In the recent uproar over which citizens should have the right to use meeting space in a public library, some inflammatory comments have been bandied about. Let’s examine a few. (all quotes are from the video accompanying this article)
“We’re going to make sure that the nazis don’t come back. … Or the Tea Party. Or the libertarians. And all of their fascist friends.”
For a variety of reasons, I haven’t discussed how I’m registered to vote (or even my voting philosophy) on this blog. The above statement has prompted me to reconsider that stance.
I’m a registered libertarian. I have been a registered libertarian for fourteen years. There have been times when I’ve been very ambivalent about continuing to be registered as a libertarian (not least when Bob Barr was the Libertarian nominee for President in 2008), but I continue to have an “L” next to my name because I feel that they are one of the few political groups who are truly devoted to civil liberties, and because I believe in doing my part to have third parties like the Libertarian Party and the Green-Rainbow Party as “major parties” (and not designations) in Massachusetts.
I think it’s a dangerous thing to make any sweeping generalities about any large group of people.
At the risk of making myself sound incredibly naive, the Tea Party movement isn’t about racism, although like any area of society, there may be a few (or more) racists lurking there. To equate the Tea Party with nazis, or with the NEWP, is simplistic and belittles the very real concerns many Tea Partiers have. It’s not unwarranted to be concerned about where the TP is headed, about many (indeed, any) of their viewpoints, or whether they’re intellectually consistent, but it over-generalizes the motivations of the TP folks to a point where there can be no meaningful dialogue.
As to whether libertarians are fascist, I think one would have to stretch the definitions of “libertarian” and “fascism” in some rather incredible directions to try to make that point. I have a tough time understanding how any thinking person can put the label “fascist” on a group that believes in freedom of assembly/speech, less government, no overseas entanglements, etc. Libertarians want to protect your liberties, not violate them. I would also posit that many libertarians, myself included, would not agree with Tea Party members on many issues.
“The library is a place for families and children to spend time and educate themselves and not for people to advocate for genocide and slavery…”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the library is not just a nice place for nice people to learn nice things. Nor, for that matter, is any public place. If you’re out and about, there are any number of things by which a person might be offended on any given day. Our form of government offers many freedoms, but freedom from annoyance isn’t one of them.
Are you afraid of your children being exposed to a potentially offensive point of view? You can choose to ignore the offensive stuff, or you can approach it as a teaching moment. But I don’t know how you can talk about your values and help your child develop his own values if you don’t have conversations about the things that make you uncomfortable.
“Jobs – Yes! Racism – No! Nazis & Tea Party have to go!!”
This was one of the typical problematic slogans offered at the anti-NEWP protest last week.
Conflating the Tea Party movement with “Nazis” is like saying apples are a citrus fruit. Let’s not forget, Nazism=Nationalsozialismus=“National Socialism”. What part of the Tea Party movement could have seemed socialist to that protester?
And while I’m at it, I mean, really folks — who among us thinks to him/herself “Jobs – NO!”, even if s/he didn’t particularly feel like going in to work that day?
There’s an element of our society that simply wants to demonize/ban anything with which they disagree. And they feel that if they can assemble the bigger mob, they get to decide who or what to ban.
That’s not (usually) the way this country works. And that’s not how you effectively combat unattractive ideas/speech. You counter them with positive ideas/speech. To try to squash those you disagree with would make you a fascist.
Instead, consider the pledge that Libertarian Party members take when they join:
“I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”
It bothers me very deeply that there was at least one person at that protest who wants to make sure that I “don’t come back” because of my political beliefs (the majority of which are about non-violence and protecting people’s rights). I sincerely hope that folks better acquaint themselves with political groups they aren’t familiar with before the next protest.