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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/3/19

Facebook Badly Misfires on Farrakhan

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"We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology." Thus, sayeth Facebook in announcing its crack down on hate mongers on its platforms. Two top white nationalist type agitators were mentioned as "dangerous" haters. I get that. Their inflammatory race baiting and anti-Semitic rhetoric has resulted in a trail of bodies and mayhem in some corners.

But Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan I don't get. Yes, Farrakhan has made what can be construed as anti-Semitic quips. And he did pen a widely promoted tract The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews that claim all sorts of nefarious manipulations by Jews. Farrakhan has been relentlessly denounced for this and his anti-Jewish digs by many Blacks.

But violence? There's not one documented case where Farrakhan's followers have gone out and attacked whites, shot up malls, campuses, synagogues or mosques, beaten senseless their opponents, or planted bombs. There's not one documented case where anyone directly influenced by Farrakhan marched with guns and intimidated whites or Jews. Farrakhan's lengthy discourses are 99 percent focused on the long standing Black Muslim themes that stretch back to the days of Elijah Muhammad and the early Malcolm X. That is self-help, economic development, self-sufficiency, respect of Black women, family cohesion, religious devotion and values, cultural pride, and respect for the law.

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So, why then is Farrakhan on Facebook' s hate villains list? Here's what comes immediately to mind. Facebook tossed him in with the other hate mongers to racially balance out the list. His at times racially incendiary digs have made him the softest of soft targets, and a perennial whipping boy for all those who delight in claiming that blacks can be just as racist as many whites. Who better to prove that than Farrakhan? Another reason is that Facebook casts a nervous eye over its shoulder at Trump. He's saber rattled the networks, newspapers, and Facebook for its alleged fake news bias, tilt toward liberals, and the left, and bashing of the president, i.e. him. The last thing Facebook wants is to further antagonize Trump.

Then there's this reason. It believes Farrakhan is the dangerous race baiter that he's been routinely made out to be over time. The reality, though, is far different from the media bogeyman image of him.

In times past, Farrakhan's alleged "dangerous" tag from Facebook would have drawn howls of protests from the Anti-Defamation League, a quick distancing from civil rights leaders, and cries of fowl from black athletes and entertainers. This time it drew barely a ripple of comment and silence from all other quarters. The muted response raises one question about Farrakhan. Does he still have the name, cachet, and power to move tens of thousands?

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Nearly a quarter century ago, Farrakhan was the only black leader that had the message and the dynamism to draw a roughly a million plus persons to the largest black gathering ever held on America's shores the Million Man March . His leadership was deemed vital enough to move blacks to rally behind the fight against racism, poverty and political apathy. Farrakhan then seemed to fill a significant leadership gap. He was an unchallenged go-to-guy for black America.

With the brief exception of the sole unifying crusade black voters mounted in order to elect Barak Obama, the same political confusion, inertia, and malaise still divides and tears African-Americans apart. The hunger for a leader and organizations that can stir the masses is still just as great. More

Farrakhan was right for the times two decades ago when there was still the residual vestige of the 1960s militancy, defined in part by black leaders who could deliver rip roaring, give the white man hell speeches. Long after black militants H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X, was gone and the Black Panthers, SNCC, and CORE were decimated by government assaults, and self-destructed from infighting and criminal gangsterism, Farrakhan was the last galvanizing militant standing. His longevity and the hunger among blacks for strong, outspoken leadership created the perfect storm for the Million Man March, with him as titular leader. The backlash against Farrakhan's racially polarizing and frequent anti-Semitic sentiments made him an even more alluring anti-hero to many disenfranchised blacks.

But that was then. Though Farrakhan clearly cannot move racial mountains the way he once did, he's hardly a fringe figure within the black community. He still packs in the crowds. He was honored with a prime place on the dais at Aretha Franklin's memorial Tribute. The family of Nipsey Hussle thought he was important enough to have his voice heard at Hussle's memorial tribute.

Farrakhan still has the name recognition, and the many years he's spent on the racial circuit still get tongues wagging with his occasional well-placed dig at Jews or whites. But, also so does his still compelling message of black self-help, empowerment and religious values. In the Trump era, this is still enough to make him an inviting enough target for Facebook to give him the boot.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Biden Versus Trump: Who Would Win? (Middle Passage Press/Amazon Kindle). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.

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Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. He has authored ten books; his articles are published in newspapers and magazines nationally in the United States. Three of his books have been published in other (more...)
 
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4 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments


Michele Goddard

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I respect your right to your opinion but you are making excuses and rationalizations. tu.be/LZschZMW3oU He preaches hatred of white people and says that he and his followers are non-violent UNTIL they perceive they are being attacked. The problem is that people like Farrakhan who generalize all white people as evil, revs up his followers to see ALL white people as the enemy, all white people as a threat, tells them their violence against the evil white man is justified as long as there is a threat and then leaves it up to the individual to decide what is a threat, then he is advocating violence.


I don't know nor do I have any evidence that links Farrakhan or his followers to any act of violence. But that is not Facebook's criteria. They are a private entity who has decided that they do not want their product used for the purpose of spreading hate speech or encouraging acts of violence. They are in no way stopping Farrakhan, Alex Jones or Milo Yannanopolis from saying whatever they want, they have just decided that hate speech is not the intended use of their product and there is nothing that requires them as a private company to give these individuals a forum.




Facebook is not the government. The first Amendment only protects individuals from government control of speech. But not wanting your product used for hate is not suppression of free speech. If I am a white supremacist and I go to the local Staples and ask them to print out fliers for a KKK Rally I would hope they have a policy that would prevent the assistance of hate groups. I don't know if they do. But if the Supreme Court ruled that a cake decorator an refuse to bake a cake for gay couple because it violates their moral beliefs, then how can we not allow other private businesses to decide whether the use of their products violates an ethical standard against hate that their company wishes to maintain.


I have reported a number of videos to YouTube which advocate for violence because I don't think that YouTube should allow their product to be used as a platform for the spread of hatred of any race. Although I find Farrakhans messages highly racist and divisive he has the right to say it, but I just disagree with people who think that Facebook and YouTube are somehow under the obligation to permit the use of their platform for it.


Take Care.

Submitted on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 7:33:09 PM

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Devil's Advocate

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" The first Amendment only protects individuals from government control of speech."

And that is where the deception is rooted.

It is governments and their "think tanks" that are behind all the pressure to perform censorship. Social networks would rather NOT censor, as doing so cuts into their profits and causes users to leave.

It is not "corporate" censorship we're dealing with. Government is co-opting social media companies to censor FOR them, while hiding behind third parties, most of which they've created and placed in the mix themselves. It's government censorship trying to disguise itself as corporate censorship (and not really doing a very good job at that).

Say goodbye to your 1st Amendment rights.

Submitted on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 7:49:53 PM

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Michele Goddard

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I will clarify here as best I can that I am an absolutist in terms of the goverment having anything to do with censoring free speech because as we have seen with Assange the state is the one who holds arrest powers and once that barrier is destroyed you are absolutely correct that we are in a totalitarian state. Of we know of and allow the government to dictate, influence or control media we will be in danger of that. If you have evidence that the government is behind these entites censoring individuals then we definitely need to bring that out and expose it because it is dangerous.

However Facebook, Twitter and other platforms as you accurately point out, are corporate and make money from content. So they will do as all corporations do, make money their highest priority over capituation to the government. I think the evidence of that is in the repeated promises Zuck made to Congress, pinky swearing through his fake teary eyed gaze that he would better protect user information from 3rd parties yet continually violated that promise.

Every time he did and something new happened, Congress would haul him in for a good fingerwagging and then it was back to business as usual. But when users like me had had enough and deleted their accounts translating to loss of 119 billion, Zuck realized that there is a line where people will give you back your ball and tell you to go home.

Private companies only make money when people are buying the product. When conservatives users felt they were being unfairly censored by Facebook they left for other forums. Likewise as private business they are subject to liability. If they continue to allow their forum to be a place for a "violence against women" group for example and a woman is assaulted by a user tied to a group then they may be subect to a lawsuit. So again, no moral compass is involved, just protecting their bottom line.

If you look at it in terms of how advocates for minorities used boycotts of advertisers to punish Fox News for allowing what they said were racist commenters, this is a sort of public self censoring. I guess there might be all kinds of citizens groups, like the ones who boycotted Target for supporting trans people on using whatever restroom they want to use. We might disagree with them (at least I do) but they can choose to shop wherever they want. That is wholly different than the people with authority, guns, badges and the military to start deciding who can speak and who can't.

Its just frustrating that when we look back at history and we say "Never again" and ask "How did Hitler get so far without resistance?", and then we see hate groups today, even those advocating Nazi ideology and we say, "it's protected", and we have to let them preach and then they organize and we can't stop that and then before you know it, one of their lemmings is running down a woman with a car in Charlottesville or gunning down people in a mosque or synagogue and yet we don't see the danger in letting hate, especially inciteful violent racist rhetoric run free.

Obviously I repsect everyone here and I am only expressing my thoughts, as are you. I don't profess to be "right" jist worried.

If you have info on the censorship being at the direction of government pleade add a link. I genuinely want to research more.

Take care

Submitted on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 10:45:57 PM

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Reply to Michele Goddard:   New Content

I get what you're saying. I offer a few "tweaks"...

"If you have evidence that the government is behind these entities censoring..."

No evidence required. "Think tanks" like the Atlantic Council and Integrity Initiative, which have their hooks into Facebook, are literally government-sponsored entities, by their own admission. It's common knowledge.

"...the repeated promises Zuck made to Congress..."

The Congressional "hearings" were just theatre, to make it look like the government was acting to "protect the public", and that Facebook, Google and Twitter were shirking some non-existent "responsibility" in the matter (there was no such obligation).

The show was put on to set up the country to accept the censorship that was intended. The one we're seeing now.

Naturally, such a program would need "authoritative input", and in came the "think tanks", and other similar participants. Along with that, we began to see completely arbitrary and non-legal terms like "inauthentic behaviour", "terrorist activity", "false information", "inciting violence" and "hate speech" being used as justifications for censoring.

So, even though the 1st Amendment still exists, you've already got 3rd parties, who are practically in control of what you can and can't publish, that are getting their running orders from your government. Government censorship, hiding behind a phony third-party status.

The proof that this is all happening as I say it is right before your eyes. You don't see, for instance, Rubio losing his Twitter account for inciting violence against the Venezuelan government. You don't see anyone in government or the MSM losing their accounts or getting banned for spreading blatant provenly-false information, or cyber-bullying other governments.

It's simple, the "rules" are being written to be used against DISSENTERS.

That is the dangerous idea behind censorship. People don't like certain things other people say or publish, so they look for a way to make it all stop. The government is happy to oblige, and jumps in and promises to "protect" you. Then it uses the resulting "rules" to shut out anyone THEY don't like.

Or they do what they just did - co-opt social media itself to do the job for them.

"If they continue to allow their forum to be a place for a "violence against women" group for example and a woman is assaulted by a user tied to a group then they may be subect to a lawsuit."

3 things here...

1) Websites are not liable for the real-life actions of their users. Look it up. There are laws that address actual criminal acts, and they're used against the actual users that commit those crimes.

2) Websites, being "private" companies, don't have to allow themselves to become unprofitable by accommodating such "hate groups". If they choose to do so anyway (probably because they are being erected by actual hate groups), people are free to go somewhere else.

3) Censorship mechanisms don't erase hate. It moves it "underground", where it continues to infect the feeble-minded. The only thing that fixes hate is proper indoctrination by society. The pushback has to happen in the "real world".

Add to this what Fred says below, as it's a very important point.

Submitted on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 2:56:20 AM

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nelswight

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Each member of the jury must gladly agree.

Submitted on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 1:22:18 PM

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I will add one more important distinction...

"However Facebook, Twitter and other platforms as you accurately point out, are corporate and make money from content."

These platforms actually make their money on exploiting personal data and on advertising. The content itself is not even a real factor, and probably serves more as available data for law enforcement or similar.

If they couldn't mine everyone's personal info, track their habits and profile them, they'd have nothing to share with advertisers (and others), and their business model would completely implode.

Submitted on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 3:36:20 AM

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It's worth mentioning that, as far as I know, neither Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, nor Milos Yanopoulis, like Farakhan, have ever advocated violence.

Re. the "private-ness" of Facebook: they seem to claim their right to unfettered publication, i.e., non-sueableness for libel, when it suits them, arguing that they have rights as a non-discriminating public forum, when it suits them to do so, while at the same time asserting their right as a private business in order to ban people they disagree with.

Submitted on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 12:15:02 AM

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