A panel of distinguished thinkers, including immigration expert Mark Krikorian, historian Michael Ledeen, and Freedom Center Shillman Fellows Bruce Thornton and Robert Spencer, recently discussed the Left’s march to a one-party state at the Center’s West Coast Retreat, held April 5-7, 2019, at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Shillman Fellow Mark Tapson moderated the panel. Check out the video and transcript below:
Tapson: When you pay attention to politics, as I’m sure all of you do, one thing you observe very quickly about the left is that they do not play well with others. They don’t even play well with each other, actually. They don’t hesitate to turn on each other to weed out weakness or maintain ideological purity. They’re uninterested in bipartisanship or compromise because as David Horowitz said last night, they’re totalitarians at heart, and they have no interest really in sharing power. They won’t be satisfied with anything less than a one-party state and toward that end, they’re pulling out all the stops to marginalize, suppress, and ultimately eradicate the opposition. That’s us.
The title of our panel today is “The Left’s March to a One-Party State and to enlighten us about that topic we have four brilliant gentlemen. Pardon me for assuming your gender.
Thornton: Or assuming we’re gentlemen.
Tapson: You can announce your preferred pronouns as we go along. I have these four brilliant gentleman to discuss this topic, different aspects of that, of the left’s march. Immediately to my left, we have Mark Krikorian, immigration expert and the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies since 1995. He’s most recently the coauthor of Open Immigration: Yea and Nay.
Next to him we have Bruce Thornton, professor of classics and humanities at Cal State University Fresno, a research fellow at Standard’s Hoover Institution and a weekly front-page Mad contributor and author of nine books including Democracies, Dangers and Discontents.
And then Michael Ledeen, an American historian who has written several books and has served as a consultant to the United States National Security Council, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Last and certainly not least, Robert Spencer, director of the amazing Jihad Watch and author of 19 books now, including The History of Jihad from Mohammad to Isis, Confessions of an Islamophobe and The Complete Infidels Guide to Free Speech and its Enemies, just to name the most recent ones.
Each gentleman is going to take a little time to speak and then we’ll have time for questions afterwards. I’ll kick things off with a question of my own. Gentleman, in what ways is the left forging ahead toward a one-party state and what can we do to stop them? Let’s begin with Mark Krikorian.
Krikorian: Well, I’ve been at the receiving end of this effort to create a kind of one‑party, one‑ideology state. The SPLC has designated us a hate group in 20 – well, it was shortly after November 2016. I’m not sure what happened then. I think there was some event there, but we had not been one before that, and we turned into one magically after that. And this was part of the SPLC’s broader effort which is applied to Family Research Council and to many others to silence opponents. The, nothing changed about us before and after we were officially designated as or a hate group. They didn’t like us before that, but they never graduated us to the hate group list but once President Trump was elected and inaugurated, they decided they needed to add us to their list, and so they came up with some phony rationales. I mean it’s almost ludicrous actually that one of the literally, they gave no reason in their designation of us a hate group but an interview with a blogger they later explained why we were now a hate group. One of the reasons was, **** gave three reasons. One of them was a fellow who writes for us sometimes on workforce issues. He’s a former computer programmer turned lawyer, went to a party to meet Ann Colter which was hosted by an organization that they considered a hate group. So, he appeared at an event. Didn’t appear, he went to a Christmas party hosted by a group they had earlier designated as a hate group and therefore, that made us a hate group. I mean it’s ludicrous. We pushed back in a number of ways. One, I wrote and actually got published an op-ed in the Washington Post. To their credit, they published it describing how this was an absurd designation and harmful to public discussion. It didn’t make any difference.
We eventually what we did was file a civil RICO lawsuit against the president of the SPLC and the head of their hate group effort and that’s what I wanted to just briefly talk about. This is one of the ways we need to fight back. There’s a lot of things you need to do, but the SPLC is one of the main enforcers of this effort of creating, of suppressing ideological deviationism, and one of the ways we go after them is lawsuits, and we have a long-time supporter who’s a RICO attorney, who’s used RICO against the employers of illegal emigrants because it is a predicate offense for a civil RICO lawsuit if you’d hired or continue to employee ten illegal immigrants. One of our allies snuck that in in the 1996 immigration law and nobody noticed, and he’s used that a number of times against employers of illegals, and he approached me and said look, don’t go after a defamation lawsuit that’s harder to win, why don’t we try a RICO lawsuit. And we may or may not win. That hate group doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a made-up thing, but the SPLC has a definition that they use and that we don’t meet even that definition, and they know it. And therefore, their designation of us as a hate group constitutes wire fraud because they advertised on the public wires and that wire fraud is a predicate offense for RICO. And so we filed a lawsuit against the president and the head of their hate group effort. We’ll see what happens. They filed a motion to dismiss. We responded. The judge has to decide and hopefully at some point this month or so, and we might lose, but the point is we’ve got to hit back, and everybody’s got to hit back in a variety of ways.
The SPLC is melting down now for completely unrelated reasons. All of you seen it in the news. The president resigned. The founder of it, Morris Dees, a sleazy direct-mail impresario who has helped amass literally a half a billion dollars in assets for this Southern Poverty Law Center, and the head of their litigation, the assistant head of litigation have all resigned. There’s all kinds of sexual harassment and racial discrimination issues going on. But my point is this is the time to hit back. We have to pile on now relentlessly and ceaselessly. And a lot of the groups, there are a number of lawsuits ongoing against them. Something that was actually interesting was FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform which is on the same side of the issue generally as I am but is more a advocacy-oriented group, they filed a complaint with the IRS contending that the SPLC was going beyond its 501C3 status and engaging in explicitly political activities and in response, the SPLC actually founded a 501C4. They had to do something because their nonprofit status was potentially threatened.
My only point here is that what we need to do is when we see the weak antelope, the antelope is stumbling, we need to stumble on it. I mean we need to leap on it and tear it to pieces. Relentlessly, we need to go and the SPLC is the most dangerous and effective, I think, of these enforcers of these essentially brown shirts of the other side and when they stumble we aggressively, everybody – I know this, the people here who are funders, I’m not asking money for myself. My point is look for ways to attach them from every angle, every day, all the time because if we can make an example of the SPLC it’s not that we win. It’s not that the fight is over, but it would be a significant victory, something that would deter the other side and help inspire and encourage the folks on our side.
Thornton: One of the ways that tyranny – and when we talk about one state or deep state – so I’m going to go back and call it what it is. It’s tyranny. And tyranny hates diversity. Now, that might sound weird because all we hear all the time is diversity coming from the progressives. We know that is not real diversity. That is a dishonest camouflage for this unified political etiology that wants to concentrate power and drama or power to itself. If you give people political freedom, you have to give them the opportunity to speak openly without fear of retribution. But also, it’s a way to respect the diversity.
In other words, when you’re ruled by an elite whether it wealth or birth, they’re pretty much all the same. They’re probably related to each other. And so there’s not really a lot of diversity of those who have power. When you open it up as the Athenians did to the poor was well, Athenians … which is unprecedented in human history, now you have more diversity. That makes free speech even more important because of that diversity, so they could all be heard. The real diversity also means that you can’t establish standards of decorum and manners of proper speech or improper speech because there’s too many people who have too many different ways of communicating. And of course, this is exactly what we saw happening over the last 2 years or 3 years when Trump came on the scene. His style is not a uniquely Trumpian style. It is the style of a huge, huge section of American identity. I call it the Huck Finn constituency. And they didn’t find it off putting at all. Who did? The elite. The self-enclosed elite of either party who and went to the same school, lived in the same ZIP Codes, went to some of the same prep schools, had the same vocabulary, used the same standards which is fine for them. But they wanted that to be the standard for the whole county and as did the progressives because the progressives are technocrats as the communists were, and they believe a technocratic elite that is trained a certain way has the right to rule.
So, who is the enemy of or what principle is the enemy of all those pretentions? Free speech. Not nice free speech. Not Jane Austen tea party free speech but good old American free speech which is a wide, broad spectrum of styles and standards, some many of us may find vulgar and off putting but nonetheless are American as any other. And that, I think, that’s part of what explains a lot of the Republican **** Trump, Animas against Trump and against his followers. I like to use the analogy from Animal House of how Chervix, or Cervix, um, Rodney Dangerfield and Judge Smales of the Bushwood Country Club and Judge Smales, and nobody roots for Judge Smales in the movie. So, this, um, this resistance supposedly based on principle wasn’t really, I don’t think, based on principle. It was based on protecting a status and a class status is that soon as start putting restrictions on speech saying you can speak this way, not this way, when you bring up civility, decorum, all those wonderful things that we prize, but in political free speech, you’re establishing gatekeepers. Those become tools of exclusion of keeping people out and fortunately, Donald Trump blew through that.
The last point I want to make that’s also I think important in this regard is comedy because it’s historical truth that the idea of free speech which arose in Athens in the fifth century and it was free speech. They had two words to denote free speech. Both words had different Greek words for equality in it. Free speech with political equality. They also at the same time admitted comedy, official state-sponsored comedy. Not a private producer and director and writer and everything. A festival of the city that put these on for the citizens, and the citizens attended, and what we judge from the 11 surviving comedies of Aristophanes if you think we have the politics of personal destruction as I think Clinton called it, Greek comedies were way, way beyond what we would see. They focused particularly on sexual perversion as metaphors for bad politicians. And they thinly disguised them in the characters or called them out by name, and they were probably sitting in the audience watching. And that’s just the way it was. That was an exercise of free speech as well because comedy is a method of accountability. It was for the Athenians. You put a politician on stage. You hold them accountable with your ridicule and your humiliation, and you tell them we, the people, are watching, and you’re not getting away anything and don’t think you’re better than we are, because you’re not. And then they’ll list off all the alleged horrible things that they’ve done to show that.
So, comedy is an important dimension of free speech and has been for 2,500 years, and I bring that up because as you call, I’m pretty sure, know comedy in American today is in a dismal, dismal place. I mean all the late-night shows that are supposed to be funny are not funny. They’re just DNC operatives. They just take the DNC platform and intersperse hate Trump, Trump criminal blah, blah, blah all through it, and that’s it. It’s a political rally. So, that’s just not an entertainment choice I guess is what I’m trying to say in this. It’s not just an entertainment choice. You diminish free speech in comedy, you’re taking away an important political tool for the people to hold politicians accountable, and it may be crude and rude. It may hurt some people’s feelings but in true free speech, there’s no standards whatsoever within, of course — listening and that’s how the supreme court so far has interpreted it.
So, without free speech, we don’t have political freedom. They are joined at the hip. They were born together. They are essential and what we’ve seen with political correctness, micro-aggressions, snowflakes, taking into account people’s feelings, a vacuous expression, hate speech, all that stuff it’s dangerous and really requires that it be fought against any way possible using all the resources, remembering that the Constitution, the First Amendment stands behind it and has been ruled that she can’t be impinged. And universities are doing this to getting away with it and what somebody like Donald Trump and his administration should do, and they’ve started doing this a little bit, Betsy Voss did, is use the power of the purse against universities. I believe 60 percent of all money going to universities, including private universities, that’s not really an accurate description anymore, get indirectly or directly they get federal funds, our money, taxpayer money. All right? And going after that which the president can do, his administration can do, his executive is a good place to start.
And last thing, next time you’re alma mater calls you up, starts panhandling you, just do what I do when UCLA calls me, I just say hey, you want more money, make your lazy ass professors teach a full load like a working person, and you’ll get all the money you need. Right? They work 10 hours a week if that. Don’t give them a dime because A) they don’t need it, and B) they don’t uphold the values and standards and are not doing what a university is supposed to do.
Tapson: Thanks, Bruce. Michael.
Ledeen: I don’t think we have a sense of how urgent this situation is, how dire are the straits in which we find ourselves. I’ll bet you 1 person out of 100 even in this group do not realize that all the democrats in the United States Senate voted explicitly against the First Amendment in the last 2 years. The First Amendment was introduced in what, what was it, fiduciary committee I believe about 2 years ago by Senator Cruz. Every democrat on the committee voted against adding it as an amendment. Cruz was so astonished, and he brought it up as a separate bill on the floor, word for word the First Amendment. Not one democrat in the United States Senate voted for it, not one.
So we give examples of people clamp down on speech and so on. Never mind all that. Let’s take the language of the Constitution and look at the Democratic Party. How do they vote? Where do they stand? And the answer is they’re against it. So when we’re asked the question what evidence is there that they’re working for a single-party state, well, there it is. They want to define the language. They want to set up what we can say, what we can’t say and so forth, and there’s no better example of this, and before I get to there’s no better example of this, let me just pick up on Bruce’s thing.
For 40 years, I’ve been running around, begging rich conservatives not to give money to American universities, public, private, doesn’t matter, and they all do. Why? Because they all want their name on the side of the building. They all want to be able to get their kids a break. We see now the corruption of the college admissions. Whole thing is rotten. It’s all self-aggrandizing. It has nothing to do with teaching freedom of speech, freedom of thought, free discourse, open debate, search for the truth, all of that, has nothing to do with that, all about money and prestige and power and so forth. So Bruce is absolutely right. Don’t give them a dime.
The Wall Street Journal a few years ago ran an editorial in which they pointed out that the top universities in America, the Harvards, the Yales, Stanfords, Columbias and so forth have such huge endowments that they could give free tuition to every student, free tuition to every student at a cost of something like less than 2 percent of their endowment. There’s no reason for tuition. They have all that money already. They don’t need additional funding from us, and God bless Donald Trump who says, “Okay, they want federal funds? Let them obey federal law.” What a novel thought. Imagine. Right? That is a great thing. It’s one of the greatest things he’s done, and believe me, people outside Cambridge, Massachusetts and Berkeley, California, they know he’s right when he says that because they see it at work all the time.
Well, there’s no better example of how the left is trying to set up a one‑party state, a tyrannical regime in the United States than the story of General Michael Flynn. General Michael Flynn is a national hero. There should be statues of him around the country. First of all, he served for 33 years in the United States Army under all kinds of difficult circumstances, and he won, which is a story that we don’t hear enough about. He changed the way we do battlefield intelligence by taking it out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats, some with stars on their shoulders, some without, some in CIA, some in military intelligence, some in the Pentagon, some at DIA and so forth, and he brought it to bear on the actual situation on the battlefields. Now, when we got information on the battlefield, irrigations, documents, whatever, that went to analysts in the fields right there who turned it around and decided what to do, and those things were done on the battlefield right away, and that was the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq, a war that we won. No one ever talks about him. Flynn did it. Flynn was crucial to it. General McCrystal will tell you that when he vouched for Flynn recently.
Well, the people with the stars on their shoulders and the people in the offices in Langley, Virginia and Bowling Air Force Base and so forth did not like that because it took them out of the loop. They were no longer directly involved. Glory was not for them. Budgets for the next project started to shrink. It was all being done right there by the men and women in the uniform on the battlefield, and so they went after Flynn. They hated Flynn. Flynn had to be gotten rid of, so first, they got rid of Flynn at Cent Comm, Central, U.S. Central Command, Afghanistan. Secondly, when he was named head of DIA in one of Obama’s really colossal mistakes, that was a personnel decision for the ages. What was he doing appointing the one man who knew better and was going to tell the truth? And third, when he came up in line to become national security advisor and actually did, that was death for them because Flynn was going to change the way intelligence was done, and Flynn was going to carry out, for the first time since 1948, an audit of the clandestine operations of American intelligence, what they did, what succeeded, what they didn’t do, what failed and what happened to all those billions?
Well, so they had to get rid of Flynn. They had good reason for getting rid of Flynn, and they went after him. My theory, we live in Washington, deep in the swamp, and my theory is that when they saw that they could actually get rid of Flynn, they got rid of Flynn. We don’t have time to go into all the gory details of that. When they saw that they could do that, Trump’s closest advisor, a person famously on the campaign plane and in the campaign meetings with Trump, all during the campaign, when they saw that Trump was not going to defend him, they said, “Well, if we can get Flynn, we can get anybody. We can even get Trump himself with the same method.” And so with the same bizarre business of controlling the speech, of silencing opponents, of not letting the truth be told, they have waged this coup attempt against the Trump administration, and I will say in closing, my one critical remark: Trump deserves it because letting what happened to General Flynn happen to him was the biggest mistake that Trump has made, and it is the biggest mistake he could’ve made because it exposed him and all his people to this terrible business that’s been going on every since. Thank you.
Tapson: Thank you, Michael. Robert?
Spencer: What the left is trying to do is move the Overton window. The Overton window is the acceptable range of public discourse. There have always been restrictions on speech, outright calls to violence and so on have never been acceptable, and the Overton window is rather the social understanding of what you can say and what you can’t, and you can’t traffic in racial epithets and that kind of thing. But what the left is trying to do is extend that to any descent from its own agenda and stigmatize and thereby marginalize and silence anyone who expresses any opinion that descents from their own perspective. And it’s important to understand that this is not only happening in the United States, but this is an international effort that has been going on for years, and the chief engine of it outside the United States is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is 57 Muslim governments, the largest voting block at the United Nations since the demise of the Soviet Union.
The OIC has ever since the Danish cartoons controversy, which I’m sure you remember when there were cartoons lampooning Mohammed printed, most of them quite tame, in a Danish newspaper, and subsequently, there were riots and killings of innocent people around the world. The OIC began an all‑out initiative to compel the member states of the United Nations actually to criminalize criticism of Islam under the guise of so‑called incitement to religious hatred. Now, you notice it doesn’t even say incitement to violence, but just if you feel dislike toward a religion, then the OIC wants that criminalized, and the American left signed on immediately. Most people have no idea of how thoroughly they did, but some of the milestones in this effort were when Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, had the United States co‑sponsor Resolution 1618 at the UN Human Rights Council which called on member states to criminalize incitement to religious hatred. Not only did she sign the United States onto that, but then she went to Istanbul and spoke at an OIC conference in December 2012 where she uttered her famous remarks about how in the United States, we have the first amendment, and so we cannot outright criminalize speech, but we will use old‑fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming to get people to stop saying what we don’t want them to say, and this is exactly the strategy that they have pursued. What the Southern Poverty Law Center is is a large-scale effort at peer pressure and shaming of those who dare to descent from the left, and this is exactly what we have seen happen.
I mean, it’s kind of breathtaking to me, but like Mark, I too am a victim of the SPLC. I’ve been a hate group for years. As a matter of fact, I’m three or four hate groups between Jihad Watch and the Horowitz Center and various others. But the idea that it would be stigmatized, that it would be somehow wrong to oppose jihad terror and to oppose the Sharia oppression of women and gays and others, this is has been a success on a massive scale for the SPLC and the left in general and their media allies. The Republican establishment, as well as the Democrats for the most part, takes it for granted that you just do not stand up against these things. It’s wrong; it’s bigoted,; it’s hateful; it’s racist, and this is testimony to how effective this effort has been. Tom Perez, who is the head of the Democratic National Committee and was formerly in the Obama administration, the assistant attorney general, you may recall that several years ago, he was being questioned by a senator about whether he would guarantee that the Obama administration would never introduce legislation to criminalize criticism of any particular religion, and Tom Perez actually refused to affirm that, and he’s now the head of the DNC. And so this effort between Clinton and Perez and the rest of the Democrat establishment is quite clear that they’re trying to, and they have largely succeeded in moving the Overton window such that people are afraid to speak out against what any sane and rational human being ought to oppose, and people are afraid to stand up for fear of receiving the same stigma. And the Council on American Islamic Relations and the other allies of the SPLC in the United States are very energetic, and any time there is any remotely Islamo-critical presentation, even when it comes from law enforcement officials or is sponsored by law enforcement officials and is dedicated to identifying and dealing with genuine terror threats in a particular area, they’re right on it. They label it racist, bigoted and Islamophobic, and all too often, the sponsors, the hotel, the people who are giving the money involved or the hall, they back off, and they refuse to deal with it because they’re afraid.
Now, this also has the effect of snowballing and feeding on itself such that people see how it works in other ways, and then they become doubly afraid, and they fall more into line. Their victories, in other words, create more victories because then they can say, once they have Spencer banned from Patreon, Go Fund Me, Indigogo, PayPal for a brief period and so on, then the SPLC can turn around and say, “You see? He’s banned from all these places. He must be a terrible person, and you too have to jump on line and ban him as well.” And, of course, it’s not just me that this happens to. This is a universal phenomenon that anybody who sticks his neck out about this is going to suffer.
And so I have to very strongly echo what Mark said about how important it is that we all try to combat this in any way, and in closing, I’ll ask, does anybody have half a million dollars that I could have? Because I’m not going to buy a boat or anything. What I’m going to do is, this is what happened. I can’t find a lawyer who will sue the Southern Poverty Law Center for me, even though it’s plain defamation. I think the RICO idea is terrific. It’s, it’s, there’s so many ways that this could go through, but lawyers are afraid to deal with them because they do have a half billion dollars themselves, and they can hire any number of lawyers, and so I’ve had all kinds of excuses from lawyers. One of them told me, a very, very great lawyer who has won a lot of free speech cases said, “Well, what they said about you, it’s more than 2 years old. It’s past the statute of limitations.” And I think, “Well, it’s on their web site right now. It’s not like it’s in some old newspaper from years ago.” But people are afraid. But the thing is, I did find a lawyer who told me he would sue them for me if I could come up with $500,000.00, and he actually has another client who is suing the SPLC who is crowd funding on Go Fund Me for the money to do it, but I’m banned from Go Fund Me because of the Southern Poverty Law Center, so I can’t sue the SPLC. They have it all tied up every which way. So anybody who has the half million, meet me over here after the talk, and we will get this going.
But in all seriousness, whether I get to sue the SPLC or not, this is an extraordinarily pernicious force, not just the SPLC, but the entire agenda of the left in conjunction with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to destroy the freedom of speech in the United States, to make it such that people think that they will be cast out of polite society, that they will no longer be a decent human being if they espouse certain ideas, which are the ideas that we espouse. If this succeeds, then America is dead as a free society, and the world will be plunged into dark ages for untold numbers of centuries. So I do hope that you will recognize the urgency of this problem and do everything that you possibly can to combat this force. Thank you.
Tapson: Thank you, gentlemen. How about, is Mike Finch here, or someone? Do we have a microphone for questions?
Question: Why don’t you have class actions and work together?
Spencer: I’m all for that, but, uh, I guess somebody has to initiate it, and this is something that actually there are some efforts to do. I’ve been a signatory, I’m sure, probably all the rest of us up here have too, to several joint letters by people who have been targeted by the SPLC, calling upon the media not to take them seriously and others, and I’m hoping that that will be the beginning of exactly the kind of thing you’re calling for.
Tapson: Would anybody else like to address that? Any other questions?
Question: This kind of free speech case come before the Supreme Court ……
Krikorian: Well, I’m just trying to get the district court to take the case serious, so one thing at a time. I have no idea if it gets to the Supreme Court or not. I mean, we’re talking about defamation and civil RICO suits, that sort of thing, which may or may not be even relevant that it’s a Supreme Court issue. This is lawsuits based on current law and whether it applies to these instances or not. One thing I’d like to bring up, and again, I’m not trying to create work for other people, but it seems to me not only do we need to go after the SPLC, but maybe more importantly, Amazon needs to be sued for complying with this, Patreon, Go Fund Me, etcetera. I mean, we, for instance, for whatever reason, either I’m too small to bother with or maybe I’m actually less controversial or something, but we’ve suffered relatively little damage from the SPLC’s attacks, but one thing that did happen is Amazon cut us off from the Amazon Smile program where you can direct a certain portion of your purchases to a non‑profit organization, and they weren’t even coy about it. I mean, we asked them what’s up, and the letter says, “Well, the SPLC hate list is what we use, and you’re on it, so you can’t be in this thing.” Well, I mean, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t have unending piles of money, but it seems to me one of the strategies, maybe even more important than going after SPLC, is going after the people who respond to SPLC decisions like this and scare them because their businesses, they don’t particularly care about the politics, and if they pay a price for adhering or using the SPLC hate list or anything similar like this, they’re actually, it seems to me, much better candidates to back off.
Tapson: We have a question from Larry Greenfield, but let me just say that if anyone else has a question, it really helps if you can come up to the microphone so that everybody can here. So please step up if you’ve got a question. Thank you.
Larry Greenfield: Maybe for Bruce and the others. So political liberty is rooted in free speech, also no religious tests for office. Do you have some thoughts on the wisdom of the American tradition of limiting communists from being teachers or perhaps today, some guardrails against Islamists in public office or in schools, etcetera?
Thornton: So if I understand you, Muslims should be held to that standard that we held for communists.
Larry Greenfield: So there’s a debate about the limits of free speech for candidates, public policy, statesmen?
Thornton: I think that communism as an ideology was frankly an explicitly traitorous in this country, so I didn’t have a problem with that per se, but if there were established connections such as we now know, and we knew back then I think, that the American Communist Party was fully funded by the Soviet Union, and that’s a foreign power, so that’s a pretty clear-cut situation in which you can argue that allowing an agent of a foreign power First Amendment protections. The first right is the right to life and liberty, so Islam is a trickier situation because you’d have to have a similar sort of direct connection, which has existed, and Robert can talk about this, between charitable organizations in this country that take donations and then funnel them to Hamas or Hezbollah or something like that. That’s why it’s necessary for those organizations to be denominated terrorist organizations, and there’s a ****. You can say, “Well, this is a terrorist organization calling for the murder of Americans and the overthrow.” Do we allow those people to have free speech? If it seemed like there would have to be a connection established between the individual and what that individual’s – it’s a real dicey sort of area that, you’re right, it’s a difficult calculation to make.
Ledeen: What scares me most is not that there are crazy Muslims running around saying, “Kill all the Jewish; kill all the Christians,” and so forth. I know just how they feel, but what upsets me is that when they do that, there is in that universe in which they’re saying it, the school, a city government, a university, whatever it does, there’s nobody who is permitted to stand up and say, “What, are you crazy? Are you kidding? Look at the history of America. Read the Constitution. Read Thomas Jefferson and all these things. Don’t listen to AOC who invents American history every morning,” and so forth. What’s missing is our First Amendment rights. Those are being shut down, and I mean, it’s great. It’s funny. There is great descent in the Muslim world itself. There are Muslim leaders who call for a Muslim reformation. President Cici from Egypt for one, and there are others. We don’t have that. Americans can’t do that. Don’t do that. They are being silenced, and that’s what’s so terrifying. That’s the undoing of the American system. That’s the threat.
Spencer: It would seem that if a teacher or a professor is a member of a group like the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Students Association, the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, which are all the major Muslim groups in the United States, those have been established by the Justice Department as Muslim Brotherhood front groups, and the Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated, in its own words according to a captured internal document, to eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house, an initiative which is actually doing great. But it would seem if we had a sane political discourse and a sane academic environment, then anybody who’s a member of such an organization would not be eligible for a teaching position any more than a member of the communist party should be. But, of course, if you got rid of all the communists, there wouldn’t be any professors.
Krikorian: If I could make a point broader on this ideological test issue, the one area I think where we can at least sort of get the discussion, the concept of what ideological views we can find acceptable, it seems to me one place this really shows up is in naturalization tests. Now, it affects relatively few people, but it sends a broad message, and they were kind of playing footsy with the idea in the administration, and I don’t know where it went, but it seems to me including in a test, either for a green card or for a naturalization, some absolute lowest common denominator principles: Do you believe in free speech or people, even if they disagree with you? Do you believe that people can hold any religion or no religion? Do you believe that religious figures can be criticized without punishment? People are going to lie, obviously, but it sets down a marker that these are things, if you don’t agree with these very elementary principles, you have no place here. It seems to me that setting those kind of lines and markers is essential, and I think that is some place where this administration could actually do some good because it would flush out even further the other side. Because you can only imagine what Kamala Harris or AOC or the rest of these knuckleheads would say in response to that, that, “No, we should let people who believe that infidels should be executed, we should let them become citizens.” I think we should set up this situation where they end up saying that on camera. This obviously doesn’t get down to the granular level of teachers, but you have to start somewhere, and it seems to me that is a very useful starting point, very minimal ideological requirements for being part of the American people.
Question: I, I don’t know if this is still true, but I believe, at least in the early part of the 20th century, one of the questions if you were an immigrant at Ellis Island was, “Are you an anarchist?”
Thornton: Mm hmm. It was.
Question: And amazingly, many people answered, “Yes,” and it was, “Goodbye.”
Thornton: No, that’s true. I have my grandfather’s from Ellis Island, a Xerox of the manifest on the ship he came in in 1908, and it has the list of questions they asked and his answers. It also had his name, which we never knew how to spell his last name, and we finally learned from that because he had Americanized it, and it did have a question, “Are you an anarchist?” And I’m glad I got it, not just for that but because his case, it said, “Occupation: Peasant.” “Read and write? No.” I’m a descendant from a illiterate peasant. Yay. You know?
Question: Hi. What is the alliance between the left and Islam? When did it start, and how are they deciding to divide up the spoils if they win?
Spencer: I think, in large part, it started as I said around the Danish cartoon controversy, but of course, there are many ways in which it can be traced earlier than that because these are both internationalist globalist entities who want to destroy all boundaries and the nation state. A lot of people don’t realize this about Islam, but Islam is an internationalist impulse inherently. It’s classic Islam, both Semite and Shia thinks that national allegiances are not in the least important and should be eschewed and rejected and that one’s allegiance to Allah creates the nation of Islam that is not Louis Farkar. It predates him by 1400 years, and it creates a super-national entity that is governed by the Kalif, the successor of Mohammed as the military political and spiritual leader of the Muslims. And of course, the communist leftist impulse, the totalitarian leftist impulse coincides with that very neatly because it also is internationalist and wants to destroy all distinctions between people and level them under a single allegiance.
So I think that they see other as ideological kin. They see that they are both totalitarian. They both want to establish an earthly paradise. The earthly paradise of the communists is, of course, the worker state which is a just society and which enforces its nature as a just society by a reign of terror. Those who get out of line are sent to the gulag and liquidated, and the same kind of phenomenon exists in Islamic law. Islamic law is the perfect model for society. That is how it is envisioned within Islamic theology. It is the perfect way for society to be ordered. It is the quintessential just society, and those who get out of line have their heads cut off or their hands amputated or they are stoned to death and so on. So it’s the same thing in both cases, you see? An earthly paradise enforced by a reign of terror. And so consequently, I think that particularly at the beginning of the 20th century, and especially when the Saudis struck oil and began to foster the resurgence of Islam around the world, and particularly the jihad imperative, that they saw each other as blood brothers, as kin working toward the same goal.
Now, the thing is what if they win? Then, they will turn on one another, and then it’s anybody’s guess who will prevail, but I can give you one example. The communists in Iran, the Tuda party, they very strongly backed the Iranian revolution, the strongest revolution of 1979 and the Ayatollah Komani. And the Ayatollah Komani, within a year, had them all imprisoned or dead. And so I suspect that the same thing might happen to the left in the West should they prevail, which of course we all hope that they won’t, and I hope that we won’t see, but I think that the left being irreligious of its very nature and not understanding the religious impulse does not take seriously how deeply rooted it is within the human heart and within the hearts of the Muslims that they’re dealing with, and they do not realize how hard it will be to eradicate should it come down to being a confrontation between the two.
Thornton: And one more. I’ll add to that from the perspective of the university. The Muslims, the Arabs have been sucked into the identity politics rainbow, and they are supposedly people of color, although Arabs are Caucasians, but Fidel Castro was a white guy, but I guarantee you, any college student is going to think he’s a person of color. They are victims of the West’s original sins of colonialism and imperialism, and this is really rich given that Islam was one of the world’s greatest historical imperialist, colonialist, occupying powers. They’re still occupying parts of Christendom today and for a thousand years or less, in North Africa, in Egypt, in the Middle East, in Syria. So in the fantasy narrative of the left, if you are alleged victim of imperialism and colonialism and you’re not white, then you are on our side. You are a person of color, you form part of our coalition, and we’ll champion you no matter how misogynist or brutal or illiberal you are.
Ledeen: Footnote, reading list, Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong, written right after 9/11. Still a masterpiece; still fundamental. And more recently a book I was happy to co‑author with General Flynn, The Field of Fight, and it addresses directly this question of the radical Islamic extreme left-wing alliance against us.
Tapson: David Horowitz’s book The Unholy Alliance would be along those lines. Yes, sir?
Question: Yes, I had a question. I don’t know if Achilles was a mythological person or a real person, but he had a weakness, and it was his heel.So does the, first of all, does the left have a weakness where they’re vulnerable? And does Islam, as a social construct, have a weakness that can be exploited?
Ledeen: Well, I mean, we might point out that both of these groups have failed every time they’ve had the opportunity to run something. I mean, the Islamic world is a failed world. It is a failed state, and then the Soviet empire collapsed, imploded without even a whimper. It was nothing. One day it was there; the next day it was gone. Where the only revolution in the world that has succeeded and endured is the American revolution. We are the one and only truly revolutionary society in the world, except maybe, I know it’s a radical to say this, for Israel whose lunar **** is even now orbiting the moon.
Spencer: Another Achilles heel of both parties is their hypocrisy. The left and the Islamic spokesman in the U.S. both pose as being the champions of human rights, feminism and so on, and of course, Islam is inherently misogynistic in numerous ways and is anything but, and all the Sharia states in the world are human rights basket cases that are viciously oppressive to their own people. And so we need to, in the classic Marxist manner, press these contradictions and point them out wherever possible. Whenever I speak on campuses and the young people who bring me there ask what they can do, I say, “Well, you should have a women’s rights and Islam day and quote the Koran and quote the teachings of Islam about women,” and then when the left complains, say, “What are you talking about? This is the Koran. You love this. This is the holy texts of the brown people, and so what are you complaining about?” And there’s so many ways that that can be exploited that we, for the most part, do not do because the Republicans are not called the stupid party for nothing.
Krikorian: I would underline something Michael said that leftist and Islam are fundamentally anti-human. That’s their weaknesses. They’re anti-modern. They cannot succeed. But what this calls for, though, is containment, and I think a great example of this, and I’m saying this to put it on the record so that I get credit for it when it happens, Iran is probably the best laboratory for what we want. In other words, it’s now had Islamic government for 40 years, and it’s not necessarily going to fall any time soon, but at some point, maybe next year, maybe 40 years from now, the Mullahs will be hanging from lampposts. And what Islamic government there has done has shown its inability to deal with modernity.
And what we’ve seen in Iran is the delegitimization of the faith itself, not just a handful of Mullahs, and so this is the prediction part that I want credit for when it happens: When the Mullahs are hanged from lampposts, you are going to see mass apostasy from Islam in Iran. You’re going to see hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of people become Bahas, become Zoroastrians, become Christians. Radio Israel even gets letters saying, “How can I convert to Judaism to move to Israel?” And that’s because both ideologies, political Islam and leftism are anti-modern, cannot succeed. The challenge for us, though, is to contain them long enough, as we did with the Soviet Union, so that that fundamental incompatibility with human nature can manifest itself, work itself out fully and cause the collapse of anybody who tries that experiment.
Thornton: One last thing: You know, you talked about the Achilles heel, which is a good question, but we also have to recognize what is our Achilles heel? And Churchill described it in the 1930s as a mood of unwarrantable self-abatement. He saw it then. Orwell saw it then. They saw it with the English in the inter-war period. Turning against their own country, and that has developed over the subsequent 70 years, 80 years, it’s now in the curriculum. It’s a reflex. As I’ve said, it’s the original sin that we have to be atoning for. And the problem is, it sounds old fashioned and almost Biblical, but when you’re as wealthy as we are, and historically, we are wealthier beyond the dreams of any people who came before us, not just in terms of how widely distributed wealth is and what it can do for material comfort and security and health and food, etcetera, and in those circumstances, it’s hard to wake people up. It’s hard to alert them to what, you know, in different ways, I think we’ve all been trying to do and the Freedom Center tries to do. It’s just difficult because they look around their lives, most of them, and our bums have iPhones. Seriously, all over Fresno in traffic hour, there is a bum there with his little cardboard sign, and he’s got an iPhone. He’s got a better phone than I do, you know? Of course, I’m just cheap, so that may be part of it. But so when you lose morale, Napoleon said, “Morale is to the materialist three to one.” Morale is three times more important than your weapons, etcetera. And let me just give you a very quick example, and then –
Speaker: We’ve got time for one last comment, and then lunch is being served right after this where we had breakfast.
Thornton: Very quick. Don’t let anybody tell you that in 1938 in the Munich crisis that Germany could’ve defeated France and England and the Soviet Union and Poland and Czechoslovakia, which had 40 divisions and one of the largest munitions works in central Europe. Everybody knows if England had stood up, France would’ve followed. That war, I wouldn’t think it would last more than half a year. Hitler would’ve been done. What they didn’t have was they didn’t have morale. They didn’t have the nerve, and that’s where we are, and if we persist in it, it won’t matter if the Mullahs are hung. Although, I would disagree. I’d say they’d get in their private jets, and they would scoot.
Question: I just want to comment. I think we on the conservatives, the right are living the Achilles heel. We haven’t risen up. We haven’t taken on this challenge, okay? There was a British politician, and I think made a statement or a quote, and then Albert Einstein repeated it. He said, “The only reason that evil is successful is that good people do nothing.”
Tapson: And on that note, I guess it’s time for lunch.