In the wake of the recent treaty between the EU and Facebook, Twitter, etc., a crackdown on “hate speech” on the Internet has begun in earnest, especially in Germany.
The opinion piece below provides some background on what is happening. JLH, who did the translation, includes this note:
This article is a couple of months old, but offers interesting detail on the beginning of the crackdown on the German internet, and echoes of what is happening in the USA.
Heiko Maas — Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection — together with Google, Facebook and civic organizations goes on the hunt (cf. the meeting of Zuckerberg with “leading conservatives” about biased news choices, and the recently uncovered manipulation by Google to obscure the term “crooked Hillary” in Google searches).
The translated article from Roland Tichy’s blog:
Hate Posts: Two Kinds — Bad and Good Hate
by Anabel Schunke
April 8, 2016
Group picture of “Task Force Against Hate Content”
So-called Political Correctness makes us accomplices of the new, Islamic anti-Semitism and anti-liberalism. For that, now — measured against the historical responsibility of the Germans — we must be ashamed.
Almost four months have gone by since Heiko Maas first presented the results of the Task Force “Dealing with Illicit Hate Messages in the Internet”. The protocol as presented by the Minister of Justice: “Xenophobic and racist hate-messages which transgress the criminal code must disappear from the internet more swiftly and comprehensively than ever.” Further, it said that the field [of battle] must not be abandoned to the intellectual fire-bugs.
For this reason, an agreement was made with Facebook on specific measures for effectively combating hate and rabble-rousing in the net. According to statements of the Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection, the impulse for the formation of the task force in September was “an increasing coarseness in public debate, to the point of xenophobic and racist hate messages.” Its task was intended to be a sustained and effective way of dealing with hate messages in the internet, and the expansion of existing cooperation of internet providers, civic organizations and the Ministry of Justice. That was a dubious undertaking from the start, also because of the partners to it, who to some extent evoke disgusting memories of the STASI.
Major Crackdown on “Internet Rabble-Rousers”
Yesterday B.Z. reported on the first major crackdown on “internet rabble-rousers” in Berlin. According to B.Z., Berlin police acted on ten search warrants. Suspected perpetrators are said to be men ages 22 to 58 who — independently of one another — spread hate speech against refugees and Jewish fellow citizens, or songs with xenophobic implications, on social networks. A special action force, newly created specifically for the battle against rightist hate, was put into action here, which sought out such hate messages in the internet.
Certainly, the internet should not be a law-free zone, where hate speech and threats against other people can be uttered. However, someone could ask about proportionality and to what extent the battle against the Right justifies the formation of a STASI-like task force. Not only those identified clearly as rightist radicals must expect censure and persecution. In the land of Nazi neuroses and self-abnegation, “rabble-rousing” begins much earlier. Not infrequently, just a few Islam-critical posts are enough to get onto some radar. Quite apart from the societal contempt for a racist.
For a long time articles from my side have disappeared for a while, only to re-appear after some time. In the case of my colleague Markus Hibbeler, many user comments at first appeared only in gray. Some research revealed that this was the result of an automatic Facebook filter which fades out comments it identifies as spam. Why Facebook identifies certain comments as spam is as yet unclear, since none of them are really spam.
At any rate, the fading out of comments can be reversed manually. Others have had even worse experiences. Blocked profiles, erased posts have for a long time now not been unusual, so long as it is the profile of an Islam critic. Courageous people such as Imad Karim, Ronai Chaker and others, who have taken it upon themselves to point out the dangers emanating from radical Islam, could write a book about it. The unavoidable question is about limits. At what point in this country does someone qualify as a “hate-speaker”, and to what extent and for how long has the caprice of the virtue-minders of the STASI task force reigned?
This is inevitably a basic problem, if the vaguely formulated §130 StGB is interpreted by people with collective rightist gossip and no apparent political or legal understanding. In this case, the second paragraph can be seen as particularly problematic. While the first states unambiguously what is to be evaluated as hate-speech, the second completely relativizes these clear parameters. It says:
“Anyone who in any way that is apt to disturb the public peace,
2. impugns the human dignity of others by insulting, making contemptible or defaming an aforementioned group, parts of the population or an individual because of belonging to an aforementioned group or part of the population
will be subject to punishment of 3 months to 5 years.”
A tried-and-true political tool is revived here — the vaguest of all concepts — human dignity. It sounds good, but says nothing. Since when, in this country, is something considered insult or maliciously contemptuous to such an extent that — as noted in section 1 — it is promoted to hatred and violence?
Different Standards for Muslim Sites
Here then, is a discrepancy between what we perceive as hate-speech from an allegedly rightist site and the same thing from other directions. So. even though anyone in Germany who says anything in any way critical of Islam is considered a “rightist hater”, we will have to wait a long while for the formation of a task force dedicated to the rabble-rousing hate-speech of Islamists.
Thus, on the day of the attacks in Brussels, the Muslimstern [Muslim Star] site posted a photo of a yawning man with the superscription “If you must hear again that someone at an attack heard someone somewhere shouting in Arabic.”
No trace of objectivity. Scorn and mockery on a day when people lost their lives to fanatic Muslims. Not hate-speech, but an unmistakable positioning. And it is not stingy with posts that make clear how little many of even the Muslims born here identify with the liberal values of this society. And as on almost all the sites of followers of Islam, here too the regular appearance of frothing anti-Semites in the commentary columns. A special example of Islamic anti-Semitism, already reported on by the blog tapferimnirgendwo.com, is the site Islamfakten. Comments there extend from an expressed desire for gassing to sympathetic comments on Hitler, because “what he did was good.” Should we avoid such sites and posts? Largely useless. At such times as these, we Germans should ask ourselves, to whom do we have a genuine historical obligation?
And yet that is only the tip of the iceberg of crudity and hatred. A glance at sites like that of Salafist hate preacher Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, who distinguishes only between Muslims, and kuffar against whom any violence is legitimate, will suffice to form an impression of how deeply radical Islam is rooted in Germany, even among Muslims born here. People like Bilal Gümüs who recruits with the IS gesture of raised index finger for trips to Mecca with him and Pierre Vogel. Countless profiles of Muslims with the IS logo as a profile image or title picture, people who daily threaten and publicly ridicule those who criticize Islam — they can all spread their hatred on Facebook unchallenged, while people like Hamel Abdel Samad are accused of hate speech.
What dominates here is a simply intolerable asymmetry in treatment of hate messages on the net. There is a blindness to the hatred that emanates from Islam and allegedly integrated people, because there is no will to recognize that the greatest danger to internal security, to liberal society, has long since not been from the “right”, but from Islamic ideology. An in-and-of-itself antidemocratic, deeply misogynist and fascistic political ideology which draws a clear line between its adherents and everyone else. Its fundamentalist followers are no less racist and intolerant than any rightist radical, and its opinions are deeply rooted in our allegedly normal Muslim population.
Sensitized to Hate From the Right, But Not From Others
Still, we may expect no decisive move against Islamic hatred. People here are sensitized to hatred from the right. Accompanied since childhood by the bogeyman of rightist radicalism, bearing the historical responsibility of battling any and all forms of natural-born German fascism, in the end, we hardly notice what version of fascism has long since arrived from the other side and is right here and is a threat to Jews, to women, to homosexuals and actually to all people who are living a free, Western — and in Islamic eyes — unbelieving life.
A decisive and tough political, legal and law-enforcement intervention would be called for here. It will be a long wait. The worst of it is that they know this is a time of “anything goes.” Or in the words of the mischief-making rapper Sadiq, “Fick den Richter!” [F*** the judge]. It is obvious that our police are a toothless tiger, that justice is dealing out cultural discounts, and that the authorities have simply capitulated to Islamic refractoriness. It is obvious that Germans are prepared to be intimidated, just so as not to be called Nazis.
Against this background, it is cold comfort that the site Islamfakten has, in the meantime, been eliminated. The opinions of these people will remain. The self-conception of being superior will remain, as long as no one points out who has the monopoly on violence in this state, and begins to defend our own, liberal values, which are being compromised by these people.
Our historical responsibility does not consist of answering intolerance with tolerance taken to the point of self-denial. It consists of defending democracy and its liberal values, which were dearly bought here, of protecting those damaged by our own fascism, and not exposing them to a renewed, incalculable threat. The captivity of this alleged political correctness has ultimately made us accomplices of this new Islamic anti-Semitism and anti-liberalism. It is this complicity for which — by the standard of the historical responsibility of the Germans — we must be ashamed.