Back in 2012, when Common Cause RI pushed through legislation that would expose non-profit organization’s donors to public exposure on campaign materials, opponents warned that was an invitation to harassment. In the years since then, the term “doxing” has been coined to describe that strategy, and progressive activists have become more aggressive in ensuring that those they oppose have no sanctuary, at home or at work.
The examples are national and numerous, but a handful of local incidents illustrate the point. Most recently, the home addresses of Providence police officers have been making their way around social media. In 2017, activists showed up at the home of Representative David Coughlin and left a pile of their advocacy signs on his lawn based on a policy difference; Gina Raimondo’s home was recently subjected to an escalated version of this tactic. Another recent variation came with the attempt to cost Laura Larivee her job based on a post she put on her personal social media account with which the mob disagreed.
This budding fascism is much broader and expanding, though. Gateway Pundit reports on a website dedicated to exposing the home addresses of Trump voters. The site has since been cleaned up and redirected so that it appears to be a non-partisan transparency effort, but even if we ignore the original screen shots, it’s telling that the “Donald Trump” version of the URL forwards to the page, but there is no “Joe Biden” version.
Combine this with the recommendation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to go after Trump supporters, suggested by UC Berkeley professor and Clinton administration alumnus Robert Reich, and the trend is unmistakable.
This goes on locally, as well. Business owners who have put out signs supporting candidates backed by the Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA), with which I am involved, have been contacted and intimidated. At least one substantial donor has received anonymous, threatening mail.
Going back years, we at the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity have heard from Rhode Islanders who worried about getting involved because they didn’t want to be targeted. Some who have stepped forward have soon been subjected to conspicuous audits and business inspections.
Now, progressives are democratizing this tactic, bringing it to lower, more-personal levels. The farther they go, the more privately support for ideas and candidates with whom they disagree must be offered, until just like in 1984, it is impossible to express contrary ideas even in front of your own children at the dinner table.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?