Last week, I stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building.
Not on Jan. 6, the day of the election fraud protest announced by President Donald Trump, but on Jan. 5, the day before.
I stood next to my U.S. House representative, Jim Baird—a Vietnam veteran who has earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with valor, and a Ph.D.—as a member of his staff took our photo. I had arranged the meeting in advance through Rep. Baird’s office, explaining that I would be in Washington to protest the ongoing attempted theft of the 2020 presidential election from the American people via alleged election fraud, as detailed in an extensively sourced report by Peter Navarro.
Several hours later, proud to have met my House representative, and filled with anticipation about protesting the next day, I prepared to make what for me was a rare political Facebook post.
Since the time I joined Facebook in college, I have mostly experienced it as an environment of positivity and encouragement, as a world where people say “lol,” “that’s cool,” and “congratulations.” Facebook users are known as friends, after all, and if a post doesn’t warrant even a “thumbs up” click, they usually seem to stick to the rule, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
While I thought that my post might not be appreciated by some, and would maybe even lead to a few statements of disagreement or attempts to initiate a drawn-out debate, I certainly didn’t expect the firestorm of ad hominem attacks from a relatively small, but very vocal, number of my Facebook friends that it generated.
To go with the photo of me with my U.S. House representative on the Capitol steps, I wrote in my post:
“Tomorrow, I will be publicly protesting for the first time against the massive fraud in the 2020 election and the ongoing attempted theft of the presidential office, as outlined in Dr. Peter Navarro’s report, ‘The Immaculate Deception.’ Americans stand for the integrity of our electoral system, our franchise as voters, and the future success of our nation. The outcome-changing mail-in voting fraud across multiple states, enabled by the pretext of hyperbolic health concerns surrounding authoritarian China’s coronavirus, must not be allowed to stand. All legal and constitutional avenues must be pursued in defense of the United States and the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights that we champion around the world.”
The first comment came within minutes, when a Facebook friend replied, “Are you [expletive] kidding me?” He then edited the comment to add, “What happened to you? Disgraceful.” I posted the response, “You are entitled to your opinion and your freedom to state it. This is the United States.”
I received strong support from many, but some Facebook friends unexpectedly went off the rails, not addressing the substance of my post, but launching into unjustified and out-of-line personal attacks against me. Other comments were ugly and libelous enough that they, while I shrug them off as the baseless attacks that they are, don’t even warrant repeating here.
The next evening, following my peaceful participation in the protest in Washington, and after more than 50 replies to my original post had been added, I received a comment from a French Facebook friend who is based in China. I knew him from the time when I had lived in China, where I previously studied and worked for several years.
In a comment below my post, the friend, who still lives in China, respectfully stated that he doesn’t understand why I call China “authoritarian China,” and why I had written that “the world is waking up to the evil of the PRC [People’s Republic of China]” in one of my replies to a different friend. It was a refreshing instance of calm and respectful discourse comprising substance rather than insult.
I replied to his comment with an equally respectful response, rhetorically asking him why he was using Facebook while in China, as this is against Chinese law. I asked him if he, as a French citizen, would tolerate restriction of his freedom to access of information, as Chinese citizens are subjected to strict limits on which information sources they can access online. I also addressed authoritarian China’s longstanding threat to invade and subjugate free and democratic Taiwan, stating, “Taiwan’s 24 million people have freedom and human rights, and have maintained the brightness of their souls. Why does China insist in its desire to drag the Taiwanese people down into a dark world of reduced freedom and rights?”
A few minutes later, as the French friend was apparently drafting a response to my reply, my Facebook post disappeared, and a notification from Facebook appeared on my screen, stating that my post—a photo of me with my U.S. House representative on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, along with commentary on the 2020 presidential election—had been removed. This is the first time that any of my posts has ever been removed from Facebook.
Not wanting friends to think that I’d deleted my original post, I uploaded a new Facebook post stating, “Friends, my post containing a photo of me meeting as a constituent with my U.S. House representative and outlining views on the 2020 presidential election was just removed by Facebook a few minutes ago. I never imagined that I would encounter this kind of censorship in the United States.”
The Facebook friend who had made the “are you kidding me” comment on the now-removed original post proudly replied to my new post with the statement, “Because I reported it.” One of my undergraduate professors replied to this admission with a measured rebuke of this person’s disrespect for freedom of speech.
Encountering Further Censorship
On Jan. 7, the day after my piece “Why I’m Protesting for the First Time on Jan. 6” was published on The Epoch Times, I posted it to LinkedIn, stating:
“This piece explains why I decided to exercise my right to peacefully protest yesterday, along with a huge number of fellow Americans from across the nation, against the ongoing attempted theft of the 2020 election from the American people. My hope is that this piece will help readers better understand what is at stake, why Americans are protesting what has happened in the 2020 election, and why authoritarian China wants to see President Trump replaced on January 20.”
The next day, the same day that Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter, my post disappeared from LinkedIn without explanation. In response to this I sent out a new LinkedIn post, stating:
“Friends, it appears that my LinkedIn post from yesterday, containing a piece explaining why I decided to exercise my right to peacefully protest what has happened in the 2020 election … was removed from LinkedIn today without explanation.
“I previously lived in China for several years, where there is not freedom of speech. On Chinese social media, if something you post is censored or removed, the euphemistic term used to describe this is to say that the post has been ‘harmonized away.’ (和諧掉了) It appears that my post has been ‘harmonized away’ today by LinkedIn.
“As an American, as well as a writer and journalist, I cherish my fundamental rights, including freedom of speech. What is happening today with respect to censorship in social media in the United States reminds me of living in China, where speech is generally self-censored to avoid censorship by government censors, or is otherwise in fact censored by government censors. I never imagined that I would experience this kind of social media environment and this kind of censorship in the United States.”
As an American who has witnessed firsthand the soul-extinguishing suppression of freedom—including freedom of speech—and human rights in authoritarian China, I’m sounding the alarm today: PRC-style censorship has arrived in the United States, and we must not allow it to stay.
Adam Michael Molon is an American writer and journalist. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and undergraduate degrees in finance and Chinese language from Indiana University-Bloomington.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.