The month of August was extremely troubling, with the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia sparking a national debate. The left and right have both understandably condemned hate groups. However, at times, the national “debate” has felt more like a progressive lecture.
It should be obvious that hate is fundamentally un-American. However, it seems as though only one side is able to adequately distance itself from its own troubling elements.
Some conservatives have overreacted to the crisis by going too far. In their rush to condemn right-wing hate groups, these individuals have gone so far as to make excuses for violent so-called “antifascist” groups. It’s wholly unnecessary–and equally un-American–to defend one terroristic ideology in the process of condemning another.
Virtue signaling appears to be the latest trend among Republican thought leaders. What these leaders don’t seem to understand, or even care about, is that it leads us down a dangerous road. When we ignore evil on both sides, we help push a leftist narrative. When we just accept progressives’ basic arguments instead of pushing back, we fuel this false idea that the left must have morally right answers, even if their tactics are bad.
Once we lose the right to be objectionable, we give potentially objectionable people the right to decide what that word means. At what point in our desperation to prove that we’re “good guys” are we forced to deny our own rights? When will protecting people from “bad guys” lead to state censorship of “dangerous” ideas? How long until we start becoming the “bad guys” we allowed to be censored?
How long until we graduate from moving statues to museums, to destroying them altogether?
This isn’t a far-fetched hypothetical scenario from the pages of some dystopian novel. It is true that modifying the First Amendment would require another Constitutional amendment. However, the number of Americans who support banning so-called “hate speech” is already alarmingly high.
One need not agree with everything President Trump said in his post-Charlottesville press conference. However, it’s difficult to deny that it was a breath of fresh air for many conservatives. The left has continually demanded that members of the right disavow people and ideas with whom we have no commonality. If conservatives have to answer for a handful of extremists wielding clubs and shields, then liberals should do the same.
It’s time to stop giving in to leftist demands. Instead, conservatives should start standing up for the rights that protect all of us from both sides of this losing battle.