Facebook Gets Multicultural About China and Censorship

In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal quotes Mark Zuckerberg, the kid from Harvard who heads the CEO of a company-not-yet-public. (Goldman-Sachs VIP insiders only, please). What disturbed me about the article is not that another company is breaking into the so-called China market after the Google row over censorship. I’m more disturbed by the mealy-mouth rationalization of Zuckerberg, who seems to have breathed in the multicultural fumes of higher education.

Zuckerberg stated:

“I don’t want Facebook to be an American company [God forbid!],” he said. “I don’t want it to be this company that just spreads American values all across the world. …For example, we have this [culturally constructed American] notion of free speech that we really love and support at Facebook, and that’s one of the main things that we’re trying to push with openness. But different countries have their different standards around that. …My view on this is that you want to be really culturally sensitive….”

This is the moral and cultural nihilism that bristles at “American values” and must be “culturally sensitive” and protect the “right not to be offended” lest you face a “hostile environment” charge—or worse. My students spew this because it starts K-12 and many of my colleagues are fond of the “free speech for me but not for thee” quote (Stanley Fish). And, of course, we must “understand The Other” (non-Americans). Or, as Zuckerberg put it: “understand the way that people actually think.”

Now, there is nothing wrong with “understanding the way the people actually think” but there is something wrong when you privilege these “other ways of thinking” at the expense of what you profess to “really love and support at Facebook” (that odd notion of openness and American values).

God help Mr. Zuckerberg, et al., as Iran goes ahead with its foolish autarkic plans to build a new operating system to impose the Islamic ethical code on all computer users in Iran. If or when Zuckerberg sells his out in Iran (and China), he will move one step closer to losing his soul and costing the lives of Others in foreign lands who had hoped that U.S. companies and Americans (of all types) might stand with them as they embrace dissident “American values” (as if they were peculiar to America).

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
—Mark 8:36

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
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