The Biden administration’s attack on free speech
If it weren’t for Tucker Carlson, I wouldn’t have known about a disturbing story that Glenn Greenwald broke: The Biden administration is finding ways to stifle speech supporting the Russian position in the ongoing strife in Ukraine.
I guess I should say up front that I am neither pro-Russian nor pro-Ukrainian. I dislike both sides equally and reserve all my compassion for the innocents caught in the crossfire (including the hapless Russian conscripts). My greatest concern is the one Donald Trump articulated during his interview with Tucker Carlson, which is the fact that we’re witnessing two nuclear powers squaring off against each other—and (which Trump didn’t say) one is ruled by a megalomaniac and the other ruled (for nuclear purposes) by someone who seems to have incipient dementia. I also have no dealings with or respect for black socialists, who are usually antisemitic, too. My sole focus here is on free speech in America.
Image: Omali Yeshitela, black socialist and DOJ target. Twitter screen grab.
On Wednesday, Greenwald, a leftist who is also a First Amendment absolutist, tweeted that members of a Black nationalist group were just indicted for spreading pro-Russian propaganda.
Here's one of the leaders of one of the groups who is now indicted, Omali Yeshitela of @_InPDUM, speaking at a "Peace in Ukraine" rally last month.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 19, 2023
Criminalizing speech is becoming increasingly common by claiming the speech serves Russia's interests:https://t.co/i9kmkLYykr
Yeshitela sounds exactly like the Reverent Jeremiah Wright, doesn’t he?
According to the DOJ press release about the indictment, charges were filed against four U.S. citizens and three Russian nationals. The charge is that Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, a Russian, founded something called the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR), which was headquartered in Russia and which the Russian government funded. He was aided by the two other Russian defendants. One of their illegal activities was to spend money to affect a candidate running for a local office in Florida.
Additionally, Ionov allegedly “recruited” local American groups, specifically “the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement (collectively, the APSP) in Florida, Black Hammer in Georgia and a political group in California (referred to in the superseding indictment as U.S. Political Group 3).” All three are black leftist organizations. The four Americans named in the indictment are leaders of these organizations. Ionov allegedly used his influence to make it appear that Americans supported Russia’s annexation of territories in Ukraine, and then these organizations spread that message, knowing they were acting on behalf of Russia.
On those facts, the Americans have been indicted for “conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government within the United States without providing prior notification to the Attorney General, as required by law” and three of the Americans are also “charged with acting as agents of Russia within the United States without such prior notification.”
There are two things to remember. First, America is not at war with Russia. Congress has not declared war against Russia, nor has the Biden administration pretended that it has. Russia may be a geopolitical enemy, but it’s not a wartime enemy. Second, as Tucker and Glenn Greenwald discussed, violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act have routinely been treated as minor problems, with fines as the primary punishment.
For the government to go after penny-ante black socialist organizations that are saying exactly what others who oppose the war have been saying represents an escalation against speech unseen in modern America. It has the smell of a totalitarian political regime cracking down on speech that offends it. This is especially true when you consider the leeway the administration gives to Chinese control over speech, via TikTok. China, after all, is another geopolitical opponent. It’s also revolting when you consider the information coming out about the Biden family’s profiting from China, Ukraine, and other countries at America’s expense.
Glenn Greenwald has more, including information about how the mainstream media has become very comfortable with the criminal prosecution of any speech that the Democrat party opposes:
Even more chilling is how media outlets cover these DOJ indictments: mindlessly treating them as proven fact:— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 19, 2023
Anchor: "Jim, this shows how active Russia is in our democracy"
"Reporter": Indeed: chilling. [Proceeds to read from indictment without an ounce of skepticism]
All this is independent of the fact that the US not only does exactly what these indictments claim Russia (and China) do, but far more extreme. The US funds dissident groups in many nations, creates fake internets to destabilize, etc. You'd think reporters would mention this: pic.twitter.com/Lgjle6nI0X— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 19, 2023
Humans are tribal so I guess it shouldn't be that surprising but it's still amazing how the US media treats accusations from the US Government as unquestionably true (reading indictments = reporting), while similar accusations from adversary governments are inherently false.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 19, 2023
And here is the Tucker Carlson segment that brought this to my attention, along with Glenn’s comment about the irony of appearing on the show of someone the left calls a “hardcore white nationalist,” with that alleged “hardcore white nationalist” strongly defending a black socialist group’s right to free speech:
I don't know if you've ever experienced it before but it's an odd sensation to be on the show of a "hard-core white nationalist" as he passionately defends the rights of radical black leftists when no national Dem will.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 21, 2023
Here's our episode on this case:https://t.co/AoIpGHXVcm
The problem here, of course, is the double standard. Biden isn't going after everyone who violates the Foreign Agent Registration Act. He's just going after the ones who oppose his politics. And that is the most un-American thing of all.