Remembering Hate Speech

It has been a canard of the Left that “words matter.” We are lectured that “hate speech” leads inevitably to street violence.

So how ironic that the Left defames nearly half of America as dangerous “semi-fascist” extremists, white-raged and privileged, ultra MAGA, and guilty of all sorts of thought crimes from secession to civil insurrection? And what is the result?

Does this constant demonization matter? And what are the bitter fruits of such labors? After all, what did Barack Obama long ago mean by “clingers” or once Hillary Clinton by “deplorables”  and “irredeemables”?

What did Joe Biden imply by “dregs” and “chumps” and “semi-fascists”? Or what did the FBI lovebirds really mean by smelly Walmart goers and “hillbillies”? After a point, did not America get this monotonous message?

And what does Joe Biden really mean when he recycles his academic advisors’ tired tropes of right-wing insurrectionists threatening the republic?

MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. . . . MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards—backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love . . . They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country . . . MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.

When the president fuels the now familiar old narrative by claiming that 75 million who voted for Donald Trump do not live in the “light of truth” but in the “shadow of lies,” and they do not follow “the rule of law,” some questions naturally arise.

First, what evidence does the president adduce to prove that 75 million Morlocks in the shadows are liars and avoid the “light of truth” of the Eloi? By what criteria does he use to judge them “semi-fascists”?

Is his proof the 120 days of violent looting, arson, violence, and death in the summer of 2020—virtually green-lighted by mayors, the media, and, yes, the current vice president? Who “fanned the flames of political violence” and were a “threat to the rule of law”?

Does Biden mean half the country is not respecting the Constitution by its systematic attack on our long-standing constitutional precepts, from the Electoral College and the rights of states to set voting laws? Are the “semi-fascists” trying to pack the Supreme Court? End the filibuster? Bring in two states solely to elect four left-wing senators?

Does the president mean the illegality of the often-rogue Washington-centric FBI, whose past director and legal counsel have lied to federal investigators and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court? Does he refer to himself who was enriched by the grifting efforts of his wayward son? Do semi-fascists brag that they got foreign state attorneys fired for looking into the shady dealings of their own family? Perhaps Biden was railing against scores of big-city state attorneys who systematically refuse to enforce the law, and so leave the innocent at the mercy of serially released criminal felons?

Second, what are Americans in the Old Testament/eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth Prophet Biden’s eyes to do with those miscreants?

What should America then do when half the country prefers to live in the “shadow of lies,” and rejects the “light of truth”?

Sic the FBI on them to monitor their speech at school board meetings? Hire 87,000 IRS agents to continue the Obama-era policies of weaponizing the IRS? Bring Lois Lerner out of retirement?

Put them in solitary confinement for “illegal parading”?

Keep them out of their capital by stringing barbed wire and militarizing it with 30,000 federal troops?

Draft the Democratic Party to work with the FBI in destroying a political candidate through false dossiers, paid informants, and concocted conspiracies?

Leg-irons for former Trump officials?

Performative FBI SWAT raids on their homes?

Government workers colluding with private companies to censor free speech and expression?

A new Ministry of Truth?

Who then is destroying the rule of law? Joe Biden, who violated his oath of office and nullified the entire corpus of federal immigration law, in 1850s fashion, and allowed 3 million illegally to enter his country?

Joe Biden, who by fiat illegally canceled an expected half-trillion dollars in student debt?

Joe Biden, who recalibrated the FBI into a first-family retrieval service of lost computers and diaries of his wayward children?

Or is the shadow-dweller who “does not respect the Constitution” none other than Hillary Clinton who hired two foreign nationals to compile dirt on her Republican opponents in hopes of warping an election, or the FBI who also hired both her paid fraudsters as FBI informants in efforts to aid the Clinton smear?

Is urging a candidate never to concede if he lost the popular vote or boasting of joining #TheResistance to an elected president whom she pronounced “illegitimate” anti-Constitutionalism? Or maybe destroying subpoenaed emails or destroying court-ordered evidence?

And who exactly are the merchants of racial hatred about whom we so often hear?

Is it the same Joe Biden who claimed Barack Obama was the first black presidential candidate who could speak intelligently? The same Joe Biden who screamed to a group of accomplished black professionals that Mitt Romney would put “y’all back in chains”? The same Biden who bragged that his heroic Southern segregationist senatorial colleagues never called him “boy”?

Or is it Joe the healer who called black media hosts “junkie” and “You ain’t black”?

Perhaps it’s the unifier Biden who spun racist Corn-Pop stories about how he had faced down criminal black gang leaders? Or the ecumenical Biden who called a senior African American aide “my senior advisor and boy”? Who boasted that young black children used to love to feel the golden hairs on his tan legs?

Or would Biden mean by racists none other than the current Democratic candidate for Senate in South Carolina, Krystle Matthews? She recently gushed that one must “treat white people like sh-t”?

Or was it Kelisa Wing, the Pentagon’s “Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Department of Defense Education Activity”? She in the past complained, “I’m exhausted with these white folx in these [professional development] sessions,” and “I am exhausted by 99% of the white men in education and 95% of the white women. Where can I get a break from white nonsense for a while.”

At one time, stereotyping millions as a toxic collective was the classic definition of racism.

Is Wing a target of what Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley promised when they boasted of scouring the Pentagon ranks to root out racism and racial rage?

Or maybe Biden was referring to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot?

She barred reporters from one-on-one interviews on the basis of race with the putdown, “By now, you may have heard the news that on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city, I will be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color.”

When Joe Biden talks about the supposed violent, racist, MAGA dwellers in darkness, does he produce data for his allegations? Are his proverbial white-male insurrectionists committing violent crimes at five times their numbers in the general population?

Do MAGA Midwesterners threaten Orthodox Jews in New York or Asians in San Francisco? What do statistics suggest about who is disproportionately committing these hate crimes that Biden would otherwise characterize as typical of those living in the shadows or in lies?

Are the MAGA voters swarming the homes of Supreme Court Justices? Are they running them out of restaurants? Are they mobbing at the doors of the Court to threaten justices by name, and warning that liberal justices won’t “know what hit you” as they justifiably “reap the whirlwind”?

Is Biden’s putatively dangerous Trump supporter out killing a teenager who, postmortem, is dubbed a political activist opponent; running down dozens at Christmas parades; threatening a U.S. senator and his wife as they exited the White House; or attempting to assassinate key members of Congress?

At the University of Oregon are white MAGA denizens in the “shadows of lies” screaming “F—k the Mormons” during football games, or plastering the Stanford campus with anti-Semitic posters of “Ben B Gone” bug spray to gin up violence to stop the implied Jewish insect Ben Shapiro from speaking?

We are reaching a critical juncture now in America.

Writing off half the population as irredeemable and deplorable or semi-fascists is not a sustainable proposition. And we can see how it is not.

Is the chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at the Department of Defense relieved or worried that the army will not have enough white raging males to die in the next optional war in the Middle East at twice their percentages in the population? The Army has only met 50 percent of its annual recruiting target.

When Biden demonizes in now stereotypical fashion—and without data—an entire 75 million person demographic, when the popular culture has legitimized smearing these millions as dangerous “racists” fueled by “white rage,” and when the media manufactures a series of fake melodramas—from the Russian collusion hoax to the Russian disinformation use of his son’s laptop to the Jussie Smollett lie, the Covington kids slander, or the Duke lacrosse and volleyball mythologies—at some point is it any wonder that we are beginning to witness an epidemic of violence directed at the supposedly privileged, or the supposedly politically incorrect, whether targeting random solitary women for violent acts or purported conservatives or any demographic who are all apparently deserving such punishment due to their race or political beliefs?

Joe Biden’s “Phantom of the Opera” rant will be memorialized as the most reckless and venomous presidential speech in recent history. Such vile rhetoric fuels even viler reactions—and eventually filters down to the street where criminals believe that shooting a congressman or mobbing a Supreme Court justice or killing a solitary jogger or a teen-aged “Republican” is some sort of reification of what they feel is now acceptable retribution.

In sum, what we used to know as “hate speech” is now presidentially acceptable speech, and what has followed from it is no surprise.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images