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Thread: Charlottesville is the Fort Sumner of Civil War II . . . So what next?

  1. #11
    Wall Street jewrnal is offline The jewspaper for Khzar Capitalism Junior Member Wall Street jewrnal is on a distinguished road
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    Default The ACLU Retreats From Free Expression

    The ACLU Retreats From Free Expression

    The organization declares that speech it doesn’t like can ‘inflict serious harms’ and ‘impede progress.’

    By Wendy Kaminer
    June 20, 2018 6:17 p.m. ET


    The American Civil Liberties Union has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm “marginalized” groups by undermining their civil rights. “Speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality,” the ACLU declares in new guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities.”

    This is presented as an explanation rather than a change of policy, and free-speech advocates know the ACLU has already lost its zeal for vigorously defending the speech it hates. ACLU leaders previously avoided acknowledging that retreat, however, in the apparent hope of preserving its reputation as the nation’s premier champion of the First Amendment.

    But traditional free-speech values do not appeal to the ACLU’s increasingly partisan progressive constituency—especially after the 2017 white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The Virginia ACLU affiliate rightly represented the rally’s organizers when the city attempted to deny them a permit to assemble. Responding to intense post-Charlottesville criticism, last year the ACLU reconsidered its obligation to represent white-supremacist protesters.

    The 2018 guidelines claim that “the ACLU is committed to defending speech rights without regard to whether the views expressed are consistent with or opposed to the ACLU’s core values, priorities and goals.” But directly contradicting that assertion, they also cite as a reason to decline taking a free-speech case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.”

    In selecting speech cases to defend, the ACLU will now balance the “impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression.” Factors like the potential effect of the speech on “marginalized communities” and even on “the ACLU’s credibility” could militate against taking a case. Fundraising and communications officials helped formulate the new guidelines.

    One half of this balancing test is familiar. The “impact of suppressing speech”—the precedents that suppression might establish, the constitutional principles at stake—is a traditional factor in case selection. But, traditionally, the ACLU has not formally weighed the content of speech and its consistency with ACLU values in deciding whether to defend it.

    Tension between competing values isn’t new to the ACLU. Given its decades-old commitment to defending civil rights and liberties, the organization has long navigated conflicts between equality rights and freedoms of religion, speech and association. The guidelines assert that “no civil liberties or civil rights value should automatically be privileged over any other.” But it’s clear that free speech has become second among equals. Where is the comparable set of guidelines explaining when the ACLU should decline to defend gay-rights claims that infringe on religious liberty or women’s-rights cases that infringe on due process?

    The speech-case guidelines reflect a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of values. Their vague references to the “serious harm” to “marginalized” people occasioned by speech can easily include the presumed psychological effects of racist or otherwise hateful speech, which is constitutionally protected but contrary to ACLU values. Faced with perceived conflicts between freedom of speech and “progress toward equality,” the ACLU is likely to choose equality. If the Supreme Court adopted the ACLU’s balancing test, it would greatly expand government power to restrict speech.

    In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), for example, the ACLU defended the First Amendment rights of a Ku Klux Klan leader prosecuted for addressing a small rally and calling for “revengence” against blacks and Jews. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Clarence Brandenburg’s conviction, narrowly defining incitement to violence as speech both intended and likely to cause imminent illegal action. Brandenburg made an essential distinction between advocacy and action, which progressives who equate hate speech with actual discrimination or violence seek to erase.

    The ACLU would be hard pressed to take Brandenburg’s case today, given its new guidelines. The organization hasn’t yet endorsed a ban on hate speech, or a broader definition of incitement. The guidelines affirm that “speakers have a right to advocate violence.” But even if Brandenburg managed to pass the new balancing test for speech cases, some participants at his rally were armed, and, according to the guidelines, “the ACLU generally will not represent protesters who seek to march while armed.”

    All this is the ACLU’s prerogative. Organizations are entitled to revise their values and missions. But they ought to do so openly. The ACLU leadership had apparently hoped to keep its new guidelines secret, even from ACLU members. They’re contained in an internal document deceptively marked, in all caps, “confidential attorney client work product.” I’m told it was distributed to select ACLU officials and board members, who were instructed not to share it. According to my source, the leadership is now investigating the “leak” of its new case-selection guidelines. President Trump might sympathize.

    Ms. Kaminer, a former ACLU board member, is author of “Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity and the ACLU” (2009).


  2. #12
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    Default Failure Analysis: Charlottesville

    Failure Analysis: Charlottesville


    Failure analysis is probably the most important component of progress in any area of human endeavor. Figuring out what went wrong, why it went wrong and then scheming how to prevent it from happening again, is how we move forward in business, science, technology and even social organization. After every election, the losing party goes through a period of self-examination in order to figure out why they lost. The old line about learning more from failure than success is true, as long as you actually learn something.

    With Joe Biden launching his campaign in Charlottesville, now is a good time to examine the catastrophe of the Unite the Right rally in 2017. Now, the first thing to note that from the point of view of the Left, this was a great success. Almost two years on, it remains an emotional rallying point for all of the tribes in the fight against whiteness. It is why very old white man Joe Biden picked it for his campaign announcement. He wanted to let those tribes know that he is their man, despite his noticeable lack of vibrancy.

    That is an important lesson of this event. Activism is always about rallying your side and depressing the other side. Everything else is secondary. Most of the dissident right is happy to forget about this event, while the Left has made it one of the key events in their narrative. Put the phrase “Unite the Right” into a search engine and you first get the Wikipedia page describing it as a rally by the worst people. An image search returns pics of Nazis and noble non-whites. For the Left, Charlottesville was a triumph.

    That is the first lesson of the event. It was a failure. Many involved have yet to come to terms with that reality. Instead, they keep working to correct the record about what happened and who was responsible. This recent live stream by Richard Spencer is a good example. The fact that they keep thinking the facts matter says they still don’t understand what happened. To the Left, the facts are unimportant. What matters is they have martyrs and they have a bloody shirt to wave around.

    Therein lies another lesson. For too many in dissident politics, this obsession with applying the blue pencil to the Left’s myth-making remains a liability. Conservatives have always fallen into this trap. While the Left is performing yet another morality tale, the Right is busy editing the script for accuracy. In politics, factual accuracy is only important if it advances the narrative. What matters, what always matters, is convincing the public that your version of reality is the most pleasing. The facts are just part of the set.

    Beyond accepting that it was a disaster for our side, however you wish to define it, the question is why did it happen? Part of it was the people involved got caught up in the moment, so they stopped thinking. They really thought they were in one of those great periods of transition. Eric Striker actually makes that point in this episode of his podcast at around the 55-minute mark. Before the event, Spencer had posted his version of the Port Huron Statement. They thought the revolution was happening.

    Another reason the event turned into a great piece of propaganda for the Left and a disaster for the Right is the organizers made the classic error of thinking the Left would abide by its own stated rules. This never happens, as the Left sees rules, laws and principles as conveniences that further their efforts. The laws are like the New York subway system. You get on and off as necessary. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. For the Left, winning is always the end. They will never let the rules get in the way.

    Conservatives have been making this mistake for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. American right-wingers always assume the Left has practical, tangible motivations and that they will abide by their own rules. After all, conservatives have practical goals and always play by the rules. You’ll notice that all of those Virginia democrats caught up in the black face scandal are still in their jobs. Even the serial attacker, Justin Fairfax, is still in his job. In the fight with the Left, there are no rules.

    One lesson many on the alt-right have learned from the event is that all the people flying the “pro-white” banner are not the same. Those older groups, what is often called White Nationalism 1.0, are incompatible with the modern movements. Those guys remain stuck in the past, determined to remain in a sub-culture that operates on the fringes. Many of them are simply crazy or violent. There’s no need to disavow these people, but if you’re going to build something new, you have to break free from the past.

    Charlottesville is a great example of why outsider movements need to first build small, in real life organizations. Holding a big public rally looks cool and gets a lot of attention, but it also draws a lot of lunatics and weirdos. In person organizing, especially in small groups, allows for careful vetting. If Jason Kessler had to apprentice in a local group for a couple of years, he never could have talked people into his venture. The goofballs with the Hitler flags could never get in front of the cameras at an alt-right event.

    That’s the most important lesson of Charlottesville. Every war is a media war. This low-grade civil war in the West is about imagery and narrative. In Charlottesville, the Right allowed the Left to control the production, so they could control the narrative and the imagery. Future activism must always confound the preferred narrative, thus putting the Left on the defensive. The media organs of the Left are big and powerful, but they are not nimble or adaptive. That can be used against them with clever activism.

    This AIM action over the weekend is a great example. Those aging commies in the audience were ready to celebrate their edginess until a bunch of young guys turned up to heckle and mock them. Instead of trading made up stories about their days fighting the man, they were being mocked as the man. The subsequent news stories sound like something to come from the Soviet press in the old days. The only thing missing from the reports are the words “hooliganism” and “running dog lackeys.”

    In time, the tank will run dry on Charlottesville and it will cease to be a bloody shirt for the Progressive mobs. The lessons though can never be forgotten by dissidents trying to build an alternative to the current order. Mistakes have consequences. One of those consequences must be shrewder leaders and better strategies. Otherwise, the dissident right will follow the conservatives into the same dead end. The difference is there will be no cushy think tank jobs waiting for the losers of this political fight.


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