Enough Is Enough: White Nationalism Should Not Be a Protected Form of Free Speech

Last weekend the United States was stunned by the violence and hate on display at a neo-Nazi rally held in Charlottesville, Va. Heather Heyer died as result of terrorist actions committed by a white nationalist and more than a dozen others were injured.

Many Americans found themselves shocked by this incident. However, given the racism we have witnessed in recent times – even just within the past year – it should really come as no surprise at all.

While politicians and ratings-chasing media outlets often cite radical Islamic militants on the other side of the planet as the perpetrators of terrorism, an unsettling combination of fascism and white nationalism has swiftly re-emerged from the shadows here in the United States .

And even after this blatant display of hatred, President Donald Trump refused to openly condemn these groups – an especially ironic fact, given his repeated criticism of predecessor President Barack Obama for supposedly refusing to speak out firmly against radical Islam.

While President Trump and those within his political circle, like advisor Steve Bannon, have certainly played a part in allowing toxic white nationalism to seep back into mainstream America, they are far from alone.

In truth, though, one of the biggest factors influencing the return of open fascism in the United States is a group of so-called “centrists” who have become almost fetishistic in their commitment to false equivalence and a misguided understanding of free speech protection.

Centrists have long espoused a “horseshoe” theory of politics which states that when one veers far enough down one end of the spectrum, that individual will eventually end up adopting the values of those on the opposite end.

This theory is not only naive, but it is also a dangerous assertion. It ultimately enables fundamentalists, in particular, because it suggests that both sides are equally valid.

Such a mentality has led us to where we are today in the United States. Afraid to use the F-word — no, not that one, but “fascist” — the centrists who have long dominated mainstream politics and the Democratic party have, with their apathy and inaction, allowed the rise of neo-Nazism, fascism and white nationalism.

A common misconception here in the United States is that free speech remains unlimited and without boundaries. This is quite untrue  – and for good reason.

The classic example is the scenario in which someone shouts “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is none, resulting in people being needlessly alarmed and likely injured. By extension, the incitement of violence clearly falls into the same category — it is not a protected form of speech.

Groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Unite The Right are not mere political groups. They are hate groups who have, for a century — or, in the KKK’s case, much longer — openly advocated violence and terror as a means of achieving their agendas. These individuals maintain views that quite literally align with the Nazis who tried to conquer Europe, with a key goal being the extermination and enslavement of “inferior” races, like Jews and Slavs.

And in Charlottesville last weekend, hate groups responded to this call to action. But it wasn’t the only such incident in recent memory. The Charleston church shooting in 2015 immediately springs to mind, but even this past weekend, the FBI foiled a white nationalist’s plot to detonate a truck bomb in Oklahoma City.

At the end of June, the National Rifle Association released an advertisement that issues a dramatic call to take up arms against the left wing and demonstrators. Watch for yourself, and ask whether this should be a protected form of speech — especially when people begin to act on it in real life:

Americans continually say that national security is one of their top concerns. Often, though, this issue is discussed within the context of radical Islamic terror. And how can we begin to tackle international terrorism if we cannot even acknowledge the violence and fanaticism festering here at home?

Americans must reconsider whether it is permissible to continue to allow the assembly and expression of white nationalist, neo-Nazi and fascist groups. And it is hardly worthy of debate — would there be a second thought to law enforcement taking action against Islamic State demonstratos? Of course not.

Justin Moore, a Ku Klux Klan leader from North Carolina, says that not only is he “glad that [Heather Heyer] died” in Charlottesville, but he also thinks “we’re going to see much more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events.” And this comes directly from the horse’s mouth.

To tolerate this type of intolerance only enables — even encourages — hate and violence. Only those who are privileged enough to not face death at the hands of these dangerous individuals can afford to continue to sit on the fence and distribute blame equally.

Photo Credit: Paul Weaver / Flickr

73 comments

Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE17 days ago

Free speech is just that, even if they dont agree with your/my opinion.

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William C
William C20 days ago

Thanks.

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W. C
W. C23 days ago

Thank you.

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Mary B
Mary B27 days ago

Dan B. The antifascist arose in response to the white nationalists, who have been here for a long time. This was no peaceful protest and as soon as the cops saw the armor , weapons, and symbols of hate and murder, their permit should have been pulled. But they didn't, probably because everybody is so afraid to challenge this Freedom of Speech law. Llowell had it right on! When speech is used to promote violence then we definitely must draw the line, and that's where I'm drawing.
Where do you draw it? And, Please, speak from what your heart knows, rather than just being another rightwing apologist.

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Carl R
Carl R29 days ago

Thanks!!!!

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Danuta W
Danuta W29 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Donn M
Donn M29 days ago

Oh heck yes, what a great idea. And then who should we go after next, the possibilities are just endless!

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeldabout a month ago

Mary B.,
I tend to agree with your assessment that free speech does not cover slander, bullying, and inciting a riot. I was not there, so I cannot say for certain whether they incited a riot. Was seems certain is that both sides erupted into violence, and I am sure there are conflicting reports as to who started it. The driver of the car is a known. It appears that both sides gathered for a fight. The footage I saw showed attacks by both, each carrying weapons. I seriously doubt that either congregated for a "peaceful" protest. There was very little about free speech here. Using it as a podium to limit free speech, as LLowell does, does a grave injustice to all of us.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slanteiabout a month ago

Past Member,

It is my opinion that you can talk about your white "heritage" all you want. But then, likewise, I can also comment on it: it is clear that you wouldn't know your 'heritage' if it shat on your empty head.

Your comments suggest that white people are now in a position to be able to play "the victim". I'm a white person; and I'm telling you that your disingenuous nonsense is laughable, as is EVERY SINGLE white person who falls for it.

Cletus

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Regus S
Regus Slanteiabout a month ago

I personally disagree with the precepts of the story's title. Bigoted morons and their rightwing apologists, like Herbert C and 'Past Member', **should** be allowed to verbalize their racist hate. Otherwise, how would our society know that such malignancy is in our midst?

Our forefathers were prescient. They knew that it is better for everyone to be freely able to advertise their wishes for themselves and the nation. The notion of free speech is one of many **LIBERAL** precepts baked into our founding laws.

And I love it when bigoted lugnuts, like Herbert C and 'Past Member' -- via their hue-and-cry about their free-speech rights to spread their rightwing hate -- unintentionally show support for a LIBERAL notion of how to protect the nation from the very threat that people like themselves pose to our society.......protection via a response to threats that is enabled by self-correcting self-government.

That's what I like about rightwingers: they are too stupid to fully understand just how stupid they really are.

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