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Fighting fascism: Let free speech ring

| Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
A left-wing  antifa protester holds up a sign in front of riot police as they cleared a park at a June rally in Portland, Ore. A protest dubbed 'Trump Free Speech' by organizers was met by a large contingent of counter-demonstrators, who viewed the protest as a promotion of racism. (Getty Images)
Getty Images
A left-wing antifa protester holds up a sign in front of riot police as they cleared a park at a June rally in Portland, Ore. A protest dubbed 'Trump Free Speech' by organizers was met by a large contingent of counter-demonstrators, who viewed the protest as a promotion of racism. (Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., Americans from all walks of life and diverse faiths have come together in Pittsburgh and elsewhere to denounce the scourge of racism and hatred. Gradually and with citizens' determination, the healing has begun.

But in these displays of unity, the right to free speech must never be perceived as some sort of “cover” for neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other minority fascists by groups that are not dissimilar in their own creeds and behaviors.

To wit: The leftist adherents of the antifa movement (which stands for “anti-fascists”) are no fans of the First Amendment, which they have made clear in shouting down, and effectively silencing, what they identify as hate speech. We've seen such methods used to force the cancellation of speeches earlier this year by Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos.

There can be no productive debate when one side — left or right — is shut down by the unbridled belligerence of the other.

“It is important for the public to understand that the so-called antifa are not well-intentioned bystanders engaged in civil discourse but armed thugs intent on silencing their opponents,” says Mark Pulliam, a lawyer and pundit. As well, the president of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center acknowledges that it's wrong to allow one group of people “the right to silence another group of people.”

Now as always, the antidote to fascism, in its many ugly forms, is free speech.

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