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Orwell, Fascism, &c – we need our own red lines, but where?

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — how far gone are we — from a sorta leftist-centrist-don’t-really-fit-labels POV? ]
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I’m not sure what exactly JM was responding to here, there have been too many pointers..

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I for one don’t think Charlottesville stacks up against Kristallnacht, and am wary of the words Fascism and Nazi. I wholeheartedly agree with JM Berger in his piece today, Calling them Nazis:

There’s an increasingly common argument online against referring to the alt-right by its chosen name. “Call them Nazis” is the refrain. If you haven’t said it yourself, you’ve probably seen other people saying it.

While this approach may be understandable and may suit certain rhetorical purposes, it’s a grave mistake for journalists and experts who substantively study and cover the movement to embrace this approach.

JM continues:

The alt-right category is extremely important to understanding what’s happening in this movement. Nazis are only part of this movement, or more correctly neo-Nazis, since most of them aren’t German nationalists. If neo-Nazis were America’s only problem, it would be a much smaller problem.

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My concern here is with a somewhat different angle, and not specifically with the Charlottesville clashes. I’m noting the widespread tendency to suggest we’re already in Brownshirt territory, if not deeper in than that, and I think it may be a bit premature.

IMO, we need to be cautious in where we draw the lines that say, beyond here is Fascism, or Nazism, it seems to me: exaggeration only serves to discredit those who indulge.

There are real problems, both with overt swastika-wavers and with those who support or merely tolerate them. Which way the wind will blow over the coming few years, however, is yet to be seen.

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However, getting back to Orwell

— it does seem to me that scooping up more than a million IP addresses of epople who may have an interest in protesting Trump gies way beyond some kind of Orwell Limit.

Orwell kept his resistance movement cellular and basically unnowable: datamining the web blows an enormous hole in that strategy.

I’d have to say that with today’s news about DOJ vs DisruptJ20, one of my personal Orwell Red Lines has been crossed.

Jack Jenkins’ twitterstream

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — sources for my previous post with tweet & DoubleQuote]
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In fairness, because I questioned & implicitly critiqued Jenkins on one of the tweets in this series in my previous post, here’s the whole series for your consideration:

Here you can find Jenkins’ ThinkProgress article, Trump is creating a new form of Christian nationalism centered on himself.

High Priest, or Savior?

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — semantics of the theology of presidency, seen from the left ]
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Jack Jenkins, in ThinkProgress and on his Twitterstream:

It’s interesting how expression differs across media, no?

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Jack Jenkins is a Harvard Divinity alum, I’m from Christ Church, Oxford, myself, and we both think informed religious reporting is important. In short, he’s a natural ally.

My tweet to Jack:

I might grant you High Priest, maybe — but Savior?

Good from Zeynep on Facebook moderation, plus a question

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — wondering, roughly: is the world digital or analog? if that even means anything ]
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This post — Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children — together with the tweet about it below —

— triggered Zeynep Tufekci‘s latest. Here she goes:

And here’s the tweet she’s quoting in that last one:

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A significant ouroboros from that ProPublica article, BTW:

Facebook also added an exception to its ban against advocating for anyone to be sent to a concentration camp. “Nazis should be sent to a concentration camp,” is allowed, the documents state, because Nazis themselves are a hate group.

That should give us pause for thought, I think.

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There’s something very important going on here in this discussion as a whole and Tufecki’s tweets in particular: quite aside from the powerful issue of Facebook and its rules for moderators, there’s a more general question about quality and quantity — or should I say qualitative and quantitative approaches?

I’m wondering how well this distinction between (depending which tweet you quote) “human societies” and “simple, abstract toy models” — or “human society” and “so neat Venn diagrams & uniform rules” or “code” and the “complexities and messiness of human societies” or a “2 billion user base” and “powerpoints” — maps to the distinction between digital and analog..

Any thoughts?

Influencing the vote, a reminder

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Not just Putin, Zuckerberg, remember? ]
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We’ve all been forcibly reminded of Russian attempts to influence the US electoral system — but have we forgotten Facebook?

Sources:

  • Weisburd, Watts & Berger, WOTR, Trolling for Trump, 2016
  • Micah Sifry, Mother Jones, Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday, 2014

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