Occupy Twitter?

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Posted: Jan 29, 2021 10:12 AM
Occupy Twitter?

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Many of the country’s largest corporations have abandoned their traditional roles as, you know, businesses to jump hard into politics – always, it seems, on the side of the woke performative left. The partisan flavor of the companies’ metamorphoses is no accident.

The moves were triggered partly by overt threats made by leftist politicians, of course. But top corporate managers were also intimidated by Occupy Wall Street; picketing of annual shareholder meetings by leftwing activists; and endless pressure from a well-funded cadre of leftist organizations to adopt “environmental, social and governance” (ESG) shareholder proposals, which are nothing more than instructions to companies to enter politics for the left.

It’s time – it’s long past time – for us on the right to respond to this “private” pressure. So: Occupy Twitter? Abandon Amazon? Sit-in at Starbucks? F … well, I’ll stop the alliteration before I get to Facebook.

Last week in these pages I proposed a legislative, regulatory and enforcement agenda to respond to the coordinated efforts by a collection of big-tech companies to silence right-of-center speech and to address the corporate drift into leftwing politics generally. But as the left’s successful record in the past decade suggests, an “official” strategy is not enough. We must get personally involved as well.

This is hard for many of us on the right. We tend to be independent-minded people who naturally shy away from group activities and from groupthink. This is unavoidable for a coalition of people whose basic uniting premises include the idea: “Leave me alone, and I’ll do the same to you.” But as the Tea Party movement early in the last decade showed, many on the right are willing and eager to get involved, while others of us can force ourselves.  

Here are some suggestions.

Amazon threw Parler off of Amazon Web Services, effectively shutting down the free-speech network unless it can somehow recreate the services in which Amazon has effectively become a monopolist. This is hardly the only way in which Amazon has discriminated against the right, as witnessed by its exclusion of some right-of-center organizations from the Amazon Smile Program. Even libertarians who dislike some of the positions of those socially conservative organizations can agree that they shouldn’t be excluded from public discourse. And Amazon is so partisan that it withheld assistance in distributing vaccines until the day the Biden Administration began, costing lives and fortunes in lost business for “real-world” companies in order to spite Trump and his assertedly Neanderthalic supporters.  

It would behoove us all, then, to note that Walmart now offers an annual subscription to a “free”-delivery-any-amount program that rivals the one offered by Amazon. You don’t get Prime Video from Walmart, but preserving freedom might be worth giving up Mrs. Maisel, as sad as that would be.

Of course, that remains a viable option only as long as Walmart avoids discrimination against conservatives. We should increase pressure on still-neutral organizations to stay in the middle of the road, while going all out – peaceably and without violation of any non-discriminatory laws, certainly – against companies that have moved left. This means borrowing from Occupy Wall Street and other effective leftwing tactics, and putting those strategies to work for the right. Once the world opens up again (which should be soon with Biden in office, so the truth about the ineffectiveness of lockdowns and false positives can be made public without undercutting the left’s narrative), we should begin picketing and protesting at shareholder meetings to “demand” (the only way to communicate publicly, these days) that big-tech, big-banking, big-investment and other leftwing companies forbid discrimination on the basis of viewpoint and public participation, stop killing off competitors who will permit everyone into the public square, stop interfering with businesses that offer firearms and supplies to Americans, and so on.

It could mean more direct “occupying” as well. Starbucks very publicly and with performative panache made it clear a couple of years back that members of the public could make themselves at home in Starbucks shops even if they don’t buy anything. Maybe it’s time to organize sit-ins of Starbucks shops until they agree not to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint. Get a crowd, settle in, fire up your laptops, have a lovely conversation, and don’t buy a thing. These efforts have worked before in similar civil-rights struggles.

As for occupying Twitter (and Facebook and other social-media sites): send a few Tweets every day to Jack, letting him know that you oppose his monopolist opposition to competitors and his discrimination against the right. And if that doesn’t help, head out to Silicon Valley to protest in person. The weather’s lovely out there, and the area is still so crowded (though California’s terrible business policies are emptying it out fast) that it’s the perfect place for a protest party, and gumming up the works there regularly would make an overcrowded and already dysfunctional area much worse very quickly.

These are just a few beginning thoughts. They can be adapted to fit unique contingencies, and expanded as warranted. One of the advantages of broad and inclusive efforts is that they involve many people, who have any number of good ideas. Let’s turn them into action.

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Deputy Director of its Free Enterprise Project.