Category: "Free Speech"

Fascism: The Myth of a Kinder, Fairer America

Fascism: The Myth of a Kinder, Fairer America

unsplash-logoToa Heftiba

Donald Trump raised some eyebrows recently. He pissed off the rest of the G7 and then went and met with tyrant Kim Jong Un. CNN says we should worry, a lot.

Why exactly? Because he is an autocrat. He “conjure[s] a feeling of victimhood around himself, his followers and the nation.” According to Dr. “Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, . . . the idea of victimhood is an essential component of the methodology of many autocrats.” Now it might be fair if CNN disclosed its quite cozy relationship with this NYU professor, but why muddy up a good meme with admissions of bias.

She might be right. President Trump might have autocratic tendencies, but her political analysis seems to start and stop there.

When, in this day and age, you can only see fascism on one side of the political spectrum, you might want to look in the mirror and see if that appellation applies likewise to yourself.

On what record was President Obama elected. He was black, but if you suggest that—particularly in a blue state–you are immediately labeled a racist.

On what did Bernie run? He at least had a record, but he was as populist as Donald Trump, the champion of the 99% who were/are the victims of the 1%.

It is our luck that he was maneuvered out of his position by another power-hungry professional victim, who seems to blame everyone but herself for her 2016 loss. Hillary holds her own with the 99%: Column

Our Kind of Fascism is Better than Yours

The call seems to be to a kinder, fairer, more sympathetic culture, but you don't even need to scratch the surface to see a “culture of victimhood” instead:

  • Antifa, asserting to be left,wears masks and carries weapons in an attempt to silence those it doesn't like.
  • A day of absence turns into a season of rage, costing a celebrated, left-leaning Biology professor, Dr. Bret Weinstein, his job. New York Times: When the Left Turns on Its Own.
  • If a person suggest that All Lives Matter, he is committing a “racial microagression.”
  • When Google engineer James Damore actually shares his thoughts in an invited conversation on diversity policies, he is fired.
  • Employers are counseled to police offensive opinions. Post-modernists give up the reasonable person standard and tell us that we must judge this from the subjective feelings of the person who claims offense, especially when it is in the name of her status or race or sexual proclivity.
  • Safe Spaces:
    College Republicans Kicked Out of Coffee Shop Over MAGA Hats

And while you may claim that these do not all represent outrages of the left, you don't exactly see the Democrats drawing a line as to what is not acceptable in their name. Perhaps they could start by declaring their outrage against calls to impeach President Trump just because he is Donald Trump.

The problem is that every time someone tries to ensure one safe space by shutting down the opinions of another, that other is arguably made to feel unsafe.

And it's the assertion of the right to that safety that is fascist. When only one opinion is correct, or when I am not allowed an opinion because I am white, or male, or Jewish, I am oppressed.

We Have No Right to be Free from Offense

It's just not in the constitution. Unfortunately, too many think it should be a part of our law, and in some places it is, like Canada.

People are mean. People are cruel. People are motivated by hate and jealousy. People have bad ideas. But trying to suppress thoughts has never made them go away. It's made us into a nation of smiles and daggers. It seems there are few places where people still feel free to mouth an opinion counter to the local orthodoxy.

Fortunately, this is mostly in words. And CNN is right to point out that fascism is preceded by enrollment into a culture of victimhood. But CNN ignores the bigger picture. Both sides are fighting to show how they are the bigger victim.

In the US, at the moment, the right is in ascendancy. But let's look a moment to Canada, where it seems the left is. Trudeau and Trump are right to hate each other. They are both fighting for the same space. If you don't know it yet, the thought police are out in full-force in Canada. Just check out bill C-16 (and ask why CNN has not reported on this fascist tidbit).

And while both seem to celebrate their own righteousness, we all know that the truly righteous don't need to prove it to anyone.

Personal Responsibility

But there is another possible position. We stop competing for who is the bigger victim, and claim responsibility for our own lives and choices. We can't make people nice. But we can let them spin their wheels to see what idiots they are. But we don't, and that's why we are living in this Trumpian backlash.

We are literally living in the best of times.
Bill Gates: My new favorite book of all time. We have an epidemic of obesity. We have an opioid epidemic. We have an epidemic of unemployable college graduates. And instead of getting off our asses and doing something about it, we just demand more. Perhaps the best way to drain the swamp is to stop looking to it for our support. And whlle it's scary to take the first few steps on your own, maybe the best thing we could hope for is for our politicians to turn off the spigot. When we've got nothing to fight for, we lose our fight.

Maybe the best guarantee against our “fascist” tendencies would be to get out of our own way, to give ourselves permission to win or fail on our own, to know ourselves as people who can speak freely, and learn from each other.

And maybe it takes a new party, the people in the middle who believe in you, and who know that when you have the space to take care of yourself, the rest will take care of itself.

And maybe it just takes a stand, a commitment to not let ourselves by cowed by the likes of of Trump, or Trudeau, or any governing “orthodoxy.” Maybe our job is to determine our own meaning, and our means of living into it. It's the only thing that has ever made a difference anyway.

They're not Snowflakes; They're Blockheads

They're not Snowflakes; They're Blockheads

unsplash-logoNina Strehl

It's time to stop calling them snowflakes. It's time to call them what they really are, a bunch of blockheads.

How do I define blockhead? Anyone past the age of three who still thinks the appropriate way to make his point is to rant and scream and call names and then stops up his ears until he finds people who will tell him what he wants to hear. As they grow up, this turns into safe rooms, and teaching and university faculties that all spout a particular narrative and teach it as the truth.

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I Discriminate, and So Should You!

I Discriminate, and So Should You!

We all discriminate. If you claim that you don't, you are a liar. We couldn't function if we didn't. I know that when I am talking to a lawyer, I can talk in a way I can't to a lay person. I categorize, I make assumptions based on the person's license. I use that shorthand to know approximately how I can relate to the person in front of me.

The same when I talk to a two year old. I know he thinks a certain way, and is not yet capable of thinking in other ways.

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American Trigger Warning

American Trigger Warning

I shared with my mom this conversation regarding Canada's Bill C-116. A conversation on the nature of free speech opened with a trigger warning. If I weren't already sensitized to the issue, I would have been appalled. I thank our G-d that we aren't here yet in the United States, but we're moving in this direction:

Harassment motivated by gender is a form of discrimination.…
For example, refusal to use a transgender employee’s preferred name, pronoun, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment.

New York City Gender Identity/Gender Expression: Legal Enforcement Guidance Leaving aside the obvious problems—like a man deciding he's a woman to walk into a woman's shelter or locker room—I think this runs up against our First Amendment rights to free speech:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment is based on the premise that the free expression of our ideas, and the give and take that follow therefrom, will give us an opportunity to challenge ourselves, to examine our thoughts and those of others, and come to a better question, maybe even approach a truth, although yours and mine might be completely different.

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Memorial Day 2017

I'm almost done reading Mr. Tuvia Tenenbom's rather depressing book The Lies They Tell. (Welcome to the real America,
a place you call home but don't yet know!
) One of his themes is that Americans are afraid.

And it's not that we are afraid of the rest of the world. We are afraid of ourselves. In the land that celebrates free speech, people are afraid to speak their mind, we don't want to tell you who we voted for, or what we really think for fear of how it will look.

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