Commentary Magazine


Rockwell and Freedom

To the Editor:

I should like to endorse most heartily the views expressed by Milton Himmelfarb in “Some Notes on Jewish Affairs” [August] where he discusses the right of George Lincoln Rockwell to disseminate his Nazi poison under the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and the defense of Rockwell by civil libertarians, among them Jews. . . . By exercising the right of freedom of speech to the extent advocated by the civil libertarians, a bigot could conceivably destroy, with impunity and immunity, the very civil liberties he exploits and abuses.

It is amazing, too, to observe how civil libertarians are far more concerned with a bigot’s right to free expression than with the consequences for the intended victims, or with the latter’s rights to unmolested life or liberty. The suspicion also arises that Jewish liberals in particular are so liberal only where Jews are the target. . . .

David Rudavsky
Brooklyn, N. Y.

_____________

 

To the Editor:

It is difficult to decide whether Milton Himmelfarb is angrier at George Rockwell, the self-styled Nazi, or at the American Jews who have defended his constitutional right to preach anti-Semitism. . . .

The author tortures both the law and logic when he attempts to find a legal and historical justification for suppressing anti-Semitic speech. Referring to Mr. Justice Holmes’ famous illustration of the man who cries “fire” in a theater, he asks, “Yet would not a fire marshal be justified in applying for an injunction to bar from the theaters a man with a long record of crying fire, or actually setting fires?” The answer, very simply, is “No.” In law a crime may justify a conviction, but a “long record” creates no presumption of future wrongdoing. . . . Mr. Himmelfarb also seems to be saying that because Nazism had such ghastly results in Europe, we should have learned from the past to throw all those who preach some form of Nazism into prison. A closer reading of history might lead us to believe, on the contrary, that because Nazism rose to power by using mob violence to oppress minorities, we ought never to emulate them. . . .

The ultimate repository of the rights of American Jews, and of all American minorities, is the Constitution of the United States, supported by an enlightened public opinion. We are able to enlighten public opinion only because we are free to speak; dare we then weaken the Constitution even by the suppression of one anti-Semite? We cannot evade this question by legal sophistry and appeals to history. . . .

Richard E. Rubenstein
Washington, D. C.

_____________

 

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.