The German word “Vernichtungskrieg” (“extermination war”) refers to a war in which there can be no negotiated peace, no truce, no détente. One side wants the other side to completely cease to exist. The best way to wage an extermination war is to convince yourself that your enemy is really the one waging the extermination war, and therefore your extermination war is totally defensive. That’s what Hitler told the German people when he announced the invasion of Russia. “Those Jewish Bolsheviks are trying to vernichtungskrieg the shit out of us, so we need to vernichtungskrieg the shit out of them first” (I may be paraphrasing here).
Closer to home, and in “the current year,” the American left has declared a war of extermination against ideas. Leftists don’t want to counter speech that is offensive to “people of color,” Muslims, and LGBT alphabet soupers; they want such speech banned. The leftist censors have managed to convince their foot soldiers that it is “us or them,” a matter of life and death. Two recent cartoons perfectly illustrate the left’s mania. The first one, by popular far-left artist Matt Lubchansky, depicts a journalist who is interviewing people at a Charlottesville-style rally. An alt-rightist tells the vainglorious journo, “Nonwhites are genetically inferior. They should be systematically rounded up and killed.” The scribe then proceeds to interview two noble antifas, who rationally explain that they are merely acting in self-defense. The journalist proves his villainy by writing objectively about “extremism” on both sides of the protest.
The takeaway? Objective reporting only serves to empower those who are actively trying to mass-murder nonwhites.
The other cartoon, by “Social Justice Ninja,” goes even further: The villain of that piece is a free-speech advocate. He’s depicted as standing in between a group of Nazis and lynchers on one side, and a group of anguished, frightened people of color on the other. The self-righteous anti-censorship jerk tells the POCs, “I don’t agree with the Nazis, but I will defend to YOUR death to protect THEIR speech.”
The takeaway? People who believe in free speech are facilitating genocide.
Free speech is the enemy. It must be stopped, or you will be killed.
In the face of such utter stupidity, what use is there in bringing up First Amendment law? Such arguments would fall on deaf ears, as these buffoons genuinely think that an army of Nazis is about to slaughter them. Pure insanity. But insanity with a purpose. Because if you go high enough on the American left-wing food chain, high above the BLM and antifa street thugs and the Salon.com screaming meemies, you’ll get to some very shrewd people who understand that there are no death camps or stormtroopers on the horizon. These liberal elites have seen the effect of anti–“hate speech” laws in Western Europe. Those laws have given establishment liberals a major advantage, because any political party that veers a little too far right finds its leaders put on trial and its websites shuttered. Two sides in a political debate cannot compete evenly if one side is free to speak honestly and brazenly while the other is forced by law to watch its words and moderate its tone. German and French left-wing politicians can say, “We want to flood the continent with Muslim refugees and put an end to white hegemony because white is evil and Christian is bad,” but politicians on the right can’t say the converse without running the risk of landing in court. That’s not a fair fight (as I write this, returns from the German federal election indicate a “strong showing”—13 percent—for the nationalist AfD party. Imagine how much stronger a showing the party might have made if it didn’t have to worry about government surveillance because of “hate speech” accusations).
One can’t blame U.S. leftists for trying to re-create that magic here. Of course, they can’t, because of that damned First Amendment. But they can do two very effective things: First, they can expand the definition of “hate speech” to include things that until recently were not considered hate at all (like opposition to gay marriage—a position previously espoused by Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton). Next, they can pressure web platforms, content delivery networks (CDNs), internet security services, and online payment transaction services to cease doing business with “hate” sites. If everyone on the right has to learn to “behave” lest they lose their ability to have a voice online, we’ll end up with something similar to the situation in Western Europe, except rather than fearing jail or fines, the right will fear being banned from the internet. The left will get exactly what it wants: a one-sided “debate” on issues like race, immigration, Islam, etc. Safe, inoffensive conservatism will be allowed (“Darn that deficit!”), but there will be fewer and fewer voices to counter the left’s extreme positions on matters of race, Islam, gender, and other “identity” issues.
If the left can’t control the debate via hate-speech laws, it can pressure private companies into keeping “offending” voices offline. And in today’s world, that’s damn near as bad as being silenced by law. In the past month, dozens of websites have been pulled or hobbled because of political speech. The left has found a strategy that is not only effective, but hard to counter. As my favorite constitutional law expert, UCLA Law School’s Eugene Volokh, explained to me in an email last week, “Generally speaking, most jurisdictions’ statutes don’t ban discrimination in public accommodation based on political ideology. If you’re an auto body shop and you don’t want to repair Communists’ cars, or Nazis’ cars, it just isn’t illegal for you to discriminate that way.”
So it’s bad news for the right. Is there a solution? Well, I think we can safely say that marching like idiots with backyard tiki torches is not it. But consider this: On the SPLC’s official list of hate organizations—the list that most of the leftist pressure groups have relied on as they try to get hate sites removed from the net—the category with the most entries is “black separatist.” Yet so far (to my knowledge) the only sites that the censors have targeted, and the only sites that have been pulled or denied service by tech companies, are white nationalist, Christian (anti-gay or anti-Jewish), or anti-Islamist. That got me thinking. Maybe the best way to counter this new vernichtungskrieg is through the courts. See, companies like Cloudflare, PayPal, Squarespace, and GoDaddy have the right to exercise a certain amount of what’s known as “viewpoint discrimination.” They absolutely can have a “no hate speech” policy. But they can’t discriminate based on race or religion. They can’t have a policy that they apply lopsidedly to one particular racial or religious group. Think of it like this: A restaurant can say “No shirt, no service,” but it can’t say “No shirt and you’re white? Fine! No shirt and you’re black? Get out.” In fact, a number of nightclubs have been sued over the past few years by black customers for enforcing their dress-code policies in a way that supposedly favors whites. A nightclub can have a dress code, but it must be applied consistently to patrons regardless of race or religion.