PIERS MORGAN: Trump the Terrible deserves to be dumped from the presidency AND from Twitter – but why don’t our social media masters have the guts to ban Iran and China’s genocidal monsters too?
It’s been eerily quiet on Twitter since Donald Trump was kicked off the platform last Friday evening, silencing the world’s biggest social media foghorn.
There was an immediate and urgent imperative to temporarily shut Trump down given the horrendous rampage at the US Capitol on Wednesday that he had so outrageously and recklessly fuelled, which was the very genuine fear there will be more violence from his frenzied mob of supporters – a threat that remains extremely high given just how dangerously brain-washed they have become thanks to Trump’s incessant false claims to have had the election ‘stolen’ from him.
But this wasn’t just a suspension.
Twitter announced it was banning Trump for life.
(I refuse to call him ‘President’ anymore because he shouldn’t be, and very soon won’t be.)
It said: ‘After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action.’
Trump was directly responsible for his supporters attacking the Capitol and therefore attacking the very heart of American democracy to try to overturn a fair and democratic election result.
Trump screamed at supporters to ‘STOP THE STEAL!’ and, his thuggish goons, like Rudy Giuliani urged them to use ‘combat’
The message Trump gave his supporters was crystal clear: go to the Capitol and stop democracy happening. So, they went there and tried, and thankfully failed – but six people died as a result of events that day including a police officer brutally murdered in the line of duty, and the mob being seen on camera chanting ‘HANG MIKE PENCE!
It’s hard not to argue with the logic of this statement if you believe, as I do, that Trump was directly responsible for his supporters attacking the Capitol and therefore attacking the very heart of American democracy to try to overturn a fair and democratic election result.
He screamed at them to ‘STOP THE STEAL!’ and Trump’s thuggish goons like Rudy Giuliani urged them to use ‘combat’.
The message was crystal clear: go to the Capitol and stop democracy happening.
So, they went there and tried, and thankfully failed – but six people died as a result of events that day including a police officer brutally murdered in the line of duty, and the mob being seen on camera chanting ‘HANG MIKE PENCE!’
It was one of the darkest days in American history and the buck starts and stops with Donald Trump who didn’t just lose the election but has lost his mind too.
As I wrote in the aftermath, he should be removed from office immediately and barred from ever running again.
But that doesn’t necessarily justify Twitter’s permanent ban on him, at least not if the tech giant wants to even pretend to be fair and consistent about their censorship policies.
In its statement, it explained: ‘Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open. However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules and cannot use Twitter to incite violence. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.’
Fine words, but how does Twitter square this with the fact that Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran still has an account?
The man who tweeted this in June 2018: ‘Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. Israel is a malignant cancerous tumour in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.’
Khamenei is self-evidently a world leader using Twitter not just to incite violence against a whole country and its 8.8 million people, but to have it and them ‘eradicated’.
He also made a direct threat against Americans for the killing of Iran’s military supremo General Soleimani a year ago, tweeting on December 16, 2020: ‘Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out shall be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time.’
That threat has not been deleted, presumably meaning Twitter doesn’t consider that it contravenes its policies.
And Khamenei’s Twitter account remains active, which is truly ironic given that he has banned 83 million Iranians from using it.
Indeed, he’s been gleefully using it to taunt America since the Capitol Hill atrocity, sneering: ‘Have you seen the situation in the U.S.? This is their democracy and this is their election fiasco. Today, the U.S. & ‘American values’ are ridiculed even by their friends.’
On that last point, he’s sadly not wrong.
But how can Twitter justify letting Khamenei continue tweeting such threats if banned Trump?
And here lies the problem for Twitter and all the other social media firms like Facebook who’ve belatedly raced to silence Trump after allowing him to spew his bellicose propaganda for five years.
It’s not just the Ayatollah of Iran who gets a pass.
Several days ago, the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. tweeted an outrageous defence of China’s appalling genocidal abuse of Uighur Muslims.
It read: ‘Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur [sic] women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent.’
The truth is that over a million Uighur Muslims have been incarcerated in concentration camps over the past few years and the women inmates have been subjected to a vile programme of forced sterilisation.
Initially, and shockingly, Twitter said the tweet didn’t violate its policies.
Then, under pressure, it decided it did and replaced it with a message saying: ‘This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.’
(This is not the first time Twitter’s policy violation bar has twisted in the moral wind. In the run-up to the election, it was rightly condemned for blocking The New York Post’s account after the newspaper published revelations about Hunter Biden’s foreign business interests, only unblocking it after it came under huge criticism).
But the Chinese Embassy’s account has not been permanently banned for endorsing genocide.
Neither have accounts belonging to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro or Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – both of whose many human rights abuses make Trump look like a choirboy.
The account of former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also has not been shut down. After a teacher in France was murdered last October by an 18-year-old terrorist angered by him showing his class a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, Mohamad tweeted: ‘Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past’
And nor has the account of former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who after a teacher in France was murdered last October by an 18-year-old terrorist angered by him showing his class a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, tweeted: ‘Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.’
So, it would seem you can threaten to ‘eradicate’ whole countries, promote genocide, or tell 1.8 billion Muslims they have a right to kill ‘millions of French people’, and keep your Twitter account.
But if you’re Donald Trump – and let me stress that I have no desire to defend the man ever again for anything – you can never tweet again.
I don’t like the idea of banning people from expressing their opinions.
It goes against everything I believe about freedom of speech, especially in this dreadful cancel culture era.
But even the First Amendment has restrictions, categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection under the Constitution including speech integral to illegal conduct and speech that incites imminent lawless action.
It can be legitimately argued that Trump’s constant lies about a ‘stolen election’ and his demands that the result be forcefully resisted, incited the mob to commit ‘illegal conduct’ and ‘imminent lawless action’ at the US Capitol.
And that his tweeting after the attack made it clear he was going to carry on inciting the mob.
It can be legitimately argued that Trump’s constant lies about a ‘stolen election’ and his demands that the result be forcefully resisted, incited the mob to commit ‘illegal conduct’ and ‘imminent lawless action’ at the US Capitol
Trump’s stunningly reckless rhetoric prompted an incident that shamed America, attacked democracy, and ensured his presidency will now go down as the most ignominious in US history
But it has been quite sinister to witness the speed in which the tech world has conspired to use the Capitol riot to silence not just Trump but entire right-wing social media platforms like Parler which has been effectively driven offline by Google, Apple and Amazon.
Again, there are perfectly legitimate concerns surrounding Parler’s failure to properly censor extremist material.
But its users are already screaming that this is all a liberal conspiracy to shut down conservative voices.
And this will only serve to inflame rather than dial down the terribly toxic partisan atmosphere in America right now.
On balance, I think Donald Trump deserves to be kicked off Twitter following the terrible events of last week.
His stunningly reckless rhetoric prompted an incident that shamed America, attacked democracy, and ensured his presidency will now go down as the most ignominious in US history.
He can’t be trusted not to continue inflaming a mob prepared to murder police officers and if they got the chance, and we heard this from their own mouths, elected officials.
But if Trump has to go then Twitter and other social media firms have to be consistent and kick out everyone else whose rhetoric incites such violence or worse – starting with Iran’s Supreme Leader.
Otherwise, the censorship looks the way its targets claim it is: hypocritical and politically motivated.
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