I’ve always been a strong supporter of the First Amendment and have opposed any form of censorship. One book that had a strong influence on me was Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis. But my perspective has shifted a bit ever since Donald Trump began using Twitter to spread lies and conspiracy theories and Amazon was caught selling Boogaloo merchandise. And Facebook has been the platform of choice for white supremacists, neo-Nazis, QAnon cultists, and every other vile group — amplified by fake accounts originating in Russia and China.
Today the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a powerful letter by a 94-year-old survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, pleading with him to eliminate Holocaust-denial content from Facebook — for the sake of preserving democracy.
I have translated just a portion of the letter:
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
My name is Marian Turski and I am a survivor of the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz and two death marches — from Auschwitz to Buchenwald and from Buchenwald to Theresienstadt.
[...] Auschwitz did not fall from the sky. Auschwitz crept in step by step, from small discriminatory regulations to mass genocide. Auschwitz could only happen under circumstances where people were constantly stupefied by what they read and heard, and grew accustomed to lie after lie, and inundated with with hate speech after hate speech. And the final result of this avalanche of lies and hate speech was incitement to murder. That is why the Holocaust denial is so deadly to the democratic system.
[..]I appeal to you today not to allow Holocaust deniers to appear on Facebook — not to restrict our democratic rights but to preserve them.
Powerful words from one who experienced first hand how hate can take hold and destroy democracy.