[Marxism] Fwd: Unlikely Allies Join Fight To Protect Free Speech On The Internet : All Tech Considered : NPR

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 24 13:32:38 MDT 2017


Interesting. Former Monthly Review board member Robert McChesney has 
joined Richard Spencer in defending Daily Stormer on a free speech 
basis. The Nazi website is up again as https://punishedstormer.com/.

I want to recommend once again "The Fight Against Fascism in the USA: 
Forty Years of Struggle Described by Participants" at 
It represents an alternative to the antifa approach so much of the left 
is infatuated with today.

Malik Miah, now a member of Solidarity, wrote an article in 1975 titled 
"Free Speech and the Fight Against the Ultraright" that makes the same 
points I have been trying to make since Charlottesville and that are 
made by McChesney as well. He writes:

The "no platform" tactic gives the racists and fascists a new weapon to 
use against their opponents. It allows these thugs to pose as a 
persecuted minority or as defenders of democratic rights. Students, as 
well as most Americans, are correctly concerned about protecting their 
own democratic rights. The "no platform" position raises the question: 
Exactly which groups should be banned from expressing their views, and 
who is to decide this? Where should the line be drawn? Should only open 
fascist's be banned? What about the KKK, which does not claim to be 
fascist? What about racist groups like ROAR, in which fascists are 
active? What about less blatant but more powerful racists like President 
Ford, who gave the green light to the racist mobs in Boston with his 
statement against busing last fall? What about Boston Mayor Kevin White, 
who has made secret deals with ROAR and promised them money out of city 
funds? What about the notorious racist [AFL-CIO president] George Meany?

The confusion is confounded by the fact that some of the sectarian 
groups that call for "no platform for facsists" have their own 
definition of "fascists". For example, the Revolutionary Student Brigade 
calls the YSA "fascist" and has physically attacked YSA members selling 
the Young Socialist and the Militant in public places.

Some of these groups also include Democrats and Republicans in their 
category of who should not be allowed to speak publicly. The Progressive 
Labor Party and the Spartacist League, among other groups, tried 
numerous times to shout down Democratic Party politicians who spoke at 
antiwar meetings and demonstrations in the 1960s and early 1970s.

This "no platform" approach generates fear of radicals as small groups 
that are trying to force people to adhere to their views or be silent. 
Many students and others can become so confused by these considerations 
that they will side with the racists on the question of free speech 
instead of joining antiracists in a counter-demonstration. Many of the 
people might be staunchly opposed to the racists and could contribute 
important forces to the struggle, if the tactics proposed did not 
confuse the issue.

It is useful to look further at the logic of the "no platform" position. 
Consider a hypothetical situation of a referendum on a campus to ban all 
racist speakers. One thing that could happen is that Zionist students — 
who have considerable strength on many campuses — could attempt to use 
such a ban against supporters of the Palestinian people. If it were 
agreed that a referendum could be used to ban racist ideas — and the 
ideas of the Zionists definitely fit that category — this could open the 
door to pro-Zionist student bodies voting to bar Arab speakers from the 
campus with the false charge that they are "anti-Semitic".

The concept of stamping out unpopular ideas — even by majority vote — 
clearly leads to more harm than good. Its logic is that only those ideas 
considered acceptable by the majority could be freely expressed — which 
automatically eliminates most radical ideas at present.

Students and faculty should be able to control the university 
facilities, but not what ideas can be expressed on campus. Democratic 
procedures imply not only majority rule, but also the right of free 
competition of ideas, on the basis of which people then make up their 
minds. Just as antiracists should not call on the administration to ban 
fascist or racist speakers, it is also counterproductive to call on the 
university to fire racist professors simply because of their ideas. To 
do so would give the administration a chance to, as Malcolm X put it, 
make the criminal look like the victim and the victims look like the 

The firing of professors with racist theories would set the precedent 
for the firing of Marxist or other radical professors. The authorities 
are always looking for excuses to fire dissident teachers — as happened 
to professors Angela Davis, Bruce Franklin, and Morris Starsky, to cite 
a few examples.


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