When Principles Matter: A Libertarian Jew Defends Neo-Nazis’ Right to Free Speech Online
EspañolAfter the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia — during which extreme right-wing groups demanded the preservation of confederate statues that the left sought to take down — one of the main Internet platforms for sympathizers of national socialism, white supremacy, white nationalism and the like, The Daily Stormer, completely disappeared.
Several companies saw to its removal, because they didn’t want to offer their services to them anymore. Though surprising to many, one person who has come out in defense of freedom of speech rights on the internet is himself a libertarian and a Jew, as well as an expert on computer systems.
Alon Ganon operates the technical, behind-the-scenes operation of the Being Libertarian website, which offers everything from memes, essays, interviews and video content advocating the importance of individual freedoms over state intrusion.
Alon said you can enter The Daily Stormer into Facebook, Google or YouTube, and it won’t come up.
According to The New York Times, Internet domain provider GoDaddy revoked The Daily Stormer‘s service after they published an article about the fatal car crash victim during the Charlottesville protests. A Twitter campaign had asked the company to revoke their services from The Daily Stormer, and they had complied. Additionally, an article by PanAmPost showed how Facebook censured several similar pages.
The Occupy Democrats Logic satire page — a mockery of the American left — in addition to Being Libertarian, where Alon works, were censored by Facebook for content that was offensive to readers who opposed its views. Only after public outcry and pressure by their followers were they able to return to Facebook.
As a systems and network administrator, Alon produced a detailed report on protection networks, servers and explained how these one-on-one servers were denied access to the page. He shared an email from CloudFare in which an employee asked: “Is this how the Internet dies?”
While it’s true that every company has the right to choose who to provide a service, it is still a valid question. If there is enough social pressure to remove content, it can happen. That’s why the time is now, while there is still the freedom to show that it is wrong to censure the other point of view, however wrong their premises may be, and that freedom of expression must be defended on principle.
Regarding this marked bias, I spoke to Alon about people passively accepting internationalist socialist activism (Communism) while nationalist socialism (Nazism) is attacked, as was the case in Charlottesville.
How do you feel about the fact that there is far more prejudice against National Socialism than International Socialism?
It is horrible, since both of them are equally bad. Socialism is a bad policy across the board, and whether it is Democratic Socialism, National Socialism or Communism, they all have similar results.
Look at Venezuela for example. It was not long ago that they were the shining example of how “socialism can work!” and now look at the disaster they are in.
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Socialism could technically work under a voluntary system similar to that of the Amish or the Kibbutzim Israelis, but even these examples only exist within a larger capitalist society that allows them the choice to barter and share on a micro level. On a macro level, socialism always fails because it becomes obligatory.
There are individuals in Cuba who are doctors and they spend more time driving taxis in order to make money, since the taxi industry is one of few sectors that resembles a free market. People think that nazis are horrible, and the Swedish are great, because they do not know that Sweden once had eugenics policies similar to those of the nazis for traits that they considered undesirable.
The importance of freedom of speech at all costs has become increasingly associated with hate groups. What do you think we can do to reverse this phenomena?
Issues of freedom of speech are always more relevant to those who have their opinions silenced the most. Conservatives and libertarians in the United States are the most vocal in their defense because their speech is the most oppressed. If the roles were reversed, these complaints would be heard from the left, but instead the so-called liberals are more interested in restricting what can be said, thought or taught.
Unfortunately, I think what will reverse this trend is seeing both sides having their freedom of speech suppressed. At that point, both sides would have to defend it. I don’t want authoritarianism, but it seems that the strongest advocates of freedom speech come out of these repressive governments.
After publishing an article on the controversy, Alon said he was going to take a shower, because he felt dirty defending the freedom of speech of people whose speech he repudiates. He’s the first of his family to be born in the US. In addition to being Jewish, his father is Moroccan, so defending the freedom of expression of neo-nazis and white supremacists is doubly difficult. However, if you can silence your enemy, then they can silence you. It just depends on who executes the order. That’s why freedom of speech is a matter of principles, not of sides.