The old adage says that the wrong set of words can sometimes be lethal. Anyone who doubts this should consider the case of our 45th president, who was doing as well as expected in his speech about Charlottesville when he added, twice over, three little words to the text that his speechwriters had given him: "On many sides."
No, Mr. President, there are no other ‘sides' to a story in which people with the ideologies of the KKK and the late Nazi party adopt the tactics of ISIS terrorists and drive cars into crowds of people.
There are many things to be said pro and con about many issues, such as taxes or quotas. But the demonstrators in Charlottesville were pro-lynching, pro-Holocaust, and pro-the-United-States-and-her-allies-having-lost-World-War-II.
Yes, Chelsea Manning, when she was he, gave aid and comfort to America's enemies and got profiled in Vogue as a reward for her trouble. But the president of the United States ought to demand higher standards than that.
There were a few other unwise words uttered last weekend, less obtuse but perhaps in their own way as disturbing. Hillary Clinton's went as follows: "My heart is in Charlottesville, and with everyone made to feel unsafe in their country."
"Unsafe?" For some time now, exploiting feelings of being ‘unsafe' has been the left's secret weapon for suppressing dissent, having students declare that they find themselves "threatened" by somebody's ideas and/or presence, and that their feelings trumped (sorry) the rights of all others to speak. This idea led to the birth of the "snowflake" and produced trigger warnings on books and safe spaces to hide in. This led to the crybully, as Roger Kimball would tell us, "tender and vicious," so sensitive he was driven to shout down or assault his tormentors, so that "the pleasures of aggression were henceforth added to the comforts of feeling aggrieved."
As a result, the campus has become a war zone for those conservatives who manage to make it past the boycotts and intimidation, where Christina Hoff Sommers travels with bodyguards and the car of Charles Murray is nearly upended and a companion hospitalized with a concussion.
The ultimate irony was recorded in 2016, when Melissa Click, a professor of communications at the University of Missouri, was fired after trying to keep journalists from reporting on a riot of which she was a part. As the Washington Post had reported, "Click made headlines when a video of her pushing a reporter away from protesters went viral; she could be heard calling for 'muscle' to toss out reporters trying to cover the news."
In 2015, liberal commentator Kirsten Powers and conservatives Guy Benson and Mary Katherine Ham wrote books called ‘The Silencing' and "End of Discussion." Both covered, in the words of one of them, "How the Left is Killing Free Speech." One way is by leading those feeling"unsafe" to pressure the world to honor their feelings by shutting the door upon those who disturb them.
When Missouri blew up, Hillary retweeted support for the protests and those conducting them, including, by extension, Click. Nothing, not even the threats and the "muscle," appeared to disturb her.
Of course, she wanted the "unsafe" to feel more so than ever, and for their numbers to grow. To compare the feeling of being "unsafe" in a riot to that of feeling "unsafe" in one's dorm room is nonsense, a lot like saying there were "many sides" at fault in the riots. But why bother with sense when there's a base to play up to and to be stoked with words?
Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."