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Dissent For Me, Not For Thee

eye on the news

Dissent For Me, Not For Thee

Donald Trump’s victory exposes liberal hypocrisy on free expression and democracy. November 14, 2016
Politics and law

Of all the sacred cows in the herd, none was more sacrosanct to liberals than the principle of “dissent.” Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, defined dissent as “the highest form of patriotism.” Singer/activist Harry Belafonte agreed: “Bring it on. Dissent is central to any democracy.” And progressive icon Noam Chomsky stated, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it all.”

That was then; this is Trump. For hysteria like mother used to make, Harry Reid could not be topped. After Donald Trump’s victory last Tuesday, the retiring Democratic senator exhorted his followers, “We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. . . . Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans.” Liberal Facebook pages have amplified Reid’s cries. “We must unite despite our differences to stop hate from ruling the land,” read one. “It is our time to unite as a movement and fight back against Donald Trump and what he wants to do to this country,” read another.

But despite Reid’s warnings about the dangers that Trump poses, all the disorder since November 8 has come from the Left, with unruly and sometimes violent protesters clogging streets in in Portland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and dozens of other cities. So much for accepting the results of a democratic election.

And as for dissent, well, it’s fine just so long as it’s liberal dissent—as the employees of Grubhub, an online food service, learned last week. In a companywide email, CEO Matt Mahoney, a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter, bemoaned the election outcome and pledged to “protect” his employees from the horrors of Trump’s America: “I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. . . . I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.” He went on: “If you do not agree with this statement, then please reply to this e-mail with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.”

After some bad press, Mahoney walked back his statement. “Grubhub welcomes and accepts employees with all political beliefs, no matter who they voted for in this or any election.” But it was too late. The world, and more particularly his workers, knew what he meant the first time.

Almost 80 years ago, the Soviet Union signed a pact with Nazi Germany, a nation that it had publicly execrated for nearly a decade. This marriage of convenience lasted less than two years, but during that time an excuse for the new partnership had to be concocted for the U.S.S.R.’s devotees. V. M. Molotov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, came up with the perfect rationale: “Fascism is a matter of taste,” he said. In Mahoney, and in all the double-talkers on democracy and free expression, Molotov would have recognized kindred spirits.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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