Monday, December 18, 2006

Newt Gingrich is a dangerous idiot

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It wasn't so long ago that conservatives were all for free speech, particularly on university campuses, where they opposed p.c. speech codes. (At Tufts in the early- to mid-'90s, during the culture wars, I was with them on this, and, indeed, with my weekly political column in The Tufts Daily I was one of the major voices on campus against any such attempts to regulate speech.)

But things are different now. Times have changed. It's 9/11, stupid. In the shadow of those attacks, it's all about terrorism, or rather about the Republican exploitation of the fear of terrorism for partisan gain.

It's the GOP's Culture of Fear.

And so we have Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire attacking the "ACLU left" and defending curbs on free speech. And playing shamelessly on Americans' fears, the very fears stoked by Republican exploitation.

And it gets worse: "If you give me any signal in the age of terrorism that you're a terrorist, I'd say the burden of proof was on you," he said in an interview. Which is a deeply un-American view that once more reflects exploitation.

Steven Taylor responds: "Ok, so not only does he want to do away with speech that he doesn't like, he wants to toss out the bedrock foundation of our criminal justice system, which is predicated on the notion that suspects are innocent until proven guilty."

(Blue Girl has an excellent post on Gingrich here.)

And this isn't just Gingrich saying stupid things as he eyes '08. The views he holds are very much the views of the post-9/11 Republican Party and its conservative allies.

Be vigilant, my American friends. They'll take your rights away if they can.

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