In our last post, we discussed five methods being used to silence Americans. As a reminder, here is the introduction from that Post:
This Blog will provide a sampling of efforts underway to silence opposition and thus push a particular agenda. Due to the length of the topic, we will have to divide our thoughts into two posts. This one will discuss five of ten ways that free speech is under assault. Part Two will cover the next five methods of silencing any dissent.
Be aware that much of the agenda being pushed is pure poison for America as we know her. And, be aware that the war is being escalated by the political parties themselves, often in an unholy alliance with dangerous outside efforts. When President Trump was elected, the opposition formalized. The left saw his election as a Russian plot under the direction of Putin. Thus, they felt the need to create a master plan of opposition. Here is a write-up on the anti-Trump campaign at Talking Points Memo. Here is a direct link. Here is the motto:
Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.
Indivisible is a very well-organized opposition that has already supported multiple marches around the country. The fact that this information is openly available on the Internet is a testament to free speech. The problem is, however, that not all political opinions are afforded that right. In fact there is a very conscious effort to stifle the free speech of anyone who dares oppose the liberal line.
And here is a list of the first five:
Method #1: The Tactic of Shaming
Method #2: Cutting off Access (Internet)
Method #3: Silencing Media Opposition
Method #4: Controlling Entertainment
Method #5 Controlling Education
This post will continue that list, covering Methods 6-10. These are active measure underway that are being used to deny free speech and free thought. But before we get into the list, there are a couple of news items from last week's list that must be mentioned. First, we must address the shameful shaming (Method #1) of a first grader who failed to use the designated pronoun for a fellow student. She was drug to the Principal's office and threatened. All of this because she called someone she knew last year by his given name rather than the new identity that he (now she) chose for this year. Really confusing for a first grader but who cares? The important thing is to cow everyone into toeing the politically correct line. [And, if some in the California legislature get their way, calling someone by the wrong pronoun will become a criminal offense.]
Method #2 was also in evidence as a mom was cut off from Twitter because she complained about Teen Vogue publishing a guide to anal sex. Yes, Teen Vogue has a "how to" guide for that practice but that apparently is not a violation of any Internet rules. Complaining about it, however, is a violation for The Activist Mommy who also has been kept from monetizing videos on YouTube.
We could go on with examples from Methods #3-5 as well. But, there was some good news on the culture front in regard to Free Speech. It seems that despite all the efforts of the Left to silence Americans, a majority of us still value our First Amendment rights. This was highlighted in a press release from the Center for Security Policy:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 2017
POLL: PUBLIC OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORTS FREE SPEECH, OPPOSES S.P.L.C., ANTIFA, SOROS EFFORTS TO RESTRICT IT
Lawmakers Seeking to Prevent ‘Hate Speech' Risk the People's Wrath
(Washington, D.C.): A new public opinion survey conducted by McLaughlin and Associates found the vast preponderance of those polled favors the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression – and rejects the notion that some should be denied that right. This finding confirms that of a recent Rasmussen poll. Together, these distinguished pollsters' data represent a powerful warning for government officials, lawmakers and activists intent on restricting free speech if, in their view or others, it gives "offense."
Key results of the McLaughlin survey conducted last week included the following:
- By a margin of 85 percent to 8 percent, respondents said that, in the aftermath of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, "all Americans are entitled to free speech," not "just some of us."
- 9 percent of respondents regarded "freedom of speech as a fundamental right." Only 9.3 percent thought "it should be restricted if it offends some people."
- 63 percent opposed the violent leftist group Antifa's attempts to silence those whose speech it disagrees with, while only 21 percent supported Antifa.
- A plurality of 42.8 percent opposed the use by Internet companies of a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that accuses "many mainstream conservative groups" of engaging in "hate speech." Only 31.8 percent supported such use.
Frank J. Gaffney, the president of one of those conservative groups, the Center for Security Policy, responded to the latest poll by observing:
Americans clearly understand the dangers associated with attempts to censor speech and other forms of expression: Today, it might be someone else who is being silenced. Tomorrow, it may well be you. And, to the extent that organizations funded by the likes of radical leftists like George Soros – including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Antifa – are allowed to act as the arbiters of who is allowed to communicate, about what and how, it's just a matter of time before many millions of us are gagged.
The Left and the Islamist allies it enables have clearly crossed a line. Organizations like the SPLC, the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American Islamic Relations are engaged in political warfare pure and simple, aimed at denying their opponents' free speech rights in academia, in the media, on the Internet and in the public square. Politicians – and most especially Republican ones – acquiesce to such anti-constitutional conduct at their own electoral peril.
Indeed, the wake-up call to public office-holders offered by the McLaughlin and Rasmussen polls on free speech could hardly be more timely. After all, in April 2017 – even before the bloodletting in Charlottesville spawned relentless, bipartisan demands for limiting "offensive" expression – the U.S. Senate unanimously approved S.Res. 118, co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. It was described as "a resolution condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States." Animus is a sweeping term that can include such highly subjective sentiments as hostility, ill-feeling and strong dislike. The resolution also called for Federal investigation of not just hate crimes but "hate incidents" and "hate threats," both undefined. A counterpart resolution is awaiting action in the House of Representatives, as are actual bills with names like the "NO HATE Act" in both the Senate and the House.
Speaking of Soros and his ilk, the McLaughlin poll also found that by a nearly two-to-one margin, 48.5 to 26.3, respondents agreed that President Trump should not employ "subordinates who can be shown to be colluding with George Soros, Barack Obama or others associated with them to undermine President Trump's administration." Among Trump voters, the spread was even wider, 67.6 percent to 18.4 percent.
The Center for Security Policy strongly agrees with the prevailing sentiments documented in the McLaughlin and Associates poll. It calls on every American who loves freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights. That should, among other things, entail insisting that their lawmakers uphold freely sworn oaths to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
This is truly good news. But this is not an "all clear" on this front by any means. In fact, a poll of college-age students found that the attempt to turn our youth into snowflakes has been sadly quite successful. Consider this from The Washington Times that came out about the same time:
By Cheryl K. Chumley – The Washington Times – Tuesday, September 5, 2017
A recent poll from Virginia Commonwealth University found that half of the state's residents think freedom of speech should play second fiddle to concerns of discrimination.
Another way to put it: A growing number of U.S. citizens say censorship is a good thing.
Specifically, 50 percent of respondents polled by the Office of Public Policy Outreach said college students should be protected from perceived acts of discrimination, even if those perceived acts of discrimination were part of another's exercise of free speech, Campus Reform reported . . .
Of course, this in itself is evidence of the effectiveness of Method #5 from last week, Controlling Education.
With that brief recap, let's examine Methods #6-10.
Method #6: Anti-Efforts
Let's be honest. The majority of us are clearly Anti-Fascist. Who wants Hitler or even Mussolini? But, we are not "Antifa," nor should we be.
The roots of a group called Antifa are communist. They are now showing up at rallies and protests claiming to be the true voice of opposition to Nazis. This is not a pure anti-hate deal. In fact, those on the Antifa side can be as hateful as those on the Nazi side. Of course, you would not have known this based on media reporting. In fact, the "antifascist" groups have been in general promoted as good and healthy. Yet they are genuinely anti-free speech and proud of it.
Soros-backed "Refuse Fascism" recently sided with Antifa against Nancy Pelosi of all people, basically saying she was too far to the right and thus "aiding fascism." Her crime? She exercised her free speech right in denouncing Antifa's violence. In other words, unless you agree with the anti fascists, you are a fascist and therefore have no right to speak. Of course, that is fascist! That's the absurdity of all of this. The term fascist is derived from a word referencing a bundle of sticks. Basically, the group opposes anyone or anything outside the authority of the bundle. Isn't that precisely what Antifa and its friends are doing?
The media has virtually ignored that Antifa was identified by the DHS as a domestic terror group in 2016 during the Obama Administration. Why? It did not suit the narrative. If you admit the truth then you also have to admit that President Trump was right when he called out evil on both sides. Eventually, with the shameful activity in Berkeley that was clearly from the anti-fascist crowd, the Left had to face the truth. They have created a monster by allowing Antifa that not only denies free speech but seeks to do so in a violent manner. Sadly, however, the Left seemed more concerned that recognizing the violence from Antifa might strengthen President Trump than they were in stopping the anti-speech violence:
Some fear that Sunday's violence would only help advance the idea that the two sides are the same. "This is food for the adversary," said sociologist Todd Gitlin, a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, which organized the first national protests against the Vietnam War.
That's kind of amazing. At the birthplace of the campus Free Speech movement, people are so afraid of free speech that they are willing to ignore violence against it:
Political scientist Jo Freeman, part of the radical student movement that forced UC Berkeley to permit political speech five decades ago, said she was dismayed at the effort that went into silencing opposition. She drew similarities between those who threatened her and other freedom marchers in the South in the 1960s, and those who bully the far right now. "It is not uncommon for societies to produce a hate squad," Freeman said. "People who want to suppress the right to speak — they are everywhere."
Many on the Left are also willing to ignore Antifa's violent communist past. The reality is that Antifa seems to be seeking the end of the United States as well as the end of free speech, all in the name of anti-hate: Their most recent slogan, "No Trump, no wall, no USA at all."
Antifa's war cry, "No Trump, no wall, no USA at all!" Victory for Antifa would be the destruction of society.
— Hector Morenco (@hectormorenco) 9:11 PM – Aug 27, 2017
They continued in their typical violent fashion, attacking at least five right-wing demonstrators, Fox News reported.
At least 100 protesters stormed the rally dressed in hooded black clothing with shields reading, "no hate."On the Left, the 1932 flag of the paramilitary wing of the Communist Party of Germany. On the Right, the 2017 flag of the paramilitary wing of the Democratic Party of America.
Even left-leaning law professor Alan Dershowitz recognizes that the "Anti" groups are aimed at tearing down America. Limiting free speech doesn't eliminate fascism. It sponsors it.
Method #7: Physical Threats
What makes Antifa so dangerous is the physical violence. But as the terror attack on the Congressional Republican baseball practice and the attempted murder at Family Research Council proved, even single individuals can prove threatening. In both cases, the violence was designed to intimidate and silence any opposition of the liberal agenda. Silencing Congressmen and women is simply an extension of silencing the people's voice through their elected representatives.
Even the threat of violence has proven effective in silencing opposing voices. College campuses have cancelled speakers on the basis that there might be violence. This has become a tactic of the left that should never be condoned. Remember the complaints against Pam Geller's art contest in Dallas? Many people demanded that the Mohammed art contest be stopped because some offended Muslims might turn violent. In hindsight, we know that there was violence attempted, but we must not let the threat derail our First Amendment rights. Doing so would be akin to negotiating with terrorists. Once you start down that path you become a slave to it. Recently, atheist (and liberal) Richard Dawkins was scheduled to speak at Berkeley. Dawkins is well known for bashing Christianity and this has been deemed acceptable for years. But when he criticizes Islam, his right to speak is no longer tolerated. Remember the words of President Obama? "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam." So much of this appears to stem from a fear of retribution from insults to Islam.
Shortly after I appeared on Fox News and mentioned the role of Qatar in the 2008 financial collapse, I was labeled "anti Muslim" by George Soros funded Media Matters (among other personal attacks). Within minutes of that report at Media Matters, we received death threats.
Method #8: Removing Leaders
The PC (Politically Correct) Police are very active in looking for comments to find objectionable and using them to drive leaders from office. This goes beyond shaming. It represents the systematic removal of leadership based on ideologies of the Left that likely do not represent the constituents or shareholders, sometimes based on innuendos or rumors without any concrete evidence. In short, this is an influence operation.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) published a book in 1999 that described the tactic of shaming a leader out of office as a means of Unrestricted Warfare (CIA/DIA translation). Here is what they said:
"As we see it, a single man-made stock-market crash, a single computer virus invasion, or a single rumor or scandal that results in a fluctuation of an enemy country's exchange rates or exposes the leaders of an enemy country on the Internet, all can be included in the ranks of new-concept weapons."
As you can see, the Chinese doctrine includes shaming leaders along with stock market crashes, cyber attacks, and currency manipulation as weapons of warfare. In that context, the systematic takedown of a leader accomplishes a couple of things. First it gives the opportunity for replacement with someone who will tend to be sympathetic to your cause, especially if he or she is aware of why the other person was forced out. Second, it reinforces the message of shaming. Thinking or acting a certain way is wrong and subject to punishment.
In 2014, one of the founders and the CEO of Mozilla was forced out despite being incredibly competent at his job. His crime? He had donated $1000 to a ballot initiative that ultimately won with majority support. He was not involved in an affair. He had not stolen money. He did give money to a cause for which the majority of voters in California also supported. But he was not politically correct. The ballot initiative was Proposition 8 and it defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Never mind that this was the position of President Obama, President Clinton, and Secretary Clinton at the same time as the donation was made (2008). This is a classic example of forcing out leaders as a means of silencing opposition. From the April 4, 2014 issue of USA Today:
Mozilla CEO resignation raises free-speech issues
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The resignation of Mozilla's CEO amid outrage that he supported an anti-gay marriage campaign is prompting concerns about how Silicon Valley's strongly liberal culture might quash the very openness that is at the region's foundation.
Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich stepped down Thursday as CEO, just days after his appointment. He left the nonprofit maker of the Firefox browser after furious attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution to support of a now-overturned 2008 gay-marriage ban in California….
Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairman of the California Republican Party, said Silicon Valley can be intolerant, and noted 52 percent of California voters supported the anti-gay marriage measure.
"Many people have told me they're afraid to identify themselves as conservatives," she said. "We face issues of political correctness all the time."
Eich's resignation should serve as a chilling reminder to workers at all levels that their off-duty behavior or personal opinions could still cost them their jobs if their employers are worried about a backlash hurting their business, said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute.
Unfortunately, the message has been delivered. Now, CEOs are afraid to express opinions contrary to the prevailing winds of public scrutiny. This is ludicrous. It would have been one thing for Brendan Eich to be a genuine subversive in some way. But he exercised his free speech rights in accordance with the majority and six years later was ousted. Talk about a reason to be silent.
This is not an isolated incident. Public officials have been told that they must keep their faith to themselves. Such was the case recently when coach Joe Kennedy was ordered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to not pray, even silently for 30 seconds, on the football field after a game. The argument made was that the coach was on school property and thus did not retain free speech rights. But what about the Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran, who wrote a Bible study book on his private time? He was acting solely as a private citizen and expressing the mainstream opinions from his faith. Yet, he was fired for having dared to stand up for traditional Biblical beliefs. The problem is that those beliefs run contrary to the LGBTQ community. Would a Muslim Fire Chief be fired for writing about the Koran (even if some found it offensive)? The point of this was to silence a specific community. [Fortunately the great people at First Liberty are encouraging and/or defending good people like Chief Cochran and Coach Kennedy. Kudos to them for the great work. I've been on the First Liberty Advisory Board for many years and urge you to support this wonderful defender of our liberties.]
Even highly placed officials can be shamed into resignation. Is it a coincidence that many of the top officials in the Trump Administration willing to take on the Muslim Brotherhood have departed (including Flynn, Bannon, Gorka, and Higgins)? Or that CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations that was linked to Hamas by a Federal Judge in 2009) has publicly endorsed General McMasters, the current National Security Advisor? The idea is to drive out those who oppose the PC agenda and entrench those who support it.
Of course the efforts target media personalities as well, with classic examples of the Benham Brothers being losing their HGTV show because of their Christian beliefs and an attempt to knock Phil Robertson off Duck Dynasty. These are not isolated incidents. These are targeted attempts to silence specific voice and intimidate the rest of us.
Method #9: Weaponizing the IRS and Regulators
Another method of silencing the opposition is using the IRS as a weapon. It was proven and even admitted that the IRS purposely delayed or withheld tax exempt status from groups they thought to be conservative. There is no real dispute here. It happened and was illegal. Yet very little has been done about it.
The IRS has long threatened churches and pastors, warning that any political speech could result in the loss of tax-exempt status based on the Johnson amendment. Originally, it was never intended to apply to churches. But, over time this amendment has been used to threaten both churches and pastors so they would withdraw from discussing anything political. President Trump has vowed to repeal the Johnson amendment, opposing it as a stifling of free speech. Of course, losing your tax status is less severe than the penalties found under the jurisdiction of our norther neighbor Canada. Even quoting the Bible in response to a question about it could land you in jail for hate speech as it did Gordon Larmour this February.
The Houston mayor once attempted to chill free speech (and free exercise of religion) by subpoenaing sermons from city pastors. This is one of the greatest examples of overreach of a city mayor, upset because she wasn't able to force her city's compliance on a bathroom issue after a Texas court ruling. She was not in a position to pull tax-exempt status but was simply attempting to intimidate. Had the pastors complied, this would have been a new usurped power that would be waged against free speech all over the country.
In Nebraska, a financial advisor was threatened by regulators for expressing his political views. The regulators apparently leaned on his broker dealer employer to get him in line according to George Leef in a Forbes article:
The First Amendment is supposed to protect Americans' right to speak freely against any governmental interference, but in our increasingly politicized climate, we're finding that regulators who don't like what you say can and will abuse their power to make you shut up.
A Tea Party activist in Nebraska has found that out and so far his efforts at obtaining justice have come to naught.
For many years, Robert Bennie had been a successful financial advisor working at the Lincoln, Nebraska firm of Linsco Private Ledger (LPL). LPL's business falls under the regulatory domain of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (NDBF), which is supposed to protect the public against dishonest or unethical dealing by banks and financial service companies.
Following the election of Barack Obama, Bennie became one of the key players in the Tea Party in Lincoln. An outspoken advocate of free enterprise and the Constitution, he wrote critically about politicians in both parties and especially President Obama. One article in particular caught the attention of three top NDBF officials. In it, Bennie contrasted himself and Obama, writing, "I'm a freedom-loving American and he's a communist. I'm an honest man and he's dishonest. He didn't tell us all of what he was going to do. I believe he's an evil man."
That and other actions by Bennie aroused the ire of those officials, especially Director John Munn. He and two others decided to use their regulatory clout to retaliate against Bennie for daring to speak out against Obama. In an email, one of them wrote, "Bob Bennie is always seen wearing a cowboy hat, so I say, ‘Hang Him High.'"
To do that, the three abusive bureaucrats targeted LPL. They threatened to make trouble for the firm unless it "addressed this type of activity" (meaning Bennie's political speech) and provided "some comfort to the Department" that would be "in the best interest of the public." Translation: Nice little company you've got there – be a shame if something were to happen to it.
This is the government using its power to silence dissenting voices, specifically the thing the First Amendment is supposed to prevent.
Method #10: Operation Choke Point
Another government intrusion using regulation involves the banking system. I've given this activity its own method because it was actually a formalized operation that proved highly effective and thus terribly chilling to free speech. We all know that the second amendment protects gun rights. But what happens if the government uses its power to stop gun manufacturers from being able to operate? The government actually has a means of shutting down any number of legitimate businesses that support things the government does not like (even if totally legal). That was the basis of Operation Choke Point, only recently ended under President Trump. Here is an explanation as published in an Op-Ed from The Washington Examiner:
Finally, and good riddance: The U.S. Department of Justice is officially putting an end to Operation Choke Point, the Obama-era effort to cut off from access to banking services a long list of lawful-but-disfavored businesses including gun dealers and makers of small loans. That welcome news comes after a long campaign by Republican members of Congress including Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo. and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
But the issues Choke Point raised are not going away.
The news came in an Aug. 16 letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to House Judiciary chair Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. and other congressional leaders, calling the program "a misguided initiative." "We share your view that law-abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor," Boyd wrote.
When it got its start in 2013, with help from a presidential task force working with several banking agencies, Choke Point wasn't announced to the public or its intended targets.
Among the first to notice something amiss were porn actresses and payday lenders whose banks announced the sudden closing of their longstanding accounts without explanation.
Asking their bank why this had happened, even though they had caused no overdraft or other problems, they got either no clear answer or vague talk about being "high risk."
More reports began coming in of account closures — from the firearms business, in particular.
The Obama administration denied that anything was up, much as it denied that the IRS's slow-walking of tax exemption for right-of-center groups was anything more than bureaucratic bumbling.
Eventually, a list of 30 disfavored businesses surfaced. They included online gambling, fireworks dealers, "Home-Based Charities," "As Seen on TV" sales lines, and online sellers of tobacco and pharmaceuticals. Maybe some of these categories are especially likely to skip town or default and leave bank lenders holding the bag.
But others, such as many firearms dealers and pawn shops, are stable local businesses that rely on community reputation. Do they really carry a risk of large losses when banks lend to support their inventories or cash flow?
Yet the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, one of the banking agencies involved in the crackdown, had warned banks of "unsatisfactory Community Reinvestment Act ratings, compliance rating downgrades, restitution to consumers, and the pursuit of civil money penalties" if they ignored relevant guidelines.
Banks got the message, scurrying en masse to avoid a risk that seemed more political than based on probability of financial blowups.
Even if some lines of business are riskier than others, isn't the point of private bank lending to find ways of serving a range of risks, perhaps by charging higher interest or demanding more collateral from the dicier ones?
Nor did the list of 30 businesses seem randomly chosen.
Payday lending was under heavy political fire from liberal groups, though Congress had not banned the practice. Likewise with the gun trade. Online gambling, drugstore, and tobacco businesses, along with sex-related businesses, were all disfavored by policy at one or another level of government.
Conspicuously absent from the list were business lines that might make for risky lending for banks because they relied on outmoded technology or retail models, but had done nothing to offend authorities.
The fate of Choke Point should serve as a warning that it's dangerous to allow those in power to flag legal-but-suspect domestic businesses for shaming and commercial ostracism — especially if the process is covert, and especially if the result is to cut off the outcasts from access to the basics of economic life.
At the same time, it's significant that the answer to Choke Point was *not* to pass some new law compelling banks to do business with payday lenders, fireworks stands, or X-rated studios.
Part of a free society is that we shouldn't force commercial relationships on private actors. Businesses — and that includes providers of credit and payments services — should legally be free to follow their conscience.
That leaves real, knotty problems — such as, for example, when public campaigns seek to pressure business gatekeepers in the Internet and electronic payments system to cut off "bad" clients, which can mean ideologically despised ones.
Aside from making sure its own legal architecture has not given businesses a position as monopoly gatekeeper, government should stay out of such decisions.
The good news is that Operation Choke Point has been stopped for now. The bad news is that it could be brought back at any time. And it could be expanded. Can you imagine the difficulty that any political opposition might have if denied access to the banking system? This is a clear form of economic warfare unleashed on political opponents.
Of course, there are other methods as well including voter fraud, illegal immigration, and wealth transfers. Voter fraud silences the voice of a legitimate vote by canceling it out. Illegal immigration dilutes the voice of the existing citizenry. Wealth transfers force citizens to pay for the very things they oppose–a genuine form of tyranny. This is certainly the case with forced union dues. There was a Supreme Court case to stop this practice. Unfortunately, the untimely death of Justice Scalia left in place the onerous requirements that force teachers to pay for speech they oppose.
The clear conclusion is that free speech is under assault in our nation. Christians and others are being systematically silenced using a variety of methods. This is a frightening form of economic warfare.