They really, really want to make you “bake the cake.”
Jack Phillips, a cake shop owner in Colorado, is once again in federal court arguing that the state is trying to punish him for his religious beliefs. Mr. Phillips was previously sued for refusing to make a cake celebrating a homosexual marriage, leading to a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Mr. Phillips won in that specific case because of particular circumstances, and the Court declined to rule on the broader question of whether anti-discrimination laws trump freedom of religion.
Activists are therefore targeting Mr. Phillips again. He now faces accusations of discrimination against transgender people because he declined to bake a cake celebrating a sex change. At various other times, homosexual rights activists demanded he make cakes featuring vile acts. The unfortunate Christian man will probably be lawsuit fodder for the rest of his life.
Mr. Phillips may yet be vindicated by the Supreme Court because of the traditional protections afforded to religious freedom. But the case indicates a deeper problem. State and federal law gives the subjective feelings of some people punitive power over others. Homosexuals, transgenders, and other sexual minorities are a protected class under Colorado anti-discrimination laws. Race, national origin, and citizenship status, among other categories, are protected classes under federal laws. Noticeably absent as a protected category is political affiliation, though this is protected in some places, such as Washington D.C. Unless they were in one of these few places, Republicans could not require that a Democrat baker make a cake celebrating a Republican victory.
Without legal protection, Donald Trump supporters and conservatives are being denied service at businesses. In New York City, a judge ruled a bar could refuse service to supporters of the president because “supporting Trump is not a religion.” During the 2016 campaign, Trump supporters were denied service at a Cook Out burger shop in Colonial Heights, Virginia. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was famously denied service at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, last summer.
This behavior gives leftists an edge. Exclusion from public venues makes conservatives and Trump supporters seem weird or extreme. The mainstream media also refuse to treat them as victims.
White advocates face far more serious exclusion. Because of antifa intimidation and media hysteria, it is practically impossible for them to find a private conference venue. As Lydia Brimelow put it, “[A] peaceful conference designed basically to discuss the immigration agenda of the president of the United States cannot be held in a state that he carried handily in the 2016 election.” “Doxing” white advocates or civic nationalists such as the Proud Boys can be very damaging because employers have nothing to lose by firing those targeted by the journalists using information from antifa. Even moderate conservatives must avoid discussing controversial issues or revealing their interests on social networks. Protected classes, on the other hand, have an interest in creating confrontation and using the law to extract concessions for every perceived discrepancy in treatment.
The most important service denials are online: White advocates, conservatives, and even classical liberals are banned from social media, payment processing services, and online fundraising platforms. It is remarkable how much impact white advocates have despite the structural disadvantages they face. If corporations such as Twitter, PayPal, or Patreon treated white advocates as they do violent communists and anarchists, white advocacy would be vastly more successful.
As it stands, the political consequences of viewpoint discrimination are dangerous even for President Trump because it prevents his supporters from developing alternatives to hostile mainstream media and makes it hard for them to mobilize on social media. If things go much farther, viewpoint discrimination will lead to a Chinese style “social credit” system that denies certain people services because of their behavior. American conservatives tend to overlook discrimination in our country because it is being done by corporations rather than the government. Yet the results are the same for white advocates, conservatives, or anyone who finds himself out of favor.
In fact, government policy provides the foundation for viewpoint discrimination against conservatives and racially aware whites. The best example is affirmative action, which is nothing more than legal discrimination against whites. Many ambitious whites even avoid identifying as “white” for career purposes.
American conservatives often claim to be opposed to identity politics, though it is white identity that they most actively scorn. If they were opposed to all identity politics, they would fight multiculturalism. They don’t. At the same time, the traditional conservative or libertarian argument that a business owner should be able to withhold service from whomever he wants is fantasy. That would require repealing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and when Senator Rand Paul broached that as a possibility, he backtracked only a few days later.
Some libertarians even now try to defend “the right to discriminate” by invoking the allegedly nightmarish spectacles of Jewish bakers having to cater “Nazi weddings” or black florists having to provide “flowers at a Klan funeral.” This misses the point. American law is already dominated by questions of “who” not “what.” No Jewish baker would ever have to cater Nazi weddings or black florists serve the KKK. They already have the right to withhold service because political orientation is still grounds for discrimination. Yet if a Christian resists a direct insult to his religion, this becomes, quite literally, a federal case, with his livelihood at stake.
Worse, legal proceedings must now consider subjective questions of motivation and bias. For example, it is well known that “Black Beach Week” in Myrtle Beach leads to violence, vandalism, and mayhem. Yet the NAACP monitors police and businesses for any evidence of “discriminatory” treatment, threatening legal action if it finds any. Police or businesses might say they are simply protecting property when they ban certain people from establishments. However, at a time when “critical race theory” and “disparate impact” have influenced American law, such actions may well be treated as civil rights violations. The same kinds of dangers apply to any business that excludes or deplatforms a racial or sexual minority for any reason, no matter how legitimate. The assumption is that this is illegal discrimination. Businesses that exclude whites are on much firmer ground, unless they are so foolish as to say openly they are banning whites simply out of bigotry.
Arguing that “private” institutions have the right to exclude or deplatform white advocates or anyone else misses the point. The government already puts enormous pressure on any employee that shows a white racial consciousness, and allows private businesses to fire dissidents at will. What’s more, just as objectively neutral bans that disproportionately affect racial or sexual minorities are likely to be seen as illegal discrimination, the leftist embrace of identity politics means that any attempt to exclude or deplatform progressives is likely to be interpreted as targeting a racial or sexual group, even if it was meant as a blow against political expression. Everyone out-of-step with political correctness—not just white advocates—risks being denied service or deplatformed. And because even the most radical leftists continue to enjoy access to fundraising platforms, meeting space, and payment processing, their ideological dominance continues to grow.
In recent weeks, the popular YouTube commentator “Sargon of Akkad” (Carl Benjamin) was kicked off Patreon, leading others to leave the site, notably Sam Harris. Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin are reportedly planning a new crowdfunding site in response. This will not solve the problem. There will be a hostile media campaign and payment processors will withdraw service. Even if that doesn’t happen, the threat of a cutoff will prevent the new site from adopting a true free-speech policy, and those who are too politically incorrect will be as unwelcome on the new site as they are on Patreon. Ultimately, this problem can only be solved with state action.
President Trump and congressional Republicans would be acting in their own interests if they introduced “political ideology” as a protected category in federal anti-discrimination legislation. Many Americans would support this. Few would give the electric company or water company the power to cut off customers for having eccentric political views or even having felony convictions. Yet America is moving towards a society in which essential services are cut off from citizens whose views are not extreme, but firmly within the mainstream of American history. Even if people don’t like white advocacy, many Americans agree that the right of free speech is central to our tradition. Nothing is more dangerous to white advocates, and to Americans generally, than losing that precious right. Reclaiming it must be central to all our efforts.