The war of the words, weapons of mass labeling

Alex Underwood
Mesa Legend

Last month, three journalists at The Wall Street Journal published an arguably libelous article about YouTubes’ biggest star, PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg). The article highlighted several, admittedly tasteless, Nazi jokes, stripping the jokes of all context; and using them to paint Kjellberg as an anti-Semite, or a Neo Nazi.The article went as far as to claim that context doesn’t matter, blurring the lines between insincere humor, and actual anti-Semitism.

After the initial article was published, several more media outlets including The Guardian and Forbes jumped on the bandwagon; publishing their own hit pieces on Kjellberg. Despite being dropped by Disney, Makers Studio and having his show “Scare PewDiePie” cancelled on YouTube Red, Kjellberg came back swinging and received tremendous support from his 50+ million subscribers.

He also had the support of dozens upon dozens of other content creators on YouTube, both large and small. This whole debacle between Kjellberg, and the mainstream media highlights a very serious issue that is starting to take root in this country. The mainstream media, celebrities, and many people online have begun carelessly throwing out labels, calling those they disagree with, or don’t like, Nazis, anti-Semites, White Supremacists, or any other label that can damage a person’s reputation; desperately trying to ruin them and destroy their credibility.

So, why is such careless labeling so dangerous?  What harm could possibly come from denouncing dissenters as Nazis? A lot of harm could come from it, and we’re seeing the backlash already. If you’ve ever read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” you would know the negative implications of complaining about something, when nothing is actually wrong; eventually people stop listening to you.We’ve already seen this happen with people casually throwing out allegations of racism or sexism, when there really is none.

Some of the more radical leftists will even claim that all white people are racist, or that all men are sexist and misogynistic. One need only watch Milo Stewarts’ video on “unconscious bias,” to see proof of that. What happens is that the reckless overuse of such words, like racist, sexist or Nazi, eventually erodes all meaning and power from them, causing people to become more skeptical and doubtful of allegations of such bigotry.

Thoughtlessly mass labeling people also blurs the line between what’s truly racism, sexism or anti-Semitism, and what isn’t.It helps give a free pass to real racists, sexists and Nazis. By letting them slip through the cracks, while everyone is paying attention to the “boy who cried wolf.”  There are real Neo-Nazis in this country, and they are becoming emboldened by the carelessness of the left, and their name games.

The other issue with this mass labeling is the danger that it puts regular people in. All across our country, celebrities, media outlets, and many individuals are beginning to condone violence against the “White Supremacist Nazis,” that “infest” our country. When riots broke out on the UC Berkeley campus, in response to the speech Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to have given the mainstream jumped into action to defend their actions, exclaiming that Milo was a white supremacist, or an alt-right extremist.

Some even called him a Neo-Nazi. The violence, hatred, bigotry, closed mindedness and cruelty that these rioters displayed, was ultimately minimized, and justified by many people, both online and on TV. This sets a disturbing precedence for the future of our country. It shows that violence is perfectly okay, so long as the person is a “Nazi,” or has at least been labelled as one. The same people who shout “Love Trumps Hate” are ultimately the ones who show the most hatred themselves.

My Taiko (Japanese drumming) teacher, Ken Koshio, is an outstanding advocate for peace.  From him I learned that violence can only lead to more violence and that every side has a story, and every person has their own reasons to be doing what they do. I learned that you can never judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge a can by its label; things are almost never surface level. This idea of witch hunting, this idea that it’s justified to attack people whom you don’t even know, simply because they bear a certain label, should never be tolerated.

The truth is, Hitler did the same thing during his time. He mass labeled the Jewish people, forced them to wear the star of David, before exporting them to concentration camps. Their rights and freedoms stripped away, as they were abused, tortured and killed. I will say this, and I will stand by it; Nazis do exist in this country, but their numbers are not as big as people make them out to be.

The overuse of the label Nazi has changed the way I view those who have been called such. Nowadays, when someone is called a Nazi online, I end up thinking to myself: “Huh, that must be a pretty reasonable person.” Is that what you want to think when hearing someone be called a Nazi, or should your thoughts immediately jump to disgust? Well, this is what mass labeling is doing; and if we don’t stop, it’s going to get much worse.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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