Posted on February 9, 2021

Who’s Afraid of Josh Hawley?

Irina Manta and Berin Szóka, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 8, 2021

Sen. Josh Hawley wants you to be afraid — very afraid. He claims that he’s being “canceled” because of his views — and that Big Tech is building the kind of social credit system the Chinese government uses to monitor and control its citizens. De-platforming will force Americans to conform to the “right opinions.”


Hawley claims that the “tech titans have already booted dozens of conservatives off social media.” Just as with the election, his primary evidence is polling about Republicans’ feelings — instead of actual evidence of bias or fraud. The strongest empirical evidence Republicans ever invoke is a 2019 study concluding that Twitter was “21 times more likely” to ban pro-Trump accounts. Has Hawley actually looked at the list of who got booted and why?

Those three dozen pro-Trump accounts that Twitter banned aren’t what Ronald Reagan would have identified as conservative. Others whose accounts were frozen include Alt-Right founder Richard Spencer and David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. There’s the Proud Boys, which led the assault on the Capitol, and Jared Taylor, founder of American Renaissance, the leading white supremacist magazine. Alex Jones of InfoWars and various QAnon believers also are the types of people and entities being de-platformed.

They aren’t just the subset of “Karens” who made innocent mistakes. They aren’t being banned for voicing conservative opinions about tax rates or school choice or foreign policy. They are the most vicious and dangerous bigots and demagogues in America. When Hawley speaks about freedom, he’s talking about giving these scoundrels the power to force private enterprises to carry their conspiracy theories, hate speech and incitement to violence.

Hawley has proposed multiple bills that would effectively stop websites from moderating even the most outrageous content. {snip}

Compelling private media to carry speech they find noxious isn’t just un-conservative. It’s un-American. President Ronald Reagan would have recognized such ideas as the kind of totalitarian control of speech against which he was fighting. If the defenders of free speech Hawley seeks to rally should be afraid of anyone, it’s Hawley himself.