A new survey shows that most Americans fear expressing their opinions these days. No doubt, they worry about being “canceled” by raving young socialists, losing their jobs or being harassed for their beliefs. It’s time for Americans to take back their First Amendment right to free speech.
The findings of the poll, taken by YouGov and the Cato Institute, are, to put it mildly, disturbing. Some 62% of those queried said they routinely self-censor because “the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive.”
Republicans were most likely to self-censor, at 77%, followed by independents, at 59%. But even 52% of Democrats said they watch their mouths around others.
Not surprisingly, those in one group felt they didn’t feel they had to mind their tongues in public: self-described “strong liberals,” with just 42% saying they have to self-censor. But even that number is up 12 percentage points since 2017, the last time YouGov/Cato took their survey.
It’s not difficult to see why the fear is growing. Newspapers are filled with people and even historical figures being canceled or harassed by braying mobs of far-left activists, who use boycotts, verbal intimidation, official political re-education, doxxing and even threats of violence to silence their opponents.
In such an environment of stifled speech, people give up their precious right to speak openly to avoid being shouted down, intimidated, shunned, harassed and even fired.
To say that it’s gone too far is an understatement.
The bully culture of the far left relies on the quiet decency of average people. They are silenced and then forced to comply with increasingly outrageous, extreme demands. Any slip from the elaborate socialist-progressive social and verbal protocol is immediately followed by a coerced groveling apology, and banishment.
In such an atmosphere, it’s predictable that corporations, sports, academia and other once-independent realms of American life have given in to the bullying. They think if they go along, they won’t be targeted.
But they’re wrong. Just as happened in the latter stages of the French Revolution under Robespierre and during Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, eventually the youthful “revolutionaries” turn on everyone. Even their closest comrades and allies.
Today, we’re experiencing a less-violent version of the same.
“The cultural rules around hot button issues are ever-expanding,” writes Emily Yoffe at Persuasion. “It’s as if a daily script went out describing what’s acceptable, and those who flub a line – or don’t even know a script exists – are rarely given the benefit of the doubt, no matter how benign their intent. Naturally, people are deciding the best course is to shut up. It makes sense to be part of the silenced majority when the price you pay for an errant tweet or remark can be the end of your livelihood.”
Businesses, which see themselves vulnerable to boycotts and vicious online attacks, have cravenly toed the line.
It’s not surprising, given that many businesses and schools now run indoctrination programs based on the popular training tool “Diversity: Inclusion in the Modern Workplace,” which American Thinker writer Eileen F. Toplansky accurately describes as a “well-crafted collection of leftwing radical propaganda.”
Indeed, woke culture has spread far and wide, as the left exerts its cultural dominance over the main institutions of American life. That can be seen in the destruction of some 179 monuments across America by extremist criminals. This includes recent vandalism against a number Christian churches, particularly vile acts that are part-and-parcel of the left’s attempt to kill the First Amendment. Radicals are busy visually erasing literal touchstones of American culture and religion from our landscape, no debate allowed. And they’re largely doing so untouched and unpunished.
That’s a big change from the America of the 1960s, when the fanatical tide crested, crashed and receded, pushed back by the fed-up “silent majority” of mostly conservative, middle-class Americans. They elected Richard M. Nixon on a “law and order” ticket in 1968 and again in 1972.
But the leftists of that generation learned their lesson. They abandoned demonstrations, cut their hair and moved into the corporate world, academia and government, following the ideas of such Marxist thinkers as Antonio Gramsci, the so-called godfather of cultural Marxism, and Herbert Marcuse, the leftist refugee from Nazi Germany who, as a professor, became known as the “father of the new left.”
Today, many of these graying leftists and their younger proteges sit in positions of institutional power. Once they chanted “fight the power.” Now they are the power.
“Corporations are no longer seen as evil, but as woke contributors to the revolution,” as classicist and historian Victor Davis Hanson noted in a recent column. “The military is no longer smeared as warmongering, but praised as a government employment service where race, class and gender agendas can be green-lighted without messy legislative debate. Unlike the 1960s, there are essentially no conservatives in Hollywood, on campuses or in government bureaucracies.”
Is there any hope of escaping the suffocating effects of the woke generation’s cancel culture? Can we loosen its tight grip on American cultural life?
The answer is yes. But Americans have to get angry about it first. Because our rights, as found in the Constitution, have made us the freest, wealthiest people on Earth. They cannot be taken away. But they can be given away. As President Ronald Reagan once memorably said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Our ancestors fought generations of political battles and a bloody Civil War that claimed 600,000 lives to build a better, more just America, and to make us live up to the lofty ideals of the Declaration of Independence. And they largely succeeded.
But today, in all areas, our rights are under siege by the far left’s vision of a socialist utopia that requires a compliant, obedient, cowed citizenry. Stealing your rights is stealing democracy from us all.
So don’t apologize for having a different opinion. Don’t seek permission to speak. And don’t cower under your blankets when the forces of extreme-left Wokeness launch their Kulturkampf, as they have. Fight back. Complain. Don’t let cowardly managers and others cave to the left. Find allies, and support others like you. And if you must, sue the bastards or launch a boycott yourself.
We live in a dangerous time. You might not know it now, but soon you will: Your rights, in particular your right to free speech, are the most valuable things you have. Don’t give them away.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board