How should Indymedia UK end its quandary?
IMC UK is trapped by their own procedures — in particular, the standard of unanimous consent — into hosting some pretty horrific posts, posts so horrific that many UK collective members not only want the posts hidden, but their author banned. But as long as one or two editors are unable to (or perhaps refuse to) see the anti-Semitism in Atzmon’s posts, the entire collective is held powerless to act.
The chief problem is that this very high bar for the removal of posts — unanimous agreement — was not designed to combat racism, but to protect diversity of political thought on Indymedia. By going so far to protect independent political thought, however, the Indymedia procedures have the unfortunate side effect of protecting brazen anti-Semitism of the Atzmon variety as well.
The small editorial faction supporting Atzmon have at this point dug in their heels to the point where no exposition of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism (obvious as it is) is likely to dislodge them. Unanimous consent on removing the poisonous posts is impossible. These editors interpret every attack on Atzmon’s anti-Semitism as crypto-Zionism, Zionist censorship, a Zionist plot — even when the critics are well-known, long-established anti-Zionists. (Granted, these anti-Zionist critics of Atzmon haven’t helped the case by their behavior; on the other hand, the infuriating slowness with which the entire issue has been dealt with is literally that: infuriating.)
So Indymedia UK should ask itself this question:
Which would be more severe a failure of Indymedia UK’s mission: to decide that in some cases unanimous consent is not necessary to hide posts considered racist by many but not all editors, or to decide instead that Indymedia UK should be allowed by its internal gridlock to become a safe haven for racist posts?
Indymedia UK should recognize that the model it uses for granting extraordinary freedom of political discourse does not protect it against the appearance of racist posts when that racism appears in a political guise, as it does in Atzmon’s case. The threshhold for removing racist posts must be made less onerous.
If it is possible to make a serious case that a post is racist and should be removed and if several editors have made that case, then the post in question is clearly in the grey area and should be removed, even if there is not unanimous consent. The principle is simple: political posts should be given the benefit of the doubt, while racist posts should not be given the benefit of the doubt.
Every day a racist post remains unhidden because Indymedia UK is mired in process is a day that Indymedia UK tells the world that it honors process over anti-racism.
To ask those who are personally racially insulted by racist posts to simply patiently bide their time, without apology, while the consensus process works its potentially slow, meandering way through — a process taking months or more, during which the offensive posts remain unhidden, unapologised for, broadcasting their racist message and doing their damage — is simply not an acceptable anti-racist solution.
Indymedia UK should declare that bigotry and anti-Semitism should not be given the same level of protection as political speech. Posts that a sufficient number of editors consider to be bigoted should be removed instantly even if the collective isn’t unanimous and even when that bigotry is sugar-coated in the language of leftism.