The Rajpal Abeynayake Column
(Rajpal Abeynayake, Attorney at Law, was the former Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News, the Sunday Observer, and the English language weekly, Lakbimanews.)
Recently, the political establishment of the United States of America went into apoplexy, deriding the President Donald Trump for allegedly encouraging neo Nazism and blatant racism by his reaction to a Ku Klux Klan and neo Nazi rally in Charlottesville Virginia, in the USA.
Trump said that the rally goers in Charlottesville had a permit to hold their march.
Turns out that he was right.
Now, hold on a second?
The US Establishment derides the President, but a permit is granted for the hate speech they deride?
That’s right. Turns out that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), no less, made sure that a permit was granted for the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville. Not just that. When the Mayor of that city and other relevant authorities tried to move the march from downtown to a marginal area where the rally goers would not have attracted so much attention, it’s the ACLU which stepped in and defended the rights of the neo Nazis.
So what do you think of a country which is supposedly outraged by Neo Nazis and hate speakers, but which thinks nothing of granting these same haters permits to hold their rallies?
Think what the U.S Ambassador here in Colombo would have said if a permit was granted to Sinhalese with pitchforks and assorted hate symbols, asking that Tamils in Sri Lanka be chased out, burnt at the stake, or worse?
He would have gone into apoplexy, along with all the Sri Lankan NGO operatives who eat out of his hand, and in Geneva they’d all be baying for Sri Lankan blood.
Does civil liberties afford a right to free speech to anyone who is a neo Nazi or KKK type of hater, or a holocaust denier?
No, but apparently in the United States, hate speech is tolerated and permits are issued for ‘hate speech buffets’ or a hate speech smorgasbord, if you will, but it’s the President who is at fault if he appears to be tolerating this type of thing.
What’s sauce for the goose of a president they seem to say, is not sauce for the gander in the ACLU.
Trump was lambasted on TV, in the talk shows and some network news segments as well, for his drawing of moral equivalency between the KKK and those who protested against the neo Nazis, but not one word was said about how the American Civil Liberties Union stood up for the hate speech rally and won the rights — in a court of law — for the neo Nazis and KKK holding the event in downtown Charlottesville.
The conclusion from all this would be self evident. The system in the USA tolerates hate speech, and US civil society encourages it — but of course they don’t, for some reason, want their president to appear have anything to do with it.
As Trump might say, nice.