The Trump Twitter ban debate is a dangerous distraction

The riot-inciting US president should have been de-platformed a long time ago. It is irresponsible to argue otherwise.

Twitter has permanently banned US President Donald Trump from using its platform [File: AP/Susan Walsh]

Stop. Just stop.

The pernicious equivocations, obfuscations, excuses and reservations must stop. Now.

The appeasement of a frothing maniac who encouraged, welcomed and cheered on a rampaging and deadly insurrection against the United States constitution and still, incredibly, remains the sitting president of the US must end – unequivocally.

Enlightened Americans see the abiding menace that confronts them and are determined to take immediate and tangible action to ensure that the existential threat that Donald Trump continues to pose to America’s frayed republic must finally and emphatically be addressed today and tomorrow.

Hesitancy in this urgent moment would be a grave, perhaps even fatal, mistake and establish a wholly irresponsible precedent that would offer unfettered license to the next “populist” charlatan to finish the fascist fire this one has stoked, unrestrained, for more than four years.

Trump must finally be fitted permanently with a legal and ethical straightjacket to help ensure he can no longer inflict damage on the already grievously wounded American body politic and psyche.

This should, of course, have happened long ago. A legion of prudent, astute Americans understood the true, sinister nature of this singularly dangerous grifter-turned-commander-in-chief. Their considered, prescient warnings were not heeded then. They must be now.

We were assured that the venomous Trump virus would be contained and managed by the “guardrails” inherent to America’s constitutional republic. We were also assured that he was encircled by “grown-ups” who would gingerly, but persuasively, temper his egregious, destructive impulses.

They were lies then, as they are now.

Trump and his equally subversive toadies – inside and outside the White House – must be held to real and decisive account.

Trump’s resignation is necessary. Failing that, his impeachment is necessary. Indictments are necessary. And the criminally belated exile of Trump from ubiquitous social media platforms, including Twitter, is surely necessary too.

These are the irrefutable facts and anyone who argues otherwise is guilty of the same willful blindness and negligence that Trump and his enablers exploited with alacrity to foment and orchestrate the mad insurrection on Capitol Hill.

Critics of Trump’s expulsion from Twitter must not be permitted to evade this sordid history, nor must they be permitted to suggest – unchallenged – that his banning will only inflame his fanatical followers and fuel their incoherent fury and defining sense of grievance.

Trump is the eager, unrepentant architect of that festering fanaticism and rage. Twitter was the convenient and agreeable vehicle – given it does not require any knowledge or literacy – for an imbecilic president to sow, with grinding, debilitating frequency, his manifest cruelty, misogyny, bigotry, hatred and discord.

That Trump has been denied the ready tool he has employed – for far too long – to intimidate, defame and traumatise Americans, and, for that matter, the world, is good, proper and appropriate given Twitter’s terms of reference and conditions governing the conduct of users which, in particular, prohibit the incitement of violence.

We should not, however, congratulate the smug billionaire proprietors of Twitter and other social media outlets for doing, at this dire eleventh hour, the intelligent thing.

Their reluctant conversions, I suspect, were, in large measure, the product of a self-serving calculus. They know momentum is building for a new Congress to amend legislation designed to hold their businesses liable for the malice and slander they have blithely trafficked in for decades to pad their flush bank accounts.

In journalism parlance, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and suddenly rattled company are quickly manoeuvring to “get ahead of the story”. Their “act of good faith” has arrived much too late.

Still, in the raw residue of last week’s ransacking of the Capitol and the threat to life and liberty the insurrectionists posed to members of Congress discharging their constitutional duties, the imperative for swift sanctions against a seditious president who inspired the thugs had to be heeded.

My goodness. Viewed through that halting, disturbing prism, the silly, manufactured bruhaha of removing the accelerant-in-chief from Twitter should be the least of America’s worries.

It cannot afford to repeat its disastrous attraction to the trivial at the expense of meeting the serious peril it faces. While establishment politicians and media trained their glare on Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, alarms blared about Trump’s unfitness.

The seat of US democracy was attacked by crazed, marauding insurgents who looted, as well. Five people died. A woman was shot in the Capitol. A police officer defending the Capitol and, by extension, the constitution, was reportedly bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher.

So, I have a simple, blunt message to pundits preoccupied with or fretting over the fact that Trump can no longer avail himself of 280 characters to share his lunatic, incendiary musings with his malleable army of online “followers”: Find some bloody perspective.

Your misguided censure of Trump’s banishment from Twitter deflects necessary attention and energy away from where America’s attention and energy should be fixed with laser-like acuity – on a president who swore an oath to “support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

Instead, Trump repudiated that solemn undertaking by repeatedly exhorting and offering not-so-veiled rhetorical approval on Twitter and elsewhere to stage a coup d’état. He was the fifth column he pledged to defend against.

Considered in this astonishing context, Trump’s ex-communication from Twitter is a reasonable, responsible injunction against a demonstrably unreasonable, irresponsible president who takes obvious glee and sick satisfaction in injuring his opponents and the country he claims to serve.

While Trump’s favourite virtual bullhorn has been wrested from him, he will, no doubt, take some solace in the fact that a host of sympathetic broadcast media, including the ever-supplicant Fox News and other nascent far-right propaganda networks, will gladly platform his diseased dictates. In time, he may even try to fashion a Trump-approved variant of Twitter that will, given his lousy business acumen, inevitably declare bankruptcy.

Despite the hysterical cries of “censorship”, Trump’s foul mouth and mind will, sadly, not be “muzzled”.

Happily, his lasting absence from Twitter will have the salutary effect of preventing this rabid narcissist from operating a shadow presidency with a daily drip of tweets crafted to undermine the critical work of a new president facing an imploding economy, countless unemployed and hungry Americans, a wild, lethal virus and a fractured nation where the pursuit of common good and purpose are faded anachronisms.

The silencing of Trump on Twitter is a healthy and desperately needed balm that, hopefully, will encourage sentient Americans to recover from a jaundiced president who has division and hate engrained in his hollow soul.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.