The old axiom used to be taken as, well, axiomatic: “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Now that has been replaced by: “I disagree with what you say, and will accuse you of creating a climate that leads to violence and I approve of you being forcibly silenced.”
Nowhere was that transformation clearer than when the Brownshirts entered American presidential politics last week in Chicago, forcing the cancellation of a Donald Trump rally.
This is an ominous new development. In his seminal history The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard J. Evans explains how, in the early days of National Socialist Germany, Stormtroopers “organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers [and] staged mass disruptions of their lectures.”
Ironically, Trump himself, never the most thoughtful or prudent of men, seems to have no awareness of just how ominous it was that Left-fascist thugs were able to shut down his rally. In the not-too-distant past, he has himself appeared sympathetic to this thugs’ veto, as readily as his opponents are now to opine “Well, they brought it upon themselves.”
About the free speech event I organized with Pam Geller in Garland, Texas, last May, intended to be a stand for free speech against violent intimidation, Donald Trump said:
I watched Pam earlier, and it really looks like she’s just taunting everybody. What is she doing drawing Muhammad? I mean it’s disgusting. Isn’t there something else they could be doing? Drawing Muhammad? … They can’t do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas doing something on Muhammad and insulting everybody? What is she doing? Why is she doing it? It’s probably very risky for her — I don’t know, maybe she likes risk? But what the hell is she doing?
And so after the fascists forcibly shut down his Chicago event, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich sounded very much like … Donald Trump. They effectively said “Well, he had it coming, he brought it on himself.” Just as Trump did of Pamela Geller after Garland.
Is there no candidate who understands the importance of the freedom of speech? The now-departed Rubio came closest to articulating it, but then showed he didn’t understand it either. He said:
Whether you disagree with someone or what he’s about to say … you don’t have a right to take away the First Amendment right of people to speak freely.
But then he added:
I think he bears some responsibility for the general tone.
According to Rubio, the thugs shut down the Trump rally, and it was at least partially Trump’s fault, because he told people (obviously facetiously) to beat up people who were trying to disrupt his events. The idea that the Leftists shut down Trump’s rally because of Trump’s comment is ridiculous.
Do Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich really think the Leftists who shut down Trump’s rally didn’t think of them in much the same way they think of Trump? As “racists” and “bigots” who must be violently opposed?
Their rallies haven’t been shut down yet. But blaming Trump for the assault of his own rally is the exact mindset that allows the mob participants to justify their actions to themselves. Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich just gave the mob authority to decide what constitutes unacceptable “tone.” The mob that might target their own campaigns next.
They placed the onus upon Trump not to say anything that Leftist thugs might dislike, as he would then bear partial responsibility for what they do. So Cruz and Kasich, of course, will now also have to be careful not to “create an environment” that might force the Left-fascists to shut them down as well.
But unless they take on the Leftist policies of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, they are judged to be creating that “environment” anyway, despite their being more decorous and careful than Trump. And then they will be responsible for what they get, won’t they?
The simple principle has been utterly forgotten, but it is nonetheless still true: no one bears responsibility for anyone else’s actions, unless that person is being coerced.
No matter what he has said, Donald Trump didn’t force the Leftists to shut him down, and he bears no responsibility for doing so, or for “creating an environment” in which these kinds of things happen.
The only people responsible are the Leftist thugs themselves. They could have reacted in any number of other ways to what Donald Trump has said and advocated. Just as Muslims don’t need to riot and kill when they see cartoons of Muhammad, and if they choose to do so, they alone bear the responsibility for their actions.
Neither Trump, nor Cruz, nor Rubio, nor Kasich seems to get this elementary point. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders? Forget it.
It should be a basic requirement that someone who wants to be the president of the United States should understand the importance of the freedom of speech and be determined to defend it. Instead, we have now six candidates who have all shown that they are willing to sacrifice it under certain circumstances, and to acquiesce to a tyranny of the violent. These are dark days indeed, and it’s only going to get worse.