My Response to Charlottesville.

I’m sorry this is off topic for this blog. It doesn’t have anything to do with telecom. But extraordinary events require a response, and now is when all of us who believe in the Rule of Law need to raise our voices.

 

The issue is not right v. left. The issue is those who believe in preserving the fundamental rights of protest and respecting the rule of law v. those who believe they are a law unto themselves.

 

Our country allows supporters of even the most evil, hateful ideologies to preach their beliefs on the principle that it is the right — nay, the duty — of those who oppose these beliefs to counter-protest. Let hundreds of hate-mongers, racists and antisemites gather to be confronted by tens of thousands of people appalled at their open embrace of evil. Let those who hate their fellow American shout their obscenities at the overwhelming masses of Americans counter-protesting. Let the world see that while a few thousands may be drawn to the “largest rally” of racists, fascists and Nazis wannabes, tens of thousands will rise in anger and condemnation.

 

It is those who turn to violence and view themselves as a law unto themselves that are “the other side.” To be clear, I do not speak of those who merely defend themselves. If an armed mob assaults protesters, then those assaulted have the right to defend themselves. No, the “other side” are those who think that they have been provoked so that the rule of law no longer applies. Those who think they are a law unto themselves, empowered to deal death and violence for their ‘sacred cause.’ These who consider themselves their own law, and those who encourage them, are the “other side.” They are the enemy that needs to be condemned.

 

So do not condemn “both sides” or “all sides.” Make no false equivalences. Here is the bright line test. Do you take up arms against another because you ‘feel threatened’ by their words or by their gathering to oppose your own speech? Do you feel you have the right to respond to words with violence? Do you think you have the right to act as a law of your own because you think the actual law of our country that protects free expression has ‘failed?” Then you are the enemy. You are a terrorist who seeks to undermine our country and impose your will by violence and fear of violence. Do you encourage others to believe that such violence is justified? Do you preach preemptive violence and grow fat on breading fear? Then you are just as guilty.

 

Do not make false equivalences. But do not look smugly to place blame by association. Every Trump voter who is appalled by the murder of protesters by White Power terrorists and who joins with me in condemning violence of any kind is still my fellow American. Whatever my disagreement with that person politically, however much I may disagree with or even loath that person’s political views, my fellow American who stands with me in condemnation of the murderers and abettors to murder is still my fellow American.

 

Likewise, if you are a conservative who feels the same, then you should regard any one on the left who condemns violence and opposes murder as your fellow American. You cannot on the one hand delight in the assault by a gunman on Republicans members of Congress as proof of the dangers of “the left,” while simultaneously maintaining your own innocence as to the murder and injury of people in Charlottesville. If you delight in smearing Black Lives Matter and holding them responsible whenever a police officer is killed, if you celebrated the shooting of Congressman Scalise as a vindication of the supposed violent conspiracy against you, then you own Charlottesville and the deaths and injuries inflicted against your declared enemies in exactly┬áthe same fashion.

 

For there are but two sides here. Those who believe in the rule of law, and those who believe they are a law unto themselves. Let all who cherish freedom, who do justice, who love mercy, condemn without reservation or equivalence those who embrace unlawful violence. But do not demand that those who stand with us in rejecting violence and embracing law foreswear their right to disagree by all means lawful. For if we are true to our commitment to the rule of law and to the principles of democracy, then we must embrace those we regard as our political opponents as our fellow Americans.

 

It is a cliche that I may disagree with what you say but I will die to defend your right to say it. Very well. Now is the time we put this to the test. No caveats. No self-defensive equivalencies. No demand that those who made a political decision in November must recant to be on the side of the angels. No effort to somehow compare BLM, or Antifa, or whatever boogeyman you chose with those who willfully commit violence and murder. Do we hang together against violence, or do we hang separately in the violence that follows?

 

So I say again, there is no “all sides.” There is no “both sides.” There is no right versus left in the defense of the principles of free speech and democracy. Are you with the Rule of Law, or do you believe yourself a law of your own? Those are the two sides — and only one is at fault for the deaths in Charlottesville.

 

Stay tuned . . .

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