Happy new year. Our rights are under siege.
I wish that statement were hyperbole. But the events of 2019 make clear that Americans cannot sit back, go about their business and assume that things will be fine.
Economically speaking, yes, things are very good. But law-abiding Americans are experiencing unprecedented attacks, physical and otherwise, at levels that would have shocked earlier generations -- and should deeply disturb us, if we are paying attention.
For example, Jews in New York and New Jersey have been the victims of frequent violent attacks in the past month. The past week saw one such attack everyday, culminating in a machete attack at a rabbi's home during a Hanukkah celebration Saturday night that sent five people to the hospital.
It isn't just Jewish people being targeted. On Christmas Day, Salon writer Amanda Marcotte published an essay titled "Hallmark movies Are Fascist Propaganda." Yes, she's serious. People who like Christmas trees, small towns, Labradors and love stories are a threat to others and to the country, in Marcotte's view, because of their "authoritarian" and "aggressively conformist" attitudes. Conservatives also get swept into Marcotte's big tent; she calls The Federalist "ground zero" for "generating frankly fascist 'culture war' arguments." (Someone needs to let Marcotte know that when you're telling ordinary people they're fascists, you're starting the war.)
UCLA professor Kian Goh took the opportunity last week to suggest in The Nation that California's wildfires are a sign that we should abandon private homeownership.
Why does it matter? First, it should concern us when a writer for a mainstream left-wing publication accuses ordinary Americans of being fascists -- especially when we now have Antifa, the violent anarchist group that targets so-called fascists with screaming protests, property destruction and personal violence. Antifa has attacked disabled veterans, the elderly and conservative journalists. What's next -- midnight raids on women watching cable in fuzzy socks and drinking mugs of hot cocoa?
More to the point, these ideas get put out there, laughed at as "extreme" and yet somehow, within a year or two or five, become mainstream leftist thought. Until fairly recently, it was safe to assume that Democrats and Republicans shared a dedication to certain fundamental values -- at least those basic principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution. That is no longer a safe assumption; in fact, it is a dangerously flawed one. With very few exceptions, Democrats have shown themselves to be all too willing to capitulate to their lunatic fringe. (Look how quickly the "Party of Science" fell in line with the viewpoint that a man could cut off his genitals and become a woman. No one really believes this. But it's politically expedient to pretend that they do -- and to use the law to force others to say that they do.)
Democratic Party stars like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are already trying to take down capitalism, the engine of American prosperity. It would take very little pressure from the likes of Amanda Marcotte, Kian Goh and their comrades in academia and Hollywood for national Democrats to start denouncing small towns and homeownership. (I'm still holding out hope for Democratic politicians at the state and local level ...)
In this climate of crazy, it's foolhardy to blithely assume that what has happened in countries like Venezuela cannot happen here. Our collective New Year's resolutions in 2020 need to be the following:
First, we must take proactive steps to protect our rights from those who would dilute or eliminate them. Good examples are the counties in Virginia declaring themselves to be sanctuaries for responsible and lawful firearms ownership, and the law in Texas permitting concealed carry in houses of worship. (That law saved dozens of lives at a north Texas church this week.) We need voter-integrity laws and conscience-protection laws for medical professionals and religious hospitals, among others -- to prevent their having to perform abortions or euthanasia, or having to endorse absurd and unscientific theories about sexuality and gender.
Second, it's time to call out and marginalize the nutcase voices on the left. That means cutting off financial support for the media, entertainment and academic institutions funding them. Don't buy their products or services. Don't support the companies that advertise with them. Don't send your children to school there (or even -- horror of horrors -- support their sports teams). Those who want to take down the United States have their constitutional rights to free speech; we just don't have to fund it.
And third, it's time to send packing any politician who gives those fringe elements and their ideas any credence. They cannot be ignored; they cannot be indulged; they cannot be humored -- and they cannot be given the force of law.
If we ignore current trends and tell ourselves that our rights and liberties are safe, then we are as dumb as the frogs sitting in a pot of cold water on a lit stove. Because that water won't stay cold much longer.