John Adams is rolling over in his grave today. One of the driving forces behind the American Revolution and the freedoms it represents, was also a lawyer who represented British troops involved in the Boston Massacre. You didn’t have to be a historian to understand that this was a very, very controversial move back then.
I write the above as a reaction to the retaliatory actions Harvard University took in not renewing the position of Faculty Dean for a lawyer representing the despicable Harvey Weinstein. Of course that is not the stated reason for his removal. But for those who believe he and his wife were not removed from their positions because of the students protests against his legal representation of Weinstein, as Harvard claims, I suggest you are as ideologically gullible as the people who believe President Trump fired the FBI leadership of Comey, McCabe and all because they treated Hillary Clinton unfairly.
We all recognize we live in a bizarre world where gaslighting reality has become sport. And many on the left will self-righteously point blame at the zealots on the right who are marching off the cliff in blind support of anything Donald Trump and his minions proclaim. And for the most part, they are right. As the GOP/conservative movement has transformed themselves into sycophants that defend the daily assaults on the Constitution and the values and norms inspired by this document, it is easy for those of us on the Left to feel smug about civic sins of the Right.
But the virus of Authoritarianism can easily jump from the right to the left with ease, especially when the “herd” has been weaken by a generation of economic turmoil and the intense fragmentation and amplification of extremes that drive the “success” of social media. (Just look at the attacks folks like Clinton, Biden and even Bernie get from those on the left, as an example.)
Punishing a lawyer for representing a despicable person is another nail in the coffin of a free and open society that John Adams and millions of Americans since our founding have fought for. (And again, claims that this punishment has nothing to do with the Weinstein representation is as absurd as all the GOP rationalizing their support for Trump’s horrid behaviors).
We as a society will never get ourselves out of this political rut (an optimistic description) if we aim our “hypocrisy outrage” only at our opponents. We all know that just heats things up, with each side digging in deeper. That’s why I have a lot of respect for the Never Trumpers that continue to speak out (and yes, continually grow smaller in size and influence). Each “side” needs to police itself and call out violations in our political norms that we have had in place for centuries. That is why I feel those on the left must call out the irresponsible behavior of those on the left and punishing a lawyer for the clients they represent is one of those times.
One bedrock norm is the right of legal counsel. Just as John Adams recognized it in 1774. Now, nearly 270 years after Adams graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the world (and widely viewed as the most “liberal” in the country) is punishing a lawyer because of the client he represents. This kind of intolerant behavior by Harvard, and supported by many forces on the left, must be condemned for what it is: an abandonment of the basic values that this great Democratic Republic was founded on. It must be called out for what it is: It is un-American. Those who favor this move are not “creating a potential slippery slope”, they are jumping on the slippery slope already created by the Trump sycophants and they seem oblivious to where the ride ends. It ends in an authoritarian hell.
Harvard and the students who are outraged about a lawyer fulfilling their constitutional obligations as a citizen, should be ashamed of themselves and should be called out for their authoritarian and anti-American values. And the Left can’t have ugly publications like Brietbart claim the moral ground here. Brietbart is trying to convince people that the Left is authoritarian and this episode is great ammunition to convince people of that. Please fellow progressives, liberals, lefties (whatever you want to call yourself) don’t give them the ammunition. So when you see some of the left acting in a way that violates our civic norms, stand up and call them out. Let’s make sure we have the moral high ground when it comes to preserving democracy.