It started with President Trump getting kicked off Twitter, but the rush to banish him from the public square over the U.S. Capitol riot is threatening to engulf vast swaths of the right as conservatives gird themselves for what they describe as a political purge.
In the more than week since the attack, dozens of major U.S. corporations have halted donations to Republican lawmakers who objected to the 2020 election certification. Warnings about hiring Trump administration officials are circulating, while right-tilting Twitter accounts are being de-amplified with dramatic declines in their followers.
From libertarians to social conservatives, leaders on the right are sounding the alarm about what has been dubbed the “progressive purge,” “reign of terror” and “blacklist.”
“This is Big Tech declaring war on the conservative movement and on the concept of free speech,” said Dan Gainor, vice president for the conservative Media Research Center’s TechWatch. “What’s rippled from there is that corporate America is following Big Tech’s lead and embracing woke capitalism instead of freedom.”
Fueling the purge are major media outlets: “The media is 100% the driving force for all of this. If it weren’t for the news media, the whole idiotic woke movement would blow away like dust in the wind,” Mr. Gainor said.
Democrats and progressives argue that such measures are necessary to stop Mr. Trump and his supporters from whipping up another insurrection, even as Republicans point out that the rioting was all but universally condemned on the right.
Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and COVID-19 lockdown critic, tweeted that that it would be “[h]ard to overstate what a titanic shift we’re seeing: one party and much of the media are engaged in an increasingly organized effort to use private companies — not just tech companies, ALL private companies — to punish people for their political views.”
Mr. Trump has borne the brunt of the blowback. In addition to being dropped from Twitter and suspended from Facebook and YouTube, the PGA canceled tournaments at his golf course. Several major banks have stopped lending to the Trump Organization, and New York City canceled its contracts.
“The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday in a statement. “The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form.”
Eric Trump, the president’s son, blamed the “age of cancel culture,” saying in an interview with The Associated Press that it was “something that they have been doing to us and others for years.”
What’s different is the magnitude. The left-wing group UltraViolet posted a list of corporate donations to the anti-certification Republicans and warned that the companies were “complicit and now must be held accountable for how they have funded hate and fascism.”
Randall Lane, chief content officer and editor of Forbes, warned that anyone who hires one of five prominent Trump administration figures will be treated as if “everything your company or firm talks about is a lie.”
“Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away,” Mr. Lane said in an op-ed.
Steve Forbes, who serves as editor-in-chief, said he disagreed with the op-ed and warned of a return to the blacklist era of the 1950s, when prominent figures lost jobs and opportunities over their suspected support for communism.
‘Attack on free speech’
“This is reminiscent of what we had in the 1950s during the McCarthy era where there were blacklists, the Hollywood 10,” Mr. Forbes said on “Fox & Friends.” “People were denied work because of their political beliefs, and there are other dark periods in our American history. We’re not going to blacklist and the like.”
More than a dozen U.S. companies, including Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Disney, Verizon and Walmart, have said they will stop donations in 2021 to the 148 House members and eight senators who objected to the certification.
“The insurrection at our nation’s Capitol was a direct assault on one of our country’s most revered tenets: the peaceful transition of power,” Disney said Wednesday in a statement. “In the immediate aftermath of that appalling siege, Members of Congress had an opportunity to unite — an opportunity that some sadly refused to embrace. In light of these events, we have decided we will not make political contributions in 2021 to lawmakers who voted to reject the certification of the Electoral College votes.”
Another 40 corporations plan to suspend all PAC contributions while they review their political-giving practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“This is not just an attack on free speech,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “This is an attack on an entire movement of people with the intent of driving them underground — keeping them from getting jobs, having legal representation, and even cutting them off from legitimate financial transactions.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, pressed the left’s advantage Wednesday with a racially charged broadside on how the “coup-supporting GOP” and its lawmakers are “unfit to serve.”
“They [Republicans] don’t give a damn about the law. They don’t give a damn about order. They don’t give a damn about safety,” she said in a video post. “They give a damn about white supremacy. They care about preserving the social order and the mythology of whiteness.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez drew a quick rebuke from the pro-life Radiance Foundation, led by Ryan Bomberger, who is Black, asking whether she ever denounced the “chaos and violence” of the Black Lives Matter protests, many of which began peacefully but descended into looting and rioting.
“Dems never cared about safety. Dems never cared about law and order. And certainly didn’t care for democracy,” tweeted Radiance. “Too many politicians only care for power. Many of you are unfit to serve.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said Wednesday during the impeachment debate that “Democrats can raise bail for rioters and looters this summer, but somehow when Republicans condemn all the violence, the violence this summer, the violence last week, somehow we’re wrong.”
Others argue that the Black Lives Matter unrest didn’t pose the threat to the peaceful transfer of power and democratic norms as did the Capitol rioting, which saw lawmakers flee and hide as thousands sought to stop them from certifying the election.
Shutting down millions of non-woke Americans, however, will do nothing to cool tensions what Mr. Forbes described as one of the country’s “white-heat moments.”
“The media, big tech and corporate America are all in on this,” Independent Women’s Forum policy analyst Kelsey Bolar said on “Fox & Friends.” “It is a very dangerous and concerning trend. It is not going to unite the country. It is going to divide us.”