*An exclusive guest op-ed from podcaster Franklin Rye
Words have meaning. The words “all lives matter – every single one” do not convey a racist message. They do not convey an immoral message. They convey a positive, unifying message and firing someone for tweeting them, apparently in response to claims that they’re racist, is just the latest evidence that we seem to be living on the set of a reality TV show based on George Orwell’s 1984. But this version has been modernized by the adoption of a Chinese Social Credit System in America and elsewhere, administered by huge corporations rather than the government.
Big corporate employers are basically cracking down on anyone who dares to express an opinion contrary to the politically correct leftist norm. Here are some examples to mull over.
New York Times opinion page editor James Bennett “resigned” under pressure. He was forced out after publishing an op-ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton opining that Pres. Trump should call in the US military if rioting couldn’t be controlled. Now, I suppose you don’t get to read right of center op-eds, at least not in the purported “paper of record.”
Grant Napear, Announcer for the Sacramento Kings, was fired for tweeting “all lives matter – every single one.” What exactly is offensive about saying all lives matter, every single one? Go back to slavery and focus on its immorality. Why was it immoral? It was not only because of its brutality and denial of freedom, but also because it was based on the belief that not all lives matter, that blacks were lesser beings.
That was a fundamentally immoral belief, and now, for expressing a thought which is completely consistent with the moral basis for opposing slavery, for fighting a Civil War to rid ourselves of it, that all lives matter, every single one, Grant Napear was fired.
At Windsor High School in Vermont, Principal Tiffany Riley was placed on leave and steps are being taken to fire her because she said on Facebook “I firmly believe Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get this point across; some of which are falsified in (an) attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.”
Her post, which she took down when attacked about it, was described by the Superintendent as “outright racist.” Exactly how, Mr. Superintendent? I understand that it differs from your opinion, but exactly how is it racist? How?
Or how about the analyst who simply tweeted some graphs from a respected Princeton study which showed that the Democrat Party has done poorly in elections after riots, but has done well after peaceful protests. It spurred a social media backlash labeling him as anti-black, and he was fired.
And this insanity isn’t limited to the US. Stockwell Day, a conservative commentator on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, had to step down from his job because he said the following in response to Prime Minister Trudeau’s claims of systemic racism in Canada, “Yes, there’s a few idiot racists hanging around but Canada is not a racist country and most Canadians are not racist. And our system, that always needs to be improved, is not systemically racist.”
Day also said, “Should I have gone through school and been mocked because I had glasses and was called four-eyes and because of the occupation of my parents?” And “Should I have been mocked for all that? No, of course not. But are Canadians largely and in majority racist? No, we are not.” For the sin of expressing those thoughts, Day lost not only the CBC job, but also two more at major Canadian enterprises.
Our system is based on allowing conflicting ideas to be expressed so that the best ideas will bubble to the top and be chosen by the public. But those choices seem to be disappearing, and they seem to be disappearing at the hands of, or with the assistance of, large companies.
We are not in a dictatorship, not yet at least, but we seem to be heading for a dictatorship of thought and speech administered not by individual authoritarian rulers but rather by corporations thinking alike and trying to ensure that their employees do as well, and that they virtue signal to those who view it as a positive that they are on board.
Hollywood Suppression in our Future
A few months ago, I interviewed conservative movie critic and media commentator Christian Toto. Among other things, we discussed the nature of Hollywood and the movie industry and why so few conservative movies tend to be made, and why so many left-wing movies tend to be made even when they lose money. He talked about the virtue signaling aspect of the industry and the pressure on actors to make sure they don’t say anything in conflict with left-wing orthodoxy for fear that they’ll lose movie industry job opportunities.
If you want to see an example of where the country is heading if we don’t put a stop to what companies are doing to shut down conservative thought and expression, look to Hollywood. As Christian Toto noted in the interview, it just takes one person in the extended approval process to cast a movie to say about an actor who may have engaged in some political wrong think, who may have expressed some slightly conservative thought, just one person saying “we can do better” and that can be enough to deep-six the proposal to cast that actor. And there are enough leftists in Hollywood who are truly devoted to the cause that they could sink almost anybody, other than someone as big as Clint Eastwood perhaps.
Now, think about what happened to the people I listed who were fired or forced to resign for expressing thoughts contrary to those being pushed by Black Lives Matter, and ask yourself whether you think you have the throw weight in your industry that Clint Eastwood has in Hollywood. If you don’t, you could be next. We are transplanting the coercive thought and expression controlling Hollywood system to the country as a whole. Think about that!
Remember when the left used to criticize the impact of corporations on our politics and our culture? I do. Well, what happened?
The corporations started adopting almost universally left-wing points of view. They started contributing to climate change causes for example. They started contributing to Planned Parenthood related causes for example. And what happened? The left’s criticism was muted and almost disappeared.
And the thing which makes this change particularly threatening to the country is that the corporate views are almost uniform regarding the big public policy and cultural matters. If there were a significant split among companies, I’d be a lot less concerned. But there isn’t. They are all virtue signaling between themselves and to the people with the amplified voices in society – the news media, Hollywood, and academia.
Chinese Social Credit System in America
The Chinese Communist Party administers a social credit system that micromanages the conduct of and the thoughts expressed by those who live in China. Spend too much time playing online video games and you may find the costs of products and services you buy increased. Criticize the government and if you don’t end up in jail you may find you’ve lost the ability to travel by train. You are given a social credit score like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s like a science fiction movie from long ago because it’s administered by an authoritarian government. That doesn’t seem particularly newfangled. After all, Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932 and George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949.
But what’s happening in America, that seems more cutting edge, and I don’t mean it in a good way. Corporations are administering a system that cracks down on people who engage in wrongthink and get caught, because they express those thoughts on social media, in public, or in a way that can be overheard. And I’m not just talking about expressing an opinion contrary to the view most favored by the corporation. I’m talking also about failing to express the opinion favored by the employer with sufficient enthusiasm. Remember Tiffany Riley’s statement “I firmly believe black lives matter.” Not good enough, apparently.
When you are taking away people’s jobs, taking away their ability to earn a living, taking away their ability to support their families, taking away their ability to send their kids to college, and you are doing it because you don’t like the political views expressed, you have ventured into the territory that destroys countries, at least free countries. I have always been a conservative, opposed to regulation in all but the most severe circumstances. I’ve recognized that Government regulation stifles innovation, discourages investment, forces companies offshore, and discourages the expansion of workforces.
But we have entered a new era. Large companies are not necessarily acting in unison, but they are acting in uniformity. And that uniformity is a threat to our freedom of thought. It is a threat to our freedom of speech. It is a threat to free and fair elections because free speech has a huge impact on the results of elections. It is, in short, a threat to freedom. And it is time to push back.
What it calls for is a nationwide prohibition on employment actions for expressions of political speech, unless those expressions constitute an actual threat. I’m not talking about a threat in the form of objectionable speech, the usual left-wing line that speech is violence. That’s a ridiculous claim. Violence is violence, and speech is the alternative to it.
Do I think it’s a complicated issue? Absolutely. This won’t be a one-page piece of legislation. And frankly, it’s going to be very hard to get it passed. But the push for it needs to start now. The discussion of the need for it needs to start now. Another firing is not acceptable. Another forced resignation is not acceptable.
Freedom is the Only Way
We are a nation built on ideas. A free society can only advance when it’s free to talk about ideas. If half of them are locked away and deemed unacceptable, the best ideas will never rise to the top because inevitably some of the best ideas are going to be locked away when they conflict with those of the persons in power. Now is the time to talk, not to silence, and we must take steps to ensure that the companies which are shining examples of the monetary wealth that sets us apart from so many nations do not become the mechanism through which we are denied the freedoms which until now have set us apart as well.
*Franklin Rye is the host of Political Spirits, a weekly Conservative podcast. Political Spirits is offered worldwide on Liberated Syndication, and on Apple Podcasts, and other sites. A life-long Conservative, Franklin addresses Political and social matters such as the disturbing advance of far leftism, suppression of free speech and the refusal of so many to have honest, open discussions about politics, the collapse of the news media into political activism and destruction of cultural norms. In addition to hosting the podcast, Franklin has been a practicing attorney for 33 years, as both in-house and outside counsel.