Instead of dehumanizing people who engage in extremism inspired by hate and white supremacy, we should try to understand their humanity, and the experiences, pain, and vulnerability fueling their inclination to violence.
Anti-semitism, racism and other prejudices are on the rise in most established democracies. Still, silencing white supremacists on the Internet is counterproductive. It would only lead to more senseless acts violence similar to those perpetrated by Anders Breivik and Rhodesia-inspired Dylann Roof.
While Facebook professes a commitment to stopping hate, harassment and discrimination, the social media behemoth’s reporting policies and human moderators often punish users of color who speak out against racism or justifiably criticize white people.
This week, retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu released a letter condemning fellow Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s continuing silence on the genocidal violence being perpetrated against Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar security forces and extremist Buddhists under her watch.
Silencing white supremacists on the Internet would only lead to white feelings of persecution, paranoia, white genocide conspiracy theories and acts violence similar to those recently perpetrated by Anders Breivik and Rhodesia-inspired Dylann Roof.
Internal Facebook documents recently reviewed by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, reveal that the social media behemoth’s censors often condone hate speech by white men but punish racialized minorities and activist groups for legitimate political expression.