Over the past few months I have had several posts on the subject of audacious big tech deplatformings of mainstream conservative opinions, for example here on February 22 and here on March 4. But the big tech social media enterprises like Twitter, Facebook and Google are only one front of the progressive program to suppress any speech that does not toe the official orthodox line. I thought it might be time for a small roundup of recent instances.
Center of the American Experiment, Raise Our Standards Tour.
Center of the American Experiment (CAE) is a Minnesota-based think tank headed by a guy named John Hinderaker. Hinderaker was a contemporary of mine back at Harvard Law School in the early 1970s, and had a similar career as a major firm trial lawyer; now he contributes to the PowerLine blog while also running this very mainstream conservative think tank.
In recent months CAE has taken on the issue of leftist indoctrination of young children in public schools, and in that effort has been conducting something called the Raise Our Standards tour that is holding meetings with parents around the state of Minnesota. The subject of the tour is a new set of “standards” for K-12 social studies curricula in Minnesota promulgated by the state education bureaucracy. Here is a web page promoting the CAE events. Excerpt:
The “woke” political movement has invaded Minnesota’s public schools, turning them into ideological battlegrounds and threatening the quality of our children’s education. Our students deserve better. Join us to learn more about how Critical Race Theory advances a leftist, anti-American agenda that radically changes how our children learn about their country. Most important, learn how parents can push back against the politicizing of our schools.
The tour was scheduled to come to the city of Duluth on June 17. At that point a group of progressives decided to shut it down. Duluth NAACP chapter president Classie Dudley put up a Facebook post in which she asserted that the CAE event would be “hate speech” and “overt racism,” and that CAE is “a racist organization coming down and preaching white supremacy.” According to this post from CAE staff member Bill Walsh, the local school superintendent, by the name of John Magas, then orchestrated a telephone campaign to bully two different venues into refusing to host the event. The event had to be canceled, although CAE is promising to reschedule as soon as an alternative venue can be found.
Meanwhile, Duluth — the hub of the Minnesota “iron range” — is in one of those heavily blue-collar areas that is rapidly trending Republican after decades of Democratic dominance. Its congressional district flipped to Republican in 2018 after being solidly in Democratic hands (with one two-year exception) since the 1940s. Is the strategy for a Democratic comeback really to try to keep the people from finding out about the critical race theory indoctrination of their children?
The Epoch Times
I previously reported on the “demonetization” of the Epoch Times by YouTube in my March 4 post. The demonetization apparently took place some time during January 2021, according to the Epoch Times itself on February 1. Remarkably, neither YouTube nor Google has ever given any specific justification for the demonetization, nor any specific example of something that has appeared in the Epoch Times that supposedly violates the Google or YouTube terms of service. An inquiry from Breitbart News as to the reason for the demonetization received only this generic response from YouTube: “All channels on YouTube need to comply with our Community Guidelines and in order to monetize, channels must comply with the YouTube Partner Program policies, which include our Advertiser-Friendly Guidelines. Channels that repeatedly violate these policies are suspended from our partner program.”
I raise the subject again today because I received an email from the ET on June 24 indicating that the YouTube suspension continues to remain in effect after five months.
For readers unfamiliar with the Epoch Times, it was founded by a group of refugees from China, many of whom are members of the Falun Gong movement and experienced severe repression under the Chinese Communist regime. The ET is highly critical of the Chinese Communist Party, as might be expected. In the absence of any other plausible explanation of why the ET has been demonetized by YouTube, pressure from the CCP would certainly be the leading hypothesis. Frankly, that’s more than a little frightening.
But the ET appears to have some very substantial financial backing. In their June 24 email, they announce the launching of their own video channel. Good luck to them.
Abigail Shrier, Irreversible Damage.
You have probably heard of this book, which deals with the subject of the rapidly increasing number of teenage girls who have recently sought gender-reassignment surgery. Unlike another book on a related subject — When Harry Became Sally, by Ryan Anderson — Ms. Shrier’s book has not (yet) been banned from Amazon. However, activists have been conducting a guerrilla war in one place after another in efforts to ban and/or suppress the book. Ms. Shrier gives details in a lengthy post at Bari Weiss’s Substack on June 21.
I’ll cover just a couple of many examples. First, at a respected blog called “Science-Based Medicine,” one of the editors of the site, Harriet Hall, posted a favorable review of Ms. Shrier’s book. Here’s what happened next:
Within a day, Dr. Hall’s article was flooded with nearly 1,000 comments, mostly, she says, from activists demanding the article be stripped from the site, but also from some readers expressing their appreciation. Angry emails from activists swamped the blog’s editors. Within two days, those editors had given Dr. Hall an ultimatum: retract, rewrite, or allow them to add a disclaimer.
When Dr. Hall declined to add a disclaimer, her co-editors retracted the review without so much as notifying her that they were doing it. As Shrier puts it, the review had been “bullied out of existence.”
And then there is the story of the Halifax (Canada) public library. An organization called “Halifax Pride,” which puts on a big annual LGBTQ event in the city, announced that it would cut ties with the library unless the library dropped the book. Halifax Pride called the book “transphobic,” and claimed that it “jeopardizes the safety of trans youth” and “debates the existence of trans people.” So far the library has stood by Ms. Shrier, although she reports that neither the Nova Scotia Library Association nor the Canadian Library Association would stand with the Halifax library.
Meanwhile, there is a waiting list of almost 150 people in line to read the library’s two available copies of the book.
My comment in all these cases is, if you really think you have the winning position, then you should have no problem with your opponents saying their piece, after which you are confident that you will demolish them with your superior argument. At the moment the progressive left may seem to have superior bullying power, but that is not a strategy for long term success.