The intolerant left, then and now

The intolerant left — the ones who approve of “free speech zones,” speech codes, shouting down speakers, and in some cases violent suppression — reminds me of certain campus factions when I was a student in the late sixties and early seventies. We can learn from the similarities and the differences.

In the “sixties” (which stretched into the seventies), it was mostly hard-core socialist groups who opposed free speech and tried to silence opponents. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) loved to intimidate and shout down speakers. Youth Against War and Fascism (YAWF) handed out fliers declaring that “Fascists have no right to speak!” By “fascists,” on that occasion, they meant libertarians opposing rent control.
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Song: Mary Dyer

Wikimedia image of Mary DyerSong blogging time again. I introduced this song at the MASSFILC gathering on March 4. I’ve been thinking about an alternate history cycle involving the Quakers, and decided to start with actual history. The lyrics and sheet music are on my website.
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Remembering some victories

It’s too easy (for me, anyway) to sink into doom and gloom about the political situation. There are plenty of reasons to be depressed right now, but focusing only on bad news just kills motivation. So here’s a quick list of areas where libertarians have made gains in the 21st century. In most cases, other groups did a lot (often most) of the work; there aren’t enough of us to win many battles without alliances. Often, though, libertarians were there first.

I’m not claiming this is a complete list or even covers all the most important cases; please mention others in the comments if you like.
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How to defeat “alternative facts”

We’ve seen strong signs of a successful liberal coalition in the past couple of weeks, with multiple and varied protests against Trump’s Muslim ban. Efforts like this have to be narrowly focused, in order to bring in the largest number of supporters. It worked very well this time.

(Note: If you aren’t a regular follower of this blog, please read this post to understand how I’m using the word “liberal.” I’m using it in its original sense, from before it became associated with massive government power.)
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The coming raids

What will Trump do starting January 20? It’s not always easy to guess, but one thing is a near-certainty: Massive raids and deportations. He made this a centerpiece of his campaign, and a lot of his followers want to see it happen.

What can we do to prevent it? Probably not much. Bush and Obama have given him enough tools. It will happen, and all the people wearing safety pins won’t be able to stop it. People will be hauled out of their homes and offices. Families will be broken up. What’s to be done?

The most important thing: Don’t help the government in any way. If you know someone’s immigration status is questionable, don’t tell anyone except people whom you strongly trust and can offer help.
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Freedom and the art of persuasion

If you look at Twitter and Facebook, it appears that Democrats are convinced that Trump beat them by tapping into rage more effectively, so they’re trying to catch up. They’re denouncing anyone who skipped the election and anyone who voted for a minor-party candidate. They’re saying anyone who voted for Trump is a “collaborator,” regardless of their reasons. By this logic, anyone who voted for Clinton, for any reason, must also be a “collaborator” with her militarism, with her hostility to free speech, with her “Manhattan project” for breaking secure communication.

It’s a perfect achievement. If you were eligible to vote, you’re evil. Everyone’s evil. Except them.

But that’s Twitter and Facebook. They’re practically designed to encourage fury and promote echo chambers. Talking with people in person, I’ve found considerable common ground, even if it’s just that Trump is very dangerous. It’s possible to reach people with a lot of patience. (Which I’ll freely admit is a virtue I’ve never been strong on.)
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Practical steps to defend freedom against Trump

Before getting back to theoretical aspects of a liberal coalition, I’d like to talk about practical action to counter what Trump will try. The courts are the best chance to stop him, and there are organizations ready to take him on. They need financial support.

An envelope is sitting on my shelf for mailing, with a check made out to the Institute for Justice. The IJ has beaten Trump before, when he tried to grab Vera Coking’s home under eminent domain to turn into a parking lot.
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Liberalism and free speech

Any liberal coalition I’d consider joining will have to take a strong position on free speech. This will set it clearly apart from both the progressives and the Trumpists.

Both Clinton and Trump wanted Citizens United overturned, for personal and vindictive reasons. Clinton was the loser in the case, and consequently couldn’t have a video that criticized her censored. Her stated first priority for the Supreme Court was that any judge she appointed had to overturn the lawsuit she lost. She wanted a judge who’d put her bidding above the Constitution.

Trump is in favor of anything that could let him restrict free speech. Citizens United is particularly inconvenient for him, because it affirms the right of groups of people to combine their resources. If he can get a court ruling that says that people don’t retain their Constitutional rights when they form corporations, that gives him lots of opportunities. Before he was elected, it also would have given him, and other rich people, a tactical advantage; he’d still be free to spend his own billions on any cause, while others would have to rely on their lesser, unpooled personal resources.
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Understanding Trumpism and progressivism

The election will soon be over, and it’s likely that Trump will lose. Once it’s over, we need to understand what happened and why, in order to understand what will follow.

The core of Trumpism is a highly authoritarian movement that wants a leader with unprecedented power. This is a small group compared with the number of voters who simply consider Trump less bad than Clinton, though progressives keep inflating its importance by ascribing its motives to every Trump voter.
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Colin Kaepernick has hurt people’s feelings!

Would Colin Kaepernick would have been kicked out of MidAmericon? He was “inciteful” and made people uncomfortable by deviating from the program. He committed the worst of sins in modern America: He hurt people’s feelings. In a time when people are supposed to not upset anyone, his rejection of polite acquiescence deserves applause.

He refused to stand up for the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a game. That shouldn’t have been a big deal. However, he’s stirred up some ugly outrage. The Santa Clara police union threatened to have cops leave football games unprotected because they don’t like Kaepernick’s socks. They portrayed police as pigs; the response showed that these particular cops deserve it. A stranger on Twitter told me he was buying a Kaepernick jersey in order to burn it.
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