On the sunny California campus of Berkley last Sunday, a peaceful protest turned violent when an Antifa gang curb stomped a Trump supporter. Two days later, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared that the self-styled anti-fascists "deserve unequivocal condemnation."
It was the strongest criticism of the violent Left from any Democratic leader to date and not a single major conservative publication took note. That was a mistake, because there was plenty to praise in the Pelosi statement.
She was tough on crime, calling for the perpetrators "to be arrested and persecuted." She denounced violence "no matter the ideology of those who commit such acts." And most importantly, she appealed to permanent principle, specifically the "right to peaceful dissent and free speech." And unfortunately, after bludgeoning the Left by association with leftist violence, the major voices of the conservative media didn't make a collective peep about this.
Granted Pelosi hasn't been a free speech champion. During a recent interview, the Democrat leader mixed her metaphors and exposed her own ignorance when she said that no one had a right to "yell wolf in a crowded theater." But something is better than nothing right now.
Anyone with even an eighth grade understanding of American Civics must be welcomed as an ally. Mouthing that cliché maxim, the one about disagreeing with what someone says but defending to the death their right to say it, should be enough of an initiation rite. There's no time to quibble. Antifa thugs are massing at the gates of every university across the country.
The American experiment won't endure if their politically correct intolerance metastasizes in the minds of the next generation. Truth, and by association self-government, cannot survive if stripped of what Thomas Jefferson called "her natural weapons, free argument and debate."
So look past Pelosi's historical foolishness and praise her defense of free speech from a mob. Forget the author and accept the message. No matter their stripes, allies are invaluable when an intolerant Antifa horde is chomping at the bit for your child's collegiate mind.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.