Guest Author: Charles Hatfield.
Over the last two years or more, I have been more and more disturbed to learn that people who consider freedom from increasing government surveillance and freedom from coercion into accepting medical procedures against their will – as being linked to far-right extremist ideology.
Mostly, I have lived by the principle that if I do not think someone is open to discussion, then not to have a discussion with them.
Increasingly however, the level of abuse and accusations of “conspiracy theory” and “fascism” thrown at people who are concerned about removal of freedoms, has disconcerted me.
I’ve been accused of being a fascist apologist – that I enable and validate fascists. Apparently this is because I don’t believe that all people who see freedom as something to be prized, defended, and fought for, are fascists.
I have myself been labelled a fascist because I do not believe it is ever right for governments to coerce people into medical procedures against their will.
I will always argue that we must be sceptical of anyone who proclaims themselves leaders of any movement and we must call out right-wing infiltrators of popular movements, but it is a fact that the overwhelming number of Kiwis against the mandates have been ordinary Kiwis, not far right extremists.
The proof is there, if you pay proper attention and actually listen to who’s talking and to what they are saying.
To assign the fascist label to individuals who primarily care about preserving our freedoms (freedoms that are being slowly stripped away under the guise of safety) is a big mistake. The more we exclude others, the more we force them to seek out other groups who will welcome them, and sometimes it is the very same groups that the “anti-fascists” are railing against.
It is impossible to hold a conversation when one party is actively looking for ways to be offended and outraged.
This is the problem of calling people a fascist, or fascist apologist. It does not come from a place of seeking to understand. It is impossible to hold a conversation when one party is actively looking for ways to be offended and outraged. Despite what is being said – you are a fascist. End of story.
The irony is that strong protections of freedom are the only way we can preserve our democracy and many who consider themselves Progressives have not only abandoned the fight to preserve our freedoms, but also have the audacity to condemn anyone else who seeks to preserve the freedoms they are willing to leave behind.
The left used to challenge the status quo, criticise the state, and welcome open discussion. They understood how critical these freedoms are for preserving democracy, for protesting injustices, for exposing government corruption, and for safeguarding our rights.
Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association – these are all things that protect us from authoritarianism.
Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association – these are all things that protect us from authoritarianism. This is why I was first attracted to left-wing politics in the first place, and have spent my life arguing for those principles.
Yet now if I dare talk of freedom, I am a fascist. Somewhere along the way, the left have abandoned their principles much to their own detriment.
When other people and I are called fascists for striving to safeguard our freedoms, those who are doing the name-calling are, in my view, expressing their own desire for authoritarianism. In light of such growing authoritarianism, it is essential more people pick up the banner for freedom and fight to protect them, because as fragile as those freedoms are, they remain critical for our democracy.