The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
The newest up and comer in the heated competition to rule the hate web is The Daily Stormer, named for prominent Nazi Julius Streicher’s virulently anti-Semitic weekly newspaper The Stormer (Der Stürmer). With over-the-top headlines like “All Intelligent People in History Disliked Jews” and “Adolf Hitler: The Most Lied About Man of All Time,” the site has quickly built a substantial readership since its founding in July 2013.
And its success is generating envy among white supremacists, if the information and opinions about the site’s owner received by Hatewatch are any indication.
Daily Stormer is the brainchild of neo-Nazi hotshot Andrew Anglin, a 30-year-old who grew up in Ohio but has lived in Asia and Europe. Anglin is a self-professed National Socialist who told Hatewatch, “I believe strongly that European people have a right to a continued existence as an independent culture and ethnic group.” In an interview with Vocativ, Anglin explained why he needed to create the site: “The present situation is so unsettling that it’s necessary to have an extreme response.”
In 2012, Anglin launched the website Total Fascism. There, according to Vocativ, he wrote in depth pieces on Hitler’s art, the Greek neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn and critiques of the radio host and conspiracist Alex Jones, whom Anglin despises for not hating Jews. Anglin decided the length of the articles were cutting back his audience, hence the zippier and more epithet-ridden Daily Stormer.
And it has worked. The Daily Stormer has in the last six months often topped the oldest and largest hate site on the web, Stormfront, in terms of reach and page views, based on Alexa data. Its readers spend more time on the site than they do on Stormfront and, on a slow day, more than 10,000 log on. Daily Stormer also reaches a younger and wealthier demographic. ( continue to full post… )
One section of the Web forum is dedicated to watching black men die, while another is called “CoonTown” and features users wondering if there are any states left that are “nigger free.” One conversation focuses on the state of being “Negro Free,” while another is about how best to bring attention to the assertion that black people are more prone to commit sexual assaults than whites.
But these discussions aren’t happening on Stormfront, which since its founding in 1995 by a former Alabama Klan leader has been the largest hate forum on the Web. They’re taking place on Reddit, a huge online bulletin board owned by mass media giant Condé Nast, which also owns Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and 20 other print and online publications that reach an estimated 95 million consumers. Reddit has been hailed as the last bastion of free speech on the Internet, an unregulated and vibrant community of users who post whatever they want and rely on the community around them to police their content.
The world of online hate, long dominated by website forums like Stormfront and its smaller neo-Nazi rival Vanguard News Network (VNN), has found a new — and wildly popular — home on the Internet. Reddit boasts the 9th highest Alexa Internet traffic ranking in the United States and the 36th worldwide. Many of Reddit’s racist subreddits are among its most popular.
Reddit is a news site that hosts user-submitted links and discussion, organized into specific communities of interest comprised of “subreddits,” which are ranked by votes from users. If a reader believes content is a constructive contribution, he or she can “upvote” it, pushing the content further up the page. Conversely, if a user thinks that content is either off-topic or is not constructive, it can be “downvoted,” causing it to sink further down the page.
Content on Reddit is “moderated based on quality, not opinion,” according to the working document that dictates community guidelines, called “Reddiquette.” This idea of user-policed communities that contain high-quality, diverse content is part of the ethos Reddit has worked hard to project. “We power awesome communities,” reads the graphic atop its “about” page.
But awesome communities for whom?
Along with countless others with entirely different interests, Reddit increasingly is providing a home for anti-black racists — and some of the most virulent and violent propaganda around. In November 2013, a hyper-racist subreddit called “GreatApes” was formed. Users posted epithet-strewn links to “news” stories of dubious origin that riffed on long established stereotypes about the black community. GreatApes was wildly popular and grew quickly, expanding into a much larger Reddit network called “the Chimpire,” which was organized by a user known only by his or her posting name of “Jewish_NeoCon2.”
“We feel it’s time to expand our sphere of influence and lebensraum [the Nazi term for “living space”] on reddit. Thus we have decided to create ‘the Chimpire,’ a network of nigger related subreddits,” Jewish_NeoCon2 wrote at the time. “Want to read people’s experiences with niggers? There now is an affiliated subreddit for it. Want to watch chimp nature documentaries? We got it. Nigger hate facts? IT’S THERE. … Oh yes you bet we got videos of ghetto niggers fighting each other. Nigger drama on reddit? There’s a sub. Sheboons? Gibsmedat.”
Within a year, the Chimpire network had grown to include 46 active subreddits spanning an alarming range of racist topics, including “Teenapers,” “ApeWrangling,” “Detoilet,” and “Chicongo,” along with subreddits for both “TrayvonMartin” and “ferguson,” each of them dealing with the controversial and highly publicized shooting deaths of unarmed black teenagers.
Then, last November, Reddit’s most racist community evolved once again, adding the subreddit called CoonTown in the aftermath of a dispute between several top moderators at GreatApes. In just four days, CoonTown had reached 1,000 subscribers. And its popularity continues to grow.
According to Reddit Metrics, as of Jan. 6, there were 552,829 subreddits. CoonTown, with its 3,287 subscribers, ranked 6,279th, placing it in the top 2% of subreddits. It is the 680th fastest-growing subreddit on the site despite — or because of — violently racist material including a large number of threads dedicated to videos of black-on-black violence.
These gruesome videos show black men being hit in the head repeatedly with a hammer, burned alive, and killed in a variety of other ways. The subreddit’s banner features a cartoon of a black man hanging, complete with a Klansman in the background. One fairly typical user, “Bustatruggalo” applauded the graphic violence as “[v]ery educational and entertaining.” He or she continued on a separate thread: “I almost feel bad for letting an image like this fill me with an overwhelming amount of joy. Almost….”
Others, like user “natchil,” were looking for still more. “Where is watchjewsdie?” this user wondered.
‘Remember the Human’
There are some limits.
“No calls for violence,” the CoonTown subreddit’s description reads. “It’s prohibited by Reddit’s site-wide rules.”
Everything up to violence, however, is very much there, including the horrific content found on other Chimpire subreddits like “WatchNiggersDie” — content which is rarely, if ever, matched on forums like Stormfront and VNN, which worry about being shut down or driving off potential allies.
That’s despite the Reddiquette section’s first rule, which implores Reddit users to “Remember the human.” “When you communicate online, all you see is a computer screen,” it says. “When talking to someone you might want to ask yourself ‘Would I say it to the person’s face?’ or ‘Would I get jumped if I said this to a buddy?’”
If Reddit’s rules seem relaxed, that’s because they are meant to be. Still, although users are asked to “remember the human,” there is little humanity in the way the subjects of subreddits like CoonTown are treated.
In June 2013, however, after an extended, public controversy, Reddit did ban the subreddit “Niggers” when large numbers of its denizens began overrunning another subreddit, “BlackGirls,” with racist posts that were apparently not being policed by its moderators. “Brigading” — when large groups of people from one subreddit gang up to downvote comments on another subreddit that they don’t normally visit — is prohibited by Reddit. Users of the Niggers subreddit also engaged in “vote manipulation,” which falsely raises the popularity of a post by soliciting like-minded users to blindly upvote it. After repeated warnings and “shadow-banning,” or making a user’s posts invisible to everyone but the author, the subreddit was finally banned. According to Jewish_NeoCon2, more than a few former members of the Niggers subreddit have now taken up residence at CoonTown.
A Reluctance to Intervene
Condé Nast, one of the largest mass media companies in the United States, acquired Reddit in 2006, although the Internet company still operates independently. The stability of such a well-established and respected media firm, as well as the funding of many high-profile investors, including a $50 million investment from the rapper Snoop Lion this October, appears to guarantee Reddit’s future.
A request for comment on the Chimpire was directed to Patricia Rockenwagner, a member of Condé Nast’s public relations department, but she referred it to Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s head of communications. Taylor did not respond to requests for comment.
Last year, however, Yishan Wong, Reddit’s CEO, took to the subreddit “TheoryofReddit,” to explain that Reddit was in the red. He revealed that in exchange for its relative operational independence from Condé Nast, the site was responsible for its own bills. The site’s goal, according to Wong, is to pay its own way and its primary engine for accomplishing that is through ads, a premium subscription option, and the Reddit gift exchange.
Racist websites and organizations do sometimes benefit from racist subreddits like the Chimpire. That’s because subreddit users often post links to other racist sites, and those links drive traffic to those other sites, which in turn typically sell merchandise in addition to pushing racist ideology and recruiting.
It’s hard to dispute that Reddit does offer a venue for remarkably lively and unbridled conversation, and that dissident commentary that might not be tolerated elsewhere finds a welcome home there. Richard Spencer, a racist ideologue who heads the National Policy Institute, held an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit last November, and although his views are widely regarded as loathsome, he was calm and understated in his discussion of far-right European politics. Unlike in WatchNiggersDie, there were no links to videos of brutal killings or other visual images meant to degrade the humanity of minorities.
Reddit is often hailed as one of the last bastions of truly free speech, and its owners’ hesitance to jeopardize that status is understandable given the loyal following it has inspired. Reddit has removed content that has been illegally appropriated from commercial interests, such as the revelations that emerged from the November hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The Internet is awash in racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and other hateful content, but much of it is relatively tame. Subreddits such the Chimpire offer a window on to just how awful some of the darkest corners of the Web really are.
This story also was published in the Spring 2015 issue of the Intelligence Report.
Seattle Times: Lawsuit against Army in couple’s death at hands of ‘FEAR’ militia gets 2016 trial date.
Raw Story: Texas fraternity that held racist party also forbids interracial dating, Mexicans, and ‘fagetry.’
Right Wing Watch: Senate GOP invites FRC’s Tony Perkins to politicize hearing on ‘religious freedom abroad.’
Huffington Post: Former NFL player Craig James compares support of same-sex marriage to Satanism.
Mother Jones: Get ready for the conservative assault on where transgender people will be allowed to pee.
Media Matters: Megyn Kelly downplays Ferguson report by comparing racist emails to the kind circulated at most businesses.
Talking Points Memo: Video surfaces of Oklahoma fraternity mom singing the N-word repeatedly.
The Guardian: Texas Muslims fear for their safety after Iraqi man shot dead in Dallas attack.
Craig Cobb really, really wants the world to know he’s white.
The well-known white supremacist and anti-Semite, who garnered national attention after attempting to take over the small town of Leith, N.D., took to Stormfront this morning to gleefully announce that he had disproven the “junk science” test in November of 2013 that put his pedigree in question.
In that test, the results of which were televised on the Trisha Goddard Show, Cobb was found to have 14 percent sub-Saharan African genes –– a fact he dismissed as “statistical noise.”
Apparently, Goddard’s big reveal to Cobb that, “You have a little black in you, bro!” had been eating away at the would-be mayor of “Cobbsville” for some time. So much so that Cobb had a second test completed that showed he was pure white, except for a “3% Iberian thing.”
“I’d appreciate it if honorable men will stop calling me 14% black,” Cobb pleaded today on Stormfront. “I wish my Wiki could get edited. … They currently have me listed as part African American. More Jew lies. I hope you can now see that at this late date in the matter.”
In his lengthy post announcing his newly discovered whiteness, Cobb goes on to thank a laundry list of white supremacist leaders “for supporting [him] from the inception when [he] was defamed by junk science.”
Without their support, who knows whether Cobb could have found the strength to persevere and keep buying genetics tests until he could finally, indisputably prove that he is in fact white.
A newly elected prosecutor in Washington State is under fire for a string of anti-Muslim, racist and other insensitive comments his wife made on social media and news comment sites.
Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Haskell told various media outlets he doesn’t share the views of his wife, Lesley Haskell, after her online opinions were exposed late last month in the Inlander, a weekly newspaper. But since then, local civil rights activists say the prosecutor should have gone farther and denounced his wife’s comments.
The prosecutor, a Republican, and his wife did not respond to an email request from Hatewatch for comment.
The Inlander article said Lesley Haskell made a Facebook comment in January about a Muslim mayor in the Netherlands who, after the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices, said Muslims who “do not like freedom can pack your bags and leave.”
“I don’t care what he said, I do not trust muzlims [sic] no matter what,” she posted in response, the newspaper reported.
In another post, she wrote: “Islam is not a religion, it’s a cult. Cults have no protections under our Constitution. (Muslims) should leave and live in a country that supports their archaic beliefs.”
Media coverage of her comments caught the attention of Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed, who threw a political fundraising event last year supporting Larry Haskell in challenging Breann Beggs for the vacant Spokane County prosecutor’s office.
“I think those comments are dangerous … dangerous because people who are uneducated and don’t know Muslims take it for face value, then people think it’s acceptable,” Ahmed, himself a Muslim, told KHQ-TV.
Beggs, who has been involved in several social justice cases, expressed dismay about the prosecutor’s lackluster response.
“It is not enough to refrain from hate speech,” Beggs told Hatewatch. “Our elected leaders must speak out against ignorance and bigotry.’’
But Liz Moore, executive director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, questioned whether Lesley Haskell’s public comments about Muslims and other minorities mirror her husband’s views, the Inlander reported.
“I think everyone in our community needs to feel confident that they are treated fairly by everyone in public office, and in the criminal justice system in particular,” Moore told the newspaper. “If I were a member of the Islamic faith, this would make me have questions about how I would be treated or perceived.”
Haskell has since apologized for the “angst” caused by his wife’s comments, and said he doesn’t share her views about Muslim. But Lesley Haskell’s online comments weren’t limited to Muslims.
After a young black man recently pleaded guilty in the beating death of a World War II veteran, in another case prosecuted by her husband, Lesley Haskell posted a comment calling the defendant and his family “pieces of vile garbage” who “are evil, scum, wastes on society (who) should be annihilated,” the Spokesman-Review reported.
When former South African President Nelson Mandela died in December 2013, Lesley Haskell posted that she didn’t “understand the reverence for this man” and wasn’t about to mourn his passing. “He might have done some charitable things, but he was a communist,” she wrote. “When did we, in the U.S., start idolizing communists? Oh yeah, in 2008” — an apparent reference to the election of President Obama.
As the controversy surrounding her online commentary continues to swirl, a new report today in The Spokesman-Review disclosed that Lesley Haskell also commented on criminal cases still under investigation or are being prosecuted by her husband.
Larry Haskell told the newspaper it would be his preference that his wife avoid public comments on cases in the prosecutor’s office, but has no legal ability to control comments made by her or other private citizens.
New York Times: Oklahoma SAE fraternity disbanded after video showing racist chant goes viral.
Think Progress: SAE proudly touts its historical association with the Confederacy on its website.
Clarion Ledger (Jackson, MI): Mississippi sheriff’s deputy fired after allegedly saying ‘I get paid to beat up niggers.’
Raw Story: Top Kansas Democrat calls on Kris Kobach, ‘the most racist politician in America today,’ to step down.
The New Civil Rights Movement: Oklahoma legislator doubles down on assertion that gays have no right to expect to be served.
Crooks and Liars: Ferguson sergeant fired for racist email was Darren Wilson’s supervisor.
Towleroad: Islamophobic Texas lawmaker files anti-LGBT bill hoping to block future same-sex marriages.
Right Wing Watch: Alabama justice Roy Moore warns that court ruling on gay marriage could pave way for government to ‘take your children.’
Even as tens of thousands of people – black and white, young and old, preachers and presidents – poured into Selma, Al., last weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the voting rights victories that followed, members of the Ku Klux Klan were driving through town, throwing plastic bags stuffed with KKK fliers and rocks onto doorsteps and lawns.
In the last two weeks, Robert Jones, the grand dragon of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, told AL.com that members of his group had distributed some 4,000 fliers to random homes throughout Selma and Montgomery, some 50 miles away. The rocks inside the flier bags were meant to act as paperweights to keep the hate from blowing away.
“We pretty much put out fliers, some against King and some against immigration,” Jones told AL.com. “It’s times for the American people to wake up to these falsehoods that they preach about MLK.”
But that wasn’t all. A few days before the eyes of the country turned to Selma, a neo-Confederate group, Friends of Forrest, Inc., once again put up a racially charged billboard about a half-mile from the Edmund Pettus Bridge – the site of the Bloody Sunday beating of mostly black civil rights marchers on March 7, 1965.
The billboard, with the Confederate flag in the background, depicts Confederate Army General and later KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, astride a warhorse next to his signature battle cry: “Keep the skeer [scare] on ‘em.”
Friends of Forrest has ties to the League of the South (LOS), a neo-Confederate hate group that promotes racial separation, argues that slavery was ordained by God, and advocates modern-day secession. (Lately, LOS has been paying for billboards of its own across the south and plastered with one word: “Secede.”)
Patricia Goodwin, the head of Friends of Forrest, told the New York Daily News, that the billboard “was put there with positive intent to ask people who come to Selma to explore and enjoy our 19th century history.”
Meanwhile, over the weekend, a group of young racists at the University of Oklahoma weren’t wearing white sheets as an expression of their racist views. They were dressed in black tie.
Several members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), one of America’s largest college fraternities, were caught on video chanting a racist ditty as they headed for a black-tie affair on a bus Saturday night.
“There will never be a nigger SAE. There will never be a nigger SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he will never sign with me. There will never be a nigger SAE.”
Someone posted the 9-second video to Youtube and by late Sunday night, according to The New York Times, Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed its University of Oklahoma chapter. Hours later, university president, David Boren, said at an early morning anti-racism rally that the university had severed all ties with the fraternity and ordered it members out of the frat house by midnight.
In a written statement directed at the frat boys on the bus, Boren said, “You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.’ Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots.”
It has indeed been a busy few days in the fairy tale kingdom called post-racial America.
But in the real America, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday, President Barack Obama embraced Congressman John Lewis, whose head was cracked open by a state trooper’s billy club on Bloody Sunday. Then the president addressed the nation.
“In one afternoon 50 years ago,” the president said, “so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham; and the dream of a Baptist preacher – all that history met on this bridge.”
Obama said he and the thousands of people gathered at the bridge with him had come to “honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching towards justice.”
Although the country has come far since that Bloody Sunday, the president said that there is still work to be done.
“We just need to open our eyes,” he said, “and our ears, and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts a long shadow upon us.”
And just a few blocks away, a plastic bag filled with rocks and hate was tossed on another doorstep.
As family and friends of Gordon Baum, founder and CEO of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), gather to lay him to rest, the future of one of the oldest and most influential hate groups in the United States remains uncertain.
Baum, a former personal injury lawyer in the St. Louis area, formed the CCC in 1985 from the mailing lists of the White Citizens Councils of America (formally called the Citizens Councils of America). At the height of its influence, the CCC reached a membership of 15,000 with real political clout, including the membership of former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
The end of Baum’s 30-year tenure at the CCC leaves a major void at the heart of an organization for which he was the bedrock. But, in the wake of Baum’s passing, discord already has emerged.
AL.com: Ku Klux Klan fliers left at Selma homes on 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday.’
New York Daily News: Billboard honoring KKK founder erected near Pettus Bridge in time for Selma march anniversary.
Right Wing Watch: Scott Lively warns that homosexuality is ‘worse than murder and worse than genocide.’
Daily Kos: If you think ‘reverse racism’ is worse than what blacks face, read the Ferguson report.
Raw Story: Oklahoma fraternity investigated after video showing racist sing-along goes viral.
AlterNet: Right-wingers’ secession threats are how they fight tooth and nail on the wrong side of history.
Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee): Milwaukee sheriff compares a Harlem without cops to Nigerian massacres by Boko Haram.
Forward: Louis Farrakhan tells followers that Jews ‘played key roles’ in 9/11 attacks.
Shaken by a year-long spike in LGBT-bashing crimes in their predominantly gay neighborhood, community leaders from Seattle’s Capitol Hill area organized a public forum this week that drew several hundred participants, as well as the city’s mayor.
Ranging from an attempt to kill hundreds of people packed into a bar on New Year’s Eve to a steady stream of assaults and robberies motivated by anti-LGBT animus, the spike in hate crimes on Capitol Hill appears to be a violent backlash against recent gains in LGBT rights in Washington state, including the approval given to same-sex marriage by the state’s voters in 2012.
“I used to live on Capitol Hill, but I don’t anymore,” said Debbie Carlsen of LGBTQ Allyship, a local rights organization, to the crowd on Tuesday, echoing a number of other speakers. “And when I go to the Hill, I don’t feel culturally safe. It’s not a place that I feel safe anymore.”
A number of residents described to the crowd the kinds of assaults that they have endured in the past year, including verbal harassment escalating to physical assaults as they walked through the neighborhood, as well as one alleged assault by a police officer. One man stood up and removed his hat, revealing a large healing wound on his forehead, saying he had been attacked only a week before and had been unable to identify his assailants, “but they were all calling me names.”
Most of those who testified agreed that the worst, most violent attacks seemed to be directed at transsexual people of color.
The meeting, organized by Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, featured a number of speakers offering a range of solutions. Some proposed more citizen patrols, while others opposed that step as potentially dangerous. Some argued for greater police involvement, while others blamed the police as part of the problem. Sawant spoke at length about how economic disparities often fuel the conditions that make the crimes possible.
Seattle’s openly gay Mayor Ed Murray, who attended the gathering with his husband, said he will help take the lead on this issue. “I think if people don’t feel safe, if they perceive they’re not safe, then we have a problem,” he said. “And we as a city and we as a community have to respond.”
Murray told KING 5 News that he believes the problem is real and substantial. “I think there is an increase,” he said. “I mean, we’ve been here before, we’ve seen this right on this very street before, back in the late ’80s and early ‘90s, when I was a young person. And we’re seeing it again.”
Shaun Knittel, the founder of Social Outreach Seattle, and one of the people who helped douse the attempted arson at Neighbours Bar on New Year’s Eve 2014, an act that eventually brought a heavy 10-year sentence for the perpetrator, told the crowd that it needed to resolve some of its internal differences if the community is going to form an effective response to the challenge.
“We have a perfect storm here on the Hill,” said Knittel, noting the split between people who support the police and those who blame the police. “What kind of message does that send to people who want to do harm to us?”
“We also have a nightlife culture here where everyone that’s opening a business here seems to think they need to be either a bar or a nightclub. How many do you need in one neighborhood?”
Knittel urged victims of bias crimes to resist the temptation to not report the matter to police at all, noting that doing so just encourages repeat offenses and escalation.
“We need to understand better about reporting, and we need to talk about what that looks like,” he said. “If you fear going to the police to report, we understand that. But please, reach out and find and advocate and let people help you report what’s happened. Because I can guarantee you that you’re not their first victim.”
Most of all, he noted, the community needs to make it clear that “bashing queers” is not a free sport for haters anymore.
“We need to lean into this notion that you can come up here and mess with us and we won’t do anything back,” he said. “Those days are over.”