We are living in dangerous times. It’s been brewing for about three decades now and, to me, it started with the “self esteem” movement. This was followed by the anti-bullying movement. Which was followed by the “safe space” movement. Culminating in the current push to white wash (pun intended) the history of The Confederacy in this country.
When my kids started school in the early 1990’s I was struck by what one of the teachers told me as the reasoning why they were changing from letter grades to some amorphous language that took its place. She told me that it was an effort to not cause sadness. I think I physically recoiled when she said it because the look on her face showed she was shocked by my reaction. The following year I pulled both my kids out of public school and moved them to a private school where they were more concerned about making sure my kids were learning something than concerned about causing them sadness.
The anti-bullying crowd came about shortly after that. Almost suddenly any kind of teasing or slight by one kid got characterized as an assault. The old teaching of, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me”, went right out the window., Parents looking to shield their children from any kind of criticism, right or wrong, malicious or not, was the cause du jour. No longer was it proper to just stand up to some asshole, and dare I say maybe even punch him in the mouth, but instead to seek counseling and go to conflict resolution meetings with your peers. Bullying is part of life and American parents were looking to excise it from existence.
More recently the “safe space” movement that swept across the nation’s college campi had to be the crowning achievement of the anti-bullying movement. But this was the moment when the anti-bullyers became the bullies. So-called “safe spaces” weren’t safe for all thought and speech. They were only safe for certain types of speech. God help you if you were a heterosexual white man. Your opinions weren’t wanted or needed because of your “white privilege”. These safe spaces were only safe for the so-called oppressed minorities. If you didn’t tow that line you were immediately shouted down. No speech for you.
This brings me to Charlottsville and the protest by white supremacists, neo-nazis, and other racist organizations. Google, Facebook, Twitter, GoDaddy, Cloud Flare, Airbnb, and other tech giants started campaigns to remove these groups from their services. The reasoning given is that these groups violated the tech companies’ terms of service and so they had the right to remove them. Before this controversy I’ve never heard of any of the names of these white supremacist organizations. I don’t know what they put on their web sites. But, as far as I’m concerned, as long as they’re not promoting murder or genocide or any other act that is blatantly illegal they have the right to say what ever the hell they want to say. If they want to believe that they are superior beings to the rest of the population that is their right.
How the hell did things get so bad where someone has to defend neo-nazis and white supremacists? I’m not part of this group. I don’t want to defend them. In fact, I’m in all likelihood someone they would hate. I’m half Asian so I’m about as impure as it gets. But the point of all of this is to say what is next? Who’s thoughts are incorrect next? It’s easy to be against neo-nazis and those that think the “white race” is superior. But what happens when public opinion turns on your beliefs? What then?
What if you believe in God but those in power decide that God is a figment of your imagination and that religion has caused the death of millions of people over the last couple thousand years. You can’t believe in God because it’s oppressive to those who don’t. Who are you to tell me that I’m going to Hell? What if Google, Facebook, Twitter, GoDaddy, and Airbnb moved to prevent you from using their services because you’re openly preaching the gospel? You don’t have the right to a domain name or a web site because you’re trying to evangelize people into your religious cult.
Don’t think that can’t happen? This is the path we’re on and until someone in power stands up to this anti-American squelching of speech we’re doomed. Unpopular and even incorrect beliefs are natural rights. These are thoughts and ideas that exist in the brain. No matter what anyone does they can’t be legislated or otherwise removed from existence. They exist and they always will exist. The power we have as a nation founded on individual liberty is to argue and debate these ideas and thoughts openly. Don’t shout down the one you don’t agree with instead argue with them and debate the merits, or lack thereof, of their ideas. That’s how you defeat racism and bigotry. The alternative only takes us to another civil war and armed conflict.