The White House’s request to YouTube provoked almost no objections from Democrats, who – when there is a Republican president – tightly bind themselves to the ACLU and parade around as free speech crusaders. To the extent they acknowledged any of this at all, their responses ranged from indulging patently absurd pretenses (this was just a polite request from the White House: what’s wrong with that?) to affirmative justification (the film is intended to cause violence and thus should be removed).
Just imagine if the Bush White House had called YouTube and “requested” that it remove anti-war videos on the ground that such videos were endangering US troops. That is hardly some fantastical hypothetical. The claim that administration critics were “emboldening the enemy” was a very common trope during the Bush era (an ugly trope that some progressives now repeat toward conservative critics of Obama). John Ashcroft infamously announced when testifying before the Senate in December 2001 that civil libertarian objections to administration policies “only aid terrorists” and “give ammunition to America’s enemies”.
Does anyone doubt that if the Bush White House had “requested” in the wake of 9/11 that all anti-war or anti-administration videos be “reviewed” to see if they should remain on the internet – on the not-implausible ground that they might encourage attacks on American troops or personnel – that Democrats would have little trouble seeing why it is dangerous to have the executive branch taking action to influence private internet companies to suppress political speech? The actions of the Obama White House are no less inappropriate.
Greenwald isn’t impressed with GOP behavior on the free speech of Muslims. Read the whole thing. He’s tough on his commenters too, pointing out how they all declare themselves in favor of free speech, but inevitably support banning speech advocating things they dislike.