The mission of 《Argument Ninja Dojo》is to learn how to be better at political, academic, and activist argumentation. And, additionally, to become more informed about a particular controversial political issue by learning about it from a variety of perspectives.
Pedological Goal: Improve debating skills in a team debate format.
Topical Goal: Debate which organization is a force for good, Antifa or the Proud Boys.
Note: Participants do not need to prepare in advance, but it is encouraged. Also, this is the 1.1 version of this activity. Therefore, keep in mind that this activity is experimental and will be modified in the future. There will be feedback time from 12:00-12:15.
In this Argument Ninja Dojo, we will be having a team debate about which organization is a force for good: Antifa or the Proud Boys. One team will argue their case for Antifa and one team argue their case for the Proud Boys. Teams will be selected randomly through an application, so participants will be able to explore both perspectives without fear of being judged. We will use each group’s Wikipedia page as a source for general reference and to make this event as neutral as possible.
In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, there have been periodic clashes throughout the country between left-wing and right-wing groups. Most of the left-wing groups are understood to be aligned with anti-fascism, or ‘Antifa’ for short. This is not a single organization, but many of these people probably belong to specific Antifa-aligned groups. The most prominent right-wing group is called the ‘Proud Boys’, which is an actual group.
If we look deeply at the history of both groups, we will probably find both bonafide terrorist groups and also examples of freedom fighters. You probably can’t say either is guilty by association with past ideologically-aligned groups, nor would such associations serve as cover for them. Basically you can’t reasonably say that because Antifa is fighting fascism, that makes it okay in and of itself, nor can you say that they are terrorists because there have been Antifa-aligned terrorists in the past. Likewise for the Proud Boys. One or both of these groups might be good or bad. We need to look at who they are and what they do, while also being informed by their associations and the long history of their ideological movements.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT in this debate and discussion we are rejecting the fallacious premise that ‘violence is never justified’. There is an overwhelming body of historical evidence which shows that violence is capable of bringing about a broad spectrum of outcomes depending on the time, place, and manner in which it is used. Therefore, if the idea that ‘violence is never justified’ is a core belief of a participant, then they will need to suspend this belief for the duration of the activity.
(1) [~15’] Learn a few important skills about argumentation.
(2) [~15’] Learn the format, rules, and procedure of this events team debate.
(3) [~45’] Randomly separate into breakout rooms and teams supporting either Antifa or the Proud Boys. Each group will research and prepare their team to debate.
(4) [~45’] Return to the main group, conduct team debates, then have a general discussion on argumentation and/or the topic.
(5) [12:00-12:15] Feedback Time.
– Antifa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifa_(United_States)
– Proud Boys: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proud_Boys
– “Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide” by professors Tracy Bowell, Robert Cowan, & Gary Kemp.
– More from AND1.0: https://www.meetup.com/Sacramento-Politics-and-Philosophy-Group/events/pzwczrybcqbhb/