The Daily Stormer, America’s No. 1 website for young wannabe neo-Nazis, is kaput, banished to the outer limits of the Dark Web by the likes of Go Daddy, Google and CloudFlare after more than four years of nonstop unadulterated hating online.
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart CEO credited for President Donald Trump’s successful populist campaign strategy and alleged white nationalist, is out after just eight months on the job.
Bannon and Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin represent opposite ends of the Alt-Right spectrum, which I define broadly as a white identity political movement that exists mostly as a series of websites, YouTube channels, chatrooms and bulletin boards on the internet. Both Bannon and Anglin, who have never met as far as I know, fashion themselves more as cultural warriors than journalists. They’re engaged in a death-match against the agents of Cultural Marxism, who are apparently legion in Hollywood, Big Government and Wall Street.
As CEO of Breitbart prior to joining Trump’s campaign, Bannon mainstreamed Alt-Right themes on sex, gender and race to a rapidly growing audience of conservative white males frustrated with 8 years of rule under President Barack Obama and the do-nothing Republican Congress. The content was designed to trigger liberals as much as appeal to conservatives and added a decidedly ugly tone to our national conversation.
While Bannon was mainstreaming Alt-Right ideas at Breitbart, Anglin was plumbing the depths of depravity one can go to on the internet at The Daily Stormer. Anglin recently proposed, in all seriousness, imposing White Sharia Law on the entire United States. He’s viewed as a pariah to most of the Alt-Right’s opinion makers because of his open embrace of Nazism, but as a pied piper to the tens of thousands of mostly young readers who flock to The Daily Stormer every month.
Or formerly flocked, I should say. There has always been a question in my mind as to whether the American public would accept the Alt-Right, if its members happened to slink out from underneath their keyboards and voice their opinions in public. After the disastrous Unite the Right rally Charlottesville, Va. two weekends ago, that question has been answered. Not only are Americans not going to accept the Alt-Right, they’re going to shut it down.
Bannon has been banished from the White House; Anglin’s voice has been silenced, perhaps permanently. There will be many who will say good riddance to bad rubbish, perhaps rightfully so. But their departure from the scene, particularly the Stormer’s takedown, could hold profound implications for the future of free speech on the internet and in public spaces. The crackdown has begun. How far will it go?
Death and Debacle in Charlottesville
The Alt-Right’s public debut in Charlottesville was, for a political movement that imagines itself to be intelligent and media savvy, a clusterfuck of monumental proportions. The various factions of the movement involved prepared months for the Unite the Right rally, ostensibly to protest the removal of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee’s statue from a city park. In reality, the event was supposed to be the Alt-Right’s coming out party.
Somehow, these geniuses decided the best way to introduce the American public to the Alt-Right was via a pagan torchlight ceremony the night before the actual event, featuring hundreds of baby-faced white millennial men brandishing Tiki torches, circling around the statue, throwing Hitler salutes and chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” It was straight out of Race With The Devil, except with neo-Nazis instead of Satanists.
Not all of them are neo-Nazis of course. But the various groups do share similar core ideologies. I’ve spent the better part of the past three years combing Alt-Right websites and it’s true what Nietzsche said: Stare too long into the abyss, and the abyss stares back at you. When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas, is another way of saying it. Even if they were true, full-blown Nazis, I’d still defend their right to assemble and speak in public.
That’s because enlightenment is the best disinfectant. If Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer had spoken about his vision of white nationalism in Charlottesville Aug. 12, the nation would have discovered he’s a straight-up white segregationist complaining that a county that’s still deeply segregated isn’t segregated nearly enough to suit his taste. He wants to live in a gated community too! That’s not nationalism. It’s just more ghettoization. Come back when you have some real solutions, kid.
But Spencer infamously didn’t get a chance to speak, because Charlottesville police pulled the plug on the event. They then herded the gathered Alt-Right protestors into a crowd of counter-demonstrators fronted by black-masked members of the AntiFa and let them have it out.
Both the Alt-Right and the Resistance, including the AntiFa, had been preparing for this battle for months, and by all accounts both sides put up a good fight, flailing away with bats and homemade clubs and shields, pepper spraying each other, administering collective beat-downs on lone individuals separated from their respective herds. Reading their accounts and watching them on YouTube, I was reminded of General Alexander Haig’s comment about slam-dancing punk rockers in the early 1980s. Good cannon fodder, he remarked.
Despite the fact that a member of the Alt-Right was charged with second degree murder after killing a female counter-protestor in a traffic incident during the ensuing melee, President Donald Trump seized the opportunity to state the obvious, that the violence had indeed occurred on both sides, instead of condemning the overt racism on display. Republicans, Democrats, corporate America and three-quarters of my Facebook friends denied the obvious and remain infuriated Trump hasn’t denounced the entire Alt-Right.
Meanwhile, the entire Alt-Right, with the possible exception of The Daily Stormer’s crew, is delighted. They’ve just been legitimized by the president without having to test their views in a public forum. In the days since Charlottesville, Trump has repeatedly doubled down, calling out “racists,” “white supremacists” and the “KKK,” but attributing equal fault for the conflict to both the Alt-Right and what he erroneously called the Alt-Left.
The God-Emperor may have recognized their existence, but their jubilation will be short-lived.
Here Comes The Corporate Clampdown
One reason I’ve visited The Daily Stormer often during the past three years is to see if someone has finally taken the website down. That used to happen frequently until the site began using CloudFlare, which prevents hackers from initiating attacks on the site. A number of other Alt-Right websites use the service. They have to, or they’d be taken down constantly by progressive hackers trying to save the world.
Not too long after the female counter-protestor was killed in Charlottesville, Anglin posted an article stating the woman was expendable because she was slightly overweight, childless and past the prime age desired for breeding. CloudFlare’s CEO was so sickened by the story he pulled the plug on The Daily Stormer, despite his strong belief in absolute freedom of speech on the internet. He’s standing by the decision.
The article was repulsive by design and far from the worst thing Anglin has ever written. Even though most of the Alt-Right leaders on hand to speak at Charlottesville have denounced the article, if they’d been allowed to speak and the subject had turned to women, the nation would have discovered there views aren’t all that different from Anglin’s White Sharia.
They’d prefer to see white women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, making and taking care of white babies to combat the ever-rising number of brown immigrants coming from south of the border.
I don’t know white ladies. Does that sound like a good deal to you?
I’m thinking probably not to most of you, and that’s why I’ve always said, just let these guys speak. Judge them on the merit of their ideas, assuming they have any, not with the heckler’s veto before they’ve spoken a word.
That said, it’s become clear that Silicon Valley corporations, once among the most stalwart free speech advocates on the planet, are losing patience with the Alt-Right’s style of cultural critique. The week before Charlottesville, Google fired a white male employee for posting what amounted to an Alt-Right manifesto for tech workers on an internal company website.
Corporations are private entities that have the right to ban controversial speech if it disturbs their customers or employees. But any attempt to censor speech on the internet, which has become the primary tool citizens use to communicate with one another and access information in an information-driven society, is necessarily fraught with difficulty, particularly in the present volatile political environment. Silicon Valley monopolies like Facebook and Google wield an unprecedented amount of power in this so-called cultural civil war.
One problem with censoring Alt-Right websites is the Alt-Right isn’t monolithically racist or white supremacist. If anything, I would say, in the parlance of progressive activists, that it owes its broader popularity to “white male fragility.” Not that we need a special name for it. Nobody likes being called the bad guy all the time, and the white male has in recent years become the go-to villain for the left, so much so that Hillary Clinton felt confident enough to shun white male votes in the 2016 election.
So what do fragile white guys talk about on the internet? The topic with the broadest interest is immigration. There’s guys (and some women) who go way back, “immigration patriots” that got booted from mainstream media gigs for their views and now beg enough PayPal donations to make a decent living—until PayPal cuts them off, which it has in some cases. They know how to write and arrange selected facts effectively. Their conclusions are decidedly different than the open borders philosophy espoused by Silicon Valley corporations. Does that make all of their conclusions “hateful” and worthy of censorship?
There’s guys who talk about black crime, posting startling statistics as well as YouTube videos of blacks committing violent acts. Often, but not always, this information is presented in a racist context. Despite that, some of the data is solid, the black crime rate in certain cities is rising dramatically, and it paints a much bleaker picture of urban decay than generally portrayed by mainstream media. Some of this is useful information, if we want to honestly address these problems. Which of these websites should be censored?
Because public discussion about such issues has become so politicized in recent years, corporations will be tempted, and be well within their legal rights in most cases, to terminate all of these websites simply for violating their terms of service agreements. I predict that’s exactly what they’re going to do in the coming months, and freedom for speech for anyone that expresses dissenting opinions on the internet, not just members of the Alt-Right, will be in jeopardy.
Just how woefully inadequate this corporate censorship may turn out to be has already been hinted at by Facebook and Google’s attempts to weed “fake news” out of their platforms. Despite Facebook’s best efforts, I’m still getting genuine fake news articles, such as the obvious hoax going around last week stating that Malia Obama had been busted attempting to score six pounds of weed off the street in Chicago. This seriously calls out Zuckerberg and company’s ability to determine what fake news is in the first place.
Meanwhile, Google altered its search engine algorithm to combat fake news, in the process somehow making it more difficult for socialist-minded readers to find websites catering to their political persuasion. One need not wonder too hard why one of the world’s largest corporations might brand anything socialist as fake news.
In fact, the most absurd development to come out of the Charlottesville debacle is the casting of corporations, which care far more about keeping wages down than they do about income inequality, as social justice heroes by virtually the entire left, simply because they oppose the president’s statements on what happened in Charlottesville.
If anything, American corporate economic philosophy is more in tune with the heavily libertarian Alt-Right: Let the winners take all the spoils, because being naturally smarter than the rest of us, they deserve it.
A Little Shame Goes A Long Way
While I don’t believe censorship of the internet is the answer to combatting the Alt-Right, I’ll concede some middle ground to parents of teenagers who’ve fallen under its sway.
I advise such parents to monitor their child’s internet use. Talk to them about it. Younger users are attracted to the allure of reading forbidden things and expressing forbidden thoughts, all under the snug, cozy blanket of anonymity. Some critics have compared Alt-Right websites to pornography, for conspiracy theories that posit a single villain behind all of society’s ills, whether that villain be Cultural Marxism or the Jews, are highly seductive to disenfranchised young white American males with a limited knowledge of history and philosophy.
I’m afraid some of these children got a nasty little awakening in Charlottesville. Anonymous Nazi shit-posting on the internet may be empowering, but throwing Hitler salutes in public is still going to get you fired from just about any job outside of meth cook.
I don’t pity members of the Alt-Right who attended Charlottesville and have subsequently been fired after their photos were plastered all over the internet and activists tracked their employers down. I don’t even mind that various left-leaning media outlets encouraged the practice and kept running lists on the targets. Welcome to America, boys, we play hardball here. Your goofy, offensive antics have ensured that no one will ever pay you serious attention again.
While public shaming has its limitations, namely, that some people are shameless, I still don’t think outright censorship of the corporate internet space or public spaces is the final solution. It sets a dangerous precedent by which any dissenting speech can be banned if any interest group finds it objectionable. In America, in theory anyway, we challenge arguments we find objectionable by posing our own well thought-out objections to those arguments, not by shutting down the discussion.
Hopefully, the coming internet crackdown will not be too severe. It’s become painfully clear that America hasn’t completed its long conversation about the differences between the races and the sexes, but it’s encouraging that the most popular comment regarding the events in Charlottesville, the most popular tweet of all time in fact, came from former president Barack Obama, who was quoting from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion,” the former President tweeted. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
That’s what I remember believing as a small boy in the late 1960s, listening to the speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King on a black-and-white TV. My faith in the human heart may have waned since then, but not my faith in the human mind or democracy. I believe on an elemental level, before any differences are taken into account, we are all equal and deserving of the same basic human rights.
The vast majority of Americans share this belief—even Alt-Right darling Milo Yiannopoulos admits that in his bestselling book, Dangerous. That’s why I’m confident about letting the Alt-Right speak in public. White people have grievances? Well let’s hear them then! Perhaps some of them are even legitimate. Maybe if the left could quit hammering so hard on white male privilege when so many low income white males obviously aren’t privileged, we might be able to address everybody’s grievances at the same time.
But a warning to anyone identifying as Alt-Right. Save the sociobiology for the classroom and your blogs, assuming they haven’t been taken down yet. Quoting cherry-picked studies from controversial, still-evolving disciplines such as evolutionary psychology and biology to validate your own sexist and racist beleifs is going to bring you nothing but grief in the public and private arenas, as a certain Google employee discovered recently. And if you’re still blaming Cultural Marxism for everything, standby to be branded as an anti-Semite.
You may take some pride that your God-Emperor has at long last publicly acknowledged you, even though he may have mortally wounded his presidency in doing so. Andrew Anglin is gone, perhaps for good, but Bannon is already back at Breitbart, so you have that to look forward to.
The rest of us, especially people like me who had once hoped Trump’s populist message was sincere, are left wondering how he can possibly make America great again when the only friends he has left are the evangelicals and the Alt-Right