It may be best to ignore Gerald M. Antos recent letter to the Post (link, link), rather than to stoke the fire, but I think some things need to be said.
Freedom of speech in America is a wonderful thing, and has been a keystone to much of the progress this country has made. But while it is wonderful, it isn’t necessarily comfortable. Freedom of speech does, for example, allow someone like Mr. Antos in his recent letter to spew insults, lies (Mr. Obama was neither a Muslim nor a communist), and veiled threats (“be warned”) without any consequence to himself.
The troubling thing is that his concept of “freedom of speech” seems pretty twisted. On the one hand he “will die for your right to say whatever you like” but on the other hand, if you say something he doesn’t like, you should “just suck it up and deal with the reality of the situation or leave the US.” Freedom of speech applies to everyone, not just those saying things you want to hear.
I also have quite a different memory of the last eight years. Mr. Antos implies that “conservatives” just put up with the past administration, but my recollection is a constant barrage of criticism (OK), vitriol, slander, and lies (all not so OK) about Mr. Obama, not to mention Tea Party demonstrations and a do-nothing Congress whose only goal seemed to be opposition to anything the administration might suggest. And how about armed insurrection, in which self-styled “conservatives” occupied federal land in Oregon and faced off federal law enforcement officers in Nevada? So now the shoe is on the other foot, and the opposition is supposed to “suck it up”?
I believe that any American who is uncomfortable with the direction the country is taking has not only a right to speak out, but a responsibility to do so, whatever their political leanings. The hope is that we can do so in a rational, constructive way in the hope of improving our country, without insults and threats.