The Left’s Transformation From Anti-Establishment Free Speech Advocate to Government Control and Lockdowns
Posted On March 15, 2021
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The 1960s Are Long Gone
The days of the 1960s are long gone when the left was known as the defender of free speech and resisting government control. Since the leftists eventually got their way, transforming government into a vehicle promoting their version of values — which consists of few morals combined with requiring everyone to bend over backwards in order to comply with this attitude, no matter the damage — they now seek to defend the status quo. Can you imagine the hippies of the ‘60s at outdoor rock concerts wearing masks and social distancing? Of course not. Now the left attacks the right for gathering in crowds without obeying the lockdowns. Hollywood stars proudly virtue signal by posting photos of themselves wearing masks on social media.
Why did the left desert its principles? It’s because the left’s nonconformist behavior in the 1960s was never really about freedom and free speech. The left’s “principles” were really about forcing people to agree with their ideas, which can be boiled down to making everyone else as uncomfortable as they are. If you understand that about the left, you can explain any of their behavior, no matter how erratic. For example, they don’t appreciate evidence of our Judeo-Christian heritage, so they don’t want to let you enjoy it. Now that they’re fully entrenched in power, they love it and it’s made them want more power, which is why they are expanding the size and control of big government.
Their ideas have never been compatible with free speech and minimal government. Prominent Democratic presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt both pushed through a massive expansion of government power in the early 20th century. The 1960s was an aberration, which emerged because a faction on the left was too impatient to usher new radical changes through the usual political processes.
So for a brief period of time, the left appeared to care about free speech and opposing big government. This may explain why so many intelligent neocons were leftists in the 1960s. But as we’ve seen in hindsight, it was mostly a facade. The hippies opposed the government because it didn’t give them the radical agenda they wanted — not because it was too big and controlling. They engaged in controversial free speech so they could ultimately force unpopular viewpoints on others. Marching for abortion rights carrying coat hangers paved the way to make abortion legal everywhere.
Notice you rarely hear about the ACLU anymore? The left won most of their free speech battles during the years following the 1960s. These included legalizing pornography and virtual child pornography, and what used to be considered obscene by getting the courts to narrow the definition of obscene. So the free speech battles now are on the right, which the leftist ACLU doesn’t want to defend. Once in a while the ACLU will defend neo-Nazis or white supremacists, in order to show it’s being “fair.” Well, that’s not being fair, those offensive groups aren’t “conservative,” they’re radicals who often have ties to the left. The most prominent white supremacist today, Richard Spencer, voted for Biden. Nazism is actually socialism, which is on the left.
Today, the left is in overdrive stamping out free speech everywhere. Can’t criticize transgenders, can’t discuss that objections to election fraud could lead to civil disobedience, can’t post satirical memes because they’re fake news, etc. At first, the left tried to defend the censorship by saying it was merely private big tech censoring conservatives. While big tech is taking the lead here, the censorship is occurring at all levels of society.
The left films people carrying signs or speaking in public places that results in terrible treatment by the left, including death threats. The left shows up at the right’s rallies and drowns out their speech with noise or hassles the police into making the rallies inoperable. A man posted a voting meme and was prosecuted by the DOJ — he wasn’t merely banned from social media. The left showed up at talk show host Tucker Carlson’s home and banged on his door threatening “We know where you sleep at night.” Rep. Maxine Waters (R-Calif.) instructed people to harass Trump officials in public.
Conservative intellectual Dennis Prager explained concisely why the left fears free speech: “One articulate conservative can undo years of left-wing indoctrination in a one-hour talk or Q&A.” Facts, logic and reason are on our side. With technology now advancing so fast, young people are quickly finding ways around censorship, forcing the left to get big tech involved and expanding the censorship to every segment of society.
A moderate friend told me he could deal with the left if they would just back off on the lockdowns. He thinks they’ve finally gone too far. But the left will not allow people to pick and choose their viewpoints, they are required to adopt the whole slate or risk the consequences. A good friend of mine who voted for Biden hides her activities from her more radical friends because she disagrees with the masks and extreme measures. Who wants to be associated with the party of perpetual masks and social distancing, which is what the Democratic Party has become lately? Even some European countries to the left of us have backed down there.
No one in the U.S. even attempts to claim anymore that the Democrats are the anti-establishment and free speech party. Generation Z has grown up without any remnant of the ‘60s left. They’ve never known anything other than Democrats as the party of Big Brother. Thanks to hindsight, they naturally see the ‘60s as the vanguard to the Democrats’ big government today, not the idyllic mirage the left created.
Rachel Alexander is a guest author for NRN, conservative commentator, and editor of the Intellectual Conservative. A recovering attorney, she frequently appears on TV and news radio. She previously served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona, corporate attorney for Go Daddy Software, and Special Assistant/Deputy County Attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.