I didn’t watch either of the dueling town halls.

October 16, 2020 Books, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 70

My ballot is already in the mail, and we all know Joe Biden is going to win New York anyway. At least I got to vote for AOC for the first time.

Anyway, I figured I’d do something worth my time instead, so I started reading Talia Lavin’s “Culture Warlords,” and let me tell you it is FANTASTIC.

Talia, who describes herself as “Jewish bitch journalist with an IWW membership card,” spent a year going undercover and infiltrating white supremacist groups online. She even created fake profiles on a white supremacist dating site, which led to my favorite passage so far:

When they wrote to me, they wrote about their cats, about their dinners of pinto beans and pork, about their love of Xbox gaming, about gas prices, the motorcycles they owned. They wrote about guns. They wrote a lot about guns. And just as often they wrote about their desire to maintain the purity of whiteness; about the white children they hoped I or some other willing woman would bear them; and about the sinister Jews controlling the world, about the “cucks” (cuckolds) running the government, about the “Marxists” brainwashing kids, about “white genocide,” and their favorite fascist YouTube channels.

I got about a third through the book before I made myself put it down. I’ve been a fan of Talia’s on Twitter for a while, but this book is a feat. I highly recommend it.

 

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It Was Never About Liberty

March 9, 2018 Featured, History, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 43

Americans all know the story of the Boston Tea Party: On December 16, 1773, a mob of patriots known as the Sons of Liberty, disguised in charcoal blackface and Indian dress, boarded a fleet of ships in Boston Harbor and destroyed a shipment of English tea. But what motivated the Sons of Liberty to cast a million (2018) dollars worth of tea into the water? It was the Tea Act, a tax increase that increased the cost of tea in the colonies. Right?

Well, no. It’s true the Tea Act prompted the Boston Tea Party, but not because it raised the price of tea — in fact, the Tea Act reduced the price of tea imported by the East India Trading CompanyThis is a part of the story most Americans don’t know; the Sons of Liberty were less patriots, motivated by English tyranny, than they were merchants, motivated by reduced revenues when British tea became cheaper than the smuggled Dutch tea they sold tax-free.John Hancock, who financed the Sons of Liberty and fomented the Boston Tea Party, was a shipping magnate of enormous wealth, much of it earned by smuggling tea. The Tea Act hit him where it counted — his wallet.

The Boston Tea Party is but one episode in a long American tradition:Justifying acts of profit-seeking by cloaking them in the rhetoric of freedom.In response to some capitalist-fueled injustice (a school shooting, or mass incarceration, or cuts to social services in exchange for military funding) many of us cry “This is not what America is.” In fact, throughout American history, freedom and liberty have taken a back seat to revenue and profit.Americans who truly value liberty must understand it is breaking with our traditions, not honoring them, to put human rights ahead of profit.


In dressing as Indians and applying blackface, the Sons of Liberty evoked two populations denied basic human rights in Colonial America. By 1773, indigenous Americans had been pushed off of land along most of the East Coast, replaced by European colonists. Often this was done via treaty, but treaty negotiations were always backed by threat of violence, and where treaties failed, colonists used force.

The men who wrote grand words about “inalienable rights endowed by the creator” concerned themselves not at all with the rights of the indigenous people who stood between them and profit: When the English government declared, in 1763, that land west of the Alleghenies was closed to colonists and reserved to “the nations or tribes of Indians…for their hunting grounds,” numerous colonial land claims were invalidated, and prime territory for hunting and trapping made off-limits. When the thirteen colonies issued their Declaration of Independence, it included a list of offenses committed by the English kingAmong them: The King’s resistance to opening new territory, and his allegiance with “merciless Indian savages.”

African slaves, meanwhile, might have obtained freedom a century earlier, if the men who claimed to hold Enlightenment ideals had put them ahead of their bank balances. Thomas Jefferson, himself a slave-owner and serial rapist, wanted to include the African slave trade among the list of King George’s offenses, but was forced to remove it so that southern states would sign. When the Constitution was drafted, Jefferson again advocated against slavery, alongside abolitionists like Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin, but again the institution was protected in order to secure the support of southern states, whose economies relied upon slavery.

We know, therefore, that Jefferson held slavery as a deplorable violation of the rights of man, at least philosophically. Historians credit him with “small victories” against the institution, like leading Virginia to become the first state to ban the importation of new slavesAnd yet he personally enslaved people, because as a landowner and farmer, burdened with debt and accustomed to a wealthy lifestyle, his finances came before his philosophy. George Washington, similarly, spoke against the institution — but he too retained his slaves, including bringing them to live with him at the President’s residence in Quaker Philadelphia. When he realized Pennsylvania law meant his slaves would be freed after six months, Washington rushed to send them back to Virginia — and when one of those slaves escaped, Washington offered rewardsfor her capture and spent the rest of his life pursuing her.

We’re often taught that George Washington, our benevolent American patriarch, freed his slaves — but he did so only once his own death meant doing so would not harm him financially.

Runaway slave newspaper ad from 1778

 

So too, if we examine men like Franklin with any scrutiny, we find their morals did not extend to their pocketbooksFranklin, though an ardent abolitionist late in life, owned slaves well into his 60s — even though he began speaking against slavery in his 40s. He allowed the sale of slaves at stores he owned, and advertisements for slaves in his newspapers. Even Alexander Hamilton, the ardent abolitionist and Broadway hero, accepted advertisements in his New York Post promising rewards for the return of escaped slaves — one such is on display at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan.

Illustration of Lincoln’s execution of 38 Dakota Indian rebels

 

When American slaves were finally freed in the 1860s, it was famously as a military strategy, not a moral stance. Much has been written about President Lincoln’s views on slavery: In short, he personally loathed the institution, but would have allowed it to continue if it meant peace and prosperity. Less is written about how Lincoln, the “Great Emancipator,” presided over the continued slaughter of indigenous people and removal from their lands. By 1860, King George’s Allegheny boundary was long forgotten, replaced by the dream of a transcontinental railroad and commerce from sea to shining sea. When Indians stood in the way of that commerce, Mister Lincoln, he of “malice toward none and charity for all,” removed them from their land at threat of death. Where they resisted, he personally ordered them executed.

We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of [the railroads]”

After the Civil War, General Sherman (whose middle name, Tecumseh, honored a Shawnee hero of the Revolution) took a new job protecting railroad construction. The United States government, dedicated in Lincoln’s words to “the proposition that all men are created equal,” had signed a great many treaties with the Indians of the Great Plains. Where those treaties obstructed commercial interests, however, Sherman broke them. The same scorched-earth tactics that made him a Civil War hero now forced Indians onto reservations. “We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of [the railroads],” he wrote in a letter to President Grant. Sherman introduced the mass slaughter of bison to deprive Plains people of the resources they needed, a practice that would become core to the US genocide against Native Americans.

The skulls of slaughtered bison on the frontier, circa 1870s.

Moving into the twentieth century, US policy is so rife with betrayals of the concept of liberty, they are too numerous to list: From the Dole family’s violent conquest of Hawaii, to the US-backed revolution in Panama, to thenumerous instances of American support for dictatorships, whose policies favored our financial interests, over the democratically elected leaders of neighboring countries. Even as you read this, the US is accused of meddling in the recent Honduran election, backing a President favorable to our interests despite apparent election fraud. Wherever American financial interests come into conflict with liberty, freedom, democracy or sovereignty, those financial interests prevail.

It should come as no surprise, then, that today’s America spouts the rhetoric of freedom and liberty while incarcerating children for profit, refusing to regulate or even study the effects of firearms, one of our nation’s leading causes of death, and yet again violating treaties by running oil pipelines through Indian land. And yet so many Americans respond to news of these violations by claiming “This is not what America is.”

It’s not what America should be, but that isn’t the same thing. Those who want to enact change must recognize the patterns of our past. We have to admit that our country has always put profit ahead of liberty. Advancing our philosophy of liberty and equality means breaking our traditions, not upholding them.


All images from Wikimedia, used under Creative Commons license.

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Racism is Driving Modern American Gun Culture

February 23, 2018 Featured, In The News Comments (0) 33

The most memorable conversation I ever had about gun ownership was with a friend, a gun owner and NRA member. Though our political views diverged, we liked and respected one another, and often talked about his enthusiasm for guns. He enjoyed shooting, and brought his kids to the range sometimes so they could learn to use the several models of pistol, shotgun, and military-style rifle he collected. At home, he kept his guns safely locked up, spending money on locks and modern gun safes. He even had a biometric safe that allowed him to keep a pistol right beside his bed, but prevent the kids from getting it.

I asked why he felt the need to keep a pistol beside his bed. “Because,” he said, “someday, some thug is going to come for me and my family, and I need to be ready.”

A variation on the male power fantasy that motivates many gun owners, yes, but the part that struck me was the choice of word, “thug.” I’d seen him use this word before, on Facebook and in conversation. It always meant the same thing: A black man.

I’ve had versions of this conversation with many gun owners over the years, and found it to be a consistent truth: That “responsible gun owner” might keep his weapons safely locked away, taking them out on weekends to shoot clay pigeons or targets the way other hobbyists shoot golf balls, but if you drill down far enough you’ll find his gun ownership is motivated by a deep fear and distrust of other races.

Maxim Gun circa 1985, photo from Wikimedia

Far from being limited to a few conversations with friends, the racism that informs gun culture is deeply embedded in American history, and in the history of firearms themselves. As early as the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors used a primitive musket, called a harquebus, to intimidate and murder indigenous Americans. In the colonies that would become the United States, European settlers were required by law to own firearms for the specific purpose of fighting off the Indians who had been deposed from their land. Samuel Colt invented his revolver, the weapon that “won the west,” specifically to quell slave rebellions. The Maxim gun, one of the earliest machine guns, was so vital to the European colonization of Africa that it was commemorated in a famous poem: “Whatever happens / We have got / The Maxim Gun / And they have not.”

The common refrain among pro-gun activists that guns “protect liberty” is patently absurd. One common myth holds that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment was intended to arm Americans against a tyrannical government. Quite to the contrary; the “Well-regulated militia” referenced in the amendment were, very specifically, those able-bodied men required by law to arm themselves and fight for their state governments —most frequently, against Indians.

Another common myth holds that the Nazis disarmed the German populace, leading to the Holocaust. While it’s true the Nazis used Weimar-era lists of gun owners to disarm specific political enemies, the Nazi regime in fact loosened restrictions on firearm ownership — for Germans who were not Jewish.

Such racial disparity in gun ownership is familiar today. The NRA regularly decries the “persecution” of gun owners, and shouts about tyranny at the merest suggestion of gun safety regulation — and yet when Philando Castile was shot to death despite warning police that he was a licensed owner with a permit to carry a weapon, the NRA was strangely silent. When a police officer killed Tamir Rice, a child with a toy gun, in less than two seconds — in an open-carry state — the NRA said nothing. When Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed for holding a handgun in North Carolina, another open-carry state, the NRA said nothing. Why is that? Might it be that these three people were black?

Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, via Wikimedia

The NRA’s racist history is somewhat cloudy. Liberals are fond of pointing out that the NRA was founded mere months after federal law declared the KKK an illegal terrorist organization, however there is little evidence one led directly to the other. NRA defenders, meanwhile, repeat an equally mythological origin story in which Union founders sought to defend freed slaves from the KKK — there is no evidence for this, either. What we do know is that the NRA, historically, supported gun control laws when those laws targeted black Americans, including the 1967 Mulford Act and 1968 Federal Gun Control Act, intended to disarm the Black Panthers and similar activist organizations. And we know that the modern NRA, regardless of its history, produces propaganda videos laden with racist dogwhistles, and that its leader, Wayne Lapierre, delivered a speech at CPAC just this week in which he labeled immigrants, the Chinese, Black Lives Matter, and George Soros as enemies.

The NRA is not a white supremacist organization. They are a lobby group funded by gun manufacturers, and their only goal is to sell more guns. It just happens that the primary consumers of guns today are steeped in white supremacy, racism, and fear of the other. Statistics show that half of all guns in the United States are owned by just three percent of our population. The motives for gun ownership have diminished over 250 years, as our nation has urbanized, the frontier has vanished, and most of us obtain our food from the supermarket instead of the forest.

Sure, there are still rural populations who encounter bears and choose to hunt for food, and weekend hobby shooters — but the greatest driving motive behind American gun sales today, and that to which the NRA and conservative lawmakers pander, is racism.

In 1978, the author William Luther Pierce (writing as Andrew Macdonald) published his apocalyptic novel The Turner Diaries. The novel begins just after the passage of the Cohen Act (please note the name), a federal law that prohibits firearm ownership. The Jewish-controlled government sends “Negroes” [his word] with machetes to confiscate all guns from white households. As the story proceeds, the protagonist Earl Turner and his heavily-armed white militia fight to overthrow the American government; in an epilogue, we learn that all non-white people on the planet Earth were killed, and that “the dream of a white world finally became a certainty.”

It’s unknown how many people have read The Turner Diaries. Today it is widely available for free on the Internet, but we know since publication it’s sold more than 500,000 physical copies. The Anti-Defamation League calls it “One of the most widely read and cited books on the far-right.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a “bible of the racist right.” Last year, the Atlantic reported that the book had inspired “dozens of armed robberies, and at least 200 murders.” It’s cited by any number of far-right organizations, and was famously found in the car of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who reportedly had a habit of carrying multiple copies of the book on his person, and selling them to people at a loss — mostly at gun shows, where McVeigh also met the people who helped him carry out his bombing.

Belief in the coming race war is widespread in white supremacist circles. At this point, even people who have never heard of The Turner Diaries know the future scenario it depicts. It is the specific scenario envisioned by white supremacists when they talk about the government “coming for your guns.” It’s the scenario referenced when conservatives like Charlie Kirk speculate about the government becoming “too powerful against us.

And yes, it’s what my gun-enthusiast friend was likely imagining when he described that “thug” one day coming for him and his family. As in so much of what’s wrong with American culture, you don’t usually have to dig very far to find that racism is the true motive behind our gun culture.

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Google’s Diversity War: The Alt-Right are not just White Supremacists.

January 26, 2018 Civil Rights, Featured, In The News Comments (0) 488

The “lifehacker” philosophy of the alt-right movement is what makes them distinct, and the reason they are so dangerous.

This morning, Wired published an excellent piece by Nitasha Tiku about the white supremacist guerrilla war going on at Google. You should read it, not only because it’s good and interesting, but because it’s important in understanding the modern white supremacist movement known as the alt-right.

When the alt-right first came to national attention during the 2016 Presidential Campaign, many (including me) argued that the media should avoid the term, and stick with more traditional — and accurate — terms like “Nazi’ and “White Nationalist.” There is, however, a specific trait that sets the alt-right apart from other hate groups: Their philosophy of life as a game or program, that can be hacked or “beaten” if one learns the rules.

The white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, did not wear white sheets or Confederate uniforms. They wore polo shirts and khaki pants, a uniform of respectability. This modern trend of the “dapper” white supremacist comes from leaders like Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, who rose to prominence online. It’s a hack, a specific attempt to deceive the public by manipulating their perception. This is from The Cut, in 2016:

“We have to look good,” Spencer told Salon…explaining that middle-class whites are less likely to join a movement that appears “crazed or ugly or vicious or just stupid,” and that stereotypes of “redneck, tattooed, illiterate, no-teeth” are an impediment to achieving his goals.

Klansmen in white sheets are evil, everyone knows that. Skinheads in studded leather will scare people. But put on a polo and a neatly-creased pair of khakis, and maybe the media will debate your Confederate flag and the true meaning of your antisemitic chant, instead of ignoring you. Congratulations, you just beat the game.

A movement born online

The alt-right has roots firmly in the Internet and online culture. Though it first came to mass attention in 2016, it festered for years prior on 4chan and various subreddits. Alt-right leaders expanded their influence through platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon, often gaming algorithms to gain exposure. But the views and tactics of the alt-right go back even further, to the pre-web days of Usenet message boards. Even the name takes a cue from Usenet: “alt” was the prefix for ‘alternative’ boards, where no one was moderating and users could find (among many more benign topics) nude photos of celebrities, recipes for explosives, and child pornography. A common belief in the early days of the Internet was that “alt” stood for “Anarchists, Lunatics, and Terrorists.

It’s no surprise that a movement born on the Internet would attract “brogrammers” and similarly tech-oriented members. The alt-right grew as a conglomeration of online communities of disaffected young men. What’s important to recognize is that their programmer tactics extends to the real world — and as the real world becomes more interconnected and reliant on the Internet, their tactics sometimes work.

So-called “lifehacks” are common and generally harmless. Here, for example, is a bot that understands Comcast’s internal policies and employs machine learning to get you a lower price on your cable bill. But the alt-right’s approach can be traced to one of the earliest and most nefarious lifehacks: so-called “seduction techniques,” first developed on the Usenet board alt.seduction.fast and later published by reporter Neil Strauss in his book, “The Game.”

Hacking goes IRL: The Seduction Community

Disciples of the seduction community, self-designated “pickup artists,” bring a hacker’s mindset to dating and conversation. By employing the right sequence of interactions — “negging,” or complimenting a woman in a way that’s actually a put-down, feigning disinterest, and initiating physical contact in the right way at the right time, a pickup artist believes he can unlock a sexual encounter as if it were the secret boss level of a video game.

Usenet’s seduction board was founded in 1994, but its teachings are alive and well on 4chan and Reddit, where so-called incels (short for “involuntarily celibate,” men who aren’t having the sex they want) were banned in November for preaching violence against women. More than one prominent alt-right leader came directly from the seduction world: Daryush Valizadeh, alias “Roosh V,” has written extensively on seduction and published more than a dozen of his own guides. Mike Cernovich, promoter of the false Pizzagate scandal and the idea that “date rape does not exist,” is the author and self-publisher of Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions and Live Life on Your Terms, a guidebook for men who want to “improve [their] health and fitness, earn more money, and have stronger relationships….[and] live a life others don’t even dare dream of.”

Cernovich is divorced, incidentally (which he blames on “feminist indoctrination”) and was once charged with rape. But since we’re on the topic of books, it’s a good time to talk about Theodore Beale.

It’s notable that Theodore Beale appears in Tiku’s Wired piece. A former WorldNetDaily contributor and alt-right thought-leader writing under the alias “Vox Day,” Beale plays various roles in Google’s racist guerilla force. Perhaps most importantly, he is the author of a “manual for fighting advocates of social justice,” which Beale believes James Damore is using. An excerpt:

Whatever you do, do not agree to any gag orders or sign any confidentiality agreements that will handicap your ability to use the documentation you have acquired to prevent them from spinning a Narrative about what happened.

Beale’s manual is a chapter from his self-published 2015 book, “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police,” which sold thousands of copies on Amazon and includes a foreword from Yiannopoulos. And here we have to dive…a little bit deep.

2015: Theodore Beale hacks the Hugos

Beale, an author of self-published science fiction and a well-known troll in the SciFi community, is also the self-appointed nemesis of best-selling author John Scalzi. Scalzi is a prominent voice for progressive thought and inclusion, particularly through his blog, Whatever. From 2007 to 2013, Scalzi served three terms as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), a prominent membership organization for authors in those genres). When Scalzi’s last term ended, Beale attempted to run for president. He lost, drawing only 10% of the vote, and shortly thereafter was expelled entirely from SFWA after calling fellow member (and African-American) N.K. Jemisin an “ignorant half-savage.”

Are you with me so far?

The Hugo Awards, one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards (if not the most prestigious) are presented annually by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) at Worldcon. Nominations and winners are determined by a vote of WSFS members. In 2013, conservative-leaning authors Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen (who, not incidentally, has a background in computer programming) engineered a scheme to rig the Hugo Award nomination and voting process. Claiming the awards were biased in favor of progressive authors and diversity, they arranged a block-voting scheme that would advantage conservative and libertarian authors. Voters who joined this block called themselves the “Sad Puppies.” The scheme repeated in 2014 and 2015, though it generated no awards and only a scant few nominations. Enter Theodore Beale.

In 2015, Beale engineered his own Hugo voting scheme, which he called the “Rabid Puppies.” Unlike the Sad Puppies, the Rabid Puppies were wildly successful, owing in large part to Beale’s sizable audience and bylaws that allow any person to join WSFS and vote, as long as they pay a fee. Nominations went to 51 of 60 Sad Puppy books, and 58 of 67 Rabid Puppy books. The ensuing response at WSFS is best summarized as “bedlam,” with nominees refusing their nominations and presenters withdrawing from the ceremony. Authors as prominent as George R. R. Martin condemned the Puppies for ruining the Hugos, and within two years the rules for voting were changed.

Beale, for his part, referred to the Rabid Puppies effort as “a giant Fuck You — one massive gesture of contempt.” None of the Puppy nominees won an actual award, except one: the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy.

The complicated saga of the Hugo Awards and their “Puppy” schemes perfectly illustrates the defining attribute of the alt-right. Unlike past generations of white supremacists, they are not content to declare their position and recruit those who agree. Like the Rabid Puppies, the Pickup Artists, and the polo-shirt clad Charlottesville marchers, the alt-right approaches the real world like a piece of software, learning the rules so they can hack them.

Beale built his popularity by espousing white supremacy, but he’s made money using his large following to game Amazon’s algorithm, which gives preferential position to top-selling books. When “SJWs Always Lie” debuted in 2015 (in the midst of the Rabid Puppies uproar), it became the center of a Kindle self-publishing war. A pseudonymous author countered with a parody, “John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels,” to which alt-right authors responded with parodies of their own. Within days, a half-dozen parodies, parodies-of-parodies, and parodies-of-parodies-of-parodies were sitting on Amazon’s various genre best-seller lists. Breitbart, where plenty of Beale’s friends and fans still write, gleefully reported that he had “turned Amazon’s Kindle Store into a Battlefield.

Beale’s most recent gambit, again centering on his obsession with Scalzi, was to debut a pseudonymous self-published book, The Corroding Empire, on Amazon the day before Tor released Scalzi’s novel, The Collapsing Empire. The two books have almost identical covers, right down to the font in which Beale’s chosen pseudonym — Johan Kalsi — is printed. When a person searches Amazon for Scalzi’s book, guess what the algorithm presents right beside it?

Image: Tor Books/Castalia House via Gizmodo

A “Dirty War” against guerrilla hackers

I am genuinely sorry to fill your head with the saga of Theodore Beale, but again, it’s important to understand how the alt-right operates. When a senior engineer at Google describes the actions of white supremacist employees as “a denial-of-service attack on human resources,” that is not a mistake and hardly a metaphor. The alt-right’s guerrilla tactics are a specific carry-over from its members’ approach to programming and video games: Learn the rules, and you learn how to hack them.

When James Damore’s internal memo leaked and became a nationwide scandal, he and many media outlets portrayed himself as a naive savant just asking innocent questions. This was by design. A white supremacist openly calling women and people of color inferior can be neatly discarded by the mainstream. A naive programmer, asking honest questions about what science says, is not so easily dismissed — and he might just have a shot atwinning a discrimination lawsuit.

It’s not far from Damore’s act to the tactics employed by Yiannopoulos — generate controversy, stir up the hate of the “Social Justice Warriors,” and you are rewarded with (a) publicity in the mainstream media, and (b) the adulation of your alt-right sympathizers. When Yiannopoulos books controversial speaking gigs, like his notorious appearance at Berkeley last September, the gig itself takes a back-seat to the controversy. By stirring up protests (and dozens, if not hundreds, of think-pieces about so-called “attacks on free speech,”) Yiannopoulos builds his brand. It doesn’t matter if he even gets to take the stage — in fact it’s often better if it doesn’t. We know this for sure because we’ve heard it from the man who developed Yiannopoulos’s strategies — although he originally developed them for someone else: Tucker Max, the author and provocateur who first rose to fame from the Seduction Community.

In December, Ashley Feinberg at the Huffington Post exposed the styleguide used by Andrew Anglin, founder and editor of the white-supremacist web site Daily Stormer (piieces of that styleguide had previously been leaked by — guess who — Theodore Beale). While any casual visitor would likely recognize the Daily Stormer immediately as racist and antisemitic (prominent use of the “Happy Merchant” meme is a big clue), in Anglin’s rules we still see an intentional and deliberate effort to manipulate readers and platform algorithms:

“By simply commenting on existing news items…we can never be accused of fake news — or delisted by Facebook as such.”

The guidebook urges writers to block-quote from mainstream news outlets, “to co-opt the perceived authority…and not look like one of those sites we are all familiar with where you are never certain if what they are saying has been confirmed.”

The Daily Stormer even encourages doxxing and harassment, if it leads to pageviews:

“If you’re writing about some enemy Jew/feminist/etc., link their social media accounts. Twitter especially. We’ve gotten press attention before when I didn’t even call for someone to be trolled but just linked them and people went and did it.” [Emphasis mine]

In today’s Wired piece, Tiku quotes Google site reliability engineer and diversity advocate Liz Fong Jones on the moment she realized some of her fellow employees, who had been discussing the potential negative impact of diversity initiatives, weren’t acting in good faith. It came when excerpts from her private conversations were leaked to, and published by, Theodore Beale.

The resulting deluge of threatening comments, messages, and DMs, woke Fong Jones up to an ugly reality: “We didn’t realize that there was a dirty war going on, and weren’t aware of the tactics being used against us.”

It’s a lesson we all must learn, sooner rather than later. The alt-right isn’t participating in a good faith discussion about the accepted premises of progressivism and diversity. They aren’t marching in polo shirts and khakis because they are clean-cut and honest members of polite society. They are hackers, seeking to use written and unwritten rules we all observe— social mores, etiquette, and electronic algorithms that shape our daily experiences — to spread their views, make money, and eventually engineer a white ethnostate.

This is what sets the alt-right apart from other white supremacist movements, and what makes them far more dangerous than what came before.

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Don’t Be a White “Ally”

November 17, 2016 Featured, In The News, Politics / Religion, Pop Culture Comments (0) 1216

Irony, in the Alannis Morissette sense of the term, is when you write an essay using the word “ally” for simplicity’s sake, even though you hate the term, and that essay goes viral and becomes probably the most-read thing you’ve ever written.

A little too ironic, don’tcha think?

So I want to take a moment to explain why I dislike the term “ally,” and generally try not to use it. I’m adapting this from a response I emailed last July to Our National Conversation about Conversations About Race, a podcast that I absolutely love and to which I give my strongest possible recommendation?—?so if this sounds familiar, maybe you heard it there.

In my own life, I have encountered the term “ally” primarily as a member of the LGBTQ community. I’ve many times had straight people tell me they’re “allies,” and it’s always rubbed me the wrong way.

I think it’s that it’s because a person identifying as an “ally” immediately makes the discussion about themselves an their identity, and perhaps their membership and identification with the group.

When someone says “how can I help?” that’s great, but saying “I’m an ally, how can I help” tells me that your real goal is for me to validate you and include you in what you see as “my club.” If you see a car broken down on the side of the road, or a person who maybe needs CPR, you don’t say “I’m an ally,” you just ask if they need help.

I think what troubles me more is this: Inclusion and respect and equality are morals we should expect of everyone. They should come standard on all humans, and standing up for them should not constitute an identity. Recognizing and opposing discrimination and privilege shouldn’t earn anyone a gold star, they should just be expected.

There’s no word to identify oneself as opposed to murder?—?we just label the murderers. The same ought to be true of the racists, the homophobes, the bigots, and so on. A person who stands up for what’s right isn’t an “ally,” they’re just a decent person. I guess if someone wants to identify as extra-involved in the effort, they can use “activist.” But even that feels easy?—?I’d rather see a person demonstrate their activism than tell me they self-identify as such.

I recognize that, in the wake of Trump’s election and the ensuing rash of hate crimes, it’s clear that opposition to bigotry does not come standard, and there is value in announcing oneself as tolerant and respectful. The word still rubs me wrong, because it normalizes bigotry, and even if bigotry is terribly, frighteningly common, I still don’t want to see it normalized.

As a culture Americans are programmed to worship equality and justice and freedom, and we should all feel harmed and offended by violations of those values. Yes, our entire history is one of utter hypocrisy, and we have *never* since our inception been equal or just or free?—?but that doesn’t change the way we’re programmed, and it doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to make those values a reality, even if the men who wrote them were full of shit.

I’m not an ally, I’m a white dude who’s disgusted by racism and inequality, and I don’t want to live in a society that is systematically biased against other people, or where my tax dollars are used to oppress and harm my neighbors.

Like many white kids, I spent my formative years totally buying into the “Shining City on the Hill” mythology, before my eyes were opened by some very patient black activists who took the time to bring me around. Ultimately, what I’m really after is turning that mythology into reality.

I want to live in that make-believe America I heard about when I was ten. That’s a fairly selfish goal, but it seems like one a lot of white Americans would share, if they would wake up to the reality of our society instead of choosing to blindly believe the myth.

I have the feeling Trump’s election did wake a lot of people, which might be a sort of silver lining. But personally, I’d encourage people not to label themselves “allies.” Just, you know, be staunchly against murder.

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