Fresh Takes — 01 September 2017

Current events can be described in a few lines: “ It’s 2017 in a 40s trend with a racist president that’s ‘making everything great again.’” This quote is from the song “Good Night Alt-Right” by punk rock metal band “Stray From the Path.”

Neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, Donald Trump, Breitbart–you name it, these are all the organizations and figures the alt-right align themselves with. Recent coverage of events have shown Trump delivering controversial remarks. Far-right groups are recruiting at an alarming rate, according to 2014 statistics from the Southern Poverty Center. And Breitbart is just spewing fake news all the time.

Numerous “peaceful” protests around the country are turning violent. Incidents have “antifa” leftists and alt-right groups stand-off in a brutal struggle of ideals. But these ideals aren’t something that should be expressed so freely. It’s something that’s permitted by our government and is a privilege, which differentiates itself between free speech and hate speech.

The freedom of speech is the thin red-line that allows far right-wing groups to propagate their views of hate and intolerance through words. And words can be powerful. “The more you tell a lie, it becomes the truth,” Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, once said.

Hate speech can become the “truth” for some people who hold contempt for someone’s race, sexuality, religion or gender. Under reasonable limitation laws, hate speech that endorses or calls for violence against certain groups is a criminal offense and is no longer valid under free speech.

Ultimately, if not brought under control by certain laws, what do we have today from the result of allowing bigotry and racism to continue in public forums? Ideas are powerful, and sometimes the gullibility of people can follow a lie that in some cases becomes so powerful regimes similar to Hitler and Stalin can rise up and become a hinderance to world peace. “One nation, under Trump” is now a reality.

I’m all for free speech, but if anyone’s intention is to intimidate or endorse blind bigotry and intolerance among the disenfranchised and minorities, they are doing a disservice to society and allowing the cycle of hate to carry on. And for those who continue as they were, just know that if you preach hate, then expect hate.

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Rachel Hanna

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