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Turley testifies within the Senate about Antifa and the anti-freedom of speech motion in the US

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Today I testify in the subcommittee of the Constitutional Senate Committee on the Constitution against Free Speech in the United States. The hearing is entitled "The Right of the People to Peacefully Congregate: Protection of Language by Ending Anarchist Violence". The hearing will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the office building of the Dirksen Senate and will be broadcast on C-Span and is available online via the committee. My testimony is below.

My report begins with this overview:

The protests after George Floyd's murder have helped focus the nation on the transcendent issues of racial discrimination and police misconduct. It is an important moment when we look at the ongoing scourge of racism to achieve the promise of equal opportunities and treatment in our country. We cannot pass this moment for a national dialogue on racial justice.

However, this dialogue is increasingly shameful on our campus, on our streets and in our media. We are losing this opportunity to reach consensus due to increasing violence and intolerance to conflicting views. If we want to come together as a nation, we have to be able to speak freely and without fear. This is not due to intimidation and retaliation campaigns against people with different views.

The federal government recently arrested George Washington University student Jason Charter as a suspected "ringleader" who led efforts to overthrow statues in Washington, DC, including the almost successful effort to locate the historic Andrew Jackson statue near the Destroy White House. Charter has been an active Antifa member on our campus for years and, after being arrested, has reportedly announced: "The movement wins."

He's right. A visit to practically every college or university will reveal this success. In my three decades as a teacher, I have never seen the level of fear and intimidation that we have on campus today. Many professors are afraid to express divergent views on current protests or other issues, for fear that they may be accused of racism or even physically attacked. Some professors were actually attacked or needed police protection after expressing conflicting views. To put it simply: Antifa and these other extremist groups win, and few people seem to notice.

You win because universities are now effectively blocking conservative or opposing speakers to avoid violent clashes.

You win because the media and politicians downplay such violence to avoid criticism.

They win because local police orders the police to resign or the prosecutor's office to drop the charges to avoid further conflict.

You win because freedom of speech itself is seen as a destabilizing factor in our schools and in our society.

Antifa has achieved its anti-free speech agenda to an extent that even long-time critics would never have thought possible. There was only inaction from our government and silence from our citizens.

I would like to briefly describe Antifa's agenda and its history of violence in our country, including how recent violence fits into its militant philosophy. I would then like to suggest ways in which the federal government can fill a vacuum created by inaction by local and academic leaders to combat attacks on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. This is not an easy task because government enforcement itself can affect freedom of expression and association. However, the threat to free speech has reached critical mass, from our schools to our streets. We can either act or remain passive pedestrians, which inevitably comes next.

Here is the full list of witnesses:

Panel I.

  1. The Honorable Ron Wyden

    United States Senator

    State of Oregon

  2. The Honorable Jeff Merkley

    United States Senator

    State of Oregon

Panel II

  1. The Honorable Erin Neely Cox

    United States Attorney

    Northern District of Texas

    Dallas , TX

  2. Mr. Ken Cuccinelli

    Senior official who performs the duties of deputy secretary

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    Washington , DC

Panel III

  1. Mr. Andrew Ngo

    Editor-at-Large

    The Post Millennial

    Portland , OR

  2. Mr. Michael German

    fellow

    Freedom and National Security Program
    Brennan Center for Justice

    Washington, DC

  3. professor Jonathan Turley

    J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Law of Public Interest

    George Washington University Law School

    Washington , DC

  4. Woman. Nkenge Harmon Johnson

    President and CEO

    Portland Urban League

    Portland , OR

  5. Mr. Kyle Shideler

    Director of Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism

    Center for Security Policy

    Washington , DC

Here is my testimony: Turley.Testimony.Free Speech.Senate.Final

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