Monday, 29 March 2021

War Against Humanity and YouTube's War Against History

One of the YouTube channels that I watch regularly is World War Two in Real Time. Indy Neidel, the main presenter, did the original The Great War series, and then moved on to start the new project with friends.

Indy normally does the week-by-week recap of the War, as well as a subseries called Between Two Wars. The first season dealt with the politics and political personalities of the interwar years. The second season, currently in process is called Between 2 Wars: Zeitgeist! focusing 'on culture, science, technology, entertainment, and adventure - the people and events that contributed to shape the interwar era, and the time to come'.

There is also another subseries called On the Homefront, usually hosted by Anna Deinhard, which deals with the role of women in the war effort, rationing, and that sort of thing.

Finally, there is the series in the title of this post, War Against Humanity, hosted by Spartacus Olsen, the producer of the entire project. It is not a 'pretty' series. It deals with the horrors inflicted by both sides in the War, from the genocide of the Jews by Germany, the horrors of the Japanese Imperial Army's Unit 731, to the mass killings of civilians and POWs by the USSR and the strategic bombing aimed at killing civilians by the Western Allies.

As I have posted about before, YouTube seems to be on a 'War Against History'. You can read posts about a couple of other channels here.

Remember these quotes, which I often cite:

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.-George Orwell

To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.-Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

At any rate, here is a post by Spartacus Olsen on the problems with a) making 'War Against Humanity, b) giving a fair and balanced view, and c) then having it subjected to YouTube censorship.

On the horrors of crafting this, on age restriction, and on covering Allied war crimes - by Spartacus

All episodes of War Against Humanity are difficult to make, but this was an especially harrowing episode to host. When I wrote the conclusion based on Joram's initial draft, I was composed - it was an intellectual exercise still. That changed once I started giving the words a voice, and as you can see at the end of the episode I had difficulties keeping my composure - when I was done I cried bitterly. But that is how it is supposed to be - the totality of our creation is what brings it home, together with Joram I compile the knowledge, Miki or Karo put it into images under Wieke's direction, and within all of that it is my job to express it in spoken language as best as I can. Yes, it is difficult to make and it is difficult to watch - but we sincerely believe that none of us should look away lest we forget. We take upon ourselves to spend hours every week to sift through the minutiae of these events so that we can compress it into 15 minutes every two weeks. We do it not for money, not for fame, and not out of pleasure, but because it needs to be done so that others can spend less time on it than us and still see this time for what it was. It needs to be done by neither glossing over any events, nor the images as horrible as they are. This has two important purposes: 1. driving home that this really happened and 2. defeating any claims towards that we're just making this up, or exaggerating. Within that responsibility it is also our duty to report, without prejudice, on what the Allies did that was against human values and rights in this war. We don't do that because there is an equivalence between events, or to create such an equivalence - we do it for the exact opposite purpose - to show the complete picture and preempt any calls for "what about the bombing of Germany and Hiroshima!?" We do it because we are dedicated to the facts, and the events must be permitted to speak for themselves. We're doing all of this in a time when the horrors of WW2 are ever further away in the rearview mirror, when survey after survey shows that the younger generation have little or no knowledge of how earth-shattering this war was. An indication of a growing educational gap, and in many of the countries where you are watching it has long been decided that reporting on these atrocities is of especial importance. That includes decisions to also expose younger people to the reality of it despite the graphic nature of the content. In most places these images are purposefully excepted from age restrictions that befall content made for entertainment, that is to say they do not fall under an 18+ restriction. They are regulated as PG 16 or the equivalent, in some places even PG13. It then troubles us deeply that YouTube chooses to go against the decisions made by democratically elected bodies and restrict this content to over 18 only. I troubles us even more when this leads to the inevitable result that our viewership has dropped by 50% since they started doing that. That is a drop far above the share of our viewers that are under age, because with the restriction comes a reduction in recommendation to view - users that are not logged in and age verified don't get notified - the content can no longer be embedded on external sites - in some countries it is blocked entirely, regardless of your age - and all of that further decreases the value of the video in YouTube's algorithms. The result is that the War Against Humanity Videos are now an echo chamber where we only reach those that already know the content. We have spoken to YouTube to remedy this fault, but we have had no success thus far. As a result we have decided to start making a censored version of the videos that we will upload if or when they get age restricted. We already upload all of our content to https://odysee.com/@WorldWarTwo:6 but that is not a place where anyone will find our content by chance. On that note we should point out that the videos only get age restricted because they are reported to YouTube by the community as inappropriate, offensive, or false. We take umbrage at that, because in effect this means that YouTube is helping those who would like these events to be forgotten, or even deny that they ever happened. It's a pity. even morally wrong in my viewpoint. It leaves me despondent and the last weeks have been extraordinarily difficult for me - I have questioned my purposes and wondered why I put myself and our team through all of this, if all we're doing is preaching to the choir. At first it left me sad, but after YouTube's glib, bureaucratic responses I got depressed. I considered throwing in the towel, but then I would be nothing else than a coward refusing to stand for those who no longer have a voice. So, I will continue, I will resist, and we will fight against anyone that tries to silence us and the dead - because we must not look away, we must never forget. Spartacus

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