When Speech Is Violence

The case for limited government has been substantially strengthened in this past week. The onslaught against the 1st amendment, in particular, received brand new fervor with the Democrats’ and Mainstream Media’s unified and coordinated defense of Ilhan Omar. If you are unfamiliar with what happened, a video has been circulating online showing Omar, a U.S. House Representative from Minnesota, giving a speech at a CAIR banquet and flippantly referring to the events of 9/11 as “some people did something.” Omar is not new to controversy. Her association with CAIR has drawn much scrutiny given that CAIR has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was designated as a terrorist organization by the UAE in 2014. Omar has also been accused in the past of parroting anti-Semitic tropes on multiple occasions as well as being suspiciously obsessed with attacking Israel and pro-Israel groups while avoiding any harsh criticism of Islamic terror groups or Sharia nations. In a recent interview, she was heard mocking how Westerners negatively refer to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as opposed to how they refer to the U.S. and England. Her 9/11 remarks are just the latest in a pattern of behavior that has called into question her motives.

Given the profound impact 9/11 has had on most Americans, even 18 years later, it is understandable for people to have such a negative reaction to someone referring to that tragic day with such dismissive language, particularly when that person’s love for America has already been under scrutiny. The criticism and condemnation of Omar’s comments was widespread and there was no mincing of words. In response, Omar took her usual victim posture and her allies and supporters came to her aid to defend her, claiming the comments were taken out of context (although there is no conceivable context which makes the phrase, “some people did something” NOT downplaying 9/11 or any other horrific, mass casualty event you might be referring to). The tipping point came, though, with President Trump. On Friday, he tweeted a video of footage from 9/11 intercut with Omar saying “some people did something.”

How did the Democrats and their media allies respond to this? “The President is inciting violence.” Inciting violence. It was incredible to see how unified this message was among leftist blue checks on Twitter and punditry within the media. Almost all of them claimed that criticizing Omar’s lack of respect for what happened on 9/11 was the same as inciting violence against her. I won’t post them all here but you can look at this thread HERE and see the Groupthink at work.

It should be noted that these are the same people who have launched an all out, relentless attack against President Trump and his supporters for 3 years straight, accusing them of the worst things imaginable. From racism and white supremacy to being Russian spies to hating women and gay people and minorities and anyone who isn’t a straight White male, the smears have been never-ending. And there has been a laundry list of examples of actual violence against conservatives, much of it based on the lies told by the Democrats and the media. Steve Scalise actually got shot! But no, according to the left, none of that is a problem yet criticizing Ilhan Omar’s dismissive attitude toward 9/11 is somehow an unacceptable incitement of violence.

Beyond the obvious hypocrisy, it is important to understand what is happening here. In the last few years, the left has been pushing harder for restrictions on the 1st amendment and attempting to censor what they deem to be “hate speech.” This has been clear on college campuses across the country as conservatives like Ben Shapiro are regularly censored, banned, and/or have their events shut down because the students there honestly believe that no one should have the right to say things that they disagree with. This has spread to social media as many conservatives on Facebook and Twitter have found themselves suspended or banned for merely posting viewpoints that disagree with leftism. This shouting down and ostracizing hasn’t been restricted to conservatives either, as there are many examples of those on the left being attacked and censored for daring to venture outside of the echo chamber of self-proclaimed moral superiority. Just a few days ago, a petition was launched for Camille Paglia who is a Democrat, a self-professed feminist, an open lesbian and an intellectual powerhouse, to be removed from the faculty of the University of the Arts because her views on transgenderism do not align with the leftist agenda. The message is clear. Toe the line or else. No one is safe from the radical left ideologues.

So what does this have to do with limited government? Well, the argument for limited government is that the same power given to the government to do good can also be used to do evil. With this mind, it is infinitely more important to limit the government’s capacity to do evil than it is to expand its capacity to do good. This point is rarely considered on the left. The left’s goals are often short-sighted and the ends always justify the means. There is little consideration for what happens when the government that is in power is, at best, ideologically opposite or at worst, actually tyrannical. This is why it makes little logical sense for them to support socialism and abolishing/heavily restricting the 2nd amendment while simultaneously referring to Trump as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. It is a massive contradiction. And it is very, very dangerous.

Let’s consider this in the context of the speech issue. What the left is doing is taking certain speech, namely speech that they don’t like, arbitrarily labeling it “hate speech” and equating that with inciting violence. Here is the Women’s March doing exactly that, even going so far as to call for President Trump to be suspended from Twitter.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. It has been a common tactic of groups like Antifa to label the speech of political opponents as “hate speech” and conflate the people themselves with Nazis. The phrase “Punch a Nazi” was fashionable for a while around the time Trump got elected (I am sure there are plenty of people who still use it) and was based on the idea that people who hold conservative viewpoints are racist Nazis whose ideas deserve a violent response. This tactic does a couple of things. It reduces their opponent to some sort of evil creature instead of a human being, which means that they don’t have to contend with their opponent’s ideas or listen to anything they have to say. It also gives them permission and moral justification to essentially do whatever they want to them, including engage in violence, which Antifa has done and continues to do. Equating words with violence means that words can be punished like violence and words can also be met with violence. I repeat:

Equating words with violence means that words can be punished like violence and words can also be met with violence.

The problem now is that this is no longer a tactic that exists on the fringe left within radical groups like Antifa, but is being embraced by the mainstream left. This is being pushed by leaders of the Democrat party, liberal thought leaders, and prominent members in the media. It is becoming clear that the contagion of leftist radicalism is spreading. Imagine, if you will, a government and a complicit media that champions a particular ideology, especially a radical one, and considers any opposition or dissent to be equal to violence and treats it as such. Jordan Peterson often says that the problem with something like “hate speech” is that it is too subjective and creating laws against using it means that someone must define it. And who gets to define it? He says it would be the people you least want to. That is a profound truth. And a government that defines “hate speech” merely as speech that is critical of its members or of its ideological agenda can legally punish the people who do it and pretend it is out of moral superiority and “for the greater good.” It is not alarmist to say that this is exactly what happens in dictatorships.

No sane person likes or supports actual hate but the idea of using the government as some kind of a weapon to censor or restrict speech we don’t like is a grave error. The very idea of freedom inherently means that other people get to do or say things that we don’t necessarily like or approve of. It is also vital that we remember that what we use against others can, in turn, be used against us. It is difficult to see the radical left learning this lesson until they inevitably find themselves on the receiving end of the very same suppression they once supported and being ostracized along with their enemies or, God forbid, finding themselves imprisoned or worse for dissent or criticism that was labeled “violence”. What concerns me the most is that the more moderate, otherwise reasonable people on the left have also begun falling victim to this siren song. I have been convinced for some time now that if the wolves of fascism ever truly infiltrate the heart of America, they will come in sheep’s clothing under the guise of liberalism.

I think George Washington summed it best when he said, “The freedom of speech may be taken away–and dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter”

The response to the situation with Ilhan Omar has made one thing abundantly clear. The radical left must never be allowed to gain the power that it seeks.

God bless liberty. God bless our country. And God bless you.

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