In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and demanded he “fix” anti-immigrant posts showing up on his social media network. “Are you working on this?” Ms. Merkel asked.
“Yeah,” Mr. Zuckerberg reportedly responded before the transmission was disrupted.
It’s hard to think of a more damaging display of elitism caught on tape. Keenly aware of the power of social media and the effect it can have on political movements, Chancellor Merkel felt no compunction asking Mr. Zuckerberg to censor free speech so she could stay in power.
This attitude has now been officially encapsulated into law by the European Parliament with the passing of legislation that could lead to “upload filters,” “link taxes” and other Orwellian concepts. In short, the measure requires publishers to pay for the right to link to published content. It also requires social media site managers to take down “extremist” content (i.e., content political leaders don’t agree with) within an hour, essentially requiring the Facebooks and Googles of the world to “filter” what has been uploaded to begin with.
Conservatives and supporters of a free internet have been railing against the proposed measures for years, with varying degrees of success. Although not yet codified into law within the EU structure, the anti-free-expression agenda is plain to see.
The issue is a symptom of a much greater problem within the European Union and a stark example of why Britain is heading for the exits. The greater threats from the EU are the groupthink system the union has attempted to impose on its members and the increasingly authoritarian tactics used to do so.
Driving the debate now is the severe migration crisis affecting the continent. Initially fueled by war in Iraq and Syria and the creation of waves of refugees seeking security, the migration flows have been primarily economic. The migrants are overwhelmingly looking for a better life — and the loads of free stuff offered by the liberal EU welfare state look pretty good from where they sit. They are also enabled by the globalist forces — led by George Soros and his acolytes — who favor unchecked migration and open borders no matter the social and cultural costs to individual countries.
It’s hard to say why the left thinks this is a good idea, other than to spread a globalist vision which favors the interests and values of the elites over the well-being of ordinary people.
One thing is for sure, however: There are significant pockets of the EU that don’t believe in this vision one bit and didn’t sign up for it. For their skepticism, they find themselves being bullied into accepting this destruction of their Christian culture and a loss of their sovereignty.
The Visegrad nations of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic all face EU legal sanctions, in a clash that is fundamentally over their refusal to allow migrants to enter the country. If that is not tyrannical, I don’t know what is.
Luckily, there is a movement afoot to change the direction of the European Union. Populist governments have been elected in Italy and Austria, where voters are sick and tired of the constant intrusions into their lives by Brussels. As this backlash grows, the ultimate aim needs to be to rein in the excesses of the EU bureaucracy and stop such dangerous ideas as the internet filter and link tax.
Free speech needs to be protected. The internet is the battlefield for ideas in which everyone should have the right to be able to express themselves freely, without a Marxist Big Brother telling what they can and cannot say.
If you think the threat is being exaggerated, just ask Tommy Robinson or Alex Jones.
On this side of the Atlantic, the Trump administration needs to step up its support of these fledgling rebellions in order to bring Europe back to its original ideals of freedom and democracy. As Americans know so well, when left to their own devices, Europeans have a history of falling for the latest fashionable freedom-killing -ism — and end up appealing to the U.S. to bail them out.
⦁ L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.
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