In June 2017, a great schism occurred within the alt-right movement marked by two separate rallies being held simultaneously. One of these rallies, named the “Rally for Free Speech,” attended by several well-known figures in the alt-right movement such as Richard Spencer, Nathan Damigo, Augustus Invictus, and even some not-so-alt-right figures like Jack Posobiec. The latter figure, however, departed from the traditional alt-right movement due to the presence of white nationalists (e.g. Richard Spencer) and a liberal amount of Roman saluting.
An image of Posobiec holding a sign that reads “Free speech ain’t hate speech” has been floating around on the internet, ruffling the feathers of many of his supporters who have considered themselves to be champions of free speech. The image was taken at a second rally, separated from Spencer’s by a group of the alt-right movement who didn’t feel quite at home among more outspokenly alt-right provocateurs. Posobiec’s rally has been documented as the birth of the “alt-lite,” and was intended to be a “rally against political violence.” Advocating for peace, the sign held by Posobiec is clearly a less than subtle poke against Spencer’s agenda.
But Posobiec is dead wrong.
The purpose of free speech is to lay a foundation upon which every possible idea, problematic or otherwise, can be recognized and built upon (or challenged by its opponents). The foundation of free speech is rooted in the belief that the best approach to resolving ideological conflicts is through providing a platform whereby each ideology can accurately represent itself and establish a healthy conversation. In accordance with the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting any expression of religious, social, or political ideologies is illegal and prosecutable as a criminal offense. This includes hateful incitation of ideologies that fundamentally oppose each other.
The alt-right will generally agree that every ideologue, whether Communist, Muslim, LGBT, Jewish, or otherwise should be granted the right to express their respective beliefs without censorship. This allowance ceases when verbal adherence to particular ideologies escalates into physical manifestations of violence. The American Muslim specifically is permitted the right to exercise his religious convictions; however, if his religious convictions result in the direct physical harm of another citizen, then he is liable to being prosecuted as a criminal, similarly to any other ideologue. This free speech, that is, the freedom of exchanging ideas, is what makes the United States a great country.
When Posobiec holds a sign that labels any form of verbal expression that is at odds with his particular brand of ideology as “hate speech,” he is at odds with American values and participates in the censorship of ideologies. Such is the social disconnect within the alt-right, resulting in what Richard Spencer has coined as the “alt-lite,” a subsect of alt-right adherents who differ from the mainstream movement in matters of ideological expression (among other things).
Everyone has the right to speak. White supremacists, black supremacists, Zionists, anti-Semites, Muslims, Christians, capitalists, communists, Nazis, Republicans, Democrats, anarcho-transhumanist-monarcho-socialists. Regardless of the extremity of an ideology, the United States is a country wherein the expression thereof is legally permitted and academically encouraged. When this right to free speech is removed under the guise of liberation of revolution, then the freedom that has come to define the standard of living in the U.S. is severely threatened.
Now, all of this said, it is lawful to prosecute those who escalate from the mere verbal expression of their respective ideologies to the violent conclusion thereof. This is why the alt-right pushes back on ideologies such as Mohammedanism, which has historically threatened the lives of Westerners. Although the freedom of expression is permitted, the freedom of violent expression is not. This is why Sharia Law, the medium whereby Islamic political and social conquest is instituted in the Western world, is prohibited by American standards. Under American jurisdiction, Nazi organizations would never be granted autocephalous neighborhoods wherein they would be permitted to murder their wives in the name of familial honor; therefore, Mohammedanism should not be granted any similar right. Perhaps Posobiec’s infamous sign would be better phrased, had it said, “Anti-American violence is not free speech.”
But the advent of Posobiec only points us to the cultural decay of Western civilization. Even a herald of conservative values such as Posobiec is not free from the negative influences of cultural Marxism, whereby the censorship of ideologies is paradoxically encouraged in the name of tolerance and love. In the words of the Indian writer Salman Rushdie, “Without the freedom to offend, it [freedom of speech] ceases to exist.”