May 16, 2018
In the world of political punditry, few channel their viewers’ and haters’ rage quite like Tomi Lahren.
She’s made a name for herself by ripping Beyonce, Colin Kaepernick, former President Barack Obama, just about anybody who opposes current President Donald Trump, the millennial generation of which she’s part, “hypocritical … man-hating” feminists and those who seek to redefine gender roles. That's just a sampling; the list goes on and on.
The South Dakota native and former Congressional intern has become an avatar for conservatives who like to scream about their grievances with everything for which the left stands, and she’s done so in just four short years after graduating from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
All of which to say she’s a fresh face on the political scene and one that doesn’t mask her primal urges to screech in the faces of those with whom she disagrees.
On one hand, people who agree with her takes adore her brash approach.
On the other, creating a brand along these lines gets you slapped with nicknames like “White Power Barbie” and, after a recent dust-up over immigration and her personal genealogy, “Xenophobic Rage Barbie.”
Disagree with her as you may – as I do often, channeling a similar rage into opposing columns on many of those very issues – but you’d be hard pressed to say she misrepresents herself in the name of getting more attention. Nope. She seems to believe it all.
“I fully acknowledge that I am not a journalist. I clearly have a point of view, I am very passionate about my point of view,” she said in a 2016 interview. “I am a commentator.”
Lahren doesn’t scream and hide like others. She’s parachuted into enemy territory and defended herself. This is to be commended.
But that brashness enrages people. It's no surprise then that people are planning to head to the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Montgomery County on Thursday night to protest Lahren’s “Family, Freedom & Final Thoughts” speaking engagement.
Inside the theater will be people who paid anywhere from $35 to $85 to hear the Fox News commentator hold court.
Outside will be those who think she’s a danger to the nation. (The Facebook comments on the event listing tend to highlight that divide, with some giddily boasting of getting VIP passes while others try to shame Keswick management into canceling the event.)
The notion of protesting a commentator’s appearance strikes me as odd.
With the right openly challenging and undermining the notion of a free press every chance it gets, this can be seen as just a role reversal of the same thing.
Shouldn’t both sides embrace the let-everybody-talk mantra? That’s kind of what the First Amendment’s all about, after all.
Lahren’s already got her soapbox, which has coast-to-coast amplification. So earlier this week, I got in touch with Samantha Goldman of Refuse Fascism Philly to find out what’s inspired them to “Protest White Supremacist Tomi Lahren at the Keswick” on Thursday.
"If you're sounding like a Nazi, then you kind of are a Nazi." – Samantha Goldman
She didn't get into the particulars of what the protest will look like (PhillyVoice will be there to cover it for a story Thursday night), but she broke down why she and her fellow outraged feel it's important to stand up and be heard.
Goldman said it's not merely about Lahren being an opportunistic, conservative Fox News commentator, and that it's a mistake to merely view her through that lens.
"Tomi Lahren is a propagandist for the Trump/Pence regime," Goldman said, noting her takes are "entrenched with xenophobia and white supremacy. ... She is a mouthpiece for the regime."
To the protesters, it's not just about Lahren going after big names like Kaepernick, Beyonce and John Legend "who dare speak up." Rather, she thinks she actively tries to keep non-whites and non-citizens on a lesser societal footing.
"It says something about society that there's a market for that," Goldman said. "Whether she believes everything she says is beside the point. We can only judge someone by their actions and what they say.
"If you're sounding like a Nazi, then you kind of are a Nazi. When you're doing that to promote your brand, your brand is white supremacy."
Goldman maintained that Lahren gets a pass because she's a 20-something woman.
"If she was a man, she would be treated with more condemnation," she said. "There's a lot of confusion about what misogyny actually is. Having female genitalia doesn't mean you can't be a misogynist."
It's the power of Lahren's platform that has Thursday night's protesters most concerned. That's part of the reason why they decided to organize the pushback. After all, there will be cameras galore on North Keswick Avenue.
Lahren could very well paint herself a victim of the meanies on the left. After all, here's what she's said about protesters before: “A protest is a peaceful objection to a grievance. A bunch of sore losers occupying a space is called a tantrum.”
That bothers Goldman very little.
"She's going to scream whether we're there or not," she said. "What we're saying is that immigrants must stay and Tomi Lahren and the Trump/Pence regime must go. They need to be stopped by a movement of millions taking to the streets.
"They're telling their base exactly what they want to hear, and she's a megaphone. She makes hate palatable to a whole lot of people, and that is dangerous. Whenever people go out and make claims like that, they should be confronted."
So yes, the Resist Fascism protest is about a lot more than calling out "Queen Snowflake."
It's also less about trying to take away free speech as it is pointing out that hate speech should not find a place under that protective bubble.
"Free speech was created to protect people from the government," she said. "We're speaking truth to power, not trying to suppress truth. There are really lives at risk here.
"People have driven tyrants from power before, and we have to do it again."