The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott (R), sparked controversy and condemnation from Jewish conservatives on social media after he branded the free-speech friendly social network Gab an “antisemitic platform,” a charge strongly denied by the company.
During a press conference announcing a bill reportedly aimed at fighting antisemitism in the state, Gov. Abbott said “antisemitic platforms like Gab have no place in Texas and certainly do not represent Texas values.”
Gab called the governor’s statement “despicable and false,” drawing attention to the large number of Jewish users on the platform.
Gab is not an “anti-semitic” platform. We protect the political speech of all Americans, regardless of viewpoint, because in this age of cancel culture nobody else will. That means unpopular viewpoints may be found on the site.
The enemies of freedom smear us with every name in the book because they hate America and they hate free speech. It’s a shame to see a GOP politician fall for this trap when conservative values are under sustained attack all over the country.
There are many Jewish Gab users and customers, whose lawful speech we protect with just as much zeal as we would protect the lawful speech of any person of any faith, ethnicity, or creed.
In a comment to Breitbart News, Adam Candeub, one of the most senior Jewish officials in the Trump administration, defended Gab.
“The best way to counter anti-Semitism is to expose and debunk it in the marketplace of ideas,” said Candeub. “The basic principle of the free and open internet is that open platforms should not censor lawful content, a doctrine that both Facebook and Twitter used to embrace. Allowing all viewpoints on its platform, as Gab does, does not make it antisemitic.”
Rachel Bovard, policy director of the Conservative Partnership Institute, condemned Abbott’s statement in even stronger terms.
“Google is suppressing conservative news and collecting data on school kids, Twitter kicked off the President of the United States, Facebook was used in Myanmar to facilitate a genocide, and Governor Abbott is focused on…banning Gab? Talk about misplaced priorities,” Bovard told Breitbart News. “The answer to bad speech is more speech, not less. This foundational American principle that has apparently escaped the Texas governor.”
Gov. Abbott’s comments drew ire from many prominent conservatives on social media, including several prominent Jewish conservatives.
National security analyst David Reaboi, a contributor to the Jewish Journal and the Claremont Review of Books, supported Gab’s denunciation of the charges, and said the Texas governor had allowed himself to be bullied into viewpoint discrimination.
“There are plenty of antisemites on Twitter,” Reaboi pointed out.
Dumb. Gab is not an “Antisemitic platform”—there are plenty of antisemites on Twitter.
What you’re doing is allowing the Left to bully you into demanding viewpoint discrimination and content moderation. I hate this stuff too, but you either live with it and be free—or not. https://t.co/mjRWsNSRvv
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) March 11, 2021
Darren Beattie, a Jewish conservative who currently serves on the Commission for the Preservation of American Heritage Abroad, an independent government agency protecting monuments and historic places abroad, including Holocaust memorial sites, also condemned the Governor’s remarks.
“Honestly this notion that Gab is an “anti-semitic platform” doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” said Beattie.
Honestly this notion that Gab is an "anti-semitic platform" doesn't have a leg to stand on
— Darren J. Beattie ἱ (@DarrenJBeattie) March 11, 2021
Beattie also called for a debate between Gov. Abbott and the founder of Gab, Andrew Torba.
Would love to see a debate between Andrew Torba and Governor Abbott of Texas
In a climate of complete censorship, in which former potus banned from twitter and parler unusable, Abbott attacks sole remaining free speech platform for NOT censoring enough.
— Darren J. Beattie ἱ (@DarrenJBeattie) March 11, 2021
Acclaimed Jewish journalist Glenn Greenwald, a regular guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight, called the Texas governor an “enemy of free speech.”
Greg Abbott was also the prime cheerleader for a bill in Texas — ultimately ruled unconstitutional — to ban the state from hiring anyone who refuses to pledge support for Israel (by promising not to privately boycott them). He's an enemy of free speech:https://t.co/bLfsQbL99B https://t.co/BWkdYF99AO
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 11, 2021
Blaze TV star Elijah Schaffer, who rose to prominence for his on-the-ground coverage of last summer’s riots, said someone was “lying” to Abbott about Gab.
“I’m a very pro-Israel guy & I can definitely say that Gab is not an anti-Semitic platform,” said Schaffer.
I hope this is a deep fake or else I want to know who the heck is lying to @GregAbbott_TX about Gab?
I’m a very pro-Israel guy & I can definitely say that Gab is not an anti-Semitic platform
If we use this reasoning, Twitter is an anti-white Christian male platform
Ban it too pic.twitter.com/yNopOjN1Qk
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) March 11, 2021
Michael Quinn Sullivan, publisher of Texas Scorecard, a local publication influential among conservatives in the Lone Star state, also weighed in.
“Republicans [Greg Abbott], [Craig Goldman] & [Phil King] employ slurs of the left to attack 1A website even as they funnel MILLIONS in corporate welfare to the censorious Amazon and Facebook,” said Sullivan.
Republicans @GregAbbott_TX, @GoldmanCraig & @PhilKingTX employe slurs of the left to attack #1a website even as they funnel MILLIONS in corporate welfare to the censorious Amazon and Facebook. https://t.co/8DJPtLHy0k
— Michael Quinn Sullivan🇺🇸 (@MQSullivan) March 11, 2021
“There’s more antisemitism on Twitter from verified blue checks alone than there is on [Gab],” said Gavin Wax, Townhall columnist and President of the New York City Young Republicans.
There's more antisemitism on Twitter from verified blue checks alone than there is on @getongab.@GregAbbott_TX you are a flailing doofus reacting to bad poll numbers and acting out of jealousy of DeSantis/Noem because your Covid response sucked.
— Gavin Mario Wax 🇺🇸 (@GavinWax) March 11, 2021
Pedro Gonzalez, the assistant editor of American Greatness, condemned Abbott for welcoming Silicon Valley tech giants to Texas while simultaneously attacking one of the few successful free speech platforms.
As Greg Abbott welcomes the growth and influence of Apple, Amazon, and Google–all companies that have censored conservatives–in Texas, he turns on one of the few successful independent social media networks, (Gab) which the Texas GOP itself uses 1/ pic.twitter.com/JcdkPqNKID
— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) March 11, 2021
Conservative radio star and former congressional candidate Jesse Kelly called the governor’s comments “remarkably tone deaf” and the product of living “deep in a bubble.”
Get out of your bubble. Your bubble is killing you. If you think the future is blasting ANY alternative platform, you’re deep in a bubble. I don’t even have Gab. But this is remarkably tone deaf to what’s happening out there. https://t.co/dnVoqEMK33
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) March 11, 2021
Bestselling author and Newsmax host Michelle Malkin called Abbott “anti-free speech, anti-American, and opposed to Christian-run businesses.”
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) March 11, 2021
Author, independent journalist and documentary filmmaker Mike Cernovich said Abbott’s comments “opens door for a lawsuit.”
Gov Abbott just identified Gab by name as an “anti Semitic company,” which isn’t welcome in Texas.
Seems unconstitutional and opens door for a lawsuit! https://t.co/7qbCuqcEEG
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 11, 2021
The Libertarian Party of Texas used the opportunity to criticize the overall notion of government regulation of social media companies, arguing that such regulation would inevitably result in more censorship.
“When will conservatives realize that these laws they are expecting to “protect free speech” will only be used against free speech?” said the party’s official Twitter account.
So when will conservatives realize that these laws that they are expecting to "protect free speech" will only be used against free speech?
Abbott all but admits that they will kick Gab out of Texas (don't ask how, it's unconstitutional) https://t.co/rKqICHPfCN
— Libertarian Party of Texas (@LPTexas) March 11, 2021
The Texas Republican Party defied Abbott, posting that ““TexasGOP has no plan to deplatform from any of our social media accounts. The 1st Amendment still shines brightly in the Lone Star State.”
The RPT will always fight censorship. We support the 1st Amendment, including free speech platforms & VC @CatParksTX's right to criticize such. TexasGOP has no plan to deplatform from any of our social media accounts. The 1st Amendment still shines brightly in the Lone Star State pic.twitter.com/mDsEb5hCYa
— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) March 11, 2021
Abbott also didn’t win any points from the left-wing media. Vice News pointed out that the governor’s remarks were an inadvertent attack on his own party — because the Texas GOP has an official Gab account.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.