Any time a headline includes Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and InfoWars top dog Alex Jones, it must mean one is attacking the other, right? They’re on opposite sides of the political and religious spectra, so they can’t be on the same side of any particular coin.
Facebook put them in the same group today by banning them and others for being too extreme with their posts. How did some in mainstream media react? By saying they were all “far right.”
When it comes to religious extremism, one can easily see how Farrakhan could be considered “far right.” But in the context of the bannings, it was clear that they were referring to him in the same light as the others. None of them, from Jones to Laura Loomer to Paul Joseph Watson, are religiously “far right.” Politically, they could be painted as “alt right” which is arguably “far right” to some.
Regardless of how you slice it, news outlets like the Washington Post and The Atlantic chose to characterize them this way with their initial story. If you want to call Loomer or Milo Yiannopoulos “far right,” I’ll disagree about the choice of labels but I can at least understand why they’d choose it. But to call Farrakhan, who has expressed more hatred towards any one Republican than all Democrats combined, a “far right” public figure is a joke.
This is where retractions come into play. Most outlets that falsely characterized Farrakhan as “far right” eventually retracted those statements, clarified them, or edited the misleading headlines. Problem solved, right? No. THEIR problems may be solved, but the damage was done. Stories hit their audiences within hours if not minutes. Social media shares happen quickly. The message they wanted to put out there, that only “far right” personalities were spanked on Facebook, made it to their target audiences.
The funny part about all this is that Facebook likely included Farrakhan as the token leftist in the batch. They couldn’t just hit conservatives or alt-righters without looking biased, so they needed someone from the left for banning diversity. Farrakhan’s presence on the ban list was an easy choice since he checked off most of the intersectionality boxes (other than women, which they hit with Loomer). But even by throwing in a token leftist, mainstream media’s narrative foiled their efforts.
Now, everyone’s confused. Well, not everyone…
They labelled Farrakhan "far right" to hide the fact that these bans were purely a partisan political purge. https://t.co/1spGNSMDmN
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) May 2, 2019
WaPo: "Facebook bans far-right leaders including Louis Farrakhan…" pic.twitter.com/9cvYOGa2Ut
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) May 2, 2019
That is particularly true because the same people who declare they can invariably spot hate also label anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan "far right" (WaPo and The Atlantic), and suggest that mainstream conservatives are in fact alt-right (The Economist).
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 2, 2019
— Julie Gunlock (@JGunlock) May 2, 2019
Facebook will do what Facebook does and conservatives mostly take it because it’s a large venue for conversation and traffic. Leftist media did their thing, too. It’s just another day in the battle to win hearts and minds on the internet.