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The Greatest Threat to American Democracy is not Trump

I am grateful that Christian Today have published this column – it won’t be popular from both sides of the culture wars but I think it is true and essential to understand what is going on.

The greatest threat to American democracy is not Trump

 

The world watched in disbelief last week as a mob stormed the Capitol building in Washington. For President Donald Trump who at first urged the crowd to march on the building, but later asked for non-violence, it was a disastrous end to his presidency. For his opponents, it has been an absolute gift. Not only do the Democrats have the new President, but they now have the House, the Senate and the ‘moral authority’.

For the progressive left, President Trump’s eccentric, narcissistic, unstable behaviour is the gift that keeps on giving.

The Capitol riot of course makes great TV and has, as expected, resulted in hyped headlines and commentators’ hysteria. This was a “coup”, this was an “insurrection”, this is the greatest threat to democracy since Hitler. One commentator pontificated on the BBC that this was a more serious breach of security than 9/11! For those inclined to see Hitler under every conservative stone, this is an opportunity to hyperventilate your outrage and demonstrate your determination to be the hero who is fighting ‘fascism’.

Farce not Revolution

In reality, the whole thing was more farce than revolution. This was no attempted coup. President Trump behaved in an appalling manner, hyping up his more eccentric conspiratorial supporters, with the result that some of them went beyond all decent norms, people were killed, and America was made a laughing stock. He should be held to account for his behaviour.

Despite all this though, Trump isn’t actually the greatest threat to democracy. Indeed the reaction to the event is a far greater threat to democracy than the event itself. And that is something that should greatly concern the Church, because we will inevitably be caught up in the backlash.

Hysteria breeds fear: people who did not bat an eyelid when Antifa/BLM riots after the death of George Floyd led to 47 deaths, 700 police injuries, and up to $2 billion worth of damage to property and shops are now telling us that what happened is the beginning of the end and the biggest attack on American democracy since Pearl Harbour.

Arnold Schwarzenegger compared Capitol Hill to Kristallnacht in 1938. Let’s compare the numbers shall we: in that event hundreds of Jews were killed, 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and 7,500 Jewish buildings were burnt and destroyed. The comparison is hyperbolic nonsense.

America’s Reichstag Moment?

There is, however, another comparison with the Nazis that is more relevant: the Reichstag fire of 1933. In 1933, a Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, set fire to the German parliament. This was used as an excuse to eventually pass an Enabling Act “to protect the German People and State”. In reality, it paved the way for Nazi totalitarianism. In a similar manner, I suspect that Donald Trump and the Capitol Hill riots will be used by big government, big tech and the ‘progressives’ to clamp down on the basic freedoms that have been the backbone of American democracy – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.

Where this is going can be seen in the concerted move by the oligarchs of Silicon Valley not only to ban Donald Trump from Twitter, Facebook and other platforms, but to also seize the opportunity to get rid of one of their potential rivals, Parler. This is profoundly dangerous – as numerous non-rightwingers like the French, German and Australian governments have pointed out.

One French minister told Bloomberg TV: “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO. There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.”

Another said that the digital oligarchs were a threat to the State and to democracy. Angela Merkel warned that the Big Tech firms should not have the right to determine who has the right to free speech.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny warned that Twitter’s blocking of Trump puts dissidents like him in danger. Why? Because dictators the world over will see Big Tech’s dictatorial behaviour as a justification for their own suppression of opponents. If America, ‘the Land of the Free’ can do it, then why shouldn’t they?

Hypocrisy

This is even more worrying when you read the two Tweets for which Trump got banned.

“The 75,000,000 great American patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any shape or form.

To those who have asked I will not be attending the Inauguration on January 20.”

Now these tweets may be badly worded, egotistical and wrong, but are they worthy of a lifetime ban? Especially when you bear in mind that Twitter permits the Chinese communist government to defend the Uighur genocide, or the Ayatollah Khamenei to advocate the total destruction of Israel, never mind the numerous tweets that have called for violence against Donald Trump!

Even more disturbingly Donald Trump was banned on the basis that these Tweets “might” incite violence, not that they actually did – unlike the Left-leaning online magazine Slate which tweeted, “Non-violence is an important tool for protests, but so is violence.”

Apparently, an incitement to violence is acceptable if it is the right kind of violence for the right cause.

The hypocrisy is even worse. Apple, for example, banned Parler for not removing threats of violence quick enough yet lobbied against a bill that wanted to stop forced labour in China (something from which they benefit). In other words, making comments which might be taken as an incitement to violence in the US is worthy of a ban, but actual violence committed against Muslims in China is fine!

Lawless Power

These companies have enormous power because they have a virtual monopoly – and one in which they are free, under Section 230, from the legal consequences that other publishing companies have to face. They get away with this because they claim that they are not publishing companies responsible for what they publish. But now they are acting like publishers, censoring and determining their own context, according to their own politics.

Why should Californian billionaires like Jack Dorsey of Twitter or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook get to determine whose views we hear? Especially when their companies are not neutral but real political players. More than 80% of money donated from these companies went to the Democrats. Big Tech silenced negative stories about Joe Biden. There is no doubt they wanted him to win – because they feared that their Section 230 protection from liability would be removed. Biden has made noises about reining in Big Tech but I doubt that in reality it will happen.

The Big Tech companies have now got a taste of lawless power – and they will use it. TalkRadio, for example, was removed from YouTube because they had someone who dared to question the efficacy of lockdown.

YouTube will also ban any video that says the 2020 US election was fraudulent. On the other hand, if you wish to post about how the election of 2016 was fraudulent and stolen by the Russians, go ahead!

Dangerous for Democracy

It is not hyperbolic to point out that this is indeed a very dangerous time for democracy in the US (and therefore democracy for the rest of us). I’m not worried about the Church; we have survived and thrived under authoritarian regimes before. But this is not about us. Democracy is best for our societies, and we want the peace and prosperity of our societies – especially for the poor. We need to be informed, we need to be watchful and above all we need to pray.

Biden, Trump and the Great Evangelical Disaster – CT

Is Donald Trump the Christian President?

 

49 comments

  1. My wife and I read this over dinner tonight. You make some good points as ever but I was disappointed about repeated use of ‘woke’ and the mention of Antifa, both of which are colloquialisms loaded with emotive meaning and used pretty much exclusively by the right as insults. You could’ve been a bit more balanced with the choice, although I noticed an attempted redress with one ‘rednecks’ 🙂

    Although these big tech publishers are major players, they are not the only ones. Magazines, papers, TV news and website are many and remain unaffected. A lazy public consuming all their news via (until now) unregulated citizen run social channels get the mono-stream sources they deserve and can hardly complain when the orchestrator of the largest lies pays the largest price.

    Yes censorship is an issue, but it will be hotly debated on many fronts and only this week it was a case of a radio station being reinstated – an admission of error and a sign of the tech listening to complaints of ever there was one.

    We remain a very long way indeed from today’s Ugandan situation – read up on that and weep.

    1. Thanks Stuart. Antifa is an organisation not a colloquialism. Woke is a description which is well understood. If I was to be banned from using words with emotive meaning then my writing would be pretty empty!

      There is a fundamental difference between Big Tech and other publishers – the main thing being that they are not regarded as publishers and have a legal exemption from prosecution for what they publish. They are also many times more powerful.

      Ironically the Tech companies are complaining about the Ugandan situation – saying that online platforms should not be banned – after just banning an online platform!

      1. Antifa is just a catch all term for people who don’t like the right mostly banded by the right. I am concerned you risk becoming partisan by omitting parentheses, although I guess it’s it’s an opinion piece you can do what you want. The phrase ‘so called’ can also help half your audience not to feel alienated 👍🏽

        If Museveni was blocking one particular channel being used to spread lies and incite rebellion that might – arguably – be an appropriate response. Shutting down the entire nation’s internet and turning off the electricity as friends on the ground are reporting has happened, is not. It is ridiculous to compare the two situations.

        If Muserwaywa was using a channel to

  2. Thank you brother,
    The amount of people who see this as, as bad as times in WW2 make no sense and it’s good to see someone with reason and a less biased view.
    In other news I have found, would you believe if first news, a children’s news company, put on their website, made to be used in school a ‘heroes of 2020’ page where users of the website can vote for who they think is a hero of 2020, put Biden as a person to vote for because ‘he is taking the place of Trump as president of the US’. Utter nonsense, the things you see these days for children (Brenda is a sheep, this) show what a woke world we are being thrown into.
    They also listed Jacinta Ardern as one because of how she treated the virus. I cannot deny she handled it well, but the other things she has done (the recent abortion law for example) make me wonder why she is there.

  3. Excellent article – you’ve clearly articulated what I’ve been vaguely thinking regarding the Reichstag comparison and also the bias and power of big tech.

  4. Amen to that article. The reports in the UK with the BBC and Sky are so unbelievably biased against President Trump. This has gone on for his 4 years in office. Amazingly people still believe all they are told by the BBC! Thankfully, we have a great God who is just and true.

    1. There was of course universal condemnation of Burn Loot Murder.

      Not from the “impartial” BBC and its fellow-travellers, there wasn’t. When the Leader of the Opposition genuflects to BLM, the UK knows it is in trouble. We have no Churchill, but only “men without chests”, so the cowardice that was held in check then, is unchecked now. People lick the boots that kick their lights out.

  5. Thank you brother,
    The amount of people who see this as, as bad as times in WW2 make no sense and it’s good to see someone with reason and an unbiased view.
    In other news I have found, would you believe if firstnews, a children’s news company in the UK, put on their website, made to be used in school a ‘heroes of 2020’ page where users of the website can vote for who they think is a hero of 2020, put Biden as a person to vote for because ‘he is taking the place of Trump as president of the US’. Utter nonsense, the things you see these days there for children (Brenda is a sheep, this) show what a woke world we are being thrown into.
    They also listed Jacinta Ardern as a person to vote for. While her handling of the Coronavirus was, undoubtedly great, the other things she has done are, much worse (especially concerning her recent abortion law). It worries me that children are being taught that these are the type of people they should wish to be like.

    1. I hear that, accidentally posted something twice because I thought my WiFi stopped me commenting!

  6. Stuart, Antifa groups have been around for a long time:

    https://bit.ly/39JurVh

    Before they became prominent in America, they lost any respect from me when a German faction of the movement said that Dresden should be fire-bombed again. 🙁

    1. I was more objecting to it as a ‘catch all’ term, like the way that dictators always call anyone who opposes them a ‘terrorist’. Standard stuff – it’s us and them, anyone who disagrees is bad.

      Even Spaghetti Westerns occasionally showed us a good In’jun 🙁

  7. You wrote, “President Donald Trump who at first urged the crowd to march on the building, but later asked for non-violence.”

    Pardon my fact-check, but there is, shall we say, a certain economy with the truth here on your part.

    These are Trump’s exact words:

    “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

    So, when you say that Trump asked for non-violence “later”, you are not strictly lying, but you are certainly misleading considerably any of your readers who do not manage to guess that, by “later”, you mean, “later in the same sentence”.

    Most who listened to Trump that day, a crowd estimated to have contained 500,000 to 800,000, managed not to interpret anything he said as an incitement to break any laws whatsoever. It takes a special sort of ears – pro-Biden bigot ears – to hear anything remotely sinister in anything that Trump said prior to a handful of angry people entering the Capitol, either on their own initiative or (more likely I would guess) incited by agent provocateurs working undercover as fake Trump supporters.

    If Trump had really incited half-a-million loyal listeners to attack the Capitol and even 10% of them had done so, there would have been trouble a great deal worse than there was, even worse than at a common-or-garden “mostly peaceful” BLM demo.

    1. That’s a correct quote – its the only one from a long and rambling speech which I think does incite the kind of protest seen….

      “Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down–We’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol–And we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

      “Let them get out. Let–let the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength”

      We must stop the steal, and then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again, can never be allowed to happen again, but we are going forward; we will take care of it going forward. We have got to take care of going back.I want to thank you very much, and they go off to some other life, but I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened and we fight, we fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore..

      So we are going to–we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we are going to the Capitol, and we are going to try and give–the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote but we are going to try–give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re try–going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

      1. That demonstrates the issue of trying to pin down what a convoluted and contradictory speech might mean. He’s brilliant at veiling threats with waffle so the fans hear what they want to hear and get triggered to act while those who are used to traditional language (you know, sentances, structure and all that jazz ) are left to argue about what it all actually means. Meanwhile – job done.

  8. I think it’s Israel that the Iranian ayatollahs want to totally destroy, not evil. (A rather sinister spellchecker error, methinks?)

  9. You would do well to read or hear what Trump actually said before writing this,

    [Robertson] For President Donald Trump who at first urged the crowd to march on the building, but later asked for non-violence, it was a disastrous end to his presidency.

    [Me] While not an outright lie. The implication of this sentence is simply not true. Did he only LATER ask for non-violence?

    {Trump] I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.

    [Me] That sounds like he is calling for peace right from the beginning not just later. From searching a transcript that is the only place he used “march”. The term he favoured was “walk”. For example: “We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women.”. It is hardly aggressive language.

    It should also be noted that agitators were gaining entry to the Capitol building 20 minutes before the end of Trump’s speech which was happening a good 30-40 minute walk away.

    Is there much to be critical of Trump about? Yes. Is this criticism valid? I don’t see any evidence that would suggest it is.

    1. In the context of the whole speech (which I read – a rambling, egotistical, rant) it is clear the march was intended to be intimidatory – especially for Mike Pence and the Republicans. He speaks of fighting, and using strength and not letting our country be stolen etc. There was no direct incitement to violence but, apart from that one phrase in an hour long speech, there was no call for peace. It was shockingly irresponsible.

      1. You have conceded: “There was no direct incitement to violence”

        QED

        You then went on to express a view (nothing wrong with having a view, mind you), in a “but” clause, which I suppose you may have hoped would save you some face after your having been caught in a terminological exactitude of excellent terminology, but deplorable economy with the exactitude, and won you some popularity with those whom you’d appease: “but, apart from that one phrase in an hour long speech, there was no call for peace.”

        In time of peace, there is no need to call for peace. In time of war, it could well have been treason to call for peace. I believe one Irishman (not even British) was even hanged AFTER World War 2, for having called for peace before the war had finished.

        I respect your judgment, “It was shockingly irresponsible.” However, I disagree with it profoundly. I’d have been far more shocked if Trump had behaved like the Grand Old Juke of York, who, having marched his men to the top of the hill, promptly marched them all down again. That would have been to trivialise the “steal”.

        I don’t know yet know myself whether there was a steal, as I explained on 18th November, in a post on my blog on which you have yet to comment and may not even have read yet. How could we know, without the necessary investigation?

        But I still know there might have been a “steal”. I regard as disgraceful the growing consensus, which you seem to have joined yourself, for brushing this remaining possibllity under the carpet. I regard the ostracising of all who still want to find out the truth, on the part of social media that have a near oligarchy as deeply sinister.

        The following question is the elephant in the room that you, in common with those you are too timid to oppose, are trhying to ignore:

        Who really won, Biden or Trump?
        https://johnallmanuk.wordpress.com/2020/11/18/who-won/

        Pretending that that doesn’t matter won’t bring peace. Finding out the truth, which (as my largely ignored blog post explains) is neither unachievable nor rocket science, is the best way to bring peace. I want that. In common with the BBC, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon, it appears that you DON’T want that yet, despite preaching “the God of Truth” of the Psalms. This is a source of dismay to me.

      2. John – when someone disagrees with you – please don’t accuse them of not seeking truth. I took the trouble of actually reading the whole of Trump’s rambling speech. As I said he is either an idiot and couldn’t work out that his words would be inflammatory – or he knew exactly what he was up to. I’m inclined towards the former – but there is no doubt that his words inflamed an already volatile situation…

    2. @Paul Goodfellow

      Thank God somebody’s paying attention and standing up for truth and the commandment not to bear false witness.

      I am fond of David Roberton and often admire his writing. However, I have yet to see a complete, unbutchered quote that David has cited in which Trump incites so much as the misdemeanor of returning a library book late or topping up a parking meter to keep one’s parked at it longer than the maximum time allowed. The entire fictitious narrative that Trump incited anything unlawful is nakedly (as far as I can tell) a big fat lie from beginning to end. It is distressing to see a Christian minister even nodding in its direction, however badly the minister concerned might want to keep in with the in crowd, to be “all things to all men” (I suppose).

      David should be denouncing such unfounded gossip on the part of co-conspirators with the US so-called “Democrats” in the present global coup as the BBC, Twitter, Apple, Google, Amazon. He should not be repeating the false rumours, which I believe have already informed entirely bogus Articles of Impeachment (I think they’re called).

      I sent a tweet this week which I think snapshots the cynicism and despair that together pose a real threat to democracy. What do you think of it?
      https://twitter.com/John_Allman/status/1349044336005177344

      Anybody would think, judging by the way the junta mounting the present coup and those like David who are weak in their opposition to the coup are going on, that Trump was the first US politician ever to speak out against rampant vote fraud, in the days when Twitter etc didn’t care. Well, he’s not. Take, for example, this earlier tweet, on the part of one of the worst hypocrites now accusing Trump, from 2017:

      https://twitter.com/John_Allman/status/1349044336005177344

  10. I was considering a reply but John Allman beat me to it. President Trump encouraged a peaceful walk to Capitol Hill. After the assault on the building he was condemning the violence unlike Democrat mayors throughout the summer who turned down offers to send in the national guard and actively encouraged violence.

  11. My issue isn’t with selective social media responses or the ongoing Trump saga (one journalist put it well: Trump wants everything to be about himself and the media obliges). My issue is that, as a U.S. citizen, democracy isn’t threatened by a single ‘greatest’ thing. Like the lack of an infrastructure discussion with any substance within U.S. policy, the threats all pile on top of each other until there are breaking points, corners turned, and things are forced to change. This ‘feels’ like one of those times, but there’s a lot more than social media going on. The number of issues democracy is facing worldwide and all at once feels heavy….singling one of those out seems challenging at this point. Social media, after all, is primarily about money. In the end, these are for-profit companies who rely on the consumer. We are willingly their main product. We just haven’t built the accountability systems, collaborative relationships, or bipartisan policies to collectively handle certain issues. But, hey, it’s only January 13….lots of time left in the year.

  12. Thank you David for this article. The issue re the Big Tec companies is the really serious one here. Their editorial control of context which in reality with their algorithms has been happening already is only becoming clearly visible in this decision re the US President. I think because the European leaders have raised concerns not just ordinary people something might be done. But I am not too hopeful to be honest.

  13. I’m not sure if the loss of freedom to publish constitutes a loss of freedom of speech. What is serious, however, is the bias and hypocrisy of the tech companies. So what should Christians do? Simply abandon them and find different channels, even if we have to resort to low-tech street preaching. That REALLY tests the principle of freedom of speech.

      1. Internet channels are set up by people, either out of the goodness of their hearts or because they want to profit from their efforts financially, and they set up those channels in the hope that people will pay, usually for advertising space. The loss of one or more of those channels can never be called the withdrawal of free speech because it was never really free in the first place. If a newspaper is closed by down its owners there’s always the potential for someone else to start up a new one. Equally, if a channel becomes selective about whose content is published and whose is not, that’s their prerogative and nobody can force them to be non-selective because they are independent, non-government organisations.

        However, free speech IS denied if a government declares that we must not speak certain things to anybody anywhere and penalties follow for rule-breakers. In this country topics such as politics and religion are taboo in pubs and clubs, but that’s not enshrined in law. Professionals in public service are, however, not allowed to proselytize their clients or try to influence them along certain lines, so that’s where I believe the thin end of the wedge really resides, it’s not in the virtual world at all because the virtual world is not controlled by governments … yet.

      2. It is a bit more serious than that when Twitter deletes tweets by a presidential candidate before the voting, as they also did.

        “Every candidate for election and every political party shall have an equal opportunity of access to the media, particularly the mass communications media, in order to put forward their political views.”
        – Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections, Principle 3(4)

  14. -“Ideas have consequences”-is at the root of theism, but not deterministic materialism. I find it hard to separate Trump’s words from what followed recently. The US congress and legal officers seem interested in exploring the possible connection. There is undoubtedly a type of tyranny and brainwashing with social media giants. But why not look up-‘Purim and Passover in Goebbels’ Castle
    by Michael Rugel’-the most cunningly evil and cruel manipulators can have a short innings…..

  15. Evidence, evidence, evidence.
    And yet in a world where comment is conflated with fact and truth is what you make it, we all long for justice, but justice on our own terms, rather than according to the law, rather than in the application of the rule of law.
    Any allegation, should have support of some prima facie evidence, the reliability of which would be subject to testing, but not by mere comment or opinion, white hot though it may be with a priori self-serving values or philosophy. Distortions, deceit through descibels, manipulations through megaphones, gagging with fear and favour.
    Bonkers. Regulated, deregulated, unremitting universal sin.
    The superior heart of darkness of us all.

  16. The progressive left have a big problem in that they cannot see a problem with limiting their definition of freedom to ‘freedom to be like us’ They don’t seem to be too quick at recalling that some were desperate for electoral college reps to vote against Trump in 2016. But Trump had a big chance, with a Christian VP and a large circle of church voices in his ear, to do something radically different and positive. Instead he chose confrontation, putting people down, and absurd twitter rants every 5 minutes. Those that kept supporting him blindly in the church have done a lot of damage.

    1. America is a democracy. It is a democratic republic – just as the UK is a democracy and is a parliamentary democracy. The two are not opposed. To be a democracy you don’t have to be perfect!

  17. Now I know why Trump’s opponents were so keen to use the term “insurrection” to describe the Capitol riot:

    “Technically, it’s Section 3 of the 14th Amendment that could deliver a different path to disqualification.

    It says no-one can hold office if they’ve engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

    And if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice that’s the same phrase used in the impeachment charge that was passed this week.”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-15/can-donald-trump-be-barred-from-future-office/13058634

    From that news article, I also learnt about Victor Berger so I’ve just been reading some other websites to learn about how he was treated. Geraint might be right that America is “not a democracy” if that is how they suppressed an elected official for the “crime” of opposing US intervention in WW1. 🙁

  18. I found your blog on moody radio. Every month I make sure to listen to you on moody radio. Last week on moody radio they had Ron Rhoades talk about spiritual war and the end times. He said in end times the Bible teaches us the devil will put a lying spirit to blind people to the truth and make the truth look like a lie. After I listen to you on moody radio I always think how inconsistent the world is. It’s like they throw logic out the window. And when you talk to a liberal person they talk love and tolerance but hate anyone who does not buy into the inconsistent logic they have. Next time you’re on moody radio can you talk about the supernatural aspects of what we are seeing in the world. Using logic does not seem to be helping us so what to do? Maybe we need to pray in a new way or just wait until judgement from God? Somedays it looks a little hopeless trying to speak the truth in a world that wants to believe lies.

    1. Hi Chang – great to hear from you. I share your sense of despair – but remember that it has ever been thus. The devil is the father of lies. The truth will always prevail. The light will shine in the darkness…

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