The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Michael Hill’s fall from the ivory tower knows no depth. In a message on Friday to members of a private League of the South Facebook, the former Stillman College professor offered an odd sort of prayer.
“May Yahweh bring a dire earthly punishment on all those anti-White Whites who assist in any manner in the destruction of their own people and civilization. Such is treason to the created order,” Hill wrote in a private Facebook message that was leaked to Hatewatch. “Also, may Yahweh hold open a special place in hell for them.”
While the tone and tenor of the post may not be that surprising, given the steady fall of the League into more radical racist and antigovernment positions, it does shed some light on what may be the ideological underpinnings of what the League has become over the last several years.
Last year, Hatewatch reported the existence of a private paramilitary organization being formed within the League, as well as a shakeup of its leadership structure. We also learned that Hill had promoted Michael Tubbs, a former Green Beret and demolitions expert, to his chief of staff.
Tubbs isn’t just a proud southern nationalist, though. A former Klansman and Christian identity adherent, Tubbs is widely respected across the racist right. What’s more, his Identity ideas about the place of whites in the divine order of the universe seem to have rubbed off on the old man.
It wasn’t long after Tubbs was promoted that a different man emerged, at least in his online postings. Gone was the measured and mild college professor with certain ideas about Southern heritage and southern independence – a man who sometimes wore Confederate army uniforms to class. In his place stood an angry old man whose online postings echoed his staff and whose racist aggression flowed freely.
Just last month, writing about the riots in Baltimore, Hill chastised his fellow conservatives for tracing the source of the riots to politics and police brutality, poverty and privilege. Instead, Hill argued, the tragedy came down to one thing: “negro rule.”
“Negro rule is disastrous to civilization and dangerous to White lives and property,” Hill wrote on the League’s website on April 28. “That is why our White European civilization has been in the cross hairs of the Jew/Liberal gentile coalition. We have refused to believe their fairy tale about Negro equality.”
Such a sentiment is quite a departure from the rhetoric of the past.
And while Hill has embraced all manner of radical ideas, from prepping for war with the federal government to claiming slavery was divinely inspired, it’s something astonishingly different to see him pull back the genteel veil of southern manners and reveal what has always been at the heart of the League and increasingly at the front of hi own mind.
Hate … unfettered and unprovoked.
For weeks in the spring of 2011, a caravan of white suburban teenagers and young adults would pile into a green Ford-250 pickup truck and another vehicle and go hunting for African Americans to harass and assault in the streets of Jackson, Miss., the state capital.
They attacked people with slingshots and beer bottles, fists and feet, sometimes shouting “White Power” as they sped away. The reign of terror culminated in the death of a 47-year-old black auto plant worker, James Anderson, who was badly beaten and then deliberately run over with the truck by his pursuers in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011.
Since then, 9 members of the group have been sent to prison after pleading guilty in the string of attacks and are serving terms that range from life for the driver of the pickup, Deryl Dedmon, to five years for one of the young women riding along.
On Friday, the 10th and last member of the group, Robert Henry Rice, 24, was sentenced in federal court in Jackson to 10 years behind bars for his role in the attacks that stretched from April 1 to the death of Anderson on June 26.
“These are thugs, that’s the only way to describe them,” U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate said at the sentencing on Friday, according to USA Today. “This defendant came to Jackson multiple times to enjoy this aspect of ‘fun’ that they were going to perpetuate on innocent African Americans.”
Rice, of Brandon, Miss., was not present during the killing of Anderson but he had participated in at least three earlier assaults on African Americans, USA Today reports.
Rice’s day of judgment came five months after he pleaded guilty in January to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr., act, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.
“The hate crimes to which these defendants have pleaded guilty were as shocking as they were reprehensible – targeting innocent people for racially motivated acts of violence inflicted grievous harm and even claimed a life,” then Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement at the time. “This landmark case should send a clear message: that anyone who commits an act of bias-motivated violence, or who violates the civil rights to which all Americans are entitled, will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
For weeks before Anderson was killed, the teenagers cruised the nighttime streets of Jackson, drinking beer and searching for African Americans to attack. They threw beer bottles and shot metal ball bearings out of moving vehicles at African American pedestrians. Near a golf course, they beat a man so badly that he begged for his life.
Then in the pre-dawn darkness of June 26, 2011 they came across Anderson in the parking lot of a motel. He appeared to be intoxicated, the perfect target. A couple of the young men took turns punching Anderson in the face. Then Dedmon deliberately ran him over with the pickup truck.
As the teens left the lot, one of them shouted “White Power.”
The League of the South (LOS) appears to be having an identity crisis. As the two-year anniversary of the neo-Confederate hate group’s abrupt tactical shift towards well-dressed and well-mannered street demonstrations approaches, LOS President Michael Hill’s latest column marks one more chapter in the collapse of what quickly revealed itself to be a laughably transparent façade of respectability.
The time has come, at least in Hill’s mind, to ponder what he believes is the real possibility of a race war. Apparently, he likes his odds.
“We Southern nationalists do not want a race war (or any sort of war). But if one is forced on us, we’ll participate,” wrote Hill on the LOS website. “Southern whites are geared up and armed to the teeth.”
Such statements may come as a shock, given the fact that the LOS has spent much of the last two years attempting to promote its message to “regular” southerners through the use of mainstream, conservative messaging on issues such as “traditional marriage” and the “demographic displacement of southerners.” Of course, that was never a very honest presentation. After all, Hill is the same man who at a Georgia LOS meeting in 2011 urged his constituents to begin stocking up on AK-47s, hollow-point bullets, and, most remarkably, tools to derail trains.
Then, last year, Hatewatch revealed that the LOS was actively — and secretly — training a uniformed, paramilitary unit to be called the ‘Indomitables’ that was tasked with advancing a second southern secession.
Hill’s latest piece, which appeared in the wake of nearly a week of demonstrations and rioting in the Baltimore area following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, focuses on the myriad advantages of the angry white man in a potential race war. The reason, asserts Hill, is the white man’s innate superiority.
“Negroes are more impulsive than whites,” says Hill, who once taught at a historically black university in Alabama. “Tenacity and organization are not the negroes [sic] strong suits. If the war could be won by ferocity alone, he might have a chance. But like the adrenaline rush that sparks it, ferocity is short lived. And it can be countered by cool discipline, an historic white trait, and all that stems from it.”
The race war Hill imagines is nothing more than fear-mongering in the style of the late neo-Nazi William Pierce’s novel The Turner Diaries. That book depicted a race war in which whites murder Jews, black people, “race-mixers” and a host of others in order to build an “Aryan” state. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was carrying photocopied pages from the dystopian novel when he was arrested, apparently to explain his motives in case he were to be killed by police.
Hill seems to revel in the details of the bloodshed he thinks may be imminent.
“Things would begin to get interesting once the widespread terror spread out to the suburbs,” he writes in his new essay. “The most likely flashpoints would be white owned suburban businesses or neighborhoods where armed men and women stood ready to defend themselves. At this point white discipline, resources, and firepower would start to become a factor; however, would American suburbanites, after decades of PC brainwashing, have the will to fight back in sufficient number to quell the black tide?”
Hill also throws in a little of his increasingly apparent anti-Semitism. Following his recent posting of an essay by the disgraced former professor and anti-Semitic ideologue Kevin MacDonald in a LOS Facebook group, Hill now suggests that one of the South’s main problems is “Jewry” and what he depicts as the Jewish-controlled media. “ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and other largely Jewish-Progressive owned media would doubtless fan the flames, justifying black behavior while conversely condemning white reaction,” Hill writes as he contemplates the difficulties that will face the white man.
Hill goes on to fantasize about the end of “white guilt,” a common theme among neo-Nazis and others on the radical right. “American negroes, and those Jew/Gentile Progressives who supported their lawless behavior for decades, would have used up whatever ‘civil rights’ capital they may have accumulated with average white Americans (and perhaps many Asians and Hispanics),” he writes as he describes what is pictured as the ultimate victory of whites in the South.
When reached by telephone, Hill declined to comment.
Hill ends his essay with a warning that sounds very much like a threat: “So if negroes think a ‘race war’ in modern America would be to their advantage, they had better prepare themselves for a very rude awakening. White people may be patient, but our patience does have a limit. You do not want to test that limit.”
Every day, in thousands of small, rural towns across the American South, the local barber has generally been among the best-informed and one of the most influential opinion shapers in the community. He knows a few town secrets, probably has a few himself. And in Harrison, Ark., barber Freeland Roy Dunscombe is no exception.
On one recent weekday, just after 9 a.m., there was a steady stream of foot traffic at Dunscombe’s single-chair barbershop in a former gas station in downtown Harrison. He was holding court, as usual, regaling his patrons with talk of psychology, philosophy, history and race — as if he were married to the Ku Klux Klan.
And in more ways than one, he is.
“From an evolutionary perspective,” Dunscombe opined that day, “tribalism is a great strategy, and it far defeats nationalism.” He stepped back to run a brush through his electric clippers. “A guy who will go jump on a grenade to save his nation doesn’t have very good reproductive success.”
Such thinly-veiled racist conversation from a barber may be what many have come to expect in Harrison, population 13,324, a city whose Klan presence has put it on the map as one of the more racially divisive towns in America. But Dunscombe is much more than a garrulous barber who can riff on anything from politics to pomade.
For an hour each weekday morning, before he opens shop, Dunscombe assumes the name “Truck Roy” on Stormfront Radio as a co-host to former Klansman Don Black, who broadcasts a two-hour radio show from his dining room table in West Palm Beach, Fla. Dunscombe’s role with Black, however, is much more than a verbal sparring partner.
An ideologue with a finger on the pulse of the movement, he serves as a bridge connecting Black to a new generation of anti-Semites, Klansmen, race conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers –– a bridge that Stormfront’s patriarch so desperately needs as younger racists look elsewhere online for a steady stream of hate.
Every Friday, for example, Dunscombe anchors a feature on Black’s program on the Rense Radio Network called “Five for Friday” to discuss issues of race and, more often, “white genocide.” During one such moment in March focusing on “white tribalism,” Black and Dunscombe discussed what exactly white genocide meant. Did everyone have to die, Black wondered, for genocide to be the right word? Dunscombe responded, “There are still Tutsis left.” (The Tutsis are the second largest population group in Rwanda targeted for genocide by the majority Hutus.)
Their conversations on the radio are not always so … dynamic. In fact, there are times when enough tension is apparent between Dunscombe and Black to suggest their relationship may be one not of friendship, but of shared objectives –– racists from opposite sides of the generational divide and united by a crooked branch on a racist family tree.
Raised and homeschooled in Palomar Mountain, Calif., Dunscombe, 38, spent his early years living the nomadic life of a truck driver. He worked for Rock Solid Chugcreek Trucking in Wyoming before going to barber school in North Dakota. He then moved to Harrison, Ark., where – as he told the Southern Poverty Law Center – he moved “to follow a girl.”
Not just any girl, though.
On Nov. 12, 2009, Dunscombe married Charity Pendergraft, the granddaughter of Thomas Robb, an Arkansas-based Christian Identity pastor and head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. They wed not quite six months after she turned 18, according to their marriage license. Dunscombe was 32 at the time.
With that marriage, Dunscombe earned a direct family relationship to one the country’s most infamous racists, and by luck or deliberate design, a connection to nearly every former head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. His grandfather-in-law now leads the Klan group, which David Duke started before handing the reins over to Dunscombe’s boss, Black, who ran the group until he was he was arrested for violating the Neutrality Act by plotting to invade a Caribbean island in 1981 and sent to prison.
But by the time of his wedding, Dunscombe had already been a fixture on Black’s Stormfront radio – a predecessor to the program broadcast on Rense. On that network, he hosted a show called “Riding Shotgun with Truck Roy.” With infamously racist in-laws, it was there that Dunscombe seemed to find a mouthpiece and truly started to talk.
“The only reason why our people have been disheartened and disillusioned and have been tricked into not standing up for themselves is because our controlled media and our society as a whole has tried to beat us down and tried to make the White race seem petty. And of course we’re not petty. We’re the grandest thing that’s ever happened to this planet,” Dunscombe said during one broadcast on May 28, 2008.
But those early radio days –- when he was also broadcasting on Intercept Radio under the registered amateur radio handle of “KF5NBP” –- were only a glimpse of Dunscombe’s racist activism to come. After settling down in Arkansas, he started working hard to live up to the expectations of his Klan in-laws.
By 2012, Dunscombe had started to exhibit the beginnings of political ambitions. He ran as an independent candidate for justice of the peace in Boone County, hoping, it seemed, that a sprinkling of folksiness might sugarcoat his history. “I have never run for political office before, but as a barber I listen to a lot of folks,” he told the Harrison Daily.
While claiming not to be a member of the Klan, he couldn’t hide that three years earlier he had spoken at the Knights Party National Congress, held conveniently by his in-laws. In an interview he gave the Carroll County News in November 2012, four days before the election, Dunscombe’s views came into clearer focus.
“Our enemy is not black. Our enemy is not brown or Mexican. Our enemy looks just like us but has no loyalty to us,” Dunscombe said.
He lost handily to Ann Kimes, a Republic incumbent, who mocked Dunscombe for believing his views would have widespread appeal. “I really can’t take credit for winning the election. I just give him credit for committing political suicide,” Kimes told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette after Election Day.
But with the blessing of Black and Robb, political pitfalls did not slow Dunscombe’s rise on the radical right.
In 2013, at Stormfront’s annual retreat in Tennessee, Dunscombe shared the dais with David Duke, Sam Dickson and Timothy Murdock, the man behind White Rabbit Radio and the proliferation of The Mantra – a 221-word mini-manifesto written by Robert Whitaker, an aging segregationist with a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Murdock had been using his online radio platform to spread The Mantra far and wide, and it wasn’t long before it found its way to Harrison.
On Oct. 15, 2014, a bright yellow billboard with bold black letters appeared overlooking a well-traveled street in Harrison. The sign proclaimed in black letters, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White,” the final and most frequently quoted section of Whitaker’s screed.
It remains unknown who paid for the billboard. But eight months earlier, Dunscombe, Robb and others attended a meeting at the local library for the Harrison Community Task Force on Race Relations, established to repair Harrison’s tarnished image as a stomping ground for those who promote racial hatred. During the meeting, Robb chastised the city, as usual, for its characterization of his racist beliefs. But it was his grandson-in-law, Dunscombe, who stole the show.
“It’s only white countries where people get called racist, and then as penance for their sin of being white, they have to bring in tens of millions of non-whites into their country,” Dunscombe said indignantly at the meeting.
On his chest he wore a sticker with a message no one had seen before –– Whitaker’s Mantra – and an exact image of the billboard that eight months later no one would claim, in the end not even Dunscombe.
Three alleged members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who are current and former Florida Department of Corrections employees were arrested today on charges they plotted to kill a former black inmate.
Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, were all arrested on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a prepared statement.
Driver and Moran worked at the Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler at the time of their arrest, and Newcomb is a former employee of the state corrections department, said Whitney Ray, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
“The defendants plotted the murder as retaliation for a fight between the inmate, who is African American, and Driver,” the statement from the attorney general’s office said.
The attorney general’s office identified the group the men allegedly belonged to as the Traditional American Knights of the KKK. But there is no such known group, and the authorities almost certainly meant the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK, which is based in Potosi, Mo., and last year had a second chapter in Prattville, Ala. A year earlier, it listed seven chapters, the Missouri headquarters and another six in Texas. The group is not known to have a Florida chapter.
The Traditionalist American Knights has gotten much media attention in the last year for distributing propaganda pamphlets. But it received far more scrutiny after its national leader, Frank Ancona, sent out pamphlets threatening to use “lethal force” against protesters in Ferguson, Mo., if any of his members who went there were threatened.
Inside the tempestuous Klan world, Ancona is also known for the attacks on him by other Klan leaders, who accuse him of being secretly Jewish.
The Florida case is the latest instance of KKK members holding positions of authority in law enforcement and the criminal justice system in Florida and elsewhere. Although such cases were once fairly common, they are very unusual in recent years.
There have been a number of cases over the years of racist prison guards, a few of whom were Klan members.
Last summer, two officers with the Fruitland Park, Fla., police department were identified as Klan members. One of them was the deputy chief. One resigned and the other was fired, as prosecutors quickly reviewed their prior criminal cases for bias. There has been some dispute as to whether or not they really were Klansmen.
In 2009, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the 2006 firing of a State Patrol trooper who claimed he had a 1st Amendment right to belong to the Knights Party, another name for the Arkansas-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The state’s high court said the firing of trooper Robert Henderson was justified because he voluntarily associated with an organization that uses violence and terror to oppose the state’s founding principles of equality and tolerance.
Henderson, a trooper for 18 years, was dismissed in 2006 after he admitted that, two years earlier, he had joined Knights Party.
“One cannot simultaneously wear the badge of the Nebraska State Patrol and the robe of a Klansman without degrading what that badge represents when worn by any officer,” Justice John Gerrard wrote.
In the new Florida case, court documents associate with the arrests have not been unsealed, so other details of the case are not yet publicly available. The case will be prosecuted in Florida’s Columbia County, officials said.
Federal civil rights charges are pending against a former student at the University of Mississippi who is accused of hanging a noose and Confederate flag on a statue of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss.
Graeme Phillip Harris, 20, of Alpharetta, Ga., was arrested on Friday by deputy U.S. marshals, two days after being indicted by a federal grand jury in northern Mississippi. He was released on an unsecured $10,000 bond after an initial court appearance.
Accused racist killer Frazier Glenn Miller, who has been in jail a year since three fatal shootings in Overland Park, Kan., has been granted one of his two wishes: He will get a speedy trial. He won’t get Internet access in his jail cell.
Johnson County District Judge Kelly Ryan set a trial date of Aug. 17 on Friday after Miller, 74, shouted “Hell, no,” when asked if he wanted to waive his right to a speedy trial, the Kansas City Star reports.
Miller entered not guilty pleas during the same hearing on charges of first-degree capital murder in the deaths of William Corporon, 69, his 16-year-old grandson Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno, 53.
Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., has said he was targeting Jews when he opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom care center on April 13 of last year. All three victims were Christians.
Miller’s defense attorneys strenuously objected to the early trial date, arguing that they need substantially more time to prepare for a death penalty case. They asked that a trial date be set in March 2016.
“I want to have my day in court,” Miller told the court. He also has asked to act as his own attorney, but was given a court-appointed defense attorey.
Miller and his attorneys also asked the judge to grant him Internet access in jail so “he could have contact with ‘like-minded individuals’ who shared his political beliefs,” the Kansas City newspaper reported.
One of Miller’s attorneys told the court that other “like-minded individuals” may be called to testify about “Miller’s state of mind at the time of the shootings,” the newspaper reported.
“There has not been a showing of need other than the defendant’s wishing to have the same access he had before being placed in custody,” the judge responded in denying the request.
After a two-day hearing earlier this month, the judge ruled there was probable cause to believe Miller had committed the murders and deemed him competent to stand trial.
Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the white supremacist web site, Stormfront. Since its creation in 1995, Stormfront has been creating and dispersing all forms of hate to its racialist and often violent audience of nearly 300,000 registered members.
“For 20 years now, Stormfront has been pushing hate propaganda around the world,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project. “The problem isn’t just the racist material Don Black and company have been publicizing, it’s the body count, too. Nearly 100 people have been killed by Stormfront users in the last few years. Stormfront isn’t only vile, it’s dangerous.”
To mark the occasion, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog will be running a series of stories about the hate site, its activities, its principals and its funders.
The first story published yesterday is an exposé about Stormfront radio, which the site’s founder Stephen “Don” Black launched about a year ago on the Rense Radio Network. Heard by hundreds of thousands of homes across North American and Europe, Stormfront radio is now one of the largest purveyors of hate propaganda in the world.
In addition to the expose, an interactive timeline of the site and a short video that highlights Stormfront’s most infamous members is available. Our 2014 report White Homicide Worldwide documented the murders committed by Stormfront members.
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.
Texas-based white supremacist and activist Preston Wiginton, best known for bringing racists to college campuses, is at it again, this time sponsoring anti-LGBT pastor James Manning to speak at Texas A&M University next month.
The topic of Manning’s speech will be “The True State of Black America”—an interesting title considering Manning is African American speaking at the invitation of a man who once claimed, “beating down a mud [person of color] when they try to poisen [sic] one of our own or when they try to seduce one of our [white] girls may not be God inspired, but rather a righteous act of collective preservation.”