When President Donald Trump’s supporters forced their way inside the US Capitol on Wednesday, they did not act as a unified force bent on seizing power. Instead they snapped selfies, looted souvenirs, and engaged in petty vandalism. While the rampage ended in tragedy for the protester shot dead by police, the police officer fatally injured, and the three others who suffered “medical emergencies” and died, it was soon snuffed out and Congress returned to work that evening to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Their ringleader even urged them to go home and committed himself to the “seamless” transition of power to Joe Biden. Worst. Coup. Ever.
Yet politicians on all sides and their enablers in the media swiftly declared it an “armed insurrection,” a “coup attempt,” and an example of “domestic terrorism.” ‘Never Trump’ Republican Kurt Bardella described Wednesday’s events as “symbolically worse than Pearl Harbor or 9/11,” while pundits described the littering and hooliganism as an assault on the “temple of our democracy” – you know, the same temple where respectable politicians vote on which foreign land their young soldiers will die in next.
There’s endless arguments to be made calling out the hypocrisy of America’s elites, who stood idly by as Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters burned and looted the country all summer long, but principles do not matter to these people. Only naked power and the will to wield it.
And wield it they did. As has become abundantly clear since Wednesday, the real coup was not against America’s ruling class, but by them.
President Trump was immediately condemned by the media and lawmakers in both parties, as was expected. However, condemnation was followed by a chorus of elected officials demanding Trump be removed from office on grounds of unfitness to lead, using the 25th Amendment. Failing that, Democrats began hastily drawing up articles of impeachment against the president, with a vote on them expected as early as Monday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved to restrict Trump’s powers as commander-in-chief, consulting with military top brass to prevent what she called “an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”
Incoming President Joe Biden compared pro-Trump Republicans to Nazis and promised to direct the Justice Department to lead a crackdown on “domestic terrorism.” The equation of Trump supporters to terrorists here is implicit.
As politicians used every tool at their disposal to box Trump in, their allies in Silicon Valley made an unprecedented move. Trump was permanently banned from Twitter, his primary means of communication with the public, while thousands of accounts belonging to his supporters were deleted. A slew of other social media companies indefinitely suspended the president, with Facebook going further and banning all posts offering “praise and support” to the rioters, forbidding the sharing of images from inside the Capitol, and banning the organizing of similar protests.
The significance of Silicon Valley’s involvement can not be overstated. Big Tech worked hand-in-glove with big government to de-person the president of the United States of America and prevent his supporters from organizing.
Why such a crackdown would be instigated with just over a week left in Trump’s presidency boggles the mind. The social media companies have offered the justification of “keeping us safe,” but that’s likely a cop-out.
Rather, by giving Trump the Alex Jones treatment, they’ve effectively made him political poison and hampered any attempt he may make at announcing a 2024 bid. They’ve also set out a roadmap for how the Washington/Silicon Valley alliance will deal with any future threats to its power. Former First Lady Michelle Obama made this explicit on Thursday when she called on tech firms to step up their censorship efforts so that future “insurrection” can be prevented.
Cutting off an opponent’s access to the media is step one in the regime change playbook, and the US government would know, having written several of them. When US-sponsored protesters deposed Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, the first building they seized after parliament was a TV station. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoided a communications blackout by using FaceTime to address the public during an attempted coup against him in 2016. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak cut off internet access as protesters organized against him in 2011. Every coup or counter-coup hinges on media control, and the only difference between the deplatforming of Trump and the examples above are that for the first time, foreign regime-change strategies are being openly deployed by Americans, against Americans, in America.
As the country’s most despicable journalists and pundits cheer for the unaccountable tech tyrants, budding dictators abroad are surely taking notes. Building relationships with the tech titans is the modern equivalent of seizing a television studio, and popular movements can be easily suppressed with their cooperation. If the world’s loudest and proudest democracy is doing it, why can’t they?
And who’s to say Silicon Valley’s giants themselves would stop at the US border? What is to stop them taking a dislike to some politician overseas and snuffing them out like Donald Trump? After all if the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth can be deleted, what chance do the rest of them have?
Back in the US, Trump has far more supporters than the mob who broke into the Capitol on Wednesday. He has 75 million of them, more than the population of the UK. Denied the opportunity to speak freely online and with their views branded as “extremist,” would anyone be surprised if they decided to take more drastic action?
After all, the regime change manual closes with a warning: an attempted coup only ever addresses “immediate issues and short-term, rather than longer-term, interests.” For the US, these long-term consequences could have the political class pining for a return to Wednesday’s hooliganism.
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