Finley: Speak at your own risk

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

You can’t have a conversation when people are afraid to speak. 

America faces existential issues that merit free-wheeling discussion, vigorous debate and an open examination of diverse views.

But instead of a national conversation, what we’re getting is a national lecture.

Free speech has rarely carried such high risk. The mobs who are looting and burning the First Amendment don’t really want to hear from you. They want you to read from a script. Black Lives Matter. I'm sorry for white privilege. Cops are evil.

Deviate and you’re done. The power of the word “racist” is so devastating and applied with such recklessness that it makes the consequences of speaking too dangerous.

Finley writes: Silence is not an option. It's not taken as a pause for thoughtful deliberation, but rather as a violent act.

And yet silence is not an option. It’s not taken as a pause for thoughtful deliberation, but rather as a violent act.

Ironically, the heaviest price, for now, is being paid by card-carrying progressives — Jimmy Kimmel, for example — who are shocked to learn their pasts are not perfect enough to admit them into the choir of angels. No mercy, no redemption. 

Restricting speech and forcing everyone to take a loyalty oath to Black Lives Matter, a movement that has its own troubling associations with anti-Semites, is not the way to unite Americans behind a righteous mission.

It will, however, silence dissent. Those who think that’s a desirable outcome need only look to the Great Festering that preceded the 2016 presidential election.

Shout people down, drive them from the public square, make them invisible, and what you get — got then — is Donald Trump.

And you’ll get him again. Take comfort in the polls showing Joe Biden well ahead of Trump at your own peril. They were wrong four years ago, and may be wrong now.

Voters of all races who are sickened by the unchecked violence in the streets of America's big cities, appalled that Democratic mayors and governors have ceded private property to armed insurgents and await an articulation of how and when it will end may find their answer in the president’s hard-line bluster.

They can sympathize with the goals of the cause, but still chafe at seeing  history erased in a cultural purge led by those whose history lessons began and ended with the theory that there's nothing good about America.

Every statue of Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Ulysses S. Grant that is tried, convicted and toppled without due process, every memorial to an abolitionist or suffragette that falls to the sledgehammer, adds to the column of Trump voters.

We should be talking about which historical figures must go and which can stay, with input from all who live in a community. When people feel disenfranchised from those decisions they lash out, and the voting booth is the perfect revenge.

Don’t say I didnt tell you so on Inauguration Day.

Conversation is not what’s desired by those who are controlling the agenda today. They want to forcibly silence the vast majority who prefer a more centrist path while they tear down America and rebuild it as a leftist utopia where everyone speaks and thinks with one voice and one mind — theirs.

But we can’t talk about that. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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