The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Professor Demands Censorship

Posted on | December 4, 2019 | 1 Comment


Thomas J. Main is a professor of Public and International Affairs at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Baruch College. He has recently published a book entitled The Rise of the Alt-Right although, unlike me, I don’t suppose he’s ever met anyone who was “alt-right.” Professor Main’s expertise, you see, consists entirely of his hatred for the “alt-right.” This is how liberalism works: Any liberal can claim to be an expert in anything (e.g., climate change) and none of his peers will question his credentials, so long as he has the correct (i.e., liberal) opinion on the subject.

Once upon a time, liberals were adamantly in favor of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Defending the First Amendment rights of Communists to advocate on behalf of Stalinism, for example, was once considered the duty of every bien-pensant liberal. More recently, however — and 2016 seems to have been the tipping point — liberals have begun demanding that anyone who disagrees with them should be silenced. Thus, Professor Main writes in the Los Angeles Times:

After the 2017 “Unite the Right” gathering in Charlottesville, Va., during which counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by a rally attendee, a lot of pundits predicted the demise of the alt-right movement. And for a while, it seemed as if they might be right.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, alt-right websites spewing white nationalist, misogynist and anti-Semitic diatribes were banned from standard internet service providers, and the de-platforming took a toll. . . .
But the reversal didn’t last. In an era where the U.S. president has offered support for alt-right thinking and new communications technologies have expanded the reach of fringe ideas, the movement quickly sprang back. The alt-right’s web audience is now significantly larger than it was before its supposed Waterloo at Charlottesville, and the Daily Stormer and other publications have found new web platforms from which to broadcast their hate-filled messages. . . .
Without intervention, the alt-right will continue to endure and grow, with predictable violent results. Rebutting the rising tide of illiberalism requires not simply a technological fix, but an intellectual and political response. Certainly, cesspools of hate such as 8chan must be shut down — for good, this time. But we also need, in the short term, sharp but civil rebuttal of alt-right ideologies from influential Americans. Longer-term, and more importantly, we need much better civic education and a government that can effectively address the economic and social issues that underlie alt-right support.

Answer me this, Professor: How is one to offer “sharp but civil rebuttal of alt-right ideologies” if, as you say, adherents of those ideologies are to be denied any platform on which to express them?

Yet this leads to another question the Professor cannot answer: If the ideas expressed on “cesspools of hate” are so self-evidently wrong, as you seem to believe, then why are so many millions of people directing their attention to these online venues? In other words, while I certainly don’t endorse some of the viewpoints expressed by the “alt-right,” and would never approve any advocacy of lawless violence, it occurs to me that there must be something the “alt-right” is offering, as an alternative to “mainstream” journalism, that must be considered valuable to its online audience. Permit me to quote a Virginia slave owner:

“Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself … she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.”

So wrote Thomas Jefferson in the  Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and what he wrote more than 200 years ago, I still believe. Alas, I’m not an “expert” like Professor Main.



One Response to “Professor Demands Censorship”

  1. The Left Hates Free Speech | 357 Magnum
    December 5th, 2019 @ 9:40 am

    […] No surprise really. Professor Demands Censorship. […]