All internet platforms should be seized and nationalized to prevent a civil war.
By Dr. Kevin Barrett
Jewish atheist Sigmund Freud wrote that “the man who first flung a word of abuse at his enemy instead of a spear was the founder of civilization.” The Prophet Muhammad, who said “the best jihad is a word of truth hurled at a tyrant,” and Jesus—who presumably administered a tongue (and back) lashing to the moneychangers he drove out of the temple—would not have disagreed.
Put simply, words are the alternative to weapons. When words fail, weapons emerge. And when tyrants suppress words, weapons inevitably emerge.
The United States is now witnessing the worst outburst of ideological violence in its history, as an unelected cabal of ultra-rich media oligarchs brutally censors all dissenting opinions. These oligarchs, whose media operations are illegal monopolies, are provoking bloody civil unrest, if not all-out civil war.
The founders of the wildly successful social media platform Parler just had their lives’ work nearly destroyed by a criminal conspiracy of Big Tech monopolies. Around Jan. 10, 2021, Amazon, Apple, and Google launched a coordinated denial-of-service assault that has put Parler out of business.
Simultaneously, the Big Tech oligarchs muzzled the president of the United States. Donald Trump, already repeatedly censored and “corrected” and “fact-checked” by Big Tech, was simultaneously banned from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
If Mr. Trump had declared a national emergency, seized the media and internet, and shut down his critics—as he unfortunately had every legal right to do, given the currently accepted unitary executive theory of the presidency—reasonable people would have complained that the move was dictatorial, unconstitutional, and indeed tyrannical. But at least it would have been an elected president doing it. The present situation, in which unelected criminal oligarchs running illegal media monopolies have unilaterally shut down their competitors and everyone else with a different viewpoint, is infinitely worse.
What would liberals and leftists have done had President Trump (legally) seized the media and internet and silenced his critics? They would almost certainly react with massive violence. When unelected criminal oligarchs do vastly worse, flaunting the law and the Constitution, how do they expect their opponents to react?
Perhaps the oligarchs hope their victims will surrender without a fight. Perhaps they think that the roughly half of the American people who strongly disagree with them will say, “Okay, all 100 million of us have been muzzled, the Bill of Rights is dead, our enemies have seized total power, they’re coming for our guns, so I guess we’ll just be like Homer Simpson and kick back on the couch and say, ‘Doh, what are ya gonna do?’ ”
And what about the so-called liberals and leftists who are cheering on the oligarchs’ censorship rampage? Traditionally, the liberal left has strongly supported free speech—even for pornographers, Nazis marching in Skokie, and other people they presumably disapprove of. But not anymore.
One of the last honest leftwing journalists in America, Glenn Greenwald, writes: “With virtual unanimity, leading U.S. liberals celebrated this use of Silicon Valley monopoly power to shut down Parler, just as they overwhelmingly cheered the prior two extraordinary assertions of tech power to control U.S. political discourse: censorship of the New York Post’s reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the banning of the U.S. president from major social media platforms. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a single national liberal-left politician even expressing concerns about any of this, let alone opposing it.” Do these leftists and liberals not realize that they and their oligarch masters are, by murdering free speech in America, not just inviting, but forcing America’s 100 million gun owners to take things into their own hands and stand up for their rights and their country?
The Big Tech oligarchs’ annihilation of free speech in America is an open invitation to violent insurrection. The hundreds of thousands if not millions of alternative voices the oligarchs have suppressed with their censorship—with a few unfortunate exceptions like Nasim Aghdam—have been remarkably patient . . . but only God’s patience is infinite.
When treasonous, criminally monopolistic, Constitution-flouting oligarchs destroy a person’s life work because they don’t agree with that individual’s interpretation of current or historical events, they leave that person little choice: either roll over and die or fight back with the only weapons they’ve got left.
There is only one way back to a peaceful, united America: A complete end to all forms of censorship by Big Tech. All constitutionally protected speech (as opposed to illegal/unprotected speech like libel, incitement, and obscenity/pornography) must be treated exactly equally, on a perfectly level playing field, on all internet platforms (as opposed to publications). And given the way big money corrupts free speech, the only realistic way to restore freedom to our national town square is nationalization: All internet platforms must be seized and run as First Amendment-respecting, advertising-free public utilities.
Kevin Barrett, Ph.D., is an Arabist-Islamologist scholar and one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. From 1991 through 2006, Dr. Barrett taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin. In 2006, however, he was attacked by Republican state legislators who called for him to be fired from his job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison due to his political opinions. Since 2007, Dr. Barrett has been informally blacklisted from teaching in American colleges and universities. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, public speaker, author, and talk radio host. He lives in rural western Wisconsin.