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No Quarter For All of the Social Justice™ Totalitarians Now Complaining About Censorship
“Through the best of times, through the worst of times
Through Nixon and through Bush
Do you remember '36, we went our separate ways
You fought for Stalin, I fought for freedom
You believe in authority, I believe in myself
I'm a Molotov cocktail, you're Dom Perignon…
Cause baby, I'm an anarchist and you're a spineless liberal”
-Against Me!, “Baby, I'm an Anarchist!”
My-oh-my, how the censorship tables have turned!
This time, the screws are turned on pro-Palestinian/pro-Hamas (depending on which framing you subscribe to) protesters and student groups, particularly on American university campuses.
Here is the ultra-creepy Nosferatu clone, Jonathan Greenblatt, in full makeup, whom the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) excavated from some cavernous, subterranean grotto to run the organization, declaring on MSNBC a total fatwa against university groups expressing opposition to Israel’s ongoing campaign in Gaza while, conveniently for the ADL’s censorship agenda, making no distinction between criticism of the state of Israel (a political enterprise) with antisemitism (a sectarian/ethnic enterprise).
“I am so sick of this safe spaces conversation. Don’t talk to me about safe spaces when your campuses are literally unsafe. These college administrators and, you know, it’s the oppression Olympics… where you either play oppressor or oppressed. And in this victimology madness, Jews are somehow put at the bottom… I am so tired of the cowardice… So, university presidents: I am looking right at you: if you violate Title VI, and you make your students unsafe, ADL is coming for you. If you create an environment where Jewish students are… being harassed, being targeted, I got news for you: you may have a moral weakness, but you also have a fiduciary responsibility to protect your institutions. And, look, whether you’re gonna lose tens of millions of donor dollars — and you will — or you lose hundreds of millions in federal funding because you lose Title VI — and you will — we are coming for you.”
(For the record, as a bona fide Social Justice™ institution, the ADL is not principally opposed to “safe spaces”; here is the organization advertising for one of its own “safe space” event. Like any cynical organization that runs sleights of hand as standard operating procedure, the ADL only opposes the concept of “safe spaces” when it runs up against its political agenda.)
The ADL’s threat is barely veiled: administrators will shut down any speech or group espousing speech at odds with the ADL line or it will wage lawfare against these universities the same way it’s waged lawfare against conservatives, libertarians, and any dissidents for decades now.
Physical violence and threats of physical violence, of course, are already illegal and universities already have the legal obligation to prosecute them; there is no need for the ADL to weigh in on that.
Rather, this is transparently about speech suppression on behalf of the ADL and its benefactors in the Israeli state, and it just so happens that the current targets of censorship in this context are leftist student groups — the same ones, in a sweet irony that I savor, although I still reject the censorship of them out of principle, who have been “deplatforming” and rioting against personas non grata on campuses across the nation for years now.
Unfortunately, once the next Current Thing™ erupts, and they have the power and the proper victimhood narrative established, like the next St. George Floyd overdose they can pin on White Supremacy™, these leftist groups will be back at their censorious ways full-steam ahead.
I harbor no delusions about who these people are or what worldview they represent.
None of their current protestations over “free speech” have anything to do with a true commitment to free expression; they hate the West and its Renaissance and Enlightenment roots, and all of its legacy, including the sacred concept of free speech.
To them, it’s all cynical identity politics all the time. If they can find a way to wield free speech as a weapon against their opponents, that’s what they’ll do. If suppressing speech better serves their interests, that’s what they’ll do instead. This is purely transactional to them. Like the Inner Party in 1984, the only thing they, at bottom, believe in is the exercise of raw power.
I understand the counterargument for embracing the now-professed opposition on the left to censorship and ushering them into the free-speech fold so that we can do the coalition-building we need across ideologies for the idea of free speech.
“Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”
“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”
Grace and forgiveness.
All of the noble, righteous things that Jesus would advocate.
Building political coalitions around basic tenets is important and fine — whatever. I encourage others to do it.
But I can’t.
These people have felt immense pleasure deep in their non-binary loins upon learning that my and my friends’ and colleagues’ social media accounts had been suspended — Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, the whole nine yards — during COVID-19. They saw to it that you’re no longer allowed to type the word “tranny” on Facebook without getting a strike.
They wanted all oppositional speech shut down in the name of Equity™ and whatever nonsense causes then, just like they still do today. And they got it, in the context of COVID, and BLM, and #MeToo, and a thousand other stages of the Cultural Revolution.
Fuck them and their bankrupt ideology.
Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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