For everyone who says “retweets aren’t endorsements” in their Twitter bio, the U.S. Military has officially declared otherwise, at least for troops.
The crackdown on “extremism” is more of a reminder than a policy revamp — “What was wrong yesterday is still wrong today,” a senior defense official said — but the military has sought to clarify definitions of what is and isn’t allowed in response to an alleged increase in “extremist activity” following the January 6 Capitol protest.
Liking or sharing “extremist views” on social media may be itself viewed as “extremist activity.”
“The new policy lays out in detail the banned activities, which range from advocating terrorism or supporting the overthrow of the government to fundraising or rallying on behalf of an extremist group, or ‘liking’ or reposting extremist views on social media.”— Associated Press
None of this is particularly surprising. Policies that punish the support of terrorism or the overthrow of the government are not controversial outside of the fringe extremists who advocate for said support/overthrow. Nor are they much of a problem.
“Fewer than 100 military members” in the last year were “involved” in extremist activities,” the AP reports, and if “involved” constitutions social media rants, shares, or likes, the actual threat of exercising one’s First Amendment rights seems more theoretical than real.
Still, it is ironic.
The United States, after all, was a nation literally founded on the overthrow of an oppressive government. The author of America famously declared that when government becomes destructive to personal liberty, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish” that government.
“(W)hat country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”— Thomas Jefferson, writing about Shays’ Rebellion
There is a difference between free speech and criminal action, there is a reason the First Amendment’s protection of speech is not the last amendment, and there is a cartoonishly dystopian irony in a government trying to control what its soldiers “like” on social media when they haven’t otherwise committed any action that constitutes a crime.
It is not yet clear whether service members will be equally punished for liking or sharing social media posts that support the arson, looting, and violence of the Black Lives Matter riots or if “extremism” only applies to Conservatives, COVID “anti-vaxxers,” and “White nationalists”—but it’s probably a safe assumption.
Categories: Lamenting Leftism