Peter Binary – The Atlantic:
As the president derides and subverts liberal-democratic norms, progressives face a choice. They can recommit to the rules of fair play, and try to limit the president’s corrosive effect, though they will often fail. Or they can, in revulsion or fear or righteous rage, try to deny racists and Trump supporters their political rights. From Middlebury to Berkeley to Portland, the latter approach is on the rise, especially among young people.
Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.
A republic is built upon the rule of law. One cardinal principle of American democracy is defense of the right of peaceful assembly, no matter how odious. This includes address and demonstration of hateful speech, white supremacy, and fascism. In words apocryphally attributed to Voltaire, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
If “Republicans” ally themselves with tripe, so be it. They abandoned the principled Lincoln long ago.
The rule of law, political process, and the long sweep of American cultural history will cure what is Trumpian. Consider him a half-assed Mussolini if you must. His ilk have risen and fallen elsewhere. We know the stink he brings and how to ventilate it. What we do not know is how to extricate ourselves from a joined battle of fools who disregard what we hold dear, what has sustained America for nearly one-quarter of a millenium.
Beware the friends you make; they may be your undoing.
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