Neo-Nazis are Having a Tough Time Online Following Charlottesville
White supremacists are a group of people who, while lacking any knowledge of what it’s like to have faced any real oppression, are so absurdly insecure that they dream up hypothetical, conspiratorial evidence to try to support their belief that society is holding back the white man. They are people who view diversity as an issue because they are so incompetent that if power is taken away from whiteness and distributed among people of all colors, they will have nothing. When society progresses — which it will, because it always does — they will be left behind. This terrifies them.
Over the past few years white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been allowed to grow in number unchecked. The victim complexes harbored by these white men has been affirmed and encouraged by US politics, and online the kind of opinions that were once largely delegated to anonymous boards such as 4chan have seeped out into the wider internet, and then into reality. The racist trolls are now being listened to, and have formed a doting audience for far-right online personalities take advantage of, cultivating their fear and transforming it into a living. This fear led to the Charlottesville “Unite The Right” rally, the largest white supremacist gathering in the US in decades, and the death of protestor and civil rights activist Heather Heyer, who was struck down by a car driven by nationalist James Alex Fields Jr.
But online companies are now choosing to no longer be complicit in the growth of white supremacy, while individuals are also using the internet to fight back. Following the death of Heather Heyer, The Daily Stormer — a neo-Nazi site popular among followers of the alt-right — penned a post mocking the late civil rights activist, running an article calling her a “fat, childless 32-year-old s***.” In turn, GoDaddy cancelled the hate site’s domain: “Given this latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service,” the provider said, giving them 24 hours to find a new host before it was removed from the internet. Anglin later registered the site to Google, before the search engine giant also removed it from their service. Trying to access the site now leads users to an error page.
In the run-up to the Unite The Right rally, Airbnb also made efforts to ban anyone they believed to be associated with the march from using their service. The company looked at accounts of those attempting to organize accommodation in Charlottesville during that weekend, and blocked them from using Airbnb in order to do so. Co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk told Bloomberg TV that the “hate displayed this week has been shocking,” with a statement from the company regarding the banning of the accounts reading:
“In 2016 we established the Airbnb Community Commitment reflecting our belief that to make good on our mission of belonging, those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age. We asked all members of the Airbnb to affirmatively sign on to this commitment. When through our background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform.”
Citizens are also using the internet to make life more difficult for white supremacists. Richard Spencer, who regards himself as the leader of the alt-right, was forced to hold a press conference in someone’s living room following the events of Charlottesville, after the location of the meeting was leaked online and “social media users asked others to call the hotels and urge them not to give space to Mr Spencer,” according to The Independent. Spencer had reportedly urged attendees to not share information pertaining to the planned meeting, telling them in an email: “For everyone’s safety, please do not share this information with any you do not trust.”
But Spencer isn’t the only Charlottesville rally attendee who is experiencing difficulties with continuing on with their racist lives following this past weekend. The Twitter account @YesYoureRacist has also been posting the identities of those photographed at the Unite The Right rally, including listing information regarding their place of work. This has led to a number of those who attended the rally being fired, starting with Cole White, who was previously employed by Top Dog restaurant. The establishment later put a sign out condemning White’s behavior, reading: “We believe in individual freedom, and voluntary association for everyone.”
Sign on the door of Top Dog on Durant Ave confirms Cole White is no longer employed by the chain pic.twitter.com/ROwAed2NOl
— Harini Shyamsundar (@hshyamsundar) August 13, 2017
Pete Tefft, another man photographed at the rally, also had his identity shared by the Twitter account, and his actions have led him to be disowned by his family. “I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions,” Tefft’s father, Pearce Tefft, wrote in a letter published online by Inforum.com. “We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home,” the elder Tefft continued, adding: “I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.”
Though the far-right’s significant presence on the internet shows no signs of decreasing, Charlottesville has opened the eyes of many who were blindly allowing white supremacy to become normalized. With these racists having used the internet to hide away for so long, spreading their bile under the condition of anonymity, now the internet is being used to shine a long overdue spotlight on the real people behind the online extremism. It turns out that being a white supremacist is a lot more difficult to pull off when you’re not hiding behind a Pepe the frog avatar.