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Freedom Rider: Censorship in the Biden Era

Freedom Rider: Censorship in the Biden era

Originally published: Black Agenda Report (November 25, 2020)

The corporate media have joined the incoming administration in deciding what we can and cannot see and hear.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 the country has been warned about the dangers of fascism. It isn’t difficult to see why that is the case, as he banned people from mostly Muslim nations from entering the country, separated families seeking asylum, weakened an already frayed safety net, and undid the protections provided by a variety of government regulations.

The racist right wing was certainly ascendant during his administration, but the danger of fascism won’t leave Washington with Donald Trump. The obnoxious racist may be the public face of tyranny, but there is another danger coming from sectors of the Democratic Party. Their goal is to censor any points of view that undermine their neoliberal and imperialist narratives.

Bill Russo, deputy communications director for the Joe Biden campaign, publicly demanded that Facebook censor more often than it already does. He and others do so under the guise of preventing Trump from spreading misinformation, using the likes of Steve Bannon as a cover for something more sinister. They may accuse Facebook of “shredding the fabric of democracy,” but they are more interested in making sure that the small group of people who are actually leftists will have no platform with which to oppose Biden policies.

The corporate media have already made themselves clear by censoring the president himself. On November 5, 2020 Trump claimed to be a victim of election fraud at a White House news conference. Instead of allowing him to make his statement and then analyzing what he said, the television networks pronounced him a liar and cut away from his remarks.

Trump’s charges are unfounded, but the public should have heard him for themselves and made their own determination about the veracity of his words. But the corporate media are done with him and have joined the incoming administration in deciding what we can and cannot see and hear. They are declaring themselves the arbiters of what information should be made accessible to the rest of the world.

These open attacks against Facebook do require the left to be discerning. Big technology social media platforms are certainly not our friends. They readily silence individuals and pages that question the establishment narrative. Black people risk being kicked off entirely if they utter any words white people may find offensive. But Facebook already buckled under Democratic Party pressure that was ginned up during the Russiagate hoax. They even accepted blame for a non-existent offense. The tale of Russian government memes throwing the election to Trump was false and a useful way to silence dissent and attack another country all at once. It isn’t hard to believe that they will again bend to an establishment that is now back in power.

While keeping Facebook’s history in mind, we must also see through the machinations of a new group of thought police who have made clear that they expect social media to bow to their dictates. That is exactly what Twitter did in censoring a recent news story that was unflattering to Hunter Biden. After protecting the Democratic candidate’s son, Twitter’s CEO showed contrition after the fact and claimed the decision was a mistake.

It isn’t just corporate media who are a danger here. There are individuals on the Biden transition team who have publicly stated their support for official propaganda. Richard Stengel is the team leader for the United States Global Agency, which includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Networks. In 2018 Stengel had this to say about official propaganda, “My old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the chief propagandist. I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. And I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.” It should be noted that Stengel worked for the State Department during the Barack Obama administration and not that of fascist Trump.

It is clear that Biden will be the more effective evil in this regard. There will be no buffoons like Trump or Bannon spewing obvious hatred and nonsense who can be easily dismissed. Instead we will have well spoken operatives like Stengel, who think that propaganda isn’t so bad.

The people need their own platforms, like Black Agenda Report, that will dissect the lies and obfuscations of an administration greeted with a sigh of relief by millions of people weary of Trump and his policies. Already fossil fuel companies and Congress members who benefit from their largesse are on the transition team as are chemical industry representatives slated to go to the EPA. All will end up in the White House along with self-confessed propagandists. We must be ready to engage them all.

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