"I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic, and we should stand up and say, 'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.'"
Was that a tea party protestor seeking to rile up white men and incite them to violence?
No, that was Hillary Clinton in 2003. The administration she was criticizing was that of George W. Bush.
She was right then. Protest can be patriotic, and no one should be thought less of an American because that person opposes the policies of a particular administration.
But now that the (left) shoe is on the other foot, we hear nothing about protest being patriotic. Instead, we hear from the left that it is dangerous and might lead to another Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or trying to assassinate a president.
The left invented the modern protest movement. I recall covering some of the demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the late '60s and early '70s. Conservatives were on the side of American troops in Vietnam. They criticized the critics of presidents Johnson and Nixon. Conservatives believed it was unpatriotic to criticize a president fighting communists. Many conservatives supported Nixon almost to the very end in the Watergate scandal. Some said it was unpatriotic to belittle the president of the United States and that the media and Nixon's enemies were conspiring to "get him." That sounds like the "right-wing conspiracy" charges leveled against conservatives by the modern left.
No one suggested at the time that the protestors encouraged twisted minds that might lead to an attempt on a president's life.
People like William Ayers, Tom Hayden, Eldridge Cleaver, Sam Brown and Jane Fonda, and groups like SNCC, were seen by the mainstream media and liberal cultural commentators as exercising free speech and assembly, even when that assembly sometimes turned violent. Fonda's trip to Hanoi was treated by some on the left as legitimate protest.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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