Friday, 18 October 2013

When Goebbels' words fit Hope not Hate's actions, you know they've abandoned argument for suppression

Hope not Hate are publicising an article by 'The Kernel' online magazine concerning their investigation into books sold by Amazon (and others) entitled "New Amazon Shame: Holocaust Denial".

Much could be written about The Kernel and its publisher Milo Yiannopoulos (formerly known as Milo Wagner), although beyond the unpaid bills, legal actions, poor humour and public misogynistic comments the basic facts of the article appear correct, even if the title gives the impression that it is
Milo Wagner - like HnH, supports the
freedom so say what he agrees with only.
just Amazon, and just holocaust denial.

In fact, it transpires the Amazon and Barnes & Noble amongst others sell books which cover such topics as holocaust denial but extend further into the realms of anti-Semitism. Written in an appropriate tone of outraged self-righteousness, the article draws as its penultimate conclusion,

"Anti-semitism is also being more widely observed in mainstream commentators and Left-wing public intellectuals. Against this backdrop, it is appallingly lax of Amazon to stock material that gives succour to extremists, agitators and fantasists and which promotes anti-semitic pseudo-history."

We assume by the presence of the article on Hope not Hate's website and FB page that these are sentiments with which they agree: that they wish to shut down rather than defeat by debate any opposing views is hardly fresh news. What it represents is further proof of how HnH are simply abandoning the main purpose of their existence: the education of people about racism and how it is wrong. When they say on their website that "We try to build relationships, give confidence to those who dislike racism and empower communities to provide a more positive alternative to the politics of despair. We both challenge the myths and lies put out by the BNP and their ilk and also positively mobilise those people who are opposed to racism.", they neglect to mention that they hope to achieve this not by education or argument, but by banning anything which opposes their view, and damn the consequences for free speech.

This has of course been tried once before, when it was said,

" It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare..... this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past."

Which I think it is fair to say sums up their view pretty well. That is hardly surprising, as it comes from a speech by Josef Goebbels to students in Berlin ahead of the Nazi book burnings of May 1933.

One of the delicious ironies of free speech is that if you believe in it, you find yourself arguing in favour of the rights of some pretty unpleasant causes to have their views heard. However, we do so confident that they can be defeated not by banning them and making their proponents martyrs, but by logical argument and the simple truths of reality.

There is an absurdity here which appears to be in Hope not Hate's blind-spot. In this instance, we are talking about a handful of books out of the 600,000+ titles carried by Amazon. In addition to the thousands of books available from the same source which disprove the content of this handful, we also have contemporaneous newsreel footage, millions of pages of testimony from hundreds of war crimes trials, and the recorded memories of tens of thousands of survivors, witnesses and participants. It is not difficult to prove the factual errors in the work of holocaust deniers, so why should we seek to ban their books in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence?

There is of course a supreme irony in this which the hypocrites at Hope not Hate can not see - at the same time they applaud the Kernel for advocating Goebbels like censorship, they are also running a campaign complaining that the government's new lobbying legislation would gag them on the front of their website.

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