There are times in history, sadly, when one’s options become extremely limited. We’d all like to be able to debate rather than fight with weapons and we’d all like to find moderate solutions to an immoderate problem. Unfortunately it seems we’re in one of those times where such approaches are guaranteed to fail — just as a Polish philosopher standing in front of the German blitzkrieg on Sept 1st 1939 would have failed by attempting to reason with the approaching forces.

Here’s what we do know from history both ancient and modern: you can stop unpleasantness early on if, and only if, you take firm action resolutely. An example: after Mandela became President of South Africa there was the inevitable white supremacist backlash and armed Boers paraded down main roads in major towns and cities proclaiming. These white men, who’d lived lives of racist privilege and definitely did not want to see that end, were ready to kill black people in order to maintain the status quo. Everything looked set for a very bloody civil war. But the news footage of a black policeman shooting a white racist as he lay begging pitifully for his life changed the equation entirely. Suddenly the white racists understood they were no longer immune from repercussions and suddenly everyone got the clear message that rather than being tough white overlords these were merely flabby, cowardly, middle-aged men with delusions of grandeur.

There were no more racist rallies in South Africa.

In order to defeat this new wave of hateful racism in the USA it will be necessary to oppose the flabby, cowardly, intellectually and emotionally stunted racists who parade and inflict violence whenever they believe they can get away with it. It will be necessary to demonstrate beyond any doubt that these people can be hurt and killed, so that their delusions of being untouchable evaporate like the morning dew.

This is not a pleasant proposition. But unfortunately we’re at one of those times in history where there are no pleasant options available.

Or we can just stand back and watch it all happen, as did the well-meaning citizens of Germany in the 1930s.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.