Only dictators suppress freedom of speech, press
In the present tweet-dominated political chaos, it is again worth recalling freedom of speech and the press in the First Amendment. Experts debate its precise application, but one thing is certain: totalitarian dictators of the 20th century – Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo – suppressed freedom of speech and freedom of the press. An estimated 200 million people were killed in the “century of war.” Vladimir Putin came to power from Russia’s KGB. Recently he has revived the KGB-styled secret police in Russia. He has also been censoring Russia’s press. In the wake of Ukraine and Crimea, our president admires Putin’s aggressive, nationalistic style of leadership.
So how should Americans respond to the president’s claim to have a “running war with the media,” or that journalists are “among the most dishonest people on earth”? Or the advice of his close counselor, a former alt-right publisher of white nationalistic views, recently promoted to the National Security Council, who says that the media “should keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while”? Or a nervous press secretary sent out to admonish journalists and interpret the administration’s “alternative facts”?
It is time to emphasize George Santayana’s famous warning, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”