This analysis is about hate speech, as one of the most important weapons of criminal structures in politics, and the effects, messages and motives for launching and leading dirty campaigns. How and who creates hatred, the scope of operations and of groups sowing hatred and several thoughts on the effects and solutions are revealed here.
by: XHABIR DERALLA
One of the main reasons why the progressive part of civil society and the media are targeted is the need to intimidate and discredit those who can provide a clear picture of the destructive policies and practices of certain centers of power to which the continuation of the democratic processes does not go in favour. The attack on progressive forces in society is not typical just for North Macedonia. Illiberal tendencies and hybrid attacks against democracy are noticed in many countries around the world, hence here too they are gaining momentum.
The logic is very simple. With everyday spreading of hate speech, with calls for lynching, namely, physical liquidation of activists, journalists and experts, as well as their families and close ones, a certain effect of intimidation is achieved.
If hate speech during elections is analysed, as well as other political and social events and processes, one will inevitably come to the conclusion that it is a matter of systematic and organized operation in which huge financial and human resources are invested.
Even the coronavirus threat is abused in a political context. The black campaign goes so far that certain individuals of the media and university sphere even call for an ethnic war, obviously working off for certain political parties and centers of power inside and outside the country.
That is why some groups or individuals who are publically attacked keep quiet and even completely silent. Some activists, journalists and experts hesitate to come out publically, as they fear for their own safety and the safety of their close families. Others, more determined, waste time and energy on defending themselves from these attacks, which draws them away from their primary tasks, and that being to participate in important social and political processes, carry out campaigns for strengthening public awareness, civic education, monitoring and everything else their mission implies.
Continued attacks with hate speech and disinformation, vulgarities, insults and slanders, directed against progressive groups in society, try to discredit activists, journalists and experts. Thus, by slandering authors of columns, reports, analyses and recommendations in the public, criticisms are relativized and attributed with “dark, conspiratorial forces”, while the authors themselves are labelled as “immoral, traitors, mercenaries, foreign agents and spies”.
RELATIVIZING: THEY ARE ALL THE SAME
The least that can be achieved with such propaganda activity of destructive centers of power in society is to get the impression that “they are all the same”. This way, people are discouraged to participate in decision-making processes and the attitude that they cannot change anything no matter how hard they try is imposed upon them. Relativization decreases the criminal actions of certain structures in the eyes of the public and introduces a kind of false critical discourse that does not result in views based on facts, but on emotions evoked in people.
In parallel to this, radicalized tiers in society that promote distrust in institutions and intolerance towards progressive individuals and groups are mobilized, and offer a “solution” to the problems in society in the form of exclusivity, segregation, discrimination and violence, and even ethnic cleansing and political liquidations.
Hate speech is the dirtiest propaganda weapon of criminal political structures. In absence of progressive ideas, that propaganda is becoming increasingly dirtier by the day. With such propaganda, positions in society and the system are gained, though the motives are far from patriotic, as they wish to depict.
On the contrary, the motives are criminal from several aspects, starting from the wish for personal gains, and up to the wish to control processes or at least influence them, and then with that influence to trade with the centers of power that have diametrically opposite interests from those of the Macedonian state. Therefore, this propaganda also has security aspects. It is not at all naïve, although an important task of the “producers” of this campaign is to show as naïve outbursts of revolt of the “neutral” citizens (of which most are party bots or trolls).
Finally, regardless of the political motives, it concerns a criminal activity, prohibited by laws and condemned by the progressive public in the country and beyond.
ABUSE OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Behind the black propaganda that uses hate speech, triggered by fake news, disinformation and inciting speech, there are political structures that skilfully abuse human rights and freedoms, especially freedom of expression, to their benefit. They do not refrain even from criminal acts in their political and public actions, although most often it concerns groups for which there already are many investigations, accusations or strong indications of serious crimes. These are rich structures that can afford to pay advisors and build “troll factories”, or use services from already existing “capacities”.
The exceptionally low level of expression, filled with repulsive and vulgar expressions is one of the most visible features of such activities. Their political orientation is not always openly declared, as they make every effort to promote the message “they are all the same”. Nevertheless, from the content of the messages that are being sent, it is clear that policies of segregation and discrimination is supported by the rightist political parties in the country.
WHERE IS HATRED CREATED?
At no point have political parties that are supported by structures of online aggressors expressed disagreement with this manner of articulation of political views in the public communication. This, to some extent, is understandable, since this campaign, actually, has been created within the very political parties.
Political leaders and officials in political parties themselves engage in uncontrolled rampage on the social networks, using hidden, but often also completely open nationalist messages, inciting speech, extremist and extremely low expressions. Such examples can be found among officials and MPs of VMRO-DPMNE and Levica, but also among other political parties both from the Macedonian and Albanian political bloc.
WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF THR GROUPS FOR SOWING HATRED?
For the public it is important to know that no matter how big the campaign may seem and that it enjoys massive support (likes, shares, comments), it concerns relatively small structures that use professional and sophisticated ways to reach a large number of people, particularly users of social networks. Still, their activities cause serious consequences.
The influence of the black propaganda begins the moment people start thinking that large numbers are behind them. But it is a matter of marketing tricks and manipulations, and money is needed for this. Political parties dispose with hundreds of thousands, and even millions of euros, both from the budget of the RNM and from private sponsors and donators, and one must not forget the strong indications that they also dispose with black money whose sources, according to certain research, come from foreign anti-Western centers of power.
EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS
And hence while civil society organizations carry out relatively sluggish and worn-out campaigns and projects, the propaganda machinery of the rightist political structures and centers of power carry out far more effective campaigns. The media, on the other hand, are stuck in what in theory and practice is called false objectivity. As a result, equal space is given in the media to the two opposing sides in this propaganda war (comparison: five minutes for the Jews, but also five minutes for Hitler). Consequently, the media turn into advertisement boards, instead of a social resource in the search of facts and the truth. Well, nobody cares about the truth anymore anyway, but this is a subject of a separate analysis.
The solution to these challenges that the Macedonian society is facing is simple, despite the entire complexity of the problem. The institutions, especially the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Interior, as well as all other relevant institutions, have a legal obligation to be in protection of the public interest and safekeeping of citizens. Furthermore, the public, civil society and the media have a legal, moral and professional obligation to provide conditions for a decent, dignified and argued debate in society, and not for continuous contamination of the public space with extremely filthy propaganda.
It is extremely important for citizens not to allow for them to be victims of manipulations and intimidations that come from propaganda centers that promote divisions, fear and violence. Irresponsible spreading of hatred against certain public figures really does encourage violence against them. All they have to do is say no to black propaganda and for them to check the information and news, no matter how convincing they may seem.
translation: N. Cvetkovska