Saturday, March 16, 2013

Freedom and Fascism

Lars Hedegaard is a Danish writer who has had to go into hiding because of attempts that have been made on his life. He was recently interviewed by Dennis Prager and the interview is instructive. I urge readers to read the whole thing at the link but I want to offer a few highlights.

After Hedegaard's description of the attempt to murder him Prager asks this:
DP: You were nearly murdered. What did you write and what are you fighting for?

LH: I don't know exactly what motivated the attack. I've been writing on Islam, Islamic history and Islamic ideology for about ten years. I haven't done anything differently recently except that we started our new newspaper, the weekly Dispatch International, on the third of January. It's a Swedish language newspaper, but we have an online edition in English.

I've been wondering, of course, why someone wanted to shoot me, and I cannot think of anything that I've done differently recently than what I have been doing these last couple of years. I've been called a hate speaker, and I'm not a hate speaker. I've been called a racist, and I'm not a racist. I'm just a normal historian and a journalist. It's my job to describe what's going on in the world, and that's what I've been trying to do to the best of my abilities.

DP: Correct me if I'm wrong: You are a man of the left.

LH: Yes.

DP: Where are the attacks on you being racist coming from? What part of the ideological spectrum?

LH: I would say almost exclusively from the left. (Of course, also from Muslims. Not all Muslims, but some.) I seem to be very unpopular with my old friends. I think the problem is that I know what it's all about to be left-wing; I used to be a leading Marxist in this country. But I've held to the opinion that we first of all have to fight for free speech and freedom and equality between the sexes and the rule of law; and also, that we should not bow before religious fanatics of any type, regardless of where they come from. This seems to me what was the essence of being left-wing back in the days. No longer.

The left now seems to have reverence for fanatics -- as long as they are Muslim. Of course, they can criticize Christianity all they want. But when somebody threatens with violence -- if you criticize me, I'll come and kill you -- then all of a sudden they become soft. They become understanding. They talk about tolerance; we have to show respect. I don't want to show respect for people who say that men are worth more than women, that women can be killed if they are adulterers; that apostates from Islam should be killed; that people should be stoned, etc. I mean, I don't like that. I want to fight that. I want to describe it. And I don't think the left does.
The biggest threat to freedom today, the tactics most similar to those employed by 20th century fascists, are arising on the left. This is an important point to understand. The left side of the ideological spectrum may be described as shading from centrists to liberals to socialist/progressives to totalitarians (communists and fascists). Communists and fascists are fraternal twins. The only real difference between them is that, whereas fascism tends to be militaristic and nationalistic, communism is an international movement which professes to disdain the military, at least until they have managed to seize power for themselves.

The similarities communists and fascists share, however, are much more important. They both aspire to exercise total control over the life of the individual whose freedom must be suppressed or extinguished. The citizen must be subordinate to the state in everything he says, thinks, and does. Any deviation from what is permitted by the state must be prohibited and punished.

This is why political correctness is so pernicious. It's a step by liberals and progressives, whether they realize it or not, toward habituating the citizen to acceptance of state control over his life.

Hedegaard makes an important observation in this regard:
[In Europe] we don't have your First Amendment. The Free Press Society has been fighting for nine years to introduce a first amendment in Denmark and other places in Europe. We don't have that. We have an article in our penal code called 266(b), which means that you can be convicted of hate speech, racism, denigration of religion, or a number of things, which is despicable.

I agree with the American Constitution -- you should be able to say anything you want, and if you're an idiot or a jerk you should be corrected by other people. You can lose your career, you can lose your reputation if you talk ill of people because of their race, which I have never done. But you should have the right to say anything. You should have laws against libel, lying about people, threatening people with violence, revealing state secrets, etc. You have that in any civilized country. But apart from that, I agree with the First Amendment. We don't have it here.

DP: I'll tell you another thing you don't have there....: You don't have talk radio. This has been a major factor in America in offering the alternate universe to that which the Swedish press and the American left, such as the New York Times, which would be perfectly at home in Stockholm, present to us.

LH: You're right. Speaking about the New York Times, they had an article today about me, that I'm full of "bile and viciousness and racism" and what-not. No, we don't have talk radio. What we do have is state radio, something that the people are forced to support by their tax dollars.
The First Amendment is critical to a people remaining free, and the Second Amendment is critical to our being able to keep the First. When progressives are in power in Washington, as they are now, both of those freedoms will come under assault because they're seen as impediments to the government's ability to aggrandize control over peoples' lives.

The entire interview may be heard at