The Palestinian Youth Movement and pro-Palestine protesters held a rally and a demonstration outside the White House on October 17, 2023. (Celal Gunes via Getty Images)

Free Speech in a Time of War

Plus: a conversation with Michael Walzer, author of ‘Just and Unjust Wars.’

Wars are a test of many things: military prowess, political leadership, and national unity, to name just three. They’re also a moral test. 

Behind the many debates, protests, and proclamations concerning the Israel-Hamas war loom a few big questions: Is this a just war? And given the fact that Hamas does not follow the rules of war—hiding its men and weapons inside mosques and schools and hospitals—how is Israel to strike back?

There’s no one better qualified to answer these questions than the political theorist Michael Walzer. Ever since he published Just and Unjust Wars in 1977, Walzer has been the authority on the morality of war. So The Free Press’s Peter Savodnik gave Walzer a call and asked him to guide us through the moral maze presented by this conflict. Scroll down to read their conversation.

Wars also test our commitment to the principles we claim to value. Principles like the right to free speech. There has been an explosion of hateful, antisemitic speech in America and Europe in the days since Hamas’s attack on Israel—including on college campuses. In response to these loathsome expressions, some have pushed for a crackdown. 

In our second piece this morning, former ACLU president Nadine Strossen and social psychologist Pamela Paresky say this would be a mistake: “It is easy to appreciate the rage over today’s blatantly antisemitic rhetoric, particularly when our society wouldn’t tolerate, much less celebrate, similar expressions of delight after the brutal slaughter of other minorities. We feel that anger personally. But when it comes to calls to silence, fire, or even deport those who express such noxious views, we are also clear: we must resist it.”

Scroll down to read their full essay: Even Antisemites Deserve Free Speech.

Here’s Peter’s interview:

Here are Nadine and Pamela making their case: 

And if you haven’t already heard it, please listen to the latest episode of Honestly, which is perhaps the most powerful we have ever published, thanks to the tireless efforts of Candace Mittel Kahn and Suzy Weiss.

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