Every once in a while, one of the major polling outfits will ask Americans about their views on freedom and liberty. Most Americans think they live in the freest country on earth and they are pretty happy about it. By freedom, people assume it means being able to go about your business as you see fit, holding whatever opinions you like and saying what you like, within the bounds of decency and common courtesy. Most of all, it means the government is not going to harass or torment you.
There was a time when that was true. If you are over the age of forty, you remember when people were free from coercion, regarding civil rights. People in this country were free to live their lives and speak their minds. For people of a certain age, it feels like it was not that long ago when even the most intolerant people would say “I may not agree with your opinions, but I’d fight to the death for your right to say them.” No one says that anymore, as no one believes, especially no one with power.
In current year America, we ban books. The government does not ban books, but private companies refuse to sell them, so the effect is the same. Of course, almost all books are sold by one company now, a company that laughs at the laws and the political institutions that write those laws. If the people at Amazon decide your book is not to their liking, they will stop selling it. Greg Johnson has been reduced to mailing people copies of his books because Amazon disapproves of him.
Now, the so-called conservatives will claim that major corporations like Amazon just avoid controversy. It’s not about politics but simply trying to avoid getting tangled up in controversial topics. Yet, Amazon is happy to sell books on bizarre sexual predilections and the promotion of self-harm. That sort of material is not a problem, because it is not a problem with the ruling class. Greg Johnson’s politics are a problem for the people in charge, so he is banned from selling books on-line.
Of course, people with unapproved opinions could sell their own books and magazines on-line, but the banks and payment processors refuse to do business with them. It’s not just a few banks and payment processors that refused to do business with people holding unapproved opinions. It’s all of them. Sites like Counter-Currents, VDare and American Renaissance have searched far and wide for a payment processor, but no one will take their business. The banks behind the processors have decreed it.
It is not just a few isolated troublemakers getting the business from corporations. Normal people curious about opinions outside the protected zone have real fear of being harassed, just for the crime of associating with these people. The media, the people who used to proudly say they speak truth to power, are always on the lookout for someone they can destroy, for the crime of associating with people deemed unacceptable. Major media outlets now see themselves as the keeper of orthodoxy.
In fairness, most Americans would dismiss that as the sort of first-world troubles that don’t affect most people. Maybe that’s true, but America is now a country that holds political prisoners. That is, there are people in jail primarily for the crime of holding unapproved opinions. It’s not just political types who lost the game of insider game playing in Washington. Normal everyday Americans are getting jail time for the crime of holding opinions that the ruling class finds unacceptable.
Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman were given four years in a New York penitentiary for the crime of being associated with Gavin McInnes. They were jumped by left-wing street thugs and won the fight. They were arrested, but there was never any effort to find the men who attacked them. There was no effort to find witnesses either. Instead, the police and court relied on material provided to them by Antifa. When he sentenced them, the judge made clear he was doing it for their politics.
That is not an isolated example. Over the last decade this sort of thing has become so common that it is just an accepted part of daily reality. If you belong to a group holding unapproved ideas, you have to go to great lengths to meet in secret in order to avoid being attacked by state sanctioned mobs. If that happens, there is a good chance the police will charge you rather than the mob. The thing political dissidents in current year America fear is that the government will become aware of them.
There used to be a time when Americans associated this sort of thing with totalitarian states or South American dictatorships. The communists would never allow people to hold unapproved opinions. They smashed up illegal printing presses and banished dissident writers. Third world dictators sanctioned mobs to go around harassing people they saw as a problem. The communists are all gone and there are no more South American strong men. America is no longer a free country either.
This reality should be evident to everyone now. Government has spent the better part of the last two months closing shops and forcing people to stay indoors. They are creating bizarre and ridiculous rules for when people must go outside. Cops are pushing people around, harassing mothers at parks and otherwise carrying on like highly feminized goon squads. It’s hard to claim you live in a free country when you need permission from the government go outside to take a walk.
The remarkable thing about this is none of the things described above would have seemed plausible a generation ago. Conservatives liked to claim Bill Clinton was an autocrat, but no one seriously imagined he would so something like this. Left-wingers really thought Bush was Hitler, but even they did not think this was possible. In what feels like the blink of an eye, things we used to think were outside the realm of possibility are now normal. We have slipped into the darkness.
If you are of a certain age, the new normal is particularly tough to fathom. You spent much of your early life being told that the long struggle against communism was all about preventing exactly this. The whole point of America, its reason to exist, was to prevent exactly this from happening. Maybe it was always a big lie. Maybe it is the result of forces too complex for anyone to fathom. It really does not matter. The result is what matters. America is no longer a free country.
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