Great Britain’s decision to ban Michael Savage because of his “extreme views” marks a dark day in the history of free speech.
The shame should be particularly severe in a nation that gave birth to John Stuart Mill, the 19th century political philosopher whose writings so strongly advanced the cause of open dialogue.
Mill argued in his pivotal essay “On Liberty” that intolerance to hear opposing views amounts to an assertion that the politically correct view is infallible.
Doubting that any human view could be without error, Mill fought hard to convince readers of the importance of encouraging the expression of views they found distasteful.
Clearly, protecting the speech of those who agree with us misses the point, unless the British government has fallen so far from John Stuart Mill’s defense of liberty that free speech is not to be tolerated simply to protect politically correct biases that can be advanced only if critics are silenced.
Having co-authored “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak out against John Kerry” in 2004 and then writing “The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality” in 2008, I fully appreciate the risk of vilification and harassment any critic today faces, simply by challenging the candidates and the ideas of the radical political left.
The radical political left, if anything, is intolerant of criticism in its assertion of infallibility.
In a bizarre fashion, those of us who challenge radical underground terrorist bombers such as William Ayers find ourselves charged as being the extremists, even though all we have dared to do is speak up in the expression of our convictions.
Somehow, in today’s “Alice in Wonderland” political reality, free speech itself is once again under attack.
Jonah Goldberg, in his book “Liberal Fascism,” brilliantly points out that fascism is truly a characteristic of the political left that our nation has previously seen, for instance, in the Alien and Sedition Acts advanced in the World War I era by that great Democratic Party champion of democracy President Woodrow Wilson, an academic who had risen to the presidency of Princeton University.
The version of American history taught today in the universities all too often derives from Howard Zinn’s leftist “A People’s History of the United States: 1492- Present,” a book dedicated to the proposition that the USA is the epitome of capitalist imperialism whose destiny is to exploit class conflict and oppress the poor.
As Goldberg argues, both Nazism and communism derived from the radical political left, along with their insistence that political critics are so dangerous they must be silenced.
The Nazis and the Soviets proceeded down the same path of intolerance.
First comes the declaration that a U.S. radio talk-show host like Michael Savage is so menacing that he must be kept out of the country, even though Savage’s only possible offense is an offense of words.
Next, we can expect “thought criminals” will need to be subjected to incarceration, in order to experience “political re-education” and “thought reform” the radical political left deems necessary.
Finally, the thought-reform gulags morph into concentration camps as the offending are shipped off to death camps, all because the dissidents dared object to something the intolerant had declared an infallible dictum of their beliefs.
Does “hope and change” demand abrogating the First Amendment so a true “people’s state” can be put in place?
No defender of liberty should presume to stand by silently when talk-show hosts such as Michael Savage are persecuted for supposed speech crimes.
Truly, the Obama administration has a moral imperative to defend Michael Savage, even though Michael, true to his name, is a savage critic of the administration and its policies.
If anything, John Stuart Mill instructed us that the speech we must protect the most is the speech we care to hear the least.
Should the Obama administration stand by and do nothing to defend a U.S. citizen whose only offense was to exercise First Amendment rights, then no one in the United States can or should feel safe.
If Michael Savage is successfully persecuted, it is only a matter of time until the opinions of each of us who dares to express views objectionable to those in power will be considered so hazardous to the fascism of the political left that we ourselves will have to be silenced or killed.