By Arab News
By Dalia Al-Aqidi*
Throughout history, billions of people have left their homeland for economic, religious, humanitarian or political reasons. We have seen people fleeing oppressive regimes and dictatorships as they yearn to live in a free society where they have the liberty to think, speak and prosper.
This is how the Western world is viewed in the eyes of the vast majority of the immigrants and refugees who have chosen, above all other countries, the United States of America to be their new home, having been inspired by the famous American monument the Statue of Liberty, which they knew mostly from Hollywood movies.
But is the US in 2021 still the land of the free?
The American people are proud of their constitution and its principles that made their country the way it is. Simply, without the freedoms that are protected by the constitution, America is nothing.
It was no coincidence that freedom of speech was the first and most important principle to be enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment was clearly made to protect the people from their own government and to preclude the authorities from dictating how people should think, what they should say or what they should believe.
Following the attack against the US Capitol on Jan. 6, freedom of speech has become a soft target for the far-left hypocrisy, which is waging a war not only against outgoing President Donald Trump, but also against the constitution itself.
It is concerning when liberal journalists celebrate censorship and call for the banning of certain citizens, journalists, politicians and even media outlets due to their disapproval of their opinions and ideologies. They are proudly indicating that, if someone disagrees with their narrative, he or she does not deserve to be heard.
The decisions taken by major mainstream social media companies to ban Trump from their platforms reflect the progressive left’s attempts to cancel the other side and bury millions of opinions, pretending that if they cannot see them they do not exist.
Members of older democracies have been prompted to express concerns about these alarming measures. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is no fan of the US president, strongly criticized Twitter for its decision to ban Trump. “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance. Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended,” her spokesperson Steffen Seibert said.
Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler also highlighted the dangerous role of the tech giants. “It cannot be that the social media platforms determine who is allowed to express their opinion and who is not,” she stated in a television interview.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was among several other high-profile politicians from around the world to express similar concerns about this being a worrying precedent.
We should remind the world that most Republicans condemned the attack against what is arguably the most prominent icon of democracy in the world and expressed their rejection of the violence that occurred in the US Capitol.
Last week’s events have highlighted the need to examine the incredible power of the tech companies in deciding what the American people should or should not read or view. So far, despite his calls for unity and tolerance, President-elect Joe Biden has shown no interest in protecting the civil rights of the people he will serve for the next four years.
Fate has given Biden the chance to rise to the challenge and show strong leadership, but he realizes that, by doing this, he would most likely become the new enemy of the radicals in his own party, which makes it unrealistic to expect him to take a stand against them.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy. She is a former Republican congressional candidate. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi