Trump And The Dictator’s Privilege

The Constitution is a contract.

If someone doesn’t believe in the Constitution in all or part (for example, the right of free speech), then essentially they are opting out. Correct me if I’m wrong, but by doing so, haven’t they renounced their own Constitutional rights?

Consider this not-so-hypothetical: We allow terrorists to abuse our freedoms to commit crimes with the goal of eradicating our freedoms. This was essentially what happened in 9/11. And then later, some of the people behind 9/11 are afforded the privilege of defending themselves in court using our Constitution, a document they want to get rid of. This is admittedly (and fortunately) a rare occurrence, yet many lawyers and people on the left have been very insistent that terrorists should be tried in courts of law and given all the rights normally afforded to US citizens, even though they are not Americans, are not on US soil, and are philosophically opposed to the US Constitution–indeed, this is why they fight.

That’s perverse.

Once a person has declared himself an outlaw, they why should he be allowed to avail himself of the law to defend himself? Indeed, this is the very meaning of the word “outlaw”–outside the law. By definition, an outlaw has placed himself outside the law, and has renounced all legal rights. It would be absurd to allow an outlaw to defend himself using the law which he disdains.

In light of this perversity of outcomes, according to international law and various laws of war, certain classes of criminals can be killed on sight, without trial. The most complete law regarding this involves pirates. And this is why after 9/11 many legal experts were advocating that terrorists should be treated as pirates. That is, they should simply be killed where found. While on the surface it may seem that Islamic terrorists bear no relationship to pirates, the laws of piracy were in fact adopted in large part because of the Muslim pirates of the Barbary Coast, who bore much greater resemblance to Al Qaeda than many people today would be comfortable in recognizing.

And this all leads to Donald Trump, and his clear disdain for freedom of speech and the Constitution. I’m not saying that Donald Trump shouldn’t have the right to speak, or that he has made himself in any way an outlaw, a terrorist, or a pirate. I am saying however, in the light of Trump’s obvious disdain for the law, for freedom of speech, and the Constitution, that we really shouldn’t shed too many tears over the disruptions of his meetings and the protests at his rallies, which he has brought upon himself.

It is clear that Donald Trump believes in the freedom of speech, so long as it is his speech, and not someone else’s. For example, we have his applause for the Communist leaders in putting down the protests at Tiananman Square. It could very well be that Trump is factually impaired (indeed, it is highly likely), but as a point of fact the Tiananmen movement was a peaceful protest being held legally in accordance to the Chinese law and constitution. Further, it hearkened back to a great tradition of student protests in China. Indeed, the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, along with the birth of both the Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party began with student protests in Beijing in May 4, 1911. The students of June 4, 1989 had grown up being taught that the great heroes of modern China were the students of May 4. They had every right and expectation to believe that they were heroically fulfilling their patriotic duty in protesting in Beijing in 1989, and in fact they were overwhelmingly regarded as fulfilling that role by the Chinese people. What occurred on June 4 was nothing less than a show of naked force by the Chinese government–not against a handful of students–but against the Chinese people. And indeed, this is how Tiananmen Square is widely regarded in China today, by the Chinese government no less.

Yet, Donald Trump applauds this.

But we do not have to go so far back as Tiananmen Square, or as far away as China. Trump at his rallies does not hesitate to order people to be expelled, beaten, or arrested. It is clear that just as the Chinese Communist Party teaches and believes, that freedom of speech is a prerogative solely of the party as it is the only true voice of the people, Trump believes that only he should have the right to speak, because he speaks “for the people.”

There is a train heading our direction. Everyone can see it coming, but it isn’t here yet. Hopefully, it is beyond Trump and into the future, but one can never tell. To see what this train looks like, let’s ponder for a moment the example of what happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. In this case, there was a minority party that the vast majority of people in Egypt did not really like all that much. This minority party held that the Constitution and laws should be abolished and then rewritten. Yet, it still stood in elections under that constitution and those laws. Somehow, it won those elections. Essentially, then, the Egyptian people voted themselves into a dictatorship. Two years later, when the army got fed up with the situation, it overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood and put things back the way they were, to the howls of protests from the US and other countries that somehow this was not democratic.

This is all perverse. Once a political party has renounced the law and constitution, why should it be allowed to take part in the election? Essentially, the party has declared itself outlaw. Why should it then be given legal protection and status?

In Egypt, the people were lucky that the army at least had respect for their rights and was willing to step in and protect them. The Germans were not so fortunate in 1933, under nearly exactly the same situation. Will America be all that fortunate when its time comes?

The US courts have pretty much agreed that the freedom of speech is absolute, and that even people who do not believe in the freedom of speech for others should have the right to express that belief. I tend to concur, despite its obvious risks. I would rather err on the side of freedom, rather than caution.

Having said that, the right to free speech does not equal the right to be heard. Or, to put it another way, if the Nazis want to march in Skokie, let them. But let’s not give them police protection from the Jews living in Skokie, some of whom survived the Holocaust. And if the thought of counter protests is too much for the Nazis to bear, maybe they should reconsider their plans–or better yet–reconsider their lives and beliefs.

If Trump wants to stir up a hornet’s nest of racial animosity in order to further his personal political agenda and line his pocketbook (which more likely than not is his political agenda), then let him. It’s a free country, and this is his right.

However, if the hornets decide to fight back, then let them as well. It is also their country. Why should Trump have the right to speak, and they be denied? What gave him a right that they do not have?

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