How the left is fighting to save America from itself
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A great divide is forming in U.S. politics — and it’s not between Democrats and Republicans.

This divide will be one in which the future of opposition to conservatism is formed. This divide is between American liberals and the American left.

For many, this distinction will be confusing. Most Americans view the left, or liberals for that matter, as anything that is not Republican. The problem is, this lumps together too many differing ideological views that are incomparable.  

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This difference is addressed by Danny Katch in his book “Socialism … Seriously,” in which he points out: “Millions of people find themselves classified as liberals by default, ranging from those who march against banks and bombs to those who bail out the former and drop the latter. That’s not a very useful category.” 

 

What Katch notes is that the left, made up mainly of socialists, communists and anarchists, stand against capitalism. Liberalism, on the other hand, believes that capitalism can be reformed and be used to benefit people. Katch points out that while leftists and liberals can agree on some issues, they are very different ideologies.

This is most apparent when you realize many liberals tend to lean more toward the political center, agreeing more with the right than they do the left. One place this is most obvious is over the use of radical protests to silence hate speech on college campuses.

Liberals often defend such speakers as alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos or Nazi organizer Richard Spencer. They adhere to the principle that all speech should be protected, no matter how heinous, and often say things like, “I don’t like what you have to say, but I’ll die to protect your right to say it.”

This view of speech, and freedom, however, often comes at a cost to marginalized communities.

When Yiannopoulos took the stage late last year at the University of Wisconsin, he put the name and photo of a transgender student on the screen. He attacked her looks, accused her of being a confused man trying to sneak into women’s locker rooms. 

This student felt it necessary to drop out of school, out of fear that she would be violently attacked. Milo was allowed and protected by liberals to take the stage and attack a student, ruining an important part of her life.

News of his attack spread, and when Yiannopoulos arrived at UC Davis in Southern California, protesters were ready. They lined up to block the entrance and it made it clear his hate speech was not welcome. Citing safety concerns, the student group that booked Yiannopoulos that evening canceled the event.

Liberals, along with the right, were outraged. They claimed free speech on campuses was dead and that the left was becoming authoritarian.

They even continued to defend Yiannopoulos’s right to spread hate speech after a protester was shot and nearly killed by a Yiannopoulos fan in Seattle.

Then Yiannopoulos came to UC Berkeley. He had announced earlier his speech that night would be used to teach those in attendance how to identify and turn over immigrants who are attending the university.

More than 1,000 protesters showed up, including Black Bloc, an arm of Anti-Fascist Action (Antifa), with one mission: to stop the event from taking place. They tore down barricades, threatened police safety (the far left sees the police force as defending fascists), set off fireworks and set a flood light on fire.

Their mission was a success. Before Yiannopoulos was able to take the stage, the event had been canceled.

Predictably, liberals were once again upset. Free speech is absolute, and no matter the threat to these minority students, Yiannopoulos had the right to speak.

Thankfully for those students whose lives would have been upended, Antifa was there. They did the work American liberals are consistently unwilling to do: They defended the lives of others. 

The left is fighting, not for their lives but for the lives of the marginalized communities that liberal America has forgotten, or more specifically, white liberal America.

Had Antifa stayed home and allowed liberals to protect speech, no matter how hateful or damaging, immigrants attending UC Berkeley could likely be facing raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other federal agents trying to crack down on immigration under President Trump.

This protection, provided by Antifa and other radical leftist groups, instead of being thanked, is called authoritarian. The left is blamed for focusing on “identity politics” and social justice. They are told to put “pet issues” such as transgender rights aside and to fight instead for the election of more liberal politicians.

For the left, people’s livelihoods and identities are not pet issues, and are worth fighting for every day. The resistance to Trump, a plan co-opted by liberals, must include the protection of all marginalized individuals, that issues that affect lives every day — not simply the issues that are assured of electing more Democrats. 

The left is fighting to save America. If a resistance against the Trump administration is going to be successful, it will be won by those on the left willing to be called authoritarian or compared to the fascists they are fighting, and they will do so without apology.

Defeating the right cannot come from moving closer to their ideology and propping up their speakers to spread their message of hate and intolerance. It must come from the total opposition and not allowing speakers such as Yiannopoulos and Spencer to thrive in public venues.

 

Dan Arel is a political activist, award-winning journalist, and author of “The Secular Activist” and “Parenting Without God.” You can follow him on Twitter @danarel. 


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