Those of us who believe in free expression “have felt mighty lonely this week”, says Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator. On realising that Saturday’s “March for Palestine” in London coincides with Armistice Day, many of the most outspoken opponents of cancel culture have “given in to the temptations of censorship” and called for the demonstration to be banned. It’s ridiculous. I, too, find these marches “sickening spectacles” – attendees have “cursed the Jews, celebrated anti-Jewish massacres and damned Zionists as Nazis”. Yet if we are serious about freedom of speech, we must defend it even for the vilest forms. That’s how liberty works – “either everyone enjoys it or nobody does”.
What it really reveals, says Iain Martin in The Times, is our confusion over multiculturalism. In America, any similar protest overshadowing Memorial Day or Veterans Day would be regarded as an unforgivable rejection of the ties that bind the nation. That’s because of the US “melting pot model”, in which Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans and so on can keep their traditions, as long as their primary allegiance is “to America, its flag and institutions”. Disagree about everything else, but “respect the elementary building blocks of nationhood”. In Britain, in contrast, decades of prioritising group differences over integration have left us ill-equipped to deal with “agitators who hate this country”.