Back in the U.S. of A.
The U.S. is on the verge of becoming the new Russia. Will we continue to stand idle as we watch even more of our liberties taken from us?
WHAT WOULD THE BEATLES DO?
He who controls the media controls the minds of the public. ~ Noam Chomsky
In 1968, the Beatles released their classic double-album The Beatles, perhaps better known as The White Album.
The first track on that release was a great song called Back in the USSR.
That song was written as a parody of two super popular American classics: Chuck Berry’s Back in the USA, and the Beach Boys’ California Girls.
The song subverts Berry’s patriotic sentiments in the former, as the lyrics express relief upon returning home to the Soviet Union, and also tweaks the Beach Boys’ with its reference to being “knocked out” by Ukraine girls, who “leave the West behind.”
I mention those things because I wonder: if the Beatles were still together, how would they have written that song today?
Would they still have written it as “Back in the USSR?”
Or might they have written it as “Back in the US of A?”
I say that because it’s getting harder and harder every day to tell the difference between the USSR of old and the US of A of 2021.
Why do I think that?
Because two of the things that have historically made Russia Russia – a mainstream media (MSM) that was nothing more than a mouthpiece of the Communist government, and an intelligence agency that wreaked havoc on its own people – for all intents and purposes already exists in America.
Allow me to expound…
MEET THE NEW PRAVDA, SAME AS THE OLD PRAVDA
There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press. ~ Mark Twain
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. ~ Malcolm X
Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play. ~ Joseph Goebbels
The press is our chief ideological weapon. ~ Nikita Khrushchev
Over the past couple of decades, we’ve watched the balance of the MSM devolve from what I would describe as reasonably objective and credible to, for all intents and purposes, a mouthpiece of one side of the political spectrum.
Beyond the obvious, this is noteworthy because one of the primary things that has made America fundamentally different from Russia (and China, but we’ll save that comparison for another day) has been the existence of a reasonably fair and objective press.
For some perspective, in 1912, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, the newspaper Pravda was made the official mouthpiece of what became the Communist Party in Russia.
Pravda was a primary tool – perhaps the primary tool – used by the Communist party to control the narrative of the country, and, by extension, the people of the country.
I wasn’t alive or a Russian citizen in 1912 when Pravda became an extension of the Communist Party, so this is obviously conjecture, but 2020 in the United States is starting to feel eerily similar to what Russia must have felt like in 1911 or so.
The difference: the Russian people could not have foreseen what was coming.
They had no historical precedent to look to to help them anticipate a future in which the government controlled the media.
We, on the other hand, should see what is coming, because we do have such a precedent: Pravda, Russia, in 1912 and during the many decades that followed.
NARRATIVES SHAPED JUST IN 2020
And if you think the potential impact of a Pravda-like MSM is an exaggeration, stop and think about how much the following narratives were shaped during a single year, 2020:
…Social injustice, and the resulting rioting, looting and burning of American cities.
…The demonization of the police.
…The politicization of criminal justice.
…The shutdown of America.
…The crushing of small businesses and the loss of millions of jobs.
…Hunter Biden’s laptop.
…Joe Biden’s quid pro quo in the Ukraine.
And while the prospects of a “new Pravda” emerging in the United States should cause you serious concern, the second factor rising and coming more clearly into focus should shake you to your very core…
YA DOWN WITH KGB? YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE
The use of automated tools to enable mass surveillance of social media accounts is spiraling out of control. So says a new report from Freedom on the Net, which warns that nine in every 10 internet users are being actively monitored online. ~ Zak Doffman
Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, in a worrisome trend for democracy… An annual report on online freedom by the nonprofit group Freedom House found evidence of “advanced social media surveillance programs” in at least 40 of 65 countries analyzed. ~ VOANews.com
There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.’ ~ Philip K. Dick
The KGB and the Russian people had penetrated each other to such an extent that they could not be separated. The culture of betrayal and suspicion and distrust that the KGB relied on had become part of the national culture, poisoning politics in the 1990s and beyond: decades of corruption, murder and sordid sex scandals. ~ Oliver Bullough
The next time a Democrat takes office – whether that’s in January of 2021, or at some point thereafter – Big Tech will be completely free to take what it’s been doing for the past couple of years – censoring opposing voices, “fact checking” in a decidedly slanted manner, deleting information that runs counter to its larger agenda, etc. – to the absolute maximum.
Yes, it’s gotten bad, but, trust me, we’ve only scratched the surface of what may be coming.
Imagine if every single post that included ANY position that ran counter to Big Tech’s political leanings was deleted.
Absent conservative leadership in the White House – and, make no mistake, that is the ONLY THING holding Big Tech back AT ALL at this point – Twitter, Facebook and Google, etc. will be free to do exactly that.
That is not hyperbolic.
CONSERVATIVE VOICES ALREADY BEING SILENCED
We’ve already seen a number of prominent conservative voices de-platformed on various social media sites: Milo Yiannopoulos, Tommy Robinson, Steven Crowder, Richard Spencer, Ann Coulter, the New York Post, etc.
Just last week, former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an article in the Hollywood Reporter calling for the further muzzling of conservative voices online.
And while the specter of that sort of thing happening should concern you, no matter what your political leanings, things can get worse.
A LOT worse.
WE’RE ALL AT RISK
Stop and think – really think – about how much information the Googles and Facebooks of the world have on you and about you:
…The contents of every email you’ve ever sent or received.
…A list of every website you’ve ever visited.
…A report of every web search you’ve ever performed.
…A summary of every photo you’ve ever viewed online.
…Your social security number.
…Your tax returns.
…Your online purchase history.
…Data from any wearable devices you may own.
…and so, so much more.
SO MUCH POTENTIAL DAMAGE
Can you even imagine how much harm one of those entities could do to you if it wanted to?
Have you ever wondered why certain public figures go from being super vocal and outspoken about something to being completely silent?
Or, worse yet, to completely switching their ideological position?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and the answer to me is obvious and simple. What could cause such changes in behavior? Things like…
…Receiving an anonymous email with security camera footage of them doing something that would destroy their family life, along with and a threat to go public with that video if they don’t stop talking about topic A.
…Receiving a FedEx package with list of every website they’ve ever visited; also enclosed is a letter threatening to share that information with the New York Times if they don’t change their position on topic B.
…Having their computer hacked and loaded with photos depicting kiddie porn; then receiving a phone call directing them to the photos and threatening to call the police if they don’t change their upcoming vote on topic C.
…Having the Whoop Strap on their wrist hacked, and threatening to share publicly heart rate and respiratory data stolen therefrom while they were viewing certain websites.
…Having video of them taken using the camera on their computer doing who knows what, and threatening to share that publicly.
UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITY FOR BLACKMAIL
The list of such potential opportunities for blackmail-via-technology is almost unlimited.
And let’s be honest: who among us has lived a perfect life?
Who hasn’t done something online they wouldn’t want the world to know?
Without significant political opposition, Big Tech could be further weaponized and unleashed in a manner that might end up being far more sinister than most of us would ever believe.
This is spy-level stuff.
This could morph into becoming the “new KGB.”
Or maybe another new KGB.
THE INHERENT SUPPRESSION OF FUTURE OPPOSITION
Another thing I’ve been thinking about: within the context just described, if a party takes control of the White House, and that party is closely politically aligned with (1) the MSM, and (2) Big Tech, can any opposing political party ever challenge that party going forward?
Let’s throw election fraud out the window.
That tactic won’t even be needed in future elections, IMO, if the MSM is completely controlling the narrative and Big Tech is doing what it can to identify, silence and control opposing political voices.
I can hear half of you laughing at this point.
“Ha, ha, ha. Look at this idiot conspiracy theorist. So much tin foil! So much paranoia!”
But stop and think about this: if you publicly oppose a political party that is aligned with Big Tech, how much power and how much influence do you think they’ll allow you to accumulate before they de-platform you?
Or do something behind the scenes – or maybe even publicly – that is far, far worse.
OLD HABITS DIE HARD
Yes, people can and will flock to the new “free speech” social platforms – MeWe, Parler, Rumble, etc. – but I’m not sure that will solve these issues.
First, there is the legacy risk of everything we’ve already said and done on the existing platforms, which will sit on the servers of Google, Facebook and YouTube, etc., potentially forever.
Second, I am afraid people will continue to remain on the existing platforms no matter what. About a month ago, a whole slew of people to whom I’m connected online were up in arms and promising to leave Facebook and Twitter.
To my knowledge, very few people actually did that.
To be honest, I’m not sure anyone did.
Old habits die hard, and – if everyone you know is still on Facebook, for example – it is hard to walk away.
It just is.
Finally, there is no guarantee that today’s “uncensored” platforms will remain that way.
If Zuck or Bezos decide to clean out the change from under their couch cushions, who knows?
If there is anything we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that pretty much everyone in government – or at least a crazy high percentage of them – are for sale.
A CHILLING EXAMPLE THAT ALREADY EXISTS
And then there’s the possibility that future legislation could outlaw certain kinds of public speech. That’s not far-fetched, at all, given how much of free speech we’ve already seen muzzled in the last couple of years.
As one chilling example that already exists, in my current profession – real estate – the National Association of REALTORS® recently amended its Code of Ethics to allow real estate professionals to be fined, or even to lose their license, if they “use harassing or hate speech.”
Worse yet? The guidelines are super vague.
The obvious problem: how do we define those things?
Who defines “harassing?”
What constitutes “hate?”
As one illustration, many people seem to find the expression “Blue Lives Matter” offensive.
And, on the other end of that spectrum, many people seem to be offended if YOU are offended by “Black Lives Matter” (I’m referring specifically to the organization BLM, which has publicly stated Marxist views, not the general idea of black lives mattering, about which we can all agree, they do).
Even worse? This extends beyond the scope of the profession, and includes all behavior of the individual, not just when acting in a professional capacity.
IMO, that is utter lunacy. But that is a perfect example of the direction in which our society is heading.
And, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that this change is “utter lunacy” because I am in favor of harassing or hate speech.
Of course not.
There is no room in our culture for harassing or hate speech, period.
I think it’s utter lunacy because, above and beyond the insane level of subjectivity involved, (1) there were already provisions in the existing Code of Ethics to cover such conduct, (2) a person can be completely opposed to discrimination in all its forms and, AT THE SAME TIME, be equally opposed to the further erosion of free speech, (3) there is too much opportunity for this change to be used as a weapon against political opposition, and (4) whatever gains may result from this amendment in terms of the incremental protections of people will be more than offset by the collective loss of free speech for everyone.
Beyond that, we have the known double standards that already exist within social platforms.
Post an image of a radical slitting the throat of a cop?
Not a problem. Like and share!
Post a video of a group of licensed, highly credentialed physicians questioning the legitimacy of shutting down the world for a virus with a microscopic mortality rate?
Blocked and deleted, forever.
The distance from where we are to what I am suggesting is not very far.
WAY INTO THE WEEDS
If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
The loss of freedoms we’ve experienced in the last six months have been beyond breathtaking.
Yes, we’ve lost a lot, but we have a lot more freedoms and liberties that remain at risk.
To be clear, this isn’t rocket science.
It’s not like it took some genius to make the observations I’ve made here.
And that’s what makes all of this that much more terrifying: whether we’ll express it publicly or not, whether we even choose to discuss these things with our closest and most intimate allies, friends and lovers, we all know them to be true.
It’s that obvious.
It’s that plain as day.
And yet, here we are, this far off the road and this far into the weeds, with looted, pillaged and burned cities – cities of great significance within the larger tapestry of American culture – in our rearview mirror, with a forced quarantine that has had its goalposts moved more often than those within AT&T Stadium (and, I might add, with no end in sight), and with a tainted election about to – maybe – be forced down our throats, and with most of those things happening without significant opposition from the right.
Conservatives have an inherent philosophical weakness at times like this: we struggle with playing dirty. We have a hard time bending the rules and breaking laws to gain competitive advantage.
Whereas, with respect to the opposition…well…you know.
I struggle with this mightily. I don’t know where to draw that line, because we’ve never had to draw it before at any point in my entire lifetime.
Never, not even close.
The last time we did have to make such a hard call was all the way back on April 12, 1861, when the Civil War began.
That was 159 years ago, if my math is correct.
WILL GOOD MEN CONTINUE TO DO NOTHING?
I keep coming back to this quote, from either Edmund Burke, or John Stuart Mill, depending on your source:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
If things go the way I fear they might, and we fall even further into the abyss, I nominate that quote as the epithet that should be written on America’s tombstone.
To be clear, I’m not pointing the finger at anyone.
I have been just as lax and tolerant of all of this as the next person.
Because, honestly, I have no idea what to do to fight the outrageous loss of freedoms we’ve experienced recently.
Worse yet, I have no idea what to do to prevent the further erosion of liberties I see looming on the near horizon.
IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME, IT IS NOW
All I know is this: If there was EVER a time for people to stand up for the things they love, it is now….
…There needs to be some sort of tangible response.
And it needs to happen soon, before it’s too late, while such action is even still reasonably possible, and before the difference between old-school USSR and new-school US of A becomes even more indiscernible…
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