Stanford University, where the administration worked actively to engineer a student walkout when I spoke there in 2017, is on the warpath against the freedom of speech these days. In April, Barack Obama spoke there and called for restrictions on speech to combat “disinformation.” On Wednesday, the far-Left mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, made his own appearance at Stanford, where he claimed that “the worst thing globalization has brought to social media is the proliferation of hate speech.” What’s hate speech? Anything Obama, Khan and their allies dislike. And the person they dislike most in the world is Donald Trump; Khan is worried about what could happen if Elon Musk allows Trump to return to Twitter.
The UK’s Guardian, which makes Lavrenti Beria look like a libertarian, said that at Stanford, Khan “called on tech companies to rein in hate speech, speaking about his own experience of abuse amplified by one of the most powerful figures on social media.” Khan’s alleged abuser was, of course, Trump, “who frequently used the mayor as an online punching bag, calling Khan ‘a stone-cold loser’ and ‘very dumb.’” Khan charged that Trump’s insults had actively endangered him: “Khan, whose family are from Pakistan, said the amount of racial abuse he received on social media increased by 2,000% under Trump and required him to receive police protection.”
There’s an obvious cause-and-effect problem here. Even if Khan’s claims about the amount of “racial abuse” he received are true, unless Trump tweeted, “Hey, go and send your own insult to London’s mayor!” (he didn’t) there is no necessary connection between that abuse and Trump’s criticism. This remains true despite the fact that Khan also claims that once Trump was banned from Twitter, the clouds dispersed, the birds started singing, the sun began to shine, and his detractors went away: “Khan emphasized the power that companies have to act, saying that in the year after Twitter banned Trump over his role in inciting the attack at the US Capitol, he received ‘the least racial abuse of any time over five years’. Abuse directed at Khan declined by 75% in 2020, the year Trump lost the election, and a further 40% in 2021 after the ban from Twitter, according to statistics from London’s city hall.”
Kids, Khan is engaging in what is known as the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc: “after this, therefore caused by this.” Just because one event follows another event doesn’t mean that the first caused the second, as the change could have been caused by a variety of other factors. Any connection has to be established by more evidence than just the fact that one thing followed the other.
But Khan is not any more interested in logical thought than Obama is, or any Leftist leader is. They want to play upon the emotions in order to manipulate their audiences into agreeing with them. And what they want you to agree to are restrictions on speech. Khan, of course, like Obama, insists that he believes “passionately in freedom of speech.” Yeah, I bet you say that to all the amendments. Khan couldn’t even sustain that passionate belief for the length of his Stanford speech, adding almost immediately that he hopes that even Elon Musk’s Twitter will “make sure that you aren’t seeing messages that are inciting hatred, that are amplifying division.” Inciting hatred and amplifying division according to whom? People who think like Sadiq Khan, of course.
And as far as Trump himself is concerned, Khan is amenable to the miscreant’s being allowed to speak as long as he stays in line: “The question is whether Donald Trump has learned his lesson,” declared the good king. “Everybody should be entitled to be rehabilitated. And if it’s the case that Donald Trump is going to use Twitter in a responsible way, then it’s all well and good. But if he breaks the rules, there needs to be consequences.” Another ban? Caning? Beheading?
It’s important to remember that when Trump criticized Khan, Khan harshly criticized Trump as well. Even before Trump was elected, Khan said: “Donald Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe — it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists.”
Did Trump receive any “racist abuse” as a result of that statement? It wouldn’t matter if he had; the “hate speech” racket is entirely one-sided. “Hate speech” is when a dissident criticizes a Leftist; when a Leftist criticizes a “dissident,” it’s “speaking truth to power.” So has Trump “learned his lesson”? Let’s hope not.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.