Every time Glenn Greenwald trends on Twitter, there is a litany of Tweets from leftists that I follow, (and I will continue to follow), who ‘just don’t get Glenn’ anymore. Or, ‘I used to like him but he’s lost it.’ Or ‘This time he has gone too far’ or ‘Why doesn’t he go after the right anymore’. Then, I’ll try to see what the offense was, and somehow I get some hint of it, some hearsay, that sounds off. Such as Glenn was on Fox, being a jerk, and bashing Socialism. Glenn is being a racist jerk. Or Glenn is being an anti-LGBTQ jerk. The part about him being a jerk is true enough, but the other part is always what gets me to go see what the story is. Inevitably the main point Glenn is making is one that needs to be made by someone, even if while doing so he is ruffling feathers. The latest one that spurred this response was Glenn attacking a journalist on her first byline with USA Today.
Congratulations on using your new journalistic platform to try to pressure tech companies to terminate the ability of impoverished criminal defendants to raise money for their legal defense from online donations. You're well on your way upward in this industry for sure: https://t.co/pvpmX3DaaW— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 28, 2021
I’m not a fan of punching down but that is beside the main point. The main point here is the right of an individual to defend themselves in court. Not individuals on your side of the political aisle, everyone. I do think Glenn should have tried to target the editor of USA today, or of the print media outlets and not let the focus land on a reporter on their first byline, but that isn’t the main story. A man pounds the table to get attention to make an important point about the larger issue at hand, about the moral direction we are going, and Twitter would have us talking about how the table shook and some drinks were spilled.
I’m ok with people coming to the defense of a young writer, probably assigned this task, and not fully aware of the battle going on between Glenn and the moderate left, over the issues of censorship, privacy, and now right to legal defense. But let’s not lose sight that on principle there isn’t anything to argue with here. Glenn is right. There is a shell game going on with our Civil Rights where though we mostly stand vigilante against Government infringing upon them, we’re ok if the Government gets Private companies to do it. No writer would suggest an individual should be stopped by law from raising funds for a legal defense, but it’s ok to go after the Software Company, GoFundMe, which is making this possible? It’s not OK.
A quote from Caitlin Johnstone hits on this better than I can. “In a corporatist system of government, wherein there is no meaningful separation between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship is state censorship.” This was from an article in 2018 noting this concern while Alex Jones was being de-platformed. Not a stance the moderate left wanted to hear much of then, either.
Some critics of Greenwald may not understand his tactics or presume that of course, we agree with the larger principle but he’s still in the wrong in his approach. But I do wonder and worry about those that get it and are purposely muddying the waters and obscuring the real issue at hand. Perhaps they are looking to diminish Greenwald’s audience, or maybe they figure as long as the Democrats are in control it’s time to reign in Social Media’s influence and the ability of political opponents to leverage Silicon Valley to their cause. Now that may come off as a bit paranoid, but given the Brooklyn Dads of the world, I think it deserves a place in the back of our minds. BrooklynDad (@mmpadellan) is a Twitter account that was found to be getting paid by PAC to put out Moderate Left Tweets that would attack those on the left.
Left Twitter had a good time making fun of BrooklynDad, but I do think it’s worth noting that whatever advantage the Progressive left has had on Social Media over moderates isn’t something set in stone. Moderates aren’t sitting still. As much as it looks like Republicans scramble to Gerrymander and suppress votes when they lose elections, it looks like moderates are willing to dial up censorship on the online mediascape.
As far as Glenn Greenwald goes, take the time and understand the principles he’s fighting for. If it seems overly defensive of dangerous elements of the right, just imagine the shoe was on the other foot, that it was the right looking to have GoFundMe shut down campaigns of BLM protesters facing charges. Suddenly it makes clear what the fight is about. This is classic ACLU mentality that I may hate what you have to say, and what you represent, but will fight for your right to say it.