Image: Anti-Fascists in Charlottesville protect clergy
Recently I came across a news article on Facebook about Richard Spencer’s proposed visit to my own university and hometown: The University of Cincinnati. All of the top comments in this public forum were people defending Richard Spencer’s right to “free speech”:
“Now why would you make freedom of speech news? News media say alot of things that make me personally angry and upset! You have special rights, we have the First Amendment right!
FREEDOM OF SPEECH RATHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT! DON’T GO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO HIM.”
The other most liked comments mirrored this cynical liberal “wisdom”. For instance the next top comment,
“He has the right. But that isn’t the same as saying he isn’t an a$$. So let’s just get that clear. I know many people who have the right to do many things but they are also a$$w@$:/&’s.”
What isn’t mentioned among these comments is the fact that the intolerance of intolerance is a fundamental aspect of a truly tolerant society. Tolerance of intolerance is what leads to the destitution and inevitable destruction of a tolerant society. In this way it can be said that liberalism produces its own gravediggers (not in the economic sense but in the political). By heralding on those who promote hatred and bigotry (intolerance) on the basis of race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, etc, they expediently provide the means by which they will lose their influence over society entirely. Fascism (as a specific phenomenon and not just a blanket term for various forms of right wing populism), does not base itself on logic or reason but solely on cognitive biases that it uses to divide the working class. Cognitive bias is the bullet that fascism fires, its gun is the liberals who herald them on and happily provide them a platform in the name of “tolerance” and “free speech”. Such was the fate of 1930’s Germany, a liberal democratic country much like our own in which the liberal tolerance of intolerance led to its total abolition under the Nazi Party.
This is the reasoning of 20th century philosopher Karl Popper, and his idea of the Paradox of Tolerance. He sums up this idea saying in his work The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1:
“Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
Free speech is certainly a fundamental right, but so is the right not to tolerate the intolerant. Only the intolerance of intolerance can ensure that a society remains a tolerant one. It is only by this logic that society can remain truly tolerant. This is they price you pay for living in a tolerant society, the tolerance of intolerance.
It is also in this spirit that I absolutely and 100% support Anti-Fa. It becomes necessary to suppress by force and prevent from having a platform those who would, if in power, suppress by force others on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. Anti-Fa is not a threat to “freedom” or against “free speech”. It is the only thing capable of saving it. Of course, there have been those few who ignorantly label mere conservatives and right wing populists as “fascists”, but this is not the general trend, and this is not what Anti-Fa stands for.
 Popper, Karl, The Open Society and Its Enemies, volume 1, The Spell of Plato, 1945 (Routledge, United Kingdom); ISBN 0-415-29063-5 978-0-691-15813-6 (1 volume 2013 Princeton ed.)