This country needs to have a serious conversation about the hypocrisy of “Freedom of Speech”
Does the right to freedom of speech and assembly truly exist? Do we in fact apply these freedoms and rights equally? What would happen if people of color (POC) were armed with assault rifles and batons, wearing helmets, holding shields, burning torches, chanting the same exact thing as these white supremacists did, “This country belongs to us, because we built/build it” (which would actually hold some truth, as Blacks are indeed the ones who actually built this country, as did Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinxs today)? What would happen if we chanted “We demand a non-white ethnic state” with assault rifles in hand? What would happen if armed Native Americans chanted “Deport all these whites! This isn’t their homeland, but rightfully ours”?
Would they/we be met with the equal protection of the law under the “freedom of speech” and “right to assemble”? The answer is emphatically ‘No’.
America, I want answers.
If this country can’t even tolerate the peaceful assembly of POC to organize around their right to exist, then of course it could never tolerate their right to assemble, with weapons, for a hypothetical genocidal cause such as building an explicitly non-white United States.
This is the hypocrisy of american civil liberties, that applies to some, but not all.
Need proof? Let’s take a look at what happened in Standing Rock: Police and military unconstitutionally threw tear gas canisters, deployed water hoses and cannons in freezing temperatures, fired rubber bullets, and even denied a woman from burning sage at a rally. Or how about Ferguson: rubber bullets and tear gas canisters were unconstitutionally thrown at crowds, officers with police dogs and nearly 3,000 national guardsmen were deployed, sound cannons which induce pain and can cause permanent hearing loss and imbalance were used, and people were forced to disassemble. Where was their freedom of speech? Where was their right to assemble?
If we actually protected “freedom of speech” and “right to assembly,” why did the FBI imprison, murder, rape, beat, and infiltrate members of the American Indian Movement? If we actually protected “freedom of speech” why is it that this country imprisoned, infiltrated, murdered leaders, and destroyed the Black Panther Party, a self defense organization, but has not destroyed and disbanded the KKK, an actual terrorist organization that is responsible for kidnappings, lynchings, brandings, and intimidation, among others like it today?
If we actually protect “freedom of speech,” why do we infiltrate Muslim organizations, yet “there is no program to infiltrate white, Christian communities to see how these dangerous men, eat, worship, play or shop” (Kumar 2012, 156)? Why is it that “white supremacists are allowed to train with guns at sites all over the United States, [but] if a regular Muslim American so much as acquires a weapon, he or she is deemed suspicious” (Kumar 2012, 156)?
If we genuinely want to engage in the “freedom of speech” debate, then we need to take an honest look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that we already do not apply civil rights and principles equally. If POC can’t organize peacefully for basic human rights, why are white supremacists, that exist for the violent genocidal agenda of obliterating POC allowed to do so? Why do we enable white terrorist organizations under this false illusion of a freedom that we reserve and apply for white supremacy, but not for POC? If we want to claim that the reason we allow white supremacists to freedom of speech and assembly is to be “fair and equal,” then why do we shut down organizations that fight for equality, but facilitate groups that advocate for the opposite? Does that not inherently reveal the racist contradiction of our applicability of civil liberties?
America, I want answers.
Sources: Kumar, Deepa. 2012. Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. Chicago: Haymarket Books
by J.S. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociology and Anthropology, a college instructor and proud daughter of immigrants