The principle of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater seems appropriate when discussing white supremacists.
Trump’s claim that Mexicans were sending “rapists” to our country was to our secular educated ears, laughable and not worth taking seriously.
But in fact it was incredibly potent, something so primal and irrational it is like a knife slipping between the armor of our intellectual ribs, stabbing us in that dark animal lizard brain that operates on fear of being outcompeted, overwhelmed by some terrifying Other.
Of course educated liberals want to confront white supremacy on the battlfield of idea. Its our version of the Maginot Line, where we erect a bulwark of charts & graphs & Lofty Ideas.
But our flank of primal fear is left exposed, and the irrational blitzkrieg mocks us as it lays waste to our civilized society.
Those young men carrying torches- they didn’t read something in a book that convinced them. Their fear of being left behind, when they look out on the landscape and see a world where their pink skin and penises have no authority or power; That terrifies them, and there isn’t a chart or graph or Lofty Idea that can compete.
When Richard Spencer crouches behind a curtain in this dark auditorium and shouts “Fire”, these men panic and stampede.
Limiting speech is a dangerous tool, and we should use it only with caution.
But we are facing a rising tide of hate flush with power, and need to face the world for how it is, not how we wish it were.