Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The elites vs social media: Why our rulers lost faith in the digital dawn

Daniel Ben-Ami

Attitudes towards the internet have shifted incredibly over the past few years. Where many used to praise the supposedly liberatory power of digital technology, now they talk gloomily about its allegedly malign influence. The main focus is on social-media platforms, Facebook most of all, but this new fear encompasses many other internet companies, too.

Given how much perceptions have changed over the years, a reminder of how things used to be not that long ago provides a salutary lesson. The election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president was a high point in positivity. Use of social media was widely praised, especially among self-defined liberals, for helping Obama to overcome decades of racism and win the election. For example, Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, said: ‘Were it not for the internet, Barack Obama would not be president.’ She went on: ‘Were it not for the internet, he wouldn’t even have been the democratic nominee.’

The Arab Spring of 2011 bought the hype about new technology to even further heights of ecstasy. Many self-proclaimed progressives credited social media as the driving force behind the popular uprisings against the autocratic rulers of several Arab countries. Paul Mason, a prominent left-wing commentator, described the protests in Egypt that year as ‘a revolution planned on Facebook, organised on Twitter and broadcast to the world via YouTube’.

This is not the place to examine the two sets of events except to say that the claims they were victories driven by social media have not stood the test of time. It is true that the Obama 2008 campaign, with its promise of radical change, inspired a large section of the American electorate. But although social media may have helped to spread the message, they did not create the conditions of public disenchantment with traditional political leaders. Likewise, social media may have helped activists promote protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, but the key component of the Arab Spring – corroded systems of government overseen by geriatric rulers – had little to do with Facebook or Twitter.

In any case, the subsequent setbacks in both the US and the Middle East call into question the breathless claims about social media creating a new progressive epoch.

Fast forward to the present, though, and elite attitudes towards social media have taken on a much darker hue. It is hard to follow the news without being bombarded with hysterical claims about the supposed dangers of the internet and associated technology. The litany of charges includes: undermining democracy; spreading ‘fake news’; eroding privacy; facilitating tax dodging; fostering new forms of addiction; letting sexual harassment run riot; failing to tackle inequality; and endangering children. Anyone who thinks this list is exaggerated can use Google to verify it.

Whereas social media was once seen as a vehicle for the progressive cool of an Obama, it is now associated with the angry populism of a Trump

This is not to say there were no criticisms of digital technology a decade ago or that there are no positive voices today. But the balance of opinion has shifted in a short time from a generally rosy outlook to a frequently doom-laden one.

Jamie Bartlett, director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos, has probably done more than anyone else in Britain to draw attention to this shift. His two-part BBC2 documentary on the Secrets of Silicon Valley, first broadcast in 2017, contended that a backlash against digital technology had begun. The People Vs Tech is essentially an elaboration of the arguments in part two of Secrets of Silicon Valley.

Bartlett tries hard to maintain an even-handed approach to the new technology, although he ultimately comes down on the side of the pessimists. For him the ‘techlash’, as he calls it, ‘is a welcome brake on the runaway tech train’. However, he does go on to warn there is a danger that ‘it’s turning into a blind emotional rage against the machines’. Tellingly, he writes that his own approach to social media has become negative in his decade following the subject: ‘My optimism drifted into realism, then morphed into nervousness. Now it is approaching mild panic.’

Much more of a problem, though, is his failure properly to explore the reasons behind the shift. The furthest Bartlett goes is to argue that it is motivated by the revenge of the Old Media on the New Media. In other words, newspapers, their advertising revenue savaged by the internet platforms, have facilitated criticism of the new technology.

But given the huge scale of the onslaught against digital technology this is not entirely convincing. Governments across the Western world, along with supranational institutions, such as the European Union, have led an onslaught against the new tech giants on many fronts. The range of new laws and regulations that have either been implemented or will soon be implemented is astounding. There are also several examples of massive fines imposed on tech companies. These include the European Commission’s €4.34 billion (£3.85 billion) fine on Google for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive practices with its android software. In the name of protecting public safety and countering fake news, there is a concerted drive to counter the expression of non-mainstream opinions on the internet.

Before outlining some of these measures, it is necessary to identify the forces behind the dramatic shift. The most obvious is the rise of populism. It is personified in the shift between two famous social-media users: Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Trump has become notorious for his angry and often ill-judged tweets. Whereas social media as a whole was once seen as a vehicle for progressive cool, it is now associated with angry populism. Ironically, it is often those most guilty of hype in relation to the Obama campaign who have become digital technology’s most trenchant critics.

But although this abrupt reversal in perceptions is symbolised by these two presidents, it goes much further. It represents a fear on the part of large sections of the ruling elite that their hold over public opinion is disappearing. This is represented by the Brexit referendum in Britain, Trump’s victory in the US and the growing support for many populist parties in continental Europe.

From an elite perspective, a key danger of social media is that it allows political trends outside of the mainstream to spread their arguments more easily. Yascha Mounk, a politics lecturer at Harvard and executive director at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, has expressed this fear in relation to the decline of traditional media ‘gatekeepers’ in the US.

Mounk’s reasoning is worth quoting at length because it makes clear both the issues at stake and the anti-democratic nature of the argument. He describes the traditional elite conception of democracy as telling the people that ‘as long as you let us call the shots, we will pretend to let you rule’. He then goes on to argue: ‘It’s a deal that has proven phenomenally successful for 250 years. Today, that deal is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, and the reason is both unlikely and counterintuitive: the rise of the internet and social media is making the ideological foundation of liberal democracy – which has had a tight hold over our imagination for the better part of two centuries – look increasingly brittle.’

Bartlett’s argument is not explicitly anti-democratic but his assessment is similar to Mounk’s. The new technology gives voices which might once have been marginal the capacity to influence political debate.

This, then, is the trend across the Western world. The rise of social media is viewed with horror by political elites now that they realise it could help forces from outside the traditional mainstream. Our embattled rulers like to flatter themselves by presenting the political divide as a clash of cosmopolitan liberals against the bigoted public. But their real fear is that the new media threatens their hold over political debate.

Before concluding with the dangerous consequences of the turn against social media, it is important to recognise that there are more long-standing elite fears about technology. For example, technological development is generally associated with economic progress; a development which mainstream thinking has come to fear. This is a topic I have written about at length in my book Ferraris for All. But it is the rise of populism that explains the spectacularly rapid recent shift in elite attitudes towards social media in particular.

Given the elite’s fear and loathing of the public, it should not be a surprise that the measures it is implementing will act to curb free expression. There are so many of them, coming from so many different angles and covering so many different countries, that it is hard to keep up. They include regulations relating to fake news, hate speech, copyright, data protection, child protection and alleged monopoly practices. But the overall effect is to tighten state control over the new media at the expense of free expression and democracy.

The rise of social media is viewed with horror by political elites now that they realise it could help forces outside the traditional mainstream

It should be no surprise that some of these regulations exist at a European Union (EU) level. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives regulators far more power over the flow of data than they previously had. One side effect is that many leading American outlets, unwilling to comply with the onerous legislation, have blocked access to those who live inside the EU.

Meanwhile, in Germany, a new law is not only undermining free speech at home but has set a dangerous precedent that is in the process of being taken up elsewhere. As Bartlett pointed out in his BBC documentary, the 2017 Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz or NetzDG) breaks the key legal principle that social-media platforms are not responsible for uploaded content. The new law means that social-media sites became liable under Germany’s pre-existing hate-speech laws.

Under NetzDG, a social-media platform can be fined up to €50million (£44million) if it does not remove blatantly illegal material within 24 hours. Hate speech or fake news that is not unequivocally illegal must be removed within seven days, or a lesser fine could be imposed. This measure will inevitably have a chilling effect on free speech. Facebook and Twitter have reportedly recruited many hundreds of German-language moderators to sift through the huge volume of material posted on their sites. No doubt there will be strong desire to play it safe and delete any material that could be considered troublesome.

In Britain, a trenchant parliamentary report on social media, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) select committee, recently gained widespread publicity. Among its recommendations was, in line with the precedent set by the NetzDG, giving technology firms clear legal liability for ‘harmful and illegal content’. This pushes censorship even further by proposing that social-media platforms should be responsible for material deemed harmful even if it is perfectly legal.

As it happens, the DCMS was pushing at an open door. The government is already in the process of extensively reviewing laws regarding the internet. It has completed a consultation over an Internet Safety Strategy, which entails extensive new controls over the internet. A White Paper, proposing future legislation, is expected before the end of the year. And all this is on top of the Digital Charter on internet safety published in January and the Data Protection Act 2018, which incorporates the EU’s GDPR into British law. The overall effect is that use of the internet will be far more regulated than it was in the past.

If this international legislative onslaught is designed to keep anyone safe, it is not the vulnerable but the political elites themselves. Public criticisms of those in power will find it harder to gain an airing. It represents a comprehensive assault on freedom of speech. Resisting this offensive is essential for all those who believe in democracy.


James Dobson Statement Involving Trump Is Big Win for Trump Fans

In an article for his August newsletter, Dr. James Dobson — the evangelical leader who founded Focus on the Family and is currently the president of Family Talk — decried liberal control of the media and said that it was “no time to go wobbly” when it came to freedom of speech.

Dobson began by describing a tour in Germany that he took of Nazi-related sites about 20 years ago with his wife.

“The tour lasted two hours, during which I learned how the Nazis managed to enslave the German people and then molded them into a force that devastated and conquered almost every country in Europe,” Dobson wrote. “Millions of people around the world held their breath as destiny hung in the balance.”

In the next section, Dobson asked “why am I recalling these bitter memories?”

“This historical account is relevant today because America and other Western nations have for decades been losing their God-given rights that define us as a free people,” Dobson wrote.

“We are not experiencing Nazi-like tyranny yet, but we are steadily being expected to think, speak, write, and act in a prescribed manner in conformity with what is now called ‘political correctness.’ The mainstream media has become a tool to influence elections and spread this belief system. Sadly, the rights handed down to us by our forefathers more than 200 years ago are gradually being overridden, ignored, contradicted, or disregarded by the courts and legislatures. Alas, we are less free now than we were even five years ago.”

A lot of that has to do with religious freedom — something where the judiciary and its makeup plays an important role, particularly given President Trump’s appointments.

“We dare not let officious justices, judges, legislators, or politicians take even one of (our constitutional rights) away from us. But some liberals today are diligently trying to do just that. We must stop them, but how? Our rights are being trampled every day. The only way to defend our liberties is at the ballot box,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, more than half of Americans, including the majority of Christians, don’t even bother to vote. Shame on them all! Don’t they know that tyranny for us and our children is only one generation, or even one election, away? We must vote, vote, vote to elect leaders who will defend what has been purchased with the blood of patriots who died to protect our liberty.”

Dobson pointed out the usual cases of judicial abuse, including Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges, and one where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “upheld an outrageous legislative measure that forced pro-life clinics, which are dedicated to the sanctity of human life, to promote abortions with their patients, and to place posters on the walls telling them where they can go to kill their babies. That became the law of the land in nine Western states for 32 months.

Thanks to President Trump’s nomination and the Senate’s subsequent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, that ruling was overturned this past June by a vote of 5 to 4,” he continued. “How close the Court came to decimating freedom of speech in those clinics. So many other critical issues related to the Bill of Rights have been decided by a single vote.”

However, he pointed out other cases which didn’t receive quite as much play in the media, including one that involved a school district in the Golden State.

“Children attending Mesquite Elementary School in Palmdale, California, came home one afternoon and told their parents what had happened to them in class. It was a shocker. One of their teachers, with administrative approval, sat for hours with students, aged seven to ten, to ensure that each of them completed 79 items on a questionnaire,” Dobson wrote.

“The kids, barely out of babyhood, were required to respond to highly personal questions about their private thoughts, including 10 items about their sexuality. Permission was neither requested nor discussed with parents. The children were asked about such topics as frequency of thinking about having sex, and thinking about touching other peoples’ private parts, among many others.

“The parents were incensed, (wouldn’t you be?) and filed suit in both federal and district courts against the school district for invading their children’s privacy and the parents’ rights to control the upbringing of their children,” he continued. “They were desperately trying to defend the innocence of their children, but to no avail. The courts ruled that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexuality or education of their children. Both the district and federal courts dismissed the case. One of them asserted that parents have no right to determine what their sons and daughters will be exposed to while enrolled in California’s public schools.”

That’s why, Dobson said, Trump sends the left into a state of fear.

“You can understand why the far left is in a state of panic today. It is looking for anything on which to hang its opposition to Judge Kavanaugh. One of their criticisms is that while in college, he put ketchup on his pizza. Are you kidding me? Does anyone else see the evidences of desperation here?” Dobson wrote.

“So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 44 judges who have been confirmed to the bench, and there are many others (88) in the pipeline. There is hope for additional conservative and common-sense decisions to be handed down in the future. This is a matter for sincere prayer among those of us who have longed for relief from judicial tyranny.”

“Ours can be a lonely vigil unless defenders of the Constitution, and particularly conservative Christians, stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this struggle,” Dobson said. “We and other conservative organizations are winning in the public square. This is no time to go wobbly.”

In terms of shoring up evangelical support for Trump, Dobson’s statement has to be seen as a big win for the administration. After all, Dobson remains one of the foremost leaders of the movement. An unequivocal statement of support like this is a major boost — particularly as Americans gear up to vote in the midterm elections. If religious liberty becomes a major issue, the Republicans are going to turn out the base in a major way, and that’s going to strike fear into the Democrats.


Founder of Congress’ Media Fairness Caucus Has a Prescription for Curing Media Bias

He is interviewed below by Rob Bluey and Ginny Montalbano   

The Daily Signal spoke last week with Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, about media bias. Smith discussed the House Media Fairness Caucus, which he founded, how Americans can combat media bias, and a new term he coined: mediacrats. This transcript of the interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Rob Bluey: Congressman, how bad is media bias today?

Rep. Lamar Smith: I have to tell you, I’m sure it’s been worse, but I’m not aware of it. What we’re seeing today, I think, is a real threat to our democracy because you’ve got virtually every media platform—and the ones that obviously come to mind are Facebook or Twitter or Google, for example—who have demonstrably been biased against conservative voices, against conservative commentary, and against conservative Republican individuals.

And you’ve got a situation where it’s interesting to me that the bias is always [in] one direction. It’s always the conservatives who are either shadow-boxed or censored, or their information is deleted. And all these social platforms—and we just had a recent hearing in the Judiciary Committee—say that they’re going to correct that, say they want to stop the bias.

But I remain unconvinced. The reason is that these organizations are permeated with liberal Democrats. There’s no other way to say it. Or with individuals who have very liberal, if not radical, views.

And so when you have an organization who’s owned by, run by, staffed by—I don’t know what the percentage might be, let’s call it 80 percent liberal Democrats—that is going to manifest itself in the work product. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not intentional. But these people are so smart you’ve got to believe that a lot of it is intentional.

The individuals who write the algorithms, the individuals who make editing decisions, apparently are influenced by their own political agenda and their own desire to, frankly, tell the American people what to think, override conservative thought, and make sure that the liberal viewpoint gets more play than the conservative.

Ginny Montalbano: Congressman, a couple of years ago, you started the [House] Media Fairness Caucus. What made you start that caucus, and what was that process like?

Smith: The Media Fairness Caucus I started, not to censor any media whatsoever, but to call attention to the fact that the bias is so palpable, it’s so obvious, every single day, and I want the American people to be aware of that. They need to realize that what they’re hearing and seeing is oftentimes filtered, it’s through liberal-tinted glasses. And to be aware of the bias is the first step in being able to counter it.

I’ve gotten in trouble for saying that the liberal media bias is a threat to democracy. But the reason I think it is is because if the American people don’t get the facts, they can’t make good decisions; and if the American people can’t make good decisions, that’s when our democracy is threatened.

The situation we have today is that, take for example the coverage of the president, which is 90 percent negative. Even if people are aware of the bias in the media, and many are, nevertheless, if that’s all you’re seeing and hearing day after day, week after week, it’s going to have an impact on how you think. You may not even be aware of it.

And so, the degree of bias we’re seeing in the media from my reading of history is the worst we’ve had in 100 years, since the days of the so-called yellow journalism at the beginning of the 1900s. It’s not good for our country, it’s not good for the American people. And it’s not good for the American people because of the liberal mindset, which is basically very patronizing.

The liberal mindset is we know better than the American people what’s good for them, and therefore that entitles us to tell them what to think. That’s why so often today, whether it’s the social media platforms or whether it’s the national daily newspapers  or whether it’s cable, that you have news stories that are really opinion pieces. And you have news stories that are not just giving the American people the facts, but they’re just a political agenda piece.

And if they’re going to be opinion, if they’re going to be editorials, they ought to be labeled that. You look at the front page of some of our national daily newspapers today and almost every article is opinion, not straight news. I just think we need to call the American people’s attention to it.

I think ultimately there’s bound to be somebody in the media who recognizes they’re doing their own profession a disservice. You see today, with the most recent polls, where it’s a record low percentage of the American people who now trust the media to give them the truth, to give them the facts. It’s down to close to, I think, 25 percent. But even if the American people don’t trust the media, if they’re still being barraged and bombarded daily with only one side, that does have an impact.

Bluey: Following up on that, what’s the best way that Americans, or people like you here in Congress, can combat media bias?

Smith: I think the best way to combat media bias is twofold. First, to point it out and make the American people aware of it, and give them examples. I think every Republican office holder ought to lace every single speech with examples of media bias, so the American people are aware of how often it occurs, the different forms it occurs in.

Then the second step, the second way, is to actually try to correct it. Confront the media, the liberal media, with examples of media bias, and try to remind them of their incredible responsibility to in fact give the American people the facts and not tell them what to think. I think journalism is a profession that has an incredible amount of responsibility, and right now [journalists] are not exercising that responsibility in a professional way. They’re letting their own prejudices, their own bias, get in the way of reporting. And that’s regrettable.

There may be one or two or three, and I hope there will be more, liberal journalists who are going to say at some point, ‘Wait a minute. We’re hurting our own credibility, it’s at a record low, we’re doing a disservice to the American people, and we’re not adhering to our own professional standards.’ … I’m seeing hints of one or two here and there, but certainly it’s going to take a lot more for that profession to get back to objective news coverage and restore their own credibility. I want them to succeed, and I want them to be credible, but I want them to be objective and fair and unbiased.

Montalbano: Since you started the Media Fairness Caucus several years ago, when it comes to media bias, do any top offenders stand out to you?

Smith: Oh my gosh, pick your subject. Maybe the first one to mention, it is controversial, but it’s also a subject that really demands that the American people be given the facts, and that’s immigration. I just happened to see recently, in the last day or two, that 90 percent of immigration coverage is liberal, is biased. It’s right in there with the coverage of the president.

My guess, it’s probably true of almost any controversial issue. But the American people are on the opposite side of the liberal media on almost every issue. You know, most of the national media, when it comes to immigration, are in favor of massive amnesty, they’re in favor of admitting far more people than the American people want to.

You know, you look at the liberal left and the Democratic Party, who even want to abolish our Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that stops illegal immigration and arrests criminal aliens. But the American people want secure borders, [and] the liberal Democrats and the liberal media don’t.

By the way, please help me coin a new word, and it’s “mediacrats.” The media, the liberal media and the Democrats, are now so wedded together, they’re so united in their propaganda and political agenda, I think we just might as well admit that they have become fused and call them the mediacrats, because they’re in effect one and the same. A little bit of a digression there.

But to go back to immigration for a second, we have a situation, this is more on the substance of the issue, where today we have hundreds of thousands of people coming into the country illegally every year. We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they’re going, we don’t know what they might do. And we as a sovereign nation should stop illegal immigration. We have the most generous legal immigration policy in the world.

No other country comes close to admitting a million people every year legally, and that’s what we do. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to come into the country, and the right way is to play by the rules, seek admission, be approved, and come in. If you have to wait a few years, get on the list. But a million people come in legally every year, and we need to continue that.

Legal immigration has done wonders for our country in any number of ways, but illegal immigration is of a totally different nature and it’s no fair to the people who have been playing by the rules to let people cut in front of the line, or give them amnesty, or say it doesn’t matter if they come into our country.

Immigration is just an example where the liberal media really are on the opposite side of the American people, and yet their coverage only reflects the liberal point of view 90 percent of the time.

Bluey: I like the word mediacrats, I had not heard that before.

Smith: Oh, help me out with that. We need to spread the word. I think mediacrats is very appropriate, very descriptive, and very accurate.

Bluey: The New York Daily News recently announced it’s laying off about half of its staff. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that perhaps government subsidies could go to save some of these jobs for this New York institution, of course a very liberal New York institution. As conservatives, we just couldn’t believe that somebody would suggest using taxpayer dollars in this way; aren’t there dangers associated with getting the government involved in the publishing business?

Smith: Yeah, hard to imagine a worse idea. Of course, Democrats always believe in subsidies of one kind or another, and they don’t believe so much in the free market that has made our country so great and the most prosperous country in the world. So it’s an ideological chasm here that we have.

But yes, you should certainly not have the government subsidizing media, or the media’s going to lose their independence. And they’ve already lost their ideological independence because they all, not all, but the great majority, I think, of the media—particularly the national media, not necessarily local media—but the great majority of the national media are liberal Democrats and we’ve seen the voting records and what primaries they vote in and so forth.

But yeah, I think that’s a pretty bad idea to start getting the government to bail out the media, then the media’s obviously going to feel obligated to the government, or the government’s going to be in some kind of control. The last thing we want in this country is government controlling the media.

Montalbano: This president and the press have had a very contentious relationship from the start. Now the hot story this week has been CNN’s Kaitlan Collins being excluded from a White House event. What should the relationship between the president, the administration, and the press look like?

Smith: I’ve waited many, many years, decades, for a president who would point out media bias and who would try to combat political correctness, and we finally have a president who is doing that. I think he has every right, and I like to see him point out the fake news. And when you have reporters, like today, who intentionally say or write something they know is not true, that to me is the definition of fake news. I like to see the president point that out.

I had a great deal of satisfaction, I remember, on the House floor some months ago, probably it was a year ago, where I gave a speech and said it would be better for the American people to get their information from the president than from the media.

The media went ballistic, absolutely ballistic, and you know what? The next week they did a poll, and more people trusted the president than the media to give them information. So I felt like once again I was on the same side as the American people, and they saw through the media bias and they trusted President Trump more than they trusted the liberal media. So like I say, I had some personal satisfaction in having called it right on that.

Bluey: Finally, Congressman, I want to ask you on that note: This month the House had a hearing on social media. This president is somebody who has used social media very effectively. His tweets go directly to the American people without any filter through the media. You had a piece that we published in The Daily Signal about social media in particular. And it’s an issue where I think conservatives, I’ve seen it, are divided. They don’t want the government to necessarily regulate these technology companies. What role do you think they should have?

Smith: Well, I think we should do two things as far as government goes, or as far as the American people go, and this is conduct strict what we call oversight of these organizations. Again, point out to the American people how biased they are, examples of bias. Let the American people know that they’re not getting all the facts, and oftentimes you’re seeing more the left side than the right side, the liberal side than the conservative side.

But I’m hesitant to … I believe strictly in the First Amendment, and these are private companies. I don’t really think you can … it’s hard to regulate them. You need to get them to frankly be more objective and not restrict any conservative news or restrict the American people’s access to conservative viewpoints or conservative Republicans, or whatever it might be.

I think if we continue to exercise that kind of oversight that will, I hope, keep them on the right track. It’s not going to be easy when you have that institutional, built-in, innate bias. It’s really going to take the head of the company.

It’s going to take literally the CEO to change that culture, and that CEO is going to say …  ‘Check your personal opinion at the door when you come to work. If you telecommute, check it when you turn on your computer. We are not going to tolerate any bias anymore anywhere.’

But it’s going to take that top CEO saying that and changing the entire culture before I think you have all the employees saying, ‘OK, well, I really can’t try to sneak in my bias.’

You saw recently where the employees of one social media [company] said, ‘We don’t want to have anything to do with any military contracts or provide any information to the military.’ By the way, if that didn’t say to the American people how liberal they were, that they weren’t going to cooperate with our military to defend our country or our allies.

And you had the CEO capitulate in a matter of minutes: ‘OK, we won’t do contracts anymore or provide the military anymore with information.’ That’s how liberal the organization is.

I yearn for the day where the CEO would say, ‘You know what? We’re not a political organization, we’re a media platform, we’re a social platform. We have a responsibility to the American people to give them all sides. And you employees, again, you can be as biased as you want, you can campaign for whoever you want to, you can contribute to whoever you want to. But when you start work, we’re going to play it down the middle, we’re going to be objective, we’re going to be fair, we’re not going to be biased.’

But it’s going to take the CEO to lay that out there and change the culture before we actually, I believe, will see objective social media platforms.


Douglas Murray heads to Australia

DOUGLAS Murray thinks Europe is committing suicide.

He declares as much in the opening line of his latest book, in which he laments that the leaders of western Europe are allowing the cultural flame of the continent to be extinguished through mass migration, in particular from the Muslim world.

The controversial assertion underpins the book, The Strange Death Of Europe: Immigration, Identity And Islam, but he sees nothing particularly controversial about the claim.

“It was the result of a long time in which I was travelling for many years across Europe, travelling to many countries where people were fleeing form to go to Europe in the height of the migration crisis in 2015,” he told news.com.au.

“I thought someone needs to describe why it was happening, and chart the consequences.”

Murray, who is the associate editor of the Spectator and founder of the right-leaning Centre for Social Cohesion think tank, is highly critical of the far left side of politics for denying or diminishing the problems that come with a sudden large increases in immigration, when those migrants come from different, distinct and strong cultures.

“In one year alone, Germany and Sweden for instance took between two and three per cent addition of their entire population, so this is one of the most significant movements into Europe ever,” the British commentator said of the height of the migrant crisis a few years ago.

For western Europe, he identifies Muslim immigration as the most destructive force and a problem for the social cohesion of the West.

From his perspective, Islamic migrants — a portion of whom have particularly strict religious beliefs — are clashing with a Europe that is tired from history, guilt-ridden, increasingly faithless and overrun with the notion of political correctness.

If allowed to continue, Murray asserts, the result will ultimately be the Islamisation of the continent and the end of European cultural civilisation.

One of the people Murray often cites in his book is German historian and philosopher of Syrian origin Bassam Tibi who in the past has made similar warnings on this topic.

In an interview more than a decade ago he told German magazine Der Spiegel: “Muslims stand by their religion entirely. It is a sort of religious absolutism. While Europeans have stopped defending the values of their civilisation. They confuse tolerance with relativism.”

Murray’s book has been called “brilliant” by The Sunday Times; “compelling, fearless and truth-telling” by the Evening Standard and labelled as “gentrified xenophobia” by The Guardian.

The diversity of opinion surrounding it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a way, the ensuing debate is what outspoken thinkers like Douglas Murray traffic in.

He has been touring the UK on a speaking tour with neuroscientist and author Sam Harris and the most famous psychologist in the world right now, Jordan Peterson.

Murray argues it is important that we deal honestly with the ramifications of mass migration in the modern world.

It’s undeniable the issue has played a role in major political events like the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right in the German parliament.

“There’s a worldwide concern about this and I think that concern is understandable and at least should be attempted to be understood,” he said.

But it’s also true that since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, countries like Germany and Sweden who loosened their immigration laws have since reversed course. At the time, the International Organisation for Migration said more than a million migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2015, with a monthly peak of more than 221,000 in October.

Murray says his book is about finding a solution to migration that is “liberal, humane and sustainable” but is also cautious about blindly embracing the pursuit of multiculturalism, which many Western governments are quick to celebrate.

“If by multiculturalism you mean multiracial, pluralist society then I have no problem with that, and indeed think there are obvious advantages from it, in some circumstance and to some degree,” he said.

“But multiculturalism in recent decades has become something else. It’s become, among other things government policy to push the idea that there is no such things as a core common culture in a country. We are simply convening bodies in which the world can come and celebrate whoever they are in our countries. I think this is a hugely problematic idea.”

Controversial immigration polices are something Australians know well. Despite the criticism Australia’s offshore detention system receives from the likes of the UN and human rights organisations, Murray thinks we’ve got it right.

“I think Australia has done the right thing. The situation in Australia is not that dissimilar to that of Europe but Australia decided to act in a very different way.

“The Australian Government have seen that if you allow illegal migration to occur, if you decided there is no difference between legal and illegal immigration then you’re giving up the law, and that’s a heck of a thing to give up.”

When he appears in front of Australian audiences, it will be much more than immigration on the table.

His recent touring with Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson was labelled “the Woodstock of Debate” and Murray is looking forward to engaging with Australian audiences on a range of topics.

Most of all, he has been buoyed by the growing appetite among the public, particularly the younger generation, to engage on big ideas and difficult topics.

“The thing that is most satisfying, and I really do mean this, is that the engagement of audiences with serious ideas is something that almost nobody predicted, but it’s one of the most positive news stories of our time.”



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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