\'A Greater Sense Of Political Power\': The Angry, White Alt Right Are Feeling Legitimised After Trump\'s Win

The trolls came for Erin Schrode one Friday morning in June, four days before the Democratic primary in California’s 2nd Congressional District. Schrode, a 25-year-old civic activist and environmentalist from Marin County, was a long shot for the win, but still campaigning hard. The previous day, she’d responded to critics about her pro-Israel stance, which had recently been highlighted by the Jewish press. The public discussion was civil. But when she opened her inbox the next morning, she encountered something different.

“The first email came in at 7 a.m.,” Schrode told me. “It said, ‘Get out of my country, kike. Get to Israel where you belong. That or the oven. Take your pick.’”

Andrew Anglin Founder of The Daily Stormer

Over the next few days, emails, voicemails and tweets, hundreds of them, then thousands, poured in from neo-Nazi trolls, none of whom used names but many of whom identified as Trump supporters, according to Schrode. They wondered how she could be a vegan, given all the “Negroe [sic] semen she swallows.” They talked about laughing as they “gang raped her and then bashed her bagel eating brains in.” It was, she told me, the first time she’d experienced anti-Semitism. “It shook me in a really profound, startling way,” Schrode said.

Soon, she was talking to FBI agents, who, she said, told her they’d never seen such venom directed at a political candidate. They found that her contact information had been posted on The Daily Stormer, the most popular white nationalist site in the country and the online barracks for an army of alt-right trolls. There, readers can access news filtered through a racist lens, alongside images of blacks being burned alive and doctored GIFs of Taylor Swift curbstomping people. And Schrode wasn’t the Stormer’s first target. In April, the publication had sicced its army on Julia Ioffe, a Huffington Post contributor, after she wrote a profile of Melania Trump for GQ. In addition to scores of anti-Semitic emails and images, Ioffe received calls purportedly from an overnight casket company and a homicide cleanup crew.

The Daily Stormer’s editor and publisher is a 32-year-old named Andrew Anglin. He claims to live in Ohio, although his true whereabouts are murky: He appears to be in Berlin or to have recently been there, according to his social media activity and the FBI's best knowledge. With his shaved head and a tattoo on his chest of the “Black Sun”—a pagan symbol Himmler tiled on the floor of his occult castle—Anglin belongs to the jackboot wing of the alt-right. It is very different in style, if not in substance, from Spencer’s elitist academics. Anglin openly describes himself as a neo-Nazi, or 1488er 1488ers1488ers The 14/88 movement is named for its devotion to a 14-word white supremacist slogan (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) and what the eighth letter of the alphabet represented when repeated (“Heil Hitler”). , He is preoccupied with the idea that Jews control the world, mainly through the global financial system, and designed The Daily Stormer as a “hardcore front for the conversion of masses of people into a pro-White, Antisemitic ideology.” In the year after Trump announced his candidacy, its traffic doubled, to about 2 million readers a month, according to web tracking data. “I represent the will of the mob,” Anglin told me in an email.

What sets Anglin apart from other neo-Nazis is that he strives to be entertaining. If he hadn’t damned himself to his race war, he might have landed a job as a blogger. He writes clearly, with a saucy, scorched-earth tone. When in gear, he can crank out around a dozen posts a day in two five-hour shifts. For several weeks, his website header featured Pokemon characters superimposed on a bucolic landscape with a beatific Hitler winking from the clouds. In September, Anglin told readers to print up fliers depicting Hitler in the form of the chubby yellow anime character Pikachu and hand them out to young boys at “Pokemon Go” “gyms,” real-world locations where people gather to play a Pokemon-based game. (There is no evidence this happened.) As puerile as the stunt sounds, Anglin had a theory behind it: If you could make people laugh, you got them to accept something that was previously too distasteful to consider. It is the Mein Kampf chapter on propaganda updated for culture-jamming millennials GamergateGamergate This was a major turning point within trolldom and for the alt-right. Hardcore gamers, fed up with what they viewed as the intrusion of PC culture upon their domain, launched a mass attack against a female game developer and media critics, coordinated out of 4chan forums, which were crawling with white nationalists. For many trolls and alienated young men, Gamergate demonstrated that they had real-world power. For the alt-right, it was the biggest red-pilling moment—until Trump. .

Anglin’s journey to the alt-right took him through many of the alleys of self-radicalization that angry young men now travel on their way to white nationalism. He became a fan of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose show Trump has appeared on. According to Anglin’s writings, for a while he drove around the country, slept in his car and got popped for drug offenses. And he burrowed into the emerging 4chan community. Launched in 2003, 4chan was a free-for-all of mostly underemployed young white guys looking to have fun or cause trouble. Trolling—the act of provoking or harassing a person online—was born in 4chan forums. The reward was the “lulz”—the cackling that ensues when trolls crushed their perceived foes. Most of the victims were people of color, women and gay men.

For a few years, Anglin roamed through Southeast Asia, teaching English. On his personal blog, he expressed sympathy for impoverished Filipinos he came across in his travels. But after a while, unable to forge meaningful relationships with the locals, he grew depressed and found himself “drinking too much of a strong coconut wine.” He decided that the Filipinos were too “primitive” to connect with his “intellectualism.” “It was only among my own kind—those of the European race—that I would ever be able to share true kinship, as it is only they who share my blood, and can understand my soul,” he concluded. He launched a new site called totalfascism.com, where he wrote about wanting to throw non-white immigrants in concentration camps and put landmines along the Mexican border. He also had some foreboding words for the GOP. “As the Republican party moves towards embracing multiculturalism,” he wrote, “a void is being created within the mainstream of American politics, one which will be easily exploitable. Our position represents that of the vast majority of the folk, the working White man who is still the core of American society.”

In July 2013, Anglin launched The Daily Stormer. The purpose: Make hate fun. Lulz, Anglin wrote, were a “weapon of the race war.” He orchestrated Stormer campaigns against prominent media and political figures. He wrote guides for his shock troops on how to register anonymous emails, set up virtual private networks and spoof IP addresses. He provided imagery and slogans for them to email and retweet, and warned his trolls not to threaten anyone with violence, perhaps as a safeguard to protect himself from prosecution. In one 2015 campaign, he trolled students at the University of Missouri who were protesting the school’s handling of racist incidents on campus. Using the same Twitter hashtags as the protestors, Anglin injected fake news into the conversation. He said the KKK was burning crosses on the university lawn and had shot several people, offering a random photo of a black man in a hospital bed as evidence. This touched off a minor panic, and gullible reporters broadcast the subversion to the wider world. Lulz.

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.

Just as important to the propagation effort is social media, and a small number of alt-right Twitter celebrities have had a freakishly large impact. The most noteworthy was @Ricky_Vaughn 99, whom Richard Spencer described to me as the “ultimate shitlord.” Part of what made Vaughn an effective disseminator of alt-right terms and ideas is that he mixes his hate memes seamlessly with more standard conservative fare. This February, MIT published a study of the top 150 influencers on the election, based on news appearances and social media impact. Vaughn, who had around 62,000 followers at the time, came in at 107, one spot behind Senator Elizabeth Warren and ahead of NBC News, The Drudge Report, Stephen Colbert and Glenn Beck. “He has pulled off a truly an amazing thing,” said Keegan Hankes, a data intelligence expert at the SPLC. “He gets retweeted by so many different people and by people who clearly don’t know about his connections.” On October 5, Twitter banned Vaughn for unspecified reasons. Within hours, #FreeRicky became the top-trending Twitter topic in the country.

For alt-righters, there is perhaps no more satisfying reward than “meme-magic”—the internet-up process by which absurdist images or phrases get dismissed as offensive jokes only to bubble up into real expressions of a subculture. One example of this alchemy is “cuckservative.” The term derives from “cuckold” pornography, but among the alt-right, it is shorthand for a spineless “beta-male” conservative who sells out the interests of white Americans to the forces of globalism. This usage originated on a small racist forum and was amplified by The Right Stuff, home to the movement’s most popular podcasts The Right Stuff The second-largest alt-right website is run by someone who uses the pseudonym Mike Enoch. On a podcast after the first presidential debate, Enoch and others discussed wanting Trump to rape Clinton. . It was broadcast to a far wider audience during a large-scale troll attack against the National Review Online, in which Vaughn was a ringleader. “Cuck” has now so fully entered the political lexicon that even lefty political types use it jokingly on Twitter. blob image

Another example is the ubiquitous Pepe, a cartoon frog that became a humorous image on 4chan and 8chan and then, thanks to pro-Trump trolls, mutated into a Nazi. According to Hankes, it was Anglin who elevated Nazi Pepe from 4chan and made him a presence on The Daily Stormer. The ecosystem did the rest. In October, Trump retweeted an image of himself with the face of Pepe standing behind a presidential lectern. Later, the Anti-Defamation League declared Pepe a hate symbol. 1488ers1488ers The 14/88 movement is named for its devotion to a 14-word white supremacist slogan (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) and what the eighth letter of the alphabet represented when repeated (“Heil Hitler”). GamergateGamergate This was a major turning point within trolldom and for the alt-right. Hardcore gamers, fed up with what they viewed as the intrusion of PC culture upon their domain, launched a mass attack against a female game developer and media critics, coordinated out of 4chan forums, which were crawling with white nationalists. For many trolls and alienated young men, Gamergate demonstrated that they had real-world power. For the alt-right, it was the biggest red-pilling moment—until Trump. The Right Stuff The second-largest alt-right website is run by someone who uses the pseudonym Mike Enoch. On a podcast after the first presidential debate, Enoch and others discussed wanting Trump to rape Clinton.

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 EchoesEchoes 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.”

Attacks like those on Ioffe and Schrode have become commonplace, particularly against members of the media. According to the ADL, at least 800 journalists, most of them Jewish, were targeted by anti-Semitic attacks in the 11-month period the task force examined. Twitter, in particular, has proved ill-equipped to prevent trolls from running amok on its platform. A banned troll can set up another anonymous account within minutes and keep on trolling. And the savviest ones know exactly how far Troll code To avoid the attention of internet companies when using racial slurs, trolls have developed a lexicon of sorts. They call black people “googles,” Jews “skypes,” Latinos “yahoos” and Asians “bings.” More recently, they have started to refer to Muslims as “skittles” after a tweet from Donald Trump Jr comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of candy. they can go: No specific threats against specific people. Nothing that can be construed as “inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” the legal standard created by the U.S. Supreme Court. The FBI initiated a threat assessment of the incidents involving Ioffe and Schrode, but did not find sufficient evidence to open an investigation, according to FBI officials in San Francisco.

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.

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\'A Greater Sense Of Political Power\': The Angry, White Alt Right Are Feeling Legitimised After Trump\'s Win

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