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Port: Please put Trump back on Twitter

Nobody makes the anti-Trump argument better than Trump himself.

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President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on May 10, 2017, at the White House in Washington.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
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Minot, N.D. — One of my favorite stories from American history is about the time the National Socialist Party of America - an offshoot of the American Nazi Party - tried to march in Skokie, Illinois.

That was a largely Jewish community at the time - one out of six Jewish residents there was either a Holocaust survivor or directly related to one - and found the idea of Nazis marching in their streets understandably repugnant.

The city refused to allow the march, the Nazis filed suit and the matter ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ironically, one of the groups defending the Nazis and their right to march was the American Civil Liberties Union. The attorney they assigned to the case? David Goldberger, who is Jewish .

Why would the ACLU, and a Jewish lawyer, defend Nazis? The case for it is twofold, I believe.

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First, what good is the First Amendment if it doesn't protect unpopular speech? We don't need constitutional protections to talk about the weather. We need them for the sort of speech that makes us angry. Even if it's coming from Nazis.

MORE FROM ROB PORT
A lot of people are watching these Republican primaries. North Dakota's government is dominated by Republicans, and there is a pitched battle going on right now for the soul of the NDGOP. These legislative races are the trenches in that battle. So far, based on one of the few objective data points we have, it appears the traditional conservatives are positioned to keep their hold on the party.

Second, the best way to deal with extremists is to let them speak. If you try to silence them, you martyr them. You imbue their ignorant cause with a sort of credibility it wouldn't otherwise earn if their speeches and marches were met with a collective shrug from the public.

Ironically, after all the legal folderol, the Nazis never actually marched in Skokie.

We should apply the lessons learned in Skokie to Elon Musk's decision to let disgraced former President Donald Trump back on Twitter .

That isn't, I'll admit, a First Amendment legal issue, because Twitter is a private company under no legal obligation to let any individual use their service. But it is a spirit-of-the-First-Amendment issue, because, like it or not, social media is the new town square, and we should all be concerned about how speech is regulated there, even though those doing the regulating are corporate executives and not government officials.

Trump back on Twitter would be a boon for those of us who see him for the populist demagogue he is. As the Wall Street Journal argues in an editorial , "If Mr. Trump is back in public view, picking fights on an hourly basis and blaming everyone else for his election defeat, he might remind voters why they grew tired of his antics and made him a one-term President."

Trump has no greater enemy than himself.

Mark Esper, Trump's former Secretary of Defense, has called his old boss a threat to democracy. He said Trump wanted to fire missiles at Mexico and shoot protesters .

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For those inclined to dismiss Esper as just a disgruntled former employee of Trump, consider the list of former Trump administration officials who have turned on him .

Esper is one of two Secretaries of Defense to do so.

The full list also includes a former Secretary of State, two former Chiefs of Staff, two National Security Advisors, a Secretary of the Navy, a Press Secretary, a Secretary of Transportation, and even his own Vice President .

Trump loyalists will dismiss these people as members of the swamp. Flacks for the "establishment." Except, remember, Trump himself hired them.

If this man is so woefully incompetent that he spent four years surrounding himself with the very people he said he went to Washington to fight, why would anyone want to give him another four years back in office?

Which is why Trump should be back on Twitter. The social media giants did Trump a favor when they banned him after the Jan. 6 riot. It allowed him to slink into the relative shadows while his public image was rehabilitated.

I can't imagine anyone making a better case for why Donald Trump shouldn't ever wield any meaningful government authority again than Donald Trump himself.

Let this lout, this insipid populist caricature, hold his march down the main streets and broadways of social media so that we can all get a good, hard look at what he is, and why he is worthy of our disdain.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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