Silencing the Most Vulnerable
By Nick Creel
In June 2018, five journalists working at the Capital in Annapolis, Maryland, were violently gunned down, and two others were injured. Only 48 hours before, far-right journalist Milo Yiannopoulos remarked to reporters that he “[couldn’t] wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight,” and US President Donald Trump has repeatedly labeled the free press as “the enemy of the people.” While the gunman’s motives have been deemed more personal than political, any observer could connect the dots—the far right has been spouting anti-journalist rhetoric for decades.
When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, one of the first actions the government took was to gain control over all media available to Germans. The party flooded their own newspapers and radio stations with anti-Communist rhetoric, then framed dissident journalists as traitorous Communists. With the general population filled with fear, it was simple for the government to imprison dissidents, destroy the offices of anti-Nazi newspapers, and, as the regime continued to gain power, kill any journalists who spoke against the regime.
In modern America, the government doesn’t have to lift a finger against journalists. Anti-journalism rhetoric shared by Trump, Yiannopoulos, and countless other far-right figureheads is striking fear and hatred into the hearts of sympathetic Americans across the country. Firearms flow freely, without restriction, and if enough angry Americans with guns believe that the free press is out to destroy America, who’s to say that they won’t take action?
Why would the far right be interested in suppressing journalism? Because without journalism, there is no one to reveal the atrocities committed against people of color, women, queer people, trans people, disabled people, or political dissidents. Without journalism, there is no one to hold fascists accountable to the rest of the world in hopes of stopping the continued destruction of human rights, not only in the US, but around the world. The far right wants its cultural and economic hegemony to continue, and removing journalists from the picture only makes that goal easier to obtain.
Allowing fear to control our lives is not the solution that will bring fascism to its knees. We must support one another throughout the struggle and continue to fight back against those who would like to keep us silent, both to ensure a safe future and to commemorate the fighters we’ve lost along the way.
Nick is a senior at Marlboro, completing a Plan of Concentration in computer science and writing, with a focus on interactive narratives. This editorial is excerpted and adapted from an essay originally posted on Cripple Magazine.