President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE deserves enormous credit for his exceptional and unwavering commitment to free speech at the recent Group of Seven summit in France. Foreign leaders, like liberal activists in the United States, are chomping at the bit to introduce more online censorship.
At the meeting of the leading democracies, European leaders introduced a new measure that would draft technology companies into the role of government censors, forcing them to police online content and remove anything that bureaucrats deem to be insensitive. Emmanuel Macron struggled in vain to conceal his disappointment as he announced the United States had refused to sign on to his crackdown on online speech, which would have institutionalized the exact same kind of discriminatory treatment that American conservatives are fighting against here at home.
By refusing to sign on to the repressive accord, President Trump took a crucial stand in defense of one of the basic tenets of democracy. The traditional conception of free speech, that governments cannot prevent citizens from expressing their opinions or punish them for doing so, once reigned supreme across the Western world. From its roots in the Magna Carta, to its refinement in the works of John Locke, to its codification in the First Amendment of the Constitution, freedom of speech could be the greatest contribution Anglo Americans have made to human civilization.
In the aftermath of the totalitarian horrors of the 20th century, freedom of speech was embraced by all of the countries that now make up the G-7. It was even enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, freedom of speech has come under siege, especially in Europe, as governments seek to eradicate “hate” and “offensiveness” at the expense of the right of their own citizens to express themselves.
In the United Kingdom, the birthplace of freedom of speech, thousands of people have been arrested and prosecuted for social media posts, often at the behest of liberal activists. In France, which embraced freedom of speech later but with much more popular enthusiasm, people have for decades faced prosecution for “inciting hatred” through free speech.
Now, along with the German government led by Angela Merkel, President Macron is trying to create a system of mandatory censorship by imposing an affirmative duty on social media platforms to remove speech deemed hateful or offensive. Through the mechanism of the G-7, these very same governments sought to impose such a system on an international level.
President Trump, however, stayed true to the unshakable principles of the First Amendment, and his actions in France have positioned the United States as the last bastion of hope for liberal democracy. A lesser leader might have caved to pressures from the media and “woke” academic and cultural elites who share in the European goal of quashing free speech.
Americans should be grateful that President Trump rose to the occasion and ignored the hectoring. So long as he remains in the White House, the United States will stand as a resolute defender of core democratic values such as freedom of speech, even if our nation has to stand on its own.
Madison Gesiotto is an attorney and a commentator who serves with the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. She was an inauguration spokesperson and former Miss Ohio. She is on Twitter @MadisonGesiotto.