Google was forced to apologize for what has been called an “appalling decision” that shut down ads from the conservative Claremont Institute when it sought to announce its 40th-anniversary gala at which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be honored.
“The Claremont Institute has launched a campaign to engage our fellow citizens in discussion and debate about what it means to be an American. As part of that effort, we have begun to point out the increasingly existential danger of identity politics and political correctness to our republic,” he wrote.
“As if to prove our point, Google has judged our argument as wrongthink that should be forbidden. They are now punishing us for our political thought by refusing to let us advertise to our own readers.”
The post was updated to note that “Google’s Acting Director of Political and Stakeholder Outreach got in touch with the Claremont Institute to notify us that the labeling of ‘The American Mind’ as a ‘racially oriented publication’ was a mistake.”
In his post, Williams explained how the organization ran afoul:
“Google, either its algorithm or some individual, had a look at my essay launching our new campaign for a unifying Americanism, ‘Defend America—Defeat Multiculturalism.’ They decided it to be in violation of their policy on ‘race and ethnicity in personalized advertising’ and shut down our advertising efforts to American Mind readers.
“We weren’t ‘advertising’ anything in the essay, of course, but the relevant section of their policy lists ‘racially or ethnically oriented publications, racially or ethnically oriented universities, racial or ethnic dating’ as examples of violations.”
The decision was eventually appealed; Williams noted the initial outcome.
“One of my colleagues spent two hours on the phone with Google to determine whether we could appeal this ruling or determine which section of the essay was in violation. The response, in short? There is no appeal; we recommend you remove the content to bring yourself into compliance,” he wrote.
An update: Google’s DC office has notified us that it was a “mistake” to label @ClaremontInst‘s https://t.co/9fuOWy4DwD a “racially oriented publication.” Initially, it looked like we were in tech support purgatory…then we went public, with your help…
— Ryan P. Williams (@RpwWilliams) May 7, 2019
Williams noted that Google applies its policy with a heavier hand on groups that are not progressive.
“The naïve observer of Google’s policy and action against us might conclude that merely to mention race and ethnicity is forbidden,” he wrote.
“Not so: we are unaware of any report of Google censorship of the numerous progressive groups that promote the prevailing creed of identity politics based on race and ethnic identity. The trouble with Claremont’s argument is its furtherance of a politics that counts people as individuals rather than members of racial or ethnic groups.”
Williams noted that even if the stakes of this one episode are small, the ramifications are vast.
“(T)his small outrage against free thought is indicative of a larger and growing crisis in tech censorship. In ways small and large, day-by-day and week-by-week, our tech oligarchs are putting their thumbs on the scale against the free flow of ideas,” he wrote.
“A republican citizenry that cannot exchange ideas freely will soon cease to be free politically. Our experience is just one more example of the groupthink oligarchy probing the perimeter of our constitutional order.”
Stanley Kurtz, writing for National Review, called the action an “appalling decision.”
“Ah, but you say, this is just about an ad, it’s not a total defenestration. Don’t be silly. If the Claremont Institute can be censored, we are rapidly tumbling to the bottom of the slippery slope. Google’s action is intolerable and must be reversed,” he wrote.
“The crisis has arrived. It is time for people of good will on all sides of the political spectrum to speak out against this attack on fundamental liberties. I understand that the precise legal status and regulatory situation of companies like Google is a matter of continuing discussion.”
“Regardless of how the details of such policies are resolved, conservatives and everyone else who believes in free speech need to energetically protest Google’s decision. If we are silent now, conservatism is over in this country,” he added.
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