When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that immigrant detention centers were “concentration camps,” the dust-up over that rhetoric reminded me that that we all need to be more careful about using language that equates people or policies to the evil of Nazi Germany. I am guilty of this too, and I need to do better.
Obviously, sometimes references to Nazi Germany are appropriate. I said that Imperial Japan was in many ways just as evil as Nazi Germany, and that is true. It is also true that the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire was not only similar to the genocide committed by Nazis, but actually encouraged Nazis that they could get away with exterminating the Jews. Being more careful about Nazi analogies does not mean we can never compare a specific evil thing to Nazi Germany, especially when there is a direct parallel.
Here is an absolutely horrifying story. In order to fight sexting and “protect” teens from it, a police officer violated the human rights of a teenage boy:
In 2017, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling that granted qualified immunity to a police officer who obtained not one but two warrants to take naked pictures of a 17-year-old boy suspected of sending sexually explicit photos to his 15-year-old girlfriend.
Obviously we should take “sexting” seriously, and there should be some sort of legal penalty for underage teens who send explicit pictures of themselves. But we should not be so deranged as to think this kind of behavior is ever justified. I cannot understand how anyone can hear about this and not immediately recoil in horror, followed by anger and rage. Nor should we believe that forcible anal exams should be acceptable.
It is a common theme on the radical Left that free speech itself is a bad thing, because it enables bad people and causes oppression of minorities. It saddens me to see people (especially candidates for elective office) dismiss the First Amendment as written by “white men” who supported slavery, as if that invalidates the principle of free speech. Do they not realize that without the First Amendment, the civil rights movement could not have existed?
Under segregation, blacks were routinely denied rights. Segregation was mandated by law, even in a private business. The civil rights marches brought attention to this, and also brought attention to how brutal the states were in suppressing dissent. As the message reached more and more people, public opinion started to change. Without the First Amendment protecting the right to speak of and expose these things, would segregation still exist today? One could point to other examples where free speech helped fight injustice.
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Note: I sent this letter to President Trump on June 17.
Dear Mr. President,
According to the United States Flag Code, a worn out flag should be “destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” This means that a ban on “flag burning” would not actually ban flag burning, but burning with the intent to send a specific message. This is clearly an attack on free speech, censoring opinions and political messages we dislike.
This is the difference between conservatism and populism. Conservatism holds fast to principles like limited government and defends critical rights like free speech – even if we dislike the message. Populism embraces a “patriotism” that places the state over the individual, and appeals to the emotions of the masses. Many of your strongest supporters applaud your call for a ban on flag burning, but it has been encouraging to see some of your strongest advocates oppose your proposal.
I posted this 7 years ago, and it is worth bringing back up:
How to make Taco Soup.
There is a big controversy about removing alleged “white supremacists” from the Bloomington Farmer’s Market. The sad thing is that many people are assuming the accused vendors are actually white supremacists, but they have denied being white supremacists and have denied being the people in the leaked “Identity Evropa” posts.
Before we even talk about removing them from the market, how about actually making sure they are guilty? Does the truth not matter at all?
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! — Isaiah 5:20
Back in the 1990’s, President Bill Clinton repeatedly said he wanted abortion to be “safe, legal and rare.” Arguments about whether Clinton was sincere on the last point aside, this was a consensus even among pro-choice Democrats for a generation: That abortion is an unfortunate thing and a difficult choice, but it must be legally available to women. Those days are gone now.
If there is a sure path to defeat for Republicans and conservatives, it is classifying all dissenting opinions from allies as coming from “Democrats” or “Socialists” and “Communists.” Granted, this is not a new problem within the GOP or the broader conservative movement, but it has gotten much worse thanks to the cult mentality surrounding Donald Trump. An example of this cult mentality is this comment on my letter to the editor in the Indianapolis Star:
Scott Tibbs, so you like the old status quo of a bad situation do you. We finally get an active President who really cares about America and you complain. Are you a communist or socialist Scott?
I do not agree that lower import taxes are a “bad situation,” but that was not the point of my letter. The point was that legislative authority – specifically taxing authority – was given to the legislative branch, not the executive branch. It was only ten years ago when one of the main goals of the Tea Party movement (hardly a Communist organization) was to restore constitutional government, limit executive power, and limit government intrusion into the economy more broadly. This was seen as a “radical” movement, but it had strong libertarian streak. The people at Tea Party rallies in 2009 and 2010 would have burst out laughing if you had described them as Communists.