It is a simple, observable fact that hate speech is a precursor to violence and destruction. And therein lies just some of the danger of Elon Musk’s “free speech absolutism” and why Republicans are so happy about his takeover of Twitter.
There was an evolution in the social media world after the 2016 election. It was starkly visible that we had been scammed and manipulated by covert influence sources. Putin was elated and we got a life-long grifter in the White House, Spiro Agnew on steroids.
Social media companies wised up a bit—not fully—and started policing some of the misinformation, propaganda and outright incitement that was awash on Facebook and Twitter, culminating with—at least we thought—the removal of liar-in-chief from both platforms. Of course this brought howls of “censorship” and “my First Amendment” from liars, grifters, criminals, provocateurs and propagandists.
The core base of the Republican Party is now firmly in the far right and these are the groups that are all about nothing but hate and hate speech. Thus, they want their “right” to say anything they want and express themselves freely.
But, to quote the Bard of Avon, “there’s the rub.” We’re back to the first sentence of this article.
Fascism claims to be the hero on the white horse coming in to instill “law and order” on the violent mob of society. But fascists also have the vain hope that society forgets that it was fascism that caused the violence in the first place. The shouts of “we need law and order” from those who promote disorder are ironic at best.
And now with Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter the fascist insurrectionists who now define the Republican Party are rubbing their hands together in glee. Indeed, instead of merely allowing unfettered propaganda back onto the platform, Elon has gone full Qanon and joined their ranks with his attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Who would have ever imagined that a man who has made the world’s largest science-based fortune to date would get on the Qanon bandwagon and join its anti-science crowd.
But taking another quick look back into history we find our parallel. Brilliant industrialist Henry Ford republished the anti-Semitic screed, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—a forged document from Russia that was translated into English and claimed the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy. Ford bought a local newspaper and republished and expanded on this conspiracy theory, later inspiring a man in Germany: Adolf Hitler.
Make no mistake, though it has been thoroughly debunked many times over the last century, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is the foundation of the Qanon conspiracy channel. The Qanuts simply removed the word Jew and replaced it with Elites.
So now we have another wealthy industrialist at the helm of a much larger publishing platform—an international “social” network—allowing unfettered reach to the most egregious kind of hate speech and conspiracy theories.
Henry Ford eventually saw the error of his ways and apologized for his anti-Semitism. But by that time we were at war with Germany and Ford’s plants were building B-24s. One could say that ultimately Ford’s investment in hate turned a massive profit.
One shudders to consider what might be the eventual return on Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter. Because history has already shown us where opening up the flood gates of hate speech will lead.
Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. As founder of Interest Factory and View360, he brings more than 30 years experience in effective online communications, social media management, and platform development to the site. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.