is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Telegram @TheNebulator and on Twitter @NebojsaMalic
Those who criticize the Twitter ban of Project Veritas as hypocrisy or call out the double standard involved are missing the point. The First Amendment is a dead letter by now, and the repression has only just begun.
Officially, the undercover journalism shop was “permanently suspended” – Twitter’s preferred euphemism – on Thursday because they committed “repeated violations” of the company’s “private information” policy. Apparently, their latest video featuring Facebook’s VP of Integrity Guy Rosen showed his house number.
Their founder James O’Keefe had his account locked under the same policy, until he deletes the “violative” tweet, a spokesperson said.
The catch is, deleting the tweet admits it was a violation and thereby gives Twitter ammunition to claim “repeated” violations and “suspend” him down the line. Very convenient. Just as Veritas (Latin for “truth”) has been very inconvenient to the establishment over the years, bringing to light things they much preferred to stay secret.
Those who cheered the removal of Veritas – and there were many – claimed that the conservative outfit “deceptively edits” videos. O’Keefe has often waved a stack of court verdicts showing otherwise. It doesn’t matter. What they allegedly did is not the issue, who they are is. Let me show you.
Earlier this week, the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones (of the ‘1619 Project’) published the phone number of a reporter who asked her a question she disliked. Meaning, she literally violated Twitter’s doxxing policy. But as Grabien’s Tom Elliottt pointed out, “thankfully for her those rules only apply to conservative accounts that don’t actually break them.”
Nor do the rules apply to CNN, which in 2018 infamously doxxed and ambushed outside her home a Florida woman who supported President Donald Trump and shared “Russian” memes.
The ban of Veritas comes the day after actress Gina Carano was fired from Disney’s The Mandalorian and dumped by her agent over a social media post that – irony alert! – quoted a warning against dehumanizing people for their political beliefs.
Once again, people claimed there was a double standard at work, because her co-star Pedro Pascal was not so much as reprimanded for posts outright comparing the US to Nazi Germany.
Doing so, however, concedes that platforms have the right to censor and ban, and only argues over the details of their standards, which appear arbitrary and capricious. Except they are not.
This is not about a coherent standard of what is unacceptable being unevenly applied by people acting in good faith, but something else altogether: moral relativism, summed up almost 100 years ago as “who-whom.”
In 1921, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin declared the most important political question in the newly created Soviet Union is “who will get ahead of whom,” referring to the Communist struggle against enemies of the revolution. This was later shortened to “who-whom” by Trotsky (1925) and Stalin (1929) and used to justify coercion, repression and purges.
That morality has now become internalized across the Atlantic. The What doesn’t matter, you see – only if you’re the Who or the Whom. Carano and Project Veritas are the Whom and can do no right, while those aligned with Our Democracy are the Who and can do no wrong.
That doesn’t mean they won’t eventually turn to purging each other, mind you – just like under Stalin – but that’s cold comfort to the “kulaks” and “reactionaries” who will get purged first.
The purges have actually been going on for a few years already, they’re just accelerating towards escape velocity now. Does anyone remember when Julian Assange was banned? How many people cheered when Big Tech purged Trump just last month – while he was still in office, no less – over the ridiculous charge that his words “incited violence”? Now they’re going down the list, and it’s only a matter of time before you are next.
Make no mistake, sooner or later you will be – no matter how hard you grovel, or compromise your principles for a wage, or protest you’re one of the “good guys” and it was all a big misunderstanding. You’ll have no recourse, either, as Big Tech is literally above the law. Appealing to the First Amendment in a government that doesn’t care for it beyond lip service (and even that less by the day) won’t get you anywhere.
A society in which freedom of speech is actually sacred would not gleefully conjure a “my private company” exemption for censorship, or argue that Twitter or Google can do something Congress was explicitly prohibited.
It should be mind-boggling that the First Amendment is being treated not as a founding principle of this nation, but as an inconvenient hurdle in pursuit of absolute power by people who believe they deserve it. But here we are.