The Rough Beast's lies indicate his intentions - Just like the Nazis
In 1951, Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism was published. I haven’t read it, and I learned about the book only this week from a tweet by Elliot Lusztig that Ben Grimes retweeted. I found more information about the book on its Wikipedia entry.
Lusztig cites Arendt’s statement that the “bizarre” claims made by German Nazis in the 1930s about Jews defied fact checking because the claims were never meant to be factual. The lies were “a declaration of intent,” according to Lusztig.
It’s 80 years later, and once again fascists are lying openly. We believe we can challenge these lies with the facts, but to the fascists, the facts don’t matter. Their statements are declarations of intent, just like the Nazis that came before them. So when the Poobah-elect lies about millions of people who voted illegally for his opponent, he knows no such thing ever happened. He’s declaring his intention to take away our right to vote.
And that’s precisely what is happening right now. A December 5, 2016, New York Times editorial explains the direct link between lies about voter fraud and efforts underway by Republicans in several states to take away people’s fundamental right to vote – particularly the poor people who are most likely to vote against Republican candidates. The Times editorial closes by stating, “It’s outrageous, but it’s hard to see why they would stop when lying has gotten them this far.” (The Nation’s Ari Berman updates the Republican challenges to voting rights state-by-state in a December 6, 2016, article.)
Nazis take over Google’s search algorithm
When The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr entered the words “are jews” in the Google search box, the questions Google predicted she was most likely to be asking included “Are Jews evil?” As Cadwalladr writes in a December 4, 2016, article, she never even considered such a question, but out of curiosity, she selected it. What appeared in the search results were links to article after article stating that Jews are indeed evil: nine of the first 10 results came to this obscene conclusion.
The top result returned by the search was a “listicle” on a Nazi site: “Top 10 Major Reasons Why People Hate Jews.” The article repeated the same hateful, unfounded lies that these evil-doers have been attempting to promulgate for centuries. The other sites in the results were typical of Nazi hate-mongers. I will not repeat their vile, insidious lies.
As Cadwalladr states, this is Google – the company synonymous with internet search. The same hatefulness was on display when Cadwalladr searched “are women,” which led to two suggestions from Google, one of which was “Are women evil?” The top result returned from that search concluded that yes, all women are evil. She got a similar result when she typed “are muslims.” But guess what happened when Cadwalladr entered the query “Was Hitler bad?” The top result linked to an article entitled “10 Reasons Why Hitler Was One of the Good Guys.”
At this point I feel compelled to restate the obvious: 55 million people died during World War II. Hitler started World War II. Therefore, Hitler was directly responsible for the death of 55 million people, including 6 million Jews. Men, women, and children. Combatants and non-combatants. Hitler was evil. Again, for the record, Hitler was evil. And to conclude (for those who arrived late), Hitler was evil.
As Cadwalladr points out so clearly, the Nazis and other hate groups have taken over Google. Fascists are reshaping the internet “for their own purposes.” They are adept at using the same tricks to gain prominence in Google search results and on Facebook feeds that advertisers and businesses use. (It’s worth noting that no such search suggestions were offered when the words “are jews” and “are women” were entered in Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.)
Cadwalladr concludes that Facebook and Google have become the primary vehicle for spreading the hateful lies that burgeoning “authoritarian regimes” rely on, including the fascist state our Fuhrer-elect is attempting to promulgate right here in the good old U.S. of A.
Facebook and Google, the two biggest companies on the internet, are the primary sources of Nazi propaganda. And yet….
You’re going to keep using Facebook and Google no matter what I say
Tell people to drop Facebook? Ridiculous. Find alternatives to Google for searching? Get real. The two companies are synonymous with the internet. In the past, I’ve written about how to secure your Facebook account and how to find out what Google knows about you. This is different.
There’s nothing you can do about use of the services for anti-democratic and racist purposes. When you use Facebook and Google, you’re supporting companies that the enemies of freedom rely on to spread their hate. The choice is yours.
Another thing you might want to keep in mind. Back when he was still at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg had a text exchange with another student, which is captured in the image above:
Zuckerberg: “If you ever need info about anyone at Harvard… Just ask…. I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS.”
Student: “How’d you manage that one?”
Zuckerberg: “People just submitted it…. I don’t know why…. “The ‘trust me’…. Dumb fucks.”
Cadwalladr reminds us that Google and Facebook do not make their magical algorithms public. The two companies have devolved into “a vast network of propaganda that has encroached like a cancer across the entire internet.” She concludes by calling for users to reclaim the internet from these two unaccountable, private, for-profit entities that currently control it.
Reliable internet information isn’t always easy to find
If you’re a fellow digital Diogenes searching for that one honest website, Josh Stearns of the Democracy Fund has some ideas, which he offers in a November 29, 2016, article on Medium. Stearns recommends turning to and supporting local news sources, as well as specialty journalism that covers niche areas you care about, such as global warming or social justice.
Stearns suggests that people get outside their bubble by checking a variety of news sources, some of which promote viewpoints counter to their own. The article includes dozens of links to sites that will help you broaden your perspective with information from the best that modern news media have to offer on a variety of subjects.
What should the reporters and newscasters do when confronted with outright lies told by government officials and their surrogates? According to Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan, it is a journalist’s duty to set the record straight, even if doing so seems futile and repetitive. ProPublica’s Eric Umansky interviews Nyhan in a December 5, 2016, article.
Nyhan states that the burden of proving (or disproving) an orange-haired soon-to-be-public official’s unsubstantiated claims made on Twitter or elsewhere should not fall to journalists. The story is not whatever topics the lies are about. That lets the liar control the conversation. The story is the lies, and that’s the focus news media need to take.
So instead of “Pres.-elect claims widespread voter fraud,” the headline is “Pres.-elect attempts to perpetuate false claims of extremists who are attempting to deny citizens the fundamental right to vote.”
Just try to find that story on Facebook or Google.