“I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It.”
For more than one hundred years, those words, first written by author Evelyn Beatrice Hall in 1906, were considered the embodied essence of the 1st Amendment. Due to colleges like the University of California at Berkeley, the support of free speech was a battle cry in opposition to the McCarthyism restrictions of the 1950’s. They understood the value in the rights of all to stand up, stand for and stand against not just societal ills, but those wrongs that they considered an affront to others as well. They recognized the danger inherent in silent complicity, and as a result, they refused to simply do nothing. On December 2nd, 1964 nearly 5,000 students came to protest these concerns, marking the catalyst of the Free Speech Movement.
Nearly 60 years later, where are we?
With the recent public forum attack on Conservative activist and speaker Col. Allen West, we have been forced to examine the status of our view as Americans on the 1st Amendment. For those of us that still embrace such ideologies, our hearts have been breaking.
Not since Hitler’s burning of books in the 1930’s has the freedom of speech been so blatantly under attack. In fact, the clear lessons that we ignored then is the price that we pay today. Hitler understood that allowing people under his charge or rule to think for themselves meant he would never gain control of them. Thus, he removed this ‘obstacle’ of freedom.
Fast-forwarding to our current state, we find the remnants of that mindset still alive and well. First, there was the shouting down of speakers and those with differing opinions and viewpoints from the activists on college campuses. These hallowed halls of higher learning, once considered the bastion of free speech, are now the purveyors of everything but. Subsequently, these public attacks on American citizens for simply taking an opposing stand referenced on t-shirts, hats and banners have not only become rampant, but commonplace. Yet, was it not these same antagonists that not so long ago proudly stood for hours at Woodstock, gathering and protesting as far as the eye could see to, “make love, not war,” and likewise wearing ‘peace’ promoting t-shirts, while displaying similar themed banners and bumper stickers on their VW Vanagons?
Enter Social Media
Now, if such assaults were not enough, social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube have blatantly discriminated against those whom they claim to disagree with on ideological grounds. After pretending to be the beacons of free speech and opinion platforms, these social media string pullers sat back and allowed, or actually maneuvered for millions of accounts to be blocked or eliminated with no justification or explanation!
We should be reminded of the 1954 statement by the late legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow: “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. [Further], we will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.” Even then, Murrow could not have known how right he was.
Follow the X
Many today would benefit as well to heed the words of social activist Malcolm X. He once said, “I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole. Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
That is why Kevin Jackson founded SEE (Seeking Educational Excellence). SEE® is a non-profit that continues to produce and distribute: FREE historically accurate curriculum (for high school teachers in the classroom and parents who homeschool). Further, they provide FREE grants to students and FREE educational videos that debunk The 1619 Project, BLM and Critical Race Theory. We do this because people need access to the truth. The real truth.
If we are to rise above the fighting of those with simply differing opinions where so many of us, our siblings, co-workers, friends, relatives, and even fellow congregants are, we must recognize what we are truly facing. While the freedom of speech is not dead, it is clearly on life support. In fact, it seems to be preparing to take a turn for the worst. In fact, there are those looking to change the 1st Amendment as we speak!
If we allow this to continue, we disarm our children and grandchildren of the weapon that our founding fathers granted us more than 200 years ago. Regardless of your spiritual position, ideological stance, or intellectual view, we are all faced with a very grim reality; If we do not speak now, they, whoever they may be, will forever hold our peace.