Silencing voices to “purify” the public square. Making lists of dissidents. Shutting down bank accounts of political figures. Purging parliaments of “loyalists”.
This is the language of revolution — and it is an accurate description of the campaign now being waged against the outgoing American President and those who supported him.
After last week’s deadly storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters, Twitter and Facebook removed Donald Trump’s accounts from their platform. Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, Reddit, Shopify and Pinterest soon followed suit by blocking Trump accounts or removing Trump-related content.
Right now about a dozen multi-billion dollar tech companies are working together to make sure that the President of the United States isn't able to have a platform anywhere on the internet.
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) January 11, 2021
But this was just the beginning of the backlash. Signature Bank closed two accounts belonging to the President which held $5.3 million in deposits. The PGA of America cancelled next year’s championship event at a Trump golf club.
In addition to pursuing a second impeachment against Trump, House Democrats have introduced a resolution to Congress seeking to expel the 140 or so representatives and senators who stood with the President by voting against certification of the election results. Never mind that voting against certification is their right under the U.S. Constitution.
The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans, are compiling a blacklist to “track” those who served as part the Trump administration so that they can be “held accountable” lest they “pretend they were not involved”. In the same spirit, former CIA Director John Brennan this week tweeted:
Anyone now seeking national redemption by claiming to no longer support Trump must acknowledge how wrong it was to ignore & enable his corrupt, dishonest, & divisive agenda.
Total denunciation of a despot’s legacy is necessary to eradicate any remaining malignancy.
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) January 9, 2021
The #WalkAway campaign, a community of disillusioned ex-Democrats, many of whom supported Trump, have also felt the effects of this. Over the weekend, #WalkAway founder Brandon Straka announced that Facebook deleted their 500,000-strong group and banned his entire staff team from the platform. Campaign marketing firms MailChimp and Constant Contact also severed ties with #WalkAway.
Mirroring the revolutions that took place in Russia and China, we are currently witnessing the unpersoning of Donald Trump and those who served with or endorsed him. All this while he remains the sitting U.S. President.
Undoubtedly, Donald Trump shares some responsibility for the dreadful Capitol attack. Even as questions remain about the election results, in his conduct, Trump increasingly put his ego above his nation in recent weeks.
Last Wednesday, the President held a rally and gave a “we will never concede” speech before telling his supporters to march towards Congress as the election votes were being counted. This was the immediate context for what happened next — events that will forever be a stain on Trump’s presidency.
But the efforts to purge Donald Trump and his base from polite society are frightful to behold. It hinges entirely on a certain narrative: that Trump incited a violent insurrection; a coup d’état aimed at thwarting the transition to a Biden presidency.
This storyline is, in every respect, absurd. In that now infamous speech, Trump called on his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”. Nowhere did he incite violence; nowhere did he hint at anything beyond cheers and chants as Congress conducted its business. Those who stormed Capitol Hill did so in spite of Trump’s directives, not because of them. And they hurt him badly.
By contrast, consider that prominent Democrats and media personalities explicitly and repeatedly incited violence during the summer protests. Kamala Harris herself helped fundraise to bail out rioters. To point this out is not “whataboutism” — it is the broader context for the events of January 6th. By the start of 2021, political violence had been sanctioned and normalised by left-wing America, and to suggest otherwise is to rewrite history.
Trump has since repudiated the violence, mourned the resulting deaths, called for peace and calm, and promised a smooth transition of power. In fact, unlike last year’s unrest, these events have been met with condemnation from both sides of the aisle. President Trump has also made an emergency declaration in Washington D.C. to provide resourcing for a safe Inauguration Day.
Still, the Democrats and their allies in the media and Silicon Valley insist that Trump and the 75 million people who voted for him pose some kind of existential threat to the American republic, and that censoring them is essential for national security.
Make no mistake: the Capitol Hill raid has already been fashioned into a kind of ‘Reichstag fire’ to justify the backlash that is now being exacted. Many have long sensed the slow dawn of a cultural revolution in the West. But what this last week has provided is a supposed pretext for its acceleration.
This cultural revolution will eventually touch the entire English-speaking world. But as New York journalist Michael Tracey has identified, Americans will be the first to feel it as Joe Biden steps into office:
The new corporate authoritarian liberal-left monoculture is going to be absolutely ruthless — and in 12 days it is merging with the state. This only the beginning
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 9, 2021
This week’s colossal Big Tech purge has provided a small taste of what’s to come.
Of course, those affected by the purge are told that Twitter and Facebook are private companies that can decide which voices they wish to amplify or remove. And of course, this explanation has followed fast on the heels of solemn assurances that Big Tech doesn’t engage in political censorship.
But even this contradictory answer disguises two important truths.
The first is Section 230 — a piece of legislation that has long given social media companies legal immunity from what its users post. This loophole has been exploited by Silicon Valley to build a business empire that now strangles the globe. Big Tech CEOs have become postmodern oligarchs whose power — at least in the realm of communication — now exceeds that of the leader of the free world.
Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg gained their unrivalled power only by pleading innocence as publishers. But what began as the shadow-banning of conservatives quickly escalated to the placement of warning labels on President Trump’s tweets, and then to outright censorship of the New York Post for its exposé on Hunter Biden — a story that threatened Joe Biden’s bid for presidency.
Like clockwork, new “terms of service” would materialise out of thin air to explain each petty act of tyranny — rules that were not imposed on past offenders and have since been summarily cast aside.
Well the emperor is naked: Dorsey in particular has exposed himself as a publisher who massaged his platform to help install a ‘Siliconian Candidate’. Now with his work complete, Dorsey has deleted the incumbent President’s account altogether. (And in a galling display of hypocrisy, he has since lectured Uganda on internet censorship in the lead-up to their general election).
The second truth being disguised is the treatment of those driven off these platforms, even after they’re gone. “Go build your own Twitter” is what conservatives have been told over recent years. So that’s exactly what Parler did.
But then Apple removed Parler from their app store. And Google did too. Then, with just 24 hours notice, Amazon kicked Parler off of its servers altogether. Visit parler.com now and the site doesn’t exist. Parler’s tech team is currently working around the clock to salvage what they can and get their platform back up and running.
For years, I heard it’s invalid to object to political censorship by FB & Twitter because, if you don’t like it, you can just create a competing social media platform. Parler tried. And in 24 hours, Google, Apple & Amazon united to destroy it.
— Glenn Greenwald
The explanation given for this boldfaced corporate bullying is that platforms like Parler allow hate speech and conspiracy theories — terrible things that shouldn’t belong on the internet.
But this, too, is a furphy.
Consider what Twitter allows. Iran’s Ayatollah is free to preach genocide against Israelis. With impunity, Chinese Communist Party members promote the conspiracy theory that covid originated in the U.S. For years, the Russiagate conspiracy theory ran rampant on Twitter’s platform. Reams of content are accessible under hashtags like #AssassinateTrump or #KillJews.
Truth be told, Silicon Valley only censors the hate speech and conspiracy theories that it frowns upon. Censorship has always happened: in the 1950s, communists were routinely silenced. But years into the social media age, we are watching the window of sanctioned speech shift rapidly in a leftward direction.
The final response to all this goes something like, “The online world isn’t everything. Delete your social media apps and go live in the real world.” But if recent events have shown us anything, it’s that social media is only the start of our problems. The online world is real life for increasing numbers of Westerners — whether banking or shopping or communication. And all the more when so many are housebound due to Covid-19 lockdowns.
What happens when banks, retailers and email providers begin shutting down everyday customers who continue to stand by Trump or otherwise resist the new woke creed?
It may not be long before we begin finding out.