Our colleague and LU contributor Joe Newby wrote on Friday about a Facebook user whose posted “meme” was banned The meme image calls out one of Europe’s currently popular anti-Semitic themes, and Facebook removed it, stating that it “doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards.”
The meme image, below, is pointed and reasonably clever.
Joe reacted with understandable sarcasm:
It’s impossible to say why or how this violates Facebook’s Community Standards.
Unless, of course, Facebook is saying that it requires users to be anti-Semitic. After all, we know what happens to memes critical of another religion…
We looked through Facebook’s standards and saw nothing to indicate that users have to be anti-Semitic. Perhaps this is a recent change the company forgot to announce.
Technically, Facebook wouldn’t be requiring users to be anti-Semitic. Facebook would be banning users from criticizing anti-Semitic themes.
But criticizing anti-Semitic themes requires first identifying the themes as anti-Semitic. And that’s really what Facebook is banning here: the free speech by which people’s propaganda themes are exposed as hostile or derogatory.
Calling for Jews to get out of Palestine — a favorite theme of, surprise, Islamists and the radical left — is anti-Semitic. It’s anti-Semitic in the same way it was anti-Semitic in the 1930s to call for Jews to be kicked out of Europe. The “Jews out of Palestine” call comes from the same mindset as the mindset that produced the Holocaust.
That’s the point Facebook won’t tolerate anyone making. It’s an obliquely made point, in the meme — but it’s too much for the Facebook censors. It’s a rationally supportable point, but Facebook actively suppresses the point and thereby the debate it might provoke.
Yet Facebook tolerates a whole lot of actual, in-your-face anti-Semitism. Watchdog groups have documented this for years. (See here as well, or do web searches at your convenience. This trend is amply documented and widely known. In Germany, where anti-Semitic expression is prosecutable, Facebook’s tolerance of anti-Semitism has earned the company a criminal complaint.)
It’s no accident that Facebook’s “tolerance” all goes one way — goes so far that it is not tolerance at all, but a determination to promote one viewpoint and silence others. It’s a great lesson, in fact, in the biased intentions of self-styled “hate speech” police. Looking for “hate speech” can never remain a project of fairness and balance. It always becomes a way of silencing the people you want to silence — because you hate them.
That’s really why a mildly clever meme is so annoying to the Facebook censors. Because it highlights how the one-way tendentiousness of anti-Semitism reaches around and pokes itself in the eye, just as all pretended policing of “hate speech” does. Sooner or later, these deceptive themes are exposed for what they are: vicious, one-way hatreds. The keepers of the public dialogue can’t have your mind waking up to that.
(For more on Facebook’s favoritism toward radical Islam, check out the interview here with Joe Newby on his forthcoming book with Adina Kutnicki, Banned: How Facebook Enables Militant Islamic Jihad.)