ADL International Leadership Award Presented to Sacha Baron Cohen at Never Is Now 2019
For the first time we are kicking-off of ‘Three Longs & Three Shorts’ with a video because for the first time we have found a video which is worth more than a week of newspaper reading. Those of us who have watched Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy over the past 25 years had no idea that the man is an articulate speaker with strong political convictions and with practical ideas to arrest the mess created by social media. If you love social media and the rise of the Far Right, you will not enjoy watching the video. Sacha Baron Cohen will describe for you a world of ideological imperialism where all of us sit enslaved as our societies hurtle towards a climate of mutual hatred and fear based on the colour of our skins, the languages that we speak and the gods that we worship.
Here are a few snippets from the 24 minute video:
“Today around the world demagogues appeal to our worst instincts…democracy which depends on shared truths is on the retreat and autocracy which depends on shared lies is on the increase…all this hate and intolerance is being propagated via a handful of internet companies….it is why Youtube recommends the videos of hate mongers billions of times…these social media companies amplify stories that appeal to our baser instincts…the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest lie in history ‘that Jews are somehow dangerous’. Just think what Goebbels could have done with the internet…On the internet everything can appeal equally legitimate. Brietbart resembles the BBC…the rantings of a lunatic can appear as credible as those a Nobel prize winner…we have lost it seems a shared sense of basic facts…Voltaire was right ‘those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities’….
Over the next 12 months British voters will go to the polls with social media spreading the lie that white Christians are being swamped by Muslims. Americans will go to the polls with the lie that there is an Hispanic invasion of the country taking place…a sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories…this can’t be what the creators of the internet had in mind…for the social media companies there entire business model is around generating engagement and nothing generates more engagement than lies and hatred…
If there are standards & practices which regulate what TV & cinemas can show, then surely there can be standards & practices for social media companies…if Facebook were around in the 1930s it would allow Hitler to run 30 second adverts on his solution to the Jewish problem…we have to tell the social media companies “your product is defective, you are obliged to repair no matter how much it costs”…the ultimate aim of society has to be create a world where people are not targeted for who they are, who they love and how they pray…we can stop the greatest propaganda machine in history…”