“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” — George Orwell, 1984.
Civil discourse is nearly dead in the United States. Men and women are being verbally attacked in restaurants, movie theaters, and elsewhere. Maxine Waters, a United States Congresswoman has been telling her supporters to get in the face of the opposition.
Two prominent conservative activists were accosted … outside a Philadelphia restaurant by a group of profanity-hurling protesters allegedly aligned with Antifa.
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and communications director Candace Owens were attempting to eat breakfast at the Green Eggs Café near Center City, when the group gathered outside and aggressively harassed them.
In video footage posted on Owens’ Twitter page, the protesters can be seen shouting and blowing whistles in the conservative commentators’ faces while chanting “F— white supremacy.” Owens is black.
But it’s not just verbal assaults. An advertising company was forced to pull billboards promoting American pastor Greg Laurie’s annual Harvest Crusades after numerous complaints. The reason? It showed Laurie holding a Bible.
There’s a new wrinkle in the harassment business. Private companies have decided to stop opinions they disagree with. Facebook continually changes its algorithm to throttle pages they dislike. The SPLC has put together a “hate list” that companies like Amazon use to keep conservatives from receiving donations through its AmazonSmile donation program. For example, “Alliance for Defending Freedom President Michael Farris said the law firm has been excluded from the retail giant’s program, which donates a small portion of purchases to the nonprofit of the customer’s choice. Farris said the firm’s exclusion is the result of Amazon’s reliance upon SPLC, an organization that has long been regarded as a glorified direct-mail scam that profits from hate-mongering.” (The Federalist).
In reality, ADF is a legal advocacy group that defends people whose First Amendment rights have been violated. ADF is the Christian counterpart to the ACLU that wins a lot of cases. Disagreeing with a position is now regarded as “hate,” and “hate” is a thin edge away from being a crime in the minds of those who believe they are justified to attack people while eating in restaurants and movie theaters.
Now we’re learning that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are removing certain people and groups from their platforms for a variety of reasons that they establish. The goal of these organizations is to silence opposing opinions that liberals claim are not debatable. Their long-range goal is to change the political landscape by strangling people’s access to speech. If people can’t find rebuttals to Leftist policy arguments, then we are left with unchallenged propaganda protected by those who are using the First Amendment to protect their free speech and press rights while denying them to others.
These groups have revived intimidation tactics that were once used by the Gestapo to silence people of prominence who were critical of Nazi policies.
When Martin Niemoeller climbed into his pulpit to expose Adolf Hitler’s radical politics, “He knew every word spoken was reported by Nazi spies and secret agents.”1 Leo Stein describes in his book I Was in Hell with Niemoeller (1942) how the Gestapo gathered evidence on Niemoeller:
Now, the charge against Niemoeller was based entirely on his sermons, which the Gestapo agents had taken down stenographically. But in none of his sermons did Pastor Niemoeller exhort his congregation to overthrow the Nazi regime. He merely raised his voice against some of the Nazi policies, particularly the policy directed against the Church. He had even refrained from criticizing the Nazi government itself or any of its personnel. Under the former government, his sermons would have been construed only as an exercise of the right of free speech. Now, however, written laws, no matter how explicitly they were worded, were subjected to the interpretation of the judges.2
How far afield is this type of tactic? Not very. Democrats are trying to look at every scrap of paper — emails included — of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. “The New York Times and Associated Press sought emails from Ashley Kavanaugh, the wife of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh when she worked as ‘town manager of The Village of Chevy Chase Section 5.’” (Legal Insurrection) Anything that does not fit the Leftist narrative will be labeled as “hate.”
Most recently, Alex Jones of InfoWars has been purged from YouTube, Apple, Facebook, and Spotify. Twitter is the main exception — for now. CNN is calling for further purging: “Apple and Google are still selling the InfoWars app, which contains some of the same type of content that both tech giants have pulled from elsewhere on their platforms,” posted CNN on Twitter, following their previous successful campaign to get InfoWars removed from Facebook, Spotify, Apple podcasts, and YouTube.
I’m not a big fan of Alex Jones and InfoWars. But I’m not a fan of lots of websites. What happens in cases like InfoWars is that an unpopular voice is silenced first. Some people will say, “I never liked Alex Jones. I’m not that upset that he’s been purged. He’s said some stupid and vile things.” True enough, but there’s a great deal of inconsistency. There’s a great deal of vile stuff that Facebook, YouTube, and other sites tolerate. There’s an agenda at work, maybe because Jones’ reach is bigger than CNN’s.
Taking out Alex Jones will only make him a martyr. It will only make him bigger. It will only spur even more people to find alternative social platforms. Peak Facebook is already here…. It’s obvious now to a great number of people that big tech is in bed with big government to ensure you don’t get off their reservation. When the Internet started, Alex Jones was at the forefront of leveraging it to provide an alternate voice. Infowars was always The Resistance…. He’s just the figure-head. And like all authoritarians who believe in the fear-based policing model, he was made an example of to chill everyone’s enthusiasm for change. (Tom Luongo)
What about someone who is not quite like Jones? What about him or her? Then there’s the next person. Soon, they’re down to me! For example, “Amazon is facing backlash for selling merchandise promoted by known hate groups. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos … voicing concerns about the company’s income from such items.” (Fortune) And who’s defining what a hate group is? The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). And it doesn’t stop with someone like Alex Jones and Infowars. It never does.
Martin Niemoeller was a German theologian and Lutheran pastor in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Niemoeller was arrested in July of 1937. On March 2, 1938, he was tried by a “Special Court” for activities against the State. He was eventually imprisoned for eight years.
He is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime during the 1930s, and for a widely quoted statement which he made in different versions, one of which begins “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a Socialist,” and concludes, “Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.” Here’s one of the versions:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Here’s my modern-day rendition:
First they came for Alex Jones, and I did not speak out —
because I did not like Alex Jones;
Then they came for the climate change deniers, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a climate change denier;
Then they came for the anti-LGBT crowd, and I did not speak out —
because I believe in live and let live;
Then they came for the NRA, and I did not speak out —
because I don’t own a gun;
Then they came for Trump voters, and I did not speak out —
because I’m a Never Trumper.
Then they came for black conservatives, and I did not speak out —
because I’m not black.
Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a Christian;
Then they came for conservatives, and I did not speak out —
because I’m a libertarian;
Then they came for me —
and there was no one left to speak for me.
While Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, and Spotify are not the government, their tactics are similar, with the ultimate goal being to change the government to reflect their worldview. We can speak out against some of what Jones says as well as “the purge,” but defense is a limited strategy. There are alternatives. Freedom and innovation will find a way to do an end-run around today’s tech monopolists. Adversity seeks out problem solvers.
“The purge” could be a good thing as people move from what are now establishment platforms to new platforms that are at the moment untouchable. Look what’s happened to magazines, newspapers, and the big-three networks since the Internet.