Why was the comment section on the WSWS #Unity4J article removed?

On the 12th July, the World Socialist Website published an article by Oscar Grenfell, entitled Prominent whistleblowers and journalists defend Julian Assange at online vigil. The article covered the second #Unity4J vigil that occurred on July 7th-8th and is the sole article published by the ICFI on the organisation – #Unity4J.

The article adopts an entirely uncritical attitude towards #Unity4J without mentioning its ‘no politics’ perspective. The ICFI article highlights the statements of Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Cian Westmoreland, Ray McGovern and William Binney who are correctly described as “individuals who have been persecuted by governments for taking a courageous stand against war and authoritarianism”.

Several speakers who previously have been excoriated by the ICFI as pseudo-lefts or even “openly right-wing” are benignly described as follows: “Other prominent speakers included philosopher and author Slavoj Zizek and British politician George Galloway, who was expelled from the Labour Party for his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.”

Most strikingly though, all other speakers are simply covered by the vague statement “a range of other independent journalists and commentators also spoke.”

This catch-all statement papers over the involvement of the far-right speakers including:

  • Lee Stranahan: Former Breitbart News contributor and now pro-Trump reporter for Sputnik News.
  • Cassandra Fairbanks: Pro-Trump Youtuber and writer for far-right website, The Gateway Pundit.
  • H.A. Goodman: Who uses his Twitter profile to attack immigrants, leftists and campaign for Trump.
  • Ross Cameron: Far-right, ex-Australian Government politician and now Islamophobic, pro-Trump Murdoch journalist.

Fairbanks not only spoke but actually conducted interviews with other panelists. It also papers over the involvement of speakers who whilst not being explicitly far-right – possess questionable politics – including Kim Dotcom and Vivian Kubrick, daughter of Stanley Kubrick, who expresses sympathy for Trump and endorses and has appeared on the fascistic Alex Jones show, Infowars.

The comment section under this particular WSWS article was active when the article was printed and became a forum for discussing the ICFI’s position on #Unity4J.  It included exchanges whereby assorted WSWS readers questioned the seeming endorsement of Slavoj Zizek within the article – given his previous exposure as openly right-wing by the ICFI.

The comment section also included an exchange between myself and “Oliver C.”after I expressed that it was politically remiss of the article to omit any reference to the ‘no politics’ perspective of #Unity4J.

At some point after this exchange was published, the comment section was removed from the article. However, it was still accessible via the disqus platform which hosts the comment section of the wsws.org. We have reproduced the comment section in full below this article – through compiling a number of screenshots.

We are not making any accusations against the ICFI in regards to the motivation of the removal of the comment section of the article on #Unity4J. However, we do believe this raises serious political questions for the ICFI.

We did contact the ICFI directly via a number of avenues to ask why the comment section was taken down but have as yet received no reply. 

Again we ask, why has the comment section disappeared from beneath the aforementioned article?

And how did this occur?

We respectfully ask the ICFI and the WSWS to investigate this issue and reinstate the comment section so that others may benefit from reading the insightful comments and discussion therein and/or contribute to the important discussion themselves.

We have referenced the disappearance of this comment section and linked it to a broader appeal to ICFI Members and Supporters entitled: The ICFI must expose the petit-bourgeois and far-right forces who have co-opted the solidarity campaign for Julian Assange: An appeal to ICFI members and supporters

We have also observed that the removal of this comment section is part of a possible pattern  of suppressing discussion of this campaign via the comment section of the wsws.org.

The WSWS article Australian vigils held in defence of Julian Assange which covered the vigils and protests coordinated by the classconscious.org website on June 19th appeared with no comment section attached. It is our observation that it is highly unusual for any article on wsws.org to be published without a comment section.

Below are screenshots of missing comment section from Oscar Grenfell’s 12th July WSWS article: Prominent whistleblowers and journalists defend Julian Assange at online vigil.

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