Posted on November 4, 2022

Let Us on the Twitter Moderation Council

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, November 4, 2022

Credit Image: © Richard B. Levine/Levine Roberts via ZUMA Press

Over the last few days, Americans learned a lot about the way things really work in “Our Democracy.” Elon Musk finally bought Twitter. Many journalists and progressives panicked. They were right to do so. Free speech means they lose. Truth is on our side.

There are reasons for hope and for despair. Elon Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal and other leading executives, including Vijaya Gadde, who led the team that purged Donald Trump. In the past, Mr. Musk has said he is “against censorship that goes far beyond the law” and that “going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

Advertising agencies are telling their clients to “temporarily pause their spending on Twitter because of moderation concerns,” according to the New York Times. The “Global Alliance for Responsible Media” is worried about “harmful content.” Advertiser boycotts are often used against conservative media, including Breitbart and Fox News. Our opponents rely on bullying because that’s the only way they can win.

Conservatives like to imagine there is a “marketplace of ideas,” but the marketplace is downstream from power. Elite pressure can force advertisers to cut off people or companies even if they have large audiences. Tucker Carlson has a huge audience, but Fox News will fold if no one advertises. One could argue that when CNN runs a hostile story about Fox News advertiser Mike Lindell, the “My Pillow Guy,” it’s not journalism so much as an attempt to hurt a competitor.

Mr. Musk is clearly worried about this. He’s running the following poll.

The Anti-Defamation League likes to start boycotts; it called for one against Tucker Carlson in 2021. The ADL has now announced it would “monitor” Mr. Musk.

Mr. Musk dutifully spoke to groups such as the ADL, Color of Change, LULAC, the NAACP, and the Bush Center about “how Twitter will continue to combat hate & harassment & enforce its election integrity policies.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt declared himself “cautiously optimistic” but warned “actions speak louder than words.” In the tweet immediately following this, the ADL celebrated its own nationalist movement.

Among those employees still at Twitter is Yoel Roth, head of “Safety & Integrity.” He says that “slurs” and “hateful conduct” aren’t allowed, and that the company is making an “organized effort” to stop people from thinking the rules have changed.

He is not unbiased. In 2017, he posted in all caps about the “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.” (Fact Check: No, Yoel, there were no Nazis in the White House.) His history is also filled with various obscenity-laced tirades against Republicans. House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who will probably be Speaker in a few weeks, has called for Mr. Musk to fire Mr. Roth, who may still have a job only because he may have confirmed Mr. Musk’s charges that Twitter’s previous management was using “fraudulent metrics” to puff up its value.

Mr. Musk thinks that being criticized by both conservatives and liberals is a good sign.

It’s better than pure partisanship, but when progressives criticize someone, it’s often a call to stifle free speech. Conservatism Inc. also benefits from liberal censorship. Groups such as the Capital Research Center, Young Americans for Freedom, and the Conservative Political Action Conference would probably agree with leftists that people like Jared Taylor or Milo Yiannopoulos should not be allowed back on Twitter. Ashley St. Clair lost a job at Turning Point USA simply for being present at a debate between Nick Fuentes and Jacob Wohl. (Nick Fuentes is also banned from Twitter).

In 2016, Ben Shapiro made an entire list of “alt-right-friendly” or “alt-right people/outlets” who were to be cast into the outer darkness. Along with Jared Taylor, there was Peter Brimelow, VDARE, Breitbart, Mike Cernovich, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Allum Bokhari, and Donald Trump. Donald Trump won the nomination and the presidency, so Mr. Shapiro changed his tune to keep his audience. However, the popularity of the people Mr. Shapiro wanted silenced showed that Americans were not satisfied with Conservatism Inc. If Jared Taylor, Nick Fuentes, and Mike Cernovich have platforms, “mainstream” conservatives lose audiences. We can’t count on Conservatism Inc. to fight for free speech.

Jared Taylor and American Renaissance will be filing to get their Twitter accounts back. They were banned in 2017 for “violating Twitter’s Terms of Service, specifically rules against being affiliated with a violent extremist group.” This is nonsense. Twitter never even explained what group it even meant. The bans were also a violation of contract obligations because Twitter unilaterally declared new Terms of Service after we had already signed up.

We sued. Despite winning an initial court hearing and getting the green light to proceed with our case, a highly unusual ruling from the California Court of Appeal found that merely to defend against our lawsuit would cause Twitter irreparable damage. There were plenty of grounds for an appeal, but it would have gone to the same court that had just saved Twitter. Justice depends on finding a court that takes the rule of law seriously, and that’s unusual.

Our accounts did not “troll,” insult people, use vulgar language or ever promote anything illegal or remotely violent. Meanwhile, violent or hateful language about whites is common on Twitter.

For now, the fate of our accounts is in the hands of a “Content Moderation Council.”

If the “Content Moderation Council” is made up of progressives and “conservatives,” it won’t help. If it is the same people who just put Mr. Musk through a Zoom-meeting struggle session, it will be worse. One of the main purposes of groups such as the NAACP, ADL, Color of Change, and LULAC is to restrict speech. It’s especially insulting because these are outright ethnic lobbies.

Our Twitter accounts must be restored, and a representative from American Renaissance should be on the Content Moderation Board. It’s not fairness if every group except whites gets a say on who gets to speak. And unlike the ADL, we don’t want to censor our opponents. We don’t have to.

Much will depend on Elon Musk, his strength of character, and what he is willing to risk. The Biden Administration and Democrat Party will torment him. He’s already feuding with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Treasury Department is considering whether it has the authority to investigate the takeover. The government may decide that Twitter isn’t just a private company after all — and needs regulatory guidance — if Mr. Musk allows viewpoints the Biden Administration doesn’t like.

We learned this week that Twitter, along with other platforms, works directly with the government to control what Americans say, hear, and think. In a recent article called “Truth Cops,” the left-wing site The Intercept showed that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI pressure social media companies to “curb speech it considers dangerous.” A lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who could be a senator soon, is the reason some of this information became public.

This can’t be overemphasized. The national security bureaucracy itself is in the censorship game. JP Morgan Chase participated in meetings on content moderation, suggesting that financial deplatforming may also be coordinated. A country that operates this way is not free.

None of this is surprising to us. Even during the supposedly “white nationalist” Trump Administration, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said in 2019 that the department wanted “watchdog” groups and internet security companies to deplatform people it didn’t like. Tech companies ultimately booted President Donald Trump himself. One wonders whether part of his own administration worked to get him banned.

The mask truly came off with the Biden Administration. In January 2021, the Department of Justice arrested Douglass Mackey (aka “Ricky Vaughn”) for posting memes during the 2016 election. A leftist comedienne who posted similar material did not get the same treatment. That same month, the Department of Homeland Security issued a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” warning that those motivated by “false narratives” could “incite or commit violence.” What does the regime consider “false narratives,” and who decides?

Nick Fuentes, who to my knowledge has not been convicted or even charged with a crime, was put on a no fly-list and had assets seized. Laura Loomer has twice been the official nominee of the Republican Party in congressional races. She remains deplatformed from basic financial services and social media and has even lost her right to own a firearm. If an authoritarian system in another country acted this way, Lindsey Graham might call for bombing it.

Conspiracies about voting machines or bad actors miscounting votes are almost irrelevant. If the government is already determining whether a candidate can get his message out, the election is phony. Meta Platforms head Mark Zuckerberg said in August 2022 that Facebook hid stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the allegedly criminal activity it showed after an FBI warning. Forget every conspiracy theory about “stealing the election;” this alone may have decided the outcome.

The Biden Administration can’t keep its mouth shut about what it wants. Last spring, the Department of Homeland Security suffered a disastrous rollout of a “Disinformation Governance Board,” which somehow would have “address[ed] threats” without “infringing on free speech.” It was easy to argue that the federal government was establishing a Ministry of Truth. The effort collapsed, but we might have been better off if it hadn’t. It’s good to know what we’re dealing with.

Until recently, our opponents could argue that NGOs and watchdog groups may be powerful, arrogant, or anti-American, but aren’t part of the government. There’s a difference between a private company censoring people and the state encouraging it.

After The Intercept’s story, no one can deny this. The federal government’s national security bureaucracy tells social media companies what people should see and hear.

There may be worse to come. The Biden Administration says “domestic extremism” is a threat to the United States. The Democrats have repeatedly tried to pass a “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act” that would be the first step towards officially designating domestic terrorism groups, which would put them in the same category as “foreign terrorist organizations.” It is illegal to join or “materially support” these groups.

Congressman Jim Jordan, who may soon head the House Judiciary Committee, claims FBI whistleblowers are already under such pressure to find “domestic extremists” that they are padding the numbers.

Congressman Jim Jordan with President Donald Trump on the podium at a “Make America Great Again” rally on August 4, 2018. (Credit Image: © James D. DeCamp/ZUMA Wire)

“White nationalists” are the main target, but not the only one. In February 2022, then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called on platforms to do “more” after Spotify put a warning label on Joe Rogan’s show because he questioned certain aspects of the Covid pandemic. “Anti-vaxxers,” opponents of support for Ukraine, or whatever other issue the Administration champions could become not just “haters” but enemies of the state. The White House promoted a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate on Covid “disinformation.” If serious people call that “hate,” what isn’t hate?

Progressives should oppose this if they are sincerely suspicious of corporations (especially drug companies and arms manufacturers) and fear surveillance of Americans. The Intercept seems to be one of those rare liberal institutions that is consistent. It understands such powers won’t be used only against whites.

The Intercept attacked an FBI criminal category called “Black Identity Extremists.” Without a collective name, killers such as Frank James, Darrell Brooks, Micah X. Johnson become random criminals, not a security threat. If Republicans treated them the way Democrats treat every white crazy who shoots someone, BLM could be out of business.

At least some progressive reporters must see the danger. White advocates often mock conservatives for their constant refrain of “imagine if the circumstances were reversed.” The circumstances are rarely reversed because leftists use state power to crush political enemies but conservatives don’t. That may not always be true.

The Republicans could take the House and possibly the Senate. If the Biden/Harris ticket is up again in 2024, Republicans could win the White House. Even a relatively weak Republican admnistration might use new powers against progressives, especially if a Democrat “radicalized” over the end of Roe v. Wade, the end of affirmative action, or the return of President Donald Trump tried to kill someone. One wonders whether President Trump would act more forcefully against rioters if he could do 2020 over again. He may get his chance.

A recent survey found most Americans do not think “racists” should “be allowed to make speech.” Another survey found that half of self-identified Democrats in college believe schools need “speech codes that could limit offensive or biased speech.” More than one-in-three black students think colleges should ban speech “they might find offensive or biased.”

The late Christopher Hitchens defended free speech for all, including historian David Irving and other supposed Holocaust deniers. He even argued that marginalized views deserve extra protection. He’s lucky he died in 2011; he would either have had to change his tune or be canceled. He certainly wouldn’t be published in Slate or Vanity Fair.

“Our Democracy” could become as much a sham as “democracy” in China, except that the values its rulers promote are healthier. Thomas Jefferson wrote that we should not be “afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” Our support of free speech is a principled one, one we extend to our opponents. We challenge Elon Musk to let us participate in the de facto public square that is Twitter.

Tech companies can no longer claim to be purely private enterprises. We now know they operate on government instructions and promote partisan politics. We don’t expect journalists to champion our cause. We appeal to Elon Musk directly: restore our free speech.

If the rights of thoughtful dissidents are not respected, Elon Musk will have paid $44 billion dollars just to take orders from the Anti-Defamation League. We hope Mr. Musk doesn’t want history to remember him that way.