Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"Left-wing activist" failed to stop the "far right" American Dream Conference in Franklin.

Dr. Ben Carson delivering the keynote address
 to The American Dream Conference. 

by Rod Williams, Jan. 17, 2022-  Is calling the group that tried to stop the American Dream Conference "left-wing activist" too strong?  Wanting to shut down civil gatherings of people who don't share your opinion is certainly anti-democratic.  There are, however, anti-democratic authoritarian movements of the right, so I don't know that simply being anti-democratic makes one a left-wing activist. Also, the groups trying to stop the conference included Williamson Strong, a local Williamson County Schools parent group.  They are probably not all leftist, just naive, uninformed, feel-good liberals who think government always knows best and who think we always need to raise taxes and spend more money.

I did think twice before calling those trying to persuade The Factory to cancel the rental of Liberty Hall to the conference organizers, "left-wing activist."  That is until I reread the first line of the  Williamson Herald article about the failure to stop the conference which said, "Be the People, a far-right nonprofit, hosted the controversial American Dream Conference Friday and Saturday at The Factory at Franklin. "

"A far-right non-profit?" I sort of wish we would all refrain from exaggerated hyperbole and incendiary rhetoric. However, for years even mainstream Republicans have been called "fascist." And despite being a critic of Donald Trump myself, I tired of the constant comparison of Trump to Hitler.  

If a supposedly responsible news outlet like Williamson Herald labels Be the People as "far-right," then words have little meaning.  I think of "far-right," as neo-Nazi.  Carol Swain is not a neo-Nazi. I don't think soft-spoken Ben Carson is a far-right demagogue. If outlets like Williamson Herald are going to escalate the rhetoric, then I don't think we can continue to play nice. 

If Be the People is "far-right;" those trying to stop the conference are "left-wing activists." They might even be "far-left activists,"  Or maybe they are even "communist thugs" trying to stop a gathering of "neo-Nazis?" 

The Moms for Liberty Williamson County chapter sponsored the conference. At the Friday night banquet, Dr. Ben Carson, the former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and presidential candidate, was the keynote speaker. Dr. Carol Swain, author, former Nashville mayoral candidate, and retired professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, also spoke, among other speakers, none of whom were neo-Nazis. The hall was not decked with Nazi banners and there weren't even any skinheads in attendance.  Following the dinner, entertainment was provided by the Gatlin Brothers. 

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