The First Casualty of Culture War is Free Speech: Standing for the anthem is the new counterculture

The First Casualty of Culture War is Free Speech: Standing for the anthem is the new counterculture, by Daniel Greenfield.

Don’t like millionaire black nationalists in the NFL refusing to stand for the anthem? Too bad! It’s freedom of speech.

The same left that decided James Damore didn’t have freedom of speech at Google now insists that football players have it at the NFL. …

The left’s recent reunion with free speech came after vocally insisting that free speech was harmful, hurtful and racist. And the reunion didn’t last long. Right after insisting that the right of NFL black nationalists not to stand for the anthem was free speech, the left pivoted to accusing those players still standing for the anthem of “white supremacy”.

It’s only free speech if the left agrees. …

The culture war is the collision between a secular leftist value system that its followers seek to forcefully impose on the entire country and the existing system of American values. When these two sets of opposing values collide, as they do when conservative speakers come to campus, Christian photographers refuse to participate in gay weddings or a tech company employee questions diversity, the most obvious victim is free speech. But free speech is always the first casualty of the culture war.

Speech is the lifeblood of culture. To win a culture war, you have to shut the other side up.

The role of the media is paramount:

In the first phase of the culture war, the left seized the commanding heights of the media. Movies, television, music, newspapers and radio were consolidated into a network echoing the same ideas. This was largely done without any compulsion though victims of the old Fairness Doctrine might disagree. Outliers like conservative talk radio remained, but much like FOX News, they highlighted the homogeneity of the rest of the media. Everyone was getting the same set of political ideas all the time.

And, most impressively, a massive propaganda machine had been built without any of the brutality of the old USSR. Instead the machinery of capitalism had created a monopoly constantly spewing socialism.

The Internet upset leftist media dominance:

But the old infrastructure model was quickly disrupted by the arrival of the internet.

The media coup had monopolized speech by monopolizing infrastructure. If you had enough licenses, printing presses and broadcasting facilities, you didn’t have to forcibly silence anyone. They just couldn’t be heard over the roar of your media machine.

The internet broke that model. Anyone could speak to millions with a site, a blog and a tweet.

Control was quickly reasserted. The media’s old stable brands were diversified with millennial internet brands. BuzzFeed and CNN might be wildly different in style, but they were vehicles for the same political message. The left still had the advertising industry connections and the networks to dominate messaging. Its entertainment side was expert at commodifying cool. …

Now what? The left want to either censor the Internet or shut up all opposition, or both:

The second phase of the culture war can only be won by controlling everyone’s free speech. The media has been trying to rig the game at the big tech company level. It’s gotten Facebook and Google to agree to political censorship under the guise of fighting “fake news” with “fact checking”. But even the term “fake news”, once the banner headline of the media’s censorship crusade, was hijacked by Trump.

Once upon a time, derailing a media narrative in such a short time would have been nearly impossible.

And that’s why the second phase of the culture war is underway. The internet has made it impossible to proceed with the culture war without destroying free speech. It’s why the New York Times is running serial anti-free speech pieces (even while condemning President Trump for threatening free speech).

The only way for the left to win the second phase is to either fundamentally change the structure of the internet so that it more closely resembles its old media model or to silence everyone who opposes it. …

Identity politics:

If you’re going to crowdsource censorship, it helps to keep your censors personally invested. And that’s what identity politics does. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the worst violations of the Constitution in the last several generations were enacted in the name of fighting bigotry. If you are going to end free speech, the best flag to fly is still anti-racism. And if you’re going to demean the anthem, do it by claiming to be the victim of racism even when you’re a privileged black nationalist celebrity who sees more money in one year than most working people of any race will ever see in an entire lifetime. …

It’s not just about silencing those you don’t like. It’s about creating a safe space in which your views are the only ones that can be heard. …

Is it hypocritical if the media doesn’t notice the hypocrisy? Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if no one is there to hear it?

The left wages its culture war by attacking American values while demanding respect for its own.

The anthem must be disrespected, but Black Lives Matter can’t be criticized. Piss Christ must be displayed in museums, but don’t you dare wear a sombrero for Halloween. Speakers who praise Hamas and call for the murder of Jews are welcome on campus. But there’s no room for thinkers who praise free enterprise.

The left doesn’t reject free speech because it’s a bunch of easily triggered “snowflakes”. It rejects free speech because it wants absolute power. And the first step is killing a free and open society.

hat-tip Stephen Neil