US riot was shameful but Trump has huge mandate to speak out

News Letter editorial of Saturday June 5 2021:

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 5:00 am
News Letter editorial

The showdown has an almost comic edge.

That ultimate personification of a privileged, highly educated, liberal culture adjudicates on a blunt billionaire who was known as the ‘blue-collar president’ because his values resonated with those of working class Americans.

Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister of the UK and leader of the Liberal Democrats, who is now a senior executive in the social media company, Facebook, based in California, yesterday revealed that Donald Trump has been suspended from having a Facebook account for two years for posts he made over the Washington DC riots in January (see opposite, page 11, and page 12).

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The storming of the Capitol Building was shameful. Even if President Trump’s claim that he was not inciting his followers to insurrection is accepted, he had been to fore in fuelling the lie that Joe Biden stole the election.

But suspending such accounts should be a very rare step and raises major questions of censorship. However much the elite classes might deplore Mr Trump, he won 75 million votes, which after President Biden’s own total, was the second highest vote ever in a presidential election.

Banning major voices from such sites runs into other problems, such as the way that overseas dictators are not removed. And often social media frenzies against political leaders are started by extreme, thuggish factions (such as republican trolls in NI) who themselves stay anonymous.

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Alistair Bushe

Editor