Mr. Berger, I hope you'll reconsider. Your distaste at associating yourself with a site that platforms Nazis is justified without reservation--and while I think some of the substacks people are objecting to fall well short of what I use the term "Nazi" to characterize, I've found at least one full-on Nazi blog that Substack seems perfectly content to host. (The writer of that blog came to my attention when he replied to a comment I wrote concerning rising antisemitism and Islamophobia by calling me a "kikesucking Zionist ass-whore.")

But the legitimate objections you and lots of other bloggers are raising to Substack's policy response are, I think, very likely to undermine the goals that serious substackers have been trying to achieve: sustaining thoughtful, analytic, civil discussion about political and cultural issues that have become tribal shouting matches poisoning US politics and society. I think there is no way to quarantine the most toxic of those voices without drawing tribal lines by doing so, and that will just further diminish the narrow range of cross-group communication still left to us.

Of course no one doing the work you do (which I have been following with admiration for years) would want to be associated by platform with genuine Nazis and fellow traveling white nationalists, but I think the impulse to maintain clean hands will be tactically damaging by undermining a platform that I think has benefited serious civil discourse overall, and that highlights by exceptions the bankruptcy of extremist trolling culture and the ideas it promotes. By necessity we have to share a country with these types of people, and it will be that much harder to contest with them by refusing to share any platform of communication. Perhaps poorly camouflaged white nationalists like Richard Hanania or "respectable" full-on ones like Richard Spencer and Patrick Casey will use Substack as further cover, but I don't think they can be combatted except by their opponents getting their hands dirty occupying spaces where they flourish.

By the way, Substack doesn't seem to be totally neutral on the issue. When I checked the Völkisch substack blog of the person who treated me to that new low in invective I found that one comment that he had "liked" and praised on his own blog had been removed--obviously not by him. Someone is guarding *some* boundaries, and overriding the preferences of a true Nazi Substack client.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by J.M. Berger

Truth to power

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