It Could Happen Here

AP Photo/Sylvain Plazy

It’s easy to picture this scene in a movie. Jackbooted agents of the state marching in tandem — cut to a close-up of their boots hitting the floor in unison — to shut down an enemy. That scene sounds awfully dramatic, but it’s not far off from what happened when police gathered to shut down a conservative conference in Brussels earlier this week.


“A familiar refrain at any National Conservatism conference is that leftist elites are censorious, authoritarian, and intolerant of free speech,” Laurie Wastell summarized the shameful scene at The Spectator. “Today, it seemed like this was proven correct, after the Brussels police were ordered to shut down the conference in an outrageous assault on freedom of speech.”

Yoram Hazony, the founder of the Edmund Burke Foundation, has put on the National Conservatism Conference (NatCon) since 2019 in locations as diverse as Miami, London, and Brussels. Brussels played host in 2022, but the far-left leadership in the city and its environs wasn’t having it this year.

Brussels’ socialist mayor Philippe Close pressured the conference’s first venue choice to refuse, and another left-wing mayor strongarmed a second venue into canceling the conference’s booking. Finally, the conference kicked off on Tuesday at a third event space.

“This is now the third event space where we have attempted to host a National Conservative Conference in Brussels,” Hazony said in his opening remarks. “This is an age in which we can’t expect basic decency or grace from those who are our political opponents.”

A few speakers took to the dais. Ryszard Legutko, a Polish member of the European Parliament, compared Brussels’ censorious nature to the Communists he suffered under in his younger days. Suella Braverman, a member of the British parliament, and pollster Matthew Goodwin spoke out against Britain’s Conservative Party for its betrayal of Brexit.


Flashback: Should We 'Live More Like Europeans'? Of Course Not.

Nigel Farage, the architect of Brexit, spoke passionately about how Brussels considered him an enemy (the European Union headquarters are there). “We are up against an evil ideology,” he declared. “We are up against a new form of communism.”

Meanwhile, police stood outside. Instead of storming in to shut down the proceedings, officers prevented others from entering, including caterers and the afternoon’s keynote speaker, former French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour. Participants could leave but not come back in.


The Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, tweeted, “What happened at the Claridge today is unacceptable. Municipal autonomy is a cornerstone of our democracy but can never overrule the Belgian constitution guaranteeing the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly since 1830. Banning political meetings is unconstitutional.”

A court overturned the order to close the conference, so it continued on Wednesday. But the European left’s message was crystal clear: conservatism isn’t welcome in Europe.

“Nothing anybody will have said from the NatCon stage will speak as powerfully about the dark realities of the moment as what the Brussels authorities have done,” writer Rod Dreher told The American Conservative.

You might be thinking that something like that can’t happen here. After all, we have the First Amendment, which protects our rights to free speech, while Europe has no such thing. But our Constitutional speech protections haven’t stopped the Biden administration from trying to shut down anything that the left doesn’t approve of.

Related: Who's Winning the 'Disinformation War'?

The First Amendment didn’t stop the White House from trying to put together a “disinformation governance board” to try and filter out opinions that it didn’t like. The Constitution hasn’t deterred the administration from weaponizing the “Justice” Department against pro-life advocates. Free speech protections didn’t prevent Biden from trying to force Americans to take the COVID-19 vaccine — and there’s no better way to express your right to free speech than to tell the government “No.”


Furthermore, the First Amendment is powerless against some of the most insidious censorship that many conservatives face: deplatforming and demonetization from left-wing advertisers. That’s the uphill battle that conservative media outlets like PJ Media face every single day.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and colleague Ben Bartee shared some of the truthful content that we published here at PJ Media that Google has suppressed. The left is afraid of the truth that bucks its narrative, so we have to face the threat of censorship and suppression every day. (Heck, I even had to soften some language in a piece I wrote earlier this week to avoid running afoul of censors.)

If the left had its way, it would shut PJ Media down right now, but we won’t back down. You can help us fight the fight by becoming a PJ Media VIP member.

VIP status gives you some really cool benefits like exclusive content, access to the comments section, and an ad-free experience (how’s that for sticking it to the advertising censors?). VIP Gold gives you the same benefits across the entire Townhall family of sites along with the legendary live chat Five O’Clock Somewhere.

But more importantly, becoming a VIP means that you’re partnering with us in standing up to the censorious radical left. You’re drawing a line in the sand and declaring that you stand for truth.


There’s never been a better time to become a PJ Media VIP member. If you use the code CENSORSHIP, you’ll get 50% off an annual subscription. That takes VIP membership down to about $2 a month and VIP Gold membership down to about $4 a month.

It’s a small price to pay to make a big statement for truth and free speech. And it means the world to us.


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