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Biden’s big tech ties and other commentary

From the right: Biden’s Big Tech Ties

President-elect Joe Biden is building an administration with ties to all five Big Tech firms that “clamped down this week on President Trump and Parler, a social-media site popular with conservatives,” reports the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross. At least 14 of his picks to serve in government or advise his transition have worked for Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google or Amazon; his chief National Security Council spokesperson will be a former Twitter exec. The “social-media purge” of Trump’s accounts and blacklisting of Parler have “stoked concerns that the major tech companies have too much control over communications platforms.” And “conservatives are especially concerned that they will be targeted even further under a Biden administration due to the tech companies’ closer ties to Democrats.”

Conservative: Free Speech Trumps Markets

It isn’t censorship when corporations do it. So insist Big Tech apologists — the same people, National Review’s David Harsanyi sighs, who “want to compel everyone to buy state-mandated health insurance” and “force nuns to buy abortifacients.” Hypocrisy aside, when “dominant corporate and cultural elites . . . collude to decide how people are allowed to interact, they engage, functionally, in censorship.” That destroys the “spirit” of the First Amendment. So what’s the fix? Harsanyi would prefer market competition to removing Section 230 liability protections for social-media platforms. Yet treating that law “with more reverence than the underlying values of free expression is its own shortsightedness.” Yes, “the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee anyone a Twitter account.” But “everyone is aware, I assume, that Section 230 isn’t in the Constitution, either?”

Historian: Don’t Deep-Six Military History

“The study of war in history and political-science departments is fading” at US universities, Margaret MacMillan writes at Persuasion — even though “war remains one of the events — along with revolution, famine, financial collapse and, as we are learning again, pandemics — that change the course of history.” She fears that “horror at the phenomenon itself has affected universities’ willingness to treat it as a subject for scholarship.” And noting that “wars can bring unintended benefits” can bring hostility, though “nobody would say that the study of imperialism, racism or famine means that we think those are good things.” The left sees the field as “too focused on elites and complicit with hierarchy and oppression,” so elite universities are dropping even highly popular classes. But if we don’t study war, “we may fail to recognize warning signs when the next conflict brews, as it will.”

Iconoclast: How Censorship Helps Vlad

It says something that Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is worried about how Big Tech has “ganged up on Trump and his most radical followers,” warns Bloomberg Opinion’s Leonid Bershidsky. Such moves could lead to Navalny’s “own de-platforming in Russia, where he has no access to state-controlled media and relies on mostly US-based social networks — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter — to spread his message.” As Navalny pointed out, Twitter’s excuse (violent messages) is especially laughable since “I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone.” American liberal commentators predictably claimed Navalny just “doesn’t get it,” as Bershidsky says, but if Navalny “hasn’t earned the right to be heard as an expert on such matters, I don’t know who has.”

Libertarian: The Worst-Run US Cities

With US cities seeing vast out-migration, Kristin Tate at The Hill considers the eight worst-run as “ranked with markers like costs of living, education, poverty and crime”: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, Portland, Oakland and Chicago. Many “use the most dollars per capita,” and resulting taxes bring “growing costs of living” — but they also feature “failing school systems” and raging “violent-crime spikes.” The dysfunction may follow the émigrés: “Former residents of New York or Los Angeles must ask themselves” if they’ll “keep voting for the same public policy that caused them to leave” — or ruin the likes of Nashville.

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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