Twitter made a serious mistake on Monday when it suspended the Britain First account. Twitter's decision will only amplify the hostility and social retrenchment of Britain First's racist membership.
Still, it seems clear why Twitter took this action now. As a top member of Britain's Labour Party (Democratic Party equivalent) observed:
So @Twitter finally suspend Britain First - the day before social media cos appear at @CommonsHomeAffs .Why does it take a Parliamentary hearing to make them do the right thing? https://t.co/WcpCJ1IMlE— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) December 18, 2017
Yvette Cooper might be right about the rationale and timing of this decision, but she's wrong in supporting it.
More than that, she's delusional.
In giving her own opinion on Twitter, a forum that now denies Britain First a right of response, Cooper arrogantly neglects the means by which Britain First garners its support in the first place. Namely, the group's narrative that political correctness is curtailing British freedom and entertaining an existential Islamic extremist threat.
But while Britain First's approach to Islam is both idiotic (the group's leaders do not understand Islam's basic nuances) and capricious (its members threaten law-abiding British worshippers), Monday's Twitter ban offers further proof that it has a point about freedom of speech.
In turn, you can guarantee that Britain First will use this ban to further mobilize their campaigning in the white working-class neighborhoods that it finds most favor. Moreover, released from the scrutiny of other Twitter followers, Britain First's leaders will find their narrative challenged less often and more easily shaped in a cauldron of those who already agree.
Think this will shut Britain First down? Forget it.
The losers will keep making videos and earning viewers and preaching their message: "The restrictions we are facing prove that we are the new foot soldiers in the new Battle of Britain."
To be sure, it's a false narrative and one that deserves tough repudiation: If you want to understand Britain First's true reality, you only need look at some of the group's older videos in which they run around in fake armored cars threatening innocent Britons.
Nevertheless, by making subjective judgments about speech that is neither illegal nor obscene, Twitter is self-destructing its original raison d'être: maximizing accessibility to the commons and invigorated debate on matters of public concern.
Yet we must also recognize that Twitter isn't alone in its increasing authoritarianism. In the U.S. and abroad, it's increasingly evident that the liberal elite is growing sympathetic to censoring so-called "hate speech." Even more concerning, some in the U.S. media (such as CNN) also seem to believe that some issues are too serious for free inquiry.
I despise Britain First, but I despise this authoritarian path even more: it is utterly un-American.