By Andrew J Sciascia
“America is not the only free nation.”
Chances are you have heard this oft-employed left-wing talking point in discussions of America’s cultural value and place in the world as a champion of freedom.
Frequently citing nations like the United Kingdom, Norway, France and Canada, leftists would have you believe that The United States is not the cradle of liberty it claims to be and that Americans enjoy no more freedom than those who live in other Western nations.
A brief analysis of recent European and Canadian responses to violent crime, terrorism and “dangerous” speech, however, paints a very different picture.
In truth, when it comes to everyday liberties, the U.S. appears as the one oddity in a wave of Western nations slowly restricting their citizens’ freedoms with each passing day.
At 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 14, a Ford Fiesta driven by 29-year-old Salih Khater mounted the curb and barrelled into pedestrians outside British Parliament in Westminster.
British authorities apprehended Khater at the scene of the attack, and all three victims were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
This attack — one of a large handful of this kind in recent memory — has brought about worrisome national security considerations amongst British officials.
At present, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is purported to be mulling over “pedestrian only” zones in Westminster.
This possible vehicle ban comes on the heels of recent “knife ban” rhetoric from British officials as it pertains to violent crime; the concern coming as London’s violent crime rate surpassed that of New York City in early 2018.
Mayor Khan took to Twitter saying, “No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”
Increased frequency of knife attacks in London even prompted some consideration for enhanced stop-and-search powers for British law enforcement, similar to New York’s “Stop and Frisk” policy which was deemed unconstitutional in 2013.
Such discussions highlight a key distinction between the freedoms enjoyed by United States citizens and those of other Western nations. Americans enjoy a freedom safe from restriction or government bias because American liberty has foundations in the Constitution.
Americans are endowed with birth-right freedoms their government is prevented from infringing upon. Free speech, physical and legal defense measures against those in power. Said freedoms are woven into American governmental foundations by way of the Bill of Rights. A protection of freedom afforded no other “free people” on earth.
Similar freedoms in Canada, the UK and France, are not enshrined in the foundations of said governments. They are not protected unconditionally in the same way those of Americans are, and the effects are on display in recent events.
Nations like Canada and the UK are often believed to possess free speech, and in practice they do. However, without enshrined defense measures in place, such freedoms can be restricted or taken away. Those who employ what may be deemed by those in power as “dangerous” speech can even be prosecuted or treated unfairly by legal bodies.
This is exemplified in the case of University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson who was called upon by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to testify on Bill C-16 to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Peterson had previously been met with mass controversy when he pushed back against the government-compelled use of transgender pronouns, fearing the bill would compel specific language from Canadian citizens and punish those who objected.
Peterson’s fears were realized when the bill was eventually passed, thus restricting Canadian free speech for fear of punishment by Human Rights Tribunals.
Another such case is that of Tommy Robinson, a political activist whose vocal opinions on Islam have been met with mass controversy in Britain. Robinson was arrested in contempt of court following his recording and release of court proceedings in cases which were ruled by a judge to be restricted from press coverage.
What resulted was a 13-month prison sentence. However, charges and sentencing were soon overturned by an appellate court and Robinson was released.
The issue comes not only in a case riddled with error but the clearly biased treatment of Robinson for his unpopular views — including, but not limited to, Robinson’s unexplained transfer 2 months into his sentence to a prison with a sizeable violent Muslim population.
Such events prove erroneous the claim that Europe and Canada stand on even ground with the United States on issues of liberty. Constitutions and foundational documents with no true provisions for full and uninfringed protections of speech and personal defense items like firearms allow for freedom in name only.
Freedoms that can be drawn in at the beck and call of government are not true liberty.
Thusly, the West finds itself on the oft-mentioned “slippery slope.” With Western governments using the fear generated by social justice media and violent attacks to restrict the speech and liberties of the people, true liberty is in danger.
It is not, then, reactionary or overdramatic when Americans dig their heels in on religious liberty cases like that of the Colorado cake baker or issues of Second Amendment restriction. Complacence and apathy in the face of matters of faith, speech and individual liberty result only in the stripping of such freedoms. Europe and Canada are the rule, not the exception.
Once a haven for free thought and free peoples, the West has allowed the cancer of cultural regression to fester in the body of liberty. Should the rest of the West continue on its present course, it seems America will be the last line of defense; the last holdout. The American people will once again be the last to stand against tyranny in the name of liberty.
Luckily for them, they carry a shield: the Constitution.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.