The Leftist elites gave us another ominous sign that they’re stepping up their campaign against the freedom of speech when Hillary Clinton tweeted Thursday: “For too long, tech platforms have amplified disinformation and extremism with no accountability. The EU is poised to do something about it. I urge our transatlantic allies to push the Digital Services Act across the finish line and bolster global democracy before it’s too late.” Apparently in order to “bolster global democracy,” we have to kill it and allow only opinions that the elites approve to be published and circulated. Not surprisingly, Hillary revealed herself in this tweet to be not only an opponent of the freedom of speech, and therefore of free society itself, but also a hypocrite.
This is, after all, the same Hillary Clinton who tweeted on Oct. 31, 2016, eight days before the 2016 presidential election: “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” However, the Washington Times reported just under five years later, on Oct. 21, 2021, that “Special counsel John Durham has obtained the complete FBI investigative file on the bureau’s conclusion that there was no secret internet communication channel in 2016 between then-candidate Donald Trump and Alfa Bank, a large Russian lender controlled by Kremlin-tied billionaire oligarchs.”
So was Hillary peddling “disinformation”? Not knowingly, perhaps, but neither she nor Barack Obama, who has likewise begun a campaign against the freedom of speech recently, have ever given any indication that they think “disinformation” is any less worthy to be silenced if those who are spreading it sincerely believe that it is true. Thus by Hillary’s own standards, she should be silenced for the “disinformation” about Trump’s collusion with Russia that she spread so assiduously over the years and that turned out to be completely false.
But everyone knows that will never happen. Everyone also knows, of course, that when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama decry “disinformation,” they don’t mean false or inaccurate statements that they themselves or their allies have made. The only “disinformation” they have in mind is that which comes from their political opponents, and even if what those opponents say is entirely true, it will be classified as “disinformation” and censored accordingly if Hillary and Obama and company decide that it is not expedient for the advancement of the Leftist narrative.
Clinton has shown herself to be an opponent of the freedom of speech before. Back when she was Secretary of State, the Obama administration attempted to curtail the First Amendment in numerous ways, including at the United Nations. In October 2009, the U.S. government lent its support to a UN Human Rights Council resolution declaring that “negative racial and religious stereotyping” should be outlawed. The resolution stated that UN member states should condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”
Then in notorious remarks at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 2011, Clinton claimed that “in the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance.” She blamed this on the freedom of speech: “We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy.” But she had a solution: “So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.”
Clinton recommended using “peer pressure and shaming” to keep people from saying what she didn’t want them to say, and given the Left’s promiscuous use of charges of “racism” and “bigotry” against even the mildest dissenting word, it’s hard not to conclude that her recommendation has been heeded. The new word for speech the Left wants to silence, as both Clinton’s and Obama’s recent statements make clear, is “disinformation.” It’s a canny choice. Nobody wants to see actual disinformation spreading and influencing the public discourse. But what if the real disinformation peddlers were the ones who are most loudly and insistently calling for censorship of what they consider to be disinformation? Then you’d be describing the state of affairs in our unhappy republic as of April 23, 2022.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.