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The Founders bequeathed us with a Republic. We need free speech if we are to keep it.
The cruel irony of what happened to Maria Conchita Alonso this past week lies in the following: Here was a woman descended from Communist Cuba, who emigrated to the United States from Communist Venezuela, only to find herself a victim of the more insidious totalitarianism of a monolithic Leftist artistic establishment.
For those unfamiliar, Maria Conchita Alonso is a Cuban-born, Venezuelan-raised actress who had the temerity to endorse a conservative gubernatorial candidate in California. Even worse, in an interview she said she supported candidate Tim Donnelley’s views on immigration, using the term “illegal” to describe immigrants who were here…well…illegally.
Maria Conchita Alonso with candidate Tim Donnelly. (Image source: YouTube raw video)
The penalty for her thought crime? Alonso was compelled to “resign” from her role in a Spanish-Language version of the “Vagina Monologues” set to run in San Francisco’s Mission District in mid-February.
Eliana Lopez, the producer of the show, and herself a fellow Venezuelan actress, said “We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately…Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe.”
Stated differently, here was a Hispanic woman telling another Hispanic woman that her views on Hispanic immigration were too odious to be given sanction by a role in a performance. Apparently not all wise Latina women are born equal.
Maria Conchita Alonso is just the latest in a series of victims of the Left’s fatwa against anyone who does not hew to the party line in recent years.
[sharequote align="center"]Alonso is just the latest victim of the Left’s fatwa against those who do not hew to the party line.[/sharequote]
Recently, of course, there was Phil Robertson (and now accomplice Liam Payne). Robertson committed the thought crime of advocating traditional marriage over gay marriage, and stating that among blacks, with whom he lived and worked in pre-Civil Rights era Louisiana, they appeared “godly; they were happy.” For this, Robertson was branded a hateful bigot, tarred and feathered by the confusingly named GLAAD (if GLAAD comes to see you, you probably won’t be glad to see them), and temporarily relieved of his duties on A&E’s "Duck Dynasty."
In the sciences, the "National Review’s" Mark Steyn has been incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses for having the gall to challenge the inventor of the so-called “hockey stick” global warming model, Michael Mann. For Steyn is a “climate denialist” who dared to ridicule Mann’s Nobel Laureate credentials. For his sins, Steyn found himself the defendant in, as he put it: “the hitherto unknown crime of ‘defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.’” Of course, it turned out Mann had misrepresented himself, and was not a Nobel Laureate. But no matter, as Steyn notes, “I often say about free-speech cases and similar thought-crime suits that 'the process is the punishment.'”
Mark Steyn has been in a lengthy legal battle with climate scientist Michael Mann, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses during such time. (Image Source: Junkscience.com)
Yale Professor David Gelertner in a recent "Commentary" article titled “The Closing of the Scientific Mind” noted that scientist Thomas Nagel was “immediately set on and (symbolically) beaten to death by all the leading punks, bullies, and hangers-on of the philosophical underworld…The intelligentsia was so furious that it formed a lynch mob,” over his book “Mind and Cosmos.”
What was the dastardly premise of his book? Nagel challenged Charles Darwin, a god among people who are largely godless, for perhaps the greatest sin a scientist could commit: arguing that “Darwinian evolution is insufficient to explain the emergence of consciousness—the capacity to feel or experience the world.”
Next up on the list of sacred cows, of course, is Islam. For as the president himself has told us, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” FORWARD!
In the political realm, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.), and four of her Republican colleagues were pilloried in a high-tech stoning in the summer of 2012 by none other than the original Republican maverick Sen, John McCain (R-Ariz.), colleague John Boehner (R-Ohio) and numerous others. For Bachmann and her congressional allies raised questions about Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, given the Abedin family’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. Naturally, Rep. Bachmann, the most visible proponent of the efforts to investigate Ms. Abedin was cast as a McCarthy-ite. CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case -- and another confusingly named organization -- was first on the scene to express its scorn and derision towards Bachmann for her apparent act of Islamophobia.
Then there is Juan Williams. Williams lost his job at NPR for a statement he made on The O’Reilly Factor, prefaced with “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot” [never a good preface under the discerning eye of the Left], in which he said “when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
For the man’s honesty -- as if Sept. 11, 2001's, Northwest Airline Flight 253, TWA Flight 847, Air France Flight 8969, the Dawson’s Field hijacking and numerous others carried about by Muslims in the name of Islam were mere figments of our imagination -- Williams’ career at NPR was toast. NPR would admittedly later pay a price for their intolerance.
Muhammad was depicted wearing a bear suit in South Park's 200th episode. The shows' producers received a major backlash. (Image Source: South Park Studios)
In 2010, cartoonists Trey Parker and Matt Stone were threatened with death for their portrayal of Muhammad during an episode of South Park. Specifically, Parker and Stone had dressed Muhammad in a bear suit. The next episode, Comedy Central blocked all images of Muhammad, and bleeped his words out. The death threat that Parker and Stone received included a photograph of slain Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who had been assassinated by a Muslim man in 2004, ostensibly for his critical portrayal of the treatment of women in Islamic society.
On race, we need not re-visit what happened to Paula Deen, or the nightly characterization of conservatives who criticize President Obama as racists. The examples are almost too numerous to count (for example here, here and here, just to note a few recent ones; UPDATE, this one from the president himself too).
Of course, who can forget the crime committed by certain intellectuals of analyzing IQ statistics broken down by race or ethnicity? They are given the automatic tinge of eugenicism that ended Harvard PhD Jason Richwine’s career at the Heritage Foundation, and 19 years prior subjected sociologist Charles Murray to intense public pressure for his book, “The Bell Curve.”
Simply put, to stray from the Leftist orthodoxy is liable to make you toxic, persona non grata as a public figure.
[sharequote align="center"]To stray from the Leftist orthodoxy is liable to make you toxic as a public figure.[/sharequote]
These examples are a long-winded way of begging the question of what the First Amendment means in 21st century America. If in the arts, sciences, politics, media and academia those who don’t have the “right” perspective on an issue – which is to say the Leftist perspective on the issue – are going to be shut out of public life and shunned from civil society, do we have free speech in name only?
The irony of it all is striking, that in America whenever someone says “We need to have a national dialogue on [insert subject],” that actually means the conversation is over. And it is never because the dialogue is settled – the dialogue never actually starts. It never actually starts because the stigma around any viewpoint that does not comport with that of the Left is so strong that none dare to engage, lest they be branded a racist, bigot, homophobe, anti-scientific, troglodytic monster.
It is almost axiomatic in today’s America that If you call for a national dialogue you don’t really want to have one. If you call for civility, it gives you license to be as uncivil as you’d like. If you argue that the rights of all should be respected, you can trample on the rights of those who are an impediment to your agenda. If you argue for compromise, that means the other side must give you everything you’ve asked for, or else.
Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (AP photo)
It is no surprise that a culture this totalitarian would breed a proportionately totalitarian government, in which the IRS can crush political dissent, the DOJ can selectively enforce laws based on the political whims of its leadership, a film-maker can be thrown in jail for an entirely unrelated act of war perpetrated against a U.S. Ambassador halfway around the world and a governor can declare that effectively his state should be Catholicfrei – if you’re pro-life, pro-Second Amendment or pro-traditional marriage, get out of New York.
A truly diverse, free, pluralistic society – the kind of which the mendacious Left always likes to wax prosaic – requires diversity of ideas. But the Left is building a society based upon the State Church of Leftism, where one must submit or be excommunicated. They do this through controlling speech, through Left-Wing McCarthyism – rooting out and destroying anyone who disagrees ideologically.
But unlike the people who McCarthy pursued: Communists, Communist-sympathizers and fellow-travelers whose allegiance was to the Soviet Union and radical overthrow of the U.S. government, today the enemies are those who espouse a traditional Judeo-Christian worldview and an allegiance and devotion to Constitutional principles. In other words, while Joe McCarthy sought to save the U.S. from actual enemies, the Left seeks to blot out from life their political enemies. Today's Left seeks to blacklist, hypocritically, the same people that the Left continues to cry bloody murder about when it comes to the McCarthy era itself – artists, entertainers, professors, journalists – i.e. the media and intelligentsia that hold huge sway over the culture.
The Left has proven indiscriminate in casting anyone who does not agree with them as an enemy, extremist, radical who is to be slandered and harassed. And as reflected in some of the examples previously mentioned, the Left is an equal-opportunity offender, even discriminating against minorities and women who dissent. Never has the Left grappled with the question of course as to whether or not in such a climate as today’s, truly disenfranchised people historically would have ever been able to have their rights recognized.
But the Left’s war on free speech in civil society is about far more than individual casualties. The chilling of free speech means the control of ideas. If a man is not free in his ideas, can he truly be free? And if a country simply cannot tolerate certain speech, how can it truly be free?
The fundamental basis on which our country was built included robust free speech, the very first right that the Founders felt it necessary to explicitly enshrine in the Bill of Rights. All Americans are casualties when Left-Wing McCarthyists deny us of such rights.
The Founders bequeathed us with a Republic. We need free speech if we are to keep it.
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