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Carroll County Times Opinion

Zirpoli: You can’t lecture about American values, rights after trampling them | COMMENTARY

Well, well. Look who’s upset about the “violation” of rights and liberties. I find this interesting coming from the same people who spent months trying to disenfranchise the rights of others for the purposes of overthrowing a presidential election.

Supporters of the previous administration tried to overturn a free and fair presidential election, yet it concerns them that some people are having their social media accounts discontinued for inciting violence. I’m glad they have their priorities straight.

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You don’t get to lecture people about First Amendment rights, however, after you tried to throw out the votes of millions of Americans, primarily the votes of people of color who live in states your guy lost in November.

Where were you when the previous president demanded that Republicans in positions of power in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin overturn the votes of their citizens? Where were you when the previous president demanded that the Georgia Republican Secretary of State “find” more votes? I don’t remember you complaining about the slippery slope into Hitler-land when that was going on.

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So, forgive me if I don’t have a sense of urgency about people losing their Twitter and Facebook accounts for promoting violence or spewing lies about a stolen election. We have bigger challenges.

You continued to lie when over 60 court cases, most from Republican-appointed majorities, found that there was no proof of the election fraud. You were quiet when the previous president, in an effort to overturn an election so he could remain in power, repudiated intelligence reports, recounts, and court cases finding that he lost the election fair and square. Now you are more concerned about his rights over the rights of millions who voted “No, thanks” to four more years of chaos.

If you want to be the voice of reason about constitutional rights, you need to be consistent. A friend on Facebook recently posted that he no longer watched football games because, in his words, of the disrespect Black players show when kneeling to protest racial injustice during the national anthem. Yet, my friend remains silent about white Trump supporters literally beating a policeman with an American Flag on the steps of the Capitol. Which scene demonstrates disrespectful behavior and a disregard for all that the American flag and our national anthem stand for? Open your eyes and observe your hypocrisy and racism.

The Washington Post documented over 30,000 lies from the previous president, half of which were made during his last year in efforts to maintain his position and power over the will of the American voters. His supporters ignored his lies, excused them, pushed reality aside to believe them, and now try to lecture us about the importance of free speech.

Where were you in defending the First Amendment when Trump called the press “the enemy of the people?” Free speech does not allow one to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. Nor does it allow for the encouragement of violence or the murder of elected officials.

Where was your outrage when Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene endorsed a Facebook statement, “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from office, and liked comments about “executing FBI agents?”

Republicans are trying to claim that their voices are being silenced while they try to silence their own members. In Arizona, Republicans passed resolutions to censure Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. Why? Because Ducey refused to overturn Arizona’s election results, and Flake and McCain, private citizens, refused to support Trump. South Carolina Republicans censured Tom Rice of South Carolina and Oregon Republicans condemned 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Whose voices are being silenced and by whom?

No, the attempt to silence the former president from Facebook and Twitter do not put us on the road to Nazi Germany as some have suggested in this space. Rather, it is the preservation of our democracy from those who are ready, willing, and able to violently support a demagogue in his efforts to stay in power, illegally, undemocratically, and unconstitutionally.

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History will record that it was those who fought on the side of protecting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election who were the true patriots of free speech, the peaceful transition of presidential power and the Constitution of the United States.

Those of you still trying to defend the indefensible should save your lectures on the dangers of anti-democratic actions for yourself, while facing a mirror.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.


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