News from WaPo: Facebook has banned "far-right" Louis Farrakhan

On the one hand, this is a laughable smear. Just because Farrakhan and the alt-right share some opinions about Jews doesn’t make him right-wing, as his admirers in the Congressional Black Caucus, the leadership of the Women’s March, the Clinton and Obama families, and so on might tell you.

On the other hand, the only way Democrats and the media that shills for them will ever be convinced that Farrakhan’s a scumbag whom it’s fine to loathe is if he’s retconned as some sort of right-winger. Anti-semitism can and will be forgiven — sometimes eagerly, as in the case of Ilhan Omar. But right-wingery?

Some sins simply can’t be absolved.

So consider this perverse progress of a sort. If Farrakhan’s now being lumped in with fringe righties by the press, his place in polite left-wing society has clearly slipped.

Can’t blame this exclusively on the headline writer, either. Here’s the story’s lede:

Facebook said on Thursday it has permanently banned several far-right figures and organizations including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Laura Loomer, for being “dangerous,” a sign that the social network is more aggressively enforcing its hate speech policies under pressure from civil rights groups…

“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today,” Facebook said in a statement.

An outcry ensued on social media after that story hit the wires, leading WaPo predictably to change its headline. It now refers to “extremist” leaders, not “far-right” ones. Which is nice, but how on earth did the original headline and lede get written and approved? How much of WaPo’s editorial staff is under the impression that being anti-semitic necessarily makes you “far-right”?

It’s not just WaPo. Via Caleb Hull, here’s Taylor Lorenz writing at the Atlantic:

In an effort to contain misinformation and extremism that has increasingly spread across the platform, Instagram has banned several prominent right-wing extremists.

Specifically, Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, have banned Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen, and Louis Farrakhan under their policies against dangerous individuals and organizations.

What’s ironic about Farrakhan landing on Facebook’s hit list is that he’s likely there *because* he’s in the left’s tribe. Tech companies know that right-wingers believe that liberal Silicon Valley is biased against them in its choice of whom to bar from its platforms. Employees at both Facebook and Twitter have complained that they don’t feel comfortable sharing political views that break from the left-wing consensus. The more antagonism there is between tech giants and the right, the more willing Republicans will be to regulate them. At the same time, tech platforms are under heavy pressure from the left to deplatform fringe right-wing populists. How do you dump Alex Jones, then, without being accused of ideological favoritism? Simple: You toss Farrakhan onto the garbage dump with him, Milo, Nehlen, etc, to show you’re being evenhanded in purging yourself of “dangerous” material. I don’t think Farrakhan was the target of their purge, I think he was collateral damage added as an afterthought because of his alignment with Democrats.

And yet here’s WaPo and the Atlantic trying to pin his continued salience in American politics on the right anyway.

Here’s the far-right icon, who somehow has many millions of admirers among the almost uniformly Democratic population of black Americans, meeting with another alt-right star.