The theme of today’s column is suppression – of antiwar voices, of news
that doesn’t fit into preconceived narratives, and of our very ability to raise
our voices in protest.
If you’re paying attention, you’ve
probably already heard about the banning from Twitter of anti-interventionist
author and former US diplomat Peter van Buren, a whistleblower whose book
on the Iraq war exposed the lies at the heart of that devilish enterprise.
When van Buren tweeted that his tenure at the State Department required him
to lie to reporters, and that the paladins of the Fourth Estate were all too
ready to passively record these lies as truth, the Twitter brouhaha took on
seismic proportions. Several journalists were involved, attacking van Buren
for showing them up, and one – Jonathan M. Katz, supposedly a New York Times
writer – reported van Buren to the Twitter Authorities for allegedly threatening
“violence.” Van Buren did no such thing: it was a mere pretext to get him banned.
And ban him they did – for life. His account was scrubbed: years of informative
tweets were erased.
There were two other casualties in this little Twitter war: our very own Scott
Horton, who joined the fray and was suspended for using the “b-word,” and Daniel
MacAdams, the director of the Ron Paul Institute, whose “crime” was retweeting
Scott’s contribution to the discussion.
This occurred in tandem with the purge of Alex Jones from Facebook, YouTube,
and Apple platforms – an obviously coordinated effort undertaken to make an
example of the infamous performance artist masquerading as a conspiracy theorist.
All this wasn’t good enough for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who demanded to
know if the plan was to only take down “one web site.” No doubt he has a
whole list of sites he’d like to take down. Even more ominously, it was revealed
that a direct threat
had been made to these companies by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who sent
out a memo listing all the ways the government could crack down on Big Data
if they refuse to go along with cleansing the internet of “divisive” material.
So much for the “libertarian”
argument that these companies and the platforms they run are “private,” and
not connected in any way to the governmental Leviathan. This is the kneejerk
response of outlets like Reason magazine, but it’s simply not a valid
position to take. The Communications Decency Act immunizes
these companies against any torts
that may arise from activities conducted on their platforms: they can’t be sued
or prosecuted for defamation, libel, or indeed for any criminal activity
that is generated by these Internet domains. That’s because they claim to be
mere “carriers,” like the old phone company, and therefore they can’t be held
responsible for conversations, postings, or other online materials that involve
illegal or otherwise dubious actors.
On the other hand, content-providers like Fox News, CNN, and Antiwar.com are
not so privileged: this site, for example, can be sued or held legally responsible
by the authorities for any illegal activities supposedly generated on or by
This two-tiered system is responsible for the cartel-like conditions enjoyed
by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the rest of the Silicon Valley crowd. The
vast wealth poured into this new technology by investors buoyed by historically
low interest rates, plus the special government-granted advantages granted to
them by their friends in Washington, has resulted in the enrichment of Big Data
beyond the dreams of Croesus.
In short, Silicon Valley is a creature of the State.
In recognition of the government-granted privileges handed out to the Zuckerbergs
of this world, the lords of the Internet have agreed to become the regime’s
enforcers. That’s why poor Alex Jones is out in the cold, and others will soon
So what’s the solution? Should we turn the Internet over to the government
to be run as a public utility? That would only make the problem much worse:
censorship by the government would then be direct, rather than masked as it
The answer to this seeming conundrum is simply to abolish the special privileges
enjoyed by the Silicon Valley crowd: make them legally liable for the consequences
of their actions, just like everyone else. Abolish the Communications “Decency”
Act and start all over with a free market bill: no special privileges for
anyone, and a level playing field at last.
This would eliminate Big Data’s deal with the devil, and put them on the same
level as their would-be competitors. The developing Big Data cartel would be
smashed, and new companies would arise to challenge the hegemony of the Zuckerbergs.
Stop suppressing the competition, get the government out of it – and let the
Speaking of suppression: reports that Iranian President Rouhani has agreed
to President’s Trump’s offer to meet “without preconditions” – see here
– have received little to no attention in the mainstream media. The “alternative”
media has been similarly lacking. Indeed, some ostensible “anti-interventionists”
have been so busy correctly denouncing the decision by the administration to
withdraw from the Iran deal that they have taken up the Iranian hardliners’
cry of “no deal with Trump”!
It is beyond crazy that some supporters of the Iran deal are now so embittered
that they sound
like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But that’s where we are.
Given the stakes – the possibility of a horrific war that would make the Iraq
conflict look like a picnic – this is absolute lunacy, but hardly unexpected
given the political atmosphere. On the one hand, the Republicans have never
been supportive of any rapprochement with Iran, and on the other hand the Democrats
and their far-left hangers-on don’t want to give any credit to the Trump campaign
even if it means war. That leaves Trump – who has declared he’d meet with Rouhani
with “no preconditions” – and the Iranian moderates pretty much isolated.
Which is just where the War Party wants them to be.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets
are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist
of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here
is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming
the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with
an Introduction by Prof. George
W. Carey, a Foreword
by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott
Richert and David
You can buy An
Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus
Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.
Read more by Justin Raimondo