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Using Free Speech to Overpower the Alt-Right & Neo-Nazis
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Using Free Speech to Overpower the Alt-Right & Neo-Nazis

Members of the Alternative Right convened in Washington over the weekend to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory and host a meeting of the minds.

What happened next will SHOCK you!

During one speech by Alt-Right leader and white nationalist Richard Spencer, chants of “Hail Trump” broke out.

Naturally, members of the audience accompanied these chants with a Nazi salute. Spencer would go on to wonder if members of the mainstream media “are people at all, or instead soulless golem.”

As the president of the National Policy Institute, a white-nationalist think tank, Spencer’s views on national identity and white nationalism have become more mainstream over the past year and a half due to the growing Alt-Right movement that propelled Donald Trump’s candidacy. Such a development is both disturbing and worthy of discussion.

Complaints about the mainstream media (or “lamestream” media) often sound like something a passionate uncle would say at Thanksgiving. But in this case, there is a legitimate argument to be made that the media is beginning to step into a minefield with their coverage of these types of issues.

David Harsanyi explains this challenge in The Federalist:

These people have generally been given the attention they deserve — which is to say exceptionally little. If you read this week’s headlines, though, you would have thought the German American Bund had packed 22,000 cheering fascists into the Ronald Reagan Trade Center in DC.

For an example of how the media is starting to normalize this, take a look at the L.A. Times, which tweeted a link to their story about the meeting with the caption, “Meet the new think-tank in town.”

Understandably, the media has been giving both this conference and leaders of the Alt-Right a lot of press. This kind of controversy is gold for the drama-driven 24-hour news industry. But what happens when the media’s attempt at objective reporting unintentionally turns the actions of Neo-Nazis into a normal part of American society?

Probably not anything good.

People like President-Elect Donald Trump should have been among the first to denounce people like Spencer and the ideology they are so proud of. Instead, he spent the weekend tweeting out complaints about Hamilton and the New York Times. Luckily, he did eventually do so, saying in a Tuesday meeting with the New York Times, “I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn.”

“Now is the time to be competitive in our speech.”

The responsibility cannot fall solely on the media or a political leader, however, but also on us as individuals. We aren’t using our free speech to overpower the free speech of Spencer and his Alt-Right comrades.

Make no mistake, if gone unchallenged, Neo-Nazis could end up becoming more influential than ever before in our country’s history.

It’s times like these that require lines to be drawn and battles to be waged. Groups such as the Alt-Right should never be normalized, but they should be talked about critically. Especially for those of us on the right, we have to leave no doubt that Neo-Nazism has no place in our politics. Luckily, many influential conservatives have done just that.

The beautiful thing about America is that free speech exists for everyone. A Christian minister has the same speech rights as a Neo-Nazi does. What we are seeing, however, is a failure to use speech in a way that overpowers other ideas. That is, the people who should be standing up and speaking out against this kind of disturbing speech are failing to do so.

The battle of ideas features a level playing field. Indeed, that is a wonderful attribute of our strong culture of free speech. And the game we play is infinite and highly-competitive. Now is the time to be competitive in our speech, to push back against Alt-Right and Neo-Nazi rhetoric.


1 comment

  • stephenperkins

    […] the media to not give credence to white nationalist ideologies or leaders. As Stephen Perkins has observed, the alt-right is misguidedly treated like a trendy fad in many media circles, almost as if […]

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