The House Judiciary Committee’s Tuesday hearing on white nationalism was a disturbing clown show. Democrats and the professional “hate” watchers insisted white nationalism is the greatest threat to America. Most Republicans tried to switch the topic to that other great domestic danger: left-wing anti-Semitism. Big Tech’s representatives bent over backwards to say they are doing as much as they can do to suppress white nationalism. And to illustrate the absurdity of the whole thing, YouTube closed the comments to the committee hearing livestream because there was too much “hate speech” i.e. the dogs didn’t like the dog food. [Racist and anti-Semitic comments flooded YouTube livestream of congressional hearing on white nationalism, by Donnie O’Sullivan, CNN Business, April 9, 2019]
Here were the important highlights.
Republican California Rep. Tom McClintock questioned the tech representatives about the dangers of censorship and how their platforms violate their commitment to neutrality. "What we're seeing across the world today is that it is a very slippery slope between banning hate speech and banning speech we just hate," McClintock said. "We've seen many examples even in our own country recently of legitimate speech being suppressed on college campuses, on social-media platforms, and even in public discourse." [Republicans tried to turn a hearing about white nationalism into a venue to complain about attacks on conservatives, by Joe Perticone, Business Insider, April 9, 2019]
He also took a swipe at the prohibition of “hate speech”: “Free societies don’t punish words—they punish deeds.”
The California Republican pressed Google and Facebook’s representatives to explain how they satisfy the spirit of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 requires social media platforms to serve as neutral forums with true political diversity in order to be protected from publisher liabilities. McClintock astutely noted how Big Tech platforms routinely censor certain views and demonstrate political bias.
"Are you a neutral forum or an editorial publication responsible for your content?" he asked the tech representatives.
Both tech representatives skirted the question. Facebook rep Neil Potts claimed his company errs on the side of more speech and only censors speech that calls for violence. That’s an outright lie. Potts had spent most of the hearing insisting Facebook was committed to the suppression of white nationalist views, regardless of whether they encourage violence. Faith Goldy, American Identity Movement, and countless others have never advocated for violence. Yet they are banned from Facebook.
Google rep Alexandria Walden insisted her company only censors speech that threatens safety, even though there is ample evidence Google suppresses mainstream conservatives like PragerU.
McClintock’s speech was the high point of the hearings and put Big Tech in the hot seat for their contradictory policies and statements. Unfortunately, the tech reps chose to be dishonest.
Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert questioned the tech reps why they censor conservatives like Diamond & Silk. Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs said Congress shouldn’t just focus on white nationalist “hate speech.” [Conservatives Derail Congress’ White Nationalism Hearing, Declare ‘All Hate Speech’ Matters, by Andy Campbell, HuffPost, April 9, 2019]
Black conservative commentator Candace Owens’ opening statement was remarkably good.
"The hearing today is not about white nationalism or hate-crimes, it’s about fear-mongering, power and control."— The Hill (@thehill) April 9, 2019
WATCH: Candace Owens' opening statement at a House hearing on white nationalism and hate crimes. https://t.co/WDQH9Krb0m pic.twitter.com/iDvs0OlSZE
Owens said the push to suppress white nationalism as a strategy to suppress political dissent and reaffirm left-wing power. [Candace Owens to Congress: Left Uses Terms Like White Nationalism For Power, To Scare Brown People, by Ian Schwartz, RealClearPolitics, April 9, 2019]
"Let me be clear the hearing today is not about white nationalism or hate crimes, it is about fear mongering, power and control," Owens said. "It is a preview of a Democrat 2020 election strategy—the same as the Democrat 2016 election strategy."
She said, rightly, that Democrats and liberals deliberately inflate hate crime statistics to fearmonger and divide Americans. "The goal here is to scare Blacks, Hispanics, gays and Muslims into helping them censor dissenting opinions ultimately to helping them regain control of our country's narrative which they feel that they lost."
Democrats were outraged Owens was invited to speak at the panel and multiple lawmakers took the time to criticize her appearance before the committee. California Rep. Ted Lieu played a (deceptively edited) clip of her talking about Adolf Hitler, which he claimed was a defense of the Nazi dictator. Another Democrat, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said she was hurt Owens was invited because the conservative inspired the Christchurch massacre. The Christchurch shooter jokingly cited Owens as an influence, but few believe he was serious.
The consensus was clear from Democratic lawmakers: Big Tech must censor more.
The Big Tech reps were grilled over how their companies had not censored more white nationalists or taken so long to do so. Some Democrats wanted to know if Facebook and Google had developed AI algorithms that can detect “dogwhistles” and other silly things. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond argued that hate speech is illegal and you can’t shout hate in a crowded theater. (You actually can!)
Nearly all Democrats, including Richmond, blamed President Trump for the “rise in hate” and virtue signaled against the administration. Democrats also made sure to say “white supremacists” were the real terror threat, not Islamic extremists.
A particular concern for Democrats was VDARE.com contributor Faith Goldy. They were incensed that Goldy was able to publish on Facebook a (completely factual) video on the demographic transformation and not be immediately censored. Goldy was banned from Facebook and Instagram on Monday in response to the outrage against her video.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline accused Facebook of complicity in the spread of white nationalism and wanted to know how they will combat it in the future. Cicilline’s recommendation: tech platforms treat white nationalism as terrorism and ban everybody like Goldy. "What specific proactive steps is Facebook taking to identify other leaders like Faith Goldy and preemptively remove them from the platform?" he asked Potts.
Potts said Facebook is doing everything possible to eliminate white nationalism from its platform. Both tech reps spent the entire hearing placating Democrat complaints and vowing to do more censorship. It was pathetic and disturbing.
If Democrats had their way, anybody that shared VDARE.com content would receive an instant ban. You don’t have to be a white nationalist to earn the ban, just be called a “white nationalist” by the Left.
The Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee invited representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the Equal Justice Society, and the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. All of these witnesses—along with Mohammad Abu-Salha, a father of a Muslim girl killed in an alleged hate crime—wanted state power to be used against white nationalism.
Equal Justice Society President Eva Paterson (right) urged the government to give “muscle” to the efforts of these “anti-hate” groups. All of the alleged hate experts wanted federal authorities to create a task force to combat white nationalism and wanted the Department of Justice to make “hate” a top priority.
Abu-Salha wanted hate crime laws to be instituted nationwide and hate crimes to require less proof to be used against criminal offenders.
Anti-Defamation League Senior Vice President Eileen Hershenov defined “white nationalism” as a euphemism for “white supremacy.” Hershenov also implied Gab and 8chan should be taken down because they are “24/7 white nationalist rallies.” [Congressional hearing on white nationalism goes off the rails, by Luke Barnes, Think Progress, April 9, 2019]
National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law president Kristen Clarke (right) complained Facebook wasn’t doing enough to censor white nationalists because it still had pages that said “It’s Okay to Be White.” Clarke also lamented that Facebook originally differentiated white supremacy from white nationalism and didn’t ban the latter category until a few days ago.
Democrats treated all of these witnesses with kid gloves and nodded along with their suggestions.
Instead of defending free speech and skewering the notion alleged white nationalists are the biggest threat to America, most Republicans stuck to attacking Ilhan Omar and critics of Israel.
The leader in this tactic: Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein, one of the hearing’s GOP witnesses. Klein focused on the alleged anti-Semitism of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and the Muslim community.
The focus on Muslim anti-Semitism was an interesting tactic but it didn’t prove effective.
Klein’s strategy did draw a bizarre statement from Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Scanlon. Scanlon argued Muslims were not responsible for anti-Semitic attacks in America and insisted white supremacists try to pit Muslims and Jews against each other.
The whole hearing would have been comical if the people involved didn’t have the power to shut down dissent. The hearing predicts more tech censorship, more state suppression, and impotent Republican resistance.
We need Trump and the GOP to wake up.
Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.