Since President’s Trump surprise election last fall, and particularly since his January inauguration, the hard Left has been in high dudgeon, apoplectic across the nation that the neosocialist globalist determinism they so passionately espouse has been so sorely interrupted. How, they wonder, could such a buffoon — a truly gross caricature — have taken the helm of the United States? And especially after having prattled on endlessly about building a border wall (“xenophobia”), the need for “extreme vetting” of desperate Syrian Muslim refugees (“Islamophobia”), protecting American businesses and workers’ jobs (“populism”/“nationalism”), and celebrating America’s police and military (“racism”) – not to mention his execrable boasting of his penchant for “grabbing” women (“sexism” /”misogyny”). Really, how could a nation that is becoming so much more “enlightened” and “progressive”, more “compassionate and caring”, have possibly succumbed to the cajolery of such a conceited, wealthy white primitive? For the Left, it’s enough to drive any effete elitist to opioid addiction – Oh, the pain! Where’s my OxyContin?!
As emotionally attached to its collectivist utopian worldview as the Left is, it should come as no surprise that many in its cadre – including student activists, “community organizers”, the Democratic “sophisticates” in Congress, members of the professoriat, and a veritable menagerie of Hollyweird celebrities — are acting out with growing verbal virulence and vituperation . . . and even calls for violence. Apart from the Left’s reflexive hatred of Trump the Man, anyone propounding a conservative, pro-America viewpoint in America is now at increasing risk of being harassed, intimidated, and publicly shunned – with the omen of perhaps even more ugliness in the future. Why is this so? Why now the abrupt abandonment of many civil norms of political discourse, debate, and federal-state/local decision-making that have for so long been hallmarks of the most stable of modern democratic republics in the world?
It all has to do with the core mentality of the modern Left, which is really shared by all so-called “progressive” utopians, regardless of which ideological brand of “ism” they subscribe to. In this respect, there is no meaningful distinction between communism, socialism/progressivism, fascism, Nazism, and Islamism. All unavoidably share the “totalitarian impulse” – that combination of (1) a righteous conceit that their way is The Only Way to create a perfect society; (2) the vainglorious belief that, because their own enlightenment is so manifestly obvious, they are entitled to win the day and impose their values over all others, on all others; and (3) the amoral attitude that they may therefore use any means needed to effectuate their imposition of control, as in the historic adage, “The ends justifies the means.”
So what does this mean for free speech in America, a traditionally key cornerstone of our American polity? In order to create the perfect society, the Left, like all totalitarians, tasks itself with changing people’s minds so that its core values, positions, and thought paradigm become not only dominant and mainstream but eventually universal – and unassailable as “correct.” Despite its pretense of support for “tolerance” and “diversity”, what the Left really seeks is total conformity to “proper” thinking, their style — “political correctness” in a phrase. If that shift can be achieved through persuasion (political & religious leaders), education (K-12 & colleges), and acculturation (mass media, films, comedy acts, TV shows, etc.), then total power can be acquired organically, peaceably, and — so very idealistically — “democratically.” In all utopian minds, this is “historical determinism”, after all — the notion that this result is so compelling as to be destined to be realized, inevitably as a matter of “historical forces.”
However, should this gradual slide towards absolute power be disrupted or interrupted, as, say, by the election of some bourgeois plutocrat vagabond like Donald Trump, then another strategy must be invoked to move us “Forward” (ah, thanks to former president Obama for that infamous locution). Striking a similar theme, aspiring Argentine dictator Juan Peron sings to his wife in the famed musical Evita:
How annoying that we have to fight elections for our cause
The inconvenience of having to get a majority . . . .
If normal methods of persuasion fail to win us applause
There are other ways of establishing authority.
Thus, as much as possible, “counterrevolutionary” free speech in America – which, of course, emanates from “counterrevolutionary” free thinking — must be suppressed if the Left-directed march towards our progressive future is to resume. Under Obama’s reign, the IRS was used to blunt conservative, Tea Party, Christian, and pro-Israel non-profits from fundraising effectually; the FCC attempted to impose new “net neutrality” rules that would have facilitated the regulation of content on the Internet; anti-“hate speech” laws were bruited about as desirable on college campuses; and State Department support was proffered for UN Resolution 1618 (seeking to criminalize “defamation of religion” — that is, Islam). And, of course, a generalized “political correctness” has long been the rage across the U.S. in the mass media, academia, K-12, and politics.
Today in America, the Left is aseethe, viscerally so. Not just Trump but all traditional notions of America and its place on the world stage, and conservative memes such as patriotism, faith, family, individual rights, private property, free markets, low taxes and limited government, and well defined and controlled sovereign borders, are anathema and must be displaced and/or destroyed. And nothing less than total victory will do here — this mad drive is primordial, limbic-reptilian, and adamantine. Deprived of their deeply yearned-for, expected win of the presidency last fall by Hillary (oh, Jill Stein would have done fine, too), leftists are now on a vengeful path.
Mayors of so-called sanctuary cities are openly defiant of federal immigration authority, a pair of federal judges is blocking constitutionally legitimate executive orders limiting the issuance of visas, Democratic Congressional leaders are vicious in their rhetoric and fully obstructionist in their legislative tactics, some show-business luminaries and college professors are even calling for Trump’s assassination and/or impeachment, and various disgruntled cohorts (illegals, Muslims, inner-city blacks in racially troubled cities) appear to be stirring for a summer of urban unrest and perhaps serious dislocation. It is an evolving recipe for schism in America.
Free speech, unfettered unless libelous or objectively jeopardizing the public safety, is one guarantor among several of Essential Liberty. America’s founders understood that and were sufficiently convicted of that notion that they enshrined it as holy writ right up front in the Bill of Rights. Any modern attempt, be it organized or spontaneous, whether covert or overt, by any one or group to shut it down based on content is a bellwether of totalitarian insurrection and must be resisted without cavil or shame. That goes as well for harassment and/or intimidation of speakers on any college campus, in any town hall, or in any other public forum whatsoever. So long as Americans can speak their minds (1) freely to their hearts’ content, (2) on any topics of their choosing, and (3) regardless of how odious the character of that speech might be to someone else’s ears, our nation will remain free. Failing that, a very, very tough time is in store for all of us, indeed.