How Social Media Companies Enable the Far Right

By Mathew Foresta

The far-right is as active as ever on social media and host companies have been gallingly slow to respond.  This negligence reveals their complicity.

“I would say probably YouTube has been the least responsive in terms of getting rid of the stuff,” said journalist David Neiwert, author of “Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump.” He singled out the comments sections as particularly troublesome.

Other experts pointed out certain users of the video sharing site as being especially problematic.

“Why in the world is Red Ice TV still on YouTube,“ said Air Force veteran Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Executive Director of the anti-racist group One People’s Project.

The Sweden based Red Ice is operated by the married team of Henrik Palmgren and Lana Lokteff. The racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and fascistic operation currently boasts over 334 thousand subscribers on the site. It evolved from its beginning as a peddler of conspiracy nonsense to the major platform for bigotry it is today. So major in fact that that Congressman Steve King retweeted Lokteff in September 2018.

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The Strangers’ Case

Editor’s note: An edited version of this was published by the Times Literary Supplement. (Photo: Anna Pantelia)

By Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

The only surviving example of William Shakespeare’s handwriting is preserved at the British Library in the manuscript of the play The Book of Sir Thomas More. Shakespeare’s contribution to the co-authored play is a speech by deputy sheriff Thomas More addressed to a mob rioting against immigrants. He appeals to mob’s empathy by inviting them to imagine themselves in the shoes of the “strangers”, exiled from home.

What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, Spain or Portugal,
Nay, anywhere that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers, would you be pleas’d
To find a nation of such barbarous temper
That breaking out in hideous violence
Would not afford you an abode on earth.
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, not that the elements
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But charter’d unto them? What would you think
To be us’d thus? This is the strangers’ case
And this your mountainish inhumanity.

Over four centuries later, empathy for the stranger remains an uncertain virtue. Since 2015, when the media elevated refugees to the status of a “crisis”, their influx has sharply declined (from a peak of over 221,000 in 2015 to less than 11,000 in 2018). However this reduction has yet to be acknowledged in the fevered registers of Europe’s political discourse. Immigration—or, rather, its perception—is roiling an entire continent, empowering the right and seducing even left-wing populists into xenophobia. The consequences have been catastrophic, in political, economic, and human terms.

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