There is almost nothing as politically frustrating as seeing your side act like a wounded animal, lashing out at opponents in a way that would elicit derision were the tables turned.
But in 2018, that’s where conservatives find themselves.
No longer are we compelled to hold fast to long-established principles. Instead, those fundamental anchors, meant to steady us in even the most forceful cultural and political gales, have been ripped up for one goal: to own the liberals. It seems the Right’s penchant for warfare – at any cost – increased exponentially with the election of Donald J. Trump.
During the 2016 campaign season, too many on the Right excused words or actions that came from our eventual nominee because winning meant more. If the exact same behavior had come from their political enemy, it would have been called out immediately, categorized as unacceptable and divisive. But that gleaming (R) next to Trump’s name righted all the wrongs, past and present, and made him irresistible to Republican voters.
This mindset continues, and not just regarding the president.
When First Lady Barbara Bush died on April 17, she left behind a rich legacy as a wife and mother that serves as a model for us all. Mrs. Bush was widely admired across the political spectrum, and you have to be a particularly loathsome person to applaud her death.
One woman, Fresno State University professor, Randa Jarrar, is such a despicable individual. After news of Mrs. Bush’s death, Jarrar tweeted the following.
“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” Randa Jarrar wrote Tuesday night on Twitter, according to the Fresno Bee.
In another tweet, the professor wrote: “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.”
Naturally, outrage ensued and Jarrar received a barrage of warranted criticism for her heinous comments. As a tenured professor, she taunted her detractors with her job security (as it stands now), and even offered up Arizona State’s University’s 24-hour crisis hotline number as her own.
To say Jarrar has some serious issues is an understatement.
As expected, conservatives and others on the Right began loudly calling for Jarrar to be fired from her job. My colleague, streiff, demanded the same in his piece To Protect Free Speech We Must Demand This Professor Be Fired. I respectfully disagree with him as well as any others who believe Jarrar should be stripped of tenure and kicked our of her comfortable residency at Fresno State University.
Why? It’s very simple. Free speech protects the words I love as much as those I hate. This is an inconvenient truth for those who emotionally cling to a particular worldview.
I, too, notice the college campuses where conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro are greeted with angry university students all because he is scheduled to appear. I, too, recognize the hypocrisy with which conservatives in academia or other career fields are treated. I fully understand that we on the Right often have to tiptoe around our more liberal co-workers and neighbors because our speech may – gasp! – offend them. I, too, read Professor Jarrar’s words with disdain.
Yet, I support her right to say them anyway.
That’s crazy, you say? We shouldn’t allow such filth?! We’re in a civil war and they’re winning in the cultural sphere?!
Too bad. That’s the price of freedom for all Americans, not just the ones in your trench.
We don’t win by demanding that the freedoms we have should be withheld from another. We don’t win by seeking to suppress individuals who possess a delusional political mentality. Ironically, if we do so we’re acting more like the Left than anything; they’re particularly good at this.
So snap out of your whining. This is America, patriot.
Thankfully, cogent thought leaders like David French at National Review exist to set us straight. His piece No, Conservatives Shouldn’t Try to Punish Radical Professors for Offensive Speech was spot-on.
We’re reaching a disturbing point in American discourse where increasingly both sides of the national debate (it’s not the Left that’s driving the firestorm against Jarrar) are looking for ways to justify and rationalize censorship and suppression of offensive views. If the censorship comes through a public employer or government entity, then the Twitterati transforms into a squad of hapless law students, hunting through the results of hasty Google searches to find just the right exceptions to the relevant First Amendment jurisprudence — exceptions that allow for the infamous phrase, “I believe in free speech, but . . .”
Every time that we refuse to tolerate offensive expression, we incentivize the culture of crocodile tears. We motivate government officials to expand state power over speech until the silencing exceptions swallow the free-speech rule.
I see those disturbing ideas spread across blog pages and social media posts from people who claim they prize freedom. In reality, they only want to protect discourse that they love.
That’s hypocrisy, folks, plain and simple.
(As French says later in his piece, Jarrar’s use of the AZU crisis line as her own is another matter entirely. It’s a serious issue which requires some sort of disciplinary action.)
Increasingly, those on the Right remind me of Leftists in the way they seek to muzzle their opponents. It’s a very childish approach to living in the most free nation in the history of mankind. It’s not a matter of if someone will hurt your feelings and offend you, it’s a matter of when. So you had better come to terms with it.
I don’t expect people caught up in their own tribalism, who believe there is no improvement to be done on the Right, to agree with my assessment. Their dishonesty does a huge disservice to conservatism as a whole.
In the Trump Era, such cheapness is expected.
Follow Kimberly Ross on Twitter: @southernkeeks.