At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) called out one of the world’s largest tech companies over internal emails that called Jewish conservatives Nazis.
During a hearing of the House Homeland Security committee on combatting terrorism on social media attended by various Silicon Valley representatives, Crenshaw began by criticizing the “vague standards” Google’s uses in order to “decide what is appropriate” for its platforms.
More specifically, he addressed emails recently unearthed by Project Veritas in which an employee referred to conservative writer Ben Shapiro, PragerU founder Dennis Prager, and popular psychology professor Jordan Peterson as “Nazis” who used “dogwhistles” when discussing how to moderate content on Google’s platforms.
“It’s not even a question,” Crenshaw remarked at Wednesday’s hearing. “According to those emails, the emails say, given that Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Dennis Prager are Nazis, given that that’s a premise, what do we do about it?”
The Texas congressman and former Navy SEAL then went on to offer a history lesson for the chamber.
“Two of three of these people are Jewish, very religious Jews,” Crenshaw said referring to Prager and Shapiro, “And yet you think they’re Nazis.”
Crenshaw continued, saying that the email “begs the question: what kind of education do people at Google have? So they think that religious Jews are Nazis? Three of three of these people had family members killed the Holocaust; Ben Shapiro is the number-one target of the alt right. And yet you people operate off the premise that he’s a Nazi. It’s pretty disturbing.”
The congressman then went on to ask Google Global Director of Information Policy Derek Slater if he could provide a definition of “hate speech.”
Slater responded that Google’s updated “hate speech” guidelines now include “superiority over protected groups to justify discrimination, violence, and so on” which can be based on “a number of defining characteristics, whether that’s a race, sexual orientation, veteran status.”
Crenshaw then asked if Slater could provide a single example “of Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson, Dennis Prager engaging in hate speech.”
Slater countered the question saying that he and his colleagues “evaluate individual piece of content based on that content rather than based on the speaker.”
“Here’s the thing,” Crenshaw concluded:
“When you call somebody a Nazi, you can make the argument that you’re inciting violence and here’s how: As a country, we all agree that Nazis are bad. We actually invaded an entire continent to defeat the Nazis. It’s normal to say Hashtag punch a Nazi because there’s this common thread among those in this country that they’re bad and that they’re evil and that they should be destroyed.
“So when you’re operating off of that premise and it’s frankly, it’s a good premise to operate on, well, what you’re implying then is that it’s okay to use violence against them. When you label them, when one of the most powerful social media companies in the world labels people as Nazis, you could make the argument that’s inciting violence. What you’re doing is wholly irresponsible.”
The full exchange between Crenshaw and Slater can be found here.