If you listen to some in British politics you will hear that Brexit – in fact the whole idea of not being subsumed into the European Federal State – is merely white nationalism. The same people who don’t want darkies on the street are the same people not wanting nice Belgians running the country and for the same reasons. Xenophobia, racism and just plain awfulness and, well, they’re nationalists, d’ye see?
The actual Prime Minister of the UK insisted that Ukip was just fruitcakes and closet racists – this just before that party beat his in a national election for the European Parliament.
All of which makes this decision by Facebook to ban white nationalist posts on the site and Instagram the wrong one. For there’s no reasonable definition to be used here.
Facebook bans white nationalism from platform after pressure from civil rights groups
Social media giant said in a blog post Wednesday that conversations with academics and civil rights groups convinced the company to expand its policies around hate groups.
Hmm, well, if someone’s hiring Albert Speer as their architect and Goering to run the police force we might have a useful inkling of what’s about to come next. But can anyone actually define white nationalism? Does supporting the establishment of Israel count? Because avowed Nazis did do so. On the grounds that that would take Jews out of where they didn’t want them to be, in Germany.
No, just to be obvious, I do not mean that supporting Israel’s establishment or right to exist means you are a white nationalist. Nor me come to that. It’s an example of how difficult it is to define what may not be published.
Facebook is banning explicit praise, support or representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram, including phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist,” following deadly attacks at two New Zealand mosques and a backlash from black history scholars and civil rights groups.
Hmm, again, we’ve a problem here. I’m a nationalist – heck, I even wear the shirt of one* of the nations I could play rugby for when watching an international rugby match. I’m white, or as I prefer to call it vaguely pinkish though a distressing lack of melanin. That thought that the freckles would merge didn’t quite work out. I’m proud, entirely unjustifiably of course as I’ve done little and enjoy an enviable position in the world as a result of my arrival from the Lucky Sperm Club – if you prefer which womb bore me.
So, I am a proud white nationalist. Which is the same phrase and an entirely different meaning which is something of a problem for a ban, no?
As part of the sweeping crackdown, Facebook will no longer allow posts that include statements like ‘I am a proud white nationalist’ and ‘Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer’ to remain on its site.
It’s not necessary to be a one eyed fascist to think that perhaps Pakistani grooming gangs in certain northern British cities might be both a problem and caused by a certain pattern of immigration. And there are entirely respectable papers in medical journals pointing out the effects upon the NHS and society of the rise in child deformity stemming from first cousin marriage among certain immigrant groups.
Which is, again, a problem.
It said it had reconsidered that after “conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world” who said, according to Facebook, “that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.”
Separatism? But what about Brexit? We are separating, right? Promotion of that…..yes, I know the answer. Which is that Facebook means those who go off into armed camps to plot the eradication of the interlopers. But if you’d worked, as I did, in Parliament trying to push the idea of Brexit then you’d know that, back a decade, we who did so were generally viewed as those bean stocking rifle wielders.
But over the past three months our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups. Our own review of hate figures and organizations – as defined by our Dangerous Individuals & Organizations policy – further revealed the overlap between white nationalism and separatism and white supremacy. Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism.
To approach this from the other end. Banning Richard Spencer, hmm. Louis Farrakhan? Is anything Afar/Oromo/Amhara ignored because all are of different dusky hues? If the wilder extremes of the Broederbond are how about of the PAC? Whose ancestors arrived in the area a little later in fact, have even less claim to be Southern Africans. The Khoi San better than either of course.
This decision by Facebook being a mistake. For the reason that we’ve found out many a time before about censorship of views. It’s impossible to create a dividing line where this is something that may be said, this may not be, without being partial as to what is being said. There being absolutely no – and experience bears out that it will quickly become politicised – evidence that those doing that deciding will do other than impose their own prejudices on what others may say.
Experience also tells us that there is a way to deal with this. The only way that works. It’s called that free speech thing. Which isn’t entirely unlimited, of course it isn’t. But the limitations aren’t upon what fashionable or unfashionable view may be purveyed. Only two restrictions actually work. One is libel, the denigration of one other specific person to their detriment. Or, as we might put it, telling lies to damage their reputation. And they’ve got to prove it’s a lie and that there has been damage. Because limiting the free speech rights of another is a serious matter. The other being incitement to immediate violence.
Sure, insisting that Germany must be cleared of those no part of the Volk led to disaster. But then so did the censorship which insisted that you couldn’t say otherwise. It’s got to be immediate violence – lordy be this’ll create trouble – as in kick that English Boy now instead of kick all English Boys out. The difference between someone recommending sticking a shiv between my ribs in a bar fight and Gandhi agitating for slicing the Indian flesh off the British Empire.
No, Facebook has made the wrong decision here and it’s nothing whatsoever to do with white supremacy nor my support, or not**, for the idea. For they’ve stepped into that minefield of which are the permissible views, something to which there never is, has been, nor will be, a correct answer. Which is why free societies and sensible legal systems have always limited restrictions upon free speech to only those two, libel and incitement to immediate violence.
Yes, I do know, Facebook isn’t the government, they’re not and shouldn’t be bound by the same rules. If Facebook want to do this it’s their site, their property, they can if they wish and I’d be horrified by any system that said they can’t or shouldn’t be allowed to.
It’s still a mistake.
*Like many Brits I qualify by ancestry to play for a number of nations. Between my late father and myself we covered four international rugby teams and five association football. By talent for none of course, he having been rather closer than I.
** Not, jeez, don’t be an idiot.