Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas revealed Tuesday that he is working with the social media giants to combat “misinformation,” which all too often recently has come to mean “dissent from the establishment political and media line.” What about the First Amendment? They’re working on ways to get around it.
Brad Stone, senior executive editor for Bloomberg News, asked Mayorkas if he considered “misinformation” a “part of your mandate at DHS, and how much resources are you devoting to fighting misinformation such as election falsehoods or Covid disinformation?”
Mayorkas responded: “I think that’s very much within, uh, our domain, uh, misinformation, uh, pointedly, disinformation have very serious and significant ramifications for homeland security. The integrity of our election system, the security of our election system is a prime example of that. And so, um, our office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans under Rob Silver’s leadership, CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] under Jen Easterly’s leadership, uh, John Cohen leading, uh, the office of intelligence and analysis, uh, in an acting capacity, Samantha Winograd, a senior counselor to the Secretary and our Acting Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism, these are individuals very much involved in their respective workforces, very much involved in addressing misinformation, disinformation, and the threats that they pose to the homeland.”
Instead of pressing Mayorkas about how these officials distinguished what was actual misinformation or disinformation from what was claimed to be by hyper-partisans, Stone lobbed Mayorkas a softball: “I, I know you’ve been doin’ this a long time. Personally, do you ever get, um, you know, or — do you ever get upset by just the ubiquity of falsehoods and mysol — and myth —- in our public dialogue these days, and, and the ease with which they’re transported across social media and the Internet?
Speaking very slowly and deliberately, Mayorkas answered: “I, um, I do. I, I think that, uh, false narratives present a threat to our security. The propagation of false narratives is something to be condemned. Uh, we need our leaders, uh, to step up and fight against it, eyah, because the words of leaders, you know, they matter quite a bit. They can be very influential in the public discourse. You know, uh, the Department of Homeland Security, our, our work, uh, rests often at the epicenter of the country’s divide, and the country’s divide is something that has security, um, implications, and is also very saddening. You know, last week, uh, I was privileged to attend a memorial service, ahhm, for Bob Dole, uh, one of our nation’s great leaders and great public servants, uh, and, um, heroes. And the — it spoke of a different time. It spoke of a time when, uh, people could disagree on policy and still work together in the service of a country that we all love. And, um, I, and so many others are working to renew that day.”
How is Mayorkas working to bring back those halcyon days of national unity and mutual respect? By restricting our First Amendment freedom of speech rights, of course. Stone asked him: “And when you talk about leaders who should be held to a higher standard, do you include, uh, Silicon Valley and other technology CEOs? Would you like to see private industry do more to combat misinformation?”
Mayorkas was reassuring: “So, um, uh, I think they’re very committed to, to doing so. I had, uh, very robust discussions, uh, with individuals. You know, the how-to-accomplish-it is something that is not easily navigated. We recognize that. Uh, the First Amendment, uh, concerns are extraordinarily important. It’s a founding principle of our country. I think they’re very dedicated to doing so. And I think the how-to and how-we-can-work-together-with-them is not so facile, and I think we’re all working, uh, through it.”
So Mayorkas is working with Big Tech on ways to circumvent the First Amendment in order to counter what they consider to be “misinformation.” They have to circumvent the First Amendment to do this because the First Amendment has no provision for gagging those who spread “misinformation.” It assumes that misinformation will be defeated by the truth on an even playing field and the idea of self-appointed guardians of the truth censoring what they consider to be falsehood is exactly what the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid by articulating the First Amendment in the first place.
Mayorkas’ words were reminiscent of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s notorious remarks at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 2011. Clinton claimed that “in the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance.” She blamed this on the freedom of speech: “We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy.” But she had a solution: “So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.”
Clinton recommended using “peer pressure and shaming” to keep people from saying what she didn’t want them to say, and given the Left’s promiscuous use of charges of “racism” and “bigotry” against even the mildest dissenting word, it’s hard not to conclude that her recommendation has been heeded. And now Alejandro Mayorkas is working with the social media behemoths to neutralize the freedom of speech in other ways. It is striking how often Democrat officials turn out to be enemies of this most fundamental and important of freedoms, while establishment Republicans stand by indifferent as they work to destroy it.