The Show Trial of Ian Reisner - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Show Trial of Ian Reisner

Sieg Heil! Liberal fascism is now in charge!

From Go Fund Me to Wisconsin’s John Doe law to the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore to Oregon State University, from same-sex marriage to climate change, a wave of liberal fascism is sweeping the country. Freedom of religion, not to mention free speech, is under assault.

And in the style of show trials from the days of the Nazis and the Stalin-era Soviet Union, Americans who have the nerve to practice their religion or simply speak up are not merely being intimidated into silence — they must now be forced publicly to admit their “errors.”

Look no further than the case of New York hotelier Ian Reisner. Mr. Reisner, according to the New York Times, had the audacity to host, at an apartment co-owned with what the Times reported as his onetime personal partner and now business partner Madi Weiderpass, an event described as hosting GOP presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz. Mati Weiderpass was even so bold as to have his photo taken with Ted Cruz. Gasp! Say it ain’t so!!!! Reported the Times of this horror:

Ian Reisner, one of the two gay hoteliers facing boycott calls for hosting an event for Senator Ted Cruz, who is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage, apologized to the gay community for showing “poor judgment.”

Mr. Reisner put the apology on Facebook, where a page calling for a boycott of his properties, the gay-friendly OUT NYC hotel and his Fire Island Pines holdings, had gotten more than 8,200 “likes” by Sunday evening.

“I am shaken to my bones by the emails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake,” wrote Mr. Reisner.

The New York Times first reported on the event, a dinner and on April 20, at the duplex Mr. Reisner and his business partner Mati Weiderpass co-own on Central Park South in Manhattan. The event was a “fireside chat” for about a dozen people, but was not a fund-raiser.

The two men are prominent figures in the gay rights community, and Mr. Reisner has been especially vocal about same-sex marriage. He’s also a staunch supporter of Israel, as is Mr. Cruz.

Take another look at the words of Mr. Reisner, who had the gall to actually have — oh the horror! — a conversation with Senator Cruz: “I am shaken to my bones by the emails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake…”

A “terrible mistake” for simply hosting a United States Senator for an evening of conversation now results in being “shaken to my bones.” This is the stuff of Nazi and Stalin-era show trials — right here in America. 

There is a famous grainy, black-and-white clip of film (here) of a resister — a Nazi himself — on trial for his late-coming resistance. The trial takes place in 1944 Berlin, the Nazi judges and the Nazi audience of party members all throwing out the stiff-armed “Heil Hitler” salute underneath a clutch of Nazi banners. The clip has English subtitles of the all-German proceedings, with the back-and-forth between the terrified defendant and the harsh, barking presiding judge. The dialogue goes as follows:

Defendant: Mr. President, my personal political experiences caused me various problems, because I worked to promote the German heritage in Poland. And since then, I have experienced various changes in the attitude towards Poland.

Judge: Hmmmm. Are you blaming these various changes on National Socialism?

Defendant: I was actually thinking of the many murders…

Judge (voice roaring angrily): Murders?!

Defendant:…that occurred here and abroad.

Judge (screaming continually now): You’re a filthy louse! Are you cracking under your own villainy? Yes or no? Are you cracking up?

Defendant: Mr. President…

Judge: Yes or no? Give a direct answer!

Defendant: No.

The trial eventually ends — and the defendant is off to hang on a meat hook with piano wire or some such.

Then there were those Soviet show trials made infamous in the Stalin era. “The Great Purge” as it was known. These were captured on film at length, as shown here in this documentary of the Stalin era. Scientists, engineers, senior officials, and others who were among the disfavored of the Soviet elite were accused of “sabotaging the Soviet economic system” — so show trials were held, with the verdict already decided. The accused had to confess their crimes — and were tortured ahead of time to make certain the desired results were achieved. “I confess that I absolutely deserve the most severe punishment,” says one typical defendant. The message was clear — you, Mr. Defendant, will be annihilated. But first you must self-criticize and confess.

How different is that abjectly apologetic Soviet defendant in the dock bleating his apology — than today’s hotelier Ian Reisner? What is the difference between that terrified Russian pleading “I confess that I absolutely deserve the most severe punishment” and a terrified Mr. Reisner pleading in the New York Times that “I am shaken to my bones by the emails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake”?

There is no difference. Neither Stalin or the Nazis were about free speech. If you had the gall to disagree or to speak up to either of the latter you had effectively sentenced yourself to a show trial or a purge or, eventually, a trip to the gulag or a death camp. In America we have not yet reached the point of death camps for incorrect thought. But there is an American equivalent: the politically correct gulag. In which “incorrect thought” will be punished. And Ian Reisner was just given a quick tour of what was in store for him if he didn’t repent and get in line.

While Ian Reisner was going through his show trial, the totalitarian left was on full display elsewhere.

Oregon is fast earning itself a reputation as a hotbed of fascism. Over the weekend came the latest news in modern American jackbooting, reported here by the Washington Times:

A crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $109,000 for the Christian-owned bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon was removed Saturday after complaints from gay rights advocates. (The bakery owners had been fined $135,000 for the audacity of exercising their Constitutional rights.)

The website GoFundMe said in a statement that the page was yanked because the campaign violated the policy against raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”

“The campaign entitled ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa‘ involves formal charges. As such, our team has determined that it was in violation of GoFundMe’s Terms & Conditions,” GoFundMe said in an email statement.

Note as well the thrilled reaction at this from one of its instigators, an “Oregon baker Lisa Watson”:

Watson’s own post on Facebook stated, “this business has been found GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION and is being allowed to fundraise to pay their penalty. The gofundme terms of service address hate speech, bigotry, criminal activity, and sexism among other things in their campaign.… The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting,’” the website GoLocalPDX reported in a Saturday post.”

No word from Facebook if Ms. Watson’s site will be removed as a spectacular example all by itself of “hate speech” and “bigotry.” 

All of this before we even get to the liberal fascists who popped up in the unlikely venue of a Quaker school. This event was reported at the Week as follows:

Consider the recent experience of Ryan T. Anderson.

A graduate of the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore, Anderson has achieved far more than most 33-year-olds. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton and earned a Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has been cited by a Supreme Court justice (Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in his dissent from the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act). He was recently named the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation. And last week he was profiled fairly and respectfully in The Washington Post. (Headline: “The right finds a fresh voice on same-sex marriage.”)

…No wonder someone thought it made sense to post a link to the profile on the school’s website.

But then the predictable uproar began. Before long, head of school Matthew W. Micciche had taken down the link and published first a brief and then a lengthier apology for having posted it in the first place. (Both statements were subsequently deleted. The longer one is quoted in its entirety on Anderson’s public Facebook page.)

Notice the pattern again? This time one Matthew W. Micciche, the head of the school — a school! — has “published first a brief and then a lengthier apology for having posted it in the first place.” Got that? A link to a serious, front-page story in the subversive Washington Post had to be removed to appease that contradiction-in-terms: Quaker fascists. Like New York businessman Ian Reisner, Mr. Micciche has been effectively tried and found wanting and must now engage in a public episode of self-criticism to keep his reputation.

And don’t for a moment think this rise of liberal fascism is limited to issues revolving around same-sex marriage or gay rights. Back in Oregon (again) there was the case of Oregon State University’s Nicholas Drapela, fired from his teaching post for being a “climate denier.” And let’s not forget the recent story over there in National Review by David French, a tale of Wisconsin’s “John Doe” law that had the police use a battering ram to knock down a woman’s door in a home invasion. Why? She was an active critic of public employee unions. The Democrat who is the local district attorney acting in fact as a Nazi or Communist bursting into the home of the law-abiding Jew or Soviet dissident.

So what do we have here? What we have is a frightening rise of what Jonah Goldberg once wrote a whole book to describe — Liberal Fascism. The modern-day, American descendant of Nazism and Communism. A world where neighbor informs on neighbor, where dissent — free speech — is not allowed. A world where you can be a gay Ian Reisner, or a Christian baker, or a Quaker school principal or a Wisconsin housewife or an Oregon college professor. A world where you cannot speak out freely — or hold to your own God-given (Can I still say that?) rights to religious liberty.

This isn’t just wrong. It’s dangerous. Ian Reisner may be the latest victim of this fascism — but rest assured in the current climate he won’t be the last. The real shame Mr. Reisner has brought on himself is to send the message that the “gay community” is nothing but a bunch of fascist bullies. And that’s wrong too.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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