Last week’s massive social media purges – starting with President Trump’s permanent ban from Twitter and other outlets – was shocking and chilling, particularly to those of us who value free expression and the free exchange of ideas. The justifications given for the silencing of wide swaths of public opinion made no sense and the process was anything but transparent. Nowhere in President Trump’s two “offending” Tweets, for example, was a call for violence expressed explicitly or implicitly. It was a classic example of sentence first, verdict later.Many Americans viewed this assault on social media accounts as a liberal or Democrat attack on conservatives and Republicans, but they are missing the point. The narrowing of allowable opinion in the virtual public square is no conspiracy against conservatives. As progressives like Glenn Greenwald have pointed out, this is a wider assault on any opinion that veers from the acceptable parameters of the mainstream elite, which is made up of both Democrats and Republicans.