Unbeknown to me and many others, right around the time there was a national furor over Facebook’s decision to allow groups promoting Holocaust Denial within its social networking borders, NBC was doing the exact same thing” within it’s “Universal” media borders.
It is being reported that NBC columnist and commentator Pat Buchanan’s personal website, Buchanan.org, hosted a forum entitled “Disinformation, Deception and Other Tricks” and within that, a thread called “Discussion about ‘The Holocaust. The thread discussions allegedly propagated the revisionist historical theory of “Holocaust Denial”
The entire forum section of the website was allegedly taken down hours after an op-ed by Menachem Rosensaft in the New York Daily News pointed out it’s existence. To date both NBC and Pat Buchanan have been silent despite calls for a public explanation of what, and when they knew about this and what, if any action will be taken with regards to Pat Buchanan.
There are striking similarities between NBC’s apparent indifference to the victim’s of human tragedy and the controversy over Facebook allowing groups promoting Holocaust Denial. Facebook argued that no matter how repugnant, Holocaust Denial is not hate speech as they define it. It is simply a controversial historical theory. We can expect Pat Buchanan to say almost the same thing(if he ever says anything). The big difference is that unlike Facebook, he arguably agrees with the Holocaust Deniers.
The most notable of his Holocaust Denial statements was in 1990. Buchanan challenged the mechanism by which Jews were gassed by the Nazis. He stated that it was impossible for 850,000 Jews to be killed by diesel exhaust fed into the gas chambers of Treblinka and other Nazi death camps.
Given Buchanan’s past inflammatory statements regarding Jews and the Holocaust, for him to claim(if he ever speaks) that he did not know of or condoned the discussion by inaction, is insulting to anyone with a brain. I suspect Pat is aware of every discussion taking place on his site. Why would he quash a discussion he believes in with no perceived consequences if he did nothing? The combination of arrogance, ego and commonality of belief are more powerful than a crack cocaine high.
I actually have no interest in hearing from Pat Buchanan on this controversy. He has made his views on Holocaust Denial and Jews clear over the years. Further debate on the subjects will not serve to enlighten him on antisemitism or millions dead. I do not see how he could say anything apologetic that would ring sincere after years of hateful rhetoric.
NBC is a different story. Like Facebook, they have a corporate social responsibility to not sanction either by action or inaction, hatred towards racial, religious and ethnic minorities. This includes antisemitism. Holocaust Denial serves no other purpose than to serve as a rallying and recruiting point for those who hate Jews.
Along with this social responsibility comes the obligation to not allow those who they pay to represent them to espouse these despicable views or allow them to be espoused in a forum under their control. CBS understood this well when they fired Don Imus. While Pat has the right to express certain views or allow them to be expressed on his personal site, NBC does not have to tolerate it when they are paying his bills and it reflects negatively on them.
NBC has the right to tell Pat that as long as they are paying him, he should refrain from expressing or allowing to be expressed on his web site, “views of hatred” towards racial,religious and ethnic minorities such as Holocaust Denial regardless of his personal views. Employers set policies and make such statements to employees in the realm of blogging and free expression on a regular basis. Pat also has the right to say he does does agree with that policy and walk. It boils down to the priories and social consciousness of NBC.
I would like to hear from NBC on these issues. Why the silence? Why so indifferent to this controversy? Why so indifferent to the existence of antisemitism and other forms of hatred on Facebook and in the Web 2.0 world in general. Did they ask Pat to take the forum down? How long did they know it was up? Is it NBC’s position that they did not know? Are they claiming it was Pat’s personal site so it was none of their business? Will they take any action to ensure that this does not happen again? Maybe NBC just doesn’t care unless the loss of big dollars are at stake.
Given Pat Buchanan’s popularity, we should not expect to hear anything from NBC anytime soon. That is, unless they determine that the controversy has reached critical mass and will negatively affect subscriber and viewers numbers and subsequently advertising dollars. Money has a way of muting or magnifying corporate indignation.
NBC’s silence as well as Facebook’s position on Holocaust Denial confirms a disturbing but all too common viewpoint in free-market principals.
In a tough economy, insentivity to the vicitims of human tragedy is a function of whatever semantics satisfy the masses. After all, just because money is stained with the blood of 11 million does not mean it is worth any less.