News Story

Some Progressives Want to Silence, not Debate, Opponents

'Intellectually challenged, paranoid'

Rather than participate in the national discussion involving the market place of ideas, some on the “progressive” side of the debate want to silence — or in one extreme case  imprison — those who disagree with them.

Consider the tactics and goals progressives have said they are using to win their arguments:

Environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. actually said in an interview that he wished there was a law to imprison those who don’t believe in global warming.

“So, if RFK Jr. wants to jail everyone who disagrees with him — that the sustainability and livability of the earth is at a crisis point that we have to address right now — he’d fill the jails with about half the scientists in the world,” said Jim Lakely, a spokesman for The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that disputes the notion that climate change is hurting the world.

In July, the leader of a progressive think tank made news at a convention of progressive activists.

Arshad Hasan, who heads ProgressNow, said at the convention that he wants to “shut down” the limited-government opponents, including the Mackinac Center, which Hasan erroneously referred to as the “Mackinac Institute.”

Hasan was moderating a break-out session titled “Stink Tanks In Your State: Inside the State Policy Network,” based on a series of attacks against free-market think tanks coordinated by ProgressNow. The media eventually exposed blatant examples of plagiarism in the version of a similar report published by Progress Michigan.

Bob LaBrant, who served as the political and legal director for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce before becoming a consultant, wondered how Hasan would go about shutting down opposing think tanks.

“Does he want to manipulate the granting of 501(c)(3) status?” LaBrant said about the tax exemption for nonprofits set up for educational purposes. “I don’t know how he thinks he can do that with without wiping out section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. They obviously don’t want a ‘market place of ideas,’” LaBrant said. “Our system is based on a marketplace of ideas. Good ideas will catch attention. Bad ideas basically get discarded.”

And a national union is trying to get support pulled for the free-market policy organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union called supporting ALEC “evil” as it urged Google to pull funding from the right-center lobbying group that works to influence legislators on public policy.

AFSCME, however, gave $210,000 in 2013 to the Progressive States Network, which is a far-left organization that works to influence legislators on public policy.

ALEC Spokesman Bill Meierling compared the attacks on his organization to “tarring and feathering.”

“We find these organizations would rather engage in a ‘name, shame and defame’ campaign instead of actually discussing policy,” he said. “As a policy organization we want more perspectives at the table. It doesn’t mean we will always agree, but we may be able to find common ground. Our goal is to bring all views to the table so the most free-market approach can be discussed.”

Google and Yahoo both recently announced they were also withdrawing support from ALEC. Unions have been pressuring corporations to drop the group.

Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education and president emeritus of the Mackinac Center, said there is “almost nothing that’s truly ‘progressive’ about so-called progressives.”

“And now it’s becoming ever more apparent that progressives are so intellectually challenged, so paranoid about their opponents, and so eager to embrace almost any means to justify their ends that they are gleefully engaged in tactics to shut people up,” Reed said. “Their methods are quickly becoming as bankrupt as their objectives.”


See also:

Union: Trying to Influence Legislators is Evil - Unless it's Us

Netroots Confusion: Shutting Down the Competition