by Justin Rosario
After Bill Maher leapt to Laura Ingraham’s defense against the dreaded power of the Parkland teens and their oppressive boycott, he once again kicked off the debate on the left about freedom of speech versus progressive censorship, particularly on college campuses.
I’m not going to rehash the entire Social Justice Warrior issue here. I personally find the idea of “safe spaces” with toys and videos of puppies for adults to be infantilizing. On the other hand, just because they may take it too far doesn’t mean they’re wrong about all of it, or even most it. There are, in fact, some ideas that do not deserve a platform. Ever. And declaring your campus off limits to said ideas is not the work of “snowflakes”, it’s a necessary response to irredeemable poison.
When Richard Spencer goes to a college to preach his worldview, he is advocating for fascism and white nationalism. That’s not a subjective judgement, that’s his entire shtick. Spencer openly calls for America to be ruled by white men; not white people, white men (women don’t get to vote anymore) with all of Those People removed from the country. But with well over 100 million “undesirables” in the United States, the only way that happens is through extreme violence and mass murder. We’ve seen this movie before. Self-deportation is a myth white people tell themselves to sugarcoat what Spencer is actually selling.
For those who wish to split hairs that Spencer has never actually said he wants a Holocaust redux, try to keep in mind that the alt-right idolizes Hitler and their “bible” is The Turner Diaries, a book that ends with white people slaughtering every other race on Earth. If it goosesteps like a Nazi and it salutes like a Nazi, don’t pretend that genocide is out of the question.
Understanding this, there is no compelling reason to allow someone a public space to call for the murder of everyone who isn’t white.
The standard response is something about “free speech” but as always what the person is demanding is not free speech but freedom from the consequences of that speech. Richard Spencer has spent years calling for de facto genocide; when someone punches him in the face, don’t cry to me that he’s being censored. He deserves worse.
Another response concerns “the marketplace of ideas” and how we shouldn’t be afraid to fight with words but that assumes an even playing field. In an ideal world, white nationalism would have been discredited centuries ago. It has no scientific, moral, or even religious justification. As an ideology, it’s pure gibberish and always has been.
And yet….150 years after losing a brutal Civil War, white nationalism is on the rise again in the United States. 75 years after America fought a World War to crush the Nazis, we now have a president that calls them “very fine people.” Where once neo-Nazis were outcasts and freaks, we now have to have Antifa root them out and expose them because they’ve become so mainstream that they could be that nice young man living next door that wants to date your daughter.
The danger of white nationalism and the fascism that goes with it is that it is not a rational ideology. If it were, it would enter the marketplace of ideas and die a quick and painful death as its adherents failed to defend it. But as an irrational ideology predicated on nothing more than bigotry and hate, white nationalism and fascism are more like a virus than an ideology. It infects people and if it’s allowed to spread, it can infect entire populations once it reaches a certain threshold. We saw this in Germany. And Poland. And Italy. And the beginning of it in the post-Reconstruction South. And in any place where white people decided that it was not just permissible to terrorize and murder anyone and everyone they didn’t like, but necessary.
White nationalism cannot be debated out of existence because those susceptible to its call are not interested in debate. It can, however, be quarantined and eradicated like a virus. Disrupt its transmission by shouting down their rallies. Block white nationalists from speaking on your campus. Have convention halls ban their meetings. Isolate the infected by outing them to their community and families and jobs. Let them be shunned by society again and they can only be with others already infected with their hate. Deny white nationalism the respectability it craves and it will never cross the threshold necessary to infect the nation.
Free speech is important, vital even, but hate speech is not the same thing. There’s a reason white nationalists constantly cry about how “intolerant” the left is and clearly it’s not because they actually value tolerance. They use free speech and “tolerance” like camouflage, knowing full well that the second they had the power to do so they would end free speech for everyone else. Fascists do not allow dissent, it’s a core component of their ideology and one of the reasons they love Trump’s daily assaults on the press so much. He’s literally speaking their language.
It’s up to us to make sure that fascism doesn’t become America’s native tongue.