared to backtrack on whether he should have been hit.

Eventually, Silverman deleted her original tweet about the “misguided” man. But by the end of the night she felt pretty exasperated from the extensive debate.