10 Comments
Jun 11Liked by David Josef Volodzko

The best part of free speech is indeed that terrible people identify themselves.

The Institutional Left retorts:

"But, when we let the people who we call Nazis speak, the public isn't seeing how awful they are. Instead, they get more support!"

Hmmm. How about that.

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I stand with Volodzko about free speech. Both the "far left" and the "far right" are distorting the truth, and those of us on the left and right (and the true centrists) are having trouble seeing the common ground. But this is part of it: commitment to tolerating, living alongside, doing business with, finding common ground with, people who hold some opinions we find odious.

It is nearly impossible to find a person who disagrees with you about everything important in life. I say this as someone who has spent the past 35 years building relational bridges between enemies, between people whose opinions, alliances, and entire worldviews alienated them from one another: in South Central LA, among international graduate students, and folks in many nations and walks of life all over the world. In the words of a fictional (but archetypal) Foreign Service officer, "Because diplomacy never works ...until it does."

Strive to win the battle of ideas. But keep in mind that diabolical ideas are the "demon" in the battle, not the humans in their grip. You win the battle of ideas with effective rhetoric, compelling evidence, and authentic relationship-building, not by "owning" or "shaming" or "canceling" the humans involved.

Remember, if you truly want to win (not just oppress), and you succeed, those people will be on your side someday... but not on every issue, only the most critical ones you strove hardest to defend. Then you'll need to live in peace with them as neighbors even though they still [insert odious opinion or practice here].

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Well said. That bright red line of imminent action has always been what I see as the near-perfect standard that makes American culture (much as one can call such a thing unified) so special in the world. The wrench that confuses people is the phenomenon of cancel culture, which I think is clearly a problem for everyone, including the "anti-Zionist" activists on campuses, as well as the people who try and stand against them. That's the inherent tension found within the heart of free speech--the right to say what one wants without fear of unjust punishment balanced against the right of association. Where people make things muddy is how they define those things.

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Jun 12Liked by David Josef Volodzko

Shalom, David- I mostly just wanted to say how much I value your work, your thought, your activism. Thank you.

Your thesis only works if -I hate saying this - the public is intelligent enough to distinguish truth from idiocy. Think of Germany's hero-worshipping of AH. I think one has to have a stoic view of democracy - in the end it is as Musk would say: vox public vox dei (my autocorrect kept on saying fox public fox die - those progressive get everywhere!), and let the chips fall where they may - while those who cannot tolerate fascism go out and protest and die. I guess that's what I expect from the people of Gaza - if Hamas does not represent you, go out and protest and die and eventually you will overthrow them. The problem is, they hate Hamas but they essentially agree with their ideology.

But back to the original point: I'd feel more comfortable letting the rectal orifices embarrass themselves if the folks who are not rectal orifices were out there demonstrating, writing, protesting, counter-protesting, making the voice of morality heard. You know that i feel the worst aspect of all this is that there has been so little moral leadership. Such an indictment of our own society. Cranial rectal impaction, if you understand me.

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author

Well said, and in fact I cut a section out of this essay that dealt with the idea, what do we do when the marketplace of ideas doesn't work the way that it should? It was too long and was going to take more time to polish, so I decided to publish it later as a separate piece.

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I strongly agree with your viewpoint here. I do want to add that it appears that the UCLA protesters stopped all people from entering class through the main door, not just identifiably Jewish ones. Ergo, it was not an “antisemitic” action. It was an obnoxious sign of disrespect towards students who want to learn.

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Perhaps Ken Burns can make such a movie for our times.

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Ooof. Last time he tried (The U.S. and the Holocaust), it became an FDR tongue bath where he rightfully called out the rampant Jew hatred in Washington but didn't see fit to include FDR in his indictment, even though there is plenty evidence that he was just as bad as everyone else.

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It was Elenor who held Franklin’s feet to the fire. We owe her a huge debt.

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Interesting, thanks. Any suggestions for a filmmaker who would fit the bill here?

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