My Journey to the Center of the Alt-Right – The Huffington Post

November 5, 2016
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November 5, 2016 Editor

My Journey to the Center of the Alt-Right – The Huffington Post

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By Luke O’Brien

Illustrations By Mariano Pascual

November 3, 2016

I went to a white nationalist ethnostate in Indiana. I got bounced from a secret meeting in D.C. I spent weeks figuring out how hate gurgles up from the nastiest recesses of the Internet. And I’m sorry to report that unconscionable racists will be a force in American politics well beyond November 8.

excerpts:

Experts who track hate groups lament that the alt-right is just old white nationalism rebranded. And it is. But it’s more than that, too. It is also a grassroots movement that coalesced online, in the primordial ooze of chat forums and message boards like 4chan, 8chan and Reddit. Most alt-righters are digital natives, and they have weaponized social media. To appreciate how far through the looking glass Trump and his online storm-troopers have taken us in this strange election, consider that Hillary Clinton devoted an entire speech to denouncing alt-right ideology, and that Pepe, a once-harmless cartoon frog transformed by the alt-right into an anti-Semitic icon, now needs little introduction.

Heimbach, however, wants to be more than a keyboard race warrior. The TWP is a small operation: It has 16 chapters around the country with about 500 dues-paying members, plus thousands of active supporters on social media, according to Heimbach. (Caveat lector: These guys are propagandists.) But it has big plans for the future. He is building “boots-and-suits” alliances between skinhead soldiers and politically minded racists such as William Johnson of the American Freedom Party, who nearly sashayed into the Republican National Convention as an official delegate, until a reporter sniffed him out. Heimbach travels to Europe regularly to seek tips from white nationalist politicians. And then there is his nascent ethnostate. At a German restaurant where the TWP comrades like to take visiting journalists and make Holocaust jokes, he and Parrott talked about their dream of building an all-white fiefdom for their extended race-family. Farrell described his “big leap of faith” to move to Paoli. He’d arrived a week earlier from New York, where he’d left a corporate job and his entire life behind. The pressure to “despise yourself as a white person” in New York was too much, he explained, and then told a story about Dominicans harassing him at a bodega. The comrades told me more TWP members were moving there by the end of the year.

“I can’t get over how rapidly this has come alive,” Parrott said, attributing the surge in interest to Trump. Heimbach described the Republican nominee as a “gateway drug” to white nationalism. “We’re all growing and using this momentum,” he said.

It is tempting to mock the alt-right as an exhibition of political rarities. There may only be a few thousand of these souls rattling cages; there may be many more. But the risks of dismissing them, even when they wave cartoon frogs, should be clear. According to a study conducted by an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University, 65 percent of white Americans would consider supporting a nativist, xenophobic party. And two toxic months reporting on key figures in the movement convinced me that they are serious in their desire to crack open a hateful new space in the system. With an assist from the Trump campaign, the alt-right’s fusion of musty racist dogma and millennial troll power has given it a political influence far beyond that of tobacco-stained Klansmen and swastika-bedecked skinheads. Now, from operativesblob image in D.C. to wannabe politicians in the heartland to trolls lurking in online grottoes around the world, its would-be leaders are trying to take the malignant energy that has coursed through conservative circles this election and transform it into something lasting.

Spencer, on the other hand, sought the limelight. Buoyed by the attention from the presidential election, he planned to expand his Washington operation and permanently relocate to the city. He was looking for property near D.C. The old Nazi office in Arlington used to post a man in full uniform outside the door, but that was far too overt for Spencer’s tastes. He wanted a place where young men in fancy dress can sneak in through a back door for white-power cabalism and catered parties. He dreamt of nothing less than a white ethno-empire stretching across North America and Europe. This racist utopia is, he knew, an impossibility, but he intended to ride the surge of interest in the alt-right as far as he could. “I don’t think that Donald Trump set out to inspire the alt-right, but we’ve been thrown into the same boat by our shared enemies, so he’s become an alt-right god,” Spencer told me. “If you wear a Trump hat in many places, you might as well be wearing a swastika.”

And in Trump, the troll army found an even greater purpose and a megaphone. Not only does the Republican nominee seem to share certain character traits with many alt-righters—he is deliberately offensive, he clearly enjoys trolling people on Twitter—he also circulates their rhetoric and imagery.Some of the most controversial social media moments of the Trump campaign have a provenance that can be traced directly back to hardcore racists like Anglin. The process goes something like this: Anglin plies 4chan waters like a fascist tastemaker, surfacing memes for his core audience. From there, the memes disperse to a more “mainstream” conservative readership, often through transfer points such as Breitbart, a top destination for readers leaving The Daily Stormer. During the course of the election, Breitbart has styled itself as “the platform for the alt-right,” as Bannon boasted this summer. The site scaremongers about “migrant rape gangs” and black crime, and gives hate-memists free rein in the comments section. And traffic has soared. Its monthly visitors have increased from around 8 million in mid-2014 to around 18 million this July, according to comScore. Other conservative sites, even ones that prefer bowties, appear to have accepted that angry right-wing populism translates into clicks. Take The Daily Caller, which now runs its fair share of immigrant knife-attack stories and Jew-baiting George Soros exposes. The reader comments on the site are at times indistinguishable in tone and racist content from those on Breitbart.

In an email, Trump’s spokesperson, Hope Hicks, wrote, “Mr. Trump has repeatedly disavowed these groups and individuals, as well as their hateful rhetoric, which he strongly condemns, and will continue to do so.” In fact, Trump and his son Donald Jr. have retweeted neo-Nazi alt-righters, including Vaughn and someone named @WhiteGenocideTM, on multiple occasions. A Fortune investigation published in March revealed that numerous Trump campaign staffers followed white nationalist accounts.The alt-right’s efforts to contaminate the zeitgeist have, by many measures, succeeded. “Everywhere now on normie sites I see our ideas and memes being pushed,” Anglin said. Since 2012, American white nationalist groups have seen their Twitter followers grow by more than 600 percent, according to a September report by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. An ADL task force found that between August 2015 and July 2016, 2.6 million anti-Semitic tweets, many of them from Trump supporters, generated an estimated 10 billion impressions. This torrent of hate, the ADL suggested, could “contribute to reinforcing and normalizing anti-Semitic language on a massive scale.”

Echoes Sidebar: Echoes Alt-right trolls often wrap Jewish names within a triple parentheses. This meme was inspired by a podcast on The Right Stuff, which used a reverb sound effect to make Jewish names echo nefariously. At one point, an enterprising anti-Semite designed a Google Chrome extension that automatically “echoed” Jewish names as users browsed the internet. (Google removed the extension from its Chrome store for violating its hate speech policy.), many of them from Trump supporters, generated an estimated 10 billion impressions. This torrent of hate, the ADL suggested, could “contribute to reinforcing and normalizing anti-Semitic language on a massive scale.”

After the trolling attack on Ioffe, Wolf Blitzer asked Trump if he had a problem with his supporters issuing anti-Semitic death threats. “I don’t have a message to the fans,” said Trump.“We interpret that as an endorsement,” Anglin said.

Heimbach has traveled to Europe several times to seek advice from far-right leaders, including politicians from the nationalist Czech Worker’s Party of Social Justice and Golden Dawn in Greece. The Trump campaign has also unwittingly generated valuable intel. Heimbach and Parrott are using a map of Trump strongholds to target areas where white nationalism would play best. “If they’re ready to vote for Trump, they can’t be too far away from being ready to support a real nationalist party,” Heimbach reasoned. The TWP is focused on greater Appalachia and planning to conduct outreach in districts in West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee in anticipation of running local candidates in 2018. Heimbach wanted white millennial candidates who felt disconnected from the system and could speak to other white millennials who felt the same way. He himself plans to run that year for the Indiana state legislature. “The state GOP has no ground game here,” he said.On the state level, Heimbach and Parrott want to run sleeper agents masquerading as GOP candidates. And on the federal level, they intend to run spoilers against mainstream conservative incumbents in close districts, the idea being that if they could steal 2 percent of the vote and knock out a cuck, they’d have a “disproportionate impact” with a minimal spend. Their plan sounded preposterous. But, then, so did the notion of Trump as a candidate a year ago.

A month before the election, and exactly one year after retweeting Nazi Pepe, Trump delivered a thunderous speech in West Palm Beach in which he all but named the Jew. “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors,” he said. “This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system.”Trump had gone well beyond playing footsie with the alt-right. “This man is 88% woke [Being woke means being aware. Knowing whats going on in the community (relating to Racism and Social Injustice)],”

wrote a columnist on The Daily Stormer. blob image

The hard tack toward outright white nationalism was no accident. It was set in motion in August, when Trump placed Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s executive chairman, at the head of his campaign. Thanks to Bannon—who helped write the Palm Beach speech—the alt-right, incredibly, now had an ideological thruway to the campaign itself.

And yet even in the best-case scenario—if the alt-right’s leaders slink back into obscurity after the election—the movement has unleashed an ugly and volatile force into American politics. It has proved that a small group of trolls can poison discourse with violent, racist rhetoric and help to elevate a candidate who entertains ideas like registering all Muslim Americans in a database. It has built the iconography, language and infrastructure for a millennial version of an old hate. And together, the alt-right and Trump have created a potential space for a nationalist white voting bloc. It’s not so hard to imagine a European-style ethno-nationalist movement emerging from Trumpism, one that isn’t dependent on hardcore alt-righters but taps into the alt-lite and alt-white demos.

After Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, moderate Republicans famously issued a detailed plan for the future that recommended extensive minority outreach. But the course the GOP actually chose in 2016 hewed a lot closer to a white paper Spencer wrote in 2011 about a “majority strategy” advanced by racist intellectuals. The strategy urged Republicans to forgo their fruitless minority outreach and instead unite a majority of white voters by focusing on immigration restriction. The GOP, Spencer wrote, needed to accept its role as the “white people’s party whether Republican leadership likes it or not.”

  1. [1]Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
    The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.
  2. [2]It continued:
    ‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”   The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed.  It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.  He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.
  3. [3]Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).
    What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.
  4. [5]
  5. [4] The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". [5]He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
    Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
  6. [6]A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
    In June [2017], the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
    It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.
    Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
    The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.
    To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.
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Editor

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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