I remember years ago when I walked into a fabric store with a friend, and noticed a throw blanket hung on the wall. It had Barack Obama’s face on it—and, rolling my eyes, I turned to my friend and said something to the effect of “Geez, that’s a little much; it’s like he’s some kind of a god we’re venerating here.”
I no sooner got those words out of my mouth when someone rushed up behind me and start attacking me verbally. I whirled around to see that it was a store employee, ripping me apart for daring to “criticize” the president. In the span of about a minute she spewed an entire diatribe about how little I knew about civil rights and oppression of black people (for the record, this employee was white), and how dare I criticize someone trying to right all those terrible wrongs that my race had perpetrated on those people.
She was entitled to her opinion, yes—but what struck me was how she believed I wasn’t entitled to mine—as menial and insignificant as my opinion about a blanket actually was. It wasn’t “Hey, I overheard a comment you just made, and I feel differently; would it be ok if I asked you about it?” It was “HOW DARE YOU HOLD SUCH AN OPINION. You will STOP holding that opinion. NOW.”
I thought about this exchange as I watched the tragic events unfold in Charlottesville this last weekend.
I thought about the awfulness of white supremacy. No questions asked, do not pass go, do not collect $200—those are terrible people.
But unless they are breaking the law and harming people or property (like the monstrous man who plowed people over with a car at that protest), they’re allowed to sit there and spew as much swill as they want. Just like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Linda Soursour and numerous other hateful people and groups are allowed to spew their swill.
Fact: we don’t need a first amendment if all we’re protecting is speech we like. It’s there to protect speech that we don’t like—even speech that most sane, decent Americans would deem as unequivocally hateful.
Put your logic caps on here and think about it: The first amendment exists to ensure that in this nation of hundreds of millions—wherein we’re never going to get every single person to agree on any one single thing—people are free to think and believe as they want.
So long as they’re not hurting anyone.
It’s what allows us to continue to function as a free nation, and not some dictatorial state like North Korea where you’re told what opinions and beliefs you can hold and express. To preserve freedom, it must be protected for all.
So go back to my story for a minute. I was accosted by that woman not simply because she didn’t like my opinion, but because she believed I wasn’t entitled to it.
And that’s dangerous.
She was (and probably still is) an ideological supremacist.
We’ve been talking a lot this week about white supremacy—where some white Americans believe that the rights of other races should be suppressed so that white America can rise.
So here’s a challenge: when any person believes that their opinion entitles them to do whatever they want and hurt whatever (and whomever) they want in order that the ideas that form their opinion can rise—how is that person fundamentally any different than torch-carrying neo-Nazis?
That’s ideological supremacy, and it certainly isn’t unique to racists. Racists just happen to exhibit one awful form of it.
People who topple statues that aren’t theirs, trash campuses because they hate the speaker, or even kill people because they don’t like their job—that is ideological supremacy and it’s tearing our country apart.
Ideological supremacy means that your ideas reign supreme, and—in true Machiavellian style—that you can hurt, defame, deface, and traffic in rank hypocrisy (like major media outlets roundly condemning white supremacy while simultaneously swooning over Iceland’s genetic supremacy policies)—all in the name of advancing YOUR ideas.
Yes, white supremacy is a horrible thing—and in fact it affects me personally. White supremacists look at people like me and my marriage to someone of a different race with disdain and hate. (Then again I’ve been accosted by people on the other side who look at my marriage as simply an excuse for the “white girl” to think she’s got a right to talk about racial issues—but I’ve digressed.)
So yes, white supremacy is a horrible thing. But at the end of the day it still boils down to ideological supremacy; and it is NOT germane to racists.
And it’s not a one-sided problem.
We don’t need to silence those who don’t agree with us in order to protect our own rights. We have a system to punish people who act on their ideological supremacy. The waste of human skin who killed a woman with his car is in jail and will go on trial for his own life. The people who toppled the statue in Durham, North Carolina this last week were arrested.
You can disagree with people all day long. You can debate, protest, yell—whatever your first amendment right entitles you to do within the law.
But understand this: when you believe you have the right to silence—through intimidation, physical violence, defacing of private property, etc.—those whose ideas run contrary to yours, YOU ARE killing your own freedoms in the process.
Like it or not.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree