The United Nations is bringing the topic of hate speech to Twitter once again. In a tweet linking to its website, the UN posted, “words can be weapons. Hate speech online can lead to cruelty & violence in real life. Get tips for how you can say #NoToHate.” Many people commented on the tweet with mocking and criticism.
Conservative radio host Dana Loesch tweeted in response that she wishes the U.S. would defund the United Nations. Others called out the UN for its hypocrisy after allegations of slavery and mass murder. One person tweeted that the UN “should be disbanded and forcibly removed from United States soil.”
I can’t think of a more dangerous message than this one. There is a concerted effort to make the public fear free speech. This is authoritarianism. https://t.co/E4iYk14fll
— Laura Powell (@LauraPowellEsq) November 28, 2022
Critics are not missing the mark on this comment. Some years ago, the reputation of the UN was destroyed after allegations of kickbacks and billions of dollars going into the oil-for-food scandal. The UN also refused to take responsibility for its involvement in the assault on minors in the Congo sex scandal. United Nations officials know they need reform, so it’s unclear why they are starting with hate speech instead of working on the much more serious issues at play.
After the 1991 Gulf War, sanctions against Iraq restricted international trade with the country. The sanction did not prevent imports of food and medicine. However, the Iraqi people did not have enough money to make purchases under Saddam Hussein’s rule. In 1996, the UN began the oil-for-food program, which consequently tightened Hussein’s grip on the Iraqi people. Sixty percent of the Iraqi population participated in the program, which meant sixty percent of people were solely reliant on Hussein to eat. The UN profited off of Hussein’s rule since they were on his payroll and made billions of dollars in commissions for barrels of oil sold.
The UN entered another scandal in 2004. The Congo sex scandal involved United Nations officials sweeping child molestation under the rug enacted by their peacekeepers. Children as young as 12 were assaulted, and there were over 150 accusations against UN peacekeepers. Hundreds of child pornography images were uncovered on the laptop of a French UN civilian working in the Congo.
Despite the unethical and egregious behaviors at the UN, they appear to consider hate speech an essential measure to the journey of long-needed reform. The United Nations is making suggestions to the public about extending solidarity to people targeted by hate speech. Unsurprisingly, they have been hit with backlash by observers who are aware of and appalled by their misconduct.