[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Robert Spencer’s masterpiece contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
The Biden regime has an ever-lengthening record of opposition to the freedom of speech: the abortive Disinformation Governance Board, the Twitter Files revelations that regime apparatchiks pressured Twitter to remove dissenting tweets, the weaponization of the “Justice” Department against the regime’s principal opponent, and on and on.
It thus comes as no surprise that the regime pressured Facebook, as well as Twitter, to remove posts that dissented from its line on COVID-19. What’s striking is that the regime even hassled Zuckerberg’s wonks to take down jokes making fun of the regime’s line on the COVID vaccines.
As Thomas More put it long ago, “The devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked.” Neither can authoritarian regimes. Someone in National Socialist Germany who tossed off even the most harmless little quip about Hitler or made Stalin the punchline in the international Socialist Soviet Union was looking at prison and hard labor.
The Biden regime isn’t quite that evil (yet), but it is no less impatient with ridicule. After all, it was Communist strategist Saul Alinsky who pointed out the power of ridicule as a rhetorical weapon against the class enemy: it was infuriating to be on the receiving end, and there was no adequate response. Ridicule is supposed to be a weapon Leftists use, not one that is used against them.
This revelation came from an unnamed Facebook vice president who was “in charge of content policy,” according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal. The veep explains, “We were under pressure from the administration and others to do more.” Strikingly, this Facebook wonk adds, “We shouldn’t have done it.” Wait, what? Someone who is against government censorship is a vice president at Facebook? Someone who believes in the freedom of speech is in a position of influence over content in Mark Zuckerberg’s shop? No wonder this person opted to remain anonymous in the WSJ report. Come out for freedom at Facebook, and you’re likely to be pounding the pavement looking for work the next day.
Yet it does seem as if there was pushback from Facebook to the regime’s authoritarian initiative. The Facebook vice president said in an internal email, “There is likely a significant gap between what the WH would like us to remove and what we are comfortable removing. The WH has previously indicated that it thinks humor should be removed if it is premised on the vaccine having side effects, so we expect it would similarly want to see humor about vaccine hesitancy removed.”
Even more strangely, Facebook’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, replied, “I can’t see Mark in a million years being comfortable with removing that — and I wouldn’t recommend it.” Mark Zuckerberg uncomfortable with censorship? What planet were these people on, anyway?
It wasn’t actually that they were revealing themselves to be stalwart defenders of free inquiry. Instead, they were just afraid that removing dissident posts might backfire: “In some of the emails,” the Journal reports, “Facebook executives expressed concern that removing posts in which Americans expressed hesitation about getting vaccinated could actually make them less likely to get a shot.”
One Facebook wonk explained, “There may be risk of pushing them further toward hesitancy by suppressing their speech and making them feel marginalized by large institutions.” Also, “removing such posts could also fuel conspiracy theories about a coverup related to the safety of vaccines.” Can’t have that!
The regime, of course, is insisting that everything was on the up and up. White House spokesditz Karine Jean-Pierre declared, “We have consistently made it clear that we believe social-media companies have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects of their platforms that they have on the American people while making independent decisions about the content of their platforms.” Independent!
A House Democrat spokesman pointed out that Facebook “often disagreed with the White House and denied the Administration’s requests and every witness we have interviewed has confirmed that only Meta made decisions about how to enforce its own terms of service.”
This is not as exculpatory as the Dems wish it were. The fact that the regime pressured Facebook to remove dissident posts was bad enough. If Facebook had some wiggle room in which to refuse, great, but the White House’s demand was bad enough in itself. What should have been the foremost defender of the First Amendment was and is its foremost foe. And that hasn’t changed.