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Whitlock: Any American who fails to protect free speech is a traitor

Op-ed
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A month ago, the Brooklyn Nets suspended one of their biggest stars, Kyrie Irving, for repeatedly failing to properly apologize for tweeting an image of a documentary movie poster.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Charles Barkley, Shannon Sharpe, Stephen A. Smith, Ben Shapiro, and countless other establishment pillars, Black Hebrew Israelites and supporters of the documentary, “Hebrews to Negroes,” pose a threat so great to Jews that Irving and rapper Kanye West are worthy of deplatforming and silencing.

Never mind that no one watched the three-hour, 30-minute doc. Never mind that most people have no idea what Black Hebrew Israelites believe. Never mind that virtually none of Irving’s critics called for Amazon to be punished for hosting and selling the “anti-Semitic” documentary.

Free speech – the First Amendment – has so little genuine support in our social-media-controlled culture that few Americans think it’s important to protect unpopular and misguided speech. Corporate media want to rewrite the U.S. Constitution. A hypothetical new First Amendment would guarantee corporate media’s right to censor any speech it deemed “misinformation.”

You know, stuff like criticism of experimental medical trials that are trumpeted as bulletproof vaccines.

“Hebrews to Negroes” is disinformation that we must keep from the impressionable eyes and ears of the American public. That’s why no one has interviewed Ronald Dalton Jr., the producer of the documentary and the author of the book on which it is based. That’s why thousands of Black Hebrew Israelites could surround the Barclays Center ten days ago when Irving returned to the court and no one in the mainstream media sought to interview the leader – Bishop Nathanyel of Israel United in Christ – who organized the massive show of support for Irving.

The American establishment desperately wants to control what this country’s citizens think, hear, and believe. This desperation is unprecedented in American history. It signals how far and how quickly we’ve pivoted away from valuing free speech and independent thought in America.

I remember a time when Ronald Dalton and Bishop Nathanyel would be coveted guests on America’s most popular talk shows. Phil Donahue, the talk-show father of Oprah Winfrey, built a massive following in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s interviewing the most controversial, polarizing, compelling, and misguided thinkers in America.

He platformed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, KKK grand wizard David Duke, anti-feminist author Shahrazad Ali, and so many more. He hosted shows debating and exploring whether Jesus was black.

We used to really believe in free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union used to protect free speech.

Now the freedom fighters fight for censorship. Establishment elites believe they can determine who should be heard and which opinions are worthy of hearing. That’s why there’s so much consternation over Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and reinstatement of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.

And that’s why the establishment has hatched the term “hate speech.”

Speech doesn’t hate. Speech expresses. In a free society, speech must be allowed to run free and express whatever it wants.

The allegedly well-intentioned attack on “hate speech” is just another orchestrated attack on America’s founding documents and the rights of all Americans. It’s all an infringement on the First Amendment. Included in this attack is the move to define any criticism of Jewish people as anti-Semitism.

In 2019, then-President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took action to “fight” anti-Semitism. Trump signed an executive order intended to ban anti-Semitism on college campuses. DeSantis signed a Florida bill – CS/CS/HB 741 – intended to curb anti-Semitism. Trump’s executive order and Florida’s legislation were based on the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. The definition includes these examples of anti-Semitism:

“Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust."

“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

America’s First Amendment allows its citizens to hold uninformed, inaccurate, and abhorrent opinions. Kyrie Irving can think the world is flat. Nick Fuentes can think 1 million people died during the Holocaust. David Duke can think some American Jews are more concerned with Israel than with America. Aaron Rodgers can think the COVID vaccines are ineffective.

We can’t start legislating what people are allowed to think. We can restrict what people do, not what they think. Restrictions on thought and speech are un-American. These types of limitations foment bitterness, bigotry, and distrust. The limitations create a slippery slope that eventually censors topics as well as individuals.

You wonder why most of the corporate media are ignoring Balenciaga creating advertising centered around sexualizing children? Because the elites have grown comfortable in their belief that they know which stories the public can properly digest.

If they can use their multimillion-dollar influencers to convince you that a movie poster tweet is a hate crime worthy of censorship and suspension, why can’t they conclude that sexualizing children is no crime at all?

It’s Voltaire: “Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Controlling what we can say is a means of controlling what we think. Anyone who doesn’t understand the importance of protecting all speech, including speech we find reprehensible, is an enemy of America.

And that might include some people many of us respect.

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