The decade's most triggering comedy
A journalist whose family was targeted by Nazi Germany was fired from his position as an editorial board member for The Seattle Times after he was accused of “defending” Adolf Hitler on Twitter.
David Josef Volodzko began his career as a university lecturer but decided to switch to journalism to report on injustices throughout the world. He has spent the past 15 years covering stories about refugees, prisoners of war, and war itself. In an essay about his firing posted to Bari Weiss’ Substack “The Free Press,” Volodzko describes himself as a democratic socialist and notes that his wife is a DEI trainer.
None of that prepared him for the current cancel culture movement.
Volodzko thought that he, his wife, and his baby daughter would fit in perfectly in ultra-progressive Seattle.
His first official column for the Times was about Seattle’s statue of Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. Volodzko wrote about how the people of the Fremont neighborhood in which it stands dress it up and make it a joke, but also about his own family’s struggles and Lenin’s genocidal killings.
He received positive and negative responses, as any columnist would. The column was never the issue, but the words Volodzko used to post it on Twitter cost him his job.
“In fact, while Hitler has become the great symbol of evil in history books, he too was less evil than Lenin because Hitler only targeted people he personally believed were harmful to society whereas Lenin targeted even those he himself didn’t believe were harmful in any way,” Volodzko wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
He followed up this post by explaining that he was only comparing the two by their intentions, not their actual atrocities.
“Hitler was more evil than Lenin if we’re looking at what they did to people and that’s a pretty important metric for assessing evil!” he wrote.
As Volodzko noted in his essay, this is the kind of topic one could debate in person, but not on Twitter. “And the argument I was making is a fraught one even under the best of circumstances—you don’t need to compare anyone to Hitler to argue that they are evil — and my delivery was poor, to say the least,” he wrote.
He was accused of “defending” Hitler and had his life threatened.
Six days later, Volodzko thought his job was safe after he was told the media outlet stood by him. But he was soon fired for “poor judgment” and “continuing to engage online.” After he was terminated, the paper issued an apology statement that appeared to contradict that reasoning.
“An editorial writer engaged in Twitter recently in a way that is inconsistent with our company values,” the paper wrote. “We apologize for any pain we have caused our readers, our employees and the community.”
Volodzko is now trying to earn income through his Substack, “The Radicalist,” in which he covers political extremism from communism to fascism and the cancel culture environment of which he is a recent victim.
On Saturday, Elon Musk announced that his company – which he has renamed X – would fight for anyone punished by an employer for their actions on his platform.
“If you were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform, we will fund your legal bill,” Musk tweeted. “No limit. Please let us know.”
Volodzko responded to the tweet with his Substack essay, and Musk eventually responded by saying: “This does sound like a good case.”
It is unclear whether anything will come of Musk’s response, and any action would not be immediate for Volodzko and his family, but it does provide some hope.