On free speech, crossing the Rubicon and the need to unite

Ashutosh Jogalekar in The Curious Wavefunction:

Sadly, you know that your side is losing the war of ideas when they start handing propaganda victories to the side you despise on a platter. Three years ago, in the context of a Lee statue that was going to be taken down, after that terrible anti-Semitic Charlottesville rally by white supremacists, Trump made a loathsome remark about there being “fine people” on all sides and also asked a journalist that if it was Lee today, would it be Jefferson or Washington next? I of course dismissed Trump’s remark as racist and ignorant; he would not be able to recite the Declaration of Independence if it came wafting down at him in a MAGA hat. But now I am horrified that liberals are providing him with ample ammunition by validating his words. A protest in San Francisco toppled a statue of Ulysses S. Grant – literally the man who defeated the Confederacy and destroyed the first KKK – and defaced a statue of Cervantes, a man who as far as we know did not write “Don Quixote” while he was relaxing from a day’s fighting for the Confederacy or abusing slaves. University of Wisconsin students recently asked for a statue of Lincoln to be removed because he had once said some uncomplimentary words about black people. And, since it was just a matter of time, the paper of record just published an op-ed calling for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington to be taken down. Three years ago, if you had asked me if my fellow liberals would go from Robert E. Lee to Jefferson and Washington and Grant so quickly, I would have expressed deep skepticism. But here we are, and based on recent events it won’t be paranoid at all to ask that if Washington statues are next, would streets or schools named after Washington also be added to the list? How about statues of Plato and Aristotle who supported slavery as a natural state of man? And don’t even get me started on Gandhi who said some very unflattering words about Africans. The coefficient of friction on the slippery slope is rapidly going to zero.

More here.

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