Chronic. It’s the world upside down. When, in the country of the First Amendment, the ultimate benchmark for freedom of expression, a handful of CEOs of Internet giants decide to close access to social networks to the President of the United States, it is in Europe that the ‘we choke. It is this cautious Europe, maniac of regulation, protective of personal data to the point of having been accused by the same Internet giants of restricting innovation and freedom, which is indignant at such an obstacle.
But where has America, “leader of the free world” gone? Alexei Navalny, number one opponent to Vladimir Putin, saw Twitter’s decision as a “Unacceptable act of censorship”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Donald Trump’s number one enemy, laments an offense “Problematic” at “Fundamental right to freedom of expression”. The French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, denounced this “Digital oligarchy” which arrogates to itself rights belonging only to “Sovereign people”. For European Commissioner Thierry Breton, the attack on the Congress is “September 11 of social networks”. It will be understood: the real guardians of the democratic temple, today, are on this side of the Atlantic.
Not that Europeans are immune to insurrectional assaults. The memory of the statue of Marianne demolished by “yellow vests” in the Arc de Triomphe has left some marks, and the parallel universe of conspiracy theories also flourishes on the Old Continent. But even if, from London to Budapest via Warsaw, some European leaders may have been dangerously close to Donald Trump’s positions, none have gone so far as to instigate the insurgency themselves. Traumatic event for Americans, January 6 also marks a turning point in transatlantic relations. Between Europeans and Americans, after the attack on the Capitol, nothing will be the same.
The four years of the Trump presidency had already driven a wide rift. On January 6, the vulnerability of American democracy, which came to light, made Europeans dizzy. They believed the error of the Trump mandate corrected by the electoral victory of Joe Biden on November 3, 2020; it was not, unfortunately, so obvious, since two months later, this victory was still contested by the outgoing president and his very many supporters.
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