Thursday, March 28, 2019

Facebook bans some forms of nationalism and separatism as essentially racist (FB's explanation)

Although I added a link to a previous blog post (March 20) on this, I think it’s useful to link to Facebook’s own blog post on its policy change, to regard (essentially ban) content advocating “white separatism” or “white nationalism” as indistinguishable from “white supremacy”.  

The title of the post is “Standing Against Hate” (leading) and it links back to well known prohibitions against certain hate (or terror) groups using the platform.  Twitter had announced a similar “purge” on Dec. 18, 2017.

Vox has a long article by P.R. Lockhart here. As an anti-tribal non-identarian myself, I personally have no interest in supporting the identarian group aims of anyone; but I am concerned about the principles underneath this regarding the credibility and objectivity of public speech. 
It is true that federal law (as administered by the DOJ) prohibits organizing for the purposes of criminal activity (whether drug or sex trafficking, money laundering, or actual terror or other violent crime, or even overthrowing the government).
So up to a point, banning “groups” or certain organizing by platforms (or even their hosting   as banned by most host AUP’s) does make sense. 
The problem, however, is that typically social justice issues (even ones we now see as legitimate) tend to lead non-profits to try to organize and enlist everyone.  The First Amendment guarantees both free speech and free assembly, and sometimes in practical situations assembly and individual speech can come into conflict.  Individuals often turn to group organizing when they fall behind economically as individuals or families (e.g,. Prager U on “Why Trump Won”).  Others who are better off will resent the pressure from others to join up.

So it seems very objectionable to say that PoC can organize and sometimes go to the edge with some objectionable goals, but “whites” may not – even understanding the historical context in the US specifically (slavery and segregation), as it might be compared with that in other countries (Germany, Israel, South Africa, etc).

Facebook says it had wanted to consider ideas like patriotism and nationalism as legitimate; but given US history, it could not do that with “white” issues specifically, given partly the history of privilege in the past, and the constant connection to probably unlawful “groups” (and incidents like OKC, Atlanta (1996), Charleston SC, and Christchurch). That position would seem to apply to Europe, where in some countries the problem (with respect to separatism) sounds similar (consider Poland, Hungary, “soft fascism”).  It is also a big controversy in Russia among the former republics.  The comparison to Zionism in Israel is said to be a canard.

There’s another particularly sensitive issue: population demographics.  For a number of years, right-wing publications have complained that white families (in Europe and in North America) don’t have enough children, with ties into the migrant issue. But there is a larger context.  In the United States, immigrants (even non-white from Mexico) often lower their birth rates and, when faced with economic pressures of middle class life, often delay having children in the same way.  The low birth rate issue can be seen in terms of increasing eldercare burdens for everyone (not just whites), as with Social Security and Medicare, and even the ability to find and hire caregivers. Low (native ethnic) birth rates also feel anti-gay sentiments in some countries, especially Russia (even now with the politicization of “Eugene Onegin”).  This was a particular issue for me back in 1961 because I am an only child (the importance of lineage to parents). Some people will see the birth rate issue as racist, but it is not;  it is more about basic economics.

So at a certain level, Facebook’s action, while understandable and probably not having much effect on most users, is still disturbing from a free speech perspective. It's a little concerning that it manipulates and redirects search results rather than even simply banning them. 

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