Thursday, July 6, 2017

#187 / Uncivil Wars And The Clenched Fist Of Truth

Pictured above is Dana Loesch, voice of the National Rifle Association. In this video, and in at least one other video, Loesch claims that she "is" the National Rifle Association. Loesch also claims that the NRA is "freedom's safest place." The Loesch videos are controversial. You can check out the controversy by using your Internet browser, searching on "Loesch," "videos," and "controversy." 

"Uncivil Wars" is the headline on an editorial that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle this Fourth of July. The Chronicle said the Loesch video was "crossing the line," by claiming that liberals pose a "threat to American freedom ... in an ominous tone reminiscent of a wartime propaganda campaign." 

If you watch the video yourself, you can decide if you think the Chronicle was exaggerating. It seems to me that the Chronicle's characterization was accurate. The Chronicle denounced the Loesch video for presenting "them" (liberals) as an "evil force." Those whom the Chronicle calls "liberals," the NRA denominates as "the violent left."

I found the Loesch videos painful to watch, but the NRA is definitely not apologetic. Grant Stinchfield, who is a conservative talk show host, defends these ads on NRATV, and his video is painful to watch, too. Stinchfield, who apparently made an unsuccessful run for Congress in Texas, in 2012, bills himself as someone who is good at "simplifying complex issues in an entertaining, yet informative manner."

Maybe it was Stinchfield who came up with the NRA idea that we need to "fight the violence of lies" with the "clenched fist of truth." That may be "simplifying" a bit too much. In fact, this characterization of political debate, with "violent lies" opposing "the truth," becomes the exact opposite of "informative."

"Lies," by definition, are a kind of "speech." In the United States, the remedy for "lies" is more speech, not physical confrontation. That is what our First Amendment is all about. "Clenched fists" don't factor into the free speech equation. Clenched fists are about violent physical actions, incipient or actual, and you don't get to the "truth" by beating someone up. 

You can silence people, of course, by beating them up. You can silence them by killing them, too. Speech itself, not being physical, is not, itself "violent," but speech can certainly be used to incite violence, and that is exactly what the Loesch and Stinchfield videos do. 

Movements that are truly revolutionary in their ambitions must be explicitly nonviolent. Martin Luther King, Jr. has taught us that. So, in a way, has Dana Loesch. 

As we talk to each other, searching for the truth, we must all be careful not to proclaim that we already have it in our hot, clenched hands. 

Employing an "open hand," not a "clenched fist," is how we will discover those truths that can unite us. 

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