Disinformation Governance Board shut down by disinformation and online threats

The Nazis, in the years before they seized power, had street thugs in organized groups all over Germany. This informal army was called the SA, the Brownshirts, angry young men who would go into the territory of their political enemies, beat people up, occasionally kill them. This was done to intimidate the public, galvanize support by a show of manly action and give angry young men a meaningful cause to completely justify their rage. After all, if fucking Jews were responsible for all the misery in Germany, undefeated in the World War, but for backstabbing fucking Jewish criminals betraying the victorious German army, why wouldn’t you join an armed gang and go publicly humiliate as many Jews as you can?

Incendiary propaganda and normalized violence go hand in hand. Activated by an infuriating lie, you can join an outraged mob attack that sends dozens of cops to the hospital. Your political leadership will dismiss that violent overrunning of the Capitol as simply protected First Amendment expression, “legitimate political discourse”. Liberals will chafe at this, which is part of the point of saying it, but very few of them will risk having their asses physically kicked over it by maniacs all too happy to kick some liberal ass.

That’s what authoritarians count on — an inflammatory lie repeated on a loop and the willingness of violent followers to take names and kick ass — that and the general public’s not unreasonable fear of being lynched by an angry armed crowd chanting about killing people.

How to halt the free mass expression of hatred, lies and violent rhetoric that lead to these kinds of atrocities is a question that has increasingly bedeviled us here in the Free Market. The right of free people to freely choose to spread hateful lies that lead to violence must be balanced, capitalism’s staunchest defenders insist, against the inherent wisdom of the “invisible hand” of the marketplace, a hand that theorists of capitalism say always turns things to the best possible outcome (in terms of maximizing profit for those who produce the best product at the lowest price). In practical terms it means the right of several obscenely wealthy people to unlimited additional billions in personal wealth,l and great returns for shareholders must be balanced against potentially profit-limiting protection of an abstraction like “democracy”.

Melania Trump’s tireless campaign to rid our society of bullying seems to have been in vain. Bullies are at their mightiest online, hiding their cowardice behind a user name they are free to use threats of violence to intimidate anyone they hate. Bullies are driven by hatred and the humiliation they experienced. So they threatened to kill Christine Blasey Ford, and gave out her home address. She has had to move four times so far (the first time even before she testified credibly against Kavanaugh) as a suddenly bipartisan Senate rushed to protect Supreme Court justices from peaceful protests outside their homes when they restrict voting, allow unlimited dark money in politics, are poised to criminalize abortion (based on centuries’ old theories about women) and are set to turn the time machine back, in every possible way, to the good old pre-Civil Rights era. If you don’t like it, vote us out, bitches, says a spicy Federalist Society justice named Alito.

What is our government doing to protect us all from online violence and hateful rhetoric based on demonstrable lies, propaganda that leads to murder? Here is an excellent, and troubling, interview by Terry Gross, of recently resigned head of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, online disinformation and bullying expert Nina Jankowicz, who, in spite of her expertise and skills, was forced to resign after a short time on the job, after a deluge of online disinformation and cyber-bullying, including threats of violence and disclosure of her personal information to make her an easier target for angry young assholes. An important story that simply never got much traction in the firehouse of reactionary Trump/Bannon/Koch diarrhea we are all constantly being sprayed by.

Fresh Air: How A Disinformation & Harassment Expert Became A Target

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