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