Sunday, September 27, 2009

Your Daily Nazi: Nazis Online And On Radio

The adaptive use of new technology was central to this achievement. The Nazis pioneered voice amplification at rallies, the distribution of recorded speeches and the sophisticated targeting of poster art toward groups and regions.

But it was radio that proved the most powerful tool. The Nazis worked with radio manufacturers to provide Germans with free or low-cost "people's receivers." This new technology was disorienting, taking the public sphere, for the first time, into private places -- homes, schools and factories. "If you tuned in," says Steve Luckert, curator of the exhibit, "you heard strangers' voices all the time. The style had a heavy emphasis on emotion, tapping into a mass psychology. You were bombarded by information that you were unable to verify or critically evaluate. It was the Internet of its time."

A terrific piece by Michael Gerson, which concludes:

This comparison to the Internet is apt. The Nazis would have found much to admire in the adaptation of their message on neo-Nazi, white supremacist and Holocaust-denial Web sites.

Not much to add to it, as a matter of fact. As I am feeling profoundly lazy this afternoon.

5 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

I thought it was illegal for Americans to express the opinion that content transmitted through any form of communication be regulated in any way except by money or death threats and threats to one's livelihood?

I wouldn't shed a tear of course, if any of the neo-nazi sites were shut down, but I can't help but notice how selective Gerson is being. The Internet doesn't really intrude in public discourse the way radio and television do, particularly nowadays, when both are blared in public spaces.

If Americans were looking for solutions, I'd suggest they start with regulating the content of public airwaves beyond simply restricting the use of naughty words and nipple flashes, particularly when it comes to journalism.

I'm not pro-censorship...I support conflict resolution when conflicts arise. People should be allowed to say whatever they want and should be held responsible for it, but once you start censoring, you end up with an entirely new set of unintended consequences. Like "speech codes."

bigcitylib said...

Not sure that I agree with 2nd par. Internet IS public discourse these days, esp. as you move up the literacy chain. And the problem is, if you are diligent enough, you can crowd out the legit stuff with crap.

For example, if you google "Anne Frank forgery" or something along those lines you are immediately into pages and pages of conspiracy theory stuff on how the diary was forged, several more popular than the wiki or other legit sources.

Similarly with all sorts of other topics.

Ti-Guy said...

That's a problem with authority. And I don't believe it's any worse than it used to be, just that with fractured and diverse mass media that is very accessible, it's become more important than ever to have people learn how to judge whether something is authoritative or not and at a younger age. It's not helped of course by corporate media that passes off entertainment and advertising as news, current affairs and educational programming.

But to the point about the Internet; it really does remain an easily-exercised choice not to be exposed to something you don't want to be and we all know that means different things to different people. If we start dealing with that problem through censorship we're just inviting an entirely new and even drearier debate.

Although, since the speechies write millions and millions of words and spend hours and hours of radio and television time to complain about how censored they are, maybe actual censorship might at least teach them what that concept really means.

Shoot. Now I'm torn.

Seriously though. Censorship for any expression other than that in which non-consenting individuals are abused just doesn't work and is counter-productive.

goodeda1122 said...
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Kerry Forrest said...

I guess for me, on the internet, I am free to read or not read what others are free to write or not write.

Obviously, I might find certain view points distasteful from the view of my personally held principles, but within my principles I hold dear the right to make dissenting statements.

Out right hate is dicey for me, if only that I disagree that it has any net positive effect on public discourse, but I can chose not read it on the internet.

I guess the real fear, and why people call for censorship is a belief that many people may not know enough about the issue and accept the this views al la carte without critically thinking about it.

For me, considering the the risks of censorship vs the risk of such speech, we need to avoid censorship.