Ideas, including those concerning race, should not be banned in free society. I subscribe to the view New York Governor Thomas Dewey expressed during his 1948 presidential campaign.
In the debate, Dewey faced “boy wonder” Harold Stassen, the perennial presidential candidate who ran for the office eight more times before his 2001 death. Stassen argued in favor of banning the U.S. Communist Party. Dewey countered this view, maintaining that an idea like Communism could not be defeated with legal force. Rather, forcing it underground would itself constitute totalitarianism and would only strengthen the Communist cause.
I believe in keeping the Communist Party everlastingly out in the open so we can defeat it and all that it stands for…I am inexorably, wholeheartedly, unswervingly against any scheme to write laws outlawing people because of their religious, political, social, or economic ideas…We should prosecute men for the crimes they commit, but never for the ideas that they have.
Defeating an idea requires open, public debate. If one casts a group into the shadows, one does not refute that group’s arguments. Instead, it allows that group’s ideas to fester unchallenged. If these ideas are truly wrong, the public should be shown why they are wrong.
In today’s world, racism should be challenged with rational argumentation, not the force of despotic laws. The U.S. should never enact laws criminalizing states of mind as the U.K. did in Part III of the Public Order Act 1986.