In my podcast with Chris Mounsey of The Devil’s Kitchen we spoke about how modern-day politicians (and business leaders) are all at sea because they don’t adhere to any principles, and their speech and actions are made up on the fly depending on which way the winds of maximum approval are blowing. In the ZMan’s latest podcast he says what might be construed as the opposite, that the reason the right has lost the culture war on every front is because they are more interested in espousing principles than defeating the enemy.
However, our two positions may not be contradictory. The ZMan believes principles are drawn up and adhered to by the victors after the fight has been won by any means necessary, and there’s probably a lot of truth in that. Half the time the principles are applied ahistorically to explain why their side won: look at the moral posturing from the victors of wars that were won chiefly thanks to greater industrial output and superior logistics. A good example of the ZMan’s example of the right’s problem unveiled itself yesterday. Here’s the story:
A children’s speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.
The child language specialist, Bahia Amawi, is a U.S. citizen who received a master’s degree in speech pathology in 1999 and, since then, has specialized in evaluations for young children with language difficulties (see video below). Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years, fluently speaks three languages (English, German, and Arabic), and has four U.S.-born American children of her own.
Regardless of what you think about the American practice of making people take various oaths, especially those related to Israel, if we’re adhering to classical liberal principles the requirement is an abomination and probably in violation of her First Amendment rights. But here’s the thing. The left imposes political purity tests on swathes of the population up and down the country, including hounding people from their jobs and social media platforms for the slightest wrongthink. They also attempt to destroy the careers of those who don’t succumb to the bullying tactics of the blatantly antisemitic BDS movement; if the only country in the world you’re boycotting just so happens to be the Jewish one, and when the subject comes up you sound as though you’re reading from a Hamas pamphlet, people will draw their own conclusions. (Indeed, the pledge the teacher was asked to sign was created specifically to thwart anti-Israel boycotts and a version of it is included by law in any contract an American company does for work abroad, including the Middle East).
When a right-winger is having their life destroyed for holding the wrong opinions, left either justifies the infidel’s treatment or they simply stay quiet. But when the shoe is on the other foot and it’s one of their own side being violated, they suddenly discover principles have a use after all – namely, to beat conservatives over the head with:
Will free speech warriors dave Rubin, @SamHarrisOrg , @jordanbpeterson speak out on behalf of the teacher in Texas that declined signing an anti-BDS pledge clause in her contract, costing her her job? Ironically, they’ve all become what the claim to despise
— b bartell (@bartellall) December 18, 2018
Now – a teacher has lost her job in TX because of a similar anti-BDS stipulation in her employment contract.https://t.co/uH6Y4pBa4n
CAIR today just filed suit on her behalf. -I’m sure all the free speech warriors will have her back.
— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) December 17, 2018
This is a perfect example of why Congress MUST stop anti-BDS legislation from being slipped into end-of-the-year packages. Regardless of how you personally feel about BDS, don’t criminalize free speech & right to protest.
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) December 18, 2018
🗣 The government CANNOT impose loyalty oaths as a condition of doing business with the state.
Political boycotts are a legitimate form of nonviolent protest, and they are protected by the First Amendment. This position has been validated by two federal courts. https://t.co/3yVcA4oPC5
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 17, 2018
Fox News hosts have criticized @ACLU for selectively defending free speech: only when the censored speech is liberal. That charge is false (https://t.co/vylojX6XvZ), but worse, it applies to Fox hosts, who have studiously avoided this story for fear of alienating their audience: https://t.co/CobADEHZ4d
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 18, 2018
You can be sure that before the day is out there’ll be half a dozen prominent “conservative” commentators denouncing the treatment of Bahia Amawi and sternly reminding us all of the importance of free speech. And they will be right in principle, but it is not principles on which the left are basing their outrage over this, but political opportunism. I’m not saying conservatives and right wingers should defend what the Texas government is doing in this instance, but they could at least just shut up and not dance to the tune of those who seek to destroy them. Here’s a leading conservative intellectual:
1/ Friends of civil liberty-right and left-need to stand up to the speech police-right or left-who would forbid people saying what they believe or compel their saying what they don’t believe. “Teacher refused to sign pro-Israel oath, so she lost her job”: https://t.co/oC3MIWgTO3
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) December 18, 2018
Right or left, eh? Strange how this only seems to run in one direction. This is why conservatives have lost, and continue to do so. They need to learn to fight on behalf of those whose values they share, not those who claim to share their principles when it suits them but otherwise seek their destruction. Conservatives should let someone else fight Bahia Amawi’s battles.