I have seen the absolute worst side of liberal activism, and its name is Twitter.
If the dark side of conservatism in extremis is xenophobia and radical selfishness, then the dark side of liberalism is crusading ethical imperialism and moral fascism. No matter which side of the political spectrum you inhabit, you have the capacity to be completely unaware of your own assumptions about the world and completely insensitive to the fact that others may disagree. On the liberal side, this manifests in the form of nonsense like the utterly-failed (thank goodness) “Twitter Boycott” last week.
First, let’s look at a straight-forward description of what it was about, as reported in the Huffington Post:
Users of the social media site are planning a Twitter boycott to protest the company’s new ability to censor tweets on a country-by-country basis. Twitter announced Thursday that it can now block tweets, as well as individual accounts, from appearing to users in specific countries, and that it may use the feature to comply with governments’ request to censor information.
Let’s make this clear, in very simple terms:
- Not all countries have “freedom of speech”. There are many countries where certain types of speech are illegal
- Twitter would like to operate in those countries
- Therefore, Twitter is implementing a way that it can comply with the laws while operating in those countries.
What is the argument of the twitter protesters? It’s not disguised at all, and it should be absolutely abhorrent to any true liberal. Their message is this:
We think we should be able to impose our laws in your country. We demand the right to break whatever laws you have in your country that we disagree with. We think that our laws are better than yours, and we aren’t happy with just living by a different set of rules: we demand that you live by our rules, too. And any company that does not agree with those demands, we will protest against.
It is outright moral imperialism. It is disgusting. And these people dare to call themselves “liberal.”
The way that they justify it is by waving the banner of “freedom.” Isn’t it terrible that these people in these other countries don’t have the freedom of speech? Aren’t they awfully oppressed? Isn’t it our moral duty to go in and save them??? These are the arguments I hear in defense of the protest movement.
But this is the raw fact that liberals in extremis do not want to face: not everyone agrees on the moral imperatives. Not every culture agrees on the moral imperatives. You sit there, ensconced in your self-righteous view of the world, and assume that any country that doesn’t have “freedom of speech” must be suffering under terrible oppression.
But let’s imagine, for a moment, the scenario the other way around.
Imagine a rich and powerful country that values respect for history and religion above all else. They have a strong and powerful cultural tradition that has always believed that overall social good and social order are more important than individual selfish concerns. This ideology is deeply believed by most people in the culture. Thus, this ideology is enshrined in their laws: it is illegal to speak out against religion, and it is illegal to broadcast calls-to-action that will upset the social order. These are seen as important moral values that help to preserve your society.
How would you feel if these people come along and say: “You know what? You reckless Americans are destroying yourself, allowing people to say any old thing any old time they want. We need to help you. We need to free you from the chaos of your misguided and immoral laws. So we will do everything that we can to censor you. It doesn’t matter to us if this breaks your laws about freedom of speech, because we think your laws are wrong. We know what is really best for you.”
Think about that for a moment. Let that sink in. When you go and say, “I demand that Twitter breaks the laws in other countries because I think that our ideals about freedom of speech are more important than your laws,” you are doing exactly the same thing to them. Go and read that previous paragraph again, and tell me how it makes you feel.
Activism is fine, but you’ve got to remember that medieval Christian crusaders thought of themselves as “activists” too. They thought that they were “helping” people, as well. With their own superior morality. You’ve got to get a grip on yourselves, when it comes to forcing your own morality on other people. You are losing sight of yourselves.