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You may have noticed the full page ads that ran in both The Detroit News and Free Press earlier this week featuring the photographs of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce board.

The ads were bought by Represent.Us, a radical East Coast outfit that has aligned itself with the Voters Not Politicians ballot drive to change how Michigan draws its legislative and congressional districts (the local group says it’s not affiliated with the outsiders).

Those pictured in the ads are not identified as chamber board members, but rather as a “dark money group” formed to deny Michigan citizens their right to vote on “anti-gerrymandering.” Along with their names and photographs, the companies they run are also listed.

The ad itself is bad enough for its inaccuracy, but it likely falls within the realm of free speech. The despicable part is the accompanying social media campaign that is way outside any boundaries of acceptable political tactics.

Represent.Us, funded by a cast of Hollywood actor/activists and liberal foundations, launched a despicable Maxine Waters-style campaign of intimidation against the board, including threats of violence and boycotts and calls to harass them and their families in public and at home.

Chamber Chairman Mark Davidoff, managing partner of Deloitte Michigan, is the particular target and his image appears most prominently in the ad.

Posters repeatedly suggested Davidoff should face the guillotine, or be shot. One opined that violence “can be used for good.” Several others urged the site’s followers to confront Davidoff — and his kids — in public. Another asked when the killing could start.

Keep in mind that what’s at issue here is not civil rights, or an unjust war, or the treatment of the disenfranchised. It’s a political process disagreement that in no way should inspire such violent urges.

But this is not about the core issue. It has been elevated to a much broader and longer term question, which is the right of corporate and community leaders to dedicate their time and energy to our most important institutions in a productive and safe environment.

Represent.Us and others of its ilk are intent on driving conservatives, particularly those from the business world, out of the political arena so only the voices of the extreme left are heard.

The organization, which by its own definition qualifies as a “dark money group” since its funding is difficult to track, grew out of the bizarre net neutrality fanaticism and morphed into a movement intent on tearing down corporate America.

They don’t represent us in Michigan, or at least not many of us. But they do intend to deny us a full and robust debate of political issues.

That they single out Davidoff is particularly rich. I’ve rarely met a CEO with a greater sense of social responsibility. Someone should tote up the pro-bono hours he spent helping Flint Mayor Karen Weaver get her city’s finances in order.

What we’re witnessing is the end product of the deranged left’s inability to accept that it can’t win at the ballot box. In other words, Violence Not Voters.

It also reflects a growing and disturbing belief system that says if you think you’re right, you have the right to deny other people their rights.

This goes beyond the question of whether our political discourse should be civil in tumultuous times. It’s now about whether we’re going to be allowed to have a discourse at all.

Liberals declare President Donald Trump a threat to our democracy. But the bigger danger is the radical left’s assault on free speech and free association, which are our democratic cornerstones.

And yet Democrats are either silent as our politics edge steadily toward violence, or excuse it as an appropriate reaction to Trump (see Waters). They apparently find the extremists useful to their political goals.

They’ll regret it. It’s bound to come their way eventually. Actually, we’ll all regret not taking a strong stand against this budding anarchy. The path back to normal is growing ever narrower.

nfinley@detroitnews.com

Catch “The Nolan Finley Show” weekdays 7-9 a.m. on 910 AM Superstation.

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