While it seems like 5 years, we are only a scant three months into the regime of Trump. Sadly, despite accomplishing little, objectively flip-flopping, and all but admitting that he is not ready to be president, some polls are showing that if the election were re-run today, enough people would continue to back Trump in key states that he would win again. That is incredulous! How can a man who is transparently un-Christian get the backing of the FRWEASPs (I guess more about the “W” and “AS” than the “E”), how can a rank amateur continue to be supported by the business community … and how can the unemployed who clearly aren’t going back to work continue to back this guy?
The far left might be the key to this. There appear to be a great many moderates who are simply scared to death of what they are preaching.
The most recent kerfuffle involves noted far-right spokesdemon Ann Coulter’s attempt to speak at the University of California-Berkeley. Needless to say, while a majority of people probably don’t want to be anywhere around her, a particular branch of the far left threatened violence if she spoke. Lawsuits were threatened, and in the end, after a lot of huffing and puffing, Coulter opted not to speak, and chalked up a victory. She was able to demonstrate to the scared middle that the Left does not indeed support the freedoms they purport to cherish, and that this will likely sew enough doubt in a lot of voters.
Coulter’s actions: threatening to speak at a university where she clearly knew she would have no popular support, and would galvanize people to take extreme action, and in the end walking away reminded me of something from history.
Many people have forgotten that this scene from The Blues Brothers is more than just a little comedy at the expense of an easy to mock group of people. It was actually the one part of the film rooted in historic fact.
Back in 1977, the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA) decided that it wanted to march in the beautiful northern Chicago suburb of Skokie. For those not familiar, Skokie, especially back in 1977, had a sizable Jewish population (I can’t find confirmation, but I remember hearing that at that time, Skokie had the largest per-capita population of Holocaust survivors of any city on Earth). This march was not simply some recruiting tool or some attempt to draw a little attention (on the surface). This was an attempt to mock and terrorize citizens, sans actual weapons. It was deplorable to any human with a heart and/or soul.
Initially, Cook County denied any marching permit, but when it looked like they were going to go to court and lose, the County changed its mind and allowed the permit, provided marchers did not march in their uniforms and display swastikas. The County justified this by labeling Nazi symbolism as essentially “fighting words”, which allowed them to limit their display. The NSPA joined with the ACLU, and took the town to court. Initially, Skokie won in the circuit and appellate courts, then won in the Illinois Supreme Court, before the case landed in the US Supreme Court. SCOTUS oredered the Illinois courts to revisit their decisions. The Appellate court lifted the injunction on the uniforms, but maintained that the swastika was a de facto symbol that would lead to conflict and unrest, and could remain a requirement of the injunction against the NSPA. On review, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld that the swastika was protected speech, and that Skokie could not demand it not be shown as a condition of granting a permit to march.
Victorious in court, the NSPA decided not to march in Skokie, and instead marched in Chicago’s, then Federal Plaza (now the Honorable Richard J. Daley Center Plaza … that’s where they got that Picasso!)
After that decision, the Nazis didn’t go away … but they entered a long period of silence that saw their numbers drop … a period that lasted right up until the election of Barrack Obama … something that unnerved a lot of paranoid white people. The point is that for a time, they got to play the victim card, and that draws both attention and sympathy … yes, perhaps that sympathy is from the weak minded and paranoid, but it can be enough to get them to wonder if these poor Nazis might be misunderstood. Instead, the Nazis marched, people protested, and the Nazis largely went away for a few decades.
That takes us to today. Today there are no brown shirts and swasitkas. Today it is nice dresses, shirts and ties, and almost exactly as Sinclair Lewis predicted, it is wrapped in the American flag and carrying a cross to fool those who put racism and politics ahead of true faith and true patriotism. Today, it is much harder for the inexperienced and the uneducated to tell the difference. The far left is correct to oppose this, and is correct to be frightened by this. The problem is not their disposition. The problem is that the far right is taking advantage of predictable actions on the far left to gain sympathy and support. Think about it: a woman with the conservative mental capacity to think that ionizing radiation vaccinates a person against cancer … and that bringing back poll taxes to reduce the number of people voting was a good idea actually won this week … and she never had to actually give any speech. She became the victim of bullies (admittedly, bullies who were shutting down a hate monger … but quite a few people sitting on the fence don’t see this.
I absolutely support the protests against these vile people. Please keep doing that. However, shutting down free speech does nothing but give a win to hate, and give a black eye to the very nature of American liberal politics.
Perhaps more than anytime since the era of the Civil War, the word of historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall must be followed:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Imagine how disarmed the neoconservatives would be if they didn’t look like the victim anymore, and instead were seen for the bullies that they are.