Daniel Greenfield, the peerless Shillman Fellow and FrontPage writer, tweeted the news on May 7: “Google just erased my Sultan Knish blog and Front Page Mag articles from the first pages of results for my name doubt very much this is accidental.” I did too, so I checked for myself, and sure enough: a Google search for “Robert Spencer” now does not bring up Jihad Watch, where most of my writing outside of books has been published for the last seventeen years, but it does give you defamatory and distorted attack pieces from the far-Left Southern Poverty Law Center and the Saudi-funded Bridge Initiative, and nothing that doesn’t portray me and my work in the most unfavorable possible light. This latest example of the tech giants’ determination to silence all dissenting voices reveals one often overlooked fact: they are desperately afraid.
Google is so afraid of Jihad Watch, in fact, that it is going to great lengths to make you think that the site (which you can find here) doesn’t exist at all. Several years ago, under pressure from the Texas-based imam Omar Suleiman, Google changed the algorithm for its search results so as to bury anything critical of Islamic jihad violence or Sharia oppression of women. Jihad Watch, which for years had been the first result in a Google search for “jihad” (back when Google searches were based solely on relevance and the popularity of the site), fell off the front page of “jihad” searches.
Now Google has gone even farther to make sure you don’t see Jihad Watch. Just this morning, I was looking for an old Jihad Watch article from a few years ago that I needed for a citation, and I entered an exact phrase from that article into the Google search bar. What came back were two sites where the article had been republished, but no indication that it had ever been at Jihad Watch at all.
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel of a totalitarian society, 1984, to which far more people refer than have actually read the book, the dissenter Winston Smith’s job in the Ministry of Truth involves erasing from all historical records any mention of people who have been declared “nonpersons.” Foes of the regime aren’t just vilified. Their very existence is erased. Dissent is easy to control if all record of it ever having been enunciated is eradicated, and Google has apparently taken a page from Orwell’s book.
Of course, Jihad Watch is one of the least of the concerns of Big Tech. They’re erasing all manner of people who dissent from the Leftist agenda. Greenfield notes that “Google controls 80% of search. That means it controls what the internet looks like. And it’s continuing to erase conservatives from the internet. I’m just the latest victim. Its censorship and creepy surveillance have reached new heights during the pandemic.”
And help may be on the way: according to the Wall Street Journal, “Both the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet Inc.’s Google—and are well into planning for litigation, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department is moving toward bringing a case as soon as this summer, some of the people said. At least some state attorneys general—led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican—are likely to file a case, probably in the fall, people familiar with the matter said.”
Another illustration of how brazen the tech giants have become with their censorship came on early Saturday morning, when President Trump retweeted a Michelle Malkin video about tech censorship, with the comment: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events. Thank you Michelle!” In a clumsy but sinister confirmation of the urgency of this problem, Twitter then deleted the Malkin video.
Daniel Greenfield is right: “the future of free speech is at stake.” I’m honored that the multimillionaire millennials at Google are so afraid of me and my little website that they have erased all trace of me except for Emmanuel Goldstein-like denunciations, but ultimately the First Amendment will become a dead letter if the tech giants are allowed to get away with sending dissenters down the memory hole in this way. And that will mean a nightmare of authoritarianism descending upon the country. The Administration needs to act on this, and fast. If Biden or Hillary or Bernie or whichever septuagenarian totalitarian wins in November, there won’t be another chance to save America as a free society.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.