What was so extreme about Hank Williams, Jr.'s comments that ESPN felt compelled to pull his song from last night's Monday Night Football broadcast? Nothing. What is extreme is the chilling effect that this kind of politically correct censorship has on American discourse.
Every media report I have read states that Williams made comments "comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler." The first big problem is, that's not true. The second, even bigger problem is that no one in the media is correcting the record.
What happened is that Williams thought it was stupid (his word) for John Boehner and John Kasich to go golfing with Barack Obama and Joe Biden. When asked why, he said: "Come on! It'd be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu."
That analogy is perfectly valid, even if it troubles the sensibilities of those who need a fainting couch anytime someone speaks their mind. Obama and Biden are partisan leaders of the Left while Boehner and Kasich are partisan leaders of the Right -- and each pair has spoken out loudly and strongly against actions taken by the other -- so, yes, they are on opposing ends of the political spectrum just like Semites (Netanyahu) and anti-Semites (Hitler) are on opposing ends.
But most importantly, Williams did not compare Obama to Hitler. He simply noted the chasm between Left and Right by using the chasm between Hitler and Netanyahu as an analogy. Was the analogy a bit over the top? Perhaps, but that is the norm -- not the exception -- when it comes to political analogies, and being over the top does not make it inaccurate.
It is disgraceful that the MSM is claiming Williams likened Obama to Hitler when he did nothing of the sort. When George W. Bush was in the Oval Office, one liberal after another routinely likened him to Hitler. The name "Bushitler" was even given to him, and became so common that it now has its own entry on urbandictionary.com and is referenced in at least 52 posts on democraticunderground.com. Yet I do not remember any member of the MSM ever even criticizing those analogies, much less taking an active stand against them like ESPN did against Williams.
To be fair, the alleged Hitler comparison is not the only comment Williams made to draw the ire of ESPN and the rest of the MSM. It is no secret that he is not a fan of liberal Democrat policies, and when elaborating on his point during the offending interview he said this: "They're the enemy, Obama and Biden." Hypersensitive liberals can be forgiven for thinking that meant Williams believes the POTUS and veep are in league with Der Fuhrer, but the MSM knows better and should be ashamed of their collective selves.
What Williams meant is that Obama and Biden are the political enemies of Boehner and Kasich. That is a simple fact. If some people think his use of the term "enemy" is inappropriate, they should be made aware that it was Barack Obama, President of the United States -- not Hank Williams, Jr., singer -- who first used the word "enemies" to describe political opponents. Obama did that in an interview almost twelve months ago, and during the same interview he said this about people who are in favor of border security: "Those aren't the kinds of folks who represent our core American values." That is far more slanderous and offensive than anything Williams said, and it was coming from a man who (unlike Williams) has power over people's lives and futures.
During his "hope and change" campaign in 2008, Obama said in a speech to supporters that they should talk to friends and neighbors "whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face." But the MSM could not be bothered -- and still can not be bothered -- to point out how strikingly those words contrast with Obama's media-crafted reputation as a moderate and a uniter.
I have not seen Williams's tax returns, but I doubt he is hurting for money. Having his performance pulled from Monday Night Football for a week will not impoverish him -- nor will having it pulled forever, if that is what happens. But that does not matter, nor does it make what happened to him right. In fact, what happened "to him" will hurt others far more than it will hurt him, and that is what is wrong with this whole spectacle.
Williams said something that was not wrong, and was logical, but went against the politically correct narrative that is favored by the MSM. The MSM exercises enormous control of information in our country, and because they did not like what he said, they publicly punished him in the modern version of colonial era stockades. And rather than provoke the MSM's wrath by defending Williams, everyone has gone silent at best, or, at worst, jumped on the bandwagon by criticizing him as well. This is true even of his own son. Lay this spectacle on top of the long history of campus speech codes imposed by the Left, and Obama & Co.'s history of setting up web sites for people to snitch on their neighbors who criticize Obama, and the national narrative makes it clear that anyone who does not toe the liberal line is in danger of being targeted.
This message is not lost on people, and therefore people respond by censoring themselves or by qualifying every comment they make with redundant and timid phrases, like "but not every..." or "but not always..." In the end they do not feel free to speak their minds and thus do not do so, no matter how true and important their thoughts may be. They succumb to fear of stigma, and they -- and the country -- suffer as a result.
This is particularly insidious when you consider the one-way nature of the phenomenon. People on the Left never censor themselves and never feel the slightest obligation to qualify their statements, yet they pounce like wolves on anyone else who doesn't. They would love to outlaw free speech, but because that would be difficult they choose to silence it through demonization.
In my living memory, there was a time when no matter how strongly two Americans disagreed, there was a good chance of their conversation ending with each of them agreeing that "I disagree with what you are saying, but will defend to my death your right to say it." Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, and the fault for that spirit disappearing lies squarely at the feet of liberals like Obama.