GOP: Big Tech Is Playing a Losing Game of Monopoly
GOP: Big Tech Is Playing a Losing Game of Monopoly
May 6, 2021
They may have their own policing, their own spies, currency, and even their own court, but Big Tech isn't a government. And it's certainly not our government. After months of watching Silicon Valley decide what is and isn't speech, what is and isn't science, and who is and isn't welcome in the public square, Republicans have had it. The days of Facebook and Twitter operating like the world's ruling empire are numbered, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) warns. And the latest high jinks over Donald Trump's account will be one of a million reasons why.
To most people -- including a growing number of liberal news outlets -- the question isn't whether the 45th president should have a social media presence. It's whether companies like Mark Zuckerberg's should be calling the shots on who can participate in the public debate. That's a dangerous proposition, the Washington Post worries, regardless of what you think about Trump. Already, the Atlantic's Adam Serwer points out, the fact that people are paying this much attention to what Facebook and others are doing is a problem in and of itself. "The fact that verdicts from the Supreme Court of Facebook are national news seem real bad." It shows just how much unchecked power they wield.
Power, the real Supreme Court's Clarence Thomas threatens, that must be reined in. And soon. "One person controls Facebook... and just two control Google," the justice observed in an April order. In other words, three people have enough authority to pull anyone from the digital square -- "even a commander-in-chief." If a company, even a private one like Zuckerberg's can shut you down because they disagree with you, we're in frightening new territory as a nation.
"Big Tech apologists argue that private companies are free to censor as they please," the New York Post points out. "And it's true that the First Amendment prohibits only government from silencing viewpoints. But private ownership is never the beginning and end of constitutional analysis, not when there is so much at stake." Thomas, who acknowledged that his court will be forced to weigh in on Big Tech's censorship sooner rather than later, thinks it's time to start lumping social media in with businesses like phone carriers. They also connect people with information, but they're required to serve everyone without discrimination.
And discrimination, Senator Hawley argues, has been the name of the Big Tech game. They've just decided, "We're going to censor and ban however we want to," he said on "Washington Watch." "And then we're just supposed to take it. And I think we've got to get to the point where we say, 'No, we're not going to take it. We're not going to allow companies like this, these Big Tech companies, to have so much power. We're going to break them up."
A lot of comparisons have been made between Big Tech and the robber barons of the 20th Century, when oil and rail tycoons had such an unprecedented monopoly. Hawley thinks this situation is worse. Those big companies, he pointed out, Standard Oil and others, "they didn't have control over news. They didn't have control over speech. They didn't have control over information." They didn't put their fingers on the scales of a presidential election. But they did give us a roadmap, he said for how to move forward. "We know what to do. We did it a century ago."
First, he argued, "We need new legislation that will make it clear that these tech companies cannot gobble up the entire United States economy and put it under their control." Then, Hawley urged, Congress needs to strip away all of the legal immunity that's let them run wild and without accountability for so long. "They shouldn't get that sweetheart deal. If they're going to keep engaging in this behavior, they should be treated like other media platforms, like other platforms in the country, and should have to answer to the same rules that these other platforms do."
The problem, Hawley shook his head, is that Democrats have "fallen in love with Big Tech power." In the past, they would have been the first ones on the anti-trust bandwagon. But now that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are silencing conservatives for the far-Left, they want more. Just this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden thinks more needs to be done to crack down on speech. That's the worst thing anyone who claims to want to unite the country could do.
As Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) put it in his usual colorful language, America can't be controlled by "wokeristas." If you want to be a crazy socialist radical, that's okay, he said. "This is America. You can believe what you want." But no one believes for a second that these social media platforms will regulate or censor Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) like they would Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "I'm not saying that Facebook's politics are right or wrong. I'm saying they shouldn't have politics. And the only way to get that straight is to regulate them."
To buy a copy of Senator Hawley's new book The Tyranny of Big Tech -- the one Silicon Valley doesn't want you to read -- click here.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Parents Drown CRT in Southlake
May 6, 2021
Lots of people are looking for unity in this country. Well, one Texas town found it -- fighting the extreme curriculum Joe Biden wants to bring to every town nationwide. Turns out, the fastest way to bring people together is to try to radicalize education. It's also, Southlake parents say, the surest way to lose.
Hannah Smith didn't really have running for the school board on her radar. That all changed last year, when the district started floating the idea of a new Critical Race Theory curriculum -- and not just any curriculum, but the most "extreme K-12 program" surveyed by nonprofit groups. "And that's really saying something," Hannah said on "Washington Watch," considering all of the woke education out there. Together with other parents, Smith, a religious freedom attorney, started investigating, even filing Freedom of Information Acts request to find out what the district was doing.
What they found shocked them. The Cultural Competence Action Plan, as the proposal is called, was a 34-page manifesto on Critical Race Theory. The whole idea, Hannah explained, was tracking and punishing "microaggression," the Leftist buzz word that says any form of discrimination is in the eye of the beholder. Worse, she said, "they included a really invasive teacher training based on critical race theory. They also wanted to include a metric in job performance reviews for teachers that would rate them based on their level of cultural competence as to whether or not they could keep their job. They wanted to do student club audits where they would review all of these student clubs on campus, including the religious ones and rate whether or not they were culturally competent. And if they weren't, then they would not be able to stay on campus, most likely..."
The more they read, the more disturbed Southlake parents were. Obviously, she said, no one thinks children should be exposed to racism, harassment, bullying, or any sort of persecution. That's not acceptable. But "we also weren't on board with a plan that adopted this kind of philosophical approach to teaching our kids that the color of their skin is really all that matters." So, the tight-knit community banded together -- pushing back in school board meetings and public comments. Then, when two seats on the board opened up, Hannah and another parent decided: they'd run.
To them, one of Southlake's greatest assets is its award-winning schools. And the idea that any program could threaten that was just unacceptable. Local families agreed, even going so far as to form a PAC to fight back. By February and March, the campaign started making national news. When the election came around, the response was overwhelming. Framing it as a referendum on divisive policies versus Texas values, voters poured into polling stations -- and an election that would have normally attracted 3,000 brought in three times that. Hannah, another school board candidate, three other conservatives running for city council and mayor all won in a landslide.
After 2020, Hannah pointed out, "and particularly the things that were happening in our school district, I think a lot of our community thought: we've been asleep. We haven't been paying attention to what's going on in our schools. And I think a lot of this actually has to do with the coronavirus as well, because with all the kids that were home at school in quarantine this last this last year, parents were much more involved in the education of their kids. They were seeing on their children's laptops and computer screens what was going on in the classroom. And for some of them, it was the first time they had really clued in to what the teachers were teaching and what was happening online." Plenty of them were horrified by all of the Leftist garbage infiltrating even good schools like Southlake's. "That, coupled with the Biden administration's radical policies... [helped people] really wake up and take control."
But the victory wasn't just for Southlake. The victory was for parents everywhere, who are looking for ways to fight back. Let this Texas town, Dana Loesch urged, be the model. "First step: understand what and who you're fighting... Second step: gather numbers... Third step: organize... Fourth step: demand answers... Fifth step: outreach... Narrow wins against critical race theory in schools aren't good enough; it must be resolutely defeated. But Southlake parents showed how to win a landslide condemnation against Marxism in our schools and communities."
As more parents see what's happening in Washington, D.C. and watch those outrageous policies trickle down to the local level, the important thing to remember is: we can make a difference. Moms and dads are the first line of defense between their children and what's coming through the education system. We might not be able to change Congress right now, or our state legislatures. But we've all got a school board. We've all got a city council. And together, we can do a lot to push back. Take it from Hannah and the parents of Southlake -- anything is possible!
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Religious Freedom: Looking Forward, Looking Back
May 6, 2021
With every new day in Biden's America comes more evidence of just how much damage the administration is doing to religious freedom. As FRC's Pray Vote Stand broadcast made clear last night, even though Biden has already and will likely continue to unravel the gains that President Trump made for Americans of all faiths, the legacy that President Trump established to bolster the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans will continue to endure and resonate.
As the former White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus had a front row seat to the inner workings of the Trump administration, and as he observed during the broadcast, President Trump made bold moves for faith, family, and freedom without hesitation.
"He believed in these initiatives," Priebus said. "Even on the very first day, when we put together the Mexico City Policy, he didn't bat an eye, and he agreed that we shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars in foreign countries with NGOs that are performing abortions." The speed with which President Trump committed to furthering religious freedom even caught Priebus a little off guard. "I was a little surprised," he said. "It didn't take me long to realize that President Trump was going to actually follow through with all of these things that he said ... he cared about the views and opinions of faith leaders across the country ... He didn't really try to calculate the politics as much as I think other political leaders do."
As to the way forward under the current administration, Priebus was frank: "This is life or death. It is very scary what's happening, and I think we are coming to a moral crisis in America, and I think it's important for people of faith to not be discouraged but to be even more encouraged to be involved in the political process. I would encourage pastors to not turn your church into vanilla ice cream cotton candy on Sunday morning and be afraid to tell people what matters as a person of faith and why it's important to be salt and light in the world, not just in church on Sunday [and] on basic religious beliefs but to be informed and to be salt and light in the political world as well."
Jennie Lichter served as the Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and gave further perspective to the PVS audience on the legacy of Trump's time in office.
"[Trump's] words weren't just words, they translated into action," Lichter said. "This was a comprehensive, whole of government, dedicated, proactive, strategic effort to protect and raise up our first freedom that I don't think has ever been seen before. But I hope we see [it] again, because I think President Trump set the bar high for future presidents, but I think he also showed what can be done when you build a team and set a tone that this is an absolute priority for the president."
She reflected further on President Trump's motivations for making religious freedom a priority. "It was clear from the beginning that it was genuine, that he absolutely meant it and those were his marching orders to his team -- this is a priority for us to work hard on it," Lichter observed. "But he reflected once or twice in sort of smaller settings, about different times that religion had touched him personally. He very much appreciated being prayed over ... He welcomed prayers from the American people, from the pastors that he worked with and from his staff."
What should Christians be doing now as the new administration attempts to dismantle all of this good work? "Prayer is the number one thing," Lichter said. "Pray for our country. Pray for this president, pray for the faith community and that we can all continue to have strength and to keep our eyes on our primary mission of evangelizing the world, come what may in the political realm."
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, closed the broadcast by also pleading for a national renewal of prayer to God for a country in desperate need of it. "We need God more than ever before and we need each other more than ever before ... This is a time when churches need to be calling out to the Lord like never before, because ... this is amazing what we're seeing occur. And only God can turn the tide. And the church must wake up to this moment, answer this moment, and lead the way in calling out to God on behalf of our nation."
He went on to emphasize the central role that the church must take in this great calling: "This is the time the church needs to stand with courage, along with wisdom, giving the truth of God and giving the love of God, but not apologizing or backing up or running away from God's ultimate calling to us, which is to extend the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world, because in reality, only Jesus can change all of these matters."
Before closing the broadcast in prayer, Floyd gave believers a clear path forward: "I think the church now must deeply do two things. Above all, they need to pray more than they ever have before, and they need to focus on extending the gospel to every person in their town. The time is urgent. The time is now whether they live in a town or rural setting, or they live in a city. They need to be committed to reach their city, to touch America with the gospel and to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.