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The desperation of Biden’s Disinformation Board There are dangers to using censorship as a political tool

(JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)


May 10, 2022   5 mins

In 1918, Woodrow Wilson’s Democratic administration passed a piece of legislation it hoped would accelerate the end of the First World War. The new law didn’t directly concern the military — nor was it a revolutionary act of foreign policy. Rather, its target was ordinary American citizens.

Passed shortly after the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act made it a crime to “wilfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States”. In other words, it was intended to stifle dissent. And by all accounts, it was immensely effective: it was used to convict 877 people between 1919 and 1920.

In the century since it was passed (and swiftly revoked), the Sedition Act has largely been viewed as a legislative artefact, an embarrassing quirk that’s best forgotten. In recent weeks, however, its spirit appears to have been rekindled by another Democrat President — one who may not be at war, but nonetheless finds himself under siege. Late last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of a sinister-sounding new unit called the Disinformation Governance Board. When asked to justify its formation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained: “It sounds like the objective of the board is to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities, and I am not sure who opposes that effort.”

And so the mask slips. As became clear in the following days, the Board has been established to legislate fake news and mistruths out of existence, as if they were draughts of toxic air, wafting out of laptops and cell phones into the eyes and ears of unsuspecting citizens. It’s hardly surprising that the Board was swiftly condemned as the ill-disguised attempt at state censorship it is.

The main clue to its true mission was the person chosen to lead the unit: Nina Jankowicz, a government specialist in “disinformation” who has an unhealthy record of disseminating disinformation for the Left and then singing about it, Mary Poppins-style, on TikTok. In 2020, for instance, she dismissed the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation and a “Trump campaign product”. In October last year, she claimed that parental concerns about the teaching of critical race theory in schools were merely “one of those hot-button issues that the Republicans and other disinformers, who are engaged in disinformation for profit… have seized on”.

Given her past comments, it’s hard not to view her appointment by Joe Biden — indeed, the creation of the Board itself — as anything other than a cry of desperation. The midterm elections, when congressional seats are contested, are fast-approaching. For weeks now, most commentators have been predicting calamity for the Democrats. And it’s not hard to see why: America’s post-pandemic economic recovery has stalled; gas prices have soared; inflation is above 8%; violent crime, especially homicide, remains at a disturbingly elevated level; and America’s Southern border is seeing record illegal crossings.

Faced with such a crisis, the rational thing for Democrat leaders to do would be to review their policies on these kitchen-table issues and change course. They could, for instance, invite their former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers back to advise the President on the economy. They could reassess ill-considered climate policies, such as the closure of the Keystone Pipeline and the regulatory war on fracking. They could even re-examine their naive programmes on crime and punishment, from defunding the police to putting felons back onto the streets. As for who could lead this course-correcting effort, there are ready-made centrist Democrats, such as Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, waiting in the wings.

But this is not where the party is today. The most influential voices are still on the far-Left, in the Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez corner of the tent. And the Democratic Socialists want to double down on their madcap agenda — party and voters alike be damned. How they achieve this is where Jankowicz comes in. The Democrat’s progressive wing knows it will never win over the American public by relying on the mundane methods of political campaigning. Its only hope is to frighten, censor and indoctrinate voters into accepting their agenda.

This explains the ill-judged idea of a Disinformation Governance Board. It also explains the hysterical Left-wing response to Elon Musk’s bid to take over Twitter. Having established such a stranglehold on social media in recent years, to the point that the last Republican President was effectively cancelled from the Internet while still in office, the Democrats are appalled by the thought that free speech might be restored to one of the major platforms.

Yet the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board marks a clear turning point, signalling the consolidation of state-sanctioned censorship. Once “disinformation” has been identified, we are told, “DHS then shares factual information related to its mission to potentially impacted people and organisations”. DHS has insisted that the Board does “not have any operational authority or capability”, while Psaki stated that “the mandate is not to adjudicate what is true or false online or otherwise”. But how else is it to identify disinformation and combat it with “factual information”?

This is, of course, a facsimile of the playbook adopted by media companies during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Remember when Twitter started warning us not to pay attention to such “disinformation” as the hypothesis that the Covid coronavirus was leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan? Or when highly qualified medical scientists were threatened with cancellation for arguing that lockdowns were doing more harm than good? With every passing day, these arguments look more convincing. Yet for more than a year they were regularly denounced as “disinformation”. And for more than a year, they were effectively silenced. Given the option of deploying such an effective political weapon, is it any wonder that the Democrats are now drawn to its use?

Of course, not everyone in the Democratic Party supports what is being attempted here. As Jim Himes, the Democratic Congressman for Connecticut’s 4th District, has observed, “the government has no business saying that this is disinformation and this is information”. Even President Wilson himself quickly recognised that for all its practical, short-term benefits, the Sedition Act was having a poisonous impact on American democracy. It was swiftly repealed in 1920; a year later, Wilson offered clemency to the vast majority of those convicted under the act.

Of those who were prosecuted under the Sedition Act, most belonged to the pacifist Left. Yet the Democrat advocates of the Disinformation Governance Board appear to have forgotten this, along with the age-old problem of censorship’s use as a political tool: it’s incredibly helpful at crushing dissent — until you find yourself on the receiving end.

Could the Democrats be about to learn this the hard way? It’s looking increasingly likely that, come 2024, a Republican will be returned to the White House — with that Republican likely to be Donald Trump. Forget angry parents tweeting about Critical Race Theory. If Trump wins a second term and takes control of the Disinformation Government Board, then the Democrats really will have something to worry about. And if that does happen, they will only have themselves to blame.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also the Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her Substack is called Restoration.

Ayaan

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Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

In one sense, it may be a good thing. It would be a perfect reverse barometer. If it said “black”, we’d know the reality was white. I mean, how many Russians believed Pravda? However, I do find it trying that the left simply does not learn, except tactically. It learns how to do wrong better, but never that it IS wrong. The great curse of Karl Marx was that he created generations of passionately intense people who honestly believe the rest of us need them to look after us — by any means necessary.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

“The great curse of Karl Marx was that he created generations of passionately intense people who honestly believe the rest of us need them to look after us — by any means necessary”.

What an absolutely brilliant sentence that encapsulates in a mere 32 words the sheer depravity of Marxism. Thank you.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

Unfortunately, Pravda-style indoctrination works. Russian citizens supported (and may still) the war due to Putin’s lies and I have numerous, other-wise intelligent friends who still watch the political and covid policy indoctrination on ABC and NBC despite being made aware of the many lies told them on these subjects. Sheep will be sheep.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

But then my problem, with a wife who is an immune compromised person for whom the vaccines (taken) have little effect (10% immunity at most), is we get treated as if we’re paranoid because we still have to take precautions. If she gets it, she’ll probably die from it. People don’t seem to be aware of this vulnerable group of 500,000 due to poor information from the government.
I have asked my MP, Braverman, about deployment of Evusheld, a prophylactic that would largely protect the immune compromised from getting it (80%+). It’s been approved for use in the U.K., but the government have advised me that it isn’t being deployed in case another variant turns up. So we wait.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

What do they mean that they aren’t deploying it in case another variant turns up?

…as in, they intend to wait for the overall community risk to be high again, before giving prophylactics out to the vulnerable? — that is illogical on it’s face, surely.

In the meantime, could she take antivirals prophylactically? — would the NHS prescribe Molnupiravir or Paxlovid… or the one that is the same as Paxlovid but nobody is supposed to mention (cough, horse medicine, cough)…

Additionally, I’m sure you’re already aware of it, but just in case you aren’t, my partner is also immunocompromised and is on the MATH+ prophylactic regimen, I will drop the link. Scroll down this page to the section titled: “MATH+ Prophylactic and At-Home Treatment Protocol”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/08/joseph-mercola/quercetin-and-vitamin-c-synergistic-therapy-for-covid-19/
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

I have taken ‘horse medicine’ throughout all waves and have lived a normal life. My doctor prescribes it, but I have just taken the animal cheap and cheerful version because I had it on hand. Hundreds of thousands of people here have taken it.
Saw a comment on Twitter yesterday about a blocked comment. The comment was Ivermectin saves lives.
Bring on Elon Musk sooner rather than later.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
2 years ago

I suppose you don’t realize you just made a paradox. You talk about Putin’s lies than mention Ukraine’s lies (not by name) as told on ABC and NBC.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago

It’s rather cute, but I’ve fallen into the trap that since the left says it to be true, it’s obviously false, and vice versa. Even the boy who cries wolf may cry truly on (rare) occasion.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

“passionately intense people” sounds like the omnipotent moral busybodies from the CS Lewis quote a bit down the thread.

Toby Aldrich
Toby Aldrich
2 years ago

CS Lewis put it best:

“ Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

I love this quote, thank’s for posting it. CS Lewis was such a great writer.

H.L Mencken also had some great ones on this topic…

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
He also wrote, “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.”
And finally, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Barnett
DA Johnson
DA Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Thank you–these are spot-on quotes, written (I think) about a hundred years ago. Plus ca change…..

Terry M
Terry M
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

I post Mencken quotes very frequently. He was a genius.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

Thank you, thank you. And to the other chap quoting Mencken.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

OMB! Omnipotent Moral Busybodies.

Watch out! Careful now! Down with this sort of thing! They cry, you know.

Vince B
Vince B
2 years ago

There is, indeed, an awful lot of nonsense out there. But nowadays, here in the US, anything the left doesn’t want to hear is “misinformation,” or “disinformation” which will cause “harm” and so much be stopped for the public good. That goes for basically any Covid regime skepticism, to suggesting that biological sex is real. And now Biden’s Ministry of Truth, I mean Disinformation Governance Board.
Scary stuff.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 years ago

My ears are still stunned from hearing the Democrats talk about banning misinformation. Echoes of Orwellian fiction keep them ringing.
Max Boot (he is a Democrat now, isn’t he?) had the audacity to say for democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.
Barack Obama had the gall to call himself almost a First Amendment absolutist, and then call for censorship of disinformation by both tech companies and the government.
Now Nina Jankowicz has been given some sort of power to block disinformation before it gets to us.
The United States was founded on the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They are stated right there as the first in the bill of rights. How could anyone forget?

Terry M
Terry M
2 years ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

The Dems have trampled over free speech and free association so successfully since 2020 that they want to codify their dirty tricks.
Just like when they tossed out the 60-vote rule for the approval of Federal judges, and then McConnell applied the simple majority rule to the Supreme Court appointments resulting in Trump’s 3 Justices, they will come to rue the day they went down this road. More likely they will ‘memory hole’ this just like they are doing to their orders for severe lockdowns and mask mandates.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

“We need to need to merge state and corporate power while destroying civil liberties and defaming anyone who questions our foreign policy. We must do this in order to fight the rise of fascism and authoritarianism!”
– The “Antifascist” Left

Stev Aga
Stev Aga
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

that isn’t obvious nor likely so an expansion of your thinking would be interesting to consider

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Stev Aga

Hardly, I am simply comparing what they have been shouting about, what they have been openly trying to do, and a certain Italian dictator’s own definition of a political movement he codified.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
Stev Aga
Stev Aga
2 years ago

the ground work for this started under president obama. the Smith-Mundt act (1948) banned government agencies from broadcasting messaging being targeted at foreign audiences from being broadcast to the American people. what that meant is the propaganda put out though as an example voice of america could not be used to propagandise US citizens at home with what we would now label misinformation or as p Obama termed it alternative truths.

in 2012 (P. Obama’s administration) repealed the act enabling the ground to be cleared for ministry of truth right think to be targeted at US citizens.

here we are ten years later witnessing the latest shaping of the agenda, however if you do it for long enough and with an overwhelmingly left wing media using a collective narrative that is controlled by money, power and right think politics not a love of truth you find dissent not being argued against but coined fake and dismissed by the acolyte army.

if the truth will set one free then misinformation, propaganda, political and woke narratives bind us tight as slaves of thought.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stev Aga
AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

Another way of looking at this is not that it is a desperate move of the Left, or Extreme Left (although there is truth in that view) but that it is the consequence of Belief. Not especially religious belief or political belief but world view belief.
Now while they are part of the Left, Biden’s puppeteers are convinced that all humans can be perfected, that Utopia can be achieved, and this has become a sacred secular goal and belief. They Believe. From which it follows that anyone who obstructs the way to Utopia must be a profane Non-Believer and therefore Evil. This is an overwhelming emotional motivation and almost impossible to challenge by reason alone. It also explains why people who are not quite as fervent in their support are also backsliders and evil too.
This is not limited to the Left, it is perhaps a cognitive bias in groups of humans. The Right and various Religions have in the past been swept up in visions of a glorious future too. The best inoculation against the absolutist beliefs is repeating over and over again “The end does not justify the means”.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Yes, interesting points. I agree, this is a new ideology/belief system. It’s got elements of the collectivist ideologies of communism/socialism, but the utopia it seeks is more explicitly technocratic, and even transhuman. It represents the triumph of collectivism, which has captured both left and right now.

Consider that in the west really all the main parties have been captured by collectivist thinking…
— The left wing parties always favoured collectivism; big state control.
— The right wing parties used to counterbalance that by favouring the opposite – individual liberty and sovereignty, which necessarily required a restrained state, lean and fiscally prudent. Unfortunately, all over the west, the centre and right wing parties have been captured by the globalist ideology of the WEF/ UN etc.
Globalism is just the corporate version of collectivism. Collectivism 2.0, but now with insane tech tools for enforcement, a la China.

Globalism is also explicitly utopian, and transhumanist (one of their ‘thought leaders’ is Yuval Harrari). So while it might seem odd to say it aligns well with left wing values (given it’s essentially a corporatist oligarchy, which they should hate), many of the key goals actually map really well onto left wing thinking; the globalist technocrats want to create a high tech, completely interconnected, centrally controlled utopia where human individuality is effectively erased/subverted, and the ‘wise ones’ [self appointed, natch] build the utopia for us whether we like it or not. These collectivists from left and right even behave the same, in terms of the instinct to be authoritarian and censorious, feeling that they should not have to win the argument… because they know they are right, and hence there is no time to waste arguing about it, dissenters must be excommunicated and silenced for the greater good.

To me, this seems like the real issue causing a breakdown across the west. Which group stands for liberty, human dignity, or sovereignty of the individual anymore? …There are only various forms of collectivist cults.

This has thrown everything off kilter, leading to an extreme move of the Overton window to the left, and to social and political unrest, as people move to the margins just to try to implement some kind of change. But change is hard when the counterweight is destroyed, and both left and right are gleefully galloping towards utopia with nobody to keep them in check?

Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Barnett
Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

To me, this seems like the real issue causing a breakdown across the west. Which group stands for liberty, human dignity, or sovereignty of the individual anymore? …There are only various forms of collectivist cults.
I don’t think that’s right. The issue seems to be more that the “right” no longer has sufficient financial and social power to be heard. A globalist left now controls most all institutions including media, news, etc.
The main hope is that they overplay their hands and what’s left of the middle wakes up.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Agree with the “…convinced that all humans can be perfected…” point, a salient difference between the Left and Right. I suspect it’s something to do with those on the Left being somehow constitutionally (no pun intended!) unable to bear the reality of being human. I’d also add that Biden is the puppet of the Left, rather than anything resembling a puppet-master. The biggest falsehood of all is that he’s either physically or mentality fit to be POTUS. It’s almost as if the MSM (seen from the UK) want to impose this untruth on the US populace in the way that JJ Barnett alludes to above, quoting Dalrymple. As someone who really wants to see the US succeed as a champion of the free world (without unnecessary military gung-ho), Unherd is providing an invaluable insight into these matters, and as usual, AHA is bang on the money.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Interesting point re the idea of “perfecting” humanity, and how that differs left to right.

There are confusing manifestations of the desire to “perfect” us, that seem to swing between:

the astonishingly naive & utopian: the ‘do gooder’ type, thinking that violent criminals just need more hugs and indulgence, but we shouldn’t do anything that looks like punishment. Also in this group would be those who think just wishing yourself to be another gender is good enough to make some kind of material change? …this one seems to be mostly from the left.

the punishing/puritanical: this one is kind of familiar, from the old religious right. The desire to impose rigid standards of thought and behaviour, and viciously go after heretics and dissenters, shaming and casting them out of society. This pendulum of authoritarianism in general is swinging out to the left now, so I think we see this coming from the left mainly now, though it retains the religious zeal, and religious/cult philosophy?

the utilitarian: this is a new and interesting one that is shared by all collectivists now (the leftist collectivists, and the new right’s collectivism embodied in globalism/technocracy). On the left this tends to be seen as mechanistic view of humanity – like the idea that we can simply “fix” gender dysphoria by just chopping off body parts and sticking on new ones – almost as if we are cars, and not humans, with any other heart/spirit element. On the right this looks more like technocracy I think – transhumanism, the idea that man needs to be ‘perfected’ by merging with AI, and by living longer. A cutting of the cord between humanity and the natural world, so as to ‘transcend’ and be better (and this definition of better is more like a machine).

All of these in essence admonish, or are disgusted by, humanity. But the last one scares me the most in that it’s an ideology shared by both left and right, and it seems explicitly to want to obliterate humanity. Not to nurture and improve it, or even to shame it into doing ‘better’, but to chop it up and make it more like a perfect machine. I find that scary.

Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Barnett
Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

The ideology has nothing to do with “the right” it is 100% neo-Marxist renamed “critical theory” but the “social justice” part remains. The confusion you may be experiencing, thinking the right is somehow on board, is an intentional outcome of the Critical Theorist’s strategy – it is the same as Mao’s. I agree with Bernard.

Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

opps, sorry. Ignore this reply.

Last edited 2 years ago by Russ W
Mathieu Bernard
Mathieu Bernard
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

A major influence of the leftist religion is Marxist dogma, revised and repackaged for a postmodern age. Karl Marx despised existing reality, and working from the ideas of Rousseau and Hegel basically developed his own “religion” in which he sought to abolish traditional forms and replace them with radical new ones. Modeled on the redemptive theology of Christianity (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Glorification), Marxism dispenses of the concept of “God” as problematic, and substitutes “Man” as his own creator and redeemer.

To Marx, mankind originally existed in a state of harmony (Eden) until “the division of labor” occurred (man’s alienation from his own work through the exploitation of others). This was the Fall of man. Marx then envisioned the means of redemption through six stages of history, culminating in the final epochs of socialism (dictatorship of the proletariat) and ultimate realization and return to paradise in the final stage, communism – in which the division of labor is abolished and man is liberated (saved) from the chains of capitalism. Essential to Marx’s eschatology is a form of evangelism formulated to awaken the proletariat to his state of bondage, wherein he realizes his condition and is saved from “false consciousness” into “class consciousness,” thereby becoming an activist and “true believer” in the realization of the communist utopia.

Today, the terminology is changed but the new neo-Marxist faith is very similar. Critical theories of race and gender have replaced that of class, and given birth to a new “proletariat” comprised of students, intellectuals and the intersectional coalitions of so-called “marginalized communities.” In a generation bereft of traditional religious faith due to the decline of Christianity in the West, this revitalized Marxist utopian dream has swept into the spiritual void.

Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago

yep

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

As Ayaan alludes to it’s nothing short of a government sanctioned smear machine.
With Facebook and other companies’ “independent” fact checkers no longer holding any credibility whatsoever, the administration has taken upon itself to fill the void.
It doesn’t matter whether people fully believe what is labelled as “disinformation” or not – but it’s just enough to taint any opposing views or ideas that are not part of “the message”. A seed of doubt.

Stev Aga
Stev Aga
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

the word independent does not sit well with fact checker, which is a shame as fact checkers ought to just check facts with out fear or favour and irrespective of who or what finds them.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

If you are going to establish a Ministry of Truth it does seem rather odd to appoint Nina J to head it if she has already established herself as a propagandist with little regard for the truth. Surely it would have been better to chose someone who has established a less partisan reputation. Presumably Twitter under Musk will not be overawed by any pronouncements as to what she regards as disinformation.

Dorian J
Dorian J
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

That is what puzzles me. How could they possibly have chosen someone as obviously unsuitable as Nina J? Even her official portrait has her sporting a creepy smirk. Is the idea to fire her and replace her with someone more suitable so they can say they listened to their critics. The whole thing is so bizarre.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Dorian J

It is only bizarre if you think the purpose of a Ministry of Truth is to fool others. But under advanced totalitarian regimes, everything is only about power. Forcing people to accept lies which they know are lies, and deny truths which they know are true is one of the best ways to make them acknowledge your power.
The purpose of this appointment to put the American public on notice. If you get censored, your problem is not one of proving to Nina Jankowicz that what you wrote was, indeed, true, because that is not relevant to the Ministry of Truth.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago

Good point, we are in the naked aggression phase now it seems. Maintain power at all costs, and clamp down even harder if anyone resists.
I’m reminded of the observations of Theodore Dalrymple on communist propaganda, which I found very sad and profound:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.
When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Yes, no attempt to hide the grab for total control. Any attempt at pushing back will be dismissed as the ‘far right’ acting out.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Can you provide a source for this excellent quote? Would like to look it up.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago

Yes, the quote is by the English writer and commentator (and psychiatrist) Theodore Dalrymple, and apparently it’s from the book “Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses”.

I came across it rather by accident, when reading an article early into the Covid period about mask wearing. I saved it, as it seemed insightful. It’s actually a good article as well, the one I discovered it, perhaps worth a look if you’re interested.

https://thecritic.co.uk/face-masks-make-you-stupid/
Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Barnett
Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Excellent quote, thanks. That is exactly it.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Dorian J

No offense to our fellow American readers – but it’s a peculiarly American thing to have these unironically corny staged photos – usually with a soft focus and an American flag as a backdrop. Stop it guys, it looks ridiculous.

Disputatio Ineptias
Disputatio Ineptias
2 years ago
Reply to  Dorian J

The left always overplays their hand. They’re blinded by their ideology and will push it to the bloody end.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes it needed independent oversight. But they probably didn’t consider that, making it a potentially helpful thing, because their intent is to use it as a political weapon.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago

Trump would never sink to the depths of the left. Swallowing the Kool-Aid dispensed 24/7 by the news media is the only way such a conclusion could be reached.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

I have to say, you may be right on that. Trump actually didn’t remotely act like a censorious fascist, as we were hysterically warned he would.

This fact – that he didn’t behave like a tyrant, which likely means he isn’t one – is never acknowledged by those who told us to fear him.

Stev Aga
Stev Aga
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

don’t be too sure he fell for fauchii’s discredited changing with the wind narrative

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

This campaign against “disinformation” is of course idiotic nonsense.
Leaving aside the conflict with the First Amendment for the moment, this whole concept relies of the idea that there is some objective truth that is both known and does not change with time.
But that is clearly untrue in many cases.
Just take the Covid saga as an example.
At the start, masks were pronounced to be of no use in many countries. Some time later, they became mandatory. Objective analysis (yet to be completed) will show later which of these views is more accurate and whether either is objectively false. They may indeed both have merit in different contexts.
That is usually the case with science – the current theory is believed to be true until a better one comes along.
Are this new breed of censors to claim papal infallibility to justify their decisions ?
I think you have to be fairly stupid and gullible to imagine that you can legislate against human stupidity and gullibility.

Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

“this whole concept relies on the idea that there is some objective truth that is both known and does not change with time.”
Perhaps better to say, that as our understanding improves over time, with additional information, experience, and reasoning, what we once thought was “true” becomes less so, and sometimes is simply shown to be wrong. This does not imply that there is no “objective truth.”

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago

This is an illegitimate administration. One can hardly expect them to behave in a legitimate fashion.

D Goo
D Goo
2 years ago

It’s important to note that when Psaki referred to “Republicans and other misinformers,” she clearly stated that Republican points of view are misinformation. This is a call for a one-party state without opposition. I’m not as optimistic as the author. If they get their way, there may not be a change of government at all.

B Davis
B Davis
2 years ago

Truth is the elephant.
We, the blind men stumbling our way to 10,000 different descriptions of same: the truth is large, heavy, smooth, rough, pointed, dull, rounded, sharp, cold, hot. The Truth is all of that and more.
And the only way we have of even approaching some semblance of a larger and more encompassing understanding is to listen to it all, grasp it all — each and every single bit. No matter how much ‘misinformation’ is there contained; no matter how much ‘disinformation’ is somehow included; no matter how much mal-information is intended. It doesn’t matter.
We, the blind men, must be free to take it all in, parse it as best we can, argue, research, look again, listen more, decide and move on — always, we hope, aware and cognizant: the truth is a slippery beast.
And no one — absolutely no one — is or can be equipped to sort it for us. God no! And God save us from those filled with so-called good intentions. God save us from those who are so sure that they know best what’s best for us. DO NOT, we shout, pre-chew our food; do not hand us only what you think we can digest. Do not protect us from the World in all its terrible and contentious glory. DO NOT!
Sweet Little Jen tells us that our newly minted “Disinformation Governance Board is there to “prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities.” She says, rhetorically, “, I am not sure who opposes that effort.” So let us answer her: WE DO; WE ALL DO. Every free man and woman should absolutely oppose any and every effort devoted to telling us how to think and what to believe.
I can’t imagine anything worse.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  B Davis

Lovely post. By your good self.

At the rate things are going, we are going to get the DGB renamed as the MADGB: the Misinformation And Disinformation Governance Board. Well, perhaps not. DAMGB does not sound good either.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago

On 10 January 2022 the World Health Organisation’s Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies (WGPR) published an interim report on its mandate to consider the recommendations of the Independent Panel that in May 2021 had recommended the drawing up of a “pandemic treaty” and the strengthening of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR).

The Chinese Communist Party ally running the World Health Organisation presented an amended version of the WGPR’s paper to the WHO’s Executive Board on 19 January 2022. This version of the document, under the heading relating to the strengthening of the IHR, now newly included reference to “recognizing the need for national and global coordinated actions to address the misinformation, disinformation, and stigmatization, that undermine public health”.

Separately the same communist said in a WHO Executive Board paper, this one authored by him alone, and dated 11 January 2022 that “The problems of misinformation, disinformation, lack of information and information presented in a way that is not accessible to communities have increasingly been identified as significant exacerbating factors during many health emergencies …. The Secretariat is working with partners and Member States to …. build the evidence required to inform policy on dealing with the infodemic both during and between health emergencies”.

Look it up on the WHO’s website. And reflect on how this might interact with what the “Biden Administration” is doing.

Can you see what it is yet?

Michael Webb
Michael Webb
2 years ago

While this columnist focuses only on the US in this regard, I am fearful that all western goverments and pseudo democratic governments such as we have in South Africa will happily follow suite to entrench their hold on power.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago

They had to do something and they could see that Putin, after the disaster he brought upon Russia, has no other tools to stay alive but censorship and disinformation.
In the US those herds of desperate “progressive” sheeple need something, anything to remind them how much better off they are since Trump is gone.
More COVID deaths than before the vaccine was available, involved in dangerous proxy war that may erupt into disaster any day, with Build Back Better inflation around 10%, crime destroying the biggest American cities. And highly competent vice president in case if Joe’s brain completely malfunctions.
Enter Nina Jankowicz and her crack team of censors and propagandists.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago

It’s ironic that they’re presently fighting Russia in a proxy war abroad …and implementing policies to become more like Russia at home. :/

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
— President Harry S. Truman

Peter O
Peter O
2 years ago

‘ while Psaki stated that “the mandate is not to adjudicate what is true or false online or otherwise”. ‘

Indeed! The mandate is to push the narrative, regardless of truth. At least Psaki’s being honest.

Hank Brad
Hank Brad
2 years ago

Passed shortly after the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act made it a crime to “wilfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States”. 
And the Biden Administration is doing its utmost to restore this century-old parody of autocratic rule by Woodrow Wilson to active service, in the jailing of holders of opinions counter to Democrat Party groupthink.

doug masnaghetti
doug masnaghetti
2 years ago

He and his lawless, morally depraved minions know they can not win in November without massive cheating and censorship…..again.

0 0
0 0
2 years ago

As a natural born citizen of the USA and a practicing attorney, I have two observations to share.
First, the fact that the establishment of a ministry of truth has even been broached is quite disturbing.
Second, however, the handwringing is a bit unfounded. If this board ever attempts to censor speech, it will be abolished as quickly as an attorney can get the case in front of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has repeatedly and vehemently defended free speech against any attempt at governmental infringement, with an oft-cited landmark decision opining that “freedom of speech is the cornerstone upon which all other freedoms rest.”
Combine this long line of precedent with the fact that the current Supreme Court leans definitively to the right, and this board–if it ever actually begins to function–will be struck down as unconstitutional quicker than you can say “Orwell.”

Last edited 2 years ago by 0 0
Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago

If Republicans do take charge again, IF, the first thing they will do is dismantle the DGB.

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 years ago

Compared to millennia of censorship campaigns, this latest episode seems pathetic in the face of information technology, social connectedness, Twitter and so on.

Nina Jankowicz Is a half-pint shadow of the Catholic Church Grand Inquisitor.

Roger Rogers
Roger Rogers
2 years ago

Interesting article, but I think that this was written from an exclusively American perspective. Other countries have similar, but not identical problems. The one failing in this way of thinking is the idea that censorship is the prerogative of one political party, The Democrats. This is a naive, linear perspective of “Left” and “Right”. We should assume in this current climate any political grouping may resort the manipulation of information given the chance. A better view might available in describing a second axis on the old Left-Right chart, a Libertarian – Authoritarian one. That might explain why, despite the North American experience, parties of the Left, Right and Centre are divided among themselves and are jockeying for position when they can discern the current zeitgeist. 

Nord Christensen
Nord Christensen
2 years ago

First, “…the Board has been established to legislate fake news and mistruths out of existence….” No, the Board will have no direct Legislative branch involvement. The Board’s an Executive branch creation, and will work its principal mischief amongst the agencies found there. Second, Democrats consistently find a way to insulate their Frankenstein creations (e.g., the CFPB) from Republican influence, and likely the same will be true of the DGB. 

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Woodrow Wilson’s tenure is explored at length in Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, and the Sedition Act isn’t the half of it by any means. The assumptions made at that time about the role of the State and the amount of power it ought to have are astonishing by modern standards. For a while the USA was headed for the same sort of authoritarianism that went on to last much longer in Russia at the turn of the 20th century.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
2 years ago

By a perhaps odd coincidence, I decided to read Orwell’s 1984 a few weeks ago before all this started. I’m not sure if I had read it before. I know I saw the movie. It is so weird that so much of Winston Smith’s experience is now taking place in the world. For example, NATO is a carbon copy of Oceania. Oceania’s propaganda is identical to that coming out of Ukraine, calling prisoners “war criminals” then executing them and referring to military actions as war crimes. Biden’s new creation is practically identical to the Ministry of Truth where Smith worked. What those who invoke the book don’t seem to realize is that in the end, Smith gives in. That’s what Biden is aiming for, browbeating everyone into becoming Democrats.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 years ago
Reply to  Sam McGowan

Except… it’s not really Biden implementing all this, but those who manipulate him from behind the scenes; those who help maintain the fallacy of his competence to be POTUS (they’ve got their work cut out!!). We can all see the aging process at work, which is unfortunate but part of the human condition. That silly little shuffling run he did when campaigning for President used to give me the creeps. Can anyone really say that Biden is aiming for anything, other than to stay awake when it matters?

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 years ago
Reply to  Sam McGowan

Orwell was a fantastic writer – both the novels and the journalism – and so far as I can see his reputation is growing fast as his assessment of where the World is going looks increasingly accurate. There is also, of course, the drug and pleasure-based utopia of Brave New World. Those books together – BNW and 1984 – cover most of the ground.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Nash
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

As Mary McCarthy wrote of Lillian Hellman: Every Word She Writes Is a Lie, Including “And” and “The”
But this is really true about everyone in politics and government. It’s all about selling you on the narrative. And you better buy, or else.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago

What a great anecdote, thank you!

Governments should never be allowed to get too large (in sprawl, or in our lives) …or they will use that power to begin existing for their own sake. Selling their own self-serving lies. I think that’s what we have now? — a system that lives for itself, primarily.

The ‘state’ is now so big it touches everything. It’s so bloated that it reaches into the most intimate corners of citizens’ lives. The state is everywhere. It’s in classrooms, bedrooms, parent/child relationships, etc.

Having achieved this immense and inappropriate power, now both parties fight relentlessly, and viciously, to control the levers of that power.

The answer (as I see it) isn’t to elect my particular ‘team’, who I personally agree with… but on the contrary, it’s to de-fang and de-centralise the system in such a way that the state has less power and influence in our lives.

And hence less corruption is invited to be centralised; attracted to one central location – the limitless font of money and power that is the ‘big state’.

What do you think?

Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Barnett
Thomas Cushman
Thomas Cushman
2 years ago

It does not to take a lot of complex argument to be fearful of this new disinformation board . The simple fact is that anytime any government becomes the Arbiter of Truth we are in a dark place. The alarming thing is that the Democrats know they are claiming that role, know they will censor information that challenges their worldview and interests , and are arrogant enough think they can control freedom of expression . These are the hallmarks of all authoritarian regimes. I’m not sure the enemies of the Democrats will be any better when they take power. If the board is not dissolved, they’ll just use it in nefarious ways.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

The Psaki response to the request to justify the creation of the DGB has her quoted as saying “… from travelling around the country in a range of communities …” in relation to the supposed official efforts to prevent disinformation and misinformation.

That sounds like the mollifying language used to placate the disconcerted animals in Animal Farm. Well, it is certainly an unconvincing justification. Indeed, it’s downright patronising. As if a load of hillbillies in the interior of the USA, the hillbilly belt, need to get with the programme!

And as the lady says, who could possibly oppose those efforts? The sheep may well in great numbers all the same bleat their support and signal their conformity.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Just to add, yes, that “range” is THAT belt of deplorables.

Martti O Suomivuori
Martti O Suomivuori
2 years ago

I remember when Ayaan Hirsi Ali had a target on her back, and his fellow filmmaker got stabbed in the middle of the road. How the Dutch government found it too expensive to pay for her security and how she moved to the US- The relief she felt, the uniquely American freedom.
Naturally, I read all of Ayaan’s books and learned a lot. The Western Poverty Law center targeted her -why might that be? I learned about the Muslim Brotherhood and the OIC. The sneaky Mr. Nawaaz cashed one million, suing them! Why didn’t the film ‘Sweeties” shock me at all? Because of the things it left unsaid! I do not get hard-ons watching naked children. I used to work in pediatric intensive care.
This time, Ayaan introduces an essential philosophical argument: The things you ‘know’ must stand if you construct something. And the opposite: If you want to take an organization apart, mess up its logic and language, then project what you feel is true instead of finding out what is.
We see modern Russia following the latter scheme. Against all Western bets, its three-day-gig of killing Zelenskyy and ‘liberating’ all the Russians forced to pose as Ukrainians turned out to be a bloody war costing tens of thousands of soldiers –the cream of Russia, the ones supposed to build the nation’s future.
That’s how dangerous a regime built on lies is to itself. Take note. For some reason, the MSM media or the liberal talking heads fail to see the connection. Like Putin, they feel that the problem is what people say. They think that only pleasant things are true, and critics only try to help the enemy. “We control what is said; we fix the broken reality.”
This is what we see in Russia and also in the US. In America, the problem is rooted in the American way of argumentation taught in schools: You are not there to find the truth or even a version of it that both parties could work with. You are there to win. The rules are the rules of war.
There are no rules in war.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martti O Suomivuori
Robert Williams
Robert Williams
2 years ago

It is depressing to see such an intelligent writer confusing the (putatively unhinged) far left with the (supposedly sane) moderate wing of the Democratic Party. (To hell with the odious Larry Summers, by the way, architect as he is of all the ruin in our economy for the last 40 years.) The new censorious and authoritarian elements in the party–perfectly in harmony with its mindless identitarians and its rapacious neoliberals–make up the reactionary Democratic center. Democrats are privatizers, censors, and warmongers, just like the good ole GOP. Real leftists look at horror on these pious, none-too-bright fools. The truth is, except for a few of us lonely critics of the establishment, there really is no far left anymore in this country. Pointing to the servile Bernie Sanders and the careerist AOC as representatives of what we stand for is laughable.

Rob Schwartzman
Rob Schwartzman
2 years ago

The most generous thing to say about such a board is that it would be as useful as the retired color coded Homeland Security Advisory System.

Hank Brad
Hank Brad
2 years ago

It was swiftly repealed in 1920; a year later, Wilson offered clemency
Pretty unlikely it was the President – weren’t his wife and Colonel House pulling the puppet strings by then?

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
2 years ago

Great punchline.

Gary Samuelson
Gary Samuelson
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Eagle

Decentralized power was the original design. When I was young, there used to be a saying, “Don’t make a federal case out of it,” in response to a perhaps legitimate, but relatively insignificant complaint. My mother used it on me frequently. Now there is almost nothing that cannot be the subject of a federal case.

Gary Samuelson
Gary Samuelson
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Samuelson

I should have made it clear that I was referring to the US Constitution

Sheldon Norberg
Sheldon Norberg
2 years ago

The best defense is a good offense!
Watch the Technocratic Censor’s Song here
https://rumble.com/v13texo-the-technocratic-censors-song.html

Ryan Pursifull
Ryan Pursifull
1 year ago

Keystone was started by a Canadian company that doesn’t exist anymore. They never finished KXL(2) because of land disputes. The regular keystone is still running. Please take this lie out of this article. You sound like “his hands were up!” or some BS like that.

Nicky Thumper
Nicky Thumper
2 years ago

She changes Joey’s Depends when Dr Jill has the day off.

Brian Q M
Brian Q M
2 years ago

Interesting to see how this issue of Bidens initiative against disinformation is being covered.in right-of-center press outlets like Unherd. From where I sit in the UK, press coverage has focused upon the predicable outrage from GOP diehards like Rand Paul who even doubts the existence of disinformation. Oh well.

The biggest source of disinformation is not as some claim the US government, – you need only look a little further east to Moscow to find a major source of disinformation. As the UK Daily Mail put it recently “Don’t you know there’s a war on?’.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Q M
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Q M

Let me sum up. You saying that censorship is OK and creating a censorship czar to head up a ‘disinformation’ governmental department is OK, even if this czar has with no knowledge (only opinion and bias), previously slammed issues as untrue which have subsequently proven to be true?

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Q M

I find the whole “Don’t you know there is a war on?” thing to be the worst kind of whataboutery. It’s basically saying “Shut up and stop asking questions”.

It invites us not to think, just obey …because ‘crisis’.

One could counter that it’s times of crisis when it is most critical to think, and to debate, and hear counter arguments to your own. Because in times of crisis the stakes are higher …and the best ideas rise to the top through competition in open debate. We will never debate our way to the best ideas & strategies if we cannot think and speak clearly.

Separately, on the Rand Paul point, he was a little OTT in his rhetoric, but he is right in at least one respect… North Korea can (and do) pump out propaganda and lies all day long. But everyone knows they are lies. The US is the global cultural and military hegemon (and is meant to be a serious country, based on upstanding principles). When the US states that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, an entire coalition of nations follow them into war. The type and scale of the lies the US outputs are arguably of an order of magnitude greater than North Korea, because of her status and reputation.

…anyway, I watched the full interaction and I think he landed his 2 core points clearly:

  1. The entire concept of this board abridges 1A of the constitution
  2. The US government is in no position to arbitrate what truth is, having demonstrated neither competence in being objective, nor any kind of allegiance or affinity to truth & transparency, historically speaking.

Both fair points I think.

Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Barnett
Russ W
Russ W
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Well said.