Tags: Charlottesville | Trump Administration | klan | germany | left

Charlottesville Proves We Can No Longer Tolerate Dissent

Charlottesville Proves We Can No Longer Tolerate Dissent
A family takes photographs during first year move-in day while on the Lawn of the University of Virginia, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va., a week after a white nationalist rally took place there. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017 11:30 AM Current | Bio | Archive

It takes words from a liberal-leaning movie, "The American President," spoken by a liberal actor (Michael Douglas), directed by a liberal activist (Rob Reiner) to remind us, especially those on the left, that America’s greatest strength is its tolerance of all viewpoints, no matter how much they make your blood boil. In the movie, Douglas as U.S. president, says, "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You have to want it bad, because it's going put up a fight. It's going to say: You want free speech?

"Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

"You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the ‘land of the free . . ." That just about says it all.

In the wake of Charlottesville, Virginia where some have eviscerated anyone who dare not share their beliefs, we need such sage advice. But how incredibly ironic.

Lose that — and we seem to be well on our way — then the land of the free ceases to be the beacon of hope for billions. And once that specialness is gone, it will almost certainly be lost forever.

America needs to wake up — and grow up. It’s time to lose the "I’m entitled to everything attitude." It’s time to stop being so self-righteous, easily offended, ultra-sensitive, hyper-partisan, intolerant, lacking a sense of humor — and maddeningly hypocritical.

That’s a tall order, but Americans have a storied history of forging ahead when things looked the most bleak. We must use Charlottesville as a turning point to reverse the trend of an increasingly intolerant America.

But you can’t solve a problem until you know what it is. Let’s look at what went wrong after Charlottesville so we don’t repeat the same mistakes:

1. The controversy erupted after President Trump condemned violence on both sides of the Charlottesville protest/counter-protest, rather than exclusively criticizing the KKK and neo-Nazis. Talking heads screamed in disbelief, editorials hammered the president, social media went nuts, and politicians jumped on the bandwagon. That hysteria ended any meaningful discussion on race relations and freedom of speech, since everything became drowned out by ridiculous claims that Mr. Trump (and, by extension, his supporters) were racists and Klan sympathizers. We even saw a resolution introduced by congressional Democrats to impeach the president because they didn’t like what he said!

2. Think about that for a second. Regardless of what one is on, any rational person will clearly see the utter lunacy of wanting to impeach a president for non-criminal words. And if it’s Trump now, it will be a Democrat next time, as that precedent, once set, will never go away. Have we forgotten that unique American safeguard for removing elected officials for non-criminal offenses? It’s call elections. Sadly, America’s new modus operandi is to avoid real issues (since they take hard work and honest conversation), and instead transform red herring topics into headlines. Sound good, but accomplishes nothing.

3. Let’s cut to the chase. The president was condemned for condemning violence. In other words, the country’s leader correctly identified violence that occurs on both sides, in Charlottesville and elsewhere, and got blasted. But why? Since when is condemning violence wrong?

4. It happened because too many only want criticism leveled at those with whom they disagree (Mr. Trump, protesters against statue removal, KKK, etc.) and not at those with whom they ally themselves (Black Lives Matter, Occupy, Antifa, etc.). And that cuts both ways, such as when leftist groups protest to the lament of the right — though, truth be told, the left is far more intolerant by a substantial margin. 

The bottom line? Truth unitesm, hypocrisy tears us apart.

5. Readers know I virtually never write in the first person, and rarely get personal. Here’s an exception: in last week’s column, I defended the absolute right of Charlottesville protesters to rally (a right that was stripped away by Virginia’s governor and Charlottesville’s mayor since they canceled the protest before it began). For defending liberty, I was called vile names, from "white nationalist sympathizer" to "Klansman without robes." Fine. These are spitballs off a battleship, and certainly the right of people to disagree, no matter how childish and bigoted their criticisms are.

You want to draw a line and stand opposed? Great. But you must have a solid argument, and even more so, be consistent. You want to call me a Klan sympathizer? Then you also must call me a Black Lives Matter sympathizer. Ditto for the Black Panthers. Occupy and Antifa, too (when they do things legally), since I always defended their right of expression, especially when some on the right wanted to shut them down.

I defended Native Americans when they protested an oil pipeline running through their lands. And "Brown Pride," anti-capitalist rallies, and even "Make America Mexico Again" protests.

Remember years ago when many wanted to cancel then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia University?

Yours Truly was one of the strongest voices advocating that he not be banned, and his event proceed, which it ultimately did.

I certainly didn’t agree with what many of those groups advocated, but without fail, I supported their right to say it. Equally important, I wanted to hear their message, which, after doing so, helped evolve my positions on certain issues. Civil discourse and respecting the opinions of others, especially when you don’t agree, is the way it’s supposed to be done.

So why the mad rush to shut down all voices with which we disagree? Of what are we so afraid? Do we really think an extremist taking center stage is going to magically transform millions? Just as Americans didn’t follow Ahmadinejad, they’re not going to become lackeys of the Klan and "become racist" simply because that group holds a rally. When did we lose so much faith in Americans’ ability to know right from wrong? People know best. We don’t need government officials telling us what we already know — or what they want us to think — nor do we need them "protecting" us by selectively shredding the constitutional rights of fringe groups.

6. The last thing President Trump should have done was condemn the Klan and neo-Nazis by name. Doing so elevates an extremely small outer-fringe group to the world stage, giving them unprecedented credibility where they, and their message, becomes frontpage news — globally.

So if you vehemently oppose that organization, as 99.9 percent of Americans do, why then would you ever give it a mammoth level of credibility that it doesn’t deserve? We play into the hands of the extremists, who have come to expect, and rely upon, such over-reactions.

Obviously, you don’t give them a free pass. The smartest, most presidential thing a commander in chief can do is smash the message while ignoring the messenger. These groups thrive on publicity, so nothing would be more frustrating than being cast off as irrelevant.

7. An extremely dangerous mentality came to light in the aftermath of Charlottesville, with some making statements such like, "these groups and their thoughts need to be eradicated." Eradicated? This is America, not Hitler’s Germany. No one, no matter what they believe, should ever be "eradicated." That is reminiscent of re-education camps — and even much worse.

8. Despite the firestorm, race relations at the grassroots level are far better than they appear. The reason it seems worse is threefold: failed political and business leadership born out of cowardice; social media vastly over-magnifying the impact of fringe groups; and agitators (including media personalities) with ulterior motives profiting from nonstop racial turmoil.

If we simply stepped away from our phones and spoke with others face-to-face, we’d see an America much more unified than the one portrayed. That’s the truth. That truth can set us free. But as Colonel Jessup said in  the movie "A Few Good Men," "You can’t handle the truth." Can we?

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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Freind
If we simply stepped away from our phones and spoke with others face-to-face, we’d see an America much more unified than the one portrayed. That’s the truth, which can set us free. Can we handle the truth anymore?
klan, germany, left
1411
2017-30-23
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 11:30 AM
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