For several decades, the American way of life remained unrestrained and free, guided by clear and straightforward laws that applied to all major media outlets, information sources, news agencies, radio and television stations, newspapers, film productions, universities, and even churches and temples. The American people have long enjoyed great freedoms including the freedom of choice. One cannot deny the fact that American individuals and groups were granted a wide margin of freedom, to the extent that small communist and socialist parties continued to operate even after they were banned in the midst of the US’s conflict with Moscow. Strikingly, the headquarters of the US Communist Party is situated not far from Wall Street, the beating heart of American capitalism. Also, an American Nazi Party exists despite the fact that Nazi Germany killed 400,000 American soldiers in World War II, and they are allowed to advocate and promote hatred against Jews and African Americans.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
While it may be true that US laws guarantee freedom for all, nevertheless, American freedoms are not entirely unregulated and unrestrained, the state and its dominance remain a top priority. For instance, media outlets are not permitted to be dominated by a single individual or company, and it is prohibited to own a television or radio station without a license on the pretext that “airwaves are public property.” For political reasons, minor outcast subgroups are rarely granted any licenses, and therefore they remain small and irrelevant with no real influence. With the rapid advancements in information technology, authorities made the decision to ease many restrictions in this regard which helped these subgroups in expanding their influence, and as a result, many digital stations and electronic media gained wide popularity outside the rule of law.
During the past two years, dozens of meetings were held by the Congress and federal committees to discuss means of resuming control of the situation as it was rapidly getting out of hand, the most famous of which is summoning the heads of major information technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, under the pretext that enemies of the state, i.e., Russia, are meddling in the presidential elections.
In the last couple of days, things have developed dramatically and dangerously, and many unprecedented events have taken place, including the decision by tech companies to clamp down on outgoing President Donald Trump's ability to speak and incite his followers through mainstream social media, and the move to suppress freedoms wielded irresponsibly. In the coming months, we will witness more legal and political actions being taken to impose further restrictions on social media.
At the present time, the US is in process of facing two foes, namely domestic and foreign media. Foreign foes can be confronted by reducing political interference. As for the domestic foes, they have proven that they pose a real threat that needs to be mitigated, as we have seen the latest events related to the storming of Congress in what appeared to be a predetermined coup against the state. This attempt was facilitated through unruly digital media outlets that continued to operate outside the rule of law entirely unchecked. However, the US authorities have proven that they are capable of silencing all those they consider enemies of the state. Even the president himself, despite his tremendous powers, found himself prevented from addressing the American people.
Had the hostile rhetoric against state institutions, the presidency, Congress, executive bodies and parties, remained unchecked, it would have continued to incite the crowds, and the state would have been in real danger. For this reason, most key decision-makers, including the leaders of the Republican Party, have agreed to impeach the president and impede the forces supporting him. President Trump, most likely unwittingly, unleashed latent angry mobs who gathered to take what they believed was rightfully theirs, and he, in turn, was unable to prove his claims of fraud and rigged elections through legitimate channels. It is important to remember that the United States is a large country with a population of 328 million people from different races, ethnicities and affiliations. Without law and order, chaos is inevitable, and widespread incitement will prove to have deadly and violent outcomes. It is safe to assume that we will soon witness legislators, politicians, and those working in the field of “cybersecurity” imposing many restrictions and penalties on social media networks, as they resume the reins by empowering major media institutions and eliminating the mob of unruly activists.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al- Awsat.
The state is greater than the president
When social media sites play politics
Is Twitter’s suspension of Trump justified?