Hatewatch

Founding Fathers on Facebook Hijacked by the Radical Right

The Founding Fathers as white racist poster boys?

Do a Facebook page search of the name Thomas Jefferson, and the very first listing that will appear is Thomas Jefferson – American. You can click to join 11,753 people who “like” the page.

Well, congratulations. You just signed onto fan pages sponsored by the racist National Policy Institute (NPI), a think tank dedicated to the preservation of America as a nation of, for and dominated by white people. NPI has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group since publishing heir William H. Regnery founded it in 2005.

NPI has hijacked many of America’s Founding Fathers. 12,835 Facebook users “like” the group’s General George Washington page. Another 5,617 network users like the page for Benjamin Franklin – American, and 2,630 like James Monroe – American. While it is unclear how many of those who add their names to NPI’s Facebook pages are aware of NPI’s mission of preserving a culturally white America, without question, the Facebook fan pages are driving thousands of clicks worth of traffic to a racist hate group’s website.

After being contacted by Hatewatch, Facebook’s management has launched an investigation of NPI’s pages. As a largely self-regulated service, Facebook relies heavily on readers to report objectionable content. “Direct statements of hate against particular communities violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and are removed when reported to us,” Simon Axten, Facebook’s manager of public policy, told Hatewatch by E-mail. “We also remove content that supports hateful or violent organizations.”

NPI proudly identifies all of its 42 sponsored Facebook pages that make up the “National Policy Institute Facebook Project,” but there is little evidence of NPI’s philosophies on the pages it devotes to iconic American historical figures. There are pages for Founding Fathers Washington, Franklin, Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock and John Jay; patriots of the American Revolution Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and Nathan Hale, and presidents James Polk and Theodore Roosevelt. NPI also sponsors other noteworthy figures including Mark Twain, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Kit Carson, Lewis and Clark, Thomas Edison, Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney.

But some of NPI’s other sponsored fan pages celebrate American figures of a more controversial nature – though presented only in fawningly positive terms – including industrialist Henry Ford and aviator Charles Lindbergh (both virulent anti-Semites), writer Jack London (whose works are popular in racist circles) and physician and lawyer William Walker, who in the mid-19th Century organized several private military expeditions into Mexico and Central America engaging in what was then known as “filibustering” – establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control in the interest of fulfilling America’s “manifest destiny.” (Walker briefly served as president of the Republic of Nicaragua before being defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, and executed in Honduras in 1860). NPI describes Walker as an “idealist.”

NPI also sponsors fan pages for certain non-Americans such as Beethoven, Goethe, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling. Entirely missing from NPI’s collection of sponsored Facebook pages: Any American or non-American of any race or culture other than white European, and women.

Not every “fan” of NPI’s Facebook pages is unaware of the organization’s orientation: One fan of NPI’s Jefferson site, for example, lists the racist League of the South and Ku Klux Klan co-founder Nathan Bedford Forrest among his “likes and interests.” Yet one wonders if another fan of the Jefferson page, who is in a Texas university’s Class of ’14, is aware of what NPI might say of her appreciation of musicians Earth, Wind and Fire and Selena – most definitely not white European artists.

Why has NPI chosen to host pages for these figures out of American history? “Our school children are special targets in a culture war – they are taught that their parents and ancestors have exploited and victimized the other peoples of the earth. Public institutions named for such Founding Fathers as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are being renamed for radicals like Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez – even the holiday that honors America’s discoverer, Christopher Columbus, is now under attack. Young people are trained to be sensitive towards “oppressed minorities,” but are stripped of pride for what their own people have accomplished. This anti-white – anti-American – campaign of an intellectual elite is waged in the most vicious language and it assigns collective guilt to our kinship in a way that would be considered intolerable if directed at other groups.”

NPI’s chairman is Louis R. Andrews, an acolyte of founder Regnery (who once proposed an all-white dating service). Andrews also runs a website called “Stalking the Wild Taboo” intended for “sociopolitical thinkers unfettered by submission to the power of the pejorative,” by which Andrews means, for those unafraid of being called racist. Not insignificantly, Andrews, on his “Stalking” website, counsels that the best strategy for countering social taboos against assertions of racial differences and white superiority is stealth: “Stalking taboos requires ‘long periods of quietness, a low profile, protective coloration, and the diversion of the quarry's attention to other matters until the propitious moment.’ ... a taboo cannot be productively attacked until the time is ripe.”

Perhaps, an unobtrusive presence on Facebook is a part of that strategy.

Heidi Beirich contributed to this report.