“Where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation,” Leon Trotsky, whose death came slowly by way of a quick icepick, famously observed. Nonconformity appears as the capital offense when the market serves as the main employer.
If you’ve ever carried the Confederate flag at the local battle reenactment, vocalized doubts of whether those Spanish-speaking men milling outside the 7/Eleven represent the best Mexico offers, or, like a sucker, donated a small amount of money to a ballot affirmation of traditional marriage predictably destined for a squashing under the gavel of a man in a black dress, hide the evidence. If you’ve expressed a preference for Kim Kardashian over step-fathermother Caitlyn, even in your dreams, keep this bigoted prejudice in favor of ciswomen to yourself. If you’ve ever written for The American Spectator, delete it from your résumé.
Free speech increasingly comes at a price.
Donald Trump won’t starve, slowly or otherwise. But NBC kicking him off the air, Macy’s pulling merchandise connected with him, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing a review of the city’s business relationships with the billionaire presidential candidate all strike as retaliatory measures beyond garden-variety political hardball. Clumsily articulating support for enforcing immigration laws on the books now amounts to a crime—a hate crime.
TV Land pulling The Dukes of Hazzard for the General Lee’s vehicular offense atop its roof appears as the Left’s “freedom fries” moment, a gross triumphalism that erases displeasing words and symbols out of existence in a fit of intolerant exuberance. Sure, it’s private entities yielding to public pressure. But so was Hollywood’s “blacklist.”
From Mozilla last year axing CEO Brenden Eich for donating to a winning California ballot measure affirming traditional marriage to Apple last month banning the video game Civil War 1863 from its App Store for accurately displaying the battle flags of the combatants (should have used the Swedish flag), freedom of speech appears as much a dead letter as the Constitution. If you matriculated into a college in the late 1980s or the 1990s, the America you graduated into now provides a massive déjà vu.
In Communist societies, the state crushed dissent. In our capitalist one, big business fills the role of commissar. Leftists, harboring no sentimentality over the ethics that motivate big businessmen, recognize—and celebrate—their traditional boogeymen doing their dirty work. As a Huffington Post headline announced this week, “It’s not political correctness, it is free market capitalism.”
And don’t call it censorship, either. When the enlightened blacklist, muzzle, and shout down the benighted, it goes by the name “progress.”
Like the Woodrow Wilson administration executing the Palmer Raids or Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department bugging Martin Luther King, the infringement on civil liberties comes at the request of people imagining themselves as the guardians of civil liberties. Tolerance, like “people’s republic” and “joycamp,” hits unblocked ears as an oxymoron, an insult added to the initial injury brought about by intolerance.
Unfortunately, for the members of the pitchfork-and-torches mob forcing Bible-believing bakers from business or hissing and heckling comedians poking fun at this or that untouchable group, epiphany comes only when the horde swarms on them. Trotsky clearly diagnosed the horror of Communism only once Communism saw a horror in him. About the only pleasure in watching bigoted boors calling the shots in America comes from the fact that their sanctimony inevitably requires the occasional cannibalistic feeding on one of the pack. (Think Ted Danson in blackface or Alec Baldwin displaying his expansive lexicon of homosexual slur words.) When Robespierre’s on the guillotine, people who can’t watch the tragedy unfold on stage suddenly want a front-row seat.
Lately, the long lines waiting to walk the plank repel all but a sadist’s eyes.
Last weekend, Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero, an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling, petitioned his UFC audience to “no forget Jesus” in broken English after defeating Lyoto Machida. Activists heard “no for gay Jesus”—whatever that means—and, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage edict, narcissistically interpreted the Cuban immigrant’s standard post-fight evangelism as an attack on them. “Romero may have the right to think whatever he pleases,” one MMA writer granted, “but that does not give him the right to impose his perspective on [t]he thousands in attendance and watching at home.” Even the promotion’s president, Dana White, jumped on the pig pile: “America does not want to hear your thoughts on Jesus.”
Romero defected from Cuba only to return home for a surreal moment Saturday night in Hollywood, Florida. For the native born residing in Bizarro America, you have become an immigrant. The country you live in simply isn’t the one where you were born.
Happy Fourth of July.