The President has been deplatformed. Parler, an app designed specifically to be an alternative to mainstream social media, has been shut down. Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google have all dropped the guillotine on conservatives. From their public statements, it is clear that these big companies all share the same politics and have collectively decided to punish members of the opposing ideology.
To believe in free speech – to believe in allowing all opinions to be heard – means denouncing these actions. If this trend continues, it will be the end of our traditional concept of free speech. This will be a dire turning point for our country that steps us into a bleak new reality. Thoughts will be policed by those with power in society, and those who disagree with the currently-accepted mantra will be banished from the public square. If it can happen to conservatives today, it can happen to you tomorrow.
The capitol riot was wrong, dangerous, and helped nobody. Bad actors caused mayhem and violence that should be universally condemned. But it wasn’t unique, and it certainly doesn’t warrant this type of broad-stroke censorship. Last summer also saw bad actors partake in dangerous, violent mayhem that left cities burning and innocent people dead. The silencing taking place now smacks of political motivation, not concern for the public safety.
Just a few months ago, destruction and chaos in Kenosha, D.C., and Minneapolis was downplayed, and in some cases, even justified.
“Peaceful protest may not be able to spur the structural change so many people are seeking,” wrote Slate magazine.
“Protesters should not let up,” said then-Senator Kamala Harris.
“There needs to be unrest in the streets,” goaded Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.
Seattle saw city insurrection and Minneapolis watched a police precinct burn. The federal courthouse in Portland was ransacked.
Through all of this, no Democrat was deplatformed and no leftist silenced. Big tech and media released statements of support while giving platforms to those who made the case that their cause should not be judged by its worst actors.
They were “Fiery, but mostly peaceful protests,” right?
Six months later and the double standard is mind-numbing.
This goes beyond Donald Trump. He’s the sitting U.S. President and was the Republican Party nominee in the last election. At least seventy-five million Americans considered themselves “Trump supporters” in November, which has now effectively became the litmus test for censorship.
With no ability to respond, how can good Americans defend themselves? No serious conservative would applaud the capitol riot. Many convened to hear the President in D.C. without the goal of insurrection.
The political vindictiveness has gone nuclear. The President has been excommunicated while the Ayatollah of Iran, who regularly calls for the death and destruction of Israel and America, still has a Twitter account. Chinese state media still has active propaganda accounts.
Autocrats worldwide continue to tweet and post.
At home, agitator Kathy Griffin, who posed in a picture with a bloodied and severed head of Donald Trump – twice-- has not been “suspended indefinitely.”
Protestors occupied capitol office buildings during judge Kavanaugh’s hearings to prevent his confirmation to the Supreme Court.
For most of Trump’s term, Democrat leaders labeled themselves “the resistance” to his government.
These things never caught the ire of the censors.
Yet a desire to simply eliminate voices from the right has been fomenting for some time. For years, conservative voices were increasingly uninvited and barred from speaking on college campuses. In 2017, the media site Prager University sued Google and its subsidiary, YouTube, for censoring and deplatforming its five-minute explanatory videos that took issue-specific approaches to conservative ideology. According to PragerU, Google didn’t even specify their decision in removing them—they just didn’t like the ideology.
And now, these technology and media giants, encouraged by Washington, fell to the worst censorship impulses almost in unison.
If censorship becomes the accepted response to political disagreement in the minds and hearts of Americans, we will forfeit both our character and our greatness.
This silencing should shock the conscience.
Ideas must be weighed in the court of public opinion. This is a clarion call to recognize the critical importance of merit winning the day. Ideas should stand up to scrutiny through avid debate and discourse. Stifling ideas won’t kill bad ones, it will elevate them. It will resign our world to living by groupthink and popular opinion.
Silence accompanied the worst of human history.
Bryan Griffin of the London Center for Policy Research is a lawyer and author who specializes in American policy in the Middle East.
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