In early 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his country would no longer bomb the Islamic State. Defending this decision, the prime minister stated: “Call us old-fashioned, but we think that we ought to avoid doing precisely what our enemies want us to do. They want us to elevate, to give in to fear, to indulge in hatred, to eye one another with suspicion, and to take leave of our faculties” [Canada IS airstrikes: Trudeau announces 22 February end date, BBC, May 13, 2018] This was famously paraphrased by Gavin McInnes, among others, as, “If you kill your enemies, they win.” Though Justin Trudeau never actually said this, it encapsulated his worldview so precisely that many people assumed it was true.
Unfortunately, most Conservatism Inc. operatives say the same kinds of things about technology oligopolies. The Beltway Right acknowledges censorship, demonization, and marginalization by tech mega companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but doesn’t want to do anything about it. Thus, even though the Republican Party controls both Congress and the White House, the conservative and nationalist online activists who won Donald Trump the presidency in an unprecedented upset are being systematically suppressed and “the Conservative movement” is saying nothing.
For example, in a recent interview with Breitbart, Klon Kitchen, the Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow for technology, said Facebook has the right to censor whomever it wants. “I think Facebook is a private company,” Kitchen stated. “[T]he Heritage Foundation is going to be very clear about a private company’s right to organize and conduct its business as it sees fit”. [Heritage Foundation defends Facebook’s ‘right’ to censor, will oppose regulation, by Allum Bokhari, May 3, 2018]
In a separate piece, Breitbart’s Bokhari denounced both Heritage and the Libertarian think tank “TechFreedom,” another group opposing regulation of Facebook and other social networking giants [Bokhari: ‘Free Market’ Defenders Of Tech Giants Are Useful Idiots, Breitbart, May 6, 2018]. Bokhari argued Establishment conservatives are failing to understand the core issue:
None of these free market geniuses have grasped that Google and Facebook aren’t just monopolies (any first-grade economics teacher can tell you that a market dominated by monopolies is not “free”), they are unique in the vast power they have over the flow of information. No other organization in history has had the power to shape opinion, control public discourse, and influence democratic voters.
As the last Radio VDARE argued, the power of these megacompanies creates the potential for a “managed democracy” such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia is alleged to be.
Indeed, the situation in America is more tyrannical and more dangerous. In Russia, the people at least know who to hold responsible if the system fails them. In America, because the actors controlling the flow of information are not technically part of the government, there is an illusion of a “marketplace of ideas,” when there is actually just one narrative being promoted. Only a cynic can speak of “democracy” when the public’s access to information, and therefore the public’s view of reality, can be determined by the push of a button.
As even Main Stream Media journalists now concede, Facebook (and its algorithm) now has the power to direct massive amounts of traffic to whatever companies it wants [The Facebook Armageddon: the social network’s increasing threat to journalism, by Matthew Ingram, Columbia Journalism Review, Winter 2018] Because no one actually knows what the algorithm is and because it continually changes, Facebook essentially has the power to destroy any company it desires. Given the company’s Leftist views, this means every conservative website is on the endangered list. [How Conservatives Are Being Destroyed by Facebook, Twitter and Google Without Even Realizing It, by John Hawkins, Townhall, January 13, 2018]
Even before Trump’s election, a study found Google’s search results have a liberal bias. [Google search results can lean liberal, study finds, by Jack Nicas, Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2016] Now, Google is using the Southern Poverty Law Center to police content on YouTube, which Google owns. [Exclusive: YouTube Secretly Using SPLC To Police Videos, by Peter Hasson, Daily Caller, February 27, 2018] Google is also censoring its search results to please various pressure groups, such as the Islamic lobby. [Google changes search results to conceal criticism of Islam and jihad, by Robert Spencer, LifeSiteNews, August 2, 2017].
Needless to say, modifying search results could have a massive impact on the upcoming midterm elections [Beyond Cambridge Analytica: How Tech Giants Can Impact Elections, by Haelena Bondi-Camacho, Capital Research Center, April 19, 2018].
Michael Brendan Dougherty, writing at National Review, quotes Niall Ferguson’s post-election prediction that “2016 will never happen again” because tech oligarchs won’t let it.
Dougherty suggests the tech oligopolies are currently trying to swing an upcoming referendum in Ireland on abortion by restricting online ads on the issue. Because the pro-abortion side of the referendum enjoys the all-but-universal support of traditional broadcast and print media, the tech oligarchs are effectively preventing the less-well-funded pro-lifers from combatting media bias. Dougherty calls the situation “extremely serious” and asks:
If they [tech companies] feel the need to appease center-left critics by preemptively disarming Irish pro-lifers, whom will they seek to silence, and throttle, next?
[Silicon Valley Deletes the Pro-Life Campaign in Ireland, May 9, 2018]
The answer is obvious—us.
The war has already begun. Joseph Farah, the head of one of the oldest conservative websites, WND, argues Google and Facebook are conducting a “scorched earth campaign” against independent media—and that the U.S. government’s regulatory agencies do not understand the new online environment:
The U.S. government has long recognized its responsibility in preserving a free and open environment of debate ever since the dawn of radio and television, by ensuring that the means of distribution of such content did not fall into the hands of monopoly control. The Federal Communications Commission has prevented media consolidation in individual markets. But, with the advent of the internet, local media consolidation poses less of a threat than national and international media consolidation.
[Google-Facebook control of speech is threat to nation, WND, April 1, 2018]
The good news: at least some conservatives seem to be awakening to this reality. Thus Senator Ted Cruz, in a recent op-ed for Fox News, argued that Facebook should be considered a “neutral public forum” that cannot engage in political censorship. It must be “neutral” in order to enjoy the protection of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which prevents social networks from being held liable for illegal threats made on their platform.
Needless to say, Facebook could not function without such protection. But with this legal privilege comes the responsibility to protect freedom of speech. As Ted Cruz put it:
“[I]f Facebook is busy censoring legal, protected speech for political reasons, the company should be held accountable for the posts it lets through. And it should not enjoy any special congressional immunity from liability for its actions.”
Why isn’t Heritage taking up Senator Cruz’s call? The possible answer: as noted, Facebook is seeking to counter accusations of bias by recruiting outside forces to determine what is “biased” and what is not. Instead of an objective standard or the general protection of free speech, Facebook will meet with “advisors”—including, not surprisingly, Klon Kitchen of Heritage. [Is Facebook too liberal? It pledges to investigate charges it’s biased against conservatives, by Jessica Guynn, USA Today, May 3, 2018] The point man for the effort is the useless former GOP senator from Arizona, John Kyl.
The endgame is obvious. Heritage is in a position of huge power because of this decision. As it is, after all, the organization that fired Jason Richwine for realistically discussing immigration policy certainly won’t protect free speech as such. Instead, it will seek protection for Conservatism Inc. by telling Facebook to purge, censor, and deplatform nationalists and populists, thus continuing the defining tradition of the useless Beltway Right. Conservatism Inc. is just as much of an enemy to free speech as are Google and Facebook.
The answer: government or judicial action to protect freedom of debate online. All legal speech needs protection, and as the late Christopher Hitchens famously argued (paraphrasing John Stuart Mill) those who speak differently don’t just deserve the right to speak, “That person’s right to speak must be given extra protection.”
But the fact that the Heritage Foundation isn’t championing a principled view of freedom of speech suggests it is more interested in increasing its own power, not in protecting Americans’ fundamental liberties or, for that matter, any chance of Republicans winning another election.
As demographics continue to change because of mass immigration, the white cultural norm of freedom of speech will come under increasing pressure. If it is to be preserved, there must be action now.
If there is not action, America will no longer be a free country but as just another autocracy—one with a ruling caste far more unaccountable and hostile to the host population than anything that exists in Moscow.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.