The response of the Australian government to US President Donald Trump’s incitement of the January 6 attack on the US Congress was, shall we say, muted.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his “distress” and his hope that order would soon be restored. However, he stopped far short of condemning the President, an extraordinary omission for the leader of a liberal democracy, considering Trump’s goal was to violently overthrow the results of a democratic election and retain his power.
It seems reasonable to expect that the government of a country that regards the US as its closest ally would express considerable alarm at a violent anti-democratic insurrection in which five people died, and yet…
Members of the Morrison government have saved their loudest outrage for Twitter, the social media platform Trump used to incite his followers, and the platform that has finally banned Trump for life. This, it appears, is the great injustice, an affront to “free speech,” and, wait for it, censorship.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly, Nationals backbencher George Christensen, Member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack are among government members who have condemned the “silencing” of Trump. (Trump has a pressroom in his house & can summon the world corps at any time, but that spoils the narrative so let’s not mention it).
Several MPs have called for the introduction of regulations that will ensure the state has control over the terms of service of private businesses such as social media, a most extraordinary demand from the party of small government, and one made with absolutely no sense of the irony inherent in the demand.
Christensen has started a petition demanding legislation to rein in the big tech overlords. Sharma is calling for a “publicly accountable body” to control who social media companies can and cannot refuse to host on their platforms. Frydenberg says he is “uncomfortable” with Twitter’s decision to dump Donald, leaving this writer to wonder how “uncomfortable” Mr Frydenberg is with the spectacle of Trump’s anti-Semitic foot soldiers wearing shirts declaring that “6 million wasn’t enough.” Mr Frydenberg has remained silent on this outrage.
Michael McCormack (some of you may know him better as the Elvis Impersonator) has this morning doubled down on his assertion that the insurrection at the Capitol last week was no different from Black Lives Matter protests, an assertion that has been strongly repudiated by Indigenous groups and Amnesty International as deeply offensive and flawed.
McCormack went on to state that “violence is violence and we condemn it in all its forms,” except, apparently, when incited by President Trump, whom McCormack has conspicuously failed to condemn.
What actually happened was that Twitter warned the President over several weeks that his content was violating their terms of service. Twitter then placed warning notices on many Trump tweets, while still permitting their visibility. They offered Trump the opportunity to delete his more troubling posts, and he declined. Finally, after weeks of what many perceived as irresponsible tolerance on the part of the social media platform, Twitter banished Trump.
The President received far more warnings and chances than any other user in the history of Twitter.
It is a manipulative leap to equate the breaching of a private company’s terms of service with “censorship.”
As Garry Kasparov remarked on Twitter:
If you want to use state power to control private companies because you don't like the decisions they make, *you* are the greater danger to a free society.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) January 10, 2021
Let’s not forget as well the enthusiasm with which an LNP government, under John Howard, took us along with the US into the invasion of Iraq, claiming as one of their justifications the delivery of democracy to that country. And yet, when democracy is under threat from domestic terrorism inside the US itself, there’s an orchestrated effort on the part of the LNP to distract attention from these momentous events and focus instead on Twitter allegedly “censoring” the leader of that insurrection.
Big tech de-platforming Donald is what they want you to think about, not Donald trying to destroy the US democratic process. Ask yourself why this is.
It is deeply troubling when your government decides the issue is a president being chucked off Twitter, and not a president attempting to violently interfere with the results of an election in an attempt to retain power. In its refusal to condemn Trump, the Australian government leaves us with little alternative but to assume its tacit support of the outgoing US President.
If what you take from the events of the last week is that the outrageous injustice is Twitter banning Donald Trump, you are either complicit or incomprehensibly stupid. Which is the Morrison-led Australian government?
This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.
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