Come, Let Us Talk and Listen   Leave a comment

I really strongly believe in the right of every human being to state their opinions without fear of retaliation by government or individuals. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed in that belief. Shouting “fire” in a theater is not an opinion. It’s an incitement to panic. Calling people names has more nuance. If you call someone a derogatory term from 30 feet away, they are responsible to control themselves. If your face is in there and you have a club, they might seek to defend themselves.

Related imageSo neo-Nazi thugs in Charlottsville, Virginia decided to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue by marching in the streets calling “Jews will not replace us.”

I actually mildly oppose the statue removal because I feel like it’s an attempt to scrub history and that doesn’t set well with me, but I have a better idea for our alt-right folks … buy the statue, buy a plot of land, put the statue on the land and stop screaming about it. Really, you could probably do a Kickstarter program and find folks who would fund it for you, but you could also just pass a hood around at the next KKK gathering.

 

These young people clashing in a town with a university founded by Thomas Jefferson imagine that they can change others by marching, waving flags and shouting slogans. It’s not just the alt-right who believe that, but the counter-protesters who are clashing with them also believe it. Please note, folks, that people rarely change their minds about people they oppose when the opposition is driving a boot into their ribs. And, both sides have done that this weekend. There is no good side on this. There’s just violence and aggression.

Many of the young men and women in the alt-right movement come from good homes and, under normal circumstances, would never hurt anyone, but they are a marginalized group that hangs around with others who are similarly marginalized and pretty soon the rhetoric they use to sooth their social pain starts to make sense and it seems reasonable to do the things they do, especially since they see groups like Black Lives Matter get away with smashing shop windows, burning cars and beating Trump supporters. History teaches that no idea is too insane to be off-limits to a group that perceives itself to be powerless through ordinary means of ruling. The means justify the ends

 

But know that the forces arrayed against them also have an intolerant ideology that would seek to subjugate these young men and women and silence anyone who expresses any opinion they deem “incorrect”. They also justify their violence and coercion in the name of “tolerance”, which is pretty ironic because they’re not at all tolerant of diversity of opinion. This burgeoning leftist movement seeks to counter the emerging alt-Right movement by demanding the government crack down further on human rights and freedoms. It’s really a perfect storm for totalitarianism and sort of reminds me of when Hilter stood before the burned-out hulk of the Reichstad and insisted he needed total power to protect Germany from their enemies.

 

What do we who are not caught up in the rhetoric and violence do now? The answer lies in the source of the problem. The huge mess began with bad ideas — bad thinking created by marginalization by a societal elite who doesn’t want to hear any opinions it didn’t approve. The answer to bad ideas is better ideas. We all need to throw ourselves into the intellectual battle as never before.

What are those good ideas?

You’ll find it in the historical progress of the last 500 years. You’ll find there a lot of books and speeches about social harmony, human rights, the aspiration of universal dignity, the conviction that we can work together in mutual advantage, the market economy as a means of peace and prosperity, and, above all else, the beauty and magnificence of the idea of liberty itself.

It’s time to rededicate ourselves to the mission of educating people to understand the left/right cycle is a violent trap that we can escape from if we will embrace liberty and the right of everyone to hold an opinion, even when it is wrong, without fear of physical assault and coercion.

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