Dangerous Times

The decision was made two hours before the Wednesday night event because a crowd of more than 1,500 had gathered outside the venue, the university said in a statement. […]

The 32-year-old Greek-born British journalist is a senior editor for the conservative news and opinion website. He’s been called a spokesperson for the so-called “alt-right” movement for his extreme views on Islam, social justice, and political correctness.

He’s a self-proclaimed “internet troll” who has been widely criticized for being racist and misogynistic. […]

The protests turned violent shortly before 5 p.m. as the event approached, with demonstrators lighting fires and fireworks on the Cal campus. […]

Yiannopoulos’ talks have sparked protests, shouting matches and occasional violence at stops around the country. A man was shot and wounded at protests outside his Jan. 21 talk at the University of Washington.

Rowdy protests at UC Davis Jan. 13 prompted campus Republicans to cancel his appearance at the last minute. His final stop was supposed to be UCLA on Thursday but the invitation was rescinded, making Berkeley his grand finale. [ABC-7]

The danger I refer to in the post title is not a reference to the violence at this event, though that is, of course, a concern. Far more dangerous is that violence and intimidation have become the “go to” move for cultural and political discourse in America.

It’s rare to go more than a day or two anymore without seeing a similar scene played out somewhere. It’s like the flash mob phenomenon never truly died out, but instead turned ugly, with troupes of fascists touring the country and inflicting their particular brand of grotesque performance art on the rest of us.

And make no mistake, though it pretends at tolerance, peace, and opposition to hatred, it is indeed fascism. Turn on the news, mute the talking heads, and just observe for a while. What do you see? Which side is shutting down dialogue with force and intimidation? Which side is calling for and resorting to violence, often against innocent people and their property? Which side is using terrorism rather than persuasion to compel the thoughts and behaviors they deem appropriate? Which side lacks tolerance for the mere ideas of others?

Why is it important to mute the talking heads? Because they are part of the performance. They act as narrator, showing you only what they want you to see, while nudging you to see it and react to it in a desired way.

Look at the “protesters,” they say… beating people and setting cars on fire. Without that audio loop in your head constantly reminding you that you are watching “protests,” you might otherwise conclude you are watching what used to be called a “riot.”

Violence broke out today, they say… using the passive voice to redistribute the blame from the attackers to their victims. (What’s the world coming to?, we lament, generalizing the problem rather than recognizing that the violence is coming from one side.)

And that’s the intent. Many decent people are being manipulated into silence and inaction by the narrative that has been created. If we become convinced that The whole world has gone to hell or that Both sides are equally to blame, we (understandably) tend to want to withdraw to insulate ourselves from the madness. But the fascists count on that. They count on decent people concluding that the best course is to just stay out of it. And then the fascists win.

Unfortunately, this has gone on so long that it has become the norm. Many of us routinely and automatically assume the most vile motives of friends, neighbors, and strangers who may have formed different opinions for perfectly reasonable reasons. Then we use the ill motives we have projected onto them as a rationalization to “protest” their opinions by beating them senseless and destroying their stuff.

They are the “haters,” after all. They are the “intolerant” ones. This is what “peace” looks like

Update: Here is Milo’s response to the violence that shut down his speech. His observation that the intent is to equate and blur the lines between ideas and action is what I was getting at above. The fascists cast his ideas as a threat to safety in order to justify their use of violence to prevent him from voicing them.

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