Friday, August 18, 2017

An Honest Discernment of Hatred

The last authentic episode of hate speech that I heard in my life was screamed by a young lad with a cavernous mouth toward his mother who had had just about enough of the whole opened yap thing.  It was embarrassing for her, the child's father, for me, and hopefully, after several years of reflection, for him.

How do I know it was hate? 

It was the intent, the volume, the passion.  And I, as the third party, a direct witness of the event, feel I am qualified to divine what the little snot was thinking at the time he expelled his snarling.  An hour later, of course, the rather volatile beast was once again settled down and interacting with those around him in a rather fragile but subdued truce.

Perhaps it wasn't hate so much as it was immaturity and emotional trauma.  Who is to say?

In today's political bump and run it has become solely for the listener to decide.  This is why the categorization of "hate speech" and "hate thought" and "hate crimes" are so dangerous to a free society--not because we embrace the hate that might be behind them, but because we do not want third parties to pass judgment on what might be the intent of such expression.

There is no doubt that we have hate speech in today's society.  (We always have had.)

Enter the likes of Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro, Heather MacDonald, Robert Spenser (not to be confused with Richard Spenser who hates to his heart's content) and Donald Trump.   Or, to today's progressives, anyone who might possess a conservative position or two on any number of difficult contemporary political issues. 

As an example, there are few Americans today who are more honest about their beliefs than Ben Shapiro.  I've been reading his columns since he was an undergrad at Harvard.  I've been listening to his podcasts at the Daily Wire for well over a year.  His debates are reasoned and well documented, as is his history.  He is, according to some, the person most often targeted by the alt-right in its march toward a more regulated and homogenous society.  Ben, to his credit, refuses to shut up.  He is no hater even though he is cynically labeled as such by others.

But the alt-right, perhaps the most pervasive spewers of hate in this country, is not a group who worries overmuch about the hate speech of others.  It is the progressive left that uses the terms of hate as tools to wield in attempts to silence their adversaries.  Both sides are illiberal and seek top down governments with the power to alienate and persecute those whose beliefs differ with their own. 

While the alt-right totalitarians and their bird of a feather sympathizers are properly relegated to the outmost political fringe, their well-armed antifa totalitarian adversaries are granted wide berth by most politicians, a nearly uniform press, and by an entertainment establishment too afraid to be vocationally black-balled to stand up for freedom.  

Donald Trump is a bumbling politician.  He is a woefully inept speaker.  His methods and tactics are ill advised.  His thin skin and quick temper make him an easy target for an activist press and his political adversaries, regardless of which political party they might belong to. 

He is being criticized these days, and properly to some degree, for his seeming reluctance to disavow the actions of the Nazis in Charlottesville.  He claims to have no sympathy for those wearing jack-boots and driving vehicles into milling crowds, but his early statements tried to spread the blame equally in the one area where equality is not welcome. 

And Trump is wrong about this.  There are those who weep at the destruction or removal of monuments to their southern heritage.  To my knowledge they were not the planners of this demonstration.  The groups behind this weekend's demonstration were dedicated not to their southern heritage so much as they were dedicated to a segregated south, and a yearning to return to those times where uppity people of color sat in the back of the bus and drank from their own fountains.  They were a mob of uniformed and weaponized Nazis and they came well prepared for a fight.  They also chanted anti-Jewish messages that I'm sure left Louis Farrakhan beaming.

The counter protesters belonged in one of two categories.  The first group and perhaps majority were those people who showed up with no weapons other than their voices to protest against Nazi hate.   The second group was populated by antifa (anti-fascist,) Communist or anarchist thugs who showed up with axe handles, mace, shields, helmets and facemasks.  They too were combatants prepared for war. 

Gasoline, meet fire. 

Sadly, a 32 year old paralegal as well as two law enforcement officers (none belonging to either armed group) lost their lives.  The Nazis celebrated their rally's success.  The media castigated while a bumbling president opined. All the while an empowered antifa movement, every bit the totalitarian sympathizers that the Nazis are, was able to sneak away under a strictly enforced media blackout, for future battles and greater glory.  

The purpose of this particular rally is ultimately irrelevant because the antifa movement seeks out to attack any rally with which they disagree.  Violent protests at Berkeley, in Chicago, in Philadelphia, in Cincinnati, in Washington, in Portland, in Seattle, etc., prove this.  So, whether the rally in Charlottesville was called by Nazi sympathizers or some obscure historical society is largely irrelevant--the antifa movement will be there to engage their enemy.

 Already the Nazis are petitioning for future events, one of them at Michigan State University.  My hope is that the university makes a wise decision that refuses to provide a battleground for axe handlers and mace sprayers.  They have no responsibility to provide a landscape for battle. 

Sadly, should Ben Shapiro try to speak at that campus he might very well be shut down by the university for the same reason, even though Ben Shapiro, regardless of how much you (love or) hate him, is not himself a purveyor of hate, nor will he ever show up for such an event with the weapons of war.  Universities, much like the antifa movement itself, care little for that important distinction. 

When I was in elementary school there was an out building on the school's grounds.  It had been many years previously a one-room schoolhouse--the school where my Dad spent several years.  When the larger school district was formed and the small school houses were abandoned, this school, The Grandview School, was taken from its foundation and relocated to an area behind the high school where I received all of my disappointing grades.

It was painted white and was called, aptly, The White House. 

The White House was famous for two things.  First, it was where all the old desks and tables and track hurdles were stored. Secondly, it provided a portion of school ground property not visible to snoopy teachers and administrators who might want to survey the grounds for trouble.

As early as middle elementary school the challenge of "I'll meet you behind the White House" meant only one thing.  There was going to be a fight.  It was not going to be a poetry reading.  I was never a party in one of these fights.  I was, however, several times blessed with a good observation point. 
When antifa protesters show up at a poetry reading or any other non violent expression of free speech the blame should be easy to discern.  When they show up at a Nazi rally, however stupid their intercession is, the total blame is more difficult to cast--why Mr. Trump wants to walk that line is hard for me to fathom. 

Perhaps it is simply too difficult to explain in one minute sound bites or while arguing with a gaggle of reporters.  Some topics cannot be set aside wish wispy arguments regardless of how honestly they are spoken.  Perhaps Mr. Trump should spend more time making certain his words are appropriately vetted before he spouts them.  Perhaps, too, he should stop being so steadfast in his dedication to self. 

How hard could it be, really, for President Trump to call out the evil that is Nazi?  Their message is neither spontaneous nor screamed by a child.  It is a thought out political stance based on hatred. 

Too, how difficult could it be for the media to accept that Communist sympathizers and anarchists are just as evil?  Why do they get a pass?

This is how we arrive at a narrative.  Ill prepared statements issued by a leader trying his best to toe the line, and a cacophony of reporters trying their best to take down a bumbling leader regardless of his intent or beliefs. 

We should demand better from both.  I know we deserve better.


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