I’m proud to be part of a small group of young writers (we’re all under 40 – in politics, that’s young) who will be contributing to The American Conservative’s “PostRight” blog. The following is my first contribution:
On a blog that hosts writers that “take a jaundiced view of the conventional left-right spectrum,” it seems appropriate that my first post might examine some of the hypocrisies that conventional spectrum applies to “hate speech,” comparing the treatment of murderous neo-Nazi James von Brunn to proponents of a hawkish foreign policy.
Predictably, liberal media pundits are coupling the Holocaust museum incident with the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, the “right-wing extremist” warning issued by the Department of Homeland Security in April, “anti-immigration sentiment” and of course, the alleged seething national rage over the election of America’s first black president. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that talk radio and conservative Republicans fuel such extremism.
For the conventional Left, it’s the Bill Clinton/militia era all over again, and the actions of a lone, 88-year-old gunman, marinated in neo-Nazi ideology since the 1970’s, isn’t an isolated incident – but indicative of a hidden, constant menace on the Right that we ignore at our own peril.
What can be done? CBS News columnist Bonnie Erbe has a suggestion: “If yesterday’s Holocaust Museum slaying … is not a clarion call for banning hate speech, I don’t know what is.”
Most on the conventional Right rightfully cringe at the very notion of hate speech laws. But only domestically (or if they are applied to talk radio hosts who try to enter the UK).
For some speech-offenders, or more specifically, Middle Eastern leaders who are Holocaust deniers, Israel-haters and America-bashers — loose lips, deserve sunken ships (not that these tiny nations have significant navies, or any military to speak of, but that’s beside the point).
Ask an exemplary conventional Rightist like GOP spokesman Sean Hannity why a man like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad poses a threat to the United States and his typical, first response is that the Iranian president is a “Holocaust denier” who wants to “wipe Israel off the map.”
Of course Hannity and the neocons from whom he gets his perspective, believe, or at least pretend to believe, that Ahmadinejad’s opinions are dangerous because they are coupled with his country’s alleged nuclear capabilities.
Likewise, the Left believes murderers like Brunn are dangerous (or other former military men, according to the DHS report, with the knowledge and firearm capabilities) because their opinions guide their actions.
Few conservatives believe the presence of Brunns in our midst should supersede America’s more sacred interest in protecting free speech, and wouldn’t think of rounding up every would-be crackpot on the Right as a “pre-emptive strike.”
Perhaps conventional Rightists should apply the same approach to foreign policy, where crackpot leaders’ bluster alone, should never be the justification for intervention (pace Hannity), particularly when such leaders numbers and influence are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and their actual capability to commit atrocities is far more questionable than that of homegrown terrorists.