Have you ever feared that something you posted on Facebook, or something you once said to a friend online just might get you fired one day? Many Americans do.
The typical American's situation is similar to that of your average Chinese citizen. In China, Xi Jinping’s totalitarian regime has bound media, social networks, and the economy to the state’s surveillance apparatus, known as the “social-credit-score system.”
The social-credit-score system uses information gathered from social networks as well as private messages and emails to evaluate each citizen’s level of conformity. Those who have low social credit are prohibited from buying plane tickets, starting businesses, and taking out loans. In some cases, nonconformists have their mugshots broadcast across China on billboards and in movie theaters, labeling them publicly as anti-social.
Is America approaching this level of forced social conformity?
According to a Cato Institute study from 2017, 58 percent of Americans hold views that they’re afraid to share with family, friends, and coworkers.
Recently, Kyle Kashuv, one of the famous survivors of the Parkland High School shooting had his admission to Harvard revoked after a former classmate revealed that Kashuv had, at the age of 16, used politically incorrect language online while chatting with some classmates. The remarks that got Kashuv’s admission revoked were made three years ago, showing that even a screencap taken by some begrudging former colleague can end one’s career.
You might be thinking: “This kind of blacklisting only happens in elite, progressive circles. Everyday Americans aren’t in danger of losing their jobs.” But you’d be wrong. Countless people have lost their ordinary, middle-class jobs due to violating progressive social dogma.
In 2015, Ford fired Thomas Banks for expressing his disagreement with Ford’s endorsement of Pride Month. Banks questioned what selling cars had to do with gay pride and expressed discontent that the company tacitly included all of its employees and customers in the celebration.
Several years later, a Crossfit trainer made the headlines when he was fired for criticizing the gay community on his own private twitter account.
The Chinese regime has installed security cameras on traffic lights and is pioneering facial recognition technology to track citizens and evaluate their social compliance. The United States has a privatized version. Progressives equipped with smartphones arrive at every protest and demonstration ready to defame those who don’t actively support their ideology.
In Orwell’s 1984, subjects of the totalitarian regime could be charged with facecrime if their facial expressions conveyed suspicion or indicated anti-party beliefs. This is exactly what happened to Nick Sandmann, last January. Someone caught a picture of Sandmann smirking while a Native-American man danced and beat a drum in front of him at a pro-life rally in Washington D.C. Sandmann’s photo went viral and the media broadcast his face everywhere, defaming the 16-year-old as a racist.
But if this is a problem, then perhaps religious Americans ought to just accept their minority status and start their own businesses, rather than interfere with the majority of Americans who at least seem to have no problem with the contemporary social dogma.
In practice, however, the start-your-own business solution doesn’t seem to work out so well. Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop has been sued again, this time for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a sex-change operation. Phillips was first famously sued for refusing to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding, owing to his Christian beliefs. Though the Supreme Court ruled in Phillip’s favor back in 2018, the amount of media attention Phillips and his business received ensured that he would run into trouble again.
The message is simple: even if you own your own small business, as soon as word gets out that you go against the agenda, you will be harassed.
In China, you can know about Tiananmen Square, you just can’t talk about it, at least not in a way the Chinese state disapproves of.
While the softer despotism one can see across corporate America and within the university system isn’t explicitly state sponsored, it still manages to ostracize and blacklist conservative Americans quite effectively, should they ever publicly express their views.
Unlike China, our social credit system doesn’t have security cameras on every telephone pole and traffic signal… yet. However, many Americans in the corporate, academic, and small-business world are already feeling the pressure of America’s unofficial social-policing system.
[Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce, Public Domain]