I’ve seen a lot of strange takes following the Insurrection in DC of the Capitol building, aka Trump’s coup attempt. There is of course the conservative contingent who are desperately backpedaling to save their careers. There’s also the conservatives (big overlap in the two groups) who think that the repercussions for Trump using the Internet to create this mob is violating his First Amendment rights and is blatant censorship, and Orwellian in nature.
It both surprised me and didn’t. I’ve written before about Freedom of Speech, Terms of Service and Consequences. There is a willfully ignorant group of people who don’t actually care about protecting everyone’s First Amendment rights. They just want to be able to say everything that they can, free from consequence – which is not what the First Amendment is about.
Other takes I’ve seen have been the people laughing at the sillier people in the mob, turning them into memes. The people who then express surprise when it turns out that the people who posted their insurrection on social media were lawyers, brokers, real estate agents – not just the stereotypical slack-jawed yokel. And of course, the people calling for peace so we can move on.
So who should you pay attention to?
But most important are the people who are amplifying the severity of what happened. As they continue to investigate, they keep turning up more disturbing things. More explosives. Stories about people turning up in hard to find locations, looking for prominent Congresspeople.
They put up a gallows with a noose. People came with zip ties and hit lists. This was not a lark. What happened in Michigan was just a rehearsal.
If you can, please keep amplifying those stories. This is when we need to ignore the people calling for peace and normalcy – because until every person involved in both the insurrection itself, those who fomented chaos, and the DC officials who reduced the police presence… we’re just going to keep having problems.
Cutting off Trump’s Socials
Back to the First Amendment crowd. The First Amendment guarantees that the government cannot suppress speech. Trump being removed from multiple platforms (and Parler too), isn’t an example of someone’s freedom of speech being violated. Any service that you sign up for – like Twitter, has a terms and conditions. You might not read it, but you agree to follow their rules in exchange for access to the platform. Trump had been violating those rules for years, but had been given extra latitude as a public official.
However, using that platform to incite a violent coup, and posting something that might be encouraging another attempt during the Inauguration was the last straw. For his FB & Instagram, his email provider for his campaign emails, his shopify account (where he sold campaign merch).
Suppressing his speech?
Keep in mind, this isn’t actually limiting Trump’s ability to communicate with the nation. He’s still the President. He still has a full press team. He could literally issue press statements every five minutes. There’s nothing stopping him, other than his legal team begging him not to. Nobody has silenced him as president. He could call press conferences! Go on the radio. Call in to FOX News. He just can’t post to social media.
Like-wise, Parler being removed from Google Play and the Apple Store isn’t censorship. They have clear guidelines about what kind of content they CAN allow, and if Parler isn’t keeping hate speech off their site – it violates that.
Not to mention that Amazon is in the process of deplatforming Parler. The conservative social media site used their AWS hosting service, and much like Google and Apple – Amazon felt it was encouraging violence.
Calls for Unity
What isn’t surprising is that politicians from both sides are calling for unity. The work of untangling decades of toxic actions in the Republican party isn’t a job that any of them want – though it’s something that needs to be addressed. Especially since so many Republicans (both in office and just regular people) are complaining that they’re being silenced, now that social media platforms are cracking down on conspiracy theories and white supremacist rhetoric. And most Republicans just want to hit the reset button, and get back to their careers.
As a reminder, this didn’t start with Donald Trump. The Media needs to accept their own hand in all of this as well. FOX News literally tossed aside what little credibility they had in order to become the President’s favorite news source. CNN and the major networks gave Trump ample time when he was first running for President, because they knew it was going to get them ratings. And network by network, he’s turned on them all.
Instead, everyone is talking about how Orwellian this is. I suppose it’s only Orwellian if all you know about his works are the Apple 1984 ad. But Orwell was very much against fascism and authoritarianism. And in support of democratic socialism. So please, laugh at all the Conservatives who are both encouraging the exact thing he warned against, and who want to claim that Orwell was right.
So what’s next?
We have to push forward. Actually make changes and clean house.
We have to stop assuming that Trump supporters were just poor and uneducated. Looking at the people being identified, there are veterans, current and former law enforcement, lawyers, executives, real estate agents – not the kind of people we let us tell ourselves followed him. And in part, Trump encouraged us to focus on those people. It’s how movements build their momentum. But white supremacy is a real issue. It’s woven into our society.
To the point where if you mention Black Lives Matter amongst people you think are reasonable, someone will say that All Lives Matter. To the point that we use language that dehumanizes BIPOC, without realizing it. That we don’t recognize that modern police work is rooted in the assumption that Black and brown people are more likely to commit crime. That our current fight against terrorism is focused solely on Muslims and North Korea and China – and not on white men.
And finally, we have to ask ourselves – what’s next. And dig deep, and do the work to make the country better. Not keep us in the past.