I sometimes post on this blog excerpts of what others have written, because I want to comment on them, or expound on them, or use them to demonstrate a point. Today, I’m posting one because I just want you to go read it.
Go on, read it. It’ll take you a bit; count on 10 minutes. But if you are at all interested in what is going on in this country with people claiming their speech is being suppressed, with violence in the streets, with strangely clad people roaming around purporting to be anti-fascist vigilantes, with people on both the left and the right looking around and wondering just who in the heck these people are on both sides who have no apparent job or hobby or interest besides stirring up trouble and seeing if it finds them — if any of that intrigues or worries or bothers you in the least, you need to read the piece.
It is, of course, one story, told from a certain point of view. There are others — stories and points of view. But any time a story involves a mob of people beating someone to the point of hospitalization for the alleged crime of being a “white supremacist” or “Nazi” — when that person is in fact a half-Japanese man whose slogans are “moderates have to come together” and “love and peace [are] the only way to heal this country”; who allows people of various races, ethnicities, religions, genders and political beliefs to speak at the rallies increasingly targeted by these masked street thugs; who gets arrested for “his own safety” while most of the people committing actual assault remain free; who keeps going out and getting his you-know-what beaten even though he has a wife and two kids, out of the conviction that shutting up and staying home would be unpatriotic — well, that’s a story you need to read.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t actual white supremacists and Nazis in our midst and sparking violence in the streets. It doesn’t mean there aren’t nonviolent liberals and progressivists who don’t condone what’s being done by (the following is used loosely) “their side.” It doesn’t mean the beaten man doesn’t bear some responsibility for what happens to him, since he knows he’s seen as a provocateur and knows what’s coming when he seeks out his assailants — although speech that’s provocative is the only kind that really requires the protection our Constitution offers.
It does mean, I think, that there are some seriously … different people out there than I and presumably you see in our daily lives: people who find themselves in a high-stakes drama they feel compelled to remain in, apart from the very obvious and real struggles thrust on places like Houston this week; people who believe themselves engaged in a fight for the future of this country, a fight whose victor the vast majority of us would probably reject, and yet here they are, fighting it all the same.
But I said I wasn’t going to comment on the piece, just to ask you to read it. So, if you please …