San Francisco Swallows

There’s a “call to action” post circulating on Facebook right now. It goes something like this:

Call National Park Service officials to “revoke the permits they allowed for the upcoming Nazi White Supremacist Rally entitled ‘Free Speech, Unity, and Peace San Francisco’ August 26th in Crissy Field. Nazi Violent Racist Hate Rallies do not fall under Free Speech.”

It was the first I had heard about this upcoming rally, but my initial reaction was, “unless the Supreme Court overturned the Skokie decision, Nazi rallies do fall under the First Amendment free speech protections.” So I did a quick online search to see what I was missing and to find out a little more about this upcoming and ironically titled “Nazi White Supremacist Rally.”

I discovered that the Skokie ruling still stands, so Nazi rallies are still protected under the First Amendment.

However, I also discovered that this upcoming rally is not a Nazi rally, but a rally organized by an anti-corruption, seemingly Libertarian group called Patriot Prayer. I also discovered that Patriot Prayer’s brown skinned organizer Joey Gibson loudly condemns white supremacists and neo-Nazis and does not want them at his rally as it would upset his very diverse group of speakers, only one of whom apparently is white. Patriot Prayer’s Facebook page indicates that they are “about using the power of love and prayer to fight the corruption both in the government and citizen levels that seek to gain power through division and deception.”

What? So why is this “call to action” Facebook post calling it a Nazi white supremacist rally?

I found out more.

I found out that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi referred to it as a “white supremacist rally” and has called on the National Parks Service to withdraw their permit.

The rest of the city’s officials followed suit. “No, you are not welcome in San Francisco,” said Board of Supervisors president London Breed. “You are not welcome here, don’t come to San Francisco, we are going to do everything we can to stop you.”

Mayor Ed Lee “demanded” the National Park Service re-evaluate the permit and indicated that San Francisco would not have granted the permit, despite the city’s “long and storied history of championing freedom of expression and First Amendment rights.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Police Chief Bill Scott, State Senator Scott Weiner and Assemblymen Phil Ting and David Chiu have all jumped on the bandwagon and expressed their concerns or outrage. And Head of SF Interfaith Council Michael Pappas is “very concerned that the billing of this event is dealing with prayer and freedom and peace” and said that “disguising hatred and division and violence with words that are sacred are really misguided.”

Perplexed by the city’s bizarre and extremely out of context reaction to their upcoming rally, Patriot Prayer posted to their Facebook page, “Apparently we are having a white nationalist rally in San Fran with a black, Hispanic, Asian, and a transsexual speaking.” And rally organizer Joey Gibson appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program to discuss the bizarre reaction and to emphasize his opposition to white supremacists.

If I were a progressive liberal watching this play out, I’d be doing everything I could to distance myself from San Francisco and sending them the coded message, “ix-Nay on the igotry-bay!” I am no longer surprised by the “progressive liberal” knee jerk reaction to silence any dissent by now, but I am surprised at the lack of any pretense on the part of SF politicians to at least appear to be in support of free speech and tolerance. Not only are they calling for the rally permit to be revoked, they are calling the organizers — who are clearly not white supremacists — white supremacists. But most importantly, as the ACLU has argued and the Supreme Court has determined, it wouldn’t matter if they were white supremacists or neo-Nazis. Their right to organize peacefully is protected by law!

If there was any doubt left, San Francisco has just confirmed to the world that San Francisco is tolerant and accepting of all people and beliefs — just as long as those people and beliefs agree with San Franciscans. The ACLU invoked First Amendment protection for marches during the Civil Rights era when Southern cities tried to shut them down with the same claims the SF officials are making about the violence and disruption this rally will cause. The ACLU used the same argument in defense of the Nazis in Skokie.

Patriot Prayer describes its Crissy Field event as “a day of freedom, spirituality, unity, peace, and patriotism. San Francisco has long been a city that prides itself in acceptance of all, so together, let’s unite in this beautiful city to listen to some great speakers & live music!”

San Francisco officials have responded by condemning the event and demanding their permit be revoked. Patriot Prayer seems self-aware enough to know it baited San Francisco when it organized this rally. And San Francisco swallowed it — hook, line and sinker.

Thanks for the heads up about this rally I had previously known nothing about, San Francisco. And thanks for revealing yourselves as the transparent hypocrites you are. It’s nice to realize we don’t need to put any efforts into discrediting your bogus claims of tolerance and open-minded acceptance. You’re doing it all by yourselves.