Facebook’s cryptocurrency project has long been one of Silicon Valley’s worst-kept secrets. Even so, Libra’s formal announcement elicited a number of incendiary reactions from chattering heads across the political spectrum.
Few hot takes, however, were more bombastic than that of National Review Online senior writer Michael Brendan Dougherty, who scolded the government for failing to respond appropriately to Facebook’s naked assault on the US dollar.
The appropriate response? A nuclear strike.
Libra’s Launch & Josh Hawley’s Internet Censorship Bill
Dougherty dropped this blistering bombshell during the latest episode of The Editors, the flagship podcast of conservative media publication National Review.
Host Rich Lowry, Charles C.W. Cooke, Alexandra DeSanctis, and Dougherty (known to listeners of The Editors as “The Notorious MBD”) began, not by discussing Facebook’s cryptocurrency launch, but rather by debating US Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) so-called internet censorship bill.
That legislation, the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, would require giant social media companies like Facebook and Google to prove that their algorithms and content-removal policies are “politically neutral” to continue to enjoy the immunity from traditional publisher liabilities that they currently receive under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Deserves a Nuclear Strike
Hawley’s critics (including critics at National Review) have warned that the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act – which stands virtually no chance of ever becoming law – is “unconstitutional” and threatens to “break the internet.”
However, Dougherty, a proponent of the proposal, chided Hawley not for going too far, but for not going far enough to defend US sovereignty against an “unaccountable spy agency” that’s about to release its own cryptocurrency.
“In one way, the bill doesn’t go far enough. The government’s appropriate response to an enormous, unaccountable spy agency that’s launching a currency that it wants to compete with the US dollar, is to nuke it from space,” he said, chuckling. “And the fallout should land wherever it does across California. I don’t care anymore.”
The comment was clearly a joke, but it underscores Dougherty’s deep distrust of Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley tech titans, a distrust shared by a large – though perhaps shrinking – portion of cryptocurrency advocates.
“My cards on the table: I think Facebook is extremely harmful and dangerous. I think it’s dangerous in the way it collects information. I think it’s dangerous in the way it concentrates that information in a way that makes the data pile almost like nuclear waste that has to be regulated.”
There’s much in that statement to elicit a hearty “Amen!” from bitcoin maximalists and other critics of crypto industry centralization. They just might not agree with Dougherty’s conclusion.