Durham News: Opinion

June 6, 2014

Sven Sonnenberg: Censorship: How tyranny begins

It is difficult for an American, a free person, to see how tyranny begins. Censorship, intimidation that is how.

Mr. Bob Wilson’s commentary “The dumbing down of commencement addresses” (DN, May 25, bit.ly/1ku32sK) appeared to me like a State of the Union Address: a list of ills, which touches us in our homes, everywhere. Awareness has descended upon us that we must be concerned what we say, to whom, as even words said in privacy expose us to job loss or arrest.

Mr. Wilson mentioned the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s speech at Duke University. Worrisome issues abound, but the chairman “is keeping between ditches,” Wilson tells us. Addressing students eager to hear from one of the nation’s leaders, he gives a “pitter-patter” speech. “But while Martin did his duty for 15 minutes, others wilted in the steaming climate of intolerance that has settled over the nation’s universities and colleges.” Well, not only over universities and colleges.

Next is the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ayaan, out of Somalia, was able to lift herself to prominence, a member of the Dutch parliament only to be threatened with assassination. The Dutch were unable to provide security; she had to escape. Here, she hoped to have freedom. She is a scholar, but Brandeis University withdrew her honorary-degree offer and denied her chance to speak.

Mr. Wilson’s list goes on. Condoleezza Rice, another woman our nation should be proud of, but Rutgers University allowed the wild-eyed students to prevail and disinvited her.

How does it happen? Ah … spontaneous protest by students: They are suddenly enlightened; they know THINGS – what a miracle of sudden genius. Where is the faculty? Their spine underwent fearful or reddish decalcification, or did they ever have one?

In the end Mr. Wilson states, “Coming to a college or University near you, in 2015: More dumbed−down commencement speeches – if the invitees don’t get disinvited or whatever.” (My emphasis.)

Mr. Wilson is bewildered. Americans are confused, concerned not just about invitations to universities.

I assume Mr. Wilson did not experience tyranny.

I, on the other hand, have barely survived two.

A telling scene: Clint Eastwood is on a mission. Dissidents are helping him steal a Soviet plane. He says, “Don’t you resent those in London ordering you to die?” The answer was, “Mr. Gant, you are an American, a free man, I do not expect you to understand …”

It is difficult for an American, a free person, to see how tyranny begins. Censorship, intimidation that is how. Chairman Dempsey was afraid to touch any controversial issue! Our nation’s leaders are afraid!

Hard to believe, that this list of shameful events can take place in a democracy. However, evil forces in our society have learned from the Chinese communists, from the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. All used the young. In China they ran with the red book of Mao, killed, and abused the old professor to “reeducate” him.

What can we do to stop this progression, which eventually leads to total enslavement, to an Orwellian society? I will have to hide Hirsi’s book, and again talk to my wife only if the kids do not hear, lest they blurt out something politically incorrect somewhere. That is what we had to do under the Communists.

One thought – parents! Choose a school wisely − it is your money. Do not let your children be brainwashed!

Mr. Wilson, you pointed out a disease and sounded an alarm, thank you.

Sven Sonnenberg lives in Chapel Hill.

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