Young, white, Christian male seeking female with similar interests. Enjoys morning runs, Breaking Bad, reading, and nights out with friends.
It is a generic profile that could be pulled off any dating website. You decide to meet him and he probably comes off as pretty intelligent and knows a lot about current events from reading the New York Times religiously; but after that second coffee date, you may find that “similar interests” include, and may be limited to, being white, not-Jewish, and male.
This profile is derived from the descriptors Seth Stephens-Davidowitz published in the New York Times article “The Data of Hate.” Horrified, after what was most likely a terribly long amount of time going through and analyzing Stormfront.org profiles – the world’s largest White Supremacist internet forum – Stephens-Davidowitz realized how incredibly (and scarily) normal White Supremacists are; that they do indeed, as he claims, live in the same universe as him and his friends and not in some dystopian parallel universe where he would like them to be. Especially since, as Stephens-Davidowitz purports, the threat of Stormfront is real as “nearly 100 murders in the past five years” are linked to Stormfront members.
And they are White Supremacists rather than White Nationalists as they and Stephens-Davidowitz state. As another individual who spends an inordinate amount of time pilfering through White Supremacist literature and social media, I can contest their Nationalism as their dialogue primarily concerns not merely the conservation of the “White race,” but of their inherent physical, mental, and metaphysical superiority to others that are also perceived to give them privileges they deserve. In fact, the article does not quite capitulate the enormity of effort White Supremacists partake in order to be able to get that second date rather than being thrown to the wolves as a lynching, white hooded, racist.
Stormfront, for lack of a better term, is crafty. It employs a variety of rhetorical tricks to avoid the stigma of being a racist so it and its members can appear to be more “normal,” but also to recruit members more readily; especially those who do not associate with Supremacism and may even be deterred from such a title, but have some inkling of similar idealisms they’ve picked up and want to learn more about it.
Hence Stormfront calls itself a White Nationalist website and goes so far as to actively censor forums for racial epithets. But it goes beyond this website that many of you probably haven’t even heard of. Integral members of Stormfront are also responsible for making webpages such as www.martinlutherking.org, which provides an “alternative history” of Dr. King that to many may seem like an ordinary website and not for what it really is – a website created to intentionally cast shadows on Dr. King and his integrity as a leader and being. In Theory, we call this a “cloaked website,” which many Supremacist and Neo-nazi organizations employ outside of Stormfront.
Stephen-Davidowitz falters by answering one of his final questions, “Why do they [White Supremacists] feel this way?” with “I have no idea.” To be fair, there are a variety of reasons a White Supremacist may feel the way they do, but it all really dwindles down to fear. Most Supremacist ideologies stem from some sort of fear of losing their identity and privileges they think they deserve as being a historically superior race. For instance, you may hear them bashing those “multiculturalists,” who are a perceived as an intentional threat to their gene pool. Often you will see them raise hell when they feel that their way of life and vitality are perceived to be threatened and blame it on an ethnic group. For example, a large portion of White Supremacists believe that hordes of Jews are conspiring against them and often their “homeland” – I can’t tell you how many White Supremacist conspiracy theories there are about Jews being responsible for the 9/11 disaster. And don’t forget that this is a social movement – there are more ties than their ideology that keep Supremacists growing and strong. Its also about being apart of a “brotherhood,” clan, group, identity, etc. that gives them a sense of belonging and individuality.
But the real kicker is that despite all this terribly illuminating information, Stephen-Davidowitz ends the article with a statement that he has no idea what we can do about White Supremacists – which is, by the way, proclaiming powerlessness against a subculture that is built and operates on fear; one of the last things you want to do. In that one statement, not only did it empower the exact group he fears, but it removed power from the non-White Supremacists. In fact, if he had passed his question of “what can we do” and his article over to a criminologist, that criminologist may have scratched out those last lines of “What can we do about it?… I have no idea” and told Mr. Stephen-Davidowitz that simply publishing this version would be doing something – bringing awareness.
And if he was really passionate about it, he could do more by publishing more on the subject or on race issues in general. To “do something about it” does not always entail full frontal assault with legions of lawyers (although I would like to see Stormfront taken down), but rather bringing awareness is one of the greatest tools of the humanitarian because – as Stephen-Davidowitz exemplifies himself – many still believe White Supremacism is a fad of the past and not active and actively growing as it currently is.
Adrienne L. McCarthy
Graduate student at the School of Justice Studies Eastern Kentucky University