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IndyMedia Anti-Racist Response

Saturday afternoon indymedia volunteers and community members concerned about neo nazi posts on indymedia came together to discuss the problem and work towards solutions.
Saturday afternoon, volunteers with Portland indy media and community members concerned about the recent neo nazi posts to the Portland indy media site came together to discuss the concerns that have been raised and work towards anti-racist solutions. As a concerned community member, this is my perspective on what happened at the meeting, and what we decided.

Recently neo nazi individuals and racist groups such as the Volksfront have been posting to the indymedia website. Under the open publishing policy of indy media those posts have been allowed to remain up. Many members of the Portland community were (and are) outraged at this publishing and some viewed indy media's decision to leave those posts up as granting neo nazis a forum in Portland.

It has become clear to me from this meeting that it is not so much that Indy Media enjoys or supports having a neo nazi presence on the site, but rather there is no current policy in place to deal with it. Indy Media is currently devising processes to deal with the neo nazi posts, and this meeting was a part of this process.

There was a sharp divide at the meeting between those who felt open publishing should not allow neo nazi content, and those who felt that censoring those opinions would violate indy media principles of free speech.

So, instead we decided to focus on how indy media could be anti-racist without changing the editorial policy for open publishing. We created several proposals that we will bring to the next general meeting of Portland indy media. We view these proposals as a first step in creating a process to deal with posts such as the neo nazi ones.

1) The creation of an on-going anti-racist permanent feature page, much like the labor, forest activism, and protest feature pages (links at the top of the features section)

2) The adoption by indymedia of a statement that Portland Indy Media does not condone sexist, racist, or homophobic statements. This statement would not affect the open publishing policy, but would be a statement from the indy media community that would be located somewhere on the web site.

Other concerns discussed having up to date features countering Neo Nazi posts and having clear articulate responses in the open publishing section to the posts that are made. We also felt there was a significant amount of miscommunication between members of the indy media editorial committee, anti racist organizers, and others upset by the neo nazi posts.

It was stated that someone at Indy Media is currently working on an anti-racist feature. We felt we should all take it upon ourselves to counter the neo nazi posts that do occur in open publishing.

Although there are still some strong differences in opinion regarding Indymedia's open publishing editorial policy and where exactly to draw the line (both on the sides of concerned community members and indymedia volunteers), I feel the proposals we created at the meeting are good first step to addressing the problems.

DISCUSSION REGARDING CHANGING THE EDITORIAL POLICY OF OPEN PUBLISHING:
Some of the concerns regarding the open publishing policy allowing neo nazi posts:
a) "Free Speech" is not an open playing field. If there is a strong presence of neo nazi posts on indy media, some folks who indy media is supposed to give a space to speak, may not feel comfortable coming to the site or posting to the site.
b) Nazis can post on their own sites. Allowing them to publish (particuarly frequently)on portland indy media is giving them a forum in which to spout their b.s. We should be opposing them on all fronts, instead of allowing them in our on-line ( or actual) communities.
d) If folks are not using the indy media web site because of the nazi posts, then the nazi posts are interfering with the functioning of the indy media website.

Some of the concerns regarding a change in the editorial policy:
* I feel it is important to state that this is not my stance, and although I am doing my best to fairly articulate it, I may be lacking.
a) The best way to debunk neo nazi posts is to let them post, and respond to them intelligently. Removing them only encourages them.
b) There are some folks who do not feel comfortable with some of the more radical posts on the indymedia newswire. How can we remove the neo nazi posts because they make some folks uncomforable, when other posts we might like to leave up, also make certain folks uncomfortable.
IMHO 22.Dec.2001 21:39

Mr. Fritz

I too have noticed a number of neo-nazi posts here over the past several weeks. I hate what they say, but enjoy the opportunity to post my remarks to their "news" stories.

I think you SHOULD keep the news postings OPEN and let these assholes incriminate themselves or embarrass themselves with their blatant ignorance on all subjects. Sure, they may be inbred hillbilly neo-relics of the politics of domination...but i'd rather know what these idiots are doing than not.

If they overpost it's SPAM though. Also, you could limit their access by regulating their racist posts to an "Anti-Racist" News page (where people could respond to them there).

Yours,
Mr. Fritz

stupid nazis 22.Dec.2001 22:07

schoolie

It's kinda fun to read the nazi stuff. Easy to debunk and good for a laugh. Just use logic, get them into a discussion. We'll see how they respond to some common sense I brought up about Mumia, for example. It's very easy to work their logic against them. Remember, they either want attention, or domination. I'd say post each new idiotic idea they come up with but erase the repetitive stuff, if people have the time to do so.

No Censorship 22.Dec.2001 22:17

Josef Schneider voline@mac.com

I agree, give them enough rope and let them hang themselves. Their own posts are the best argument against them. Reading their ignorant, self-contradictory ravings gives you a clear idea of just what confused minds they are. The contrast with the overall high quality of all the non-racist content around them is pretty stark.

If you ban them you'll only give them a stature that they otherwise can't gain for themselves. They will attain the cache of the forbidden, a power in people's imaginations that the reality of their feeble essays could never have. They will be able to say to young people that we couldn't stand up to the power of their ideas, so we had to ban them.

I don't want to give the impression that I don't take the recent rise in racist activity in Portland seriously. I do. But I don't think introducing censorship is the way to defeat them.

If they post, let's drown them in criticism and ridicule. They're not worth compromising our principles for.

Portland, OR

Keep the light on 'em 22.Dec.2001 22:46

Skullhunter

I'm in total agreement with Mr. Fritz, schoolie and Josef. Silencing them totally gives them the opportunity to say "See? Indymedia is just another tool of the ZOG oppressors, they can't handle our truth so they block us out!", just the thing they need to keep their recruits from learning to do anything but spout the party line. Let them have the stage to continue performing their bad comedy routine to the delight of all the hecklers in the audience, the edification of all those that know little of their motives, and the possible enlightenment of those that may some day wake up from the dark sleep that others have placed them in. Besides, at the very least, think of it as a never-ending pie-in-the-face fest for all these self-righteous logic-impaired types :)

keep open publishing open 22.Dec.2001 23:39

Jeremy David Stolen fellowtraveler@riseup.net

I am very glad to hear that folks involved with portland indymedia had this discussion today. Discussions on this topic have occured at many other indymedias since the network started. It is an important topic, and can be a real test for indymedia activists in that it reveals their dedication (or lack thereof) to open publishing. I personally agree with the statement above, "give them enough rope and they will hang themselves". I also wholeheartedly support the idea of an anti-racist permanent feature (if there would be enough material for it to keep it fresh) and the idea of posting a statement that the portland indymedia community does not support racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. The person who says that at some point a large number of neo-nazi posts would be "spam" is a statement i agree with, but it is hard to figure out exactly what number that is. And my final thought in this comment is that I am very very glad to see this discussion going on in a newswire post. This is how indymedia should decide things like this -- through an open, transparent process in which anyone can participate. Let's all keep up our good work.

Elaboration 23.Dec.2001 00:31

Jim Lockhart jimlock@inetarena.com

I want to thank soledad for taking the time to post this information to the newswire. Those who attended this meeting had large areas of disagreement, but all managed to concentrate on those areas where they did agree, and thus arrived at solutions which permitted forward motion.
Soledad articulated what transpired fairly well. There will be some proposals brought before the IMC collective at the next meeting on 12/30/01. She further clearly states that perhaps she is somewhat lacking in her portrayl of those views which oppose her own. This opposing viewpoint could use some further elaboration.
Speaking for myself, and myself only, I find it extremely distressing that members of the community find it necessary, indeed obligatory, to silence the views of a segment of the community which they find repugnant. I don't at all agree with the VolksFront perspective, but I believe that they are entitled to it. They are entitled to it up to the point where their speech becomes action, granted a very subjective distinction, which we will be working on defining. They are entitled to it up to the point where they encourage violence against any other living being. Up to that point any action by others against them, at least in this open publishing forum, is tantamount to the establishment of a Thought Police.
Granted this position is an idealistic exteme, yet, all things are defined within two opposing sides. This, perhaps, is an articulation of one of these two extremes, one that has been unfortunatly and erroneously called a sentimental attachment to freedom of speech. There is nothing sentimental about this, if, by this word one means disregarding logical thought processes and responding strictly from feeling or emotion, as the dictionary defines the term sentimental.
I am not seeking to win anyone over to my perspective; indeed, it was obvious at this meeting that everyone was intrinsically attached to their own viewpoint. But, all managed to find common ground and took the first few steps on this ground. This is where we should be putting the emphasis and the major portion of our creative energies.
One more point. Muffling the neo nazis will, for the most part, strengthen them. By seeking to mute their message, we weaken our postion and strenghthen theirs. We demonstrate that we can't, or won't, meet them in fair and open debate. We suggest that their position might be too strong, too threatening, too viable, that the vitality of their philosophy of hate and racism is too appealing to allow before the public eye. Not to mention what this says about our opinion of the intelligence of the average reader of the indymedia website. Are we to insinuate that people haven't the intelligence to recognize crap when they see it? This is one of the many messages we will, however unintentionally, be sending.
And.... we will simultaneously be denying the community the opportunity to oppose these insideous ideologies. Only the community itself can permanantly defeat these types of ideas, and then only in the light of day. Burying them magnifies their power; silencing them forces them underground, to set roots and spring forth renewed at another time, in another place.
I encourage as much dialogue on this issue as people can muster. It is this discussion that sheds light, and only light, -not silence, not the darkness of hiding posts, will disable this Hate pointed at the heart of our community.

Concencus???? 23.Dec.2001 01:07

Kateshvara

I agree that extremist groups should be allowed a voice here. However, to those groups that would resort to deceit or misdirection in order to promote their purposes, I offer this brief poem:

You cannot hide the truth forever
You cannot hide the truth forever
You cannot hide the truth forever
You cannot hide the truth forever
..............
..............
It's time for the truth.

Food for Thought 23.Dec.2001 05:49

Concerned Portland Antifascist

FASCISTS, ANTI-FASCISTS, AND THE MEDIA

A Position Paper from Anti-Racist Action Toronto

Since we came on the scene in 1992, ARA-Toronto has adhered to a fundamental policy of anti-fascism: NO PLATFORM FOR NAZIS. As an activist group, we work to concretely deny fascists any space to organize, by using any means to fuck up their meetings, concerts, recruiting drives, and propaganda operations. This pamphlet spells out what NO PLATFORM means in relationship to the media.


How do fascists use the media?

Fascists crave media coverage, to help them spread their ideas and give them legitimacy. Journalists are often unaware of their power to propagandize their violent, anti-democratic message in acceptable terms, as if fascism is just another political ideology.

The problem is made worse when media trivialize their repugnant presence in our communities by ignoring the human costs of nazi organizing. Media can also create fear and uncertainty among people by not reporting on the resistance to fascism, or by portraying anti-racist struggle as "just the other side of the coin".

Media people want to defend their own independence. This makes them especially vulnerable to the "suit-and-tie" nazis who maintain that they are the champions of "freedom of speech". It's pathetic to see such undemocratic slime, who stand for genocide and regimented authority, to resort to crying for "freedom".

Another way that fascists use the media is to make money off them. Literally! According to Floyd Cochran, former recruiter for the Aryan Nations, fully one-third of the Aryan Nations income came from fees charged to media for interviews and for permission to film their racist rituals. Pretty sick when you think that such footage is usually used to create terrifying, sensationalistic images to attract advertising dollars.


How should we respond?

1) We should never engage in "debates" with fascists. Fascism is not a set of ideas that can be politely discussed - it is a violent, undemocratic creed, and as antifas we want to smash the scum, to relegate them to the trash cans where they belong.

A typical scenario is when fascists and anti-fascists "debate" with a "neutral" moderator between them. If the neutral moderator doesn't give any context and doesn't challenge the nazi lies, the whole program tends to give the nazi "facts" as much credibility as the facts and arguments presented by the anti-racists on the "other side". ARA-Toronto has turned down number of requests from the media (radio and TV) if it entails a debate with a fash. We always make sure to check with journalists before hand.

Unfortunately, this is not always well-understood even by some leftist groups. For example, a Toronto community centre once hosted a city elections all-candidates meeting. A nazi sympathizer running for a seat was included on the panel. Most other candidates, including a member of the Communist League (comrades of the US Socialist Workers Party) were prepared to go ahead with the "debate", leaving antifas with no option but to shut down the entire meeting.

(On a similar note, ARA-Toronto refuses to share any platform with members of police forces too. Why? Cops present themselves as anti-racists who are combating hatemongers. But in reality, as an institution, the police are rampant with racism, responsible for many deaths of young people of color, and can't even curb nazis in their own ranks! By refusing to share a platform with the cops, we are also denying them legitimacy as an "anti-racist" force in society.)

2) We should strive to prevent media from covering fascist events as if they are "just another political event". When we see media doing this, we can be assertive and try to disrupt any interviews, filming, etc. This may make us look like "the bad guys" but we should be able to explain why it's necessary.

3) Some journalists are genuinely interested in exposing fascists, critically and responsibly. These are people we can work with and provide information to, as long as we are careful about protecting our own security.

4) On the other hand, when journalists are ignorant of these issues, the only tool that we as anti-fascists have is to refuse to contribute to those TV shows, radio shows, documentaries, or articles that we consider irresponsible or dangerous.

Sometimes we may feel like we are losing an opportunity to reach people, but we have to be strong about this principle. Otherwise, we will end up as the "anti-racist voice" that gives a lousy show or article about the nazis more legitimacy than it would otherwise have.


What can we say to journalists who are covering fascists?

We must constantly remind people in the media that their duty is not only to uphold freedom of speech, but to protect it from being debased and degraded. It's easy to uphold freedom of speech - you just give license to everyone to say whatever they like. But to protect it from being abused is to take a more questioning and self-critical role in terms of how such abuse could lead to an abuse of the first freedom, freedom to life itself.

Journalists should understand that weak, ineffectual interviewing of the fascists by uninformed journalists who are not equipped with facts and who fail to ask probing questions, only gives fascists a platform to propagandize. On the other hand, an investigative documentary with hard facts of their criminal actions, involvement in violence, and the anti-democratic nature of their ideology can undermine the respectability and legitimacy of fascists. A film that puts the facts and then is followed by a grilling of the fascist on the basis of facts, does not just give the fascist a platform so much as take it away by giving it.

If a journalist is allowing a fascist to present their ideology, to any extent, it is also their responsibility to bring forward facts to challenge their racist, oppressive lies.

The bottom line is that broadcasters and journalists are no different from anybody in the society. They should be accountable to our communities, and take responsibility for the effects of their work.


And what about censorship?

Freedom of speech always bring certain responsibilities, in particular the responsibility not to violate other peoples' freedoms. One is only as free as the next man or woman is allowed to be free. Fascism itself has always been about censorship and denial of freedom of speech for all people of color, Jewish people, women and queers. That's why we say NO FREE SPEECH FOR NAZIS - which means anti-racists must always try to prevent fascists from having a public voice.

But that doesn't mean that anti-racists necessarily support STATE censorship of fascists. We know that censorship will be used mainly against the progressive movements we are part of. It is important for us to make the distinction between state censorship, and community self-defense in the face of fascist propaganda and organizing.

We've come across a fair amount of criticism from the public and from the media, for maintaining these principles. But we have to learn to defend our right to fight for our own safety and security. If that means not co-operating with media when they are being irresponsible, so be it.

NO PLATFORM FOR PROPAGANDA,
NO FREE SPEECH FOR NAZIS........we mean it.
Food for Thought
Food for Thought

Volksfront = Dickfuck 21.Aug.2002 22:50

Volksfront supporter

Freedom of speech ends where violence begins. They are not democratic! The only defend the ideals of this country to further their Fascist agenda were only one MAN gets the say in everything. They are mindless babbling robots. Although I enjoy their posts because of the comical remarks, lies, and hypocrysy, they should not be aloud to have a voice. They have no say in Democracy, because they do not believe in it. It would be like letting Satanists take over the catholic church. You figure out the meaning. Hey if they want to be racist homophobes it's fine. Their sexual repression whether it be their small penis size or that they themselves are flaming homosexuals, is the only way I can interpret it. Why else would they be so scared?

Nazis Fuck off, I love all my friends, for who they are.