By Guy Page
In the last 10 days, three events have taken place that make me fear the possible imminent loss of Americans’ freedom of speech and assembly.
I do not make this statement lightly. I say it now while there is still time.
Event I: February 7 – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues a “Summary of the Terrorism Threat to the United States.” This remarkable, terrifying document gets right to the point in the first sentence: “The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.”
Speech is the threat. Not bad people actively planning to kill Americans with guns, knives or truck bombs. The Department of Homeland Security led by Alejandro Mayorkas (more on him later) says “these threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence.”
Get that? Mayorkas is all for free speech, but not this particular speech undermines public trust in government institutions. Such speech could inspire violence. It must be stopped.
Are you critical of Covid-19 government policy? Concerned about election fraud? Well, if you’ve said so online, you, sir or madam, fall into Alejandro Mayorkas’ description of a “domestic threat actor.” That’s the plain reading of this bulletin.
And don’t get Mayorkas started on critics of 5G technology: “Domestic violent extremists have also viewed attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure as a means to create chaos and advance ideological goals, and have recently aspired to disrupt U.S. electric and communications critical infrastructure, including by spreading false or misleading narratives about 5G cellular technology.
Kapisch? “Our” government thinks social media users saying 5G causes cancer (a not-implausible public health position) have “aspired to disrupt critical infrastructure.”
What’s even scarier than this statement is that almost no-one in Congress, Montpelier or the state and national media has rebuked Mayorkas.
Under the header “How We Are Responding,” DHS describes how it is working with every level of government to combat the scourge of Free Speech:
“DHS is working with public and private sector partners, as well as foreign counterparts, to identify and evaluate MDM, including false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories spread on social media and other online platforms that endorse or could inspire violence.”
Presumably the State of Vermont is among the “public partners.” It’s time to ask Gov. Phil Scott and Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling what they’re hearing from DHS about free speech domestic threat actors in Vermont, and whether they will be complicit in suppressing online free speech.
DHS has opened a new Office of Intelligence and Analysis to probe domestic online communications. Is there a Vermont counterpart?
And here’s where it really gets local. DHS is dispensing federal grants hand over fist to state and local partners to help them eradicate MDM. No less than three separate grant programs have been created.
It’s time to ask every Vermont legislator and selectboard member if they have heard about these grants, and if they plan to take the federal money and do their bidding.
It’s time to ask Sen. Patrick Leahy (202) 224-4242, Sen. Bernie Sanders 202-224-5141, and Rep. Peter Welch 1-888-605-7270 if they plan to protest DHS suppression of free speech. Might be a good question to ask of our candidates for state and federal office, too.
And finally, it might be a good time to take a public stand. While you still can, legally. Vermonters supporting Canadian freedom will wave signs and flags tomorrow and Saturday. North of the border, Canadians find themselves under the freedom-restricting Emergencies Act.
Mayorkas figures into this story, too.
Event II: Thursday February 10. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttegieg and Mayorkas speaks with their Canadian counterparts about the truck convoy crisis, “urging them to use Federal powers to resolve this situation at our joint border and offering the full support of our Homeland Security and Transportation departments,” CNN reports that day.
“These tools include strengthening the ability to impose fines or imprisonment, and allow the government to secure and protect critical infrastructure, including border crossings and airports. The act enables the RCMP (federal police) to enforce provincial bylaws.
“The new emergency measures also give expanded powers to Canada’s banks and the federal financial intelligence agency to monitor and stem the flow of funds to protesters blockading key corridors across Canada. Under the act, banks will be able to freeze accounts without obtaining a court order, and without fear of being sued for doing so.”
The Canadian government is freezing bank accounts, right now. The Act also gives the government the power of “summary conviction” and subsequent fine or imprisonment “for contravention of any order or regulation made under this section.” Summary conviction is defined as the conviction of a person… before a magistrate or court, without the intervention of a jury.”
If summary conviction happens in real time — good-bye, due process.
Event IV? An American truck convoy reportedly is in the works. According to those pesky social media reports, it will leave the West Coast in March and head towards Washington, D.C.. If that happens for real, what will Mayorkas do? Wring his hands and twiddle his thumbs? I don’t think so. The Cuban refugee who as Obama’s DHS chief wouldn’t let refugees from Communist Fidel Castro’s regime into the United States will almost certainly not “allow” truckers to clog the streets of Washington D.C.. And us folks talking about the truck convoy / 5G / Covid restrictions / election fraud / discontent with the government social media? “Domestic Threat Actors spreading MDM.”
MDM sounds a lot like WMD — the “weapons of mass destruction” from which DHS was created to keep us safe. But the weapons capable of destroying America can take many forms — including a government so self-obsessed that it fears the criticism of free Americans.
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.