Last week, President Donald J. Trump did what no other public official would ever do: He re-tweeted InfoWars.
This sent the fake news media into a complete frenzy with low-rated CNN hack Brian Stelter actually calling Trump “the InfoWars President.”
.@brianstelter: Trump's furious reaction to Facebook's ban of some high-profile users shows us that he is, I'm sorry to say, the Infowars president. He's promoting the same alternative universe as Infowars and sharing videos from repugnant characters. https://t.co/LDDjK2BEcY pic.twitter.com/wpRVrfQvlR
— CNN (@CNN) May 5, 2019
Despite their hyperbole, the CNN commentators are not exactly wrong. Trump was elected because he would talk about “conspiracy theories” that no other candidate would ever dare broach. Trump engaged the populist right when nobody in the Washington D.C. bubble had the guts to do so, and he was rewarded the Presidency as a result.
I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
How can it be possible that James Woods (and many others), a strong but responsible Conservative Voice, is banned from Twitter? Social Media & Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, have no idea the problems they are causing for themselves. VERY UNFAIR!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2019
Trump at least innately understands the power of the anti-establishment message, and social media dissidents were certainly thrilled that the President used his tremendous bully pulpit to amplify the message of the censored voices.
However, we cannot take for granted that Trump will follow through on his strong rhetoric. There have been times where Trump has stated that he would be “observing” important issues only to follow his declarations with total inaction.
Trump once claimed that he was intending to end birthright citizenship via executive order shortly before the 2018 mid-terms, but following the elections, no action was taken on this front, and it was quickly forgotten.
Trump Says He Will Void Birthright Citizenship Law Through Executive Order https://t.co/EDMvO7gNcv
— NPR (@NPR) October 30, 2018
The President also claimed that he was ordering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study” the genocidal murder of white farmers in South Africa by militant black terrorists. No concrete action ever emerged from that either.
I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
President Trump performs the best when he is being pressured by his base. When his supporters lose themselves in the euphoria of Trump’s constant ownage of the libs, he can veer extensively from his electoral mandate.
We are seeing it right now with on the crucial issue of immigration where foreign labor is being imported to the U.S. for low and high wage jobs to boost corporate profit margins at the expense of native workers.
On foreign policy, Trump has similarly strayed from his ‘America First’ mandate by inviting neoconservatives such as Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams and John Bolton into his administration. Now regime-change wars are becoming real possibilities in Venezuela and Iran, despite the fact that candidate Trump campaigned against incursions such as the Iraq War.
If the grassroots stops applying pressure on the issue of tech censorship, it may depart from Trump’s radar and fall by the wayside. We cannot allow that to happen. Because as urgent as the issues of immigration and foreign policy are, stopping the Big Tech monopoly from enacting the Orwellian nightmare is of paramount importance.
Lawyers in the Trump administration should be considering all of the options at their disposal from using anti-trust laws to amending enforcement of the Communications Decency Act to classifying tech giants as public utilities. In fact, they should have been at this for quite some time already.
The time has passed for bromides about conservative principles and waxing poetic about the free market. Conservatism has conserved nothing except corporate power. The free market is a misnomer, as powerful multinationals dictate modern capitalism through government privilege.
It’s past time to shake off Chamber of Koch influence like a bad case of fleas, and proceed toward defeating hostile tech giants who are as rabid as AOC in their leftist activist push to destroy our bedrock freedoms.
We must keep the fire burning, with campaigns on problematic social media platforms as well as phone campaigns and other forms of agitation. This life-or-death struggle for freedom of speech cannot go down the memory hole. We owe it to our posterity to defeat the greatest evil of our times, Big Brother.
Not all Shi’a-Majority Nations are the Same
The recent alleged arson attack on the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai, a Jewish holy site in Iran, was indicative of the ever-rising rate of anti-Semitism and broader religious intolerance in the Islamic Republic. The recently released United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report had highlighted Iran’s anti-Semitic targeting of its small Jewish population as well as other minorities including followers of the Baha’i faith; the most persecuted faith in Iran.
The USCIRF described that it documented “a particular uptick in the persecution of Baha’is and local government officials who supported them in 2019. Iran’s government blamed Baha’is —without evidence — for widespread popular protests, accusing the community of collaboration with Israel, where the Baha’i World Centre is located. Iran’s government also continued to promote hatred against Baha’is and other religious minorities on traditional and social media channels.”
U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr has said that “anti-Semitism isn’t ancillary to the ideology of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a central foundational component of the ideology of that regime, and we have to be clear about it, and we have to confront it and call it out for what it is.” After the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai was set ablaze last weekend, Carr reiterated these statements and called Iran the “world’s chief state sponsor of anti-Semitism.”
In 2016 I wrote, “According to Articles 12 and 13 of the Iranian Constitution, all branches of Islam and Christianity have the right to worship, as do Jews and Zoroastrians, within the limits of the law there. However, converting away from Islam to any other religion is considered haram, or forbidden, and in many cases, could result in execution.”
Anti-Semitism is a historical reality in Iran’s strict brand of Shi’a Islam, which emphasizes the separation between believers and non-believers, expressed in terms of purity versus impurity. The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute explains that in Iran, “under the influence of Zoroastrian traditions, the Jews were considered physically impure and untouchable (najasa). Jews were also prohibited from inheriting from Shiites, whereas the opposite was allowed. A Jew who converted to Islam was entitled to the entire inheritance. Shiites were not allowed to marry Jewish women, except for in temporary marriage (mut’a), which is an inferior and exploitative type of concubinage.”
It is also a little-known fact that the country name of Iran is derived from the ancient Persian word Arya, a linguistic predecessor of the modern European term Aryan. Further, Armenian Nazi collaborator Garegin Nzhdeh (1886-1955) is the founder of the racist Tseghakronism movement, whose ideology is reminiscent of the Aryan supremacy espoused by Nzhdeh’s Nazi comrades. Today, Nzhdeh’s brand of Aryan and anti-Semitic ideology is palpable in both Armenia and Iran, neighboring countries where the Anti-Defamation League has documented that more than half of the populations hold a series of anti-Semitic views — at even higher rate in Armenia (58 percent) than in Iran (56 percent).
At the same time, it is important to note that the majority of Iranians are secular and the regime does not necessarily represent them, or their values. In fact, the Iranian government persecutes its Azerbaijani, Arab, and other citizens from minority populations.
Yet a stark contrast with Iran is found in its Shi’a-majority neighbor, Azerbaijan, which has strong relations with Israel and protects its Jewish citizens as well as other religious and ethnic minorities.
Southern California-based evangelical pastor Johnnie Moore has elaborated on the telling differences in the realm of religious tolerance between Azerbaijan and Iran, noting that Azerbaijan is “a country where Sunni and Shi’a clerics pray together, where Evangelical and Russian Orthodox Christians serve together, and where thriving Jewish communities enjoy freedom and total security in their almost entirely Islamic country.” He has also called Azerbaijan “a model for peaceful coexistence between religions.”
During my own visit to Azerbaijan, I observed and documented this first-hand. I believe that Azerbaijan is a nation that bears the torch, and burden, of bringing religious freedom to its less tolerant neighbors in the region, like Iran.
Perhaps the most dramatic indicator of Azerbaijani tolerance is the post-Soviet state’s special relationship with its Jewish community and with Israel. Last November, Azerbaijan unveiled a statue in honor of the nation’s Jewish war hero Albert Agarunov (1969-1992). Although Agarunov was killed in battle, his legacy remains a powerful symbol of Jewish integration and pride for his Muslim-majority country.
Israel and Azerbaijan have closely cooperated for more than a decade in the realms of security, energy, and tourism. Most recently, Azerbaijan sent its Finance Minister Samir Sharifov to this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, where Sharifov said that the country’s “cooperation with Israel is not limited to oil supply; we are interested in widening cooperation in defense and the transfer of technology.”
Sharifov also read remarks from a letter to AIPAC by Mehriban Aliyeva, the first vice president of Azerbaijan, who wrote, “It is gratifying that our former compatriots of Jewish origin, living nowadays in the United States and Israel, have maintained close ties with Azerbaijan and contribute to the strengthening of our relations with these countries. We are grateful to them.”
How can Azerbaijan govern and act so differently from its Shi’a neighbor? Iran is a theocracy that mixes religion and state more thoroughly than any other country in the world. In contrast, Azerbaijan’s constitution affirms the country as a secular state and ensures religious freedom for its citizens. Azerbaijan is also facing its own human rights issues and working on progressing as a nation. However, the fact of the matter remains, though Iran and Azerbaijan share a border, the similarities between their governments largely end there. Not all Shi’a-majority nations are the same.
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