Germany's Merkel publicly warns that Trump's de-platforming is 'problematic' while Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a fool of himself
Some people raised in the aftermath of the horrors of Nazism understand its meaning for today, while others get it exactly backwards.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is no friend of Donald Trump, but having grown up in totalitarian East Germany and cognizant of the dangers of Nazi suppression of dissent, she sees the dangers in silencing political thought. And she is not alone among European leaders. Politico reports:
On Monday, a spokesman for Merkel said Twitter's Trump ban was "problematic."
"The fundamental right [of freedom of expression] can be interfered with, but along the lines of the law and within the framework defined by the lawmakers. Not according to the decision of the management of social media platforms," government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said. (snip)
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, while condemning Trump's "lies," also expressed his disagreement with Twitter's ability to unilaterally decide to remove the American president from the platform. "What shocks me is that Twitter is the one to close his account. The regulation of the digital world cannot be done by the digital oligarchy," Le Maire said on France Inter Monday morning.
Le Maire oversees the ministry for digital affairs, whose junior minister Cédric O also raised questions over the weekend. "The regulation of public discourse by the main social media companies with regards only to their Terms and Conditions ... seems, to say the least, a little short from a democratic point of view," O tweeted on Saturday.
Thierry Breton, one of key EU commissioners behind these reforms, wrote in an op-ed in POLITICO that "the fact that a CEO can pull the plug on POTUS's loudspeaker without any checks and balances is perplexing. It is not only confirmation of the power of these platforms, but it also displays deep weaknesses in the way our society is organized in the digital space."
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, wrote in a blog post that Europe needs "to be able to better regulate the contents of social networks, while scrupulously respecting freedom of expression. It is not possible for this regulation to be carried out mainly according to rules and procedures set by private actors."
While European nations generally lack the guarantees of our First Amendment, they do have more historical experience in the dangers of repression of free speech. But they also are more eager to regulate social media, perhaps because the robber barons of Silicon Valley swing less political weight than in the U.S.
Meanwhile Arnold Schwarzenegger, an immigrant from Austria, made an utter fool of himself with a produced video, complete with musical score, in which he compared the Capitol incursion to Kristallnacht, the "night of broken glass," in which Nazi mobs smashed literally thousands of Jewish-owned stores and many synagogues in multiple cities on the same night. Via The Daily Caller:
"I grew up in Austria. I'm very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass," Schwarzenegger explained, according to Fox46. "It was a night of rampage carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys."
My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week's attack on the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/blOy35LWJ5— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 10, 2021
Schwarzenegger’s embrace of the prop sword he used in Conan The Barbarian is downright embarrassingly inapt, not least because a sword is metaphorically the enemy of free speech, as in “The pen is mightier than the sword” (except when the sole supplier of pens refuses to supply them to one side of an argument).
Twitter video screen grab.
But that is far less egregious than his misapplication of Holocaust history. There were no mobs attacking anyone based on racial identity on January 6. That comparison aptly fits the summer of Black Lives Matter riots, but not the incursion on the U.S. Capitol. But Arnold was nowhere to be found when an actual set of Kristallnachts was underway.
Schwarzenegger should know his Nazi history much better. After all, according to the Wiesenthal Center, his father was a member of the Nazi Party.
It looks as though Arnold is sucking up to Biden, hoping for some sort of appointment:
It was fantastic to talk to President Elect @JoeBiden today about bringing the country back together. I’m here to help in any way I can.— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 11, 2021