Freedom of speech is not about protecting the right of free speech of those we agree with. It is about protecting the right to speak for those we hate and despise. It is the job of government, and of the police in particular, to protect and defend the right of all people to speak. Those who use violence and intimidation to silence those they dislike are Fascists in the exact meaning of the word. Fascists before WWII in Italy and Germany were famous for using violence to silence those whom they disliked.
The man holding up this sign is a Fascist.
Noam Chomsky, despite my personal disagreements with many of his beliefs and positions, put it very well.
If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all. Noam Chomsky
It seems to me today the sort of people who want to ban hate speech basically define “hate speech” as pretty much anything they disagree with or don’t understand (or don’t feel prepared to refute logically).
I had an interesting discussion with my son and daughter recently. They are millennials and were telling me that the Antifa folks were justified in physically attacking and beating up people at a public rally whom they characterized as white supremacists. They justified this with this line of logic:
“White supremacists like Nazis advocate the genocide of inferior people. They want to gas blacks like the Nazis gassed the Jews in WWII.”
I am fairly certain that the vast majority of so-called “white supremacists” don’t want to gas black people and, although some may hold views I find personally despicable, are not in the same league as the Nazis who really did murder millions of people in concentration camps.
I would say to these people, as I said to my son and daughter, “You need to find out what these people truly believe and then use rational arguments to refute them based on facts, not fictions based on your own prejudices.”
Using violence first is always the naked admission that you don’t have good arguments, at least good arguments that will win the hearts and minds of rational people. Are there bad people out there that hold bad views? Of course there are. But if your first response is to use violence against people exercising their constitutional right to free speech just because you despise them, well, then you are an even worse person than they are.
It is ok to fight Nazis and evil people, but only after those people stop talking and start using violence to get their way. Then by God get your gun and have at it, just like our fathers and grandfathers did in WWII. But not before.
Historians seem to have a hard time coming up with a definition of Fascism that they can agree on. My suspicion is that a large part of the problem is that many of them come to the table with their mind already made up as to what they expect to find and are just trying to line up enough facts to superficially justify that conclusion and to hell with any inconvenient facts.
In America today we have a chorus from the Left that Conservatives and Republicans are Fascists. This is a symptom of the inability to define Fascism in an objective and historically accurate manner.
Historically the American right has supported the traditional constitutional republic established by the Founders in the 18th century, a limited democratic form of government which now empowers almost all American adults with a say in their government, and most importantly the idea of inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Republican Party was the political party of the Union in the Civil War, and without Republicans, President Lyndon B. Johnson could never have passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A really important point that distinguishes the right from the left in America today is that the right believes in a right to pursue happiness and the left believes that government ought to guarantee it. The right believes that it is important to protect the individual freedom to pursue happiness and left seems to believe that government should guarantee happiness for all.
Individual freedom doesn’t seem very important to the left in America today. They seem more concerned with guaranteeing the outcome they feel is just and they are not in the least afraid to use the brute force of government to bend society to their will. As we will see this is exactly what classical Fascists believed.
The secret of Fascism is symbolized in the ancient Roman symbol of the fasces from which the word “Fascism” comes.
“There are at least two important symbols here. First is the idea that a bundle of sticks bound together is much stronger than the individual sticks by themselves. Like sticks in the bundle, people in the political body must be bound by a common ideology. The second is the ax which represents a powerful central authority.
“Strong central authority and a conformity which tolerates little if any dissent are the foundational principles of Fascism (as they are for all radical Leftist ideologies).”
In the two classical and best known forms of Fascism of the 20th century, the German Fascism or Nazism under Adolph Hitler and the Italian Fascism under Benito Mussolini, strong central authority was wielded under a charismatic and larger-than-life dictator. Many Germans and Italians literally worshipped these men as demigods.
Another relevant fact is that both of these men, Hitler and Mussolini, were clearly men of the Left to any extent that they held any principles at all. Probably their highest principle was that of power. They wanted that more than anything else. It is a fact though that Mussolini was a Socialist before he was a Fascist and the principles of Socialism and the power of the state were at the bedrock of his belief system.
It is less clear with Hitler which was more important, the achieving of a Socialist society or ridding the world of the Jews. National Socialism, or as Nazism as most know it, in German is Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei which translated means National-Socialist German Workers‘ Party. It was many of the ideas of Socialism that was used by the Nazis to rally party members.
In the final analysis the real religion and politics of both Hitler and Mussolini was pure and unadulterated power and they would use whatever means were available to get it. They would compromise with anyone if that led to a path that gave them power. But their rhetoric, their language, the ideals they set before the German and Italian people were ideals of the left and not the right.
Now we perhaps know enough to define Fascism. First and foremost it is a political system of strong central authority where everyone is expected to toe the line of what is politically correct in the regime. Dissent is not tolerated. This correlates very well with the Left in America today which wants a big and powerful state and sanctions on those who use “hate speech” defined as anything disagreeable to the Left, anything politically incorrect.
At this point there is very little difference between Fascism and Communism.
Where Fascism in its classical manifestations differed from Communism was in nationalism and ideas of national destiny. The Communist mindset was more of “workers of the world unite!” One thing is certain about both Soviet Communists and German Nazis. They both were responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings.
Contrary to most propaganda from the left, racism is not a central characteristic of Fascism. Italian Fascism was not strongly racist. Genocidal racism was largely unique to Germany. The Italians only cooperated at all with the Germans in rounding up Jews after the Germans invaded Italy in 1943 after Mussolini had been deposed.
Nor is racism a characteristic of the right in America.
In America the one political party with the longest history of racism is the Democratic Party, the political party of the Confederacy, the political party of Jim Crow, the political party of the KKK, and now the political party that uses blacks as a political pawn to try to achieve political power.
The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. It was votes by Republicans that were crucial to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in America because so many Democrats voted against it.
Republicans and Conservatives do not support any of the ideas of the real Fascists. If in fact there is one political party in America today that most closely resembles Fascists then that is the Democratic Party and Leftists in general. They support silencing those that disagree with them. They support a strong and powerful central government under a charismatic leader. Again the only thing that keeps them from being out and out foaming at the mouth Fascists is their anti-nationalism.
In summary an accurate definition of the characteristics of Fascism would include:
A strong central authority headed by a charismatic leader.
No dissent that would make the “bundle” weaker.
A strong sense of nationalism and national destiny.
At least two of those are characteristics of the left in America. Arguably only nationalism is a characteristic of the right, but in no way the nationalism of the historical Fascists. To love the principles that one’s country was founded on does not make one a Fascist, especially when those principles speak to individual freedom. It may have taken America a few centuries to more fully implement those principles in regards to race and gender, but it did, and that is America’s glory, not its shame.
In the Old Testament (Jewish Tanakh) in 1 Samuel 8 we have the interesting story of how the people of Israel were tired of being ruled by judges and desired to have a king instead:
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
[The Lord said to Samuel] “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. … and you yourselves will become his slaves. ...”
And that is kind of what happened. Be careful what you wish for!
In America today it seems like we are teetering between these same two options. On the one hand the office of the President has acquired more and more power to rule by decree (executive orders), and judges have become bolder and bolder in asserting their right to declare just about anything they don’t like as “un-Constitutional,” most recently in the case of President Trump’s executive orders on immigration.
Seems like we are seeing the worst of both worlds at times!
Has everyone forgotten that the original intention was limited government with built-in checks and balances to prevent any of the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) from becoming too powerful? We are supposed to have a government ruled by written laws. Those laws should be enacted by representatives of the people and only by those representatives. Those representatives are supposed to guard that power jealously, neither allowing presidents nor judges (or bureaucrats) to assume the power to legislate outside the limited powers delegated to them.
Today it seems that regardless of where many sit on the political spectrum they will cheer when the President or a Federal judge rules or orders in a direction they favor with little thought as to whether that person should have the power to do so.
Regardless of your politics, regardless of whether you would like to see tough or lenient immigrations policies, or whatever policies, it is important what means you use to get there. If you are ok with any means and see the law and the Constitution as just impediments to that end, then you, like the ancient Israelites, are asking to be ruled by the arbitrary whims of individuals who in the long run can take away from you as much as they give you. It doesn’t matter whether those men are judges or kings, you will be subjects:
“When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, “we the people” are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our “public servants” are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words.” -Supreme Court Disasters,Dr. Thomas Sowell
The original architecture was intended to create a new and unique form of government, a government of law and not of men. Neither judges nor presidents were considered entitled to rule by decree. It worked pretty good for a long time. It doesn’t seem to be working very well anymore.