Fury as Glenn Beck compares Big Tech crackdowns to Nazi digital ghettos

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck has drawn backlash for a comparison of recent social media crackdowns to WWII ‘ghettos’, while libertarian journalist Glenn Greenwald has blasted Twitter for condemning political internet censorship in Uganda after banning President Donald Trump and his allies.

Beck and Greenwald both appeared on the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday, where they pushed their critiques of Silicon Valley for ‘censoring’ Trump supporters.

Twitter last week banned Trump and tens of thousands of right-wing accounts after Trump loyalists attacked the U.S. Capitol, and the crackdown later extended to competing platform Parler, which is offline after Amazon removed hosting services.

Beck, founder of conservative outlet TheBlaze, made a shocking comparison, saying the social media restrictions were reminiscent of U.S. internment camps for ethnic Japanese during World War II, or of Nazi ghettos for Jews during the Holocaust.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Beck (left) and Glenn Greenwald (right) both criticized Silicon Valley giants for recent crackdowns on Tuesday night, but took different tones in their arguments

‘This is the road we’re on again,’ Beck said, referring to the stripping of rights from ethic Japanese in the U.S. during WWII. ‘And it is not right if the left or the right is doing it.’

‘You can’t have freedom of speech if you can’t express yourself in a meaningful way,’ Beck continued. ‘This is like the Germans with the Jews behind the wall — they would put them in a ghetto. Well, this is a digital ghetto.’

‘It’s not to compare it to the Germans,’ Beck added, qualifying his remarks. ‘It’s not do do anything but warn: if you do not stand up for free speech, you will be the one that loses it as well.’

Beck’s remarks drew swift condemnation from Jewish advocates and left-wing critics.

David Hogg, the Parkland shooting survivor and gun-control activist, tweeted that Beck ‘needs to take a Holocaust history class and he needs to retract this statement.’

‘Ghettos were were sections of European cities to which Jews were confined under brutal conditions before being shipped off for mass murder. Countless thousands died of starvation and disease. Being banned from Twitter isn’t that,’ tweeted Avi Mayer, spokesperson for the American Jewish Committee.

The Warsaw Ghetto was the scene of shocking misery in WWII. Above, Jewish men are transported from the Warsaw Ghetto by Nazi soldiers in 1941

The Warsaw Ghetto was the scene of shocking misery in WWII. Above, Jewish men are transported from the Warsaw Ghetto by Nazi soldiers in 1941

Meanwhile, appearing on the same program, Greenwald took aim at Twitter for criticizing election-related social media censorship in Uganda on Tuesday.

Twitter’s public policy team shared a statement two days ahead of a presidential election pitting Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, against opposition front-runner Bobi Wine, a popular singer.

Greenwald took aim at Twitter for criticizing election-related censorship in Uganda

Greenwald took aim at Twitter for criticizing election-related censorship in Uganda

‘Ahead of the Ugandan election, we’re hearing reports that Internet service providers are being ordered to block social media and messaging apps,’ Twitter said. ‘We strongly condemn internet shutdowns – they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet.’

Greenwald cited Twitter’s pre-election ban on New York Post articles about the business dealings of Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, calling the blackout ‘one of the most alarming events’ in decades of American politics.

He accused Twitter of ‘doing exactly that which they are lecturing the Ugandans you cannot do.’

‘The really sick, dark and dangerous irony is they themselves are leading the way — not just Twitter but Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple — in doing exactly what they’re lecturing countries you cannot do,’ he said. 

‘These companies are acting like nation-states, more powerful than nation-states’ added Greenwald, saying they have ‘committees studying what is true and false.’

‘This is extremely dangerous that Twitter is anointing itself the world media,’ he continued. 

The social media blackout in Uganda comes as challenger Wine attempts to unseat President Museveni, who has ruled for 35 years.

Singer Bobi Wine

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Singer Bobi Wine is challenging longtime Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Two days before the election, the country shut down all access to social media

At 38, Wine is half Museveni’s age and he has attracted a large following among young people in a nation where 80 percent of the population are under 30. 

In a letter to internet service providers dated January 12, Uganda’s communications regulator ordered them to block all social media platforms and messaging apps until further notice. A copy of the letter was seen by Reuters.

Internet monitor NetBlocks said its data showed that Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype, Snapchat, Viber and Google Play Store were among a lengthy list of sites unavailable via Uganda’s main cell network operators.

Facebook said on Monday it had taken down a network linked to Uganda’s ministry of information for using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week’s election.

Wine is considered the frontrunner among 10 candidates challenging Museveni, who brought stability to the country after the murderous reigns of dictators Milton Obote and Idi Amin. 

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