News & Politics

The Fences Are Closing In

In this Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, file photo, demonstrators clash during a free speech rally, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

There’s an old expression, we’ve all used it: “It’s a free country!” Now, sometimes people abuse it. If you catch somebody spraying graffiti on the side of your house, he might just say that. Which, of course, is stupid.

But people only hijack an expression because it’s powerful and true. This is a free country, that’s what defines it. It’s what made America great.

But will America stay free? Or are powerful forces eating away at our freedoms? I won’t say nibbling, because they’re tearing off great big chunks of it at a time. Our freedom of speech, of religion, our right to back political candidates and stand up for what we believe in. All that’s now threatened. I think you know that.

Would you feel comfortable wearing a MAGA hat? Or would you worry you might get assaulted? That happened to 16-year-old Hunter Richard in Austin, Texas, last month. An adult man confronted him, ripped the hat off his head, screamed profanity at him, and threw a drink in his face.

But don’t worry, Austin is on it. They’re getting ready to change the name of the city because Stephen Austin owned slaves. I wonder how long it will be until the Washington, D.C., city council gets around to renaming our capital. Seriously, I think we should start a pool. Ten years? Five? Maybe two? That slope’s getting pretty slippery. If you ever want to see Mount Rushmore while it’s still intact… I think you should book your tickets now. Be sure to take lots of pictures, so you can show your children. The same with the Jefferson Memorial, Monticello, and most of the statues in Richmond. They’re on the List. You know they are.

The Democrats are now embracing “democratic socialism.” Their activists are dressing up in hoods and masks and terrorizing citizens. Assaulting cops and reporters. Trashing government buildings in Portland and occupying them for weeks. Lawmakers are actually having to use old anti-Klan laws to stop the violent radicals of Antifa from terrorizing Americans.

But we’re not supposed to complain about it. It’s getting dangerous to speak your mind. Dangerous to your career, and even to your safety.

What’s fueling outrages like that? Maybe it’s statements like the one from Rep. Maxine Waters. Just three days before the mob harassment of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ family she told an angry crowd of Democrats:

Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.

Violent mobs of hooded extremists can storm the offices of ICE in Portland. Can stop their crucial work of arresting drug dealers, human traffickers, child smugglers, and killers. And the Democrats treat them like heroes, like members of the Resistance. And those faithful, blue-collar Americans of every race just trying to do their jobs? Well, by this logic they’re the Nazis. One leftist hacker even published the names and addresses of ICE employees so that members of MS-13 and other cartels could find them and target them. Would you still want to work for ICE after that? That’s okay, because the leaders of the Democratic Party want to abolish that agency. To leave all of us defenseless, and our borders open.

I worry about how free America still will be in six years because the Democrats … they’ve got an agenda. They want to narrow the range of acceptable opinions. To cow us, restrict us, make us scared to speak. From day to day, Americans are getting bullied, browbeaten, and herded like sheep. The Democrats are driving us into the narrow, reeking pen of political correctness. Its fences are constantly moving, and in only one direction. They are closing in on us.

Questions that were open to free debate ten years ago, or five years, or even one year ago? Now they’re suddenly “settled” for us by tech billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg. Or the opinion police at Google.  Did you know that YouTube has purged hundreds of straight-ahead Christian videos by pastors? Just for teaching traditional Christianity. It has purged or demonetized dozens of mainstream conservative videos by Dennis Prager.

Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein once defended national borders. Now they play along as their party increasingly pretends that controlling our borders is “racist.” Or “hateful.” Is that what they always secretly believed?

The fences keep closing in.

Billion-dollar tech corporations collude with dubious civil rights organizations to blacklist people. Look at the Southern Poverty Law Center. It once did valuable work forty years ago. Now it’s a fundraising scam that goes around libeling people. In fact, it had to settle several cases with innocent people it smeared, including a Muslim reformer it labeled as a hatemonger.

But Amazon still uses that organization to report on which churches or conservative policy thinktanks to smear as “hate groups.” So the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom get lumped in with deranged and hateful extremists. And banned. And silenced. And banished from “neutral” platforms. You know who used to do things like that? The Apartheid regime in South Africa. They’d smear their mainstream opponents as communists and try to silence them.

The fences keep closing in.

Born as free Americans, you are being treated as sheep.

Raised as proud Americans, you are learning the lessons of shame.

Schooled as thinking Americans, now you’re told to abandon open debate, objective truth, even the scientific method and mathematics. They are somehow “racist.” They’re the products of “privilege.”

What do the brilliant minds in the Democrat Party want to replace them with? A set of stern, angry dogmas that have taken over our colleges and our corporate human resource departments. And dogmas like “intersectionalism,” which demonize whole groups of people such as Christians and conservatives. They want to say that their voices shouldn’t be heard and they shouldn’t be protected from hate and discrimination. You should be able to spew hate about them for years, as tech reporter Sarah Jeong did and then still get hired for the editorial page of the New York Times. Andrew Sullivan, a liberal gay writer, warned us in New York magazine that the Democrats have been hijacked by a new, puritanical cult, and it’s already running witch hunts. So Sarah Jeong called him a racist and tried to get him fired. If that can happen to famous, liberal, gay writers, what do you think they’re planning for your pastor? For conservatives who teach school? For you and your children?

The witch hunters can’t afford to let you question them because their excuses will fall apart. So they impose them instead by legal action, by harassment, by collusion and blacklisting. Unable to defend their new creed with reason, these ideologues instead forbid our questions. They isolate, target, and try to destroy dissenters. They spray them with social and professional plutonium as “an example to the others.” That tactic is straight from the playbook of totalitarian movements. We have seen all this before.

Historians remind us how Stalin would give a speech and the first person who stopped clapping went to the Gulag. Or they just shot him in the back of the head. So the Party members applauded, sometimes for more than an hour, till their palms cracked and bled. I think anyone who writes off the extremism that’s being unleashed should try that some time. Stand up, set a timer, and try to clap for one whole hour.

That is the level of compliance expected of Americans today. If you don’t believe me, look at what happened to singer Kanye West. He said that he was open-minded about President Trump. He recognized the explosion of jobs in minority communities and the record-low unemployment numbers for black and Latino Americans. The outrage mob went wild. The media, filled up with denunciations, calls for boycotts of his albums — with racist abuse, in fact. To Mr. West’s credit, he stood strong. And his next album broke sales records. But how many of us have the resources of Kanye West?

Not Candace Owens. She’s a young, brilliant black conservative who’s a leader in Turning Point USA. She tried to have breakfast with her colleague, Charlie Kirk, and a flash mob of angry white men linked to the hood-wearing thugs of Antifa surrounded her. They dumped water over Kirk’s head and the pair had to flee the restaurant. Who protected them? Mostly black policemen. Then Antifa came after them, and sprayed the cops with racist abuse.

The fences are closing in.

Do you want to protect unborn children? Stop Planned Parenthood from cutting them up and selling them as baby parts? To save viable infants from abortion, right up to the moment of birth? Then you are bigoted against women.

Do you want to offer women and girls privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms? Then you are a “transphobic” bigot. Deny that men menstruate, or women have penises? You are just another hater. The Southern Poverty Law Center will lump you in with Holocaust deniers and white supremacist cranks. In 2016, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) denounced Vice President Pence as a bigot for supporting normal safe spaces for women. Even the ladies’ room isn’t safe anymore.

The fences keep closing in.

Maybe you’re worried when you hear that 147 million adults want to immigrate into America. That’s what they told the Gallup poll. You realize that we don’t have jobs to offer them, that our machine for assimilation is broken. Then you, too, are a hate-monger. Our new high priests will teach you what you should really be afraid of: The annihilating wrath which they will bring down on your head. The fear of Facebook is the beginning of wisdom.

The fences keep closing in.

Do you still love your country? Do you consider America as an exceptional nation, one with an imperfect, and all-too-human history, but nevertheless quite special? Are you proud of our nation’s Founding? Attached to the symbols and monuments of men who struggled, disagreed, and made mistakes, but who nevertheless made AMERICA? Do you think that we should preserve the markers of that history, including those mistakes, so the next generation can learn from them and argue about them?

That is what I believe. And that is why I defended and will continue to defend the historic monuments that grace so many Virginia cities and towns. I won’t let this deranged and self-righteous generation do to our history what Hillary Clinton did to her email server. Doing so doesn’t help anyone, and in fact, it makes things worse. Instead of confronting history, we sanitize it.

All across America lovely historic statues of men who fought bravely in a partly misguided cause still stand. Should we tear them all down? Let angry mobs deface them, behead them?

Absolutely not. Instead, we should make room nearby for equally prominent, beautiful statues of civil rights workers, African-American war heroes, and others whose real achievements were once obscured by racism.

Let those monuments complement each other. Let them stand in tension. We should look at all sides of the history. We should learn that good and great men, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee, could also do wicked things like owning slaves. That should remind us that we in our modern righteousness are also quite imperfect. What will our descendants be ashamed of us for allowing?

How about the abortion clinics run by the racist-founded organization Planned Parenthood? Its founder, Margaret Sanger, boasted about speaking to the Ku Klux Klan. Those who carry on her legacy now target African-American babies. But Sanger’s statue still stands at the Smithsonian Institution. I don’t want to tear that down. I don’t want to tear anything down. But I want us to learn from it.

The angry activists and elitists who drive the Democrat agenda? They don’t want us to learn from history. Like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, they want to hit the “reset” button. To start the calendar again at Year Zero. To paint the past as a dark and appalling void from which we can learn absolutely nothing, except the pre-cooked and pre-packaged mini-lessons that our new masters distribute to us. They’ve read their George Orwell. They know that to control the past is to dominate the future.

They want to shove the past, the entire past, into the memory hole. To delete it. To leave the pedestals empty, the statues beheaded or wrecked, the inscriptions sandblasted and vacant. In that bleak empty space where history once stood, they’ll scrawl instead the crude and easily memorized slogans they would force us to live by.

Tradition is the “democracy of the dead.” It calls on us to learn from our ancestors and to take thought for our descendants. The power-hungry zealots, the puritanical witch-hunters … they know that. And they hate it. They won’t allow any locus of loyalty outside their movement. They’re like cult leaders.

I think if you’re honest, you will see movements like Antifa, and Black Lives Matter, along with white racialist groups and Islamist organizations as nothing more than violent cults. And they have a lot in common.

They want our minds narrowed. Focused. Stripped down, purged, blinkered and honed to obsession. Punished, bribed, and conditioned to perfect obedience.

In the end, if they have their way, it will be like Winston Smith at the end of 1984. We really will “love” Big Brother.

John Zmirak is co-author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration, and Senior Editor of The Stream.

This piece has been updated to reflect editorial changes.