“Though justified by liberal Silicon Valley oligarchs as a response to the “racism, sexism, and homophobia” of the alt-right, YouTube’s new censorship plan begins with garden-variety political correctness—and ends in the wholesale falsification of history.”
By Dr. Kevin Barrett
During the first week of June, YouTube announced a draconian new censorship policy—and immediately erased or demonetized the work of countless video-makers, destroying thousands of livelihoods in the process. Conservatives bore the brunt of the onslaught. The new policy was unveiled in the wake of a highly publicized spat between conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder and “Vice News” commentator Carlos Maza, in which Maza accused Crowder of “bullying” and “homophobia.”
Though justified by liberal Silicon Valley oligarchs as a response to the “racism, sexism, and homophobia” of the alt-right, YouTube’s new censorship plan begins with garden-variety political correctness—and ends in the wholesale falsification of history.
In a June 5 blog post announcing the new policy, YouTube wrote:
Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status. This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.
The first two sentences sound like a well-meaning but maddeningly muddled mishmash of liberal platitudes. Taken at face value, YouTube is telling us we cannot “allege” that adults are intellectually superior to children and that children should therefore be segregated or excluded from busy streets. Or that 20-year-olds are more physically vigorous than retirees and should be excluded from over-60 basketball leagues. Age discrimination! Or that men are physically stronger than women and should therefore be excluded from women’s athletics. Gender discrimination! Anti-LGBTQ discrimination! Or that poorer people and groups, being in general less capable in intellectual and practical matters than wealthier people and groups, should be given various advantages like free college tuition as part of a policy of reducing inequality. Race and caste discrimination! Or that veterans, having been willing to risk their lives for their country, deserve special benefits. Pro-veterans discrimination!
While the first two sentences of YouTube’s new policy are unintentionally humorous (Veterans? Really?) there is nothing remotely funny about the next: “Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.” This statement, framed in such a way as to make it sound acceptable to the misinformed multitudes, is truly Orwellian.
“History” is a human construction. It is inherently fallible. It is constantly being revised on the basis of new evidence and interpretations. And the statement includes mention of literally millions of “violent events,” a great many of which are “well documented,” in the sense that there are plenty of documents available relating to any given event. What YouTube apparently doesn’t understand is that virtually all violent and nonviolent events in history are “documented” in complex and contradictory ways and can be interpreted from a wide variety of perspectives.
So how does all that evidence, and all those interpretive perspectives, get narrowed down to a relatively simple narrative about what supposedly happened in a given event? We like to imagine that smart, objective historians sift through evidence and argue about the most plausible interpretations. That is the ideal. Reality is closer to the old adage, “history is written by the victors.” The most powerful people and groups wield various carrots and sticks, forcing the vast majority of historians to consciously or unconsciously toe the official line. The powerless, and their versions of events, are reviled, misconstrued, or consigned to the proverbial memory hole.
Left-wing historians once knew this and openly admitted it. In fact, while I was doing graduate work during the postmodernist-dominated 1990s, they actually exaggerated the degree to which truth is unknowable and “history” is just a myth inflicted by the powerful on the powerless.
But then came 9/11, which was designed by people like Philip Zelikow—a self-proclaimed specialist in “the creation and maintenance of public myths.” 9/11 was a scripted and staged human sacrifice event of the kind studied by ethnologist René Guénon. Part of its purpose was to re-mythologize history, so the common people could once again be force-fed “noble lies.”
In Medieval Europe, if you “denied” the official version of certain mythic “violent events”— the Crucifixion, the Cathar genocide, or even the Inquisition itself—you could be tortured and burned at the stake. With the Enlightenment came the modern discipline of history, which, fallible as it is, offers a better path to truth—the path of absolutely free and fearless debate. In the wake of the mythic big lie of 9/11, the Enlightenment has been revoked. YouTube is killing heretics by destroying their livelihoods; Internet censorship is today’s Inquisition.
Kevin Barrett, Ph.D., is an Arabist-Islamologist scholar and one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. From 1991 through 2006, Dr. Barrett taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin. In 2006, however, he was attacked by Republican state legislators who called for him to be fired from his job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison due to his political opinions.