My answer is yes — at least from an ethical standpoint — followed by a: I hate this discussion.
Let’s be totally real. This conversation of whether or not it is OK to punch a fascist is so popular right now because it is a sexy, interesting question. The overwhelming vast majority of people who have vocally stated that it is OK to punch a fascist will not actually commit violence against fascists anytime soon.
I am reminded of the violence vs. nonviolence debates that happened at Occupy UC Davis. These debates were fiery and went on for hours, days, weeks, months. So passionate. And yet, at the end of the day, did any of the people who advocated violent resistance ever end up punching the cops? No.
But it’s fun and sexy to front and talk about. Makes you look cool.
If you want to punch a fascist, go ahead, but don’t obsess over it. (Seriously, y’all, it’s funny, but it was just a few punches; I don’t know why this is such a big thing.) Let’s also be real: punching fascists is not the strategic thrust with which we will overthrow capitalism. Only mass organizing can do that. Let’s organize in mass.
Also be aware: being able to joke — in such a haha way — about being able to, and wanting to, punch fascists is a privileged position.