Op-Ed

Mike Weinberger: The Importance of Street Muscle

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Americans who support free speech, free markets and the rule of law are mistaken if they think these values can be preserved simply by winning elections.

Yes, you must win elections and defeat radical leftists, but you must also do more.

Protecting these traditional values requires vocal, confident and sometimes strident support for them. This is especially so when they are vigorously challenged and threatened by mobs or even individual screaming leftists.

For example, threats to free speech cannot be resisted by simply concluding you support free speech and keeping that sentiment to yourself. No, leftist threats can only be defeated if support for traditional values matches the ferocity of the opposition to them.

This is true because of human nature. Most people “go with the flow.” If they sense that a position has hardcore support by people who are numerous, militant and threatening, many of them will support that position, especially if it relates to an abstract principle, like free markets or free speech.

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Since most people don’t enjoy getting their heads bashed in, this is entirely understandable.

It is also understandable because most people are not overly political. They are more concerned with their daily lives, their jobs and their families. They do not obsess over abstract principles and many people never even think about them at all.

The left understands this. They understand that most people are not too political. They know most people just want to “get along.”

Do you think it's important for conservatives to have "street muscle"?

That is one reason why the left tries to fool the public into thinking they have overwhelming support. They understand the power of appearing to be strong and numerous and sometimes violent.

Which brings me to the topic of street muscle, i.e., controlling the street with either mobs of people or even small groups who are animated, confident and confrontational. If the American public only sees street muscle from one side, there will be terrible consequences. Perhaps not immediately, but there will be consequences.

Nonpolitical people who see street muscle only from the left will feel intellectually and morally threatened, or indeed, physically threatened. And when confronted by these threats, they will have to make a decision. Do I support what the mob wants, or not?

For many nonpolitical people, that is a balancing question. What are the pros and cons for me, they will ask themselves.

And since opposing the mob can be physically dangerous and also requires confidence — not to mention the ability to think critically — many people will find it easier to just go with the mob’s flow.

At that point, the power of leftist mobs may become irresistible. An example helps prove the point.

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Imagine a room of 100 people who have to vote on banning so-called “hate speech.” Ten people might vocally, militantly and threateningly support the ban while 15 quietly and timidly oppose it. Sensing the raw power on the left, most of the remaining 75 may support the ban or abstain. That’s just human nature.

So don’t think traditional values will prevail just because they are moral, productive and virtuous. They will not.

They need muscular support, including loud and confident voices extolling their virtues. Please, be one of those voices; otherwise, we risk seeing our values and freedoms die.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Mike Weinberger is a retired attorney and businessman who served as president of the Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society in New York City in the 1980s. He now lives in Louisiana, where he founded the Home Defense Foundation (hdfnola.org) and co-founded the Committee for a Common Sense Judiciary (commonsensejudiciary.org).




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