Feehery: I miss the outdated left

Rep. Ted Lieu, the liberal Democrat from California, shocked me the opposite day: He stated one thing I agree with. He tweeted, “The Structure prevents authorities from regulating speech on Twitter.”

His remark jogged my memory how a lot I miss the outdated left.

After I was learning historical past at Marquette College, one in all my favourite professors was Athan Theoharis, a distinguished historian who specialised within the abuses of the FBI throughout the reign of J. Edgar Hoover. 

Theoharis perfected the FOIA request, with which he would badger the bureau into revealing to him the manifold recordsdata of Hoover, the longest-serving and most-feared bureaucrat in American historical past. 

As college students, we might plow by the recordsdata and would find out about how Hoover’s FBI would examine such vital figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Joe Louis, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and nearly each different main political and leisure determine of the mid-Twentieth century.

With these recordsdata, Hoover, successfully utilizing the media, would unfold misinformation, blackmail opponents, and intimidate members of Congress, senators, even presidents to realize his targets, a few of which have been laudable however all of which have been extra-legal.

The FBI was infamous in these days for infiltrating political teams that it discovered objectionable, sowing discord inside these teams, and discovering methods to disrupt their free-speech rights as supposedly assured underneath the Structure. The COINTELPRO, began in 1956, was particularly efficient in undermining every kind of teams on the left and the suitable.

Whereas Theoharis spent most of his analysis investigating the FBI, he additionally taught us a few of the extra nefarious actions of the CIA, which did internationally what Hoover did domestically: undermining actions that it noticed as a menace to America. 

I’m not naïve and I do know that it’s a sophisticated world the place competing pursuits require not simply statecraft however spycraft. However when America doesn’t stay as much as its greatest ideas, it’s normally counter-productive to American pursuits.

In 1971, a gaggle of left-wing activists broke into an area FBI workplace in Pennsylvania and stole a thousand surveillance recordsdata held there, which they later despatched to nationwide media shops, together with The Washington Put up. The Put up would find yourself publishing a front-page expose of a few of J. Edgar Hoover’s most nefarious actions. I ponder if the Put up would hassle to report on these recordsdata at this time.

Again within the outdated days, the left distrusted big-government establishments, just like the FBI and the CIA. They didn’t belief huge firms or huge pharmaceutical corporations. The American Civil Liberties Union vigorously defended free speech, even free speech that it desperately opposed. 

These days appear to be gone. 

Now, the progressive motion is so afraid of free speech that it condemns these, like Elon Musk, who exit of their solution to defend it.

Not like the outdated left, the brand new left embraces the collusion of big-tech platforms and the intelligence group to cease the reelection of Donald Trump and to silence conservative voices. 

The outdated left would have applauded Elon Musk for opening the recordsdata and letting the American folks see how far the federal government would go to squash political and scientific speech that it didn’t like. The brand new left sees Musk as a trouble-maker who should be destroyed. 

I’m a conservative and have been since my faculty days. However I appreciated the outdated left as a result of it believed in free expression, it usually battled in opposition to huge company monopolies and it didn’t belief huge authorities and an unaccountable intelligence group. 

However the outdated left is gone and now we have now a brand new left that’s very happy to upend revered constitutional protections, all within the furtherance of a woke agenda that’s, at its core, profoundly anti-American. 

I miss the outdated left. I’ll have disagreed with them, however at the very least they believed within the worth of free speech and have been conscious of the hazards of unaccountable authorities.

Feehery is a associate at EFB Advocacy and blogs at thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Home Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ailing.), as communications director to former Home Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and as a speechwriter to former Home Minority Chief Bob Michel (R-Ailing.).