When studying history, we tend to do so from the high horse of the present day. The history of book burnings, oppression of thought and speech, and the violent silencing of political and religious dissenters are examples of how we, in the present day, view our civilization and modern thought as refined and sophisticated in comparison.
But history is elusive.
It is not elusive because it cannot be located, because all it takes is a trip to the library, a reading of academic literature, or even a simple Google search. History is elusive because, like a wise man once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it usually rhymes.” And to identify these subtle rhymes and historical parallels to our modern day, one must first understand the rhyme scheme-- history.
When the Constitution was written in 1787 history was made. The Constitution was born out of, and inspired by, a spirit of distrust for government. The first words, We the People, express where the forefathers expected the power to lie. The sturdy document is what makes America one of, if not the, greatest country in the world. No other country is afforded the inalienable rights and freedoms that Americans have. As a matter of fact, if the forefathers were to awaken from their slumber and observe the state of America today, they would weep bitterly and gnash their teeth. Even now, the Constitution flexes under the complexities of modern life. Because if we are to be honest, life in the 1700s is nothing like life in the 21st century—but that does not mean it doesn’t rhyme.
The fact of the matter is that humans are merely human. Our intelligence expands through awesome technological advancements, space travel, phenomena in medicine, but our nature is inescapable. We get angry when betrayed, embarrassed when exposed, defensive when our loved ones are in danger, and tyrannical when our power is challenged.
There is a reason why book burnings and censorship continued to happen throughout history. From 700 B.C. when King Jehoiakim burned scrolls dictated by the Prophet Jeremiah, to the 1990s when the Croatian government destroyed over 2.8 million books because they were written by “unsuitable” Croats. In the 1930’s the Nazi government justified burning material because it allegedly acted “subversively on [their] future [and] strikes at the root of German thought…”
Today in 2018 we are reminded of the inescapable character of human nature as ginormous Tech companies that virtually hold a monopoly on social speech through their platforms have usurped the dictatorial position of thought and speech police. Although no physical books are being burned in the city square, the historical rhyme scheme suggests that censorship is in fact occurring. And although these tech companies are not in any way, shape, or form the United States Government, they have found a way to benignly circumvent the first amendment by way of monopolizing global social interaction, and then cunningly policing it. It’s technically not infringing on your freedom of speech if we unplug your microphone, right?
Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen have been shadow banned by Twitter and Facebook for no other reason than having a message that resonates with independents and their constituents as the mid-terms approach. Alex Jones, notorious radio-show host, was completely exiled from Youtube, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and other platforms followed by the deletion of thousands of his videos. Why? Because he was a State critic that didn’t put staging and carrying violent attacks on civilians past bad actors in government. It should be noted that once these Tech giants pulled the plug on Alex Jones’ operation, his mobile app, Info Wars Official, was downloaded in massive amounts placing it in the number one spot.
Whether we agree or not, having an unpopular viewpoint is now grounds to be silenced without recourse. This is the direction America moves towards to the sound of cheers and applause from the unaffected political opposition. Gone are the days where we combat bad ideas with good ideas. Fear is the primary emotion that drives public discourse into the dark place of stagnation—devoid of growth and independent thought. It is now unacceptable, and soon, with the creeping censorship, impossible, to disagree with the mainstream narrative. History cries out warning to all who would listen— does it rhyme?