Nationalism vs. Freedom

“Immediate arrest for anyone who has been rejoicing online over the last few hours,” Salvini said during a visit to Israel.

“Our postal police is at the cutting edge and it is sifting the Web to find the heinous people who are celebrating someone else’s death”.


A terror attack was committed in France on Tuesday, and the murderer has not been caught.  He has been identified as Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old Islamist who shouted praise to Allah as he gunned people down at a Christmas event.

Italians were at the event, and Italy is responding.  Matteo Salvini, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister / Interior Minister, issued the warning quoted above… but only after officials had begun their work.

It’s a reasonable reaction.  People celebrating this, online or “in the real world”, are likely to be Islamists or Islamist supporters.  They are active threats against the safety of Italians.  

It’s also an opportunity for a purge.  Salvini’s supporters range from the people who are merely pro-Italy to those whose ideology springs exclusively from the hatred of others.  As with nationalist movements elsewhere, the patriotism of some provides cover for the often murderous bigotry of others.

Even the very act of squelching online speech has its positives and negatives; on the one hand, leaving an open forum allows law enforcement to better target those who would commit treasonous acts of terror; on the other hand, cracking down limits the growth of such movements, as fewer are exposed to the terrorist philosophies.

The one undeniable fact, however, is that acting to reflexively diminish the speech of others undermines personal liberty.  This, in America, is usually the deciding factor when it comes to taking such action.  It is not an easy choice, because it absolutely exposes innocent people to greater risk.  But it is a principled choice.  It is the ideological cousin of the rejection of mandated speech codes or forcing people to act in ways contrary to their conscience.

…and that brings us to Imprimis.  The Hillsdale College newsletter is distributed for free and has been promoted for years by talk radio and online sites alike.  Each issue promotes conservatism and freedom in a considered, rational way… or at least it did, until the age of Trump.  When college President Larry Arnn threw his support behind the current President, the tone of the essays shifted slightly.

Imprimis, a monthly with a distribution of nearly 4 million, has steadily shifted to embrace nationalism over conservatism, self-styled pragmatism over foundational principles.  This was driven home with the issue which arrived yesterday, featuring an article, “Should We Regulate Big Tech?”, whose thrust was that federal oversight of social media was necessary if there was to be an equitable treatment of Republican ideas.

It’s a reasoned argument.  It presents its case, point by point, and suggests that Republicans need to support greater, overreaching regulation to ensure political fairness.  Not oppressive regulation, though; “lean” regulation… like the Fairness Doctrine ended by Reagan.  The argument breaks down completely when you consider it outside of a binary political structure, but that’s only one problem with it.  There’s a greater problem, a fundamental problem with choosing nationalism over Coolidge-style conservatism:

It’s anti-freedom.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.