Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A Conservative Civil Rights Movement to End Internet Segregation

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 8 Comments Monday, June 24, 2019 @ Sultan Knish Blog

(You can find video of a talk I delivered for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, discussing the New Segregation, this same topic, in great depth, at DemoCast.)

"I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public--hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments," President John F. Kennedy declared in his televised address to the nation.

"This seems to me to be an elementary right," he added.

Three generations later, restaurants all over the country boast of discriminating against Trump supporters. They’re able to do that because the promise of Kennedy’s speech remains unfulfilled.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act mandates that, “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation… without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

The Civil Rights Act left out one important attribute. Political views.

In the spring of 2018, a Democrat judge ruled that a New York City bar had the right to discriminate against a Trump supporter wearing a MAGA cap because political affiliation is not a protected class.

Unlike race, religion and national origin, political affiliation protections are rare in civil rights legislation. But the only state that treats political affiliation as a protected class is also the home of Silicon Valley.

California.

The Ralph Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code Section 51.7) states that "all persons within the jurisdiction of this state have the right to be free from any violence, or intimidation by threat of violence, committed against their persons or property because of political affiliation."

Victims can contact the police or sue for Ralph Act violations. The significance of this is largely limited to some of California’s notoriously violent campuses and to violence occurring at street protests.

While California’s Unruh Act does not explicitly mention political affiliation, a California Supreme Court ruling a generation ago found that it "protects individuals" from "arbitrary discrimination" by California business owners who have excluded members of an entire class based on "the alleged undesirable propensities of those of a particular race, nationality, occupation, political affiliation, or age".

The Unruh Act has been used successfully in some past lawsuits, but its protections are limited. It might prevail in a restaurant discrimination case, assuming that there was a blanket policy of banning Republicans, but It does however offer a potential path forward against the new political segregation.

And toward a new civil rights movement.

The United States is no longer suffering a political crisis because of businesses denying services to black people. Instead the political crisis is caused powerful monopolies engaging in political discrimination.

The scope of the problem is both smaller and larger because while the internet platforms engaging in affiliation discrimination are fewer than the number of segregated businesses banned by the Civil Rights Act, their reach is far vaster, extending across state lines and even across borders with a global reach.

Facebook has 2.3 billion active users, Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day, Twitter has 321 million monthly users, and 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day. Segregation at this level can shut entire populations out of political participation in the marketplace of ideas. AI can then invisibly automate discriminatory policies and structurally embed them into countless sites across the internet.

And yet the fundamental problem is essentially the same.

A powerful elite has decided that a certain class of people should be shut out from being able to fully make use of public services. These policies of political segregation have not been openly articulated, but they have been exposed by hidden camera investigations, by lawsuits from employees fired for their political views, and by the pattern emerging from the mass of bans, shadowbans and demonetizations.

The latest crackdown by Google’s YouTube is typical of the use of non-transparent policies that are selectively applied and whose rationale represents structural discrimination against conservatives.

The new segregation masquerades as desegregation. Its implementation is segregating millions.

The Civil Rights Act and its various federal and state stepchildren created many protected classes and identities. Those identities were then weaponized for political activism. This created a system in which the very infrastructure of anti-discrimination law and policy were used to discriminate against conservatives when debating leftists who, unlike them, were not members of a protected class.

The disparate impact of this selectivity of protected classes is shutting down the First Amendment.

That’s what happened to Steven Crowder and countless other conservatives who were banned for engaging in verbal altercations with political activists shielded by their membership in a protected class.

And yet, as the testimony of countless conservatives of color who have been discriminated against and the lack of action against leftist bigots shows, this is not a sincere effort to protect minority groups, it’s a cynical effort to engage in political discrimination under the false flag of protecting minorities.

Minority conservatives who have been the victims of sustained racial and religious harassment have not benefited from the same protections that dot coms see fit to extend to identity politics leftists.

The identity behind the identity politics of race, religion and orientation is ultimately political.

That’s why minority conservatives are routinely accused of not being true members of a minority group. It’s also why white leftists routinely claim to be representing the concerns and views of minorities.

Adding political affiliation as a protected class would address the elephant in the room. It would also begin an important conversation about the structural political discrimination that has been built into the assumptions about what discrimination is and how to fight it. The dot coms did not invent the unfair double standards that are being used to silence conservative participation in the marketplace of ideas. The widespread discrimination against conservatives on the internet is a result of implementing them.

In the generations since the Civil Rights Act, not only has mandatory segregation been thoroughly stamped out, but private discrimination has been made legally and socially untenable.

In 1960, only 5% opposed their child marrying a spouse from another party. And only 4% approved of interracial marriage. By 2010, 86% of Americans approved of interracial marriage, but 40% disapproved of bipartisan marriage. (Opposition to interracial marriage is twice as high among blacks as whites.)

As many as 70% of Democrats have negative stereotypes of Republicans. It's the only socially acceptable prejudice. And what we are seeing in Silicon Valley is the implementation of those prejudices in policy.

This is the civil rights crisis of our time. The segregation is growing. And it must be met with a new movement to fight political discrimination in businesses, and especially among the dot coms.

America no longer has a racial segregation problem. It has a political segregation problem.

Some of the biggest companies in the country, which wield nearly total control over the internet, are politically segregated, have developed a culture of discrimination toward conservatives, and have engaged in a pattern of discriminatory conduct based on those prejudiced views.

It is an “elementary right”, as President John F. Kennedy put it, for conservatives to enjoy the same use of services at Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon, as anyone else. And the same access to financial services, such as MasterCard and Visa, which at one point banished the Freedom Center over its politics, the same right to visit a restaurant or a bar, or to teach in a school, regardless of their political affiliation.

This elementary right must be safeguarded by protecting not just sexual identity, but political identity.

The Bill of Rights is not built around most of the protected classes listed by many states, but around religious and political freedom. These were the issues that the revolt against British rule was built on. These are the rights that were meant to be safeguarded above all others. That guardianship has failed.

Conservatives are being silenced on the internet, fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes.

Republicans have enjoyed repeated majorities, have held the White House, and yet failed to take meaningful nationwide action to stop these abuses. Protecting political affiliation is a first step.

It is time for another Civil Rights Act to end political segregation by some of the most powerful corporations in America.

"We face," as Kennedy put it, "a moral crisis as a country and a people.”

Political segregation is the crisis of our time. It is time to meet it, not merely with rhetoric or excuses, but with solutions.


Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

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