It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” The phrase sounds a bit quaint, as if from another era. It is from a time before, political correctness, hate talk, censorship, when people did defend free speech of others whom they despised.
During the late 1970s the city of Skokie Illinois, which was home to many holocaust survivors. The American Nazi party requested a permit to have a demonstration in the center of the town. Liberals of those many Jewish, many with parents or families who had escaped or did in concentration camps, many whose fathers fought against Nazism, gave their lives for it in WWII -- discussed the subject very seriously. The cruelty to the residents was pitted against free speech. Nobody doubted that the intent of those sponsoring the parade went far beyond speech. But if you let the government censor, when does it stop? Freedom of speech was sacred; it protected against another Hitler or Stalin or... Most of those I knew, despised he Nazi party and supported the March. The content didn’t matter. We would defend their right to say it.
This country has come a long way from those times and that uncompromisable support of free speech. I remember the first rulings on hate crimes and thinking that no good would come of this, that it would lead to not to more but less equality, that it would be corrupted, enforced selectively and used to benefit one group vs. another. It pitted one group against another and inserted that conflict into the law.
I wish I had been wrong. Instead, we entered the age of non-equal treatment -- equality was redefined as if life were as simple as a see-saw. There was no question that the U,S, had treated blacks horridly. That does not mean that twisting the arms of businesses, forcing school bussing and lowering grades for college entry would undo the past.. Germany gave Jews reparations and moved on. When basic principles (like equality) have been broken (as they were against blacks) the solution is not to break them in the other direction. It never works and it didn’t. It prolonged and strengthened the racial divide. It insulted black people who were supposed to believe that without that “extra help” they couldn’t make it.
Governments love such opportunities. The love the power they get when dispensing “entitlements”, those yummy bureaucracies that come along with words like “affirmative action,” monoliths like head-start whose only effect was government funded employment for more black people. It didn’t stop there. Censorship was bound to occur and it did. You cannot say the ‘n’ word unless you are a black talking to a black. You cannot say the word he.. she is OK ..or throw grammar under the bus and use they.
Not all discrimination or prejudice is equal is created equal because redress applies only to “protected” minorities, some of which are majorities (women).
We’ve come a long way from free speech to lists of groups one is allowed and even encouraged to offend and groups against which the slightest insult is deplorable and even just cause for violence. We are required to understand the experiences of blacks when they commit crimes; but not the ‘reasons’ for other groups, instead of treating all people equally. So ingrained has this become that elected officials feel free to blame the non-black victim of a hate crime in public , as councilwoman Cumbo did in response to knock-out” attacks in Crown Heights. She publicly said that while she personally admires the Jewish community for their success, others might not see it that way, and singled out Jewish landlords as a possible case of knock outs. She excused her hate talk as insight offered.
Ms. Cumbo, who is black, understands that not all minorities or hate crimes are created equal. Imagine a Jewish councilwoman, explaining how Jews in Crown heights are understandably frightened by the many violent actions of young blacks in the past. How would that received?
The FBIs latest hate crime report, presented every statistic to highlight crimes against blacks and homosexuals (now called LGBTs). Normalized data show that the group most likely to be victims of hate crimes are Jews. [Hate crimes against Muslims are negligible] -- and to an alarming degree-- While 1.6% of people in the U.S, are Jews, 10% are the victims of hate crimes. Not a privileged minority.
As I write, professors in campuses around the country are hyping the new racism “structural racism” How clever! Any difference in outcomes between one group and another can now be called racism. Well of course, you can’t prove it. It’s in the “structure.”
We should have left all of this alone. A crime is a crime is a crime is a crime. Equal means equal. Had we left it alone, I believe real equality-- the kind that Dr. King wanted to see-- where skin is “the color of water” would have emerged or be emerging.
We are paying a high price for legal meddling with words like equal opportunity. Colleges have become indoctrination centers, innovation is migrating away from this country because in all the focus on diversity studies, nobody took enough time to teach kids Math or English or how to think or even that he? she? they are allowed to think.
We are paying for it most in the size of government and the power it shouldn’t have. This so of control, people from both parties seem concerned. Government inched its way into what out kids are taught, what we once thought was our privacy, into rights we once took for granted and now our health- our lives,