The response by Trumpists and Democrats to Joe Biden’s recent accusations about how Facebook is killing people with “misinformation” regarding coronavirus vaccines, along with their response to the news that Cuba has cut off internet access to social media platforms following recent protests in that country, reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if” routine.
If you think, as Joe Biden and some Trumpists do, that Americans who exercise their free speech rights should have their internet access to social media cut off because they are criticizing the government but think Cubans should have the right to use the internet to criticize the government in their country, then you just might be a Trumpist or a Democrat.
In a report by Reuters.com last week, we learned that Cuba has restricted internet access to social media and messaging platforms, including Facebook and WhatsApp according to global internet monitoring firm NetBlocks, in response to some of the biggest anti-government protests seen there in decades.
Activists say the Cuban government is disrupting internet access in an attempt to keep the anti-government protesters under control.
Introduced just over two years ago, mobile internet has been a key factor behind the protests, giving Cubans more of a platform to express their frustrations and enabling the word to get out quickly when people are on the street.
In the capital, there have been regular and atypical mobile internet outages since Sunday, according to Reuters witnesses.
NetBlocks, based in London, said on its website that Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Telegram in Cuba were partially disrupted on Monday and Tuesday.
“The pattern of restrictions observed in Cuba indicate an ongoing crackdown on messaging platforms used to organize and share news of protests in real-time,” said NetBlocks director Alp Toker. “At the same time, some connectivity is preserved to maintain a semblance of normality.” (emphasis mine)
In early reactions to the protests, Biden expressed his support for the people of Cuba:
“The Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime. And I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this protest in a long, long time. If–if quite frankly ever.
“The United States stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence, their attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba.” (emphasis mine)
One of the ideas Biden is considering to show his firm stand for the people of Cuba is to act on a recommendation provided by FCC commissioner Brendan Carr: Provide the Cuban protesters with the same kind of internet access to social media he’s pushing to deny American protesters.
Commissioner Carr, who was appointed by Donald Trump due to his Trumpist reputation as an opponent of Section 230 protection for social media platforms — just like Trump and the Trumpist GOP — has asked Biden to approve having the U.S. government provide internet access to the Cuban people (via Washington Free Beacon):
Federal Communications commissioner Brendan Carr says high-altitude balloons could be used to deliver internet to Cuba, as the country’s communist regime shut down internet access to block protests from spreading across the country.
“There’s an urgent need right now,” Carr said, but “a lot depends on the level of federal support.” The federal government could leverage a defunct Google initiative that used stratospheric balloons like cell towers to deliver internet access, Carr told the Washington Free Beacon.
Carr said the United States faces both an urgent need to support protesters now and a strategic, long-term need for this technology. In the short term, Carr said that “we need to bolster attempts to circumvent the blocking technology” used by the Cuban regime. Going forward, balloon internet technology would help citizens of brutal regimes around the world.
As you might expect, Carr isn’t the only Trumpist pushing to give Cubans access to the same internet and social media they and Biden want to deny Americans.
Florida Republicans have been pushing for internet access in Cuba, with Governor Ron DeSantis calling on President Biden to provide funding and federal resources. “What does the regime do when you start to see these images?” DeSantis said. “They shut down the internet, they don’t want the truth to be out, they don’t want people to be able to communicate.”
Senator Marco Rubio called on “innovative American companies” to provide internet access in order for Cubans to be politically and economically free:
“Without it, the Cuban people, who yearn for basic political and economic freedoms, can more easily be monitored, suppressed, detained, and brutalized by the regime without accountability.
“Bringing free and open internet will help the Cuban people communicate with one another without censorship and repression and show them that the world stands beside them in their quest for liberty.” (emphasis mine)
Political and economic freedoms? Not being monitored, suppressed, detained, and brutalized? Communicate without censorship and repression? If Marco really believes this, why does he support taking down Big Tech and turning control of the internet over to the federal government? You might be a Trumpist if…
In a press conference last week, Biden promised to have his administration look into ways to deliver internet to the Cuban people. “[Government] cut off access to the internet. We’re considering whether we have the technology to reinstate that access,” Biden said.
Of course, Uncle Joe knows the technology exists. I suspect he’s just looking for a way to provide internet access to Cuba without revealing his plan to deny it to America. You might be a Democrat if…
Apologies to Mr. Foxworthy.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.