Altered-Right: How White Nationalists Exploit Tragedy to Build a Narrative of White Victimhood

The false narrative of an epidemic of so-called “black-on-white crime” has long been one of the most effective deceptions in white nationalist propaganda, playing directly into an idea of besieged white populace while also attacking the press for censoring the “real facts." 

So when a horrific Facebook Live video of a white teenager abused by four black teens in Chicago appeared in a local news story in early January, racists were quick to claim the attack as part of their hateful narrative in hopes of greater mainstream media penetration.

They were successful, almost instantly, with the help of expansive social media network of virulent message boards, podcasts and Twitter. In the space of days, the facts of the case went through a now familiar mutation from local news story, to race baiting Twitter hashtag, to a media cover-up almost certainly orchestrated by Jews. And so, a story of a kidnapping provides a useful window into the machinations of opportunistic white nationalist distortions that have motivated domestic terrorism, most recently in the case of Dylann Roof.

On January 4, WFLD, a local fox affiliate in Chicago, reported that police were investigating four African-Americans who allegedly kidnapped and tortured a disabled, white man while yelling, “Fuck Trump!” and “Fuck white people!” Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24; were arrested in connection to the crimes, which they broadcast live via Facebook.

Almost as soon as the story broke, though, a pair of one-time racist "Alt-Right" power users – brand-obsessed exhibitionist Mike Cernovich and recently duped conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson — introduced the #BLMKidnapping hashtag to hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter. Both Watson and Cernovich are click opportunists who, while having been relegated to the “alt-lite” for their lack of anti-Semitism, recognized and seized an opportunity to promote themselves around the racially radioactive story.

Given the grisly nature of the episode, the story quickly made the rounds of national news. Outlets like Breitbart weren’t far behind.

Breitbart's headline questioned whether Chicago police were covering up an anti-white hate crime. The report cited statements from Chicago police that a decision hadn’t been made as to whether the crime would be charged as a hate crime given an ongoing investigation.

Neo-Nazis and white nationalist outlets, some of which believe that Breitbart has usurped their reporting on “black-on-white crime,” were far less reserved. That evening, the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin’s neo-Nazi propaganda shop, published its own story with the headline, “Negro Terrorists Livestream Kidnapping and Torture of White Trump Supporter.”

“Blacks in Africa have proved that they will murder whites even if it means starving to death,” Anglin wrote. “This is what each and every negro would like to do to each and every one of us, even if it means bringing the whole of civilization collapsing down on them.”

The next day, Jared Taylor, proprietor of American Renaissance, a white nationalist “think-tank” dedicated to misinterpreting government statistics related to crime and race, chimed in to raise the alarm about the media trying to omit the race of the perpetrators and the victim.

“They are so used to ignoring race—so long as it reflects badly on blacks—that they could not bring themselves to say the words 'white' or 'black' even in a case as racially charged as this,” Taylor said.

And then came the tenuous, and ultimately fraudulent, connections to Black Lives Matter through the hashtag #BLMKidnapping – tweeted more than 480,000 times in 24 hours. The accusations attempted to connect the mission of the multiracial coalition fighting against systemic racism to the perpetrators yelling “Fuck Trump!” and “Fuck white people!” at their victim.

VDARE, another pseudo-intellectual white nationalist outlet more narrowly focused on immigration policy, was happy to promote the #BLMKidnapping narrative anyway, despite its ideological divorce with Cernovich.

“A young white man was kidnapped by four blacks, inspired by Black Lives Matter propaganda, and anti-white, anti-Trump hate, the hate that comes from black leaders, the mainstream media, the Democratic Party…and the White House,” wrote James Fulford, a columnist at VDARE.

In a bizarre twist, Fulford voluntarily introduced Dylann Roof as an attempt to point out hypocrisy from the left while bemoaning the widespread removal of the Confederate battle flags around the South after photos surfaced of Roof with one in the wake of the shooting. The connection was analogous to him.

And Fulford wasn’t alone. The Daily Stormer posted its own story drawing a comparison with Roof the same day.

“The purpose of DyRo’s [Dylann Roof] act was not simply to murder innocent blacks for no reason. The purpose was to draw attention to black-on-white crime, a plague of murder, rape, robbery and violence affecting hundreds of thousands of victims every year in the country,” Anglin wrote. “If it were not for Jewish multiculturalism, Roof wouldn’t have done what he did. Just as if it were not for Jewish multiculturalism, four blacks wouldn’t have kidnapped a man in Chicago and tortured him for 48 hours.”

Anglin, who is first and foremost an anti-Semite, doubled down the next day by attempting to justify the connection to Black Lives Matter by blaming Jewish influence.

“The filthy Jewish media is flipping the hell out about people calling the Facebook livestreamed black-on-white kidnapping and torture event in Chicago the #BLMKidnapping,” Anglin wrote. “The entire BLM movement is about using a political face – that is to say, complaining about non-existent institutional injustices – to justify and to amplify black racial animosity towards whites. And because of that, random black-on-white crime is now becoming more organized and directed black-on-white crime. The spirit of BLM was entirely embodied in this act.”

Several days removed from the actual crime, the white nationalist version of events became fodder for their podcasts, which typically escape much scrutiny given the time investment required to listen to them, but have dedicated followings. 

With a completely concocted fact sheet about the event, hosts from “The Daily Shoah” on The Right Stuff radio further embellished the nearly unrecognizable tale with centuries old racial stereotypes about black criminality and sexuality.

“Blacks are very predatory by nature,” one host submitted. "They possess that animalistic, predatory nature to them. … Whenever you see a really drunk, ugly chick at the bar, that’s where the negroes are going to fucking herd around. This is the sort of behavior you see in rape cases. This is the sort of behavior you see in murder cases. It’s always people that are weak and they single them out.”

Paul Kersey, speaking to Taylor on American Renaissance radio stoked similar fears describing what transpired in Chicago as, “[An] Unbelievable image to showcase what it’s like for a white minority. … I think a lot of white people who watch this video are saying, ‘Wow, is this what white people will have to endure in the future when we’re minorities?’”

Three days later, The Right Stuff posted an article echoing Taylor. “After all, we on the Alt Right know the statistics. This is what blacks do when they have the opportunity, the numbers, and the tacit support of the government. It is not an aberration; it is closer to a genetic imperative.”

Ultimately, all of this formulaic stoking of rage and obfuscation of facts that ricochets back and forth across the white nationalist corners of the web is familiar and predictable. With the country at historic levels of partisanship and trust in the media at an all time low, the rewards for white nationalists seeking to recruit and organize have never been greater.

Days after the story broke, Anglin called for the formation of “anti-criminal” white gangs and a new white youth culture.

The disturbing irony of the whole saga, which has proven to be scalable and repeatable, is that while the echo chamber reverberated, the four suspects were ultimately charged with a litany of crimes including aggravated kidnapping, hate crime; aggravated unlawful restraint; aggravated battery deadly weapon; robbery; PSMV and residential burglary; according to WFLD.

A correction doesn’t seem likely.