Over the weekend, a new front in the popular campaign to resist the totalitarian regime of Donald Trump opened up. Led by No Ads for Hate and Sleeping Giants, American activists have begun a massive collective campaign of identifying the companies that are paying for the bills to keep the hateful fake news web site Breitbart online.
Breitbart was begun as a campaign to manufacture creatively edited videos to create fake news designed to discredit liberal nonprofit organizations. When its founder died, Steve Bannon took over Breitbart, and proceeded to transform the web site into what Bannon has described as a “platform for the alt-right”. The alt-right is an extremist movement centered around the belief that people of European descent are biologically superior to all other people, and that men are biologically superior to women.
In other words, the alt-right is the American version of the Nazi Party. Shockingly, members of the alt-right lovingly embrace Adolf Hitler as their inspiration. Since the election of Donald Trump, alt-right members have spray painted swastikas across the United States, and have begun recruiting teenagers who now shout “Sieg Heil” in the hallways of American high schools. Just days after Election Day, the Nazi National Policy Institute met in a federal building in Washington D.C. with shouts of “Heil Trump” and stiff-armed Nazi salutes.
In short, Breitbart is a publication designed to spread Nazi ideology, dividing the United States of America from within. Our grandfathers went to war to defeat the Nazis, so what kind of Americans would now support the resurgence of Nazism in the United States?
That’s not a rhetorical question. The answer is that a disturbing number of prominent American companies are subsidizing the Breitbart campaign to bring Nazi ideology back from the dead. Among those companies is communications juggernaut AT&T.
A particularly disturbing discovery made by the Sleeping Giants is that the giant tech corporation IBM is paying Breitbart to advertise to its white supremacist members. It’s disturbing because this isn’t the first time that IBM has given its support to Nazis.
Back in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler was planning the mass extermination of Jews living in Europe. An obstacle he faced was the huge amount of work it would take to create lists of all the Jews living in Germany, and then in its conquered territories.
IBM volunteered to help Hitler overcome this problem. Edwin Black, author of the award-winning book IBM and the Holocaust, explains, “Only after Jews were identified — a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately — could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation. It was a cross-tabulation and organizational challenge so monumental, it called for a computer. Of course, in the 1930s no computer existed. But IBM’s Hollerith punch card technology did exist. Aided by the company’s custom-designed and constantly updated Hollerith systems, Hitler was able to automate his persecution of the Jews.”
Thomas Watson, the head of IBM at the time (after whom IBM’s Watson supercomputer is named), didn’t just tolerate IBM’s collaboration with the Nazis. He was so enthusiastic about it that he flew to Nazi Germany himself to ensure that IBM’s work for the Furhrer was progressing on schedule. IBM continued helping Adolf Hitler and his followers to build the information infrastructure of the Holocaust well into World War II. IBM has never contradicted the truth of the facts unearthed by Edwin Black.
One would suppose that, given its corporate history of collaboration with Nazi Germany, IBM would be especially careful never to allow its brand to get anywhere close to violent right wing white supremacists. Yet, IBM advertisements now appear in the pages of Breitbart, a pro-Nazi publication.
IBM’s CEO has written a personal letter to Donald Trump promising to help him with his racist agenda. IBM has also refused to say it won’t help Donald Trump build a registry of law-abiding American Muslims to be used to track them down and punish them. One of the punishments for Muslims that Donald Trump has proposed: Concentration camps. The parallels to IBM’s work with Nazi Germany are chilling.
IBM’s financial support for the Nazi ideology if Breitbart is especially troubling given the tech industry’s role in discriminating against women. Breitbart has advocated systems to impose limitations of the number of women working in technology firms. Is IBM’s support for Breitbart a manifestation of a corporate policy of sexism?
We can’t say for sure, because as of this moment, the people at IBM aren’t talking. They aren’t responding to the Sleeping Giants campaign. IBM appears to be hoping that outrage at its financial support of Breitbart’s campaign to spread Nazi ideology will fade away.
If, in fact, this outrage does fade away, and IBM can continue to fund Breitbart with impunity, it’s a sign that the United States of America is in danger of finally losing the fight against the Nazis we thought we won 70 years ago.