Crazies of the Left and Right Threaten Freedom

A long-time tactic of extremists and terrorists is to put mainstream “moderates” in a constant state of reaction, to essentially eliminate the middle by forcing people to choose between left-wing anarchists (or socialists and communists) engaging in violence to challenge what they perceive as an anti-democratic regime and right-wing fascists engaging in violence to defend against chaos and anarchy.

The far right hopes the general public will have no sympathy for the protestors and demand a law-and-order crackdown. Their agenda is to portray the protestors as irresponsible, abusive and violent, so that their free speech rights can then be violated (even though the vast majority of protestors are peaceful). The far left hopes that the crackdown will be so oppressive that the people will overthrow the government.

It looks like both the far right and the far left are gaining supporters, especially on campuses where naive students have little sense of history and are easily manipulated.

Extremism begat extremism. It’s hard to figure out “who started it.” Left-wing crazies may start by suppressing the free-speech rights of people on the right, or even of people in the middle, strictly enforcing politically-correct speech codes. This may lead resentful students to invite right-wing provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter or white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus, which each extreme hopes will then lead to violent protests so their cause will gain attention and notoriety.

Extremists need each other. They both incite the same result, authoritarianism and eventually, totalitarianism.

NYT:

With far-right groups edging into the mainstream with the rise of President Trump, self-described anti-fascists and anarchists are vowing to confront them at every turn, and by any means necessary — including violence.With far-right groups edging into the mainstream with the rise of President Trump, self-described anti-fascists and anarchists are vowing to confront them at every turn, and by any means necessary — including violence…

Masked protesters set fires, smashed windows and stormed buildings on the campus of the University of California to shut down a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, an inflammatory Breitbart News editor and a right-wing provocateur already barred from Twitter. Five people were injured, administrators canceled the event, and the university police locked down the campus for hours…

That followed a bloody melee in Seattle on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, when black-clad demonstrators — their faces concealed to minimize the risk of arrest — tried to prevent a speech by Mr. Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington, and a 34-year-old anti-fascist was shot and seriously wounded by a supporter of Mr. Yiannopoulos.

The outbreaks of destruction and violence since Mr. Trump’s inauguration have earned contempt from Republicans — including Trump supporters who say it is exactly why they voted for his promises of law and order — and condemnation from Democrats like Berkeley’s mayor, Jesse Arreguín. He called Wednesday’s display “contrary to progressive values” and said it “provided the ultranationalist far right exactly the images they want” to try to discredit peaceful protesters of Mr. Trump’s policies.

But anarchists and anti-fascists, who often make up a small but disproportionately attention-getting portion of protesters, defend the mayhem they create as a necessary response to an emergency.

Drill Deeper:

One group that has been outspoken in favor of allowing Mr. Yiannopoulos to speak is the veterans of the university’s free speech movement.

“I’m really a little fatigued with all of this, ‘Oh my goodness, cover my ears, someone will say something that will upset me, I can’t tolerate that,’ ” said Jack Radey, who was a 17-year-old activist during the original free speech movement at Berkeley.

“There are racists, sexists, piggery of various kinds who will say really terrible things. And that is part of the world,” Mr. Radey said by telephone from Oregon, where he is retired. “Learn how to fight back. Don’t say, ‘Oh, no. We can’t allow someone to speak because someone might be offended.’ ”

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