Woke corporations are seemingly testing the waters for a Chinese-style social credit system in the United States.
On Tuesday, conservative filmmaker and journalist Lauren Southern wrote on Twitter that her parents had been banned from housing-rental provider Airbnb solely because of their connection to her.
“My parents just got banned from Airbnb for being related to me. They have never booked anything for me. They do not represent me in any way. They aren’t publicly political in any way. How is this sane in any way @Airbnb,” Southern wrote in a tweet.
Southern herself had been previously banned from using Airbnb’s service.
What we are seeing in Western societies is that you don’t need the government to directly silence people and chill speech. Instead, left-wing institutional power—both public and private—is brought to bear to punish people for what some regard as “wrongthink.”
In a Fox News appearance with host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night, Southern explained how this sort of tactic represents an escalation in the Left’s culture war strategy.
“There has definitely been a Pandora’s box opened in the culture war,” Southern told the Fox News host. “I think progressives have realized with the laws we have in place defending civil liberties, they can’t bring a social credit system in yet, so they found a way to circumvent it through the corporate class. They can just impose a social credit system on us using Big Tech.”
It’s now becoming easier to imagine a world in which, for instance, your bank won’t let you access your own money because you said a man can’t become a woman on social media. When Carlson’s producer, Gregg Re, pressed Airbnb on why Southern was banned from its service in the first place, the online service responded with mealy-mouthed mush about Southern being affiliated with “hate groups.”
However, the Airbnb spokesman never said which supposed “hate groups” those were.
As we’ve seen with the liberal media’s, Big Tech’s, and even the federal government’s reliance on dishonest, left-wing activist organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center as sources, the definition of “hate group” can extend to pretty much anyone on the right side of the political spectrum.
In Southern’s case, there was “good” news, if it can be called that. Airbnb backed down after her story went viral and was exposed.
A spokesman for the company said the ban was a “mistake,” but it’s a little hard to believe that banning people because of a family member’s political views was just a simple misunderstanding.
The Daily Signal reached out to Airbnb for clarification about why, exactly, Southern’s parents were banned.
“We have reinstated their accounts and apologized to them for this mistake. (Ultimately the deactivations were in effect for under 24 hours),” the spokesman said. That was it.
The problem wasn’t with how long they were banned; it was that they were targeted at all.
“How do you mistakenly track down an activist’s family, mistakenly send them a specific email saying it was because of their relation to me? It makes no sense,” Southern told Carlson. “They are trying to cover up something nefarious here.”
She further reasoned that the only reason Airbnb dropped the issue was because she had a huge platform and that it was “testing the waters” to see how far it could go.
In this instance, Airbnb was stopped due to public uproar, but how far will it go in the future with someone who doesn’t have such a big audience or other way to fight back?
The idea of woke fanatics, using the power of corporate America, policing speech in this country is a chilling thought, but it’s already happening. The way they will control speech and thought will be far more insidious than simply deplatforming people they disagree with.
In the most ruthlessly totalitarian societies, your friends and family get punished for what you say and do, too. And they won’t just be silenced, they will be “un-personed,” cut off from the normal functioning of society.
That’s what’s so disturbing about this story. Was it not bad enough that a private citizen couldn’t access what amounts to a hotel booking service? Must his or her family be punished, too?
In totalitarian countries, the answer is almost always: “Yes.”
For a little understanding of how this works, I recommend the movie “Afterimage,” released in 2016 and directed by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. The film takes place in Stalinist-era Poland and revolves around the story of Polish artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski.
The regime punished Strzeminski for his refusal to make political art. But the authorities never sent him to a gulag. Instead, they got him fired and prevented him from being hired by anyone—even as just a basic painter—and stopped him from buying paint. They also scared anyone away from associating with him, lest they be punished, too.
Are we so far away from that? The tools to invade a person’s private space, track down their connections, and entirely cut them off from society are far more advanced than they were in the 1950s. And as we’ve seen before, when one company decides to ban someone, others follow.
Airbnb backed down quickly this time. But a social credit-style system becoming a larger phenomenon is a grave threat to a free society.
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