College Journalist Attacked for Not Being Visibly Non-Fascist Enough

We all knew the 'punch Nazis' thing would inevitably end up here.


Eric Nava-Perez
Booking photo

September's lesson in why we don't going around "punching Nazis" comes from the University of Texas at Austin, where a person assaulted by a pro-immigration protester was not a Nazi or a fascist or an alt-right person, but a college journalist interviewing people.

Not that it would have been okay to have attacked Chase Karacostas of the Daily Texan had he held unpopular political positions. But, remarkably, some folks are attempting to defend his alleged attacker by saying Karacostas didn't do enough to make it clear he wasn't a wrongthinking person.

Karacostas was covering a protest against SB 4, the new Texas law that undercuts sanctuary cities by forcing local police to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security in detaining deportable immigrants.

Karacostas was interviewing a bystander when, according to the Student Press Law Center:

a protester approached him, aggressively hitting Karacostas' phone into his head, where it cut him near his eyebrow. …

"It was really random," he told the SPLC, noting that he was surprised, given that the protest was otherwise peaceful. "I've been at protests that were a lot more violent and a lot angrier and where lots of people had been arrested, but this one was pretty small by comparison," he said. The Daily Texan's article on the incident reported that about 25 protesters were present.

Karacostas said he identified his assailant to police using videos he had recorded earlier and then headed to the University Health Services' Urgent Care Clinic, where he received six stitches.

Eric Nava-Perez, a grad student and organizer of Sanctuary UT, the group that organized the protest, faces charges of assault and bodily injury. He is currently banned from campus.

Rather than apologize, allies of Nava-Perez are blaming police for intimidating them and Karacostas for not being more visibly a non-fascist:

[Sanctuary UT organizer Charles Holm] also argued that Karacostas should have more clearly identified himself as a reporter so that he would not be mistaken for a right-wing agitator. Karacostas responded he did not yet have a press badge because it's so early in the semester.

Karacostas said he had asked protesters who Nava-Perez was a few minutes earlier so he could identify him in a video he had taken. Holm said Nava-Perez may have interpreted this as an attempt to dox him.

Had Karacostas not been a journalist, would it have been okay for Nava-Perez to assault him? What an absurd argument. "It's okay to hit people if you're scared," should not become a standard argument for pro-immigrant activists.

The complaint about all the police being there is itself slightly strange because one of the big criticisms of the violence at the rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, was that the police didn't do enough to protect the protesters. Holm complained about the protection, but that's separate from complaining police showed up at all.

Explaining away violence certainly does nothing to win anybody over, and it actively harms efforts to try to get Americans to understand illegal immigrants are not criminal threats. The facts are on the immigrants' side, but unfortunately, an immigration activist assaulting a journalist certainly doesn't reduce the emotional tone of the argument. This is not some whining about "respectability politics"—Sanctuary UT is certainly not going to help immigrants by hitting people.

Fortunately for them a federal judge has blocked the implementation of most of SB4 due to a lawsuit. That's more likely to actually help disenfranchised immigrants in Texas than anything Sanctuary UT is doing.