The same people who relentlessly insisted that Big Tech’s censorship campaign was totally fine are now screaming that a potential buyout of Twitter by Elon Musk poses a certified Threat to Democracy. But we’ve heard this absurd routine before, and it’s not really democracy they’re worried about. The Big Tech, big media, and big government cabal just whine about democracy being under siege when their own power conglomerate is threatened.
“I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes,” fretted The Washington Post’s Max Boot last week, after the Tesla and SpaceX CEO offered to buy the entirety of Twitter stock. “For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.”
Former New York Magazine writer Jesse Singal had the very intelligent take that even the possibility of Musk buying out Twitter was “America’s very first 9/11,” while Salon’s Matthew Rozsa blared that “Elon Musk’s attempted takeover of Twitter is a threat to the free world.”
The idea of losing some power to silence opposing viewpoints on social media is terrifying to these people — so terrifying that in their panic they don’t even realize they’ve admitted their own gluttony for control.
But this isn’t the first time the group of people in media, tech platforms, and politics who want to control what you think have seen pushback on their vise grip and gone ballistic. And a “threat to democracy” is their favorite label with which to smear anything that challenges their power.
The most obvious example is the systematic campaign to convince the country that a five-hour riot at the U.S. Capitol — which, contrary to media lies, did not cause the deaths of five people — was as bad as or worse than the terror attacks of 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and the Civil War. You don’t have to defend the Jan. 6, 2021 riot to recognize that America’s own justice system indicates it was neither an “insurrection” nor a “terrorist attack,” despite the hysteria of the corporate press.
But that’s not the only instance. Just think back to when The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin cried “Democracy is hanging by a thread” when an elected majority in the U.S. Senate, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, determined not to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Bankrupt plan. For Rubin and others, actual democracy at work was just too much of a threat to … democracy.
When concerned parents showed up to school board meetings to protest racist and radical sex ideology in their kids’ classrooms, they were labeled not just a threat to democracy but domestic terrorists, in a smear campaign that was revealed to be orchestrated by President Joe Biden’s own Department of Education.
New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz worried that the U.S. Supreme Court was too conservative, threatening that “the consequences for … popular democracy could be dire.”
Vox, among others, has declared that the constitutionally prescribed Electoral College “poses a … long-term threat to American democracy.” It has also claimed the constitutionally prescribed half of our bicameral legislature known as the U.S. Senate poses an even greater one.
And of course, nearly everyone on the left whined that questions about the rigging of the 2020 election were existential threats to democracy, after they spent years deriding President Donald Trump’s 2016 win as “illegitimate.”
It’s more than obvious by now that these people don’t truly want democracy or freedom, but power. When their control — over what laws are passed, who wins elections, what’s taught to kids in schools, or what you’re allowed to say on social media — is challenged, including by actual democratic processes like fair elections, free speech, or the will of a congressional majority, they’ll rush to call the challenger an enemy of democracy itself.
Just like Dr. Anthony Fauci equating himself with Science, these members of the ruling class want you to believe that an attack on their power is an attack on our entire political order. If they succeed in that, they can insulate themselves from all critique and silence the opposition, either via the power of cancel culture and self-censorship, or by simply locking the accounts of their critics.
But their propensity to fall back on that sham defense every time their rule is threatened has revealed just how desperate they are for control, and just how ridiculous they are willing to sound to maintain it. If they felt confident they could maintain power without smearing every opponent as the next big threat to the free world, there would be no need for such distracting theatrics. Instead, they’re so fragile that making any chink in their armor will get you labeled as America’s (next) “first 9/11.”
Next time you hear cries that something is a “threat to our very democracy itself, even graver than all the other, formerly-gravest threats to democracy,” it should be your first clue that that thing, good or bad, is making the censorship class quake in their silk slippers. Your second thought should be to expect them to exploit the “democracy” fearmongering for even more control — and your third thought should be to keep that the heck from happening.
Updated April 20: Since publication, Singal claimed his comments were a joke, but the line was still characterizing the stridency of the leftist Twitter reaction.