This isn’t really news.
Liberalism has been cancelled and replaced by woke progressivism. Those of us who attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville witnessed its violent death in 2017.
In our view, we were doing something routine in Charlottesville which we had done in many other places around the country like New Orleans, Memphis or Birmingham and for the exact same reasons. We were exercising our First Amendment rights to hold rallies in defense of Southern heritage. The Unite the Right rally was organized over two issues: Jason Kessler’s civil liberties and Confederate monuments.
In Charlottesville, we went to federal court and easily prevailed with the assistance of the ACLU of Virginia because we had the constitutional right to hold our rally there. We knew that Antifa and Black Lives Matter were going to show up to counterprotest our event. We knew that the “journalists” were going to be in Charlottesville. We knew that there was going to be a massive police presence. In theory, this should have been more than sufficient to hold a safe, orderly and peaceful event. There should have been just a few speeches in a park that day, some jeering from hecklers on the sidelines and a fun afterparty.
It was in Charlottesville that we were introduced to the new system. In the new system, things like federal court orders which would have previously settled the issue don’t matter. Antifa and Black Lives Matter have the right to engage in violence. The police will stand aside and look the other way at the destruction caused by these groups. The local district attorney will use the law as a weapon to prosecute groups on the Right. Big Tech monopolies will engage in one sided ideological purges. The FBI and the DOJ will turn a blind eye to Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence and focus their attention solely on prosecuting groups on the Right. These groups have the right to engage in violence, censorship and doxxing.
The mainstream Right dismissed our account of what had happened that day and looked the other way when we were censored. Antifa were toasted as heroes. It wasn’t thought to be a hill worth dying on. Besides, the idea that the police stood aside that day allowed these groups to attack while “journalists” lied about what happened seemed far fetched at the time even though it was all captured on video. James Fields, Jr. was a “domestic terrorist” who murdered Heather Heyer, not someone who was lost and whose GPS led him into a mob where he panicked like dozens of other people in the same situation.
The whole country was rocked by multiple “Charlottesvilles” in the wake of the death of George Floyd. We were entirely absent from those events. As with the violence which occurred in the original Charlottesville and Berkeley and Portland in 2017, it all stemmed ultimately from the triumph of the “successor ideology” which has replaced liberalism inside its former citadels like the ACLU or the New York Times.
“The adjective liberal is near, or perhaps past, the end of its run as a useful term for left-of-center thinking. So widespread is the impulse on the Left to shut down speech deemed disagreeable, that illiberalism is now among its defining features: Vehement opposition to freedom of expression, of worship, of pluralism, of tolerance, of due process, and the presumption of innocence are now rallying cries all over the progressive map. Is it progressive, though, to turn back the clock to pre-Enlightenment thinking? Progressives de nos jours seem inordinately attached to retrogression. We need a term for illiberal reactionaries of the left.
Credit where it’s due, then: A handful of left-of-center writers and talkers whose policy preferences rarely overlap with mine are doing important work in defending liberal values to the Left. Bill Maher, Jonathan Chait, Matt Yglesias, Glenn Greenwald, and Andrew Sullivan are pushing back against their own side with impressive dedication. (I realize Sullivan describes himself as a conservative, but he’s considerably to the left of anyone to whom I would apply that label). All of these people have been repaid with heaps of scorn and obloquy by members of their own intellectual tribe, but as far as I can tell, being rebranded as outcasts is proving to be invigorating for all of them.
One of the Left’s most ardent defenders of liberalism has turned out to be Matt Taibbi, the longtime Rolling Stone correspondent who, like several of the others I mentioned, seems to have discovered a new level of irreverent candor by writing on Substack, which has quickly become a leading platform for the dwindling remnant of left-of-center writers who still back liberalism. …”
The ACLU gave up on civil liberties after Charlottesville in order to fundraise off being another #Resistance era woke progressive activist group.
“It was supposed to be the celebration of a grand career, as the American Civil Liberties Union presented a prestigious award to the longtime lawyer David Goldberger. He had argued one of its most famous cases, defending the free speech rights of Nazis in the 1970s to march in Skokie, Ill., home to many Holocaust survivors.
Mr. Goldberger, now 79, adored the A.C.L.U. But at his celebratory luncheon in 2017, he listened to one speaker after another and felt a growing unease.
A law professor argued that the free speech rights of the far right were not worthy of defense by the A.C.L.U. and that Black people experienced offensive speech far more viscerally than white allies. In the hallway outside, an A.C.L.U. official argued it was perfectly legitimate for his lawyers to decline to defend hate speech.
Mr. Goldberger, a Jew who defended the free speech of those whose views he found repugnant, felt profoundly discouraged.
“I got the sense it was more important for A.C.L.U. staff to identify with clients and progressive causes than to stand on principle,” he said in a recent interview. “Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind.”
The A.C.L.U., America’s high temple of free speech and civil liberties, has emerged as a muscular and richly funded progressive powerhouse in recent years, taking on the Trump administration in more than 400 lawsuits. But the organization finds itself riven with internal tensions over whether it has stepped away from a founding principle — unwavering devotion to the First Amendment. …
Its national and state staff members debate, often hotly, whether defense of speech conflicts with advocacy for a growing number of progressive causes, including voting rights, reparations, transgender rights and defunding the police.
Those debates mirror those of the larger culture, where a belief in the centrality of free speech to American democracy contends with ever more forceful progressive arguments that hate speech is a form of psychological and even physical violence …”
The difference between a liberal and a woke progressive is that the former believes in equal rights. The latter believes that expanding “rights” for some groups also entails restricting the rights of other groups. Obviously, no one should believe that the “far right” has any constitutional rights.
“When you deal with campus hate speech, you know they most often won’t file a brief with you,” Mr. Silverglate said. Mr. Romero, he added, “is not a liberal, he’s a progressive. His A.C.L.U. prefers cause work.”
This isn’t our fault.
In Auburn and Charlottesville and other places where we held rallies or speaking events, the “authoritarians” of the “far right” were the side who were championing civil liberties. We were the ones who were having free speech rallies and who were defending the First Amendment.
The woke progressive side stands for violence, censorship, intolerance, mob rule, cancel culture, the right not to be offended and to nullify the rights of others. They were the ones, not us, who really cancelled liberalism across every major institution in American society.
What exactly is the argument against right illiberalism now? The Left has embraced violence, censorship and impeachment as legitimate tactics. They have embraced state suppression by the “intelligence community.” They have embraced hierarchy and tiers of citizenship. They are perfectly willing to trample on the rights and liberties of others to impose their vision of “racial justice” on society as a whole. These people don’t even let objective truth get in the way of their preferred narrative.