The media, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Democrat politicians are predictably using the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Giffords by what appears to be a mentally deranged young man to make political points and clamp down on opposing speech. Already, the signs are out there saying, “hate speech equals murder.”
I wonder, though, if the protestors would consider the email I received from “Conrad” that is also addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org as “hate” speech? His subject line reads “More blood on your hands! Congratulations on inciting violence, you fascist scumbag.” In the body of the email he includes a CBS News article about the shooting.
This is the type of email that I and other conservative writers and bloggers receive all the time. Perhaps it is some deranged young man like the alleged Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner. From his crazy Internet ramblings, Loughner appears to have it in for God and the military people who gave him Bibles. Listed among his reading favorites were Mein Kampf and “The Communist Manifesto.”
But this kind of vitriolic rhetoric has also come from a former colleague of mine, a philosophy professor. Somehow a Facebook friend request was sent to him from my account. I don’t know how it happened, but before I could get a chance to explain the error, he went on an insulting rant about not wanting to hear my political views. Facebook has an option for simply ignoring friend requests.
I know that at this university where I taught with him I was no longer “needed” when my published views became known to those in charge. Recently I ran into another colleague from that school who told me (now that he was retired) that they treated me “unfairly.” Yet, as a tenured professor, he said nothing.
The same thing happened last year at one of the places where I was teaching. The president of that college got wind of what I wrote and suddenly there were no more classes available for me! The previous semester I had been virtually begged to teach more classes. Enrollment was up. I had been on friendly terms with everyone. I’ve heard the same thing from so many other conservative professors who suddenly get the cold shoulder when their political views become apparent. Liberals, of course, freely advertise their left-wing views on campus.
The tragedy is being exploited to further push conservatives out of the intellectual and political sphere. Disagreement is now labeled “hate,” and “haters” are simply eliminated.
Of course, there is a double standard. This is not about “civil discourse,” “moderation,” or “rhetoric.” The left is the first to cry censorship when conservatives complain about violent forms of speech, such as in pornography or rap music.
This is about silencing conservatives Saul Alinsky style, putting us on the defensive by charging us with what they are guilty of. They are banking on conservatives’ defensiveness and fear. Whether it’s in academia or politics too many conservatives are fearful of giving offense or losing their positions. They may have tenure or be politically secure, but there is a rampant fear of being branded a certain way by leftists. The left simply exploits this timidity and goads conservatives into admitting guilt.
Consider how the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Political Insider” columnist Jim Galloway did this in a column titled “The casualties of incendiary rhetoric” that ran the day after the shooting. Galloway uses a more sophisticated technique to indict conservatives as “immoderate” than did my email correspondent “Conrad,” who blamed me for the shooting. Galloway belongs to the school of sophists who put on the “No Labels” conference recently. Their strategy is to simply label the opposition as “haters.” They use innuendo and work off assumptions current in the media and the schools.
Galloway cleverly begins his column with the innuendo, “What we say matters.” Then he quotes two Georgia Republicans, as if to imply that they are seeing the error of their ways. The question is like the old one: “How often do you beat your wife?” Republican Representative Jack Kingston is quoted as saying, “it’s really important as a society that we take the edge off our positions.” Mind you, we don’t know what Galloway’s question to him was. We assume that they were discussing the shooting.
Galloway notes that Kingston refers to both Democrats and Republicans in his advice for care about word choice. But Galloway quotes only from Republicans to imply that they are the only ones who should be cautioning followers. He refers to Sarah Palin’s political action committee’s graphic targeting Giffords as one of twenty Democrats to defeat in the election. He mentions nothing about the Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas’s placement of Giffords in a similar bulls-eye graphic, presumably because she was too conservative for him. This is the strategy: give lip service to both parties, but focus on the supposed sins of only one
Galloway ends his column by quoting outgoing Republican (former Democrat) Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue who in one of his last—and unrelated–interviews said, “The Republican Party needs to be very, very careful that it maintains the golden rule in its rhetoric regarding immigration policy. . . . It is a very emotive, emotion-filled topic that I think sometimes gets us out there where our hearts really aren’t.”
Galloway in a manipulative sleight-of-hand ends his column with this out-of-context quotation, then concludes, “In other words, what we say matters.”
Yes, it does. Sophistic speech like Galloway’s is common in our schools. The casting of opinions that differ from the liberal orthodoxy as “hate speech” is the stuff of the conflict resolution, “peace,” and anti-bullying programs. Students are emotionally bullied into rejecting conservative ideas.
Conservatives and Republicans have fallen into the trap. Not wanting to be labeled as “haters,” they have promoted school curricula written by extreme leftists. Amazingly, no less a conservative than Governor Chris Christie has implemented such a program disguised as an anti-bullying program. In Georgia it’s now anti-bullying month.
Saul Alinsky would be proud at the implementation of his guiding principle: “The real action is in the enemy’s reaction. The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.”
We are their enemy, despite the talk about moderation (another Alinsky rule about the relative meaning of words). So when will our conservative political leaders call out these manipulators and say, “How dare you use this tragedy to advance your political ends? How dare you, you insensitive, hateful Alinsky-ite opportunist?” When will those in the institution where ideas and the rules for debate are being destroyed by the left speak up when they see one of their colleagues being treated “unfairly”?