The American People, Not Trump, Are the True Danger to Free Speech
While leftists cry about Trump's "threat," they themselves are guilty of actually suppressing speech.
The Washington Post, progressive bastion of hyperbole and perpetual outrage against all things Republican and conservative, is again fearful. This week, Post writer Aaron Blake contracted the vapors while warning of the danger to free speech posed by President Donald Trump. After posting a list of Trump’s alleged attacks on free speech, Blake warns, “The White House isn’t disputing the criticisms; it’s suggesting they shouldn’t even be tolerated and aren’t good for the country. That’s a stunning posture for any White House to take.”
This is, to be blunt, utter nonsense. Donald Trump poses far less risk to free speech than did Barack Obama, and less than your average social justice warrior college student.
It was columnist Salena Zito who astutely noted last year, “The press takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” That’s why his supporters cheer the general sentiment behind Trump’s verbal attacks on the “fake news” or NFL players who disrespect the flag or national anthem, without ever thinking Trump will abuse his power as president to compel the firing of players or shut down the media.
In electing Trump, the American people knew what they were getting — a master of media, showman and bombastic ringleader with little patience for the accepted rules of politics; a billionaire street fighter who would wade into the DC swamp, arms flailing and fists pumping. And that was okay because Americans were sick of enduring a militant form of political correctness that attacked their beliefs and values daily.
The free speech abuses of the Obama regime, and Democrats in general, elicited little more than a yawn from the progressive Left. Indeed, they often demanded and cheered such abuses, as when Obama forced Catholic nuns to pay for birth control and abortion in their health insurance, or used the IRS to harass conservative non-profits, or when 16 Democrat attorneys general launched a campaign to prosecute anyone who dared question the “settled science” of climate change.
Nor did they care that their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, used a private email server so she could avoid congressional oversight and FOIA requests, or when Obama openly attacked the Supreme Court during a State of the Union address for its decision in the Citizens United case.
They didn’t care when the Committee to Protect Journalists reported, “Barack Obama [pledged] open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.”
They didn’t bat an eye when Obama spied on the press and investigated a reporter as a “co-conspirator” for writing about a national security issue. They supported Obama’s efforts to silence “offensive” political speech, calling for the FEC and the FCC to be the arbiter of what is and is not legitimate free speech.
The Left demands Christians violate their faith, forcing them to provide services for same-sex “marriages” or face public excoriation and the destruction of their businesses. They cheered when Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and fascist “antifa” thugs rioted, dragged innocent people out of their cars and beat them, flipped cars and set businesses on fire, claiming it was just an understandable reaction to institutional racism and capitalist oppression.
Even the most ardent Trump supporter freely acknowledges Trump does not abide by the decorum normally expected from the Oval Office. Trump shuns political correctness and fights back. You throw a jab, he throws an uppercut. To a progressive power base used to Republicans who spend all their time on the defensive, trying lamely to refute accusations of hatred, bigotry, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and more, the Left has not figured out how to handle a Republican that fights back, relentlessly.
But it is disingenuous for the Left to act horrified by Trump’s combativeness. After all, Obama routinely used violent and hateful rhetoric. Or do they not recall Obama telling his supporters to bring a gun to a knife fight with Republicans, and “get in their face”?
The reality is that Donald Trump can be abrasive, combative and coarse, but the fear that he poses a threat to free speech is simply overblown.
A far greater danger to free speech lies with the American people themselves, who are thoroughly ignorant regarding the founding principles of our nation that enshrine the protections found in the First Amendment.
Various polls and surveys reveal a stunning number of Americans are clueless regarding the basics of American civics, unable to name one, much less all, of the First Amendment protections, or even name one of the three branches of government.
Such ignorance leads to an embrace of power over principle, as evidenced by polls showing a shocking level of support for silencing speech with which they disagree, even by violent means. Brute force replaces the free marketplace of ideas, and stokes tribalism. A free republic cannot survive under such conditions.
Thomas Jefferson understood this truth more than two centuries ago, noting, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”