Today’s a day that ends in "y," so one of the far-left Democrats in Congress is saying something absurd on Twitter.
This time, it’s Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts progressive. Pressley recently stirred up a storm online when she accused those who disagree with student debt cancellation of "policy violence." Pressley is a longtime supporter of student debt "cancellation." This translates as taxpayers bearing the burden of the debt held by college graduates. Yet, Pressley's latest remarks escalate her advocacy to a new extreme.
"Today, over 43 million people in the U.S. are crushed under more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt," the congresswoman wrote in an explosive Twitter thread. "The student debt crisis is multiracial & multigenerational… it is a racial, gender & economic justice issue. [President Joe Biden] can & must #CancelStudentDebt."
Here’s where it gets wild.
"Let’s make it plain: student debt is policy violence," Pressley concludes.
That’s right: The Massachusetts congresswoman has coined a seemingly new term, "policy violence," and is attempting to smear her opponents with it. That includes me.
I oppose student debt "cancellation" because it is actually a regressive policy that forces working-class taxpayers to pay the bills of a wealthier subset of society: the college-educated. I also believe that it’s an (insanely expensive) Band-Aid on a bullet hole. It fails to address the failed federal policies that have made college so absurdly expensive in the first place.
I’m hardly alone in this view. A February 2021 Yahoo Finance survey found that 54% of voters oppose the cancellation of all student debt. Apparently, Pressley believes those of us who hold the radical view that people can pay their own bills are committing an act of violence!
I’m happy to debate my fellow citizens who, in good faith, fall down on the opposite side of this issue from me. But Pressley is not one of them. By absurdly labeling disagreement on a complex policy issue as "violence," the congresswoman is attempting to delegitimatize views other than her own. Labeling speech as "violence" — even though words do not and never can constitute an act of violence by definition — is a precursor to the outright suppression of dissent.
After all, if speech is violence, then the government is justified in quashing it. If speech is violence, then violence is justified in response to that violent speech. By Pressley’s disturbing logic, student debt cancellation advocates would have the right to assault their ideological opponents physically as a matter of self-defense!
Despite the congresswoman’s unhinged rhetoric, "policy violence" is not a thing. Disagreement is not an act of physical aggression. It’s dangerous that a government official such as Pressley would claim otherwise when doing so isn’t just false but also paves the way for assaulting the First Amendment.
The simple truth is that Pressley does not have majority support in Congress to pass legislation canceling student debt. The congresswoman’s accusation of "policy violence" is ultimately just a sad deflection and an attempt to unfairly undercut her opponents — because she is losing this debate on the merits.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a Washington Examiner contributor and co-host of the Based Politics podcast. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.