7 Ways We Can Fight Back Against the Rising Fascist Threat
Continued from previous page
My fear, given the stakes and emotions on both sides, is that union thugs, ACORN activists and left-wing anarchists (who ransacked the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul during last year's Republican National Convention) will turn violent, and innocent people will get hurt. If that happens, the radical left will bear the responsibility for demonizing free speech.
The Nazis used this kind of victim-blaming to tremendous effect as they built up their party.
We must not -- must not -- give our proto-brownshirts any basis to make the same kind of argument. (Of course, the absence of evidence will only drive them to make up fake victims; but then we get to call them out as whining liars with a big fat persecution complex, which is always a fun way to spend a news cycle or two.)
It's about the moral high ground, people. Any choices we make must be consistent with our own values, or we betray both ourselves and the country.
Standing up for health care reform is important; but before that, the country needs to see us standing up for civil discourse and the right to democratic free speech. Since we're defending the rule of law, our best tactic is to use that law.
You have a right to attend a public meeting and speak your mind in a civil, respectful manner. You do not have a right to be disruptive or deprive other people of their right to be heard. And most jurisdictions have laws about disturbing the peace and creating a public nuisance -- laws, let's not forget, that the Bush regime didn't hesitate to stretch until the elastic gave out against people who merely showed up at meetings with the wrong bumper stickers or T-shirts.
Since we're not Bush goons, we can't go around arresting people who haven't yet broken any laws. But when people -- from either side -- cross that line, it's time for the cops and prosecutors to make the point for us: bullying people in a public meeting (or anywhere else) is illegal and will not be tolerated in this county.
Fourth: We need to make absolutely sure that the media get the story right. The teabaggers would run out of power with the flick of a switch if the media would just turn off their cameras. But the cold reality is that this kind of drama is a real ratings-booster.
It would be like telling lions to lay off that elephant carcass. Left alone, the media (local news in particular) will turn these people into cultural heroes. They couldn't turn their backs on this if the republic depended on it.
Since we can't beat 'em, we'll have to join 'em. The best cure for bad speech is always more speech. This means bringing cameras and documenting everything, getting it up on YouTube, and blogging it.
It also means coordinating rapid-response letterwriting to the local paper and keeping down-home reporters well-fed every single day with some new theme that reinforces the idea of concerned nonpartisan citizens trying to keep control over their democratic discourse in the face of organized thugs. Since the media are watching, let's make sure they see it all.
Fifth: Support legislators who don't show fear. The Democratic Party seems to be playing this just right (so far). The leadership has made it known that these noisy, scary people don't represent the 73 percent of Americans who support health care reform. The GOP is running the risk of being marginalized as not only the Party of No, but the Party of Moonbat Crazy.