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So You’ve Got a Hate Cult Problem: Living With the Kingston Klan and its ‘Alt-Right’ Cousins

Now that the neo-Nazi car attack on a group of anti-racist protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, has once again reminded America that hate groups represent a and significant threat to the country (and world, if you look around), it’s probably worth keeping in mind that these groups are in many ways cults. Cults reinforced by far-right media ecosystems that have been steadily radicalizing Americans as American conservatism has veered further and further to the right. A media ecosystem that includes Steve Bannon’s Breitbart along with sites like Daily Stormer and InfoWars and tells its audience that a cabal that includes everyone from liberals to the Muslim Brotherhood are all working together to undermine white Christians and The West in general. It’s the kind of hate landscape that might make a violent lunatic run over a bunch of anti-neo-Nazi protestors. But this is where we are and now a significant contemporary challenge for American is figuring out how to get fellow Americans trapped in such hate cults to recognize they got sucked into something awful and need to leave it and join Team Nice. Sure, that might be fruitless in many cases, but it’s still important to try. And nice. And as we’re going to see as we look at a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center on the Kingston clan, a ~6,000 member strong polygamous incestuous super-racist apocalyptic cult that runs its own business empire, it’s pretty clear that figuring out how to encourage hate cult members to join their fellow humans and just mellow out is a challenge we can’t ignore. Because they might be apocalyptic death cults planning on winning a race war and becoming diving kings. With their own high-end firearms manufacturer. Hate cult recovery services are something society is going to have to get really good at if its going to survive so we should probably work on that.

And adding to the challenge is, of course, President Donald J. Trump. It’s been quite a week for President Trump’s style of diplomacy and leadership. First we have the ongoing escalating bluster talk contest between President Trump and Kim Jong-un that includes Trump’s threats to pre-emptively nuke North Korea if North Korea continues its own threats of nuclear blackmail. And of course Trump suddenly threatening military action in Venezuela. And then there was Trump’s response to the neo-Nazi car attack on a group of protesters at a “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A response that could largely be summarized as “many sides (and not just the neo-Nazis) need to be condemned for their hatred, bigotry, and violence.” It was that kind of week: when he wasn’t talking the US into a pre-emptive nuclear strike, President Trump was running rhetorical cover for the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis:

The Huffington Post

Donald Trump Blames ‘Many Sides’ For White Supremacist Clashes In Charlottesville
Trump did not specifically criticize the white supremacist groups who had organized Saturday’s rally.

By Paige Lavender , Daniel Marans
08/12/2017 01:21 pm ET | Updated 2 hours ago

President Donald Trump responded to violence that erupted this weekend as white supremacists and a fringe group clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He refused to single out the activity of white supremacists, however, arguing that there was blame to go around on “many sides.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides – on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it’s been going on for a long, long time,” Trump said at a ceremony for the signing of a bill to reform the Veterans Affairs health care system.

“It has no place in America,” he added. “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

Trump went on to emphasize that he loves “all the people of our country,” and called for Americans of different races and backgrounds to remember their shared Americanness.

“We wanna get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it,” he said. “We want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

Trump’s comments were his third attempt at addressing the unrest in Virginia. First, earlier on Saturday, he condemned “hate” and “violence,” but didn’t mention Charlottesville by name or directly address any of the groups demonstrating there.

He then followed up that tweet with another one 41 minutes later,, finally mentioning Charlottesville by name but not referencing the white supremacists whose rally triggered the chaos.

Civil rights leaders criticized Trump for failing to squarely denounce the white supremacists who organized the rally.

“The president’s remarks were morally frustrating and disappointing,” former NAACP president Cornell Brooks told CNN. “Because while it is good that he says he wants to be a president for all the people and he wants to make America great for all of the people. Let us know this: Throughout his remarks he refused to” call out white supremacists by name.

In a statement to the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, a White House spokesperson defended the president’s reaction as, “condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides.”

“There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today,” the spokesperson added.

David Duke, a white nationalist and supporter of Trump, criticized the president’s initial statement, arguing that, “it was White Americans who put you in the presidency.”

Duke said Saturday the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville is in line with Trump’s “promises.”

“We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” Duke said. “That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer thanked Trump for his statement:

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) declared a state of emergency Saturday as fist fights broke out in streets, objects were thrown and reporters were covered in raw sewage. The White House said it has been in contact with McAuliffe’s office, and Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, has had contact with local authorities.

Trump’s responses to incidents of violence have varied since he took office.

He immediately condemned a June attack in London, calling it “horrific” while criticizing London Mayor Sadiq Khan and calling for implementation of his proposed travel ban against citizens from several majority-Muslim countries. In February, he called anti-Semitic incidents in the United States “horrible” and “painful.”

But his response to other attacks has been delayed or non-existent.

After several days, Trump tweeted from the @POTUS account – an official White House account, not the personal one he most often uses – to recognize victims of a knife attack in Portland for “standing up to hate and intolerance” for standing up to a man yelling slurs and hate speech. Trump never issued a response to an attack on a mosque in Minnesota earlier this month.

The violence in Charlottesville erupted in the middle of Trump’s 17-day “working vacation” at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump has remained active on Twitter throughout his vacation, tweeting criticisms at several lawmakers, making comments on the situation with North Korea and retweeting stories from Fox News.

———-

“Donald Trump Blames ‘Many Sides’ For White Supremacist Clashes In Charlottesville” by Paige Lavender, Daniel Marans; The Huffington Post; 08/12/2017

““We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides – on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it’s been going on for a long, long time,” Trump said at a ceremony for the signing of a bill to reform the Veterans Affairs health care system.”

Yes, shame on those anti-racist protestors for their displays of bigotry for towards open proud bigots. That was a central element of President Trump’s address to the nation following the attack. And that was his third attempt at addressing the violence at the rally:


Trump’s comments were his third attempt at addressing the unrest in Virginia. First, earlier on Saturday, he condemned “hate” and “violence,” but didn’t mention Charlottesville by name or directly address any of the groups demonstrating there.

He then followed up that tweet with another one 41 minutes later,, finally mentioning Charlottesville by name but not referencing the white supremacists whose rally triggered the chaos.

So that was three attempts, and three failures at any sort of direct condemnation of the white power groups and what they were rallying for. The third time was definitely not a charm.

But there is one line in Trump’s response that it worth taking to heart, albeit probably not in the way Trump intended: what can be learn from studying this situation about how to prevent the growing of such movements so we can move past this and maybe actually heal American society:


Trump went on to emphasize that he loves “all the people of our country,” and called for Americans of different races and backgrounds to remember their shared Americanness.

“We wanna get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it,” he said. “We want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

“We wanna get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it…We want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

Well, ok, that’s decent advice. What types of insights can we obtain by taking a step back and study the situation? Well, for starters, it seems like having a President that actually openly condemns white nationalist groups would be a good example of “what we’re doing wrong as a country”. Although that’s more Trump’s fault than the entire country’s. But it’s still quite obvious that there’s quite a few Americans that sympathize with the general worldview put on display by the “Unite the Right” marchers.

So in the interest of “studying our situation”, perhaps there’s value in taking a closer look at a report just put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s August 2017 Intelligence Report. It’s an article about the kind of group that has a worldview that’s what you might get if you take the neo-Nazi ‘whites are pure and all others are enemies who must be suppressed and eventually extinguished’ totalitarian identitarian worldview and took it to the extreme. So extreme that they don’t simply fetishize their own race but actually their own bloodline, viewing themselves as a divinely ordained line of the ‘purest’ white people in history with a direct line back to Jesus Christ. So extreme that if they think you have one drop of non-white blood in your ancestry you will be excommunicated. So extreme that they practice incest as a way to not just stay pure but achieve some sort of Aryan super-person. So extreme that the rest of the world must be eventually conquered following a giant race war. And yes, they are Mormons. But still not that much more extreme that your standard extremist. That’s the scariest part.

And since this clan of polygamists cultists, the Kingston clan, represent basically a distilled form of the kind of “us vs them” white supremacists mind-virus – a virus that views “others” as a dehumanized existential threat and the end of the word if white supremacy isn’t dominant – perhaps we can learn something about what motivates the kinds of ‘Alt Right’ worldview? Like, is there any sort of message the broader public can send to people trapped in such cults that would facilitate them ‘snapping out it’? Some way of effectively communicating, “hey, it’s not the end of the world if you leave the cult and join a multi-ethnic culture that values diversity + niceness (i.e. celebrating diversity except for the bigotry), and you’ll be welcomed and MUCH happier and fulfilled when you do”. Is there something society at large can do to facilitate that process that is essentially internal discovery and epiphany in the hearts and minds of people trapped in hate cults? If so, that message would probably be quite useful on freeing people trapped by the Alt-Right hate ideologies too.

The Kingston Klan’s Extra-Extreme Extremism Keeps it All in the Family

So in the spirit of President Trump’s advice, let’s briefly study the Kingston clan, one of the have extreme totalitarian identitarian movements you’ll even come across. First, let’s take a look at this article about them from 2004 when the incest and abuse within the the clan started making national news.

It’s a notable article in context of ‘Alt-Right’ white power groups rallying to “preserve our history and culture, etc” because, of course, when you’re trying to preserve a history of white supremacy and culture you’re obviously trying to preserve the freedom to create a society dominated by white supremacists and not simply “preserve history”. As should be clear, when groups like those behind “Unite the Right” cry out about how they’re just fighting for their freedom of speech and expression, or greater tolerance of their views, that’s a preposterous lie. They’re fighting for the hearts and minds of a large enough swath of White America that would allow them to stage what amounts to a white supremacist political revolution that will allow them to impose a far-right neo-Nazi-style regime of subjugation of everyone who isn’t a white supremacist. The ‘Alt-Right’ far-right movements are fighting for the freedom to build up enough support for an eventual white supremacist takeover of society followed by the dehumanization and subjugation of all “others”. That’s part of why it’s so important to understand how such worldviews sustain their appeal and how to make it clear to susceptible audiences that their lives will be much, much better in a world that embraces genuine niceness.

Along those lines, here’s the public face of the Kingston clan. A group with thousands of members and a billion dollar business empire. A super-racist clan so deeply corrupted by a “we’re good, everyone else is evil” mindset that they teach about an apocalyptic end-times race war where blood will run in the streets. And when this group received a bunch of negative press back in 2004, their message was “we want to live our life and let everybody else live their life” (and eventually wipe everyone else out, but let’s not mention that in public):

Newsweek

A FAMILY’S TANGLED TIES

By Andrew Murr
On 2/8/04 at 7:00 PM

Lu Ann Kingston was 15 when she married her first cousin Jeremy Kingston in a hush-hush 1995 wedding in Bountiful, Utah. As members of a secretive society of “fundamentalist Mormons” whose leaders practiced polygamy, Lu Ann’s family thought nothing of the fact that Jeremy, then 24, was such a close relative–or that he had three other wives. So entwined were the branches of the family tree that Lu Ann’s cousin-husband was also her nephew.

But the Kingstons’ tangled family ties are threatening to unravel, thanks largely to the efforts of Lu Ann and another former Kingston wife, her niece Mary Ann. In 2000, Lu Ann and her two children fled the 1,000-person society that members call The Order, and she later cooperated with state prosecutors cracking down on sexual abuse of teen girls by polygamists. Last week Jeremy Kingston was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to felony incest. Meanwhile, Mary Ann Kingston, 22, has brought a $110 million civil suit against 242 Order members and 97 companies they operate, claiming that they share collective responsibility for abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and the uncle she married to become his 15th wife. The two men went to prison in 1999 on charges ranging from child abuse to incest.

Mary Ann’s suit argues that Order members are “jointly liable” because her mistreatment grew directly out of the group’s beliefs. (The watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center used a similar strategy of group responsibility to bankrupt the white-supremacist Aryan Nations in 2000 after its security guards assaulted a pair of black motorists.) Mary Ann claims that the Order’s practice of polygamy led her uncle David Kingston, 33, to marry the 16-year-old and sleep with her. When she fled the marriage, her father, John Daniel Kingston, drove her to a family ranch near the Idaho border and whipped her with a leather belt until she passed out. Kingston spokesman Elden Kingston, 65, calls the suit an effort to “extort money” (the Order now controls a financial empire estimated at $100 million). He hints the family’s lawyers would use hardball tactics, claiming Mary Ann experimented with sex and drugs, and that marrying her to her uncle was an attempt to “help that girl.”

In another legal threat to the clan, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is launching a financial probe of the Kingstons (as well as a second polygamous clan). He hopes to bring an organized-crime-style prosecution against the Kingstons, whose high-ranking members run ranches, shopping centers, a real-estate firm and a coal mine. Elden Kingston denies wrongdoing and dismisses the investigation as “just another example of the state’s long history of persecution” of the Kingstons. But for decades after a disastrous 1953 raid wrenched hundreds of children from their parents, Utah officials virtually ignored the sect and other so-called fundamentalists who practice polygamy in defiance of the law and the Mormon Church’s 1890 ban on plural marriage. The convictions of Mary Ann’s father and uncle ended the laissez-faire period, and public opposition grew last year with the news that polygamy was behind the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.

Incest is a Kingston tradition. The clan’s leaders have married dozens of first cousins, half sisters and nieces. The Order’s top man, Paul Kingston, counts a half-dozen such relatives among his 20-plus wives, according to ex-members and Attorney General’s investigator Ron Barton. Intermarriage of close relatives dates to Paul’s late father, former leader John Ortell Kingston (who was also Jeremy’s grandfather and Lu Ann’s father). He taught his family that the Kingstons descended from Jesus Christ through a pair of “Jewish princesses,” recalls former member Ron Tucker, 45, another of John Ortell’s sons.

The ongoing attention is having an effect. Former members say Paul Kingston recently had to calm anxious members who feared that Mary Ann’s suit will take away their businesses and savings. Elden Kingston says the crackdown on underage marriages has “changed a lot of individuals’ feelings about young marriages.” But they insist on living their own way. “We pay millions of dollars in taxes,” Elden Kingston complains. “We want to live our life and let everybody else live their life.” For the Order, the days of live and let live may be gone.

———-

“A FAMILY’S TANGLED TIES” by Andrew Murr; Newsweek; 02/08/2004.

“The ongoing attention is having an effect. Former members say Paul Kingston recently had to calm anxious members who feared that Mary Ann’s suit will take away their businesses and savings. Elden Kingston says the crackdown on underage marriages has “changed a lot of individuals’ feelings about young marriages.” But they insist on living their own way. “We pay millions of dollars in taxes,” Elden Kingston complains. “We want to live our life and let everybody else live their life.” For the Order, the days of live and let live may be gone.”

That was how a clan that views all non-Whites as divinely corrupted presented itself to the world: we just want to live our own lives. A message that sounds about as disingenuous as the the “Unite the Right” rally of neo-Nazis that claim to merely want to defend their “free speech” and “preserving heritage” (a Robert E. Lee statue) and they are clearly rallying to popularize a movement with the end goal of a white supremacist revolution and subjugation of non-whites.

At the same time, as the abusive isolating nature of the Kingston clans cult lifestyle makes clear, the vast majority of the people involved are largely victims of cult abuse/brainwashing and indoctrination. They’re really sympathetic figures. As are many people in hate groups. Everyone has their own path into a hate cult and a lot of those paths are pretty horrific. That’s important to keep in mind because the fact that the Alt-Right includes a lot of damaged people in need of healing is all the more reason for them to leave and join Team Nice. Because if Team Nice is nice it should be pretty good at giving that healing.

So with all that in mind, if we’re going to “study our situation” as President Trump recommends, behold the Kingston clan, future divine kings if things go horribly awry:

Southern Poverty Law Center
Intelligence Report

Blood Cult

Stephen Lemons

August 08, 2017
2017 Fall Issue

Utah’s polygamous Kingston clan mixes incest and white supremacy with old-fashioned capitalism

When it comes to racist Sunday school lessons, the polygamous Kingston clan could teach the Ku Klux Klan a thing or two.

During a recent interview with the Intelligence Report, Jessica Kingston, a former member of the secretive, Salt Lake City-based cult and a star of the A&E reality series “Escaping Polygamy,” remembered, when she was 12, her Sunday school teacher coming into class with a bucket of water and a vial of black food coloring.

The teacher added a drop of dye to the water, and the children watched as the blackness slowly spread.

“The teacher was like, ‘You can never get that out, that is always there now,’” recalled Jessica, now 29. “She talked about how you can’t associate with black people or anybody of a different race.”

This racist display was no one-off. Jessica said she and other children of the Kingston clan — a group also known as The Order, the Davis County Cooperative Society, and the Latter-Day Church of Christ — dropped the N-bomb all the time, as did their parents.

Black people supposedly suffered from multiple scriptural curses, from the mark of Cain and Noah’s curse on Ham in the Old Testament to the racist tenets of early Mormonism that have since been renounced or abandoned by the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the LDS or Mormon church.

Black blood was “the worst thing you can have,” Jessica said, particularly since the Kingstons consider themselves to be the whitest of the white, descended directly from Jesus Christ and King David, the Middle Eastern origins of both men notwithstanding.

Obsessed with the purity of their bloodline and empowered by a sense of entitlement on par with the divine right of kings, the Kingstons have made incest the cornerstone of a self-serving theology that loathes non whites, fosters homophobia and abhors government authority.

Additionally, ex-Order members tell of a reputed church prophecy of an “End of the World War,” an apocalyptic vision that foresees a bloody race war with the Kingstons as the ultimate victors, chosen by their Heavenly Father to rule the world for a millennium.

But given that the Kingstons command an estimated 6,000 adherents, boast a business empire reportedly worth as much as $1 billion and have outlasted myriad bouts with law enforcement and the press, these dreams of world domination may be less delusional than they first seem.

All Along the Watchtower

The Order denies that it encourages racism and homophobia within its ranks.

In a letter to the Intelligence Report responding to allegations made by former members, Kent Johnson, a spokesman for the Davis County Cooperative Society, claimed that The Order’s “foundational principles” include the Golden Rule, and that the church rejects any form of racism or bigotry.

“[W]e directly condemn in action and in words, racist, homophobic or hateful actions against any group or individual,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson maintained that The Order’s vast array of businesses — which includes a grocery store, pawn shops, a garbage disposal business, an insurance company, a politically-influential biofuels plant, and a high-end firearms manufacturer — employs individuals of various racial and ethnic minorities.

The letter asserts that one of the earliest members of the church was a Native American man and that the “Co-op,” as it is sometimes called, has been the victim of prejudice and harassment by Utah’s “majority religion” (i.e., the LDS church) because of the former’s “progressive” ideas.

Indeed, the group was founded during the Great Depression as a communal religious organization where members dedicated their earnings and possessions to building “the Kingdom of God on Earth,” as one church document attests.

Its ominous-sounding moniker, “The Order,” is a reference to the United Order, a quasi-utopian society proposed by LDS-founder Joseph Smith, and practiced in some Mormon communities under the leadership of early church president Brigham Young.

The Order can rightly claim discrimination by mainstream Mormonism, but this is due to its embrace of polygamy, which the LDS church officially abandoned in 1890 in order for Utah to become a state. The renunciation of polygamy is now church doctrine, and the Mormon church has a policy of excommunicating polygamists. Kingston forebears were among those who suffered this fate.

Polygamy is outlawed in Utah, both by the state’s constitution, and in statute, where it is a third-degree felony, with a possible punishment of five years in prison. But for their part, The Order and other fundamentalist sects believe the LDS church exists in a state of apostasy for abandoning what they see as a bedrock principle of their faith.

According to church lore, The Order came into existence when founder Charles “Elden” Kingston saw Jesus in the mountains above the family’s settlement in Bountiful, Utah, inspiring him to create the DCCS in 1935.

The family’s dedication to “the principle” of polygamy already had been established by Kingston’s father, who had three wives. Elden continued the tradition. According to historian Brian Hales’ Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations After the Manifesto, Brother Elden, as he was also known, had five wives and 17 children.

Elden also instituted the church law of “one above the other,” requiring members’ blind obedience to the church’s hierarchy of “numbered men,” with Elden being Brother Number One.

Brother Elden died of penile cancer in 1948, despite the best efforts of some family members to burn away the cancer using acid. Elden had predicted that he would be resurrected from the dead, so clan members kept his body on ice for three days, to no avail.

His brother, John “Ortell” Kingston, took over the leadership of The Order — incorporated in the 1970s as the Latter Day Church of Christ. Ortell is credited with expanding The Order’s business empire and making the family immensely wealthy. His seven sons and two daughters by LaDonna Peterson, the second of his 13 wives, are reputed to be the inner circle that runs the cult.

A stern disciplinarian, who in later years looked and dressed like a mortician, Ortell made incest a tenet of the clan’s faith, informed by his work breeding Holstein cows on the Kingstons’ dairy farm.

A 1999 Salt Lake Tribune article mapped the Kingstons’ incestuous family tree, quoting one of Ortell’s 65 kids, ex-Order member Connie Rugg as saying, “My father experimented [with] inbreeding with his cattle and then he turned to his children.”

In order to maintain his family’s “superior bloodlines,” Ortell married and had children with two of his half-sisters and two nieces. He orchestrated all unions within the cult, which was maintained with classic mind control techniques, corporal punishment, fasting and bizarre dietary practices. Ortell died in 1987, but his progeny continued the polygamy, the inbreeding and the marriages to young female teens that he instituted.

Control of The Order then passed to Ortell’s well-educated son Paul Kingston, one of several lawyers in a cult whose members dress normally and try not to draw attention to themselves.

Known variously as “Brother Paul,” “the leader,” and “the man on the watchtower” by Order members, this unremarkable, balding middle-aged man reportedly has 27 wives and over 300 children. Three of his wives are his half-sisters. One is a first cousin. Two are nieces.

John Daniel Kingston seen here in 1999, pleading no contest to beating his 16-year-old daughter after she attempted to flee an arranged marriage with her uncle David, Kingston’s brother.

Similarly, his older brother John Daniel Kingston has had 14 wives, four of them his half-sisters. Another is a first cousin.

Like polygamy, incest is a third-degree felony in Utah, and as with polygamy, convictions are rare. Over the years, state law enforcement and the courts have sporadically addressed the incest in the Kingston ranks.

In 1999, Paul’s younger brother David Ortell Kingston was convicted of taking his 16-year-old niece as wife number 15. The incest came to light after the girl tried to escape the arranged “celestial” marriage — an illegal marriage, sans license.

Her disobedience incurred the wrath of her father Daniel, who took her to a family ranch near the Idaho border and savagely beat her. The girl, who as an adult would unsuccessfully sue the clan, then walked miles to the nearest gas station, where she called the police.

Daniel was arrested and eventually spent 28 weeks in a county jail for felony child abuse. David was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the incest, but served only four before being paroled.

In 2003, another clan member, Jeremy Kingston pleaded guilty to incest for taking 15-year-old Lu Ann Kingston as his fourth wife. Jeremy was nearly 10 years her senior at the time. Due to the Kingstons’ convoluted genealogy, Lu Ann was both his first cousin and his aunt. As part of a plea bargain, Jeremy spent just one year in prison.

The ‘Curse’ of Blackness

In secret videotapes of Order church meetings aired on Escaping Polygamy, Paul’s nephew Nick Young, speaking from a church lectern, identifies himself as a numbered man, number 72, to be precise.

The son of Paul’s sister Rachel — herself a daughter of Ortell and LaDonna Kingston — Young was the only current member of the Kingston clan, out of the many contacted for this story, who consented to a live, on-the-record interview.

Young is the owner of Desert Tech, a Utah gun manufacturer, which produces sniper rifles and so-called “bullpup” rifles, The latter, unlike conventional magazine-fed rifles, have shorter barrels, with the gun’s action located behind the trigger. These specialty firearms can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $8,000 each.

Desert Tech and its rifles have been featured on Fox News, Mythbusters, Daredevil and The Blacklist, among other TV shows. Young told Intelligence Report that his company has sold weapons, with the approval of the U.S. State Department, to governments in Europe and the Middle East, Saudi Arabia being one.

Young also claimed Desert Tech had sold guns to Picatinny Arsenal, the research division of the U.S. military.

“We haven’t gotten any big U.S. contracts,” Young explained. “Obviously, we would love to.”

Spokesmen for both the U.S. State Department and for Picatinny Arsenal could neither verify nor deny Young’s claims.

The company was founded in 2007 with an investment from family members. Young denied that The Order was racist or taught any form of bigotry, and said he had people of all races working for him.

“What we’re taught is to love our neighbor, that all people, all races no matter who they are … deserve to be loved,” he explained.

Still, he conceded that some Order members may have prejudiced beliefs because “in our organization people have freedom of choice.”

So what about polygamy? Is it a requirement to gain the highest levels of heaven?

“Yeah, I believe in it,” he said. “As far as how you end up in heaven, that’s up to God.”

Young declined to comment when asked if he practices polygamy. Intelligence Report then read the names of women believed to be his wives — four in all.

“Okay, I have one legal wife,” he said. “But I do have children with other women.”

Asked if two women named were in fact his first cousins, Young paused, finally replying, “I guess I’m curious as to what you’re trying to get at here.”

Before the call ended, Young insisted that he “didn’t admit to any kind of incest or anything.” When Intelligence Report inquired if Young thought there was anything wrong with first cousins getting married, Young opined that such issues were between the individuals involved and God.

Nevertheless, former members of The Order say that incest and racism are inextricably linked in The Order’s teachings.

During an interview with this reporter, Lu Ann Kingston, whose defiance of the cult led to the conviction of her former “spiritual” husband Jeremy, recalled that Order members saw intermarriage as a way to “keep the bloodline pure.”

And by pure, they meant pure white.

All outsiders are considered to be beneath Order members, she explained. But The Order saves most of its bile for blacks and other non whites. Ethnic jokes and stereotypes were commonly repeated. Chinese people were called “stupid,” and Mexicans were “dirty,” said Lu Ann, adding, “because of their skin.”

Allison, a 17 year-old ex-Kingston member says not much has changed since Lu Ann’s day.

“I didn’t even know the n-word was bad until I was like 15 or 16,” she told Intelligence Report.

Once free of the cult, Lu Ann, Allison and other ex-Order members have had to unlearn the hatred that was drilled into their heads. The mere rumor of black blood could condemn someone in the eyes of Order members.

That’s what happened with Ron Tucker’s family. Tucker is another of Ortell’s many sons, though not from the favored wife, LaDonna.

Seated on a couch, sipping lemonade in his home in a Salt Lake City suburb, he resembles Paul Kingston quite a bit. The two were playmates when they were boys.

A loyal Order member for years, he lost his faith and ended up leaving the Order over a curse of sorts, leveled at his family by LaDonna. Supposedly, LaDonna had a dream wherein it was revealed that anyone who left The Order would be tainted by black blood.

Somehow LaDonna’s curse was transferred to the Tuckers via Christy, Ron’s wife, because, Christy’s mom left The Order and married an Irishman, before leaving him and returning to the fold.

“I could see that the leaders of The Order really did believe we had black ancestors,” Ron explained, with Christy next to him, and his adult daughters Emily and Julie nearby.

Boys began to show interest in Julie as she matured, but Paul, as the clan’s leader, warned them away, because of Julie’s black blood.

Up to this point, Julie had treated the rumor like a joke. Her younger sister Emily thought it was a joke, too, until one day another Order kid told her, “We can’t play with you because the Tuckers are niggers.”

Julie left the cult at age 19. Her parents and siblings eventually left as well.

Ron says the cult’s justification for its racism goes back to early Mormon teachings about a war in heaven between the forces of Satan and those of Jesus. The battle took place in the spiritual pre-existence that Mormons believe all souls come from. Blacks were “the less valiant people in heaven” who sat on the sidelines while others took sides, according to The Order.

Their punishment? Dark skin, of course.

Another of Ortell’s teachings: Adolf Hitler had the right idea about creating a master race, but didn’t have the Lord’s help, so he failed.

Tucker recounted the clan’s version of the apocalypse, the “End of the World War,” a riff on a prophecy some ascribe to Joseph Smith, called The White Horse Prophecy. In it, black people come close to killing off the white race until they are countered by Native Americans, symbolized by a Red Horse, which gallops to the White Horse’s rescue.

“That will open up for The Order to rise up and take over the world,” Ron said.

The Tuckers think this is all hogwash now, though they were programmed to believe it at the time.

Recordings of church testimony given by various Kingstons serve as further evidence of the cult’s bigoted teachings.

In one, Ortell warns that there is a movement afoot that wants to “homogenize the people” and “make one race,” by mixing all the races up.

In another, Order attorney Carl Kingston warns listeners about marrying up with “Ham’s kids,” a reference to the aforementioned Biblical curse. “If you have as much as one drop of that blood in your veins,” says Carl, “you’re cursed from holding the priesthood.”

The lawyer’s words call to mind another heavenly curse, described in 2 Nephi, Chapter 5 of the Book of Mormon, where God caused a “skin of blackness” to come upon a group called the Lamanites, supposedly ancestors of Native Americans.

Modern interpretations of this passage vary, but The Order apparently takes quite literally this idea of “blackness” being a sign of iniquity.

Soy Makes You Gay

LGBT people fare little better in the Kingston clan.

One ex-Order member, who asked to be referred to as “Scott,” instead of his real name for fear of retribution by clan members, said hatred of gays was big in the Kingston clan, with the word “faggot” in frequent use.

For fun he and other Order men would go to a park frequented by gay males, looking for victims.

“We would cause harm,” he confessed. “Bad harm. Hospital harm.”

While part of The Order, Val Snow, a twenty-something gay man with a wry sense of humor, believed being gay was like “spitting in the eye of God.” Snow is the son of Daniel Kingston, whom he paints as “a little man with a lot of power.”

From a young age, Snow worked for Order companies to help feed his siblings, a responsibility some Kingston men are known to shirk.

Snow began dating men when he was 22. When this got around to his dad, his father packed up Snow’s belongings and left them in the room of a hotel owned by The Order. Daniel’s ultimatum: Stay in The Order, date no one, and have no contact with family. Or leave.

Snow left.

He says The Order regards homosexuality as a choice. If gay men stay in the closet, they are allowed to remain in the cult as “worker bees.”

Snow also remembered being taught end-time prophecies, with a “cleansing” wherein the streets of Salt Lake City would run red with blood.

“All of the gay people would definitely be the first to go,” he said.

Another of the cult’s teachings was that soy can make you gay, an anti-government conspiracy theory popular in some right-wing circles.

“I guess I just had too much soy,” Snow smiled.

Ex-order members interviewed by the Intelligence Report generally agreed with the characterization of the Kingston clan as a “hate group.”

Ron Tucker went so far as to call his former brethren “white supremacists,” and “ten times more racist” than your run-of-the-mill skinhead.

As for its anti-government views, allegations of fraud against government entities have long dogged the Kingstons.

In the 1980s, the state of Utah sued John Ortell Kingston over welfare fraud related to his many wives. Rather than submit to DNA tests, which could have revealed the incest in his brood, he coughed up a more than $200,000 settlement.

More recently, the Kingston-owned Washakie Renewable Energy (WRE) agreed to pay a $3 million fine after it was sued by the federal government for raking in tax credits for biofuels it never produced.

WRE’s influence earned special scrutiny in February 2016 after the IRS, the EPA and other government agencies raided owner Jacob Kingston’s house as well as The Order’s bank and other locations, carting away banker’s box after banker’s box of records. Nothing has come of the raids yet, and the IRS refused comment on the matter when contacted by this publication.

But The Order’s critics say that cult members see nothing wrong with bilking the government, a time-honored tradition among FLDS sects, gleefully referred to as “bleeding the beast.”

More troubling, during a contentious 2004 custody case that ensued when Jessica and her sister Andrea fled Daniel Kingston’s household, a judge in the case reportedly was the subject of a death threat, allegedly from Kingston clan members. There was also testimony, during one hearing, that someone in the Kingston clan wanted to blow up the courthouse.

Given such incidents, could Order members be a threat to law enforcement?

Ron Kingston says The Order’s leadership has too much to lose for something like that to happen.

“Paul would rather have the wealth and the money than the isolation and the conflict,” he said.

Matt Browning seems less sure. A retired Arizona law enforcement officer, Browning is the president and founder of the Skinhead Intelligence Network and is in charge of security for the A&E show, where his wife Tawni works as the casting producer.

Browning sees similarities between The Order and the religion-minded racists of the World Church of the Creator and the Christian Identity movement. There is also some overlap with Sovereign citizens, he contends.

“They’re basically the Utah Mafioso of the white power world,” Browning told Intelligence Report.

And they are growing. Former Order members tell of babies being born nearly every week in the church. And during a recent picnic to honor the birthday of patriarch John Ortell Kingston, Order families descended on a Salt Lake Valley park, where hundreds of children of all ages blanketed the park’s green expanse.

Accounts of clan babies being born with congenital defects and other problems abound, including dwarfism, albinism and children born minus fingernails or without genitals.

Don’t the infant deaths and tales of horrific deformities belie Ortell’s homespun eugenics?

Scott remembered that Ortell had an answer for that question.

“Something along the lines of, to build a superhuman, if you have four or five defects to get the one good one, it’s worth it,” he recalled.

“Because that one is going to be genius-level purity, and that’s what The Order is looking for.”

———-

“Blood Cult” by Stephen Lemons; Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report; August 08, 2017

“During a recent interview with the Intelligence Report, Jessica Kingston, a former member of the secretive, Salt Lake City-based cult and a star of the A&E reality series “Escaping Polygamy,” remembered, when she was 12, her Sunday school teacher coming into class with a bucket of water and a vial of black food coloring.”

As Jessica Kingston recounts, being non-white was basically seen as “the worst thing you can have” and corruption of the divine whiteness lineage of the Kingstons that went back to directly to Jesus and King David:


The teacher added a drop of dye to the water, and the children watched as the blackness slowly spread.

“The teacher was like, ‘You can never get that out, that is always there now,’” recalled Jessica, now 29. “She talked about how you can’t associate with black people or anybody of a different race.”

This racist display was no one-off. Jessica said she and other children of the Kingston clan — a group also known as The Order, the Davis County Cooperative Society, and the Latter-Day Church of Christ — dropped the N-bomb all the time, as did their parents.

Black people supposedly suffered from multiple scriptural curses, from the mark of Cain and Noah’s curse on Ham in the Old Testament to the racist tenets of early Mormonism that have since been renounced or abandoned by the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the LDS or Mormon church.

Black blood was “the worst thing you can have,” Jessica said, particularly since the Kingstons consider themselves to be the whitest of the white, descended directly from Jesus Christ and King David, the Middle Eastern origins of both men notwithstanding.

But they aren’t just trying to create a white supremacists cult enclave. The cult’s leaders apparently also view themselves as having a divine right to be kings of the world and practice selective incestuous breeding within the clan to achieve some sort of divine super-whiteness. And this is all part of a prophecy that involves an eventual race war where the streets will run with blood and that will enable them to emerge victorious over all. As they see it, Hitler was right in trying to create a Master Race, but he didn’t have God’s backing and that’s why he failed:

Obsessed with the purity of their bloodline and empowered by a sense of entitlement on par with the divine right of kings, the Kingstons have made incest the cornerstone of a self-serving theology that loathes non whites, fosters homophobia and abhors government authority.

Additionally, ex-Order members tell of a reputed church prophecy of an “End of the World War,” an apocalyptic vision that foresees a bloody race war with the Kingstons as the ultimate victors, chosen by their Heavenly Father to rule the world for a millennium.

A 1999 Salt Lake Tribune article mapped the Kingstons’ incestuous family tree, quoting one of Ortell’s 65 kids, ex-Order member Connie Rugg as saying, “My father experimented [with] inbreeding with his cattle and then he turned to his children.”

In order to maintain his family’s “superior bloodlines,” Ortell married and had children with two of his half-sisters and two nieces. He orchestrated all unions within the cult, which was maintained with classic mind control techniques, corporal punishment, fasting and bizarre dietary practices. Ortell died in 1987, but his progeny continued the polygamy, the inbreeding and the marriages to young female teens that he instituted.

During an interview with this reporter, Lu Ann Kingston, whose defiance of the cult led to the conviction of her former “spiritual” husband Jeremy, recalled that Order members saw intermarriage as a way to “keep the bloodline pure.”

And by pure, they meant pure white.

All outsiders are considered to be beneath Order members, she explained. But The Order saves most of its bile for blacks and other non whites. Ethnic jokes and stereotypes were commonly repeated. Chinese people were called “stupid,” and Mexicans were “dirty,” said Lu Ann, adding, “because of their skin.”

Ron says the cult’s justification for its racism goes back to early Mormon teachings about a war in heaven between the forces of Satan and those of Jesus. The battle took place in the spiritual pre-existence that Mormons believe all souls come from. Blacks were “the less valiant people in heaven” who sat on the sidelines while others took sides, according to The Order.

Their punishment? Dark skin, of course.

Another of Ortell’s teachings: Adolf Hitler had the right idea about creating a master race, but didn’t have the Lord’s help, so he failed.

Tucker recounted the clan’s version of the apocalypse, the “End of the World War,” a riff on a prophecy some ascribe to Joseph Smith, called The White Horse Prophecy. In it, black people come close to killing off the white race until they are countered by Native Americans, symbolized by a Red Horse, which gallops to the White Horse’s rescue.

“That will open up for The Order to rise up and take over the world,” Ron said.

And this group owns a billion dollar business empire, including a high-end weapons manufacturer. But don’t worry because, as one of the group leaders proclaims, they’re really all about loving thy neighbor and there’s only a few racists in the group:


Young is the owner of Desert Tech, a Utah gun manufacturer, which produces sniper rifles and so-called “bullpup” rifles, The latter, unlike conventional magazine-fed rifles, have shorter barrels, with the gun’s action located behind the trigger. These specialty firearms can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $8,000 each.

Desert Tech and its rifles have been featured on Fox News, Mythbusters, Daredevil and The Blacklist, among other TV shows. Young told Intelligence Report that his company has sold weapons, with the approval of the U.S. State Department, to governments in Europe and the Middle East, Saudi Arabia being one.

Young also claimed Desert Tech had sold guns to Picatinny Arsenal, the research division of the U.S. military.

“We haven’t gotten any big U.S. contracts,” Young explained. “Obviously, we would love to.”

Spokesmen for both the U.S. State Department and for Picatinny Arsenal could neither verify nor deny Young’s claims.

The company was founded in 2007 with an investment from family members. Young denied that The Order was racist or taught any form of bigotry, and said he had people of all races working for him.

“What we’re taught is to love our neighbor, that all people, all races no matter who they are … deserve to be loved,” he explained.

Still, he conceded that some Order members may have prejudiced beliefs because “in our organization people have freedom of choice.”

“What we’re taught is to love our neighbor, that all people, all races no matter who they are … deserve to be loved,” he explained.

We just want to “love thy neighbor”. That was the message from the guy who founded the race war cult’s high-end weapons manufacturing firm. And it’s worth note that apocalyptic wealthy cults that own their own high-end weapons manufacturer aren’t as uncommon as one might hope.

The Hate Cult in the White House

Now after looking at that profile of the Kingston clan, the question is raised in relation to the larger Alt-Right white supremacist movement that continues to use the Trump White House’s quiet approval to mainstream itself and present its members as some sort of aggrieved segment of American society: So what exactly is the key difference between the Kingstons’ worldview and that or your typical neo-Nazi? Sure, there are undoubtedly some differences in terms of the religious/incest stuff maybe. But in terms of the mindless fetishization of ‘whiteness’ coupled with a need for a rigid authoritarian hierarchical society, is there really all that big a difference between an apocalyptic racist theocratic polygamist cult that views all non-whites as an existential threat and the general ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazi worldview that portrays non-whites, women, gays, and anyone who isn’t a far-right white male as an existential threat to far-right white males? If there are substantial fundamental differences, it’s unclear what they are because both groups fundamentally view non-white conservatives as a dehumanized “other” unworthy of “thy neighbors” love or an interesting group of people worth getting to know, but instead an inevitable rival group that represents an existential threat that must be extinguished. And it’s that worldview that President Trump refuses to denounce. Because the ‘Alt-Right’ and its sympathizers are far too important a political constituency (and Trump is kind of of Nazi himself).

But while we might be tempted to presume that it’s purely crass political calculations that have led to the President’s silence on this matter, as the following piece by Josh Marshall points out, that same worldview that sees the everyone who opposes Alt-Right as part of some sort of existential threat to conservative whites is not surprisingly popular in the the upper-echelons of the White House. As the recent reports of an intra-White House battle in the National Security Council tragically demonstrates – where National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster recently fired an NSC staffer with close ties to an ‘Alt-Right’ personality as part of a larger Alt-Right vs non-Alt-Right power struggle in the White House – that ‘Alt-Right’ worldview that portrays all non-Alt-Rights as being part of some grand cabal out to destroy white conservatives (as opposed to making a better world for the conservatives to enjoy living in too, just not exclusively enjoy) has been turned into a message where all non-Alt-Rights are all in a grand cabal to destroy Donald Trump. And only the Alt-Right is on his side. Everyone from progressives, to ‘establishment’ Republicans, the ‘deep state’, and even the the Muslim Brotherhood are all in a ca bal against Trump. That’s the Team Alt-Right message in the White House and Trump is reportedly quite receptive to it:

Talking Points Memo
Editor’s Blog

The Fringe At The Wheel: Inside The Cernovich/McMaster Derp War

By Josh Marshall
Published August 11, 2017 2:59 pm

Earlier this month, The Atlantic reported on a memo written by a since-fired NSC staffer named Rich Higgins. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster fired Higgins in July over the memo. But Higgins’ dismissal was part of McMaster’s broader effort to assert control over an NSC which still has or had numerous staffers brought in by Mike Flynn. Yesterday Foreign Policy published the memo in its entirety along with new reporting about the context of the memo, its discovery and Higgins’ dismissal.

The memo itself is fairly described as nuts. But I want to get into more detail about just what it contains because the details are important on several fronts. But before that I want to mention a key element of FP’s reporting, which I at least think is new in its specifics. If you don’t waste your time on Twitter or haven’t closely followed the so-called alt-right, you may not know the name Mike Cernovich. His Wikipedia page describes him as “an American alt-right social media personality, writer, and conspiracy theorist”, which is not a bad description. He was a big promoter of the ‘pizzagate’ conspiracy theory which ended up almost getting people killed in DC last year. Before that he was a ‘men’s empowerment’ activist who took a more clearly political turn in 2016 race. He’s provocative and goofy in as much as a white supremacist and Nazi-sympathizer can be goofy.

In any case, since Trump’s inauguration Cernovich has been carrying on a sort of rearguard action against the Trump White House, notionally supporting ‘Trump’ while waging online battles against the mix of ‘globalists’, sell-outs and ‘deep state’ forces trying to undo the Trump revolution. Through all this Cernovich has claimed he has sources deep and high up in the Trump White House and that he’s sitting on all manner of stories that could change everything. It has always been clear that Cernovich does have some ‘sources’ or at least people leaking him stuff or access to some information ahead of the conventional media because more than once he’s reported things on his website or Twitter which did turn out to be true. But one of my biggest takeaways from the FP piece is that this is apparently far more true than at least I realized. Indeed, H.R. McMaster, in this telling at least, is obsessed with rooting out the NSC staffers who are leaking to Cernovich and it was that leak hunt that led to the discovery of the memo we were discussing above.

Here’s a key passage

The controversy over the memo has its origins in a hunt for staffers believed to be providing information to right-wing blogger Mike Cernovich, who seemed to have uncanny insight into the inner workings of the NSC. Cernovich in the past few months has been conducting a wide-ranging campaign against the national security advisor.

“McMaster was just very, very obsessed with this, with Cernovich,” a senior administration official told FP. “He had become this incredible specter.”

In July, the memo was discovered in Higgins’s email during what two sources described to Foreign Policy as a “routine security” audit of NSC staffers’ communications. Another source, however, characterized it as a McCarthy-type leak investigation targeting staffers suspected of communicating with Cernovich.

Higgins, who had worked on the Trump campaign and transition before coming to the NSC, drafted the memo in late May and then circulated the memo to friends from the transition, a number of whom are now in the White House.

After the memo was discovered, McMaster’s deputy, Ricky Waddell, summoned Higgins, who was told he could resign — or be fired, and risk losing his security clearance, according to two sources.

Higgins, who agreed to resign, was escorted out of the building. He later learned from his colleagues still at the NSC that his association to this now-infamous memo was the reason he was removed.

Needless to say, if McMaster is surveilling his own staff to find out who is talking to Cernovich, then Cernovich is playing a big, big role in the unfolding Trump administration drama. That’s a big deal and a highly disturbing one, which we will come back to.

Now let’s discuss the memo itself. As I said, it’s nuts on many levels. But the details of what it contains are important. I have a series of observations. Let me lay them out seriatim.

1: First, an overview. The gist of Higgins memo is that President Trump is under a sustained, illegitimate and conspiracy driven attack by the forces of “cultural Marxism” which aims to drive him from office. These forces include basically everyone from the far left to establishment Republicans, either as conspirators or dupes and fellow travelers. Key elements of the drama are that the American left is in league with ‘radical Islam’, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, to destroy America from the within. Both sides – the forces of the ‘cultural Marxism’ and the supporters of President Trump – are in what amounts to a final, all-or-nothing battle. Indeed, Higgins argues that the country is now in the midst of a pitched battle for the future existence of America in which the person of President Trump is a proxy for the future of America itself. It is a Manichean, verging on political eschatological vision of contemporary America. This is the concluding paragraph of the memo, emphasis added …

The recent turn of events give rise to the observation that the defense of President Trump is the defense of America. In the same way President Lincoln was surrounded by political opposition both inside and outside of his wire, in both overt and covert forms, so too is President Trump. Had Lincoln failed, so too would have the Republic. The administration has been maneuvered into a constant backpedal by relentless political warfare attacks structured to force him to assume a reactive posture that assures inadequate responses. The president can either drive or be driven by events; it’s time for him to drive them.

2: Trump Era Politics is Really War. It is far down the list of problems with this memo and this situation. But it is to put it mildly highly irregular and problematic for a former Pentagon official who is now an NSC staffer to be circulating memos on domestic ‘political warfare’. But the memo is replete with the imagery, terminology and conceptual framework of war, even down to high-drama, often manic descriptions of the ‘battlespace’ on which President Trump is fighting the forces of ‘cultural Marxism’. The memo views opposition politics in the Trump era as illegitimate and a form of violent resistance against the state.

Again from the memo …

This is not politics as usual but rather political warfare at an unprecedented level that is openly engaged in the direct targeting of a seated president through manipulation of the news cycle. It must be recognized on its own terms so that immediate action can be taken. At its core, these campaigns run on multiple lines of effort, serve as the non-violent line of effort of a wider movement, and execute political warfare agendas that reflect cultural Marxist outcomes. The campaigns operate through narratives. Because the hard left is aligned with lslamist organizations at local (ANTI FA working with Muslim Brotherhood doing business as MSA and CAIR), national (ACLU and BLM working with CAIR and MPAC) and international levels (OIC working with OSCEand the UN), recognition must given to the fact that they seamlessly interoperate at the narrative level as well. In candidate Trump, the opposition saw a threat to the “politically correct” enforcement narratives they’ve meticulously laid in over the past few decades. In President Trump, they see a latent threat to continue that effort to ruinous effect and their retaliatory response reflects this fear.

As you can see, a persistent theme of the memo is that what most of us would recognize as an embattled and unpopular President fighting widespread opposition is actually more like a domestic rebellion and needs to be addressed as such.

Again from the memo …

Culturally conditioned to limit responses to such attacks as yet another round in the on-going drone from diversity and multicultural malcontents, these broadsides are discounted as political correctness run amuck. However, political correctness is a weapon against reason and critical thinking. This weapon functions as the enforcement mechanism of diversity narratives that seek to implement cultural Marxism. Candidate Trump’s rhetoric in the campaign not only cut through the Marxist narrative, he did so in ways that were viscerally comprehensible to a voting bloc that then made candidate Trump the president; making that bloc self-aware in the process. President Trump is either the candidate he ran as, or he is nothing.

Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction. For this cabal, Trump must be destroyed. Far from politics as usual, this is a political warfare effort that seeks the destruction of a sitting president. Since Trump took office, the situation has intensified to crisis level proportions. For those engaged in the effort, especially those from within the “deep state” or permanent government apparatus, this raises clear Title 18 (legal) concerns.

Consider this passage about the “battlespace”.

Battlespace. These attack narratives are pervasive, full spectrum and institutionalized at all levels. They operate in social media, television, the 24-hour news cycle in all media, and are entrenched at the upper levels of the bureaucracies and within the foreign policy establishment. They inform the entertainment industry from late night monologues, to situation comedies, to television series memes, to movie themes. The effort required to direct this capacity at President Trump is little more than a programming decision to do so. The cultural Marxist narrative is fully deployed, pervasive, full spectrum and ongoing. Regarding the president, attacks have become a relentless 24/7 effort.

This mix of observations and feelings might be more simply summed up as “Wow, we seem to be super unpopular. And we’re being attacked constantly!”

Many White Houses have had this feeling. It’s a tough job. But Higgins sees it quite differently, as an integrated, conspiratorial effort to drive the President from office and destroy the America he represents. Indeed, Higgins explicitly cites the doctrine’s of Maoist ‘people’s war’ as the conceptual framework and the plan Trump’s enemies are following. I’m not kidding about this. From the memo: “As used here, ‘political warfare’ does not concern activities associated with the American political process but rather exclusively refers to political warfare as understood by the Maoist Insurgency model. Political warfare is one of the five components of a Maoist insurgency. Maoist methodologies employ synchronized violent and non-violent actions that focus on mobilization of individuals and groups to action. This approach envisions the direct use of non-violent operational arts and tactics as elements of combat power.”

Again, my description isn’t semantic or hyperbolic. Higgins views a vast array of disparate domestic political movements, institutions and cultural voices as together executing an organized plan to drive Trump from office and that the instigators of this effort are the far left and Islamic radicals trying to perpetuate ‘cultural Marxism’.

3: The Domestic War is a Meme War: A week ago, the above-mentioned Cernovich tweeted this much-derided message.

What is “memetic warfare”? It is essentially fighting people on social media with photoshopped images, propagating ‘memes’ – nugget sized images or blocks of text which inject messages and ideas into the conversations of a broader public. It also involves digital vigilantism, organized intimidation campaigns, threats and a lot more. There’s something to this. And Cernovich is demonstrably an able practitioner of it. He’s built up a huge following based on pretty much just that. At the end of the day though, McMaster is a master of war wars. And ‘memetic warfare’ is really just spending the day mouthing off on Twitter. So it’s a bit of a comical boast. But if you read the Higgins memo it is replete with the vocabulary and mental world of ‘memetic warfare’. These two men are in contact with each other and share the same mental and ideational world. Which seems to be why McMaster fired Higgins. To a degree, it’s a slightly higher-brow version of what you can listen to on Hannity every night. That’s not surprising since – unlikely the imagined conspiracies of Higgins memo – Hannity, the Cernovich crew at the NSC, Trump, Don Jr. and the rest do seem to be in regular contact with each other.

4: What is ‘Cultural Marxism’? Higgins is not the only person to use this phrase. But as he uses it ‘cultural Marxism’ is essentially the entirety of social movements, cultural change, growing internationalization of public life in America that distinguishes the American of the early 21st century from the idealized public version of America as presented in media and mainstream TV and cinema in the 1950s. There is arguably such a thing as ‘cultural Marxism’ – radical critiques of American society, and its culture and economic underpinnings, which exist but don’t have a great deal of traction outside the academy and some radical political circles. There is also the range of critiques of American gender and racial norms and power structures that critique ‘patriarchy’ and ‘white supremacy’. These are obviously much more pervasive debates within contemporary American society, ones which are disproportionately (though by no means exclusively) rooted in the ideas of the younger generation of Americans. They are real, deeply contested and genuinely threatening to a large segment of the US population. They’re not ‘cultural Marxism’ in any sense other than as swear words and trash talk in domestic political debates. But even this isn’t really what Higgins is talking about. It is a far more expansive and watered-down definition and set of ideas which are taken more or less as givens in corporate America under the blandified catchwords of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’. That’s all ‘cultural Marxism’ for Higgins and all driven by an alliance of ‘the left’ and Islamist radicals.

5: The Trumpite Milieu: Where does this stuff come from? Higgins is a former soldier and later a Pentagon staffer. Some of his writing is simply taking fairly conventional military planning jargon and applying it to domestic politics. But reading Higgins I hear the voices of two other men loud and clear: Frank Gaffney and David Horowitz.

Gaffney was a mid-tier Reagan Pentagon appointee who has been a constant presence in Washington for the last three decades and has in the years since 9/11 become the preeminent author and propagator of various Islamophobic conspiracy theories. To set expectations properly, I’m not talking about counter-terrorism hawks who say the US needs to surveil Muslim immigrant populations or limit immigration by Muslims. Gaffney says the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government at all levels with sleeper agents and fellow travelers. There’s crazy and there’s crazy. Gaffney is in the latter category.

As Peter Beinart noted earlier this year, most mainstream Republicans have treated Gaffney like a crank for years. (Indeed, he’s for years fought a nitwit battle to expel Grover Norquist from the conservative movement because Gaffney claims Norquist is a Muslim Brotherhood agent or fellow traveler.) But he’s viewed as a major thinker and adviser in the Trump White House. And Mike Flynn was deeply under his influence. Indeed, in 2016 Flynn co-authored a book with Michael Ledeen, a comparable though somewhat more obscure figure. Ledeen is a different, with his own distinct though no less crazy conspiracy theories largely tied to radical Islamist, terrorist and simply anti-American groups. The upshot is that Flynn was totally down with and in the Frank Gaffney nutbag and he staffed the Trump world with people of the same mindset. A lot of them are still there.

David Horowitz is a one-time member of the New Left who’s made his living for decades as a self-styled Whittaker Chambers of the nutball right. I can tell you from personal experience that he is simply one of the worst people in American public life. Think Roger Stone is terrible? Me too. But I’ve met Roger and he’s kind of a blast to spend a bit of time with if you can bracket out the politics. I’ve met Horowitz too. He’s an awful person. Higgins obsession with ‘cultural Marxism’, ‘political warfare’, Maoist insurgency tactics and all manner of other sub-Marxist claptrap is pure Horowitz. It is both how he thinks and also his schtick within the conservative movement: the guy who knows all the dark truths about ‘the left’ and is sharing them with the embattled right. Horowitz too is tight with the Trump world and the various extremists and conspiracy theorists who cluster around it. I don’t know whether Higgins got this stuff directly from Horowitz or just atmospherically because his influence is so pervasive in today’s right. But the influence is unmistakable.

For our present purposes, the important point is that even though mainstream conservatives – not to mention everyone to their left – have long regarded both men as no more than activist bilge water, they are both highly influential in the Trump White House. Just as importantly, while they’ve generally been regarded as jokes by mainstream political reporters, they’ve actually spent years propagating their ideas among the people we now call the Trump base. So their ideas are as important as they are nonsensical and hyperbolic because they are at the center of power and draw on a mass base of support.

Higgins himself may be out. But the FP piece reports that Don Jr. got hold of his memo during the firestorm of controversy over his June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and loved it. He shared it with his father, President Trump, who loved it too. He got angry when Sean Hannity told him that Higgins had been fired over it. So even though Higgins is out, these ideas are still pervasive in the Trump White House and get an enthusiastic thumbs up from Trump himself. Even though McMaster won the battle, to put it in Higginsian terms, the war continues. And it seems as likely as not, on the FP’s reporting, that McMaster will eventually lose.

———-

“The Fringe At The Wheel: Inside The Cernovich/McMaster Derp War” by Josh Marshall; Talking Points Memo; 08/11/2017

“First, an overview. The gist of Higgins memo is that President Trump is under a sustained, illegitimate and conspiracy driven attack by the forces of “cultural Marxism” which aims to drive him from office. These forces include basically everyone from the far left to establishment Republicans, either as conspirators or dupes and fellow travelers. Key elements of the drama are that the American left is in league with ‘radical Islam’, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, to destroy America from the within. Both sides – the forces of the ‘cultural Marxism’ and the supporters of President Trump – are in what amounts to a final, all-or-nothing battle. Indeed, Higgins argues that the country is now in the midst of a pitched battle for the future existence of America in which the person of President Trump is a proxy for the future of America itself. It is a Manichean, verging on political eschatological vision of contemporary America…”

And as Josh Marshall ends with, while Rich Higgins, the Alt-Right NSC staffer, may have been successfully removed by H.R. McMaster, his overall message of the world being against Trump and the Alt-Right being his only real ally in this is a message that continues to resonate within the White House and Trump himself:


Higgins himself may be out. But the FP piece reports that Don Jr. got hold of his memo during the firestorm of controversy over his June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and loved it. He shared it with his father, President Trump, who loved it too. He got angry when Sean Hannity told him that Higgins had been fired over it. So even though Higgins is out, these ideas are still pervasive in the Trump White House and get an enthusiastic thumbs up from Trump himself. Even though McMaster won the battle, to put it in Higginsian terms, the war continues. And it seems as likely as not, on the FP’s reporting, that McMaster will eventually lose.

So as we scratch our heads asking why President Trump refuses to denounce white suprmacists, let’s not forget that this is an embattled White House that appears to view the ‘Alt-Right’ as his only real allies. Might that have something to do with his refusal to denounce them despite the political costs he’s incurring for not doing so? They’re his only friends.

And one quick quibble with Marshall’s characterization of millieu of figures that have been promoting this “liberals and Islamists united in Cultural Marxism” worldview. Specifically this section regarding Frank Gaffney:


As Peter Beinart noted earlier this year, most mainstream Republicans have treated Gaffney like a crank for years. (Indeed, he’s for years fought a nitwit battle to expel Grover Norquist from the conservative movement because Gaffney claims Norquist is a Muslim Brotherhood agent or fellow traveler.) But he’s viewed as a major thinker and adviser in the Trump White House. And Mike Flynn was deeply under his influence. Indeed, in 2016 Flynn co-authored a book with Michael Ledeen, a comparable though somewhat more obscure figure. Ledeen is a different, with his own distinct though no less crazy conspiracy theories largely tied to radical Islamist, terrorist and simply anti-American groups. The upshot is that Flynn was totally down with and in the Frank Gaffney nutbag and he staffed the Trump world with people of the same mindset. A lot of them are still there.

While it’s true that Frank Gaffney is indeed a crank who focuses almost exclusively on the Muslim Brotherhood to the point where his analysis is nonsense, the work he’s done highlighting conservative anti-tax extremist Grover Norquists ties to the Muslim Brotherhood is probably one of the few useful things Gaffney has ever done. Why? Because the Muslim Brotherhood is effectively the KKK of the Sunni world – an elitist corporatist hyper-sectarian far-right theocratic organization hell-bent on total domination of society and the dehumanization of “others”. And an understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s history of coordinating with far-right groups, including extensive history of coordinating with ex-Nazis and fascists, is critical for understanding both the Muslim Brotherhood and the larger global movement of reactionary far-right movements operating throughout the 20th and 21st century. These movements work with each other and the story of the American right-wing’s work relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood is important and Grover Norquist played an important role in that story. Especially if people like Mike Cernovich are going to push memes that progressives are teaming up with the Muslim Brotherhood in some sort of grand. Plus, you can’t fully understand the post-9/11 investigation into terror financing without understanding that relationship and that specifically includes the role Grover Norquist played in intervening on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood networks to thwart Operation Greenquest. Other than all that, yes, Gaffney is a crank and manages to completely mangle any meaningful understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood. While terror attacks or some other nefarious activity by far-right Islamist militant groups is certainly a concern for America as is the case for all far-right groups, America isn’t being overrun by Islamofascists like Gaffney suggests because it’s already overrun by Christofascists. That ‘space’ is sort of taken up already.

But this is where we are: when we step back and “study the situation”, the situation appears to be one where a worldview best left to a racist cult is guiding the White House. And that White House is, in turn, effectively defending via omission a group of neo-Nazis the day after one of them ran down a crowd of anti-racist protestors. And if we step back further we find that same kind of worldview capturing the imagination of a significant segment of white American conservatives. And Europe too when you look at the rise of white nationalism there. And of course the Muslim world when you look at ongoing domination of hyper-conservative strains of Islam and groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and theocratic monarchies. And don’t forget North Korea. It’s an entire nation run by an insular cult that views the rest of the world as an existential threat. In other worlds, pretty much wherever you look around the globe you’re going to find reactionary totalitarian identitarian groups that view the rest of the world as an existential “others” threat. And if we’re going to find a real existential threat anywhere that’s where it is: groups that can’t live peacefully with others and refuse to humanize others.

But what do we do about this? Virginia governor Terry McCoullough made an important point during his address to the public after the neo-Nazi car attack on a crowd of anti-fascist protestors and hte ‘Unify the Right’ torchlight march. He called for them to “go home”, and said Virginia isn’t a commonwealth that welcomes them. And the United States isn’t doesn’t have space for them. It was an important rebuke made all the more important bye the President’s silence. But it still raises the question: where do they go? And the answer is the same answer to the question of “what do we do with [insert totalitarian identitarian group here]?” And that answer is to be super welcoming when they snap out of it and become non-totalitarian identitarians and otherwise continue to be unwelcoming. They won’t be deported or anything. Just unwelcome when they express hateful views.

But that’s probably not going to be adequate. So how about we counter the systematic dehumanization of “others” by public recognizing that the dehumanization of “others” is an extremely “human” thing to do. Tragically, but that’s how it is. Throughout history it’s been pervasive and enduring. Across time and cultures. Monstrous acts and ideologies are all too human. And those help captive by such views aren’t monsters. They’re human captives of monstrous ideologies. It’s sadly human to get caught up in such ideologies, but also human to experience an epiphany, snap out of it, and move past it. Think of the former members of the Kingston clan. They were die-hard believers who managed to escape. It wasn’t easy, but they did it. And that whole arc of experience, believing in a hate cult and learning to move past it, is a very human experience. On top of that, it’s not just a relief when someone escapes from a hate cult but it’s actually really quite remarkable. Way to go! For real, it’s an amazing and impressive achievement. So how about we celebrate that and make it very clear that we recognize that those trapped in hate cults can be just a handful of personal epiphanies away from becoming great people who will be welcome anywhere. At least anywhere that isn’t a hate cult. Would recognizing the awesomeness of escaping from a hate cult help our overall situation?

Sure, it’s not fair that the side that promotes peace and equality and diversity and trying to empathize and humanize others should be forced to repeatedly ‘turn the other cheek’ when it comes to finding a common path forward with groups dedicated to dehumanization of others and, in many cases, their eventual extermination. But that’s how it is when you’re forced to fight for a more empathetic society and an end to thoughtless heartlessness. It comes with the territory. And it’s important to note that it’s relatively new territory when it comes to trying to create a society that isn’t simply dominated by some group but is instead thoughtfully based on a real ‘Golden rule’ paradigm. We know societies like North Korea or Nazi Germany can exist and have always existed. Humans are clearly capable of that. But this whole tolerance thing, a society that looks past superficialities and truly embraces The Golden Rule and priorities the humanization of “others”, this is new. And largely untested because there’s always been a large swath of society that never agreed with that vision. So how about we create a national project that actually celebrates the humanization of “others” and moving past hating, including hating the haters. Humanizing the haters. Not as models to follow but as real people trapped in hate cults they didn’t create but someone fell into or were born into. A celebration of the act of shedding previously held bigotries, in effect being “born again”. Could a movement of born again ex-haters have any impact?

Similarly, how about developing a a sense of “White Pride” that’s pride in white society overcoming white supremacy. And mysogyny. And homophobia. And all the other unjustified horrible habits that have infested societies throughout history. And add it to “[insert group’s label here] Pride” that celebrates that group’s various obstacles that they’ve overcome to also achieve a real “Golden Rule” culture. The kind of culture one might associate with a super nice pacifist hippie who loves everyone, as long as they’re not mean. And if they are mean the super nice pacifist hippie loves them in a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ way and humanizes them. Totalitarian identitarian movements like the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis explicitly don’t have a space for non-whites. They can’t possibly be a viable worldview for the real world unless it involves real world mass genocide. Which is part of their long-term vision. And the rest of the totalitarian identitarian worldviews of the world are the same way. It’s like extra-psycho Highlander scenario played out on a tribal level, where it’s either one totalitarian identitarian movement wins or humanity obliterates itself. In which case the rest of life on Earth wins. And that leaves and global community of tolerant progressive multi-cultural societies where all the participating cultures are nice and generally tolerant and Golden-rule-ish as the only viable vision for a future that doesn’t destroy itself. Being nice isn’t just nice. It’s logistically the only viable modality in a globalized world filled with advanced technology and a capacity for groups to destroy each other.

So if people like Mike Cernovich are going wage meme warfare propagating hate cult ideology, how about a counter meme campaign celebrating the awesome logistical utility of empathy and general niceness and how much stronger it makes any society. And how much nicer it is. Because many people appear to have forgotten or never figured out that life would be much better for everyone if we dropped the hate cult ideas. So a pro-niceness meme campaign is sadly necessary.

And make it very clear to to President Trump that he will be legitimately celebrated if he sheds his ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazi sympathies and uses his leadership position to create a real culture of niceness. The best moments in history involve overcoming the worst moments in history and the US is having a pretty bad moment. Trump has a real opportunity here after leading us to this horrible place. He said he loves “all the people of our country,” and called for Americans of different races and backgrounds to remember their shared Americanness in his remarks after the attack. If he actually demonstrated that by jettisoning all the Nazi-sympthizers like Steve Bannon or Sebastian Gorka from the White House and them lead a Presidential commission on Hate or that had an emphasis on white supremacy (since that’s the dominant hate movement in terms of raw numbers), he could end up being a wildly successful president. At least successful on race relations. He still might blow up the world in other ways but at least he would have a ‘healing the racial divide’ feather in his presidential cap. And sure, the odds of this happening are extremely low, but that’s the point: making a formal offer to avowed racists who will probably go to their graves avowed racists that, hey, the grass really is greener on the nice side and you’re more than welcome to come on over. No hard feelings. Hugs? It’ll be a “born again” thing and all will be forgiven basically. Even Bannon and Gorka could join in as long as they denounce their hate cult-ish ways. Wouldn’t it be so much more fun if we all just kind of got along? A “born again” nice Trump could save his presidency and help us all get along by by ditching the neo-Nazis and saving America from polarizing peril. His silence doesn’t bode well but it’s ultimately up to him. But it’s up to the rest of us to let him and the rest of the Nazi sympathizers in high and low places that if they have whatever personal epiphany experience that’s required to snap out of their hate cult worldviews, they will be totally welcome on Team Nice. Healing hugs anyone? Especially for Trump if he joinst Team Nice soon. It would be quite a twist for his presidency.

But as is, it appears that much like how the Elders in the Kingston clan paint a picture of a corrupt world besieging their community, the ‘Alt-Right’ and the rest of the far-right media universe has been busy selling its audience of primarily conservative white Christians prone to anti-government sentiments that liberals/progressives and the Muslim Brotherhood and presumably George Soros and the Illuminati and etc are all teaming up against them. So making it clear that they are trapped in a hate cult dynamic and that everyone will be very understanding when they snap out of it could be a useful path forward. Or perhaps totally useless but at least we tried. And should presumably keep trying as is required of Team Nice. More hugs are clearly in order.

And who knows, if we even found an effective ‘nice culture’ that actually acted as an epiphany catalyst for members of hate cults and encouraged them join in on the welcoming niceness, it might work for all sorts of other hate cults, like the Muslim Brotherhood. Jewish extremists, or any other hate group that’s clearly terrified of the rest of the world. Maybe we’ll finally find a way out of the North Korean mass cult nuclear blackmail situation. Or at least a significant part of a much larger solution.

Discussion

23 comments for “So You’ve Got a Hate Cult Problem: Living With the Kingston Klan and its ‘Alt-Right’ Cousins”

  1. Given that the purported purpose for the “Unite the Right” rally was to protect ‘White heritage’ by preventing the removal of a statue or Robert E. Lee, it’s worth recall that the kinds of figures that groups like this revere aren’t limited to Civil War figures. For instance, Andrew “the weev” Auernheimer has been calling for a crowdfunding campaign to create a a permanent statue for a grave memorializing Timothy McVeigh.

    So will the McVeigh monument become part of the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis’ white heritage that future ‘Alt-Right’ torchlight mobs rally around and protect from removal? We’ll sadly probably find out:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center
    Hatewatch

    McVeigh Worship: The New Extremist Trend

    June 27, 2017
    Bill Morlin

    In extremist circles, there appears to be a bump of interest in Timothy James McVeigh.

    Yes, that Timothy McVeigh. The guy who used a Ryder truck to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 innocent children and adults and wounding more than 600 others.

    His act 22 years ago, for those who may have forgotten, was the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    McVeigh was convicted of terrorism and executed just three months before those attacks.

    His name and heinous crime are not forgotten, nor should they be, while there seems to be a growing admiration for McVeigh in some extremist circles. One militia honcho even likened McVeigh to Jesus Christ.

    Check out these recent mentions of McVeigh:

    In mid-May, police in Tampa, Florida, responded to the scene of a double-murder involving young, self-described neo-Nazis.

    Brandon Russell, who shared the apartment with the murder suspect, was charged with possession of bomb-making materials and chemicals, including ammonium nitrate – the same kind of material used by McVeigh.

    In Russell’s bedroom at the apartment he shared with the murder suspect and the two slain neo-Nazis, police found a framed photograph of Timothy McVeigh. Russell, who’s in custody, hasn’t publicly explained that fascination.

    Then on May 26, Jeremy Christian, who held extremist views, went on a rampage in Portland, Oregon, slashing the throats and killing two men who attempted to come to the aid of two women Christian was harassing.

    Just a month earlier, on the anniversaryof McVeigh’s deadly act of terrorism, Christian praised the Oklahoma City bomber in a Facebook post. “May all the Gods Bless Timothy McVeigh — a TRUE PATRIOT!!!” Christian wrote.

    More recently, neo-Nazi Andrew ‘Weev’ Auernheimer, who writes for the racist web site “Daily Stormer,” said he was serious in proposing a crowd-funding account to raise money to build a “permanent monument” in a memorial grove honoring McVeigh.

    “Think of it, a gigantic bronze statue of Timothy McVeigh poised triumphantly atop a Ryder truck, arms raised as if to form an Algiz rune from his body, with a plaque that states the honest truth,” Auernheimer wrote. “Nothing would be a greater insult to these pizza-party guarding federal swine than a permanent monument honoring [McVeigh’s] journey to Valhalla or Fólkvangr atop the piles of their corpses.”

    “I am not joking,” Auernheimer wrote. “This should be done. Imagine how angry it would make people.”

    Last year, during the illegal occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon by antigovernment figurehead Ammon Bundy and his militia followers, Norm Olson, another long-time militia activist and leader, made ominous public comments about McVeigh.

    “The battle for the rights of the people rages on and it should be assumed that lone wolf patriots may be planning another response to the central government’s abuses,” Olson wrote. He claimed federal agents “murdered” Bundy associate LaVoy Finicum, inciting Patriots, during the 2016 refuge occupation.

    “Once the fuse is lit, it will be hard to extinguish,” Olson said. “There’s a place that we all should think about: Oklahoma City.”

    Two days later, Olson, who has been active in militia groups in Michigan and Alaska, said he was ready to tell members of Congress that “Timothy McVeigh DIED FOR YOUR SINS!!!!!!!!!”

    It’s worth remembering that Olson had a unique glimpse of McVeigh. He and Oklahoma bombing co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, attended a meeting of the Michigan Militia, which Olson founded in 1994, a year before the Oklahoma City bombing.

    “Anger and frustration create a personal vendetta,” Olson wrote last year, claiming that the U.S. government’s “case against Tim McVeigh was based on his motive.”

    “His motive was VENDETTA, retaliation, retribution, eye-for-eye ..f. call it what you want, but there will be blood … maybe not right away, but soon,” Olson’s said in his ominous public warning.

    Apparently referring to McVeigh, Olson said there are other “Patriots out there who “want to be remembered” and are coming to the realization that THERE IS NO JUSTICE … IT IS JUST US!

    Of course, McVeigh may never be as popular as other extremist and far-right heroes and memes – – the swastika, the burning cross, Adolf Hitler, Pepe the Frog, George Lincoln Rockwell, the numbers 88 and 14 words, the KKK blood-drop cross, William Pierce.

    But the question remains, why would anyone romanticize a modern-day, extremist serial killer and terrorist?

    Tom Pyszczynski, a professor of psychology at University of Colorado who has written about the psychological makeup of extremists, said he believes only a “relatively small number of people” are enthralled with McVeigh.

    “The psychological, social, economic and political forces that lead some Americans to idolize McVeigh are the same as those that lead disenfranchised or disillusioned young people in other parts of the world to idolize Osama bin Laden or ISIS,” Pyszczynski told Hatewatch.

    “They see them [McVeigh, et al] as heroes who stand up for people like them,” said Pyszczynski, who co-developed and tested a “terror management theory,” dealing with the role of death in life and the role that meaning and self-esteem play in managing the fear of death.

    “Of course, the specifics of the issues and lives of the people who follow ISIS and those who idolize McVeigh are different, but beneath the surface it usually boils down to a feeling that one’s people are disrespected and mistreated, that one’s way of life is under siege from powerful forces, and that the world as they know it has gotten out of control,” the university psychologist said.

    “All people crave meaning in life and a sense of personal or group heroism to protect them from their deepest fears,” he said, explaining that ultimately boils down to the “facts of life, involving death and vulnerability.”

    But some people, he said, aren’t able to find this in their worlds. So they look elsewhere, to radical fringe groups, like ISIS for some, or white nationalist groups for others.

    “These groups typically have heroes who are idolized as standing up to powerful forces and if they die in that fight, they are considered martyrs,” Pyszczynski said.

    Clark McCauley, a research professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, offered similar brief views about those individuals enchanted with McVeigh.

    “McVeigh is … a symbol of resistance and a hero for those who hate and fear the U.S. Government,” McCauley told Hatewatch. “This includes a wide range of people, some who see themselves as neo-Nazis and some who do not.”

    McVeigh’s bombing plan generally followed a fictional account of a race war depicted in the “Turner Diaries,” a novel written by William Pierce, a one-time college professor who went on to lead the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi hate group.

    McCauley said he doesn’t personally believe McVeigh was a neo-Nazi, so “he can therefore be a hero for many different anti-government groups.”

    Pyszczynski, who teaches at the Colorado Springs university, said people “who feel their way of life is under siege” identify with “heroes” like McVeigh.

    “So radical ideologies, whether they be Islamist or white nationalist, are appealing to people who struggle to find meaning and a sense of personal value in their own lives and view another group as the repository of evil against which they must fight to reclaim that meaning and value,” he said.

    ———-

    “McVeigh Worship: The New Extremist Trend” by Bill Morlin; The Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch; 06/27/2017

    ““Think of it, a gigantic bronze statue of Timothy McVeigh poised triumphantly atop a Ryder truck, arms raised as if to form an Algiz rune from his body, with a plaque that states the honest truth,” Auernheimer wrote. “Nothing would be a greater insult to these pizza-party guarding federal swine than a permanent monument honoring [McVeigh’s] journey to Valhalla or Fólkvangr atop the piles of their corpses.””

    That’s right, for the far-right someone like Timothy McVeigh is a heroic figure worthy of a giant bronze statue. Would that statue be considered protected ‘white heritage’ by the “Unite the Right” folks once it gets built? It seems like its just a matter of time before someone builds a statue of the guy Well given the cult-like status McVeigh has on the far-right. So that’s an unpleasant future conflict over American ‘white heritage’ that we’re going to have to deal with. Although not as unpleasant as the other forms for enduring McVeigh worship:

    KFOR.com

    Man arrested by FBI agents after allegedly planning to bomb building in downtown Oklahoma City

    KFOR-TV & K. Querry
    08/14/2017

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Federal officials say that a 23-year-old Oklahoma man has been arrested after allegedly planning to blow up a bomb in downtown Oklahoma City.

    According to a criminal complaint, the FBI arrested 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell at 1 a.m. on Aug. 12 after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van he had parked in an alley next to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City.

    The complaint alleges that Varnell initially wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C. with a device that was similar to the one used in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

    Court documents claim that Varnell was upset with the government, and his plans got the attention of law enforcement.

    An undercover FBI agent posed as a person who could help him with the bombing.

    According to the complaint, Varnell identified BancFirst as the target, helped assemble the device, loaded it into a van and drove it to the alley by the bank.

    In fact, officials say that Varnell even dialed a number on a cell phone that he believed would trigger the explosion. Authorities say they also found a statement that he planned to post to social media after the explosion.

    However, officials say that the device was actually inert and the public was not in any danger.

    “There was never a concern that our community’s safety or security was at risk during this investigation,” said Kathryn Peterson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oklahoma. “I can assure the public, without hesitation, that we had Varnell’s actions monitored every step of the way.”

    Varnell is charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce.

    “I commend the devoted work of the FBI and our state law enforcement partners in ensuring that violent plots of this kind never succeed,” said Mark A. Yancey, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

    If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

    ———-

    “Man arrested by FBI agents after allegedly planning to bomb building in downtown Oklahoma City” by KFOR-TV & K. Querry; KFOR.com; 08/14/2017

    “The complaint alleges that Varnell initially wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C. with a device that was similar to the one used in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.”

    And this planned domestic terror attack in Oklahoma City was supposed to happen at 1 am on Saturday, the evening the “Unite the Right” torchlight marches started. On top of be really horrible, it’s just the latest sign that the far-right really, really, really loves Timothy McVeigh and thinks he was just a great, heroic figure in American history.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2017, 8:11 pm
  2. When you’re living with a not-very-crypto-fascist President in the White House, there are good days and there are those days. And as is evident from the effusive praise President Trump received today over his ongoing remarks on the car attack at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA, this was one of those days:

    Talking Points Memo
    Livewire

    David Duke Praises Trump For Remarks Defending Pro-Confederate Protesters

    By Matt Shuham Published August 15, 2017 5:13 pm

    Former top Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised President Donald Trump on Tuesday for his latest remarks regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, which was organized ostensibly as a protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

    Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa https://t.co/tTESdV4LP0— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) August 15, 2017

    Duke, in his praise of Trump, re-posted a video of the President wondering aloud if the removal of monuments to Confederate figures would end up with the removal of monuments dedicated to early American slaveholders, including Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

    The video also included Trump saying not everyone at the rally on the side of white supremacists was a neo-Nazi or a white nationalist.

    President Trump: "George Washington was a slave owner… Are we gonna take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?" pic.twitter.com/bUJnbaniwL— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 15, 2017

    “You had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned, totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay?” Trump said in the video re-posted by Duke. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

    “Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had trouble-makers, and you see them come with the black outfits, and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats,” Trump added. “You had a lot of bad people in the other group, too.”

    ———-

    “David Duke Praises Trump For Remarks Defending Pro-Confederate Protesters” by Matt Shuham; Talking Points Memo; 08/15/2017

    “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa”

    That was the high praise President Trump received today…from David Duke. And Richard Spencer. And the Daily Stormer. And…

    Talking Points Memo
    Livewire

    White Supremacists Praise Trump’s Return To Rhetoric Blaming ‘Both Sides’

    By Esme Cribb
    Published August 15, 2017 6:58 pm

    White supremacists on Tuesday praised President Donald Trump for his return to equivocal rhetoric blaming “both sides” for violence that erupted over the weekend at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    White supremacist leader Richard Spencer praised Trump’s statement, made during an off-the-rails press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, as “fair and down to earth.”

    After Trump read a curt statement Monday denouncing white supremacists and hate groups by name, Spencer insisted he wasn’t being “serious,” and celebrated his reversal on Tuesday.

    “Trump cares about the truth,” he tweeted.

    Trump cares about the truth. https://t.co/Dv0gGmysPc— Richard ???Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) August 15, 2017

    Trump's statement was fair and down to earth. #Charlottesville could have been peaceful, if police did its job. https://t.co/3FUgmWoiWi— Richard ???Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) August 15, 2017

    Bradley Dean Griffin, a white nationalist who blogs under the pen name “Hunter Wallace” at Occidental Dissent, said Trump’s amended rhetoric was “better.”

    “The facts about must be filtering out now,” he tweeted. “He is all over the place but this is much better.”

    Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was not available on Tuesday after it was booted off several web hosting services and moved to the so-called Dark Web, part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, it nevertheless weighed in with an article titled, “Trump Defends Charlottesville Nazis Against Jew Media Lies, Condemns Antifa Terrorists.”

    ———-

    “White Supremacists Praise Trump’s Return To Rhetoric Blaming ‘Both Sides’” by Esme Cribb; Talking Points Memo; 08/15/2017

    “After Trump read a curt statement Monday denouncing white supremacists and hate groups by name, Spencer insisted he wasn’t being “serious,” and celebrated his reversal on Tuesday.

    Yep, there was a lot of celebrate today…if you happened to be a neo-Nazi. After all, thanks to Trump’s press conference that the white supremacists are all raving about, the President of the United States has now put the neo-Nazis and those who show up to protest them largely on the same moral ground. They’re both ‘bad’ groups, that he condemns. He also fretting about the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue, asking if George Washington and Thomas Jefferson statues were next. So, yes Robert E. Lee is apparently on the same history footing as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson according to the President of the United States. It was that kind of day:

    Talking Points Memo
    Livewire

    ‘What About The Alt-Left?’ Trump Lashes Out In Impromptu Press Conference

    By Matt Shuham
    Published August 15, 2017 6:21 pm

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday erased any ground he had gained in denouncing white supremacist groups by reverting to his old habits: False equivalencies and equivocation that left white supremacists cheering.

    In an angry press conference at Trump Tower, the President said that not everyone who rallied on the side of white supremacists was worthy of condemnation, and said that he needed the two full days before denouncingwhite white supremacist groups in order to “get the facts.”

    These were Trump’s main claims during the impromptu press conference:

    Not everyone at the rally was a white supremacist

    Though the rally was organized by white supremacist groups and ostensibly meant to protest the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Trump claimed some protesters on the side of the white supremacists were innocently and justifiably exercising their rights.

    “I have condemned many different groups,” he said. “But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.”

    “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned, totally,” he added. “But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

    Trump said some pro-Confederate protesters were “protesting, very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee” on Friday night. “You had a lot of people in that group who were there to innocently protest — and very legally protest. I don’t know if you know, they had a permit, the other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story.”

    Trump also criticized what he called the “alt-left.”

    “What about the alt-left that came charging at them?” he asked separately. “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about this? What about the fact that they came charging – they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”

    He added: “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.”

    I was waiting to ‘get the facts’ before condemning white supremacist groups

    On Saturday, Trump condemned “many sides” for stirring the violence that had left one counter-protester dead at the time of his statement. A man who had earlier been photographed with white supremacists had allegedly rammed his car into a crowd.

    “I didn’t wait long, I didn’t wait long, I didn’t wait long,” Trump said Tuesday, referring to his specific condemnation a day earlier of white supremacist groups. “I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the fact.”

    “It takes a little while to get the facts,” he continued. “You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”

    The mother of the car attack victim praised my statement

    Though the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman who died in the car attack, only praised Trump after his Monday statement explicitly condemning white supremacists, the President appeared Tuesday to use it to bolster his argument for waiting two full days to make that condemnation.

    “In fact, the young woman who I hear is a fantastic young woman … her mother wrote me and said, through, I guess, Twitter, social media, the nicest things,” Trump said. “And I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really, actually, an incredible young woman. But her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

    Taking down Confederate statues is a slippery slope

    Copping a common talking point from the far-right, Trump argued that tearing down monuments to Confederate leaders could lead to the removal of statues of America’s Founding Fathers.

    “George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said. “Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?”

    He added: “It’s fine. You’re changing history, you’re changing culture.”

    Returning to the point later, Trump made the connection explicit: “This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

    ———-

    “‘What About The Alt-Left?’ Trump Lashes Out In Impromptu Press Conference” by Matt Shuham; Talking Points Memo; 08/15/2017

    “Returning to the point later, Trump made the connection explicit: “This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?””

    So that was what got the white supremacists all excited this afternoon. After a neo-Nazi runs down a crown of anti-Nazi protestors, the President of the United States spends the next three days have the condemnations of the neo-Nazis grudgingly dragged out of him while trying to find equivalences between Nazis and the anti-Nazis protestors. You can see what they’re so giddy. Although a lot of that giddiness was probably left over from this morning’s twitter trainwreck when he tweeted an image of a train running over “CNN” and the ‘Alt-Right’ retweet from Monday night:

    The Washington Post

    After Charlottesville, Trump retweets — then deletes — image of train running over CNN reporter

    By David Nakamura and Aaron C. Davis
    August 15, 2017 at 8:33 AM

    President Trump’s war with CNN went off the rails Tuesday morning after he retweeted an image of a Trump train running over a CNN reporter, then quickly deleted it after the meme sparked criticism as inappropriate just days after the Charlottesville violence.

    Trump was in the middle of his usual morning tweetstorm when he sent the cartoon image — posted by a supporter who added, “Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain!!” — to his nearly 36 million followers.

    Trump RT'd this pic showing a CNN journalist hit by a train days after a white nationalist ran his car into activists, killed Heather Heyer. pic.twitter.com/tWjdoE70AS— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 15, 2017

    The president quickly deleted his handiwork but not before the original tweet had been retweeted hundreds of times and was captured on screen shots by journalists and activists.

    Trump’s promotion of the image came three days after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned into a violent clash between the supremacists and counterprotesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a driver slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. A 20-year old man, who has reportedly espoused neo-Nazi views, has been charged with second-degree murder in the case. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed.

    Trump did not immediately condemn the hate groups behind the “Unite the Right” rally, drawing criticism from Democrats and some Republicans. On Monday, the president attempted to make amends and denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name, while calling white supremacists “repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans.”

    But even as he attempted to clarify his views, Trump seemed eager to blame the backlash on reporters, in particular CNN. As the president was wrapping up a photo op related to international trade Monday, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta asked him why he had waited so long to condemn the hate groups by name and why he had not answered questions from reporters.

    “I like real news, not fake news,” Trump said. Pointing a finger toward Acosta, Trump added: “You are fake news.”

    If the president awoke Tuesday thinking his Twitter account would help him regain control of his political narrative, he was mistaken, however, as he also misfired in retweeting a man calling him a “fascist.”

    A user named Mike Holden was replying to a Fox News story that said Trump had told the network in an interview that he was considering issuing a a presidential pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of defying a judge’s order to halt traffic patrols on suspected undocumented immigrants. “He’s a fascist, so not unusual,” Holden wrote, only to find himself retweeted by the 45th president of the United States.

    I'm announcing my retirement from Twitter. I'll never top this RT. pic.twitter.com/HuGHkiPoyR— Mike Holden (@MikeHolden42) August 15, 2017

    Holden has posted a rapid-fire series of tweets and retweets over the past days on British politics and the fallout from the violence in Charlottesville, including a retweet of a cartoon in the Guardian newspaper depicting the White House topped by a KKK-style pointed hood. His Twitter page also has various tributes to Bernard Kenney, a British man who attempted to subdue a far-right gunman who fatally shot British parliament member Jo Cox last year. Kenney, who was stabbed by the attacker Thomas Mair, died Monday.

    Holden called the Charlottesville rally a “fascist march.”

    “For a president to still be at Bedminster playing golf and not come out and say more? From a large catalogue of things he’s done, it seemed among the worst,” he said.

    Holden quickly set a screen shot of Trump’s retweet as his Twitter background image and boasted about the endorsement — kind of — in his bio on the social media site.

    “Officially Endorsed by the President of the United States,” he wrote. “I wish that were a good thing.”

    Late Monday, Trump also retweeted a post from the Twitter account linked to right-wing provocateur Jack Posobiec, a Trump supporter known for fanning conspiracy theories, including the infamous “Pizzagate” rumors of child trafficking. Posobiec’s tweet — retweeted by Trump and not taken down — linked to a story from an ABC affiliate and read: “Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that?”

    Posobiec, a former Navy Reserve intelligence officer, had worked for right-wing website the Rebel. Posobiec gained national attention during “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief harbored a child sex ring in a pizza restaurant in Washington. The Internet-fueled falsehood led a gunman in December to fire an assault-style rifle as he searched the pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong.

    ———-

    “After Charlottesville, Trump retweets — then deletes — image of train running over CNN reporter” by David Nakamura and Aaron C. Davis; The Washington Post; 08/15/2017

    “President Trump’s war with CNN went off the rails Tuesday morning after he retweeted an image of a Trump train running over a CNN reporter, then quickly deleted it after the meme sparked criticism as inappropriate just days after the Charlottesville violence.

    Classy. And rather reminiscent of the previous “CNN Fakenews” image Trump retweeted a while back that resulted in Andrew Auernheimer at the Daily Stormer plotting a terror against the families of CNN employees. So, yeah, real classy.

    And then there was the retweet os an Alt-Right personality about crime in Chicago over the weekend by that was clearly intended to deflect attention from the neo-Nazi rally by directing attention to crime in predominantly African American neighborhoods and suggest a parallel with a neo-Nazi hate rally that resulted in a domestic terror attack:


    Late Monday, Trump also retweeted a post from the Twitter account linked to right-wing provocateur Jack Posobiec, a Trump supporter known for fanning conspiracy theories, including the infamous “Pizzagate” rumors of child trafficking. Posobiec’s tweet — retweeted by Trump and not taken down — linked to a story from an ABC affiliate and read: “Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that?”

    Posobiec, a former Navy Reserve intelligence officer, had worked for right-wing website the Rebel. Posobiec gained national attention during “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief harbored a child sex ring in a pizza restaurant in Washington. The Internet-fueled falsehood led a gunman in December to fire an assault-style rifle as he searched the pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong.

    Oh so classy.

    As we can see, today was one of those days. The kind of day that has neo-Nazis tweeting with glee. And yeah, pretty much every day in the Trump era is one of those days, but this one was extra bad simply because it was the day after Trump belated issued the open condemnation of white supremacy and racism that the public was clamoring for following the neo-Nazi attack. So today wasn’t just a sign of a lack of progress. It was Trump regressing. In real time. It was that kind of day. One step forward, two goose-steps back. Sad!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 15, 2017, 8:18 pm
  3. Amidst all the reports about the White House staff being “stunned” by President Trump’s decision to ‘go rogue’ and go on a press conference tirade defending his ‘both sides had good and bad people’ response to the Charlottesville, Virgina neo-Nazi car attack on a group of anti-Nazi protestors, it’s worth noting that those discomforted sentiments don’t apply to Steve Bannon. Or course:

    Talking Points Memo
    Livewire

    Reports: Bannon Was ‘Thrilled,’ ‘Proud’ After Trump’s Charlottesville Presser

    By Matt Shuham Published
    August 16, 2017 2:47 pm

    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was reportedly “thrilled” and “proud” after President Donald Trump’s comments Tuesday that not everyone who attended a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend was worthy of condemnation.

    During an impromptu press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower Tuesday, Trump said “I think there’s blame on both sides” — both the white supremacists’ and counter-protesters’ — for the weekend’s turmoil, and that not everyone who protested the statue’s removal deserved criticism.

    “You had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned, totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?” he said. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

    Many in the White House have communicated to reporters — off the record — that Trump’s statements made them uncomfortable. For Bannon, at least according to unnamed sources familiar with his opinion, the opposite is true.

    An unnamed “friend” of Bannon’s told Politico the adviser was “thrilled” with the remarks.

    And an unnamed source “close” to Bannon told Bloomberg he was “proud” of Trump’s performance.

    Bannon has a history with many of the groups and ideologies present at Saturday’s rally, which descended into mayhem and violence and resulted in the death of one counter-protester after a man who had earlier been photographed with white supremacists allegedly rammed his car into a crowd.

    “We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon boasted to Mother Jones in July 2016, referring to Breitbart News, the conservative platform he used to run before joining Trump’s campaign for President, and eventually, Trump’s White House.

    ———-

    “Reports: Bannon Was ‘Thrilled,’ ‘Proud’ After Trump’s Charlottesville Presser” by Matt Shuham; Talking Points Memo; 08/16/2017

    “Many in the White House have communicated to reporters — off the record — that Trump’s statements made them uncomfortable. For Bannon, at least according to unnamed sources familiar with his opinion, the opposite is true.

    Yep, Bannon wasn’t just “thrilled”. He was “proud”:


    An unnamed “friend” of Bannon’s told Politico the adviser was “thrilled” with the remarks.

    And an unnamed source “close” to Bannon told Bloomberg he was “proud” of Trump’s performance.

    Presumably that was ‘White pride’ filling Bannon’s heart, although maybe it was some sort of ‘Machiavelli divide-and-conquer campaign strategist pride’. Or maybe a bit of both. We don’t get to know. It’s one of life’s mysteries.

    But as Josh Marshall noted after yesterday’s Trump tirade, what is becoming increasingly non-mysterious is the answer to why it is that Donald Trump insists on defending and associating himself with the ‘Alt-Right’ and other far-right racists. And it doesn’t require the application of “Trump’s Razor”. Nope, good ol’ Occam’s razor should suffice in the this instance: He associates himself with and defends the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazi movement because he is a part of it:

    Talking Points Memo
    Editor’s Blog

    The House Is On Fire – Accepting the Truth of the Trump Revolution

    By Josh Marshall
    Published August 16, 2017 12:15 am

    For those who’ve recognized what should really be obvious, this is quite a paragraph in the Times’ account of today’s Trump press conference

    No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray.

    There you have it. This is Trump, a man whose deepest political impulses are tied to racial grievance and a desire for revenge, a desire to place the deserving and white back at the top of the racial hierarchy. People get caught up on whether or not people are willing to call Trump a ‘racist’. Of course, he’s a racist. But that doesn’t tell us enough. Lots of people dislike blacks or Jews, don’t want to live near them, etc. But many, likely most with racist attitudes, do not embrace a politics driven by racial grievance. Trump’s politics are about racial grievance. It’s not latent or peripheral but rather central. That’s different and it’s worse. It is one of the few consistent themes in his politics going back many, many years.

    It is worth noting this other passage in the piece: “Mr. Trump prides himself on an unapologetic style he learned from his father, Fred Trump, a New York City housing developer, and Roy Cohn, a combative lawyer who served as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.” Quite true. One might also add though that both men, from profoundly different backgrounds and life experiences, were dyed-in-the-wool racists.

    The earlier passage from the Times tells us explicitly what should be clear from watching the consistency of Trump’s public actions. What we saw today is the real Trump. Most of White House ‘comms’ appears to be a matter of keeping this real Trump in check or at least served up in palatable morsels rather than all at once.

    “A voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private.”

    We can infer what stands behind a person’s public statements if we’ve seen them enough, under different pressures and in different contexts. Trump’s repeated expressions of sympathy for racist activists, refusals to denounce racist activists, coddling and appointments of racist activists can only really mean one thing: that he instinctively sympathizes with them and indeed is one. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 80 million times, I need to seriously consider what the fuck is wrong with me.

    Again, there’s no reasonable, alternative explanation.

    I’m reminded of Ptolemy’s ancient, geocentric model of the solar system, which was only superseded by the Copernican, heliocentric model in the 16th century. If we knew nothing more than what we see when we looked in the sky, it makes perfect sense to think the sun revolves around the Earth. We see it happen every day! But when you begin to make detailed observations of the motions of the planets, the sun and the stars, you are forced to posit a series of increasingly intricate and heroic assumptions to make everything fit together: there are orbits within orbits, little side wanderings and detours to make everything fit together.

    Once you put the sun at the center of the solar system, everything gets much, much simpler. The data all falls into place without any big heroic or far-fetched assumptions.

    The simpler explanation that accounts for all the available facts is not always right. But as Occam noted, it is always to be preferred. What we need is a Copernican revolution in our understanding of Trumpism, or at least some of us need it. The breakthrough for Copernicus was in positing the unimaginable, indeed the terrifying possibility that the Earth is not the center of the universe but rather a peripheral, secondary celestial body. Once you accept that, a lot falls into place.

    With Trump, he has a revanchist racist politics because he is a revanchist racist. Once you accept that, a lot falls into place. All the heroic and increasingly nonsensical perambulations of misunderstandings, inexperience, missed opportunities, stubbornness and all the rest are not needed. It all falls into place.

    I confess I had a small degree of surprise that the events of the weekend – as horrifying and tragic as they are – have had quite the effect on people they seem to have had. This is not to diminish them. It is only to say that I do not think they should be so surprising. I don’t think they should amount to a revelation that shifts our basic understanding of things. We have if not a growing white supremacist movement in the US at least an increasingly vocal and emboldened one. They both made Trump possible and have in turn been energized and emboldened by his success. He reacts this way because he is one of them. He is driven by the same view of the world, the same animus and grievances. What we’ve seen over the last five days is sickening and awful. The house is on fire. But it was on fire a week ago. It’s been on fire since November. The truth is indeed unimaginable and terrifying. But we need to accept the full truth of it if we are going to be able to save our country.

    ———-

    “The House Is On Fire – Accepting the Truth of the Trump Revolution” by Josh Marshall; Talking Points Memo; 08/16/2017

    “With Trump, he has a revanchist racist politics because he is a revanchist racist. Once you accept that, a lot falls into place. All the heroic and increasingly nonsensical perambulations of misunderstandings, inexperience, missed opportunities, stubbornness and all the rest are not needed. It all falls into place.”

    Yep, while it’s entirely possible for a politicians to cater to and fuel racists politics for purely self-serving cynical reasons, when you examine Trump’s long publicly available track record that long-predates his political life we see one indication after another that Trump himself really is racist. And brought up to be that way:


    There you have it. This is Trump, a man whose deepest political impulses are tied to racial grievance and a desire for revenge, a desire to place the deserving and white back at the top of the racial hierarchy. People get caught up on whether or not people are willing to call Trump a ‘racist’. Of course, he’s a racist. But that doesn’t tell us enough. Lots of people dislike blacks or Jews, don’t want to live near them, etc. But many, likely most with racist attitudes, do not embrace a politics driven by racial grievance. Trump’s politics are about racial grievance. It’s not latent or peripheral but rather central. That’s different and it’s worse. It is one of the few consistent themes in his politics going back many, many years.

    It is worth noting this other passage in the piece: “Mr. Trump prides himself on an unapologetic style he learned from his father, Fred Trump, a New York City housing developer, and Roy Cohn, a combative lawyer who served as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.” Quite true. One might also add though that both men, from profoundly different backgrounds and life experiences, were dyed-in-the-wool racists.

    ““Mr. Trump prides himself on an unapologetic style he learned from his father, Fred Trump, a New York City housing developer, and Roy Cohn, a combative lawyer who served as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.” Quite true. One might also add though that both men, from profoundly different backgrounds and life experiences, were dyed-in-the-wool racists.”

    It’s also worth noting that if Steven Bannon was “thrilled” by Trump’s tirade that suggests that Bannon not only liked the sentiment behind it but also the politics. Don’t forget, he’s Trump’s chief political strategist. And he was “thrilled” by that display that’s sparked outrage across the country. In other words, Bannon apparently approves of the political game of creating a national political litmus test over the question of whether or not Nazis and anti-Nazis are morally equivalent. That’s what Trump was doing, intentionally or unintentionally, and it appears to be a Bannon-approved tactic.

    So that’s where we are: a nation a President who apparently can’t help but wear his heart on his sleave. And that heart is filled with racist thought, conspiracy theories, and grievances. Lovely.

    It all raises a rather interesting question: While it’s extremely likely that whatever is in Trump’s heart will be taken to the grave. Sadly. But in the spirit of healing it’s probably worth asking if are there any sort of de-radicalization techniques that could be borrowed from the various groups that work on de-progamming die-hard racists and extremists that could somehow be applied remotely that might have a positive impact? And not just on Trump. There’s no doubt plenty of folks in the White House in need of deprogramming: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka, etc. With all the money the US government has invested in anti-extremism programs, is there anything with a record of success that might work, even if it’s just a tiny chance of success? If so, they’re probably worth trying. And who knows, if it works, we might be able to convince the Trump administration to give back the money it cut for the only group the federal government funds focused on de-radicalizing neo-Nazis:

    The Huffington Post

    Controversial Trump Aide Katharine Gorka Helped End Funding For Group That Fights White Supremacy
    Life After Hate works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis. The Trump administration decided it wasn’t a priority.

    By Jessica Schulberg
    08/15/2017 08:34 am ET Updated

    WASHINGTON – Weeks before a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to three deaths and 19 injuries, the Trump administration revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis.

    The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism program program in January, just days before former President Barack Obama left office. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy. But the grant money was not immediately disbursed.

    Trump aides, including Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, were already working toward eliminating Life After Hate’s grant and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    In December, Gorka, then a member of Trump’s transition team, met with George Selim, the DHS official who headed the Countering Violent Extremism program until he resigned last month, and his then-deputy, David Gersten.

    Gorka told Selim and Gersten she didn’t agree with the Obama administration’s approach to countering violent extremism – particularly the way the administration had described the threat of extremism, according to Nate Snyder, an Obama administration DHS counterterrorism official who was an adviser on Countering Violent Extremism efforts and was given a readout of the meeting. The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized the previous administration for avoiding terms like “radical Islam” out of concern that it could alienate Muslims in the U.S. and abroad.

    “That was sort of foreshadowing what was going to come,” Snyder said of the December meeting.

    Gorka and her husband, Sebastian Gorka, also a Trump White House official, have collaborated on numerous writings about the threat of radical Islam. Though they have a large following within far-right circles – they both have bylines at Breitbart News – mainstream national security experts are either unfamiliar with or critical of their work.

    The day after Trump won the election, Sebastian Gorka said, “I predict with absolute certitude, the jettisoning of concepts such as CVE.”

    Once Trump entered the White House in January, the office of then-DHS Secretary John Kelly ordered a full review of the Countering Violent Extremism program. Kelly’s office wanted to re-vet the groups receiving a portion of the $10 million Congress had appropriated for the program — even though DHS had already publicly announced the grant recipients.

    While that review was underway, DHS and the FBI warned in an internal intelligence bulletin of the threat posed by white supremacy. White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,” the two agencies wrote in a May 10 document obtained by Foreign Policy. Members of the white supremacist movement “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year,” they concluded.

    Staffers in the Countering Violent Extremism program have long pushed for it to address threats from domestic terrorists, including white supremacists.

    But when DHS published a new list of award recipients on June 23, there was no mention of Life After Hate.

    DHS also revoked funding from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim advocacy organization that was told in January it would receive a $393,800 grant to create community resource centers throughout the country.

    After publishing its new list of grantees, DHS told Muslim Public Affairs Council that it was now prioritizing organizations that worked with law enforcement. The money that was initially set aside for community-based groups like Muslim Public Affairs Council and Life After Hate will now go to several law enforcement agencies.

    “Is this really just a front for targeting the Muslim community?” asked Omar Noureldin, Muslim Public Affairs Council’s vice president. Noureldin is now looking into whether the Trump administration’s use of the Countering Violent Extremism program’s funds violates congressional appropriation intent.

    Less than two months after DHS announced it was pulling funding from Life After Hate, Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year old Ohioan, traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to join white supremacists armed with long guns, waving Nazi and Confederate flags and protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park.

    Fields is now accused of ramming a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of pedestrians on Saturday, and has since been charged with second-degree murder for the death of 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer. Dozens of others were injured, and two Virginia state troopers died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the violent demonstration.

    Life After Hate was founded by former white supremacists who have renounced the racist ideology and who now help others transition out of hate groups and re-assimilate into society. Christian Piccolini, a former neo-Nazi and a co-founder of the group, told NPR on Sunday he was not surprised by the devastation in Charlottesville.

    The white supremacy movement “has been growing, but it’s also been shape-shifting,” Piccolini said. “It’s gone from what we would have considered very open neo-Nazis and skinheads and KKK marching, to now people that look like our neighbors, our doctors, our teachers, our mechanics.”

    “And it’s certainly starting to embolden them, because a lot of the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House today is so similar to what we preached … but in a slightly more palatable way,” he added.

    As the violence in Charlottesville unfolded on Saturday, Trump condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides,” adding that the problem existed during the Obama administration. The president ignored several calls to specifically denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazis who said they were working to fulfill Trump’s campaign promises.

    It wasn’t until Monday, two days after the violent rally, that Trump specifically denounced “the [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.”

    Trump’s hesitancy to disavow white supremacists echoes his practice of repeatedly dodging questions about David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard who supported Trump, during the 2016 presidential campaign. Facing public pressure, Trump eventually distanced himself from the infamous white supremacist.

    Now in the White House, Trump has surrounded himself with an array of people tied to white supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups.

    Katharine Gorka, now an adviser in the Department of Homeland Security’s policy office, has pushed conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the government and media. Sebastian Gorka is a deputy assistant to the president and has described Islam as an inherently violent religion. He argued days before the Charlottesville attack that white supremacy is not “the problem” facing the country.

    Stephen Miller, Trump’s speechwriter and policy adviser, has blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on poor immigration enforcement, and accused black students of racial “paranoia.” National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton wrote under a pseudonym that Islam is “incompatible with the modern West,” and that diversity is “a source of weakness, tension, and disunion.”

    And Trump himself campaigned for president on the platform of banning Muslims from traveling to the U.S. and building a wall to keep Mexicans out – proposals that won him enthusiastic support from white supremacists.

    DHS did not directly respond to a questions about why it cut funding for de-radicalizing neo-Nazis, and whether it views white supremacy as an extremist threat.

    Sixteen of the 26 groups that received DHS funding “have applicability to all forms of violent extremism and as such will address the threat of domestic terrorism,” Anna Franko, a DHS spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

    ———-

    “Controversial Trump Aide Katharine Gorka Helped End Funding For Group That Fights White Supremacy” by Jessica Schulberg; The Huffington Post; 08/15/2017

    “Life After Hate was founded by former white supremacists who have renounced the racist ideology and who now help others transition out of hate groups and re-assimilate into society. Christian Piccolini, a former neo-Nazi and a co-founder of the group, told NPR on Sunday he was not surprised by the devastation in Charlottesville.”

    That’s the group that just had its federal funding eliminated: a white supremacist de-programming organization run by ex-white supremacists. And it wasn’t due to eliminating waste or government redundancy since it was the only organization focused exclusively on white supremacists in the entire federal countering violent extremism (CVE) program.

    So if there’s any thing we can learn from Life After Hate that might work on persuading the white nationalists in the White House to begin their personal journey of healing we should probably apply those lessons soon. Very soon. Ideally yesterday.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 16, 2017, 2:22 pm
  4. Roger Stone recently predicted a “spasm of violence” and insurrection should Donald Trump be impeached, saying “Both sides are heavily armed, my friend, This is not 1974. People will not stand for impeachment.”. On one level it was just more typically disturbing talk from someone like Roger Stone. But on the other hand, it’s also kind of hard to ignore the fact that much of the right-wing media narrative in the US is basically dedicated to depicting “the Left” as being the perpetrators of a John Birch Society-esque grand secular atheist communist conspiracy to subvert capitalism and all that is decent. This is where we are. So who knows what the response would be to a Trump impeachment for the audience of the right-wing ‘disinfotainment’ complex. It sort of depends on what that disinfotainment complex tells them to do.

    But Stone’s comment also highlights something regarding the controversy that enveloped Donald Trump’s comments on the Nazi car attack in Charlottesvilles and Trump’s repeated attempts to promote a narrative that there’s a big “violent Left”, as opposed to a relatively small network of Antifa and Black Bloc groups that focus their violence on fascists and Nazis: given that the ‘Alt-Right’ and neo-Nazis are openly intent on creating a spiral of violence between Left and Right and want push a narrative of a “violent Left” as part of those efforts to recruit people for an actual neo-Nazi white nationalist insurrection, it’s going to be important for the broader Left to figure out how to address far-left networks like Antifa that are willing to embrace militant tactics directed at Nazis and fascists. There’s sort of a Gandhi question at work. How much should you prepare to defend yourself when the far-right is actively out to pick a fight with left-wing protestors as part of a campaign to create a cycle of violence and depict the Left as violent?

    And what should the left do about a movement like Antifa that actively shows up to fight the far-right groups out to pick fights? On the one hand, it’s obvious that Antifa’s antics are successfully playing into the “violent Left” meme being pushed by both neo-Nazis and the broader mainstream conservative media. But it’s not like the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis haven’t demonstrated a willingness to attack non-Antifa protestors. Or run them over in a car. And it’s very possible the events in Charlottesville would have gone much worse if the Antifa people hadn’t been there if the neo-Nazis simply attacked the rest of the protestors who weren’t prepared for a crowd of armed Nazis. Guardian Reporter Jason Wilson was recently interviewed by Gary Brecher and Mark Ames on the War Nerd Podcast about his experiences in Charlottesville and if you listen starting at to ~5:30 to the preview (the first 20 minutes of the show) you’ll hear Wilson describe a scene in Charlottesville on the first night of the “Unite the Right” rally that took place on the Friday evening before the Saturday march/car attack. The way Wilson depicts it, the “Unite the Right” marchers swarmed and beat the crap out of a much smaller group of counter-protestors surrounding a statue and it wasn’t clear that they were Antifa counter-protestors. Wilson depects “Unite the Right” marchers as extremely aggressive and starting the violence. Additionally, there are already reports documenting the online chats by the “Unite the Right” organizers where people preparing for the march actively talk about getting ready for major brawls and even joked about running over protestors.

    So what on earth is the appropriate response to Nazi attempts to start a cycle of violence given the right-wing media landscape where painting “the Left” as violent is emerging as a permanent narrative in the Trump era? The Nazis are not just a group of horribly bigoted people but also a movement that promoted both organized and leaderless insurrectionary tactics for the purpose of installing a neo-Nazi regime that will enslave or exterminate entire peoples. How do you fight a movement where both their means and ends revolve around starting fights and validating violence as a means of conflict resolution without taking an Antifa approach of saying, “Ok, we’ll use violence against Nazis because they are that awful” and what do you do about groups like Antifa that are playing into that cycle of violence strategy?

    Talking Points Memo
    Editor’s Blog

    Should We Be Punching Nazis?

    By Josh Marshall
    Published August 28, 2017 1:09 pm

    As we’ve seen the alt-right and various white supremacist and fascistic groups grow in prominence if not necessarily numbers in recent years and now be granted renewed prominence and validation from the President, we see a renewed debate about the role of violence in American politics. Specifically, what is the best way and the appropriate way to react to and combat the always menacing and often violent actions of the kind of people we saw protesting in Charlottesville?

    A lot of this debate has gone under the rubric of “nazi-punching” after alt-right leader Richard Spencer was cold-cocked at a demonstration on the fringes of the President’s inauguration. It’s also gotten renewed attention because of the growing prominence of small but high-profile groups going under the name of “antifa”. There are a lot of details here. But I want to focus narrowly on what we should think of groups that not only protest racist groups or come prepared to defend themselves against violence from racist groups but see it as their goal to confront these groups on equal terms in street confrontations. In other words, groups that go looking for confrontations and want to get into street brawls.

    Before proceeding further, I want to address what I think are some important caveats. As we saw in the days after Charlottesville, President Trump went to great lengths to equate the two groups which met in Charlottesville – his various references to “many sides” and so forth. The most important point to keep in mind here is that the vast majority of the people protesting the white supremacists and Nazis were not violent – either in philosophy or practice. They were there protesting defiantly but peacefully against marchers whose very message was one of menace and threatened violence. Others were prepared for confrontations if the other side became violent but weren’t looking to initiate violence.

    On a basic philosophical level, embracing violence to combat political and moral evils like racism and fascism is simply not equivalent to embracing violence to advance these evils. Any liberalism or constitutionalism that is so bloodless that it can’t make these distinctions is too ornate and theoretical to exist in the wild. So the entirety of Trump’s equivalence is false. But again, what should our attitude be towards even small groups who embrace physical confrontations and violence as the way to confront these groups?

    I believe that if you look both historically and in practice, when you have widespread street brawling between “good” groups and “bad” groups it almost always ends up being a victory for the fascist groups. This is for a number of reasons. First is that these groups have historically used the presence of civil violence to justify “law and order” crackdowns which usually empower and propagate authoritarian politics. You can already see this, tendentiously, in those hideous NRA video hate screeds. Again, history tells us this and I think it’s close to intuitive: breakdowns of civil peace lead to authoritarian crackdowns, which almost always have a right-wing and often racist valence.

    In a related but more general sense, it is precisely the aim of fascistic groups to shift the basis of civic dialog, space and politics from law to violence. To put it another way, they are trying to shift the basis of society and power from law, voting, equality to force, violence and the domination of the most powerful. And in this case we mean power as expressed by the superior ability to wield violence. Once we’ve moved from one to the other, fascists have to a significant degree already won. The Nazis and white supremacists are literally trying to create a “both sides” situation. We should not help them.

    Now, a frequent counter this is the argument about the Nazis and how non-violent resistance didn’t save Germany or eventually the Jews or eventually much of the globe which was engulfed in wars triggered by the Nazi party. This argument is both better and worse than it may seem on the surface. Let’s discuss it for a moment.

    There’s a voluminous literature, not surprisingly, about what is called the Nazi ‘seizure of power’. A key section of that debate centers on the fact that there was, by and large, no resistance when the Nazis took the formal powers they had gained through the machinery of the Weimar state and used it to create a dictatorship. This wasn’t a drawn out or vague process. It occurred over a matter of months in 1933. It happened fast.

    One of the key critiques of what we might call the opposition to Hitler has to do with the German Social Democratic Party, the main party of the non-Communist left. By and large the SPD, still a mass party in Germany, did not resort to extra-constitutional or violent means to resist Hitler’s coup from above. Indeed, there’s at least an argument that the parties of the left and center still constituted the majority. The argument has always been that the SPD, though nominally a Marxist party, was so wedded to constitutionalism and democracy that it was either unable or unwilling to resist the destruction of the Weimar state by extra-constitutional or violent means.

    This very simple review leaves out a world of complexity. Again, there’s a vast literature on the Nazi seizure of power, which you can read. I put it out there to note that there is a time when violence and extra-constitutional action is likely the only way to prevent fascism and dictatorship. But, paradoxically, the resort to street violence, political paramilitaries and empowered violence over law is also the surest route to the destruction of democracy and dictatorship. Quite simply, as dire a situation as I think the country’s in, we are not remotely in a position comparable to the Spring of 1933 in Germany. Suggesting otherwise amounts to a grandiose and self-flattering conceit.

    Now, hearing this argument you might think I’m arguing for a bloodless “I may disagree with what you say but I’ll fight for your right to say it” argument. It’s not. I actually like seeing Nazis get punched. Nor do I think all views deserve a right of equal hearing in a democratic society. Philosophies that seek to destroy democracy and the rule of law don’t merit equal validation by a democracy. We grant them certain rights because doing so is consistent with a larger system of laws and rights that guarantees a civil society that is the antithesis of what they believe in. Put another way, Nazis deserve to get punched. A few sucker punches here and there probably send a salutary message. But it’s not always wise to give people what they deserve.

    I also think that in cases where the police either refuse to protect or are unable to protect the victims of fascist intimidation and violence that there should be defense groups that do so. That is defensive violence in specific situations. And more generally that only presupposes the breakdown of the state and its basic responsibilities which it should be our main goal to avoid.

    The entirety of this seems still a largely marginal issue – a few street brawls in different parts of the country in which Nazis come out to march and intimidate and left-wing groups go out to meet them also looking for a fight. This is a tiny, tiny percentage of those counter-protesting these people. And I don’t include here people who simply defend themselves when attacked. But it’s still worth thinking this question through – even at a distance – since we live in troubled times.

    Pushing civil society from talk and voting to violence and paramilitaries is what the fascists are trying to accomplish – moving from the rule of law to the rule of force. By every historical standard and also by almost every philosophical one, this is a victory for, if not fascism, then certainly authoritarianism. The answer to Nazis and white supremacists isn’t flowery talk or left-wing paramilitaries. It’s a stronger rule of law and an empowered state behind it. We have our work cut out for us.

    ———-

    “Should We Be Punching Nazis?” by Josh Marshall; Talking Points Memo; 08/28/2017

    In a related but more general sense, it is precisely the aim of fascistic groups to shift the basis of civic dialog, space and politics from law to violence. To put it another way, they are trying to shift the basis of society and power from law, voting, equality to force, violence and the domination of the most powerful. And in this case we mean power as expressed by the superior ability to wield violence. Once we’ve moved from one to the other, fascists have to a significant degree already won. The Nazis and white supremacists are literally trying to create a “both sides” situation. We should not help them.”

    Yep, it is precisely the aim of fascistic groups to shift the basis of civic dialog, space and politics from law to violence. The ends and the means are the same. Although the full “ends” include things like slavery and genocide. Don’t forget, we’re dealing with actual Nazis here. This is the real deal. And that points us towards a possible general stance towards groups like Antifa: It’s acceptable if they engage in violence purely as an act of self-defense when law enforcement is unable or unwilling to intervene. But if they’re showing up for the expressed purpose of street fighting with the Nazis that should be fully condemned. Not because Nazis don’t deserve to get punched, but because getting punched furthers their plans. Violence really needs to be seen as a last resort, and if Antifa or similar groups refuse to recognize that they are being used to further the Nazis’ ambitions they should be fully condemned for playing dumb and playing along with those ambitions. Could that work as an approach to Antifa?

    But if there’s some sort of drive to send of a message of, “Ok, Antifa, don’t play into this cycle of violence,” there would have to be a simultaneously emphasis on ensuring law enforcement is ready and willing to intervene when violence breaks out at these types of events and making it clear that that is how society is going to deal with violent extremists: with law enforcement and not street brawls:


    I also think that in cases where the police either refuse to protect or are unable to protect the victims of fascist intimidation and violence that there should be defense groups that do so. That is defensive violence in specific situations. And more generally that only presupposes the breakdown of the state and its basic responsibilities which it should be our main goal to avoid.

    Pushing civil society from talk and voting to violence and paramilitaries is what the fascists are trying to accomplish – moving from the rule of law to the rule of force. By every historical standard and also by almost every philosophical one, this is a victory for, if not fascism, then certainly authoritarianism. The answer to Nazis and white supremacists isn’t flowery talk or left-wing paramilitaries. It’s a stronger rule of law and an empowered state behind it. We have our work cut out for us.”

    But in addition to stronger rule of law, what about a campaign to explicitly point out that the ‘Alt Right’ and neo-Nazis behind are actively trying to provoke a violent conflict? Because that’s a pretty good reason for a stronger rule of law…making it specifically stronger for the purpose of addressing a movement planning on weakening rule of law for the purpose of replacing civic dialog with violence as the new normal.

    But there’s another key issue that needs to be addressed regarding movements like Antifa, and that’s the fact that people like Jeremy Christian exist. Christian is, of course, the Alt Right lunatic who stabbed two men to death in Portland after they intervened when he began verbally assaulting a Muslim woman on the bus. And who also happened to be a big vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders while simultaneously exhibiting a large number of white supremacist far-right tendencies. Whether or not he was a neo-Nazi infiltrator who consciously decided to give himself a ‘Bernie Bro’ persona for the purpose of furthering a “violent Left” narrative, or if he was a genuinely confused neo-Nazi/’Bernie Bro’ hybrid, he exists and there’s no reason to believe there aren’t plenty of other Jeremy Christians out there who are infiltrating groups like Antifa for the expressed purpose of smearing the Left as ‘violent’. And as long as such people exist any group that wants to take a “we will only use violence to fight the violent” approach is going to be extremely vulnerable to becoming a dupe group in a larger narrative. And people like Jeremy Christian will always exist. It’s one of the many reasons the “we will only use violence to fight the violent” approach politics is so very problematic:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Who is Jeremy Christian? Facebook shows a man with nebulous political affiliations who hated circumcision and Hillary Clinton

    By Lizzy Acker
    Updated on June 2, 2017 at 6:44 PM Posted on May 30, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    A deep look at the Facebook page of the man who allegedly killed two at the Hollywood MAX stop on Friday reveals shifting political views that often contradicted themselves, though they maintained certain themes throughout, like hating circumcision and Hillary Clinton.

    According to Shane Burley, Portland author of the upcoming book “Fascism Today,” that fuzziness is a hallmark of extremism.

    “Defined ideological contradictions are pretty normal with white nationalists,” Burley said over the phone Tuesday.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was arraigned on charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder. He is accused of killing Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, of Southeast Portland..

    Both men were stabbed in the throat on a MAX train while they attempted to defend two young women from Christian’s racist rant. A third man, Micah Fletcher, 21, was also stabbed in the neck but survived the attack.

    Federal authorities are still working with Portland police and the District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to pursue federal hate crime or civil rights charges against Christian.

    Burley believes that Christian’s journey as played out on Facebook — from Bernie Sanders and Standing Rock to Donald Trump and white nationalism and ultimately violence — is not uncommon.

    “I think the most important thing is when it comes to extremist right-wing politics is that they are murky,” Burley said.

    In April, Christian was filmed and photographed doing a Nazi salute while shouting: “Die Muslims!” at an alt-right “free speech” rally.

    In response to the attack, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city wouldn’t issue permits for two planned events he characterized as “alt-right,” in June and asked the federal government to revoke an existing permit for one of the events, angering alt-right supporters and bringing the American Civil Liberties Union into the discussion of free speech in Portland.

    On Twitter and other social media, however, people who identify as alt-right are distancing themselves from Christian, calling him a Bernie Sanders supporter. Liberals also refuse to claim him, pointing out that he was also a Donald Trump supporter.

    His Facebook page shows a complicated picture. His posts reveal a comic book collector with nebulous political affiliations who above all else seemed to hate circumcision and Hillary Clinton.

    In his milder posts, Christian wrote about buying and selling comic books. But many of his other posts had angry and violent themes.

    “I want a job in Norway cutting off the heads of people that Circumcize Babies….Like if you agree!!!” Christian posted on May 9. That post got 14 shares, and 34 reactions, some of which were laughing and “wow.”

    “If you support the cutting of babies genitals in sick tribal rituals in America get off my page,” he wrote in another post. “I don’t care if you are friend of family.”

    He went on to suggest that a law banning circumcision would “stop True Patriots from having to kill otherwise good doctors inside hospitals.”

    “F– You if you say my body my choice but support circumcision,” reads another post.

    “Stop the WAR on babies’ Foreskins!!!” says another.

    The question of whether Christian was a Trump supporter or a Sanders supporter, doesn’t have an either/or answer, except: he definitely was not a Clinton supporter.

    “Bernie Sanders was the President I wanted,” wrote Christian in December. “He voiced my heart and mind. The one who spoke about the way America should gone. Away from the Military and Prison Industrial Complexes. The Trump is who America needs now that Bernie got ripped off.”

    But on Nov. 11, he posted that he was unable to bring himself to vote for Trump.

    “I’ve had it!!! I gonna kill everybody who voted for Trump or Hillary!!!” he said in another post in early January. “It’s all your fault!!! You’re what’s wrong with this country!!! Reveal yourselves immediately and face your DOOM!!!”

    Burley said that he believes Christian could have supported Sanders because he was against globalization and then, when Sanders lost, he “could have supported the kind of America first protection espoused by Trump.”

    “What it looks like with him is a person going through an ideological process,” Burley said.

    In February 2016, Christian wrote, “Just to clarify a few things: ‘I Hereby Solemnly swear to Die trying to Kill Hillary (Herself a filthy Murderess) Clinton and Donald Trump should they be elected to the post of President in my faire country on Vinland. This I swear to Odin, Kali, Bastet and all other Pagan Gods and Goddesses in my Aryan Theosophical Nucleus. This is my duty as a Viking and Patriot. In Jesus name….I Feel The Bern!!!!”

    Burley said that “Vinland” is far right lingo that alludes to the part of eastern Canada supposedly settled by Leif Erikson in the 11th century. Burley said white nationalists use “Vineland” to assert themselves as “distinct people with a spiritual lineage.”

    In late January, however, Christian wrote, “If Donald Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS to put an end to Monotheist Question. All Zionist Jews, All Christians who do not follow Christ’s teaching of Love, Charity, and Forgiveness And All Jihadi Muslims are going to Madagascar or the Ovens/FEMA Camps!!! Does this make me a fascist!!!”

    Then a few days later he posted, “Sanders/Stein 2017!!! Let’s stop these pipelines and reign in the Prison/Military Industrial Complexes!!!”

    More than anything, he seemed to hate Hillary Clinton supporters.

    “The only form of abortion I support is the old fashioned method that doesn’t cost the taxpayers money: Daddy Kicks Mommy In The Stomach!!!” he wrote in January. “Also, lead poisoning via a 9MM injection for Hillary Supporters….”

    “Death to Hillary Rodham Clinton and all her supporters!!!” he posted, also in January. “To be carried out by Bernie Supporters who didn’t turn traitor and vote Hillary….”

    Besides his hate for Clinton and circumcision, most of his other positions seem difficult to pin down.

    On Facebook, Christian certainly espoused far-right beliefs. One meme he posted reads, “If we’re removing statues because of the Civil War, we should be removing mosques because of 9/11.”

    In one post, Christian called Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber who killed 168 people, including 19 children in 1995, “a TRUE PATRIOT!!!”

    He also supported Standing Rock and frequently railed against the military industrial complex.

    He posted conspiracy theory memes from the right-wing Alex Jones Channel alongside pro-legal cannabis stories about Bill Maher, who is decidedly left wing.

    He wrote about and referenced a “white homeland” in both positive and neutral or negative terms.

    “So, its like this. If you support Israel for Zionist homeland for Jews then you should also support Cascadia as a White homeland for whites only racists, Alabama and Mississippi for Nation of Islam and racist Black Power groups and give back at least so cal to Mexicans for all the illegal Latinos and any Brown racist peeps,” he wrote. “Their can be a central area ran by feds were all the normal people who don’t really care about race and gay marriage is legal. Problem solved.”

    But he also shared a picture of a black Santa Claus in December that said, “Share this picture of black Santa because it will piss off a racist a–hole.”

    He frequently referred to himself as a nihilist and appeared to dislike monotheistic religions universally, sharing memes with sentiments like “Damn girl, are you a religious scripture? Because I want to constantly misinterpret you for my own benefit.”

    “Early fascists talk about nihilism,” Burley told us. “Hating humanity on the one hand and then hating particular parts of humanity especially.”

    But, while sometimes he called himself a fascist, according to various posts, he considered the Antifa, which he hated, to be a fascist organization.

    On April 28, the day before the alt-right protest where he was filmed, Christian wrote: “A note too [sic] all my Portland Peeps. You should all attend the Free Speech Rally at Montavilla if you value your rights. ALL RIGHTS.”

    “I will attend in Lizard King Regalia as a Political Nihilist to Provoke both Sides and attempt to engage anyone in a true Philosophy and Political Discussion,” he continued.

    “I take the Role of International Patriot and Revolutionary VERY SERIOUS BUT YOU ALL KNOW I AM THE MOST LAID BACK DUDE IN THE WORLD- Until you cross that line then nothing will stop our COME TO JESUS TALK FRIEND OR FOE.”

    He ends the post by saying, “FREE SPEECH OR DIE!!! THIS IS MY LAND!!! VINLAND RIP CITY!!!”

    Mainly though, Christian appeared to be angry. In August of 2016, he wrote on Facebook, “Survival Tip #1: Kill Every Other Person.”

    When asked about how they deal with posts calling for the death of groups of people or individuals, a Facebook spokesperson directed us to their Community Standards, which says, “We carefully review reports of threatening language to identify serious threats of harm to public and personal safety. We remove credible threats of physical harm to individuals. We may consider things like a person’s physical location or public visibility in determining whether a threat is credible.”

    As far as Christian, the spokesperson said they don’t have a specific comment on his posts.

    In the era of social media, it’s easy for messages like those that Christian read and those that he shared, to be passed around with not much intervention.

    During a press conference on Saturday after the attack, Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said police do not monitor social media unless there is “a criminal nexus.”

    “There’s not a widespread monitoring because something is unpopular or scary,” Simpson said. “You have to have that crime there.”

    Loren Cannon, the special agent in charge of the Portland Division of the FBI, echoed Simpson, adding that he couldn’t comment on the specifics of Christian’s posts without seeing them.

    Burley believes that Christian’s “lone wolf” act of violence, and the apparent contradictions in his belief system bely a deeper problem.

    “These are political acts of violence that are the responsibility of white nationalists,” he told us.

    Burley said that historically, it has been the case that higher level people in far-right extremist movements rile up people down the line and it is those people, who are often marginalized, that commit the violence.

    ———-

    “Who is Jeremy Christian? Facebook shows a man with nebulous political affiliations who hated circumcision and Hillary Clinton” by Lizzy Acker; The Oregonian/OregonLive; 05/30/2017

    “In February 2016, Christian wrote, “Just to clarify a few things: ‘I Hereby Solemnly swear to Die trying to Kill Hillary (Herself a filthy Murderess) Clinton and Donald Trump should they be elected to the post of President in my faire country on Vinland. This I swear to Odin, Kali, Bastet and all other Pagan Gods and Goddesses in my Aryan Theosophical Nucleus. This is my duty as a Viking and Patriot. In Jesus name….I Feel The Bern!!!!””

    And that right there is why the Antifa approach to things is so dangerous: Some dude with an “Aryan Theosophical Nucleus” when he’s not spouting white supremacist memes might declare his desires for political violence. And then declare his love of Bernie Sanders. And while Jeremy Christian happened to be very anti-Antifa, calling them fascists, there’s nothing stopping someone like him joining one of the Antifa groups. Or an undercover government agent who also has orders to make them look like a massive national security threat. It’s pretty much guaranteed that some percentage of their ranks include infiltrators since these are movements basically anyone can join. And another percent just might include kind of crazy people drawn to extreme politics. That’s just the nature of radical movements that anyone can join. And these extreme risks present by and to Antifa exists in a volatile political environment where an organized white supremacist movement bolstered by a Trump presidency is trying to strategically create a cycle of violence intended to create a divide-and-conquer wedge meme asking people “who do you support, white nationalists defending your heritage or violent Antifa radicals?”. And the broader right-wing media and GOP is more than happy to play along and promote that “violent Left” meme. It’s a bad situation. And that was before Roger Stone started talking about violent insurrection in the face of a Trump impeachment.

    So given that President Trump has decided to make the acknowledgement of “bad people” on “all sides” in the Charlottesville tragedy one of his key political talking points, perhaps there would be some value in meeting him half-way, and noting that the inevitable neo-Nazi infiltrators like Jeremy Christian on the side of the counter-protestors were indeed just as bad as the neo-Nazi marchers. And maybe even agree that Antifa groups can sometimes include some bad actors who aren’t crypto-Nazis or COINTELPRO troublemakers but just bad news. But also ask that President Trump agree that Nazis are way, way, way worse in terms of being “bad people” than even the bad Antifa folks. Racial supremacists who plot violent overthrows with dreams of genocide are much, much, much worse than a bunch of quasi-militant extreme left-wingers, right? Can everyone but the Nazis agree with the notion that Nazis are far worse than even bad Antifa people who maybe shouldn’t be so willing to embrace violence? If so, great, because that would mean we may have found some sort of common ground, and if there’s one thing that’s going to be needed in abundance to ultimately defeat today’s Nazis it’s common ground. Lots of common ground and a recognition that destroying common ground is another one of things that’s simultaneously an ends and a means for the far-right:

    Wonkette

    Antifa Loves Beating Women! Say Idiot 4Chan Nazis Who Made It All Up

    By Robyn Pennacchia –
    August 24, 2017 – 3:30pm

    As you may be aware (SIGH), idiots on 4chan have taken to making up fake Twitter profiles for Antifa and Antifa “members.” This is something they do with stunning regularity in order to push their own far Right positions. Often it’s women rejecting feminism, black people rejecting anti-racism, or people embracing those things in the most absurd way they can imagine, in hopes of getting reasonable people to think that they support absurd things.

    On Wednesday, trolls on 4chan’s /pol/ board attempted to launch a new #PunchANazi/#PunchNazis campaign on social media in which their fake Antifa profiles would support domestic violence, in hopes of convincing people that the Left LOVES domestic violence and thinks it is super great.

    The goal, as usual, was to get actual Antifa and supporters to retweet the memes, which of course did not actually happen.

    [see example of hoax #PunchANazi meme]
    [see second example of hoax #PunchANazi meme]

    The memes included clever jargon like “She said she was right-wing, so I gave her a left hook,” and “It’s all right, she’s alt-right,” next to pictures of women with black eyes. There were also several with pictures of abused children with text suggesting they be murdered because they might be the next Hitler.

    However, given that they posted their nefarious plans on a public message board, and that this campaign was both incredibly obvious and stupid, said plans were quickly discovered by several people online, including David Futrelle of We Hunted The Mammoth, and British citizen journalist Elliot Higgins, best known for identifying the weapons seen in uploaded videos from the Syrian Civil War. It was then reported on by the BBC.

    [see tweet outing 4Chan as source of hoax #PunchANazi meme]

    AND NOW THEY ARE SAD!

    [see post from 4Chan expressing dismay over the hoax campaign getting exposed]

    [see another post from 4Chan expressing dismay over the hoax campaign getting exposed]

    Because who would have thought that planning something this ridiculous on a public message board could have gone awry! Weird!

    Of course, some were pretty sure that it definitely still worked, because even if they got found out, they totally pointed out… something.

    [See 4Chan post supporting the hoax campaign because they say it points to a larger truth]

    [See second 4Chan post supporint the hoax campaign]

    The thing with these message boards — which I maintain are a thousand times more toxic than any alt-right spokesperson could ever dream of being — is that those who use them become so deeply enmeshed in their own views that they actually do legitimately believe they are making sense, and that this is a thing they can “trick” the left into being on board with. They are essentially brainwashed.

    Part of their agenda as of late has been to try to drive a wedge between white women and people of color. Not because they particularly like women — they don’t, and many appear to be very upset about the 19th Amendment — but because feel that this is the easiest way to split the Left, and because they have recently decided that in order to achieve their aims, they need white women to join them, for breeding purposes only.

    Over on another thread, several /pol/ denizens were also whining about how they have been infiltrated by outsiders and “normies” posting threads and “making it difficult for /pol/ users who could potentially benefit from knowing certain information, and potentially coherently gather and discuss certain things, from doing so.”

    [see image of 4Chan post whining about “normie” posts clogging up the place]

    Which I think means they definitely want us to go over there and start posting constantly about flower arranging, right?

    [We Hunted The Mammoth]

    ———-

    “Antifa Loves Beating Women! Say Idiot 4Chan Nazis Who Made It All Up” by Robyn Pennacchia; Wonkette; 08/24/2017

    “The thing with these message boards — which I maintain are a thousand times more toxic than any alt-right spokesperson could ever dream of being — is that those who use them become so deeply enmeshed in their own views that they actually do legitimately believe they are making sense, and that this is a thing they can “trick” the left into being on board with. They are essentially brainwashed.”

    And thanks to that essentially brainwashed mentality, the hyper-misogynistic 4Chan folks decided to openly plot a fake campaign intended to smear Antifa as pro-violence against white women as part of some sort of Alt-Right divide and conquer campaign intended to create a rift between white women and the Left. Because white supremacist misogynists still need white women for breeding purposes:


    Part of their agenda as of late has been to try to drive a wedge between white women and people of color. Not because they particularly like women — they don’t, and many appear to be very upset about the 19th Amendment — but because feel that this is the easiest way to split the Left, and because they have recently decided that in order to achieve their aims, they need white women to join them, for breeding purposes only.

    And that’s who we’re dealing with: people who desperately want to create a “violent Left” cultural zeitgeist with American conservatives as part of the white supremacists endless efforts to win over a broader audience. And yes, they failed spectacularly this time. Not only did they get caught, but the people that were arguing that the hoax worked anyway because it reminded people that Antifa backs violence of course forget that smearing Antifa with domestic violence merely reminds people that the Antifa groups focus their violence on what they view as sources of oppression, as opposed to white supremacists who focus their violence on everyone who isn’t a white supremacist. Even the white women who they need for breeding will probably get a lot of violence inflicted on them too since white supremacists tend to be misogynists. That’s what the 4Chan campaign effectively communicated. It wasn’t the best 4Chan campaign.

    But that doesn’t mean the far-right won’t succeed in pulling off a “violent Left” divide and conquer psyop on US conservatives some day and it’s going to be a lot easier to succeed with Antifa predictably showing up to brawl and predictably being open to infiltration. Especially with so much of the right-wing media fully on board with pushing the “violent Left” meme. And President Trump.

    And the gun manufacturers. That’s right, tragically but not surprisingly, the NRA is fully on board promoting the “violent Left” meme to is membership and broader audience:

    Salon

    NRA seeks to mainstream — and monetize — the “alt-right’s” paranoid, racist talking points
    The “alt-right” wants America to believe violent radicals are on the attack; the NRA knows paranoia can sell guns

    Amanda Marcotte
    Thursday, Aug 24, 2017 03:59 AM CST

    Whenever Donald Trump feels like he’s on the ropes, he throws himself a rally in a red state that would make Mussolini feel envious. So it was on Tuesday night in Phoenix, when Trump — furious that the media took issue with his claim that a torch-wielding mob of white supremacists was replete with “fine people” — unleashed a 75-minute rant about his own victimization to a crowd who, despite their immense love for the Bigot-in-Chief, started getting bored and drifted away.

    (To be fair, Barry Goldwater had the same problem in the early ’60s: Crowds would show up, pumped about rallying with their fellow racists and then lose interest during his actual speeches.)

    The highlight reel of Trump’s feature-film-length whine demonstrates, yet again, that the president is echoing talking points from the same white supremacist and “alt-right” circles that he struggles to half-heartedly denounce: Monuments to the white supremacist Confederate regime are “our history and heritage,” that white communities need to be “liberated” from violent immigrants, and politicized violence in the streets is being caused not by fascists, but by antifa activists who show up to resist them.

    Trump’s conservative audiences are disturbingly comfortable with these talking points, and that’s due to a larger right-wing media infrastructure that has been pushing these notions into more mainstream conservative spaces. Earlier this week, I reported on the role that Tucker Carlson and the Daily Caller are playing in injecting more radical rhetoric into conservative discourse. But the NRA — a gun lobby that in recent years has built its own little media empire through blogs and NRATV — has also played a major role in promoting ideas that used to dwell on the fringes.

    “For years, the gun lobby quietly dog-whistled to white supremacists,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “But as gun sales plummet under this administration, they are now openly trafficking in paranoia and fear, and inciting violence in order to advance an increasingly radical ‘more guns for anyone, anywhere’ agenda to sell more guns.”

    Earlier this summer, an NRA recruitment video made by spokeswoman Dana Loesch attracted considerable media attention. Loesch argued, over a backdrop of dramatic music and images of street violence, that the supposedly liberal media was whipping up mobs that “smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding? — ?until the only option left is for police to do their jobs and stop the madness.”

    She went on to recommend that well-armed NRA members meet this supposed upsurge of radical violence with “the clenched fist of truth.”

    Loesch’s video echoed the arguments of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who gave a speech in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference warning about the rise of the “violent left.”

    “Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us,” LaPierre said. “If the violent left brings their terror to our communities, our neighborhoods or into our homes, they will be met with the resolve and the strength and the full force of American freedom in the hands of the American people. Among them and behind them are some of the most radical political elements there are. Anarchists, Marxists, communists and the whole rest of the left-wing socialist brigade.”

    These claims that there’s some surge of left-wing violence that needs to be shut down by the armed vigilance of the right should be familiar to anyone who has followed the rise of the “alt-right” and the youth-oriented white supremacist movement. For months now, “alt-right” figures like Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman have argued that violent leftists present a physical threat to “free speech” and must be met with violence. “Alt-right” social media feeds are replete with young men bragging about how they can’t wait to assault left-wing protesters — or run them down with cars — all in the thinly veiled disguise of “self-defense.”

    This was the excuse that the neo-Nazis and other assorted racists used to justify showing up in Charlottesville with guns, shields and helmets, even though it was obvious to most of the public that they weren’t acting in self-defense so much as deliberately trying to provoke street fights. It’s true that these goons are sometimes met by antifa demonstrators who are ready to rumble, but as counter-protests in both Boston and Charlottesville demonstrated, violent leftists are a tiny majority and not actually a threat that can serve to justify right-wing violence.

    On Monday night the president echoed these claims, calling out “antifa” by name and saying they “show up in the helmets and the black masks and they have clubs and everything.” Again, this contains a grain of truth — a small number of armed, masked leftists sometimes show up at counter-protests — but the larger truth is that most progressive protesters are armed with nothing but cardboard signs. It’s really the white supremacists and fascists that are showing up in large numbers with weapons, guns, shields and helmets. As the failed “alt-right” rally in Boston showed, if the far right isn’t allowed to arm itself, its forces frequently won’t bother to show up at all.

    As Watts argued, it’s not surprising to see the NRA tap into white-supremacist talking points, and not just because LaPierre and other NRA spokespeople have a long history of pushing racist fantasies in order to scare heartland white folks into buying guns. The truth of the matter is that Trump’s presidency, while ideologically congenial for the gun lobby, is bad for business. In the spring, a “Trump slump” in gun sales was widely reported. The firearms industry’s marketing is largely based around appealing to conservative insecurities. When Democrats are in office — especially, say, a black president — anxious conservatives buy more guns to feel powerful. If a Republican is in charge, conservatives feel less need to shore up their self-esteem with high-powered weaponry.

    In recent months, though, gun sales started to rise again, and it’s not hard to see why: Conservatives are responding to a steady drumbeat of warnings — from Trump, from right-wing media, from the NRA — that the country is under assault from criminal gangs and violent leftists, and they need to be ready.

    The results of this were all too chillingly on display in Charlottesville as hundreds of white supremacists descended on the city, many of them laden down with expensive weapons. Images like this also provide effective advertising for the gun industry, as the images of gun-wielding wannabe-fascists convince other embittered right-wingers that there’s an exciting movement to join, and all they need to do is lay down a credit card at the nearest gun shop.

    ———-

    “NRA seeks to mainstream — and monetize — the “alt-right’s” paranoid, racist talking points” Amanda Marcotte; Salon; 08/24/2017

    The highlight reel of Trump’s feature-film-length whine demonstrates, yet again, that the president is echoing talking points from the same white supremacist and “alt-right” circles that he struggles to half-heartedly denounce: Monuments to the white supremacist Confederate regime are “our history and heritage,” that white communities need to be “liberated” from violent immigrants, and politicized violence in the streets is being caused not by fascists, but by antifa activists who show up to resist them.”

    Yep, when Trump makes Antifa the focus of a cynical political strategy to concoct a “violent Left” threat mythology while simultaneously downplaying his ties to a very real “violent far-Right” threat, Trumnp is basically echoing the same thing Trump’s core base of supporters get from right-wing radio, Breitbart, and Fox News every day. And the gun lobby’s own media empire its built in recent years, which is apparently specializing in mainstreaming fringe far-right conspiracy theory and thought. That’s not a super dangerous situation or anything:


    Trump’s conservative audiences are disturbingly comfortable with these talking points, and that’s due to a larger right-wing media infrastructure that has been pushing these notions into more mainstream conservative spaces. Earlier this week, I reported on the role that Tucker Carlson and the Daily Caller are playing in injecting more radical rhetoric into conservative discourse. But the NRA — a gun lobby that in recent years has built its own little media empire through blogs and NRATV — has also played a major role in promoting ideas that used to dwell on the fringes.

    “For years, the gun lobby quietly dog-whistled to white supremacists,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “But as gun sales plummet under this administration, they are now openly trafficking in paranoia and fear, and inciting violence in order to advance an increasingly radical ‘more guns for anyone, anywhere’ agenda to sell more guns.”

    And right-wing talker Dana Loesch is making NRA recruitment videos warning people of liberal violence, echoing the words of NRA president Wayne LaPierre:


    Earlier this summer, an NRA recruitment video made by spokeswoman Dana Loesch attracted considerable media attention. Loesch argued, over a backdrop of dramatic music and images of street violence, that the supposedly liberal media was whipping up mobs that “smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding? — ?until the only option left is for police to do their jobs and stop the madness.”

    She went on to recommend that well-armed NRA members meet this supposed upsurge of radical violence with “the clenched fist of truth.”

    Loesch’s video echoed the arguments of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who gave a speech in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference warning about the rise of the “violent left.”

    “Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us,” LaPierre said. “If the violent left brings their terror to our communities, our neighborhoods or into our homes, they will be met with the resolve and the strength and the full force of American freedom in the hands of the American people. Among them and behind them are some of the most radical political elements there are. Anarchists, Marxists, communists and the whole rest of the left-wing socialist brigade.”

    So who’s a bigger threat, Wayne LaPierre or Antifa? Obvious LaPierre. He’s literally running an empire that peddles guns and ‘reasons’ to use them against political opponents. Still, we can’t ignore that the violent segments of Antifa are playing into La Pierre’s sick attempt to paint the Left by taking an overt ‘fight the fascists with your fists in the streets’ presenting some sort of violent threat. While Antifa is admittedly quite helpful in the face of far-right militant protestors like the “Unite the Right” marchers who would have attacked all the counter-protesters there’s a significant cost if it means playing into neo-Nazi violence cycle schemes. Now is definitely not the time for casually playing into neo-Nazi violence cycle schemes:

    The New Yorker

    Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?

    By Robin Wright

    August 14, 2017

    A day after the brawling and racist brutality and deaths in Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe asked, “How did we get to this place?” The more relevant question after Charlottesville—and other deadly episodes in Ferguson, Charleston, Dallas, St. Paul, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria—is where the United States is headed. How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence. “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February. The organization documents more than nine hundred active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.

    America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.

    “We keep saying, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but then, holy smokes, it can,” Mines told me after we talked, on Sunday, about Charlottesville. The pattern of civil strife has evolved worldwide over the past sixty years. Today, few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. On Saturday, McAuliffe put the National Guard on alert and declared a state of emergency.

    Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

    President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”

    To test Mines’s conjecture, I reached out to five prominent Civil War historians this weekend. “When you look at the map of red and blue states and overlap on top of it the map of the Civil War—and who was allied with who in the Civil War—not much has changed,” Judith Giesberg, the editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era and a historian at Villanova University, told me. “We never agreed on the outcome of the Civil War and the direction the country should go in. The postwar amendments were highly contentious—especially the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides equal protection under the law—and they still are today. What does it mean to deliver voting rights to people of color? We still don’t know.”

    She added, “Does that make us vulnerable to a repeat of the past? I don’t see a repeat of those specific circumstances. But that doesn’t mean we are not entering something similar in the way of a culture war. We are vulnerable to racism, tribalism, and conflicting visions of the way forward for our nation.”

    Anxiety over deepening schisms and new conflict has an outlet in popular culture: in April, Amazon selected the dystopian novel American War—which centers on a second U.S. civil war—as one of its best books of the month. In a review in the Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote, “Across these scarred pages rages the clash that many of us are anxiously speculating about in the Trump era: a nation riven by irreconcilable ideologies, alienated by entrenched suspicions . . . both poignant and horrifying.” The Times book reviewer noted, “It’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway.” The book’s author, Omar El Akkad, was born in Egypt and covered the war in Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, and the Ferguson protest as a journalist for Canada’s Globe and Mail.

    Before Charlottesville, David Blight, a Yale historian, was already planning a conference in November on “American Disunion, Then and Now.” “Parallels and analogies are always risky, but we do have weakened institutions and not just polarized parties but parties that are risking disintegration, which is what happened in the eighteen-fifties,” he told me. “Slavery tore apart, over fifteen years, both major political parties. It destroyed the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party, and divided the Democratic Party into northern and southern parts.”

    “So,” he said, “watch the parties” as an indicator of America’s health.

    In the eighteen-fifties, Blight told me, Americans were not good at foreseeing or absorbing the “shock of events,” including the Fugitive Slave Act, the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, the John Brown raid, and even the Mexican-American War. “No one predicted them. They forced people to reposition themselves,” Blight said. “We’re going through one of those repositionings now. Trump’s election is one of them, and we’re still trying to figure it out. But it’s not new. It dates to Obama’s election. We thought that would lead culture in the other direction, but it didn’t,” he said. “There was a tremendous resistance from the right, then these episodes of police violence, and all these things [from the past] exploded again. It’s not only a racial polarization but a seizure about identity.”

    Generally, Blight added, “We know we are at risk of civil war, or something like it, when an election, an enactment, an event, an action by government or people in high places, becomes utterly unacceptable to a party, a large group, a significant constituency.” The nation witnessed tectonic shifts on the eve of the Civil War, and during the civil-rights era, the unrest of the late nineteen-sixties and the Vietnam War, he said. “It did not happen with Bush v. Gore, in 2000, but perhaps we were close. It is not inconceivable that it could happen now.”

    In a reversal of public opinion from the nineteen-sixties, Blight said, the weakening of political institutions today has led Americans to shift their views on which institutions are credible. “Who do we put our faith in today? Maybe, ironically, the F.B.I.,” he said. “With all these military men in the Trump Administration, that’s where we’re putting our hope for the use of reason. It’s not the President. It’s not Congress, which is utterly dysfunctional and run by men who spent decades dividing us in order to keep control, and not even the Supreme Court, because it’s been so politicized.”

    In the wake of Charlottesville, the chorus of condemnation from politicians across the political spectrum has been encouraging, but it is not necessarily reassuring or an indicator about the future, Gregory Downs, a historian at the University of California at Davis, told me. During the Civil War, even Southern politicians who denounced or were wary of secession for years—including Jefferson Davis—ended up as leaders of the Confederacy. “If the source of conflict is deeply embedded in cultural or social forces, then politicians are not inherently able to restrain them with calls for reason,” Downs said. He called the noxious white supremacists and neo-Nazis the “messengers,” rather than the “architects,” of the Republic’s potential collapse. But, he warned, “We take our stability for granted.”

    Eric Foner, the Columbia University historian, won the Pulitzer Prize, in 2011, for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.” Like the other scholars I spoke to, Foner is skeptical that any future conflict will resemble America’s last civil war. “Obviously, we have some pretty deep divisions along multiple lines—racial, ideological, rural versus urban,” he told me. “Whether they will lead to civil war, I doubt. We have strong gravitational forces that counteract what we’re seeing today.” He pointed out that “the spark in Charlottesville—taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee—doesn’t have to do with civil war. People are not debating the Civil War. They’re debating American society and race today.”

    Charlottesville was not the first protest by the so-called alt-right, nor will it be the last. Nine more rallies are planned for next weekend and others in September.

    ———-

    “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” by Robin Wright; The New Yorker; 08/14/2017

    “America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.”

    Talk about Dr. Doom: Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. But at least he’s an outlier in that prediction among the experts polls and when he spoke of “civil war” it appears he means something very different from the Civil War, where states went to war with each other, and instead a war of vigilante violence political violence that at some point requires the National Guard. Exactly the thing the far-right wants to happen (presumably with Trump calling in the National Guard on their side):


    “We keep saying, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but then, holy smokes, it can,” Mines told me after we talked, on Sunday, about Charlottesville. The pattern of civil strife has evolved worldwide over the past sixty years. Today, few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. On Saturday, McAuliffe put the National Guard on alert and declared a state of emergency.

    Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

    President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”

    “President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.””

    Yep, President Trump, has indeed “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign”, as Keith Mines, the ex-Special Forces civil war expert in the US State Department, describes it. And that’s one of the reason he sees a 65 percent chance of a conflict of mass violence that requires the National Guard, or ‘civil war’ as he puts it. And thankfully he’s not talking about something as destructive as another state on state civil war. Mines’s civil war scenario is something far less severe. But Mines’s civil war scenario of outright violent conflict between dueling sides of society that requires the National Guard to address still represents a very real existential threat to the US since we’re talking about Nazi movements utilizing mass organized violence as a tool for coming to power at any cost. The battles are part of a broader psyop. One of the goals is the normalization of political violence and that’s also the means. And all this is for the ultimate purpose of racial subjugation and genocide. Again, these are real Nazis we’re talking about.

    So given that a bunch of Nazis are actively trying to provoke a civil-war in the United States and given that the willingness to engage in anti-Nazi violence by Antifa is one of the wedge issues the Nazis are creating as part of an “pick your side, us or them” divide and conquer tactic, perhaps it’s worth declaring an explicitly non-violent ‘civil war’ of sorts: a ‘war’ on our inability to talk about differences and conflict. Americans use the term ‘war’ for all sorts of things. A ‘war’ on cancer, poverty, drugs, terror, etc. So how about a ‘war’ on the non-violent resolution of enduring conflicts. Tricky, tough conflicts that have been simmering for so long that we’ve also collectively lost the ability to have a meaningful conversation about them. Let’s declare a ‘war’ on that. And conveniently we already have the perfect organization for facilitating such a ‘war’: Life After Hate, a group that effectively treats the disease of extremist hate by sitting extremists down with members of the groups they fear and despise.

    And since we have a Reality TV US President, how about a reality TV show that sits down a group of neo-Nazis and alt-rightists with a bunch of Antifa people and forces them to discuss their differences. And since Nazis obviously embrace the use of lies, disinformation, and general rhetorical trickery there could be various outside experts and Life After Hate members also participating in the group therapy session so someone can step in when the Nazis’ historical revisionism gets too egregious. The show ends when they figure out how to hug it out and we declare a war on violence. Maybe President Trump could sit in on a few sessions. Think of the ratings!

    Barring that, could we at least agree to find the following common ground:

    1. The violent Antifa members present a real dilemma and potentially a subversive force that could end up playing right into the hands of an organized far-right movement intent on creating a “violent Left” mythology. Antifa members maybe have picked the right target, but the wrong tactic when they engage in preemptive violence. Political violence, even just street brawls where no one dies, is a taboo tactic because it really does threaten society. There are reasons we don’t punch Nazis even if they deserve it. There’s value in that. So if it’s in self-defense that’s one valid use of violence, but playing into Nazi schemes to create escalating cycles of violence is not at all ok.

    2. While there are undoubtedly some “bad people” in Antifa, as Donald Trump would put it, and people with really messed up political views (like anarchists who want to see society collapse so they can build an anarcho-whatever utopia) we should all be able to agree that even the bad Antifa members are highly unlikely to be as bad as Nazis. Ok, it’s inevitable there’s few Antifa member who are as bad as a Nazi who aren’t crypto-Nazi infiltrators. That’s going to happen in a big enough group. And then there’s the actual crypto-Nazi infiltrators who really are as bad as the Nazis. But in general can we all agree that even groups with politics and economic paradigms that we may not personally like and who are willing to be militant towards Nazis, and pretty much just towards Nazis or Nazi-like groups, are far better than Nazis who want to subjugate and exterminate entire races?

    3. Making the distinction of how much worse Nazism is than whatever particular far-left vision Antifa members might hold is an important distinction to make in this context because even if you’re an uber-capitalist who hates Communists there’s a widely held recognition that race-based supremacy ideologies are horrific and collective doom and rejecting that is a foundation of decent and durable societies and individuals. Getting the economics right is important. Recognizing the evil and terror caused by of racial-supremacy ideologies is more important because it’s even more foundational for building a decent and durable society populated by decent people.

    Is that available as common ground? A simple recognition that Antifa’s willingness to engage preemptive violence is bad when it occurs but Nazis are much worse because they want to subjugate entire groups and races? Can we at least agree to all that? Because if the predictions of sleaze bags like Roger Stone or academics like Keith Mines that the Unites States could experience a ‘civil war’-ish scenario in the near future comes to to fruition it seems pretty likely that it will only happen when the ‘Alt-Right’ and neo-Nazis successfully sell themselves as “the lesser of two evils” with the “violent Left” getting framed as the greater evil. And these street brawls are undoubtedly playing a huge role in the successful propagation of that meme.

    So perhaps it’s worth making it clear that Antifa undoubtedly has some “bad people”, because all movements have that element, but also that Antifa is stupidly falling for a trap laid by the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis. A trap intended to create a cycle of violence as part of a larger divide and conquer strategy designed to pose a question to the general public “do you stand with the white nationalists or do you stand with those Antifa commies?” That’s the trap and it’s a really stupid trap to fall into. And you know who else is stupidly falling for that trap? Anyone who thinks the Nazis in Charlottesville were the lesser of two evils or even equally bad as Antifa. Antifa inevitably has to bad or misguided elements. Nazis are unambiguously much, much worse. Can American society arrive at that common ground? Or are we already caught in a stupidity trap? Hopefully we’re not trapped by stupidity yet. We’ll see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2017, 7:42 pm
  5. The state of Virginia has a gubernatorial race coming up that’s doesn’t bode well for the future of the US: In late August, the GOP candidate, Ed Gillespie, hired Jack Morgan, the Southwest Virginia field director for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in an attempt to appeal to rural voters who Gillespie had been struggling with. Morgan predicts a second Civil War and claims the push to remove Confederate statues is a communist insurgency. Gillespie’s campaign then proceeded to focus on protecting Confederate statues, issued one race-baiting/fear mongering ad after another and from the Trump/Bannon/Lee Atwater playbook, immigrants, and fears of Muslims, sanctuary cities (which don’t exist in Virginia), and the race for the governor that was looking like a likely Democratic win a month ago is now a dead heat.

    As depressing as this turn of events is for the state of America, it’s also worth noting one potential insight we can take from the Democrats’ inability to appeal to rural voters that ties into the debate over whether or not the Democratic party should be focusing more on “identity politics” and issue important to contemporary Democratic coalition of minorities groups (religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc) and labor unions or instead focus on appealing to working class white males and rural voters: If there are two groups that that should be a core elements of the Democratic party from an economic self-interest standpoint it’s white working class voters (rural and urban) and rural voters in general who tend to gain the most from robust government services and investments. But those two groups have been increasingly won over by the far-right ‘populist’ media and rhetoric that portrays the world as a global communist Muslim atheist socialist conspiracy out to get white people. That’s basically meta-message of the Trump/Bannon political playbook and much of right-wing media and it clearly has a deep resonance with a lot of white voters who are either true conservatives or largely uninformed people understandably pissed off about the state of affairs and highly vulnerable to the messaging of the right-wing Big Lie disinfotainment complex.

    And since part of the complaints often heard from white voters who left the Democratic party in recent years is the feeling that Democrats are only interested in issues affecting minority groups, it’s worth noting how the damage GOP policies are doing to rural communities present an enormous opportunity for the Democratic party to make a key argument that can break the GOP’s spell over white voters while uniting the Democratic party: The US system can’t function unless everyone wins. Even the system’s ‘losers’ to need win by being in a system that doesn’t abuse the losers or allow them to fall into traps. That’s how everyone wins, and when you make building that kind of a system a key political goal – the real Shining City on a Hill – it’s a goal that inherently includes all sorts of minority groups and white working class voters and small farmers and rural voters and urban voters and every else in between not because the party is interested in pandering to everyone but because a society that doesn’t look out for everyone is a dysfunctional society. We’re all supposed to look out for each other’s interests. If that’s not already part of the social contract it should be.

    So you have to wonder if the Democrats could get some of these alienated white voters to give the party a second look by framing the party’s governing philosophy along the following lines:

    1. A recognition that, in a democracy, the most effective way to ensure your own self-interests are going to be protected in by being in a broad based coalition of people with a wide variety of interests all united by a common recognition that we’re all in this together and we all need to care about each other’s interests.

    2. When we are looking after a diverse group of interests together we tend to create a more just society because we’re forced to search for solutions that work for everyone. It’s a key element of the contemporary social contract and one of the most important principles the US can export to the rest of the world.

    3. When developing policy solutions that address “identity politics” issues and issues facing minority groups, unions, the poor, and the environment (traditional Democratic bases) in mind while also keeping economic and business community issues (like small farmer concerns) simultaneously in mind we will develop better better overall policies solutions that work for as many people as possible. Minority groups and white working class folks and farms all looking out for each other’s interests (interests that are heavily overlapping if we stopped to think about it) is the goal. The only losers with that approach are outright bigots, xenophobes, and power mongering billionaires.

    4. This is how we implement the Golden Rule through democracy: using government to mutually look out for each other’s self-interests. Everyone looking out for everyone makes us stronger and unites us and quality, well-thought out government programs are a key way of how we do that. The GOP won’t allow this because it governs under a philosophy of exalting self-interest and demonizing government.

    5. If the concerns of the white working-class, rural voters and smaller farmers haven’t been addressed that’s largely, though not entirely, the fault of the GOP. See Point 4.

    6. When different groups’ interests are in conflicts with each other, the Democratic Party sides with the little guy because it is the party of the little guy and big guys who want a decent society. And since most issues are little guy vs big guy and not rural vs urban in contemporary affairs there’s a huge overlap in interests between most of the GOP base and most of the Democratic base since almost everyone is one of the ‘little guy’. If the various “identity politics” issues (which are typically ‘little guy vs big guy’ issues) and the issues white working class and rural voters and small farmers (which are also typically ‘little guy vs big guy’ issues) and every other group out there aren’t being addressed simultaneously that means government is failing. Because it’s not like government can’t address multiple issues simultaneously. That’s government’s job. Being responsive to the little guy’s interests and big guy’s interest in harmony, regardless of who they are. And that includes all the issues that only affects rural voters. But the GOP won’t let us have that because it hates government.

    Somehow rural white America became convinced that the party of the plutocrats is going to look out for their best interest. While that’s a troubling phenomena it’s also heavily a result of the success of the right-wing Big Lie media disinfotainment complex over the decades and that means a lot a of the reasons rural voters hate Democrats has to do with right-wing media brainwashing and that means the GOP base’s dislike of the Democrats is going to be heavily dependent on sea of right-wing media lies. That presents a real opening for Democrats, because the GOP is unambiguously the pro-big guy party at almost every opportunity. Mutually looking out everyone’s interest can and should be a package deal The Democrats offer rural voters. It’s a deal the GOP is incapable of delivering on. All they know is divide and conquer. But in reality the Democratic voters right-wing media teaches its audience to hate and fear really should be seen as partners for that right-wing audience in mutually looking out for each others’ best interests together from a little guy vs big guy perspective (which really should be the ‘American spirit’…the little guy looking out for itself democratically).

    Could the Democrats successfully make that sales pitch? Who knows, but even if it’s a long shot it might be worth a try, because whatever the Democrats are doing right now to reach out to rural America clearly isn’t working:

    Politico

    Democrats still toxic in rural America

    The party’s candidate for Virginia governor grew up in the rural reaches and boasts a military background. But he’s doing no better than Clinton.

    By KEVIN ROBILLARD

    11/03/2017 03:11 PM EDT
    Updated 11/03/2017 02:59 PM EDT

    BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ralph Northam looked like the perfect candidate to help Democrats regain traction with rural voters after a disastrous 2016, with his Southern drawl, upbringing in the state’s rural Eastern Shore and military background.

    But despite substantial efforts in the far reaches of the commonwealth increasingly ignored by Democrats, Northam appears to be coming up short of a big improvement, according to his own internal polling.

    Critics point to Northam’s stances on sanctuary cities and natural gas pipelines as possible reasons for the struggles. But the predominant issue may be that no Democrat, no matter their rural credentials, appeals to rural voters who have been turning away from the party for years — a big warning sign for Democrats hoping to compete in dozens of rural-rooted Senate, House and gubernatorial elections around the country next year.

    It’s one reason why Republicans still believe that they can pull an upset in the Nov. 7 Virginia election, despite Northam leading in most public polling. Northam’s campaign believes he is doing well enough in the state’s rural corners to win, given Democrats’ strength in fast-growing Northern Virginia. Northam’s own internal polling in October showed Republican Ed Gillespie getting 49 percent to Northam’s 36 percent in the rural Bristol, Roanoke and Harrisonburg television markets — which President Donald Trump won 62 percent to 34 percent in 2016 (while losing Virginia to Hillary Clinton).

    While Gillespie wasn’t hitting Trump’s heights, a potential warning sign of his own, Northam’s rural polling was little better than Clinton’s final result in last year’s presidential race — and below the levels President Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore reached in the previous four presidential elections, when they lost the region but still squeezed more votes out of it. The trend has left Democrats more reliant on high urban and suburban turnout, and not every state has the same booming suburbs to counterbalance Democrats’ rural losses. Rural Democrats worry the party still sees them as an unnecessary afterthought.

    “We’re plain Jane,” said Jay Clarke, a retired history professor who briefly resigned from his post as Rockbridge County Democratic Chairman earlier this fall in order to protest what he saw as the state party’s neglect of rural areas. “And the temptress is Northern Virginia down to Richmond and Tidewater. And politicians are easily seduced.”

    Matt Morrison, the co-executive director of the AFL-CIO-backed group Working America, has helped lead Democratic turnout efforts in Virginia’s southwest, targeting about 100,000 voters — including white moderates as well as sizable black and Latino populations in cities like Danville and Martinsville.

    Morrison said canvassers in the region haven’t detected enthusiasm for Gillespie or Northam, who both lost rural areas to their primary opponents in June.

    “Enthusiasm on both sides is low,” he said.

    Democrats say that’s not for lack of trying on Northam’s part. Former Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher, who held a district in Southwest Virginia for 28 years before losing in the 2010 wave, said Northam is “doing a lot of what I recommended” in an essay in the journal “Democracy” outlining how his party could do better in rural areas. Boucher’s key lessons: Allow some flexibility on gun policy, focus on the economy and show up.

    “‘Showing up’ means returning repeatedly and listening more than talking,” he writes.

    Northam and his chief of staff pushed for the recreation of the party’s rural caucus, and he held over 100 events in rural parts of the state as lieutenant governor. He asked for rural Wise as the location of the third debate of the governor’s race.

    “He’s sincere. He’s not slick,” said Toni Radler, chair of the Hanover County Democratic Party, which includes suburban and rural areas outside of Richmond. “And we kinda like that.”

    The Northam campaign released a television ad earlier this month designed to appeal to rural voters, featuring Northam working to restore a 1953 Oldsmobile and explaining that classic car restoration has been a hobby of his since high school.

    “I’m from rural Virginia, and when I’m governor, you won’t be forgotten,” Northam says in the 30-second spot.

    Last month at a Blacksburg fundraiser for Chris Hurst, a local television anchor-turned-House of Delegates candidate, Northam attacked the “clown show in Washington” and said Gillespie needed to do more to condemn Trump’s flirtation with white nationalists in Charlottesville before he laid out his plans for the state’s rural areas. He wants to expand a University of Virginia branch in rural Wise County, make community college free for students in high-demand fields who commit to a year of public service and continuing increasing vocational training in high schools.

    But there was one hot-button issue here Northam didn’t mention: the construction of two natural gas pipelines, opposition to which has united environmentalists and rural landowners.

    In the Democratic primary, former Rep. Tom Perriello campaigned heavily against the pipelines, while Northam said a governor would have little power to stop their construction and avoided taking a firm stance for or against.

    Asked whether Northam had missed an opportunity by not coming out against the pipelines, Clarke had a simple response: “Yes.” He said volunteers in Rockbridge County had asked for guidance from the Northam campaign on what to say if asked about the pipelines and hadn’t received a response. “That’s political malfeasance,” Clarke said.

    Vee Frye, chair of the state party’s rural caucus, downplayed the pipeline issue.

    “Ralph did what he thought was right,” she said, noting Gillespie’s support for both pipelines and Northam’s strong environmental record. “I think it’s a non-issue, I really do.”

    Northam’s campaign cautions that the Democratic Party, which has lost rural voters over the course of decades, can’t expect to win them back in a single election cycle. They also expect Gillespie to underperform in rural areas, many of which he lost in the GOP primary, and think attacks on the Republican’s record as a lobbyist will not inspire high turnout there.

    But Republicans, who hope Gillespie’s emphasis on barring sanctuary cities and protecting Confederate monuments can excite Republican voters in rural areas where he struggled during the primary, slammed Northam for ignoring the less-populated parts of the state.

    “Ralph Northam has yet to offer any substantive vision to address the challenges facing rural Virginia,” Gillespie spokesman David Abrams said, noting Northam missed meetings of a rural economic development panel. “Northam’s inattention and bad policies will make things worse in some of the most economically challenged areas of the commonwealth.”

    ———-

    “Democrats still toxic in rural America” By KEVIN ROBILLARD; Politico; 11/03/2017

    “Critics point to Northam’s stances on sanctuary cities and natural gas pipelines as possible reasons for the struggles. But the predominant issue may be that no Democrat, no matter their rural credentials, appeals to rural voters who have been turning away from the party for years — a big warning sign for Democrats hoping to compete in dozens of rural-rooted Senate, House and gubernatorial elections around the country next year.”

    No matter what the Democrats try they can’t find a way to lure white rural voters away from the GOP, a party that wants to eviscerate the federal spending in rural areas while unleashing the pollution floodgates.

    And don’t forget that when Gillespie hired Jack Morgan, Trump’s campaign operative specializing in South West Virginia politics, the divisive race-baiting began in earnest. And this was done to target rural Virginia’s voters:


    But Republicans, who hope Gillespie’s emphasis on barring sanctuary cities and protecting Confederate monuments can excite Republican voters in rural areas where he struggled during the primary, slammed Northam for ignoring the less-populated parts of the state.

    By scaring the crap out of rural voters about all the minorities and liberals the OGP has managed to ‘excite’ the party’s base. To the point where Ed Gillespie might win due largely to his egregious Trumpian race-bating.

    And note how the one area where Northam was legitimately acting like a Republican – the issue if the pipeline – it’s an issue that unites rural voters with environmentalists:


    Last month at a Blacksburg fundraiser for Chris Hurst, a local television anchor-turned-House of Delegates candidate, Northam attacked the “clown show in Washington” and said Gillespie needed to do more to condemn Trump’s flirtation with white nationalists in Charlottesville before he laid out his plans for the state’s rural areas. He wants to expand a University of Virginia branch in rural Wise County, make community college free for students in high-demand fields who commit to a year of public service and continuing increasing vocational training in high schools.

    But there was one hot-button issue here Northam didn’t mention: the construction of two natural gas pipelines, opposition to which has united environmentalists and rural landowners.

    In the Democratic primary, former Rep. Tom Perriello campaigned heavily against the pipelines, while Northam said a governor would have little power to stop their construction and avoided taking a firm stance for or against.

    Asked whether Northam had missed an opportunity by not coming out against the pipelines, Clarke had a simple response: “Yes.” He said volunteers in Rockbridge County had asked for guidance from the Northam campaign on what to say if asked about the pipelines and hadn’t received a response. “That’s political malfeasance,” Clarke said.

    The area where Northam is acting like a GOPer is an area that could have united environmentalists and rural land owners. Ouch. That’s an opportunity it hurts to lose. But it’s all the more reason for real reforms that will “drain the swamp” like overturning Citizen’s United and getting the influence of big business out of politics. The kind of corruption voters from both parties hate is the kind of corruption that makes Democrats behave like Republicans. It’s critical GOP voters understand this.

    Might such an ‘urban and rural little guys united to help each other’ approach work in a state like Virginia or elsewhere? AT least there won’t be a shortage of examples of how the GOP is totally screwing rural voters (remember Trumpcare?) For instance, anyone involved with the meat packing industry might be receptive to a ‘united little guys’ message:

    Bloomberg

    Trump Chooses Big Meat Over Little Farmers
    Rural Americans voted for him, but he didn’t return the favor when it came to an Obama rule meant to level the playing field.

    By Deena Shanker
    October 25, 2017, 3:00 AM CDT October 25, 2017, 3:29 PM CDT

    After years of fighting for an Obama-era rule that would help farmers sue the mammoth companies they work for, advocacy groups for America’s small poultry, pork and beef growers may have been dealt a final blow by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    The fight was about whether small farmers can sue if they feel they’ve been mistreated by big companies. Poultry farmers, for example, often get their chicks and feed from big meat producers, which in turn pay the farmer for the full-grown product. If a farmer wants to sue a company for retaliating against him because he complained about his contract—say, by sending him sick chicks or bad feed—the farmer needs to show the company’s actions hurt not only him, but the entire industry.

    Under President Obama, that high bar would have been lowered. Under the interim final rule, a showing of harm to only one farmer would suffice to support a claim. The Trump administration last week threw out the Obama-era rule in a move hailed by lobbyists for the big agriculture companies.

    “I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” said Mike Weaver, a West Virginia poultry farmer and president of the Organization for Competitive Markets, who voted for Donald Trump. “Rural America came out and supported the president, and if it weren’t for us, he wouldn’t be where he is now. What they did was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened that way.”

    Farmer groups—including the National Farmers Union, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Farm Aid, R-CALF USA, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, and the Organization for Competitive Markets—supported the Obama-era rule. Many farmers and ranchers thought Trump would allow it to take effect, citing his support for small business and rural Americans. Industry lobbyists, such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute, hoped the Republican president would undo the rule, citing fears over increased litigation from farmers. They also thought they’d found a champion for their cause in Trump, who had vowed to cut federal regulation.

    “When Trump was coming in with the mantra of reduced regulation,” said Jeremy Scott, a protein research analyst at Mizuho Securities USA LLC, “there was relief.” In the end it was industry, not farmers, that guessed correctly. National Chicken Council President Mike Brown publicly praised the USDA decision.

    Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers are left with few options to challenge huge companies over allegedly anti-competitive behavior. “This gives the meatpacking industry the ability to do whatever they wish, in terms of retaliation against an individual,” said Jay Platt, a cow-calf rancher in Arizona, who also voted for Trump. “It leaves the cattle producer absolutely punch-less.”

    “These guidelines would protect farmers and ranchers against bad faith, retaliation, denial of due process and fraud,” said J. Dudley Butler, former administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration under Obama. “Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of America, and they paved the way for Trump to be president. They thought he was their president, but he and his minions have now sold these very farmers and ranchers down the river.”

    In addition to Democrats on Capitol Hill, at least one member of Trump’s own party sees it that way, too. “They’re just pandering to big corporations. They don’t care about family farms,” Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, told reporters upon hearing the news of the USDA decision. “This is an example of a swamp being refilled.”

    The National Pork Producers Council disagreed, saying in an emailed statement Wednesday that the proposed rule would have “stifled competition and innovation and, ultimately, raised meat and poultry prices for consumers.” While the NPPC says farmers could still sue in state courts, allegations generally raised in such cases, including antitrust, are largely federal in nature.

    Although the Trump administration has faced litigation opposing other attempts to undo Obama-era regulations, lawsuits are unlikely to succeed in upending this latest decision. That’s because the USDA took public comment on the possibility of withdrawing the rule, which itself was based on an interpretation of existing federal law, before doing so.

    For now, farmer groups are looking at other avenues. Weaver has sent a letter asking Trump to issue an executive order reversing the USDA’s decision. He still lays part of the blame, however, with the Obama administration, whose rural agenda was largely stymied by Congress.

    “Obama had the opportunity to do the right thing, and he didn’t,” said Weaver. “He made a lot of promises to the farmers about the things he was gonna do and never followed through on them.”

    ———-

    “Trump Chooses Big Meat Over Little Farmers” by Deena Shanker; Bloomberg; 10/25/2017

    “The fight was about whether small farmers can sue if they feel they’ve been mistreated by big companies. Poultry farmers, for example, often get their chicks and feed from big meat producers, which in turn pay the farmer for the full-grown product. If a farmer wants to sue a company for retaliating against him because he complained about his contract—say, by sending him sick chicks or bad feed—the farmer needs to show the company’s actions hurt not only him, but the entire industry.

    Small farmers basically can’t sue the meat processing giants they contract with. And this was all changed at the end of the Obama administration. Until the GOP came along and did what it always does in big guy vs little guy situations and sided with the big guy:


    Under President Obama, that high bar would have been lowered. Under the interim final rule, a showing of harm to only one farmer would suffice to support a claim. The Trump administration last week threw out the Obama-era rule in a move hailed by lobbyists for the big agriculture companies.

    “I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” said Mike Weaver, a West Virginia poultry farmer and president of the Organization for Competitive Markets, who voted for Donald Trump. “Rural America came out and supported the president, and if it weren’t for us, he wouldn’t be where he is now. What they did was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened that way.”

    Small farmers get screwed by the GOP. Again. Because that’s just what the GOP does. Under the guise of “reducing regulation”:


    “When Trump was coming in with the mantra of reduced regulation,” said Jeremy Scott, a protein research analyst at Mizuho Securities USA LLC, “there was relief.” In the end it was industry, not farmers, that guessed correctly. National Chicken Council President Mike Brown publicly praised the USDA decision.

    Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers are left with few options to challenge huge companies over allegedly anti-competitive behavior. “This gives the meatpacking industry the ability to do whatever they wish, in terms of retaliation against an individual,” said Jay Platt, a cow-calf rancher in Arizona, who also voted for Trump. “It leaves the cattle producer absolutely punch-less.”

    “These guidelines would protect farmers and ranchers against bad faith, retaliation, denial of due process and fraud,” said J. Dudley Butler, former administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration under Obama. “Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of America, and they paved the way for Trump to be president. They thought he was their president, but he and his minions have now sold these very farmers and ranchers down the river.”

    There’s no good reason urban Democratic voters should want small farmers to get locked out of the ability to sue their behemoth clients just as there’s no valid reason small farmers should actually have a problem with the vast majority of issues important to current Democratic coalition voters. Little guys unite. That should be the Democrats’ outreach of the GOP base. And sure enough, it’s the Democrats opposing this anti-small farmer ruling:


    In addition to Democrats on Capitol Hill, at least one member of Trump’s own party sees it that way, too. “They’re just pandering to big corporations. They don’t care about family farms,” Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, told reporters upon hearing the news of the USDA decision. “This is an example of a swamp being refilled.”

    What the right-wing media big Lie machine has long derided as “socialism” is really just democracy in action. Government addressing its citizens’ needs and grievances. That’s ‘Big Government’ in action and it’s what rural voters actually want. Regulating the market so the little guy isn’t screwed. And that’s basically what most of the rest of groups that make of the Democratic coalition want: the ability to use government to protect themselves from some sort of systemic abuse particular to their lives. That’s the reality behind what Gillespie’s strategist Jack Morgan would have called a communist conspiracy. A government that addresses the little guy’s grievances.

    So rural voters disappointed with a GOP that doesn’t really do anything to ‘help’ rural communities – other than deregulate things and cut taxes which typically only helps the big guy -are more than welcome to join the Democrats and join the joint effort to help everyone solve the various and diverse problems facing everyone’s lives. Perhaps that could be a would way of responding to the chilling success of Ed Gillespie’s Trumpian divide and conquer campaign.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2017, 12:12 am
  6. It’s tragically no longer surprising to see Fox News hosts try to scare their audiences into thinking there’s a wave of left-wing violence threatening conservatives because this has been a meme pushed by the right-wing aggressively since Trump won the election. An election that followed a campaign where Trump turned violence at his rallies into a regular feature. But Saturday night’s prime-time show “Justice with Judge Jeanine” include an opening 15 minutes that was truly chilling and should be recognized as a public and civil health hazard: ‘Judge’ Jeanine Pirro started her show with an opening ~7 minute rant that took the one instance of real left-wing violence this year (the shooting of Steve Scalise by a whack job), and took that incident along with some antifa stories and used that to repeatedly tell her audience that the left condones violence against conservatives and anyone else they disagree with. And then, to make matters much worse, she invited on Ann Coulter and they continued talking about how the left supposed represents this massive violent threat.

    And what made it so awful was how Pirro and Coulter would repeatedly first mischaracterize some sort of situation involving antifa to portray antifa as some sort of domestic terror group threatening all conservatives for being conservative and then acting like antifa represents ‘the Left’ in general. It was bad even by Fox News standards:

    Fox News Insider

    Judge Jeanine: Antifa’s Violence Is ‘Outright Attempt at Anarchy’

    As seen on Justice With Judge Jeanine
    Nov12,2017 9:13 am

    Judge Jeanine Pirro said it is not only controversial to be a Trump supporter but can also be dangerous.

    Anti-Trump protesters across the country have normalized violence against the right in an “outright attempt at anarchy,” the judge said on Saturday.

    “With conviction and an air of condescension the Left so hates Donald Trump and those who support him that they’ve sanctioned the use of violence against them,”. she explained. “The goal of these haters is to normalize, incite, and mobilize hatred and turn it into violence.”

    Judge Jeanine disagreed with those who said the shooter who shot up Republicans at a congressional baseball practice was just a crazy person. The gunman was “focused, lucid, and clear” in his attempt to commit violence against the right, the judge opined, pointing out that he asked a congressman beforehand whether it was Democrats or Republicans playing.

    Antifa is trying to “recast our legal system” without authority so that violence is acceptable against those they disagree with politically, Pirro continued.

    ———-

    “Judge Jeanine: Antifa’s Violence Is ‘Outright Attempt at Anarchy'” As seen on Justice With Judge Jeanine; Fox News Insider; 11/12/2017

    “With conviction and an air of condescension the Left so hates Donald Trump and those who support him that they’ve sanctioned the use of violence against them,”. she explained. “The goal of these haters is to normalize, incite, and mobilize hatred and turn it into violence.””

    “With conviction and an air of condescension the Left so hates Donald Trump and those who support him that they’ve sanctioned the use of violence against them.” And that more or less summarizes her 7 minute rant that was dedicated to taking antifa incidents and the shooting of Scalise and convincing her audience that “the Left” is sanctioning violence against conservatives.

    And as bad as that opening statement was, it was followed up by a segment with Ann Coulter where they both talked about all the ‘leftist violence’ they’ve been subjected to over the years. Ann Coulter seriously tells the audience that if you look at history every single act of political violence was from a left-winger and that ‘the Left’ is constantly ginning their side up to be violent. Ann Coulter said that. Because of course she did. She’s Ann Coulter and she needs help.

    So given the reality that major media outlets like Fox News and right-wing talk radio outlets are allowing people like Pirro to the kind of dangerous fantasy worldviews that one should expect to hear from Stormfront, it’s probably worth making the point that antifa is specifically sanctioning punching fascists only in self defense and only neo-Nazis and fascists and other people that hang around places like Stormfront. Not random Trump supporters. Whether or not you think ‘punching a Nazi’ in ok, Nazis are the only people antifa is interesting in punching. So when Judge Jeanine points to antifa scuffles with neo-Nazis as an example of left-wing violence against Trump supporters she’s basically equating Trump supporters to neo-Nazis and fascists in her opening statement. Her audience should probably be informed of this.

    But, of course, it’s also worth making the point that antifa’s willingness to embrace the punching of Nazis in self-defense and meet violent neo-Nazi groups to protest even when they know violence could easily erupt as a result is an incredibly dangerous behavior precisely because of malicious media figures like Jeanine Pirro. The ‘Is it ok to punch a Nazi (or others who embrace political violence)?’ debate is difficult enough in a democracy. But ‘punching a Nazi’ is wildly dangerous now specifically because of the unfortunate reality that the those Nazis have a lot of allies in the media these days. Don’t forget, Pirro equates her audience with Alt Right and neo-Nazi hate group members. She’s not helping her audience or conservatives in general when she does that, but she’s definitely helping the Alt Right neo-Nazis. And that’s why the danger of antifa being used as a far-right foil has grown so significantly. There’s an army of people like Pirro waiting to use it to promote their ‘the Left sanctions violence against conservatives’ meme at every opportunity.

    The reality is that, as a consequence of the a political media ecosystem dominated by increasingly right-wing voices on TV and radio, borderline hate-speech against liberals from media figures like Pirro is now the norm across right-wing radio and cable ‘news’. While it might seem like Trump took over the GOP, it’s important to recognize that Ann Coulter’s style of thought and speech took over right-wing punditry a while ago and that probably has a lot to do with the rise of Trump. That’s just where we are in terms of the US’s national discourse which is why antifa is a dream come true for people like Pirro. Or Michael Savage. Or Sean Hannity. Or Ann Coulter. Major figures with massive audiences routinely push the same memes Pirro is pushing: that ‘the Left’ has an active physical threat to people with different political views. That’s seriously the meme Pirro was just pushing in that rant and it wasn’t the first time she’s done it. Whenever there’s a brawl between antifa and some neo-Nazis, Pirro and others use it to feed a Big Lie that tells the audience over and over that there’s a left-wing violent plot against them that they need to prepare for and freak out about.

    And if you think about what Pirro is doing – trying to stoke civil conflict using Big Lie methods on a major broadcasting platform like Fox News – it raises a question that might help provide us with an answer to this horrific situation the right-wing Big Lie machine has created: What kind of damage happened to Jeanine that brought her to this point in life where she’s consciously stoking civil violence on TV? Because she presumably didn’t grow up planning on this sort of Goebbels-esque career at this point in her life. At least hopefully she wasn’t always planning on this. So what has to happen to someone to bring them to this point?

    It’s a question worth loudly asking, because when you have Pirro and others basically trying to spark violence between liberals and conservatives by repeatedly telling their audience that ‘the Left’ hate them and is condoning violence against conservatives (and this is the messages these hosts really are telling their audiences routinely these days), the response should probably involve making it clear that that left would actually much prefer healing the national divide and are mostly just upset with and pissed off at media figures like Jeanine Pirro who systematically lie to their audience in an attempt to make conservatives hate and fear liberals. Jeanine Pirro’s hate speech campaign isn’t a reason for liberal anger towards ‘conservatives.’ It’s a reason for liberal anger towards Jeanine Pirro and other conservative media figures like her who have decided to divide the country by terrorizing their audiences with far-right fantasies about a left-wing violence.

    So what’s a better response to Pirro’s far-right fantasies about left-wing violence designed to provoke violence against liberals than to loudly ask the question, “what happened to Jeanine Pirro to make sink low enough to actively peddle this kind of dangerous tripe and how can we help heal her?” Not harm her. Help her heal. And heal Sean Hannity. And Michael Savage. And of course Ann Coulter who needs en immense amount of healing. What happened to them all? Were they blackmailed? Do they genuinely hate liberals as much as they appear to or is this just cold-hearted shtick they callously use to push their audiences’ buttons? Were they always super cynical and just decided nothing matters or did something break them? Judge Jeanine is clearly not well. What happened and how can we help Jeanine and the other right-wing pundits pushing this same kind of poison?

    But this kind of dangerous behavior also represents a potential significant opportunity. Because a key element of what makes this behavior so dangerous is the fact Pirro and her pundit peers systematically deprive their audience of relevant facts. And in this case one of the most relevant facts is the fact that liberals don’t hate and want harm conservatives. That would be horrible and insane. Conservatives are our family members and friends and colleagues and vice versa. The notion that liberals condone violence against people for being conservative is a malicious smear. But that’s exactly what Judge Jeanine and Ann smeared by taking a handful of cases of people involved with antifa groups talking about self-defense against fascists and conflating into the widespread liberal condoning of violence against conservatives. And this was like the opening 15 minutes of the prime time Saturday night Fox News show. Confusion and omission put to dangerous effect.

    So the need to call out Pirro and Coulter as dangerous sources of disinformation who are actually endangering America also represents the opportunity to loudly make it clear that the audiences of Fox News and right-wing talk radio have been given a wildly lied to about not just liberals but A LOT of other things for years. Fox News hosts promote a wildly irresponsible lie that liberals condone violence against conservatives. This is how far they have fallen. If ever there was a time where there deserved to be a national Fox News ‘intervention’ of some sort is is that time. Perhaps in the form of national advertising campaign to advertise how grossly Fox News distorts reality or something. Who knows if that could successfully puncture the Fox News bubble but now seems like a good time to try considering that Fox News is increasingly trying to stoke a civil conflict.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 12, 2017, 11:36 pm
  7. Here’s the latest ‘who could have seen this coming (anyone paying attention’ story coming out of the Trump administration: the Trump-appointed head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, just announced his plans to completely eliminate the US’s net neutrality rules for the internet. And he’ll be able to do exactly that on December 14th, when the FCC is expected to put it to a vote and it’s expected to pass. And that will be it, allowing internet service providers (ISPs) the power to slow down or speed up access to websites at their whim. Or block access to sites they don’t like altogether for any reason they see fit as long as the ISPs are transparent about it:

    The Washington Post

    FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see and use

    By Brian Fung
    November 21 at 12:32 PM

    Federal regulators unveiled a plan Tuesday that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost.

    The move sets the stage for a crucial vote next month at the Federal Communications Commission that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem. The FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, has made undoing the government’s net neutrality rules one of his top priorities, and Tuesday’s move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

    Pai is taking aim at regulations that were approved two years ago under a Democratic presidency and that sought to make sure all Internet content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers.

    The decision will be put to a vote at the agency’s Dec. 14 meeting in Washington. It is expected to pass, with Republicans controlling three of the commission’s five seats.

    In a release, Pai said his proposal would prevent the government from “micromanaging the Internet.” Under the new rules, he said, the FCC would “simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices.”

    Today is a great day for consumers, innovation, & Internet freedom. I look forward to casting my vote in favor of restoring the 20-year, bipartisan approach under which the free & open Internet flourished. My statement –>https://t.co/uAk8ltGB2u pic.twitter.com/KYXFD9LCga— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) November 21, 2017

    The proposal would also shift some enforcement responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission, which can sue companies for violating the commitments or statements they have made to the public.

    Relying more heavily on Internet providers’ own promises on net neutrality is a departure from the current rules, which lay out clear, federal bans against selectively blocking or slowing websites, as well as speeding up websites that agree to pay the providers a fee.

    Internet providers welcomed the FCC announcement. “We’re very encouraged by Chairman Pai’s announcement today that the FCC will move forward next month to restore the successful light-touch regulatory framework for Internet services,” Verizon said in a statement.

    But the FCC proposal is largely opposed by Internet companies such as Google, which said Tuesday that the rules help protect an open Internet.

    Former Democratic FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who drafted the 2015 net neutrality rules and rammed them through in spite of Republican opposition, called Tuesday’s move “tragic.”

    “The job of the FCC is to represent the consumer,” he said in an interview. “Tragically, this decision is only for the benefit of the largely monopoly services that deliver the Internet to the consumer.”

    ———-

    “FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see and use” by Brian Fung; The Washingont Post; 11/21/2017

    “Federal regulators unveiled a plan Tuesday that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost

    Broads powers for ISPs to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use and the costs to use them. And the only apparent requirement is that they are transparent about this. So if, for instance, AT&T merges with Time Warner and then decides to provide extra fast access to Time Warner content online (like HBO) and extra slow access to HBO’s competitors and no access to websites that criticize this practice, that will theoretically be fine:


    In a release, Pai said his proposal would prevent the government from “micromanaging the Internet.” Under the new rules, he said, the FCC would “simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices.”

    Today is a great day for consumers, innovation, & Internet freedom. I look forward to casting my vote in favor of restoring the 20-year, bipartisan approach under which the free & open Internet flourished. My statement –>https://t.co/uAk8ltGB2u pic.twitter.com/KYXFD9LCga— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) November 21, 2017

    The proposal would also shift some enforcement responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission, which can sue companies for violating the commitments or statements they have made to the public.

    Relying more heavily on Internet providers’ own promises on net neutrality is a departure from the current rules, which lay out clear, federal bans against selectively blocking or slowing websites, as well as speeding up websites that agree to pay the providers a fee.

    It’s the kind of move that, perhaps intentionally, makes the AT&T/Time Warner merger look that much worse from an antitrust standpoint because merger media content companies like Time Warner with Internet Service Providers like AT&T is exactly the kind of conflict of interest that net neutrality is supposed to protect against.

    Given how unpopular this kind of move is it will be interesting to see what sort of public backlash it elicits. In particular, it’s going to be really interesting to see what sort of backlash this move triggers in one of the most hard core segments of Donald Trump’s support base: online Alt Right neo-Nazi trolls. Don’t forget, if corporations start outright banning access to websites, they’re probably going to start with places like Stormfront or 4Chan. Places that almost everyone agrees provide nothing of value other than hate and vicious trolling campaigns designed to scare and harm people. Places that are protected from government censorship under the 1st Amendment in the US constitution protecting free speech, but are not protected from corporate censorship.

    ‘Internet freedom’ is a rallying cry for much of the digital libertarian movement so this move by the Trump administration really is a giant slap in the face to one of his loudest groups of supporters. Isn’t Trump’s troll army concerned about their online hubs getting censored away by corporations that will soon have the freedom to censor hateful content? It seems like they should be. And based on this article from January of this year, Trump’s troll army is indeed quite concerned about this:

    New York Magazine

    Will Trump’s Trolls Allow His FCC Pick to End the Open Internet?

    By Brian Feldman
    January 27, 2017 1:12 pm

    It seems unlikely that President Trump’s internet base — the trolls and activists from 4chan, Reddit, Twitter, and elsewhere, whose “meme magic” (mostly cartoon frogs in red hats) helped the president dominate social media during the election — would be able to find much common ground with opponents of the new administration. The online “Trump Train” has a vituperative hatred for the snowflakes and SJWs of the Democratic Party, and there are no issues on which the meme magicians wouldn’t fall into lockstep behind the man they call “god-emperor.” Except, maybe, on one particular issue that falls close to home — the internet itself.

    Last week, Donald Trump named the telecommunications lawyer Ajit Pai to run the Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory body that oversees telecom companies and common carriers. Pai was the ranking Republican commissioner under President Obama, so his rise is not particularly shocking — but Pai has stated many times over the years that he does not believe in the principle of net neutrality: the idea, essentially, that all traffic on the internet must be treated equally. If net neutrality isn’t mandated, internet-service providers could theoretically determine their customers’ ability to access certain websites or services — either by directly preventing access, or, more likely, by severely limiting or throttling speeds.

    Net neutrality is baked into the free, open culture of the internet, and it’s long been popular a rallying point both for the tech companies, like Netflix and Reddit, that would have the most to lose without it, and for the many users that believe strongly in the principle of an open internet. Over the years, at moments when net neutrality has been threatened, hundreds of thousands of people have been mobilized to protect it, by lobbying the FCC and elected officials. It’s the rare issue that heavy internet users on the left and right can agree on.

    And even if you wouldn’t expect the Redditors and channers who make up the Trump Train to support net neutrality by virtue of their heavy internet use, Trump’s most vocal online supporters have a clear interest in maintaining net neutrality — it’s a policy that helps guarantee that sites like Reddit, 4chan, and their even seedier cousins can be accessed by anyone. But standing up for net neutrality would also require them to criticize the god-emperor. There is no evidence that Trump really understands the issue, save for an ill-informed 2014 tweet.

    Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014

    To find out more about how internet advocates on the right feel about Pai, I spoke to Utsav Sanduja, the communications officer at Gab.ai, a Twitter/Reddit hybrid preferred by members of the alt-right following Twitter’s postelection crackdown. Sanduja was quick to assert that Gab’s 140,000 users fall across the political spectrum, but he did tell me that “we have a very pro-freedom stance” when it comes to individual internet users.

    Gab users are united behind “four critical internet freedoms,” Sanduja told me. “The freedom to to access lawful content, the freedom to use applications, the freedom to attach personal devices to the network, and the freedom to obtain service-plan information.” These are, word for word, the four so-called “internet freedoms” that former FCC chair Michael Powell outlined in 2004, during the Bush administration. (For what it’s worth, Powell has characterized the FCC’s 2015 net-neutrality measures as too expansive.)

    Earlier this month, Gab’s iOS app was rejected from the app store, after sitting in review for roughly a month. The future of the internet that net neutrality seeks to avoid is Apple’s walled garden on a larger scale: ISPs restricting content from users. If Trump-supporting Gab users believe that Apple is overstepping its bounds by moderating its app store too heavily, it’s not much of a leap to assume that they feel similarly about internet-service providers. Both are large, monopolistic platform holders that could potentially wield outsize power regarding what travels over their network. If Trump’s supporters value their personal liberties, then it would benefit them to be in favor of net neutrality, and to oppose Ajit Pai — even if they are hesitant to come out and actually admit as much.

    Voat, the anti-political-correctness Reddit clone that popped up after Reddit started cleaning house, has numerous threads about Pai’s appointment. Most of them lie dormant, though occasionally users with names like Ghetto_Shitlord will show up to act as a voice of reason. A pro-Pai article submitted to Voat yesterday has two comments, one of which reads, “Unconvincing BS. This guy uses legalese to coverup his support for ISPs doing whatever they want.”

    The clear silence surrounding Pai on Voat contrasts starkly with posts on net neutrality from a year and a half ago, when users were concerned about Congress and lobbyists launching a sneak attack.

    Maybe the most sophisticated and dissenting opinions on net neutrality can be found on r/The_Donald, the main subreddit for discussion of Donald Trump and his policies, and where much of the “meme magic” was generated. For the most part, where an r/The_Donald member seems to fall on net neutrality has a lot to do with how well they understand the issue. To some, net neutrality represents government regulation of the private sector. That’s not necessarily incorrect, but even understood as regulation, net neutrality has clear benefits for the end user. This can be difficult to sort out and reconcile.

    One r/The_Donald poster, DRRider, summed it up thusly:

    If we do not allow “net neutrality”, we give control of the internet to the gatekeeping corporations such as Time Warner, AT&T and Comcast.

    If we allow “net neutrality”, we hand over control of the internet to the government.

    “Pick your poison,” they wrote. “Personally, I’d prefer the former since it’s more decentralized.” Except that, in this case, “decentralized” ISPs are still highly centralized geographically, and tend to hold near-monopolies in the areas they serve. Expecting uncontested ISPs to start innovating and improving their products, rather than holding users hostage, would be to ignore the entire history of commercial ISPs.

    But for the most part, r/The_Donald users do seem to have a decent grasp on the question of net neutrality, and do recognize its importance. The hypothetical examples are like a mirror image of the liberal side of the internet. Multiple users fear that ISPs, which own mainstream news outlets (Comcast owns NBC, Time Warner owns CNN), will use a lack of net neutrality to push a liberal agenda onto internet customers. And while unlikely, there is a nonzero possibility of this happening if net neutrality is rolled back. That’s why preemptive net-neutrality regulations are important.

    Or, in the words of NimbleNavigator931, “Privacy and net neutrality is a priority if we’re going to win the meme war in the long game.”

    ———-

    “Will Trump’s Trolls Allow His FCC Pick to End the Open Internet?” by Brian Feldman; New York Magazine; 01/27/2017

    “And even if you wouldn’t expect the Redditors and channers who make up the Trump Train to support net neutrality by virtue of their heavy internet use, Trump’s most vocal online supporters have a clear interest in maintaining net neutrality — it’s a policy that helps guarantee that sites like Reddit, 4chan, and their even seedier cousins can be accessed by anyone. But standing up for net neutrality would also require them to criticize the god-emperor. There is no evidence that Trump really understands the issue, save for an ill-informed 2014 tweet.”

    Yep, net neutrality helps guarantee that sites like Reddit and 4chan are accessible by anyone. But Trump is the Alt Rigth’s god-emperor. So what is the Alt Right to do? Well, some might end up embracing the end of net neutrality under the pretense that corporate control is better that government regulation. But overall all indications are that the Trump’s Troll Army isn’t going to be very happy about this:


    Maybe the most sophisticated and dissenting opinions on net neutrality can be found on r/The_Donald, the main subreddit for discussion of Donald Trump and his policies, and where much of the “meme magic” was generated. For the most part, where an r/The_Donald member seems to fall on net neutrality has a lot to do with how well they understand the issue. To some, net neutrality represents government regulation of the private sector. That’s not necessarily incorrect, but even understood as regulation, net neutrality has clear benefits for the end user. This can be difficult to sort out and reconcile.

    One r/The_Donald poster, DRRider, summed it up thusly:

    If we do not allow “net neutrality”, we give control of the internet to the gatekeeping corporations such as Time Warner, AT&T and Comcast.

    If we allow “net neutrality”, we hand over control of the internet to the government.

    “Pick your poison,” they wrote. “Personally, I’d prefer the former since it’s more decentralized.” Except that, in this case, “decentralized” ISPs are still highly centralized geographically, and tend to hold near-monopolies in the areas they serve. Expecting uncontested ISPs to start innovating and improving their products, rather than holding users hostage, would be to ignore the entire history of commercial ISPs.

    But for the most part, r/The_Donald users do seem to have a decent grasp on the question of net neutrality, and do recognize its importance. The hypothetical examples are like a mirror image of the liberal side of the internet. Multiple users fear that ISPs, which own mainstream news outlets (Comcast owns NBC, Time Warner owns CNN), will use a lack of net neutrality to push a liberal agenda onto internet customers. And while unlikely, there is a nonzero possibility of this happening if net neutrality is rolled back. That’s why preemptive net-neutrality regulations are important.

    Or, in the words of NimbleNavigator931, “Privacy and net neutrality is a priority if we’re going to win the meme war in the long game.”

    “Multiple users fear that ISPs, which own mainstream news outlets (Comcast owns NBC, Time Warner owns CNN), will use a lack of net neutrality to push a liberal agenda onto internet customers.”

    Fear of the media oligopoly pushing a liberal agenda. While that’s not something the Alt Right should actually fear – since a liberal agenda would include an anti-corporatist agenda and there’s no way the media oligopoly is going to be pushing an anti-corporatist agenda – it’s not at all unimaginable that ISPs could end up specifically banning the worst, most hateful sites on the web and sell that as a family-friendly feature. And such a move is probably more likely in the age of Trump than previously simply because neo-Nazi trolling is so topical these days. If Comcast and AT&T had the right to ban Stormfront after the neo-Nazi brawls in Charlottesville would that even be surprising at this point?

    And that’s all part of why it’s going to be really interesting to see what this core element of Trump’s base does in response to a move that will surely be seen as a massive betrayal. When “NimbleNavigator931” writes that “Privacy and net neutrality is a priority if we’re going to win the meme war in the long game,” on the r/The_Donald Reddit forum, there is a lot of truth to that.

    At the same time, if there is ever a wave of corporate-backed censorship hitting places like 4chan that probably just means those users will migrate onto more mainstream sites.

    So what’s the Alt Right going to do in response to this? We’ll find out. Soon, because that FCC meeting is next month. But it’s worth noting that we’ve already gotten a hint as to how Alt Right personality Jack Posobiec – who rose to prominence last year by peddling the ‘Pizzagate’ smear – might respond to the net neutrality debate: Back in July of this year Posobiec decided to troll a pro-net-neutrality rally by showing up with flyers claiming net neutrality promotes pornography and other undesirable online content:

    The Daily Beast

    Alt-Right Claims Net Neutrality Promotes ‘Satanic Porn’ in Planted Flyers
    Jack Posobiec has made a name for himself by planting a “Rape Melania” sign at an anti-Trump protest and interrupting a performance of Julius Caesar in Central Park last month.

    Ben Collins
    07.12.17 3:00 PM ET

    An alt-right troll and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist was caught Wednesday handing out flyers thanking Democratic Senators for “protecting our quality violent porn content,” including “ritual Satanic porn videos.”

    Jack Posobiec, who made national headlines last month for interrupting a performance of Julius Caesar in Central Park because he believed the 418-year-old play had anti-Trump undertones, distributed the flyers at a Net Neutrality Day of Action demonstration outside the U.S. Senate, according to attendees.

    This isn’t the first time Posobiec has been caught handing out fake fliers: he planted a sign reading “Rape Melania” to frame anti-Trump protesters in November. His involvement with the sign wasn’t revealed until January.

    The flyer claims to be written on behalf of the organizers of the Women’s March, open internet nonprofit Fight for the Future, along with the porn sites RedTube and PornHub. All of these organizations and companies supported Wednesday’s Net Neutrality Day of Action, which spawned rallies across the U.S.

    “We can confirm that neither this flyer nor this campaign has any association whatsoever with the Women’s March,” said a spokesperson for the Women’s March

    Trump administration-appointed FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has recently taken steps to roll back net neutrality protections, which would allow internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast to artificially slow access to some websites in favor of their own.

    Brian Tashman, a researcher at the ACLU who was working at the rally, first tracked down Posobiec under a tree after seeing several protesters discarding his flyers immediately after handing them out.

    Haha @JackPosobiec blocked me after I exposed him for giving out flyers to smear #NetNeutrality supporters. pic.twitter.com/PPh5DElxIn— Brian Tashman (@briantashman) July 12, 2017

    The same @JackPosobiec who planted the "Rape Melania" sign and disrupted Julius Caesar today tried to smear #NetNeutrality supporters. pic.twitter.com/um7mTPrzP1— Brian Tashman (@briantashman) July 12, 2017

    “Someone, a tall guy with sunglasses and jacket, was passing out flyers,” Tashman told The Daily Beast. “Then I saw him there under a tree and I took a photo of him. I thought, ‘This looks just like Jack Posobiec.’”

    After Tashman confirmed with others that the person in his photo was the same man passing out flyers, he saw Posobiec trailing senators as they left the Senate.

    “He was following Senators and asking them, ‘Why do you support this rally of Satanic porn?’” he said. Posobiec took a video of the encounters for his Twitter page.

    Tashman then tweeted the picture of Posobiec, along with the sentence “The same @JackPosobiec who planted the ‘Rape Melania’ sign and disrupted Julius Caesar today tried to smear #NetNeutrality supporters.” He was quickly blocked by Posobiec.

    Posobiec denied that he was trying to represent Net Neutrality supporters to The Daily Beast, saying “I never once claimed anyone else made the flyers.”

    “No dirty tricks here,” said Posobiec. “I in no way attempted to say that these flyers were made by anyone but myself.”

    When asked what the headers from the activist groups and internet porn companies were intended to communicate, Posobiec said it was “tongue-in-cheek” and that he wanted to “let the gathered media aware of the fact that Fight For The Future is standing with PornHub and Red Tube today.”

    “I also intended to raise awareness about the existence of this appalling material on these websites, such as videos of US Border Agents raping illegal Mexican immigrant women. As well as Satanic porn and snuff videos,” he said.

    My only intent was to show people who Fight For the Future was standing with – not attempt to say I was representing them

    Posobiec came to prominence in part by peddling the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely claimed a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager was operating in the basement of a pizza shop that has no basement. Posobiec and a friend videotaped themselves inside the pizzeria, where he videotaped a birthday party and was asked to leave.

    In May, Posobiec received a one-day White House press credential for The Rebel Media, a Canadian far-right and pro-Trump outlet.

    ———-

    “Alt-Right Claims Net Neutrality Promotes ‘Satanic Porn’ in Planted Flyers” by Ben Collins; The Daily Beast; 07/12/2017

    The flyer claims to be written on behalf of the organizers of the Women’s March, open internet nonprofit Fight for the Future, along with the porn sites RedTube and PornHub. All of these organizations and companies supported Wednesday’s Net Neutrality Day of Action, which spawned rallies across the U.S.”

    So Posobiec shows up at a rally for net neutrality and hands out flyers trying to promote the idea that net neutrality is about protecting pornography and other appalling material:


    Posobiec denied that he was trying to represent Net Neutrality supporters to The Daily Beast, saying “I never once claimed anyone else made the flyers.”

    “No dirty tricks here,” said Posobiec. “I in no way attempted to say that these flyers were made by anyone but myself.”

    When asked what the headers from the activist groups and internet porn companies were intended to communicate, Posobiec said it was “tongue-in-cheek” and that he wanted to “let the gathered media aware of the fact that Fight For The Future is standing with PornHub and Red Tube today.”

    “I also intended to raise awareness about the existence of this appalling material on these websites, such as videos of US Border Agents raping illegal Mexican immigrant women. As well as Satanic porn and snuff videos,” he said.

    My only intent was to show people who Fight For the Future was standing with – not attempt to say I was representing them.

    Posobiec is not just anti-net neutrality. He appears to be anti-internet porn too, which presumably isn’t going to go down too well with his largely young, male Alt Right audience.

    But his point about net neutrality making it harder for ISPs to block “appalling material” like snuff videos is a valid point. It presumably will be a lot easier for that content to be censored out by ISPs if the federal government tells the industry these kinds of decisions are entirely up to them. It’s just rather remarkable that Posobiec doesn’t seem to realize that the Alt Right specializes in appalling material. Maybe not snuff video-levels of appalling typically, but still appalling. That’s their thing. That’s what being a neo-Nazi troll is all about. Putting out appalling neo-Nazi memes in order to normalize hate-based far-right worldviews.

    And that’s all part of what’s going to make the Alt Right’s response to this FCC move so fascinating: The Alt Right is clearly driven by an almost compulsive sadistic desire to troll liberals. And yet with net neutrality we find one issue where the Alt Right is largely going to be in agreement with the left and the public at large. So will it be able to resist that troling urge when it comes to this issue? That remains to be seen, but if Posobiec is an indication of what to expect things could get wierd.

    It’s also worth recalling that the Alt Right troll army thoroughly freaked out back in March, when the GOP decided to give ISPs the right to sell almost all the information that collect on users to whoever they want and many were acting like this was a massive betrayal. But that was also a move by the GOP Congress, not Trump. So the Alt Right’s loyalty to their god-emperor wasn’t really tested the same way it’s tested by this latest move by the FCC.

    One of the defining features of about the nihilistic nature of the Alt Right is how little they hold dear. It’s mostly people who want to laugh while society burns down. Other than white supremacy, misogyny, and self-interest, there aren’t really a lot of other ideals that the Alt Right appears to truly hold dear…except internet open access and internet anonymity with no censorship. It’s basically the only non-hate based ideal they hold dear and their god-emperor is the one threatening to take it away. It’s pretty remarkable.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 21, 2017, 3:35 pm
  8. As the US society experiences the waves of sexual harassment allegations hitting one prominent figure after another, one of the biggest challenges facing this national ‘moment’ is how to ensure it’s not just a moment and instead yields some real lasting positive changes to American culture. It’s a challenge for a myriad of reasons. But perhaps the biggest reason is the reality that human societies have a long track-record of failing at exactly these kinds of challenges. Specifically, the challenge of a group recognizing something that it has been collectively blind to all along. Suddenly ‘seeing the light’ clearly isn’t easy for humans, even when the need to do so is blindingly obvious. Humans aren’t good at this stuff. If we were we wouldn’t be where we are.

    Part of what complicates the current moment is the obvious fact that so many of powerful men accused of mistreating women (or worse) are politicians. Most notably President Trump, who arguably catalyzed the current moment by getting elected President despite a lifetime of sexually demeaning women and the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape of him bragging about it. And when a situation involves Trump it’s unavoidable that the situation will get clouded in a mix of hoax and deception really fast. Especially when that situation involves a Trump scandal. And sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happened. We’ve seen….

    1. Roger Stone tweeting about Democratic Senator Al Franken getting his “time in the barrel” before the initial accusations by Leeann Tweeden were made public. Thus ensuring that Roger Stone’s history of political dirty tricks becomes associated with resulting fall out.

    2. Mike Cernovich, the ‘Alt Right’ uber-misogynist and rape apologist who played a key role in promoting the ‘Pizzagate’ hoax – that’s literally his specialty…writing about hating women, promoting the idea that there’s an epidemic of fake rape and sexual harassment allegations, and promoting far-right hoaxes – is perversely the source for multiple stories of sexual harassment accusations against prominent liberals. He was the source of the story about accusations against Democratic Congressman John Conyers, who as since announced his retirement as a result. And Cernovich was also the driving force behind a successful campaign to get liberal pundit Sam Seder kicked off of MSNBC over a sarcastic rape joke about Roman Polanski from a 2009.

    3. James O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas” sending in an undercover operative to the Washington Post with claims that she was raped by Alabama far-right GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore when she was 15 in a clear attempt to discredit the numerous other allegations against Moore who has been facing his own waves of allegations by women claiming he was routinely trying to date high-school girls while he was a 32 year old district attorney.

    So we clearly have a GOP operation in place designed to protect both President Trump and Roy Moore from the serious allegations against them by finding accusers against Democrats and liberals in an attempt to create a “both sides do it” zeitgeist to minimize the political fallout. And using overt misogynists like Mike Cernovich or established dirty tricks operatives like Stone and O’Keefe and directly, and conspicuously, associating them with these stories almost seems like an attempt to use the disreputable nature of these individuals to smear this entire national moment.

    And this is happening at this same time Democrats are wrestling with whether or not Senator Al Franken should resign in response to the multiple allegations of drive-by groping at the same time the GOP demands Franken resigns while the party simultaneously wages a campaign to discredit all accusers of Roy Moore and Donald Trump. Accusations that include those made by Trump himself in the notorious ‘Hollywood Access’ tape. And that’s all on top of the reports of Donald Trump questioning whether or not the ‘Hollywood Access’ is actually real (it’s real). Alt Right proud misogynists and right-wing dirty tricks operatives weaponizing sexual harassment allegations for the benefit of the GOP. It’s just a sick situation.

    So given the fact that the right-wing is clearly trying to create a “both sides do it (so everyone ignore Trump and Moore)” dynamic to this, it’s probably worth making a point that Roy Moore’s associated with hyper-conservative patriarchal religious movements makes very easy to make: whether or not liberals or conservatives are caught sexually harassing women, the unambiguous reality is that sexual harassment is a behavior condoned by traditional conservative worldviews. It’s right-wing behavior. That’s why ‘Alt Right’ figures like Mike Cernovich celebrate it. So when liberals or conservatives are caught sexually harassing women, they are all, in that moment, behaving like a patriarchal right-wing conservative. In other words, the “both sides do it” argument should really be “both side have people who act like far-right patriarchal jerks like Mike Cernovich at times, but only one side openly embraces Mike Cernovich” argument.

    Because the underlying issue here isn’t “which side has the sexual harassers and which doesn’t.” Of course you’re going to find sexual harassers in in political movements. The underlying issue is that Mike Cernovich’s far-right misogynistic worldview is accepted by a large number of men with power over women and openly accepted by the contemporary GOP and its embrace of the ‘Alt Right’. Yes, you’ll find liberal men also sexually harassing women because the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude is clearly a tragically difficult cultural habit to break. But when liberal men do they are clearly failing to live up to the values they profess to uphold, whereas for the right-wing this largely fine. Don’t forget, one of the defining traits of contemporary conservatism is a direct rejection of feminism.

    In other words, while both liberal and conservative individuals engage in this kind of behavior, it is unambiguously conservative patriarchal behavior at its core and this issue can’t really be confront without confronting that conservative patriarchal attitude that views women as essentially resources to be enjoyed and consumed by men. Because that’s what’s going to perpetuate these misogynistic attitudes for generation after generation: The traditional second-class status of women. A status that made sexual harassment and far worse the norm across history and cultures. It’s is one of the oldest stories of humanity and it is those old attitudes and norms that the ‘Alt Right’ want to hold on to and once again see reigning supreme someday.

    So given all this, it’s worth keeping in mind that you almost couldn’t come up with a better poster boy for highlighting the importance of addressing the institutional perpetuation of misogynistic patriarchy than Roy Moore:

    Think Progress

    Textbook co-authored by Roy Moore in 2011 says women shouldn’t run for office
    The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement.

    Addy Baird, Zack Ford, Jack Jenkins, Judd Legum
    Nov 29, 2017, 6:02 pm

    Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore co-authored a study course, published in 2011 and recently obtained by ThinkProgress, that instructs students that women should not be permitted to run for elected office. If women do run for office, the course argues, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them. The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement, which in 1920 secured some American women the right to vote.

    The course, called “Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course,” includes 28 hours of audio and visual lectures given by Moore and others, as well as a study guide. The course is available for purchase on Amazon, where “Chief Justice Roy Moore” is listed as a co-author alongside Doug Phillips, Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft, and Dr. Paul Jehle.

    On the back of the packaging containing all the study course materials, Moore’s name and photo are listed under the words “Featured Speakers.”

    The study guide also recommends Moore’s 2009 book “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.”

    The curriculum was a product of Vision Forum, a now-defunct Texas-based evangelical organization headed by Doug Phillips, which taught “Biblical patriarchy”, a theology that prescribes strict, unequal gender roles for men and women. According a statement on the Vision Forum’s website, “Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.”

    For at least a decade, dating back to 1999, Moore served on the “faculty” of Vision Forum’s so-called “Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy.” Not a school at all, Witherspoon was instead a series of four-day crash courses that taught men — and only men — that the Bible is the source of “law and liberty and the only sure foundation for addressing the challenging ethical questions of the twenty-first century.”

    Praising a “best of” album of the school’s lectures, Moore said, “I came to share what I have learned and instead received a blessing. All who attend the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy have an opportunity to share in the restoration of our Nation — One Nation Under God.”

    Moore’s lecture, which is included in the “Law and Government” curriculum, was recorded in 2008 at one such “school”, and hosted and facilitated by Phillips himself. In the speech, Moore recounts his fight over the Ten Commandments monument and bemoans the arrival of marriage equality, which the California Supreme Court had approved two weeks prior.

    He also openly praises both Phillips and Vision Forum, saying, “As I think about what’s going on here at Vision Forum and what Doug’s doing and has done, I’m a little envious because I admire Doug and the fact he can round up these young men that are going to make a difference in our nation.”

    Vision Forum closed in 2013 after Phillips resigned, having admitted to a “lengthy” and “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” relationship with a woman who was not his wife. Shortly thereafter, that woman, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, sued Phillips and Vision Forum, detailing an emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abusive relationship that started when she was just 15 years old.

    The suit, which was settled and dismissed in 2016, has clear parallels to the many sexual abuse accusations against Moore, which allegedly took place when his accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s. (Moore has claimed that the allegations against him are “absolutely false.”) Moore’s attorney has stated that, “whether they were 25, 35, or whether he doesn’t know their age”, Moore would always make sure to ask a girl’s parents for permission to date them before beginning any courtship.

    That tradition is consistent with the “Biblical patriarchy” tenets outlined by Vision Forum.

    “Since daughters are ‘given in marriage’ by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her,” the tenets state.

    One lecture in the Vision Forum study course on which Moore worked is given by William O. Einwechter, a teaching elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church. The lecture is titled “What the Bible Says About Female Magistrates.” The lesson argues that the Bible forbids women from holding elected office.

    An unidentified man introduces Einwechter’s lesson and criticizes the women’s suffrage movement.

    “By and large, the issue of the female magistrate ruling in authority in America would not have been anywhere near as controversial,” the man says. “The controversy was beginning to brew with the women’s suffrage movement.”

    The man references the Biblical passage Isaiah 3 as justification for this claim. However, his argument — that it equates to a blanket prohibition of women in leadership positions — is not widely held among Christians.

    Many, including acclaimed 17th century Bible commentarian Matthew Henry, instead interpret the passage as metaphorical. Others note earlier translations of the passage (in the Greek Septuagint) do not even include the word “women,” but instead “creditors” — a word with identical consonants in Hebrew, but different vowel points — which also fits with the overall context of the passage.

    To this day, some translations of the Bible, such as the Common English Bible, New English Translation, and the Good News Translation, still use “swindlers” or “creditors” instead of “women.”

    Regardless, when Einwechter begins his lecture, he asks, “Why even consider a question like this?” The answer, he says, is because of the “heresy of feminism.”

    “One of the most destructive ideologies of the last 50, hundred years have been the doctrines of feminism, which have transformed our culture and have paved the way for abortion on demand, the homosexual agenda, undermined our church, and subverted the doctrines of the biblical family,” Einwechter says.

    He goes on to call feminism a “radical agenda” and says “nothing enrages feminists more than the Biblical doctrine of male headship.”

    “Feminism and those who have been influenced by it advocate instead for what we’re going to call an egalitarian approach,” Einwechter says, “where men and women are touted as being equal in all respects, except maybe the most obvious physical differences, and that they’re equally fit to serve in any occupation or serve in any office or position of leadership in any sphere of life.”

    The lesson uses what Einwechter argues are Biblical truths about the roles and design of men and women, arguing that husband, children, and home “summarize God’s definition of the woman.”

    “She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role,” Einwechter says. “Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”

    This, Einwechter says, is proof that women should not work outside the home, run for office, or take on any role that gives women “dominance” over men, calling women “the weaker vessel.” Women, the lesson teaches, are only fit to be homemakers and should dedicate their lives to their husbands and children, never to work or outside pursuits.

    “Sometimes we may have a hard time discerning the faith, the character, and the views of a particular candidate. But we can usually discern if the candidate is a man or a woman. And so there is no excuse on that one,” Einwechter says as he concludes the lecture. “In conclusion, we’ve argued that scripture teaches us that it is not God’s revealed will for a woman to serve as a civil magistrate and thus to rule over men in the civil sphere.”

    Einwechter says this is proof that, if Christians aim to follow the teachings of the Bible, they must never vote for women running for office, no matter their politics.

    His lecture, Einwechter says, is an “objective study.” In closing, he quotes pastor J. H. Vincent, saying, “The world is in such pressing need for mothers — motherly women — that none can be spared for public life.”

    The teaching stands in stark contrast to various Christian groups that hold sharply divergent views. Entire denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and the Episcopal Church, ordain women and do not object to female political leadership, as do others. Many evangelical Christians hold similar views: the Republican Party includes passionate female evangelical leaders such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, and one of Donald Trump’s closest spiritual advisers is Paula White, a female prosperity gospel preacher.

    ThinkProgress could not find any record of Moore endorsing any women for office. The only candidate Moore appears to have effectively endorsed is Michael Peroutka, the Constitution party candidate for president in 2004, according a Montgomery Advertiser article from July 2004. Notably, the Constitution party was founded by Howard Phillips, Vision Forum head Doug Phillips’ father.

    ———-

    “Textbook co-authored by Roy Moore in 2011 says women shouldn’t run for office” by Addy Baird, Zack Ford, Jack Jenkins, Judd Legum; Think Progress; 11/29/2017

    “Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore co-authored a study course, published in 2011 and recently obtained by ThinkProgress, that instructs students that women should not be permitted to run for elected office. If women do run for office, the course argues, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them. The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement, which in 1920 secured some American women the right to vote.”

    Yep, the guy the GOP is desperate to protect from accusations that he routinely tried to date high school girls just happens to be a contributor to a religious curriculum that taught “Biblical patriarchy” and argued that women were Biblically unfit for public office and even voting. And it just so happens that the man behind the Vision Forum organization that created this curriculum ended up having to resign after it came out that he had a long-running affair with a woman and this woman claims it started when she was 15 and involved emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse:


    The curriculum was a product of Vision Forum, a now-defunct Texas-based evangelical organization headed by Doug Phillips, which taught “Biblical patriarchy”, a theology that prescribes strict, unequal gender roles for men and women. According a statement on the Vision Forum’s website, “Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.”

    Vision Forum closed in 2013 after Phillips resigned, having admitted to a “lengthy” and “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” relationship with a woman who was not his wife. Shortly thereafter, that woman, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, sued Phillips and Vision Forum, detailing an emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abusive relationship that started when she was just 15 years old.

    The suit, which was settled and dismissed in 2016, has clear parallels to the many sexual abuse accusations against Moore, which allegedly took place when his accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s. (Moore has claimed that the allegations against him are “absolutely false.”) Moore’s attorney has stated that, “whether they were 25, 35, or whether he doesn’t know their age”, Moore would always make sure to ask a girl’s parents for permission to date them before beginning any courtship.

    That tradition is consistent with the “Biblical patriarchy” tenets outlined by Vision Forum.

    “The suit, which was settled and dismissed in 2016, has clear parallels to the many sexual abuse accusations against Moore, which allegedly took place when his accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s.”

    Yes indeed, the parallels are clear. Disturbingly clear.

    And the “strict, unequal gender roles for men and women” laid out in the “Biblical patriarchy” worldview Roy Moore subscribes not surprisingly forbids women from holding office and from leadership positions in general:


    One lecture in the Vision Forum study course on which Moore worked is given by William O. Einwechter, a teaching elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church. The lecture is titled “What the Bible Says About Female Magistrates.” The lesson argues that the Bible forbids women from holding elected office.

    An unidentified man introduces Einwechter’s lesson and criticizes the women’s suffrage movement.

    “By and large, the issue of the female magistrate ruling in authority in America would not have been anywhere near as controversial,” the man says. “The controversy was beginning to brew with the women’s suffrage movement.”

    The man references the Biblical passage Isaiah 3 as justification for this claim. However, his argument — that it equates to a blanket prohibition of women in leadership positions — is not widely held among Christians.

    And, of course, this is all infused with a deep and seething hatred of “feminism” and egalitarianism between the sexes in general:


    “One of the most destructive ideologies of the last 50, hundred years have been the doctrines of feminism, which have transformed our culture and have paved the way for abortion on demand, the homosexual agenda, undermined our church, and subverted the doctrines of the biblical family,” Einwechter says.

    He goes on to call feminism a “radical agenda” and says “nothing enrages feminists more than the Biblical doctrine of male headship.”

    “Feminism and those who have been influenced by it advocate instead for what we’re going to call an egalitarian approach,” Einwechter says, “where men and women are touted as being equal in all respects, except maybe the most obvious physical differences, and that they’re equally fit to serve in any occupation or serve in any office or position of leadership in any sphere of life.”

    The lesson uses what Einwechter argues are Biblical truths about the roles and design of men and women, arguing that husband, children, and home “summarize God’s definition of the woman.”

    “She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role,” Einwechter says. “Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”

    “She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role…Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”

    And that, right there, is a major reason why women continue to be systematically mistreated by men across cultures and times: women have been traditionally seen as sex objects, baby-machines and little more. It’s a massive black mark on human history. And those traditions and attitudes continue to this day are so pervasive that even men who aren’t far-right theocrats might still succumb to a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude towards women. It’s a part of our social fabric and that’s what needs to change. The ‘Mike Cernovich’ worldview that the ‘Alt Right’ is feverishly trying to defend is what needs to go. For some men that might largely come down to realizing women don’t appreciate their sexual advances, but for other men like Cernovich it come down to recognizing that their entire perspective on women is sick and wrong. There’s A LOT of work still to be done, and most of that work needs to be done on the right-wing because that’s where misogyny is actively embraced at an institutional and ideological level.

    But another part of what makes the topic of a permissive culture towards sexual harassment so challenging to address is that sexual harassment is both a major topic and challenge in and of itself, but it’s also sort of a proxy issue for perhaps one of the fundamental problems that plague humanity: the human instinctual drive to dehumanize and categorize ‘others’ and do this casually without really thinking about it. For a variety of evolutionary and circumstantial reasons humans are kind of wired to be assholes to each other. Helpful assholes at times, but still assholes. And you probably can’t find a more pervasive example of that human drive to dehumanize other people than the historic dehumanization of women by patriarchies.

    Racism is another massive example of this capacity for casual dehumanization, but societies were women are seen as property and/or lesser beings has got to be one of the ‘original sins’. Sure, women a perfectly capable of dehumanizing others too, but its an unavoidable fact of human history that patriarchal societies have that relegated women to ‘lesser being’ have largely been the norm. That may not have been the case for every ancient tribal culture, but as human ‘civilization’ took root it’s hard to ignore the the fact that women have been systematically mistreated by men throughout history written history. A profound lack of empathy appears to be built into the human species. Which is a weird and scary but it’s the historic norm.

    And that weird and scary historic norm of humans not empathizing very well isn’t just a defining feature of humanity. It’s also a major existential challenge because if we don’t get better at it we’re probably going to destroy ourselves. Just wait until people who can’t empathize well get their hands on future super-weapons that they can use for super-villain schemes. The the ‘Alt Right’ has almost defined itself as a movement of people who really, really, really hate humanizing other people and deeply resent being asked by other people to do so. And Nazis actively plot wreaking havoc on societies in order to seize control and install an uber-patriarchal rule. What’s going to happen when these movements of uber-misogynists and neo-Nazis get their hands on those future weapons? Not something good, which is why raising future generations of males who don’t have this psychological weakness of thoughtless cruelty isn’t just a utopian dream. It’s going to be a basic necessity as human civilization advances technologically.

    And it’s that fundamental relationship between the current national ‘moment’ centered on sexual harassment and that much older and deeper challenge for humanity – the challenge of overcoming that pervasive human capacity for the casual dehumanization of others – that complicates this ‘moment’ because it creates a ‘chicken & egg’ dilemma: Is focusing on the damage to real lives that the sexual objectification and harassment of women by men a useful stepping stone in addressing that deeper existential challenge of humanity’s propensity to casually dehumanize and not think about the lives of other people? Or does that deeper issue of humanity’s capacity for casual cruelty and unempathetic behavior need to really be addressed in order to address a topic as difficult as the historical systematic mistreatment of women? Can changing actions help change the underlying thoughts that lead to those actions or do you need to change the thoughts first? It’s one of those kind of situations. And it will probably remain one of those situations if we don’t get this right.

    Given that chicken & egg conundrum it’s not exactly clear what the best path forward is at this point. But what remains unambiguous is that going backwards is not the solution, and yet going backwards is exactly the solution the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis and their allies in the GOP would like to see on the general issue of gender equality in the United States. Traditional patriarchal attitudes that encourage men to dehumanize women as mere sex objects – a kind of cultural selective sociopathy – is obviously a major factor that needs to be confronted. But more generally, recognizing that achieving a state of cultural enlightenment that is unprecedented in human history – a society where boys and girls are actually raised to view each other as equals – is the solution. How we get there is unclear, but it clearly shouldn’t involve going backwards, which is exactly where Roy Moore, Mike Cernovich, and their GOP allies would like to drag us.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 6, 2017, 3:28 pm
  9. With the race to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Alabama Senate seat just a few days, one of the questions that’s been looming over the race is whether or not GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore will be able to squeeze in a few more horrible actions, statements or scandals – past or new – that make his looming election victory even more soul-crushing. It’s part of the US’s national New Normal Nightmare experience of the Trump era. It’s a lot like the GOP’s normal national New Normal Nightmare, but with more overt white nationalism.

    And sure enough, Moore didn’t disappoint. It was an oldie that suddenly got noticed. But it’s only a few months old: When Moore was asked during a campaign rally back in September when exactly he thought America was “Great” (in reference to Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan), Moore’s answer was the pre-Civil War South. The era of slavery in America was when America was last “Great” according to Moore. And the guy asking the question was an African American. It’s just one of the many profoundly disturbing elements of the likely Moore win, but it’s a doozy:

    Vox

    Roy Moore: America “was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery”
    He really said this.
    By German Lopez
    Updated at Dec 8, 2017, 8:35pm ES

    Alabama’s Republican candidate for Senate, Roy Moore, says America needs to be a bit more like it was when it had slaves.

    This is not a joke or exaggeration. When a black man at a September rally asked what President Donald Trump means by “make America great again,” Moore acknowledged, the Los Angeles Times reported, that the country had a history of racial tensions. Then he answered the question: “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery. They cared for one another. People were strong in the families. Our families were strong. Our country had a direction.”

    Moore later added, “The greatness I see was in our culture, not in all our policies. There were problems. We had slavery; we’ve overcome slavery. We’ve had prejudice; we still have prejudice. But we’ve turned the tide on civil rights. And we’ve done a lot of things to bring this country around, and I think we can still make it better.”

    The first part of the quote comes from a Los Angeles Times report published in September, but it was recently resurfaced by a viral tweet from former Obama administration official Eric Columbus. The Times later published the full audio.

    There are so many problems with this remark that it’s hard to know where to start.

    For one, which families, exactly, were “united” and “strong,” as Moore claims? Black families were regularly torn apart — and tortured — by slave masters at the time. Slaves often couldn’t even marry, because their marriages were legally considered void.

    Moore’s comments also lay bare what “make America great again” really means. Progressives have long asked when, exactly, America was so much better than it is today.

    When black people were slaves? When the country committed genocide and ethnic cleansing against Native Americans? Was it when the country looked the other way as white supremacists lynched thousands of black people? When women and black people were denied the right to vote? When black people were legally barred from white-only schools and restaurants?

    Was it when women were thwarted from having meaningful careers? When same-sex couples couldn’t get married, or even go out into public holding hands without fearing for their safety?

    The list could really go on. (And some of these still apply today.)

    These were all horrible periods for many Americans. The rhetoric of “make America great again” suggests that those Americans — black, Native American, LGBTQ, women, and so on — just don’t matter, or at least that their plights could be overlooked for whatever benefits the country was supposedly producing — for white men — back then.

    Moore essentially said that it’s possible to overlook America’s original sin. The time of slavery was the time of, in his view, great things — at least in America’s culture, even though that culture included slavery — and that’s apparently what the country should aspire to.

    I asked Hannah Ford, deputy campaign manager for Moore, if he really thinks that the last time America was great was when it still had slavery. She responded, “To suggest such is recklessly malicious. Judge Moore clearly made his point: America is great when our families are united, as in the husband and wife committed to each other and raising their children to be good citizens.” She did not respond to a follow-up question about why, then, Moore brought up slavery at all.

    ———-

    “Roy Moore: America “was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery”” by German Lopez; Vox; 12/08/2017

    “This is not a joke or exaggeration. When a black man at a September rally asked what President Donald Trump means by “make America great again,” Moore acknowledged, the Los Angeles Times reported, that the country had a history of racial tensions. Then he answered the question: “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery. They cared for one another. People were strong in the families. Our families were strong. Our country had a direction.”

    Yes, in Roy Moore’s mind, America was “Great” back when it still had slavery. Because the pre-Civil War era of America was apparently a unique time in American history when “families were strong” and “our country had a direction.”

    But Moore assures us that his slavery-era choice for American ‘greatness’ wasn’t about the slavery. It was about the unique greatness in American culture at the time:


    Moore later added, “The greatness I see was in our culture, not in all our policies. There were problems. We had slavery; we’ve overcome slavery. We’ve had prejudice; we still have prejudice. But we’ve turned the tide on civil rights. And we’ve done a lot of things to bring this country around, and I think we can still make it better.”

    “The greatness I see was in our culture, not in all our policies.”

    Now, it’s important to keep in mind that when the contemporary far-right rails against the “culture” and the loss of ‘strong families’ in America today, that’s generally code for a criticism of rights for women and minorities and the growth of a government safety-net and welfare programs that the right-wing portrays as exclusively used by single black mothers. In other words, “strong families” has become a dog-whistle term for the classic GOP ‘welfare Queen’ smear. So when Roy Moore claims that he wasn’t saying slavery made the slavery-era America great, but instead it was “our culture” and the “strong families”, he’s still making a highly racially charged comment even if you take him at his word about not being a fan of slavery.

    And note that when Moore claims that America has “turned the tide on civil rights”, that’s something he openly opposed just last month when he told an audience that all the “new rights” created in 1965 – the year the Voting Rights Act was passed – were causing all sorts of problems today.

    It’s also important to recall one of the most egregious omission from Moore’s whimsical remembrances of slavery-era America: the reality that slave families were routinely tortured, torn apart, and marriage between slaves wasn’t legally recognized:


    There are so many problems with this remark that it’s hard to know where to start.

    For one, which families, exactly, were “united” and “strong,” as Moore claims? Black families were regularly torn apart — and tortured — by slave masters at the time. Slaves often couldn’t even marry, because their marriages were legally considered void.

    Keeping slaves, tearing their families apart, and torturing them. All highly notable pieces of the culture of slave-era America, and yet Roy Moore assures us that these weren’t the cultural elements that he feels made American ‘great’.

    Which, of course, begs the question as to which part of the culture during the slaver-era Moore felt was uniquely ‘great’. Because if he was solely dog-whistling about welfare programs and black single-parent homes he could have just referred back to the pre-Civil Rights 1950’s America as a time when America was last ‘great’, which is the standard ‘when America was great’ period of nostalgia for the contemporary GOP. Perhaps he wanted to include the New Deal, unions, and the post-WWII rise of the middle-class in his list of grievances, but he could have chosen the 1920’s. Instead, he chose the slavery-era.

    So what was so uniquely great about the slavery-era according to Roy Moore? It’s an open question:


    Moore’s comments also lay bare what “make America great again” really means. Progressives have long asked when, exactly, America was so much better than it is today.

    When black people were slaves? When the country committed genocide and ethnic cleansing against Native Americans? Was it when the country looked the other way as white supremacists lynched thousands of black people? When women and black people were denied the right to vote? When black people were legally barred from white-only schools and restaurants?

    Was it when women were thwarted from having meaningful careers? When same-sex couples couldn’t get married, or even go out into public holding hands without fearing for their safety?

    The list could really go on. (And some of these still apply today.)

    It’s a mystery. A mystery with a pretty obvious answer even if we take Roy Moore at his word: that Roy Moore would like to see a return to a slavery-era America, perhaps without the actual slavery. Or maybe with the slavery. It’s unclear.

    It’s unclear just what Moore meant by those remarks, in part, because of how little Moore has done to clarify those remarks. But let’s not not forget that Roy Moore’s ties to slavery-era America are for more extensive than just his chilling comments. There’s also the fact that Roy Moore’s closest political ally and biggest financial donor has long by Michael Peroutka of the pro-Confederacy/pro-secession League of the South and Peroutka himself has openly called for secession.

    And let’s also not forget that, while Michael Peroutka’s political history includes a 2004 run as the presidential candidate for the Constitution Party, he is currently an elected official in the Republican party. Specifically, Peroutka is currently a county commissioner in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. And he’s not just sitting on the county commission council. He’s the current chairman. Yep, the GOP in Anne Arundel County Council – which has a 4-3 GOP majority – chose to make Michael Peroutka the chairman. And it made this decision – on a 4-3 vote – last Monday.

    So with all the national controversy swirling around Roy Moore, the Ann Arundel County GOP decided to make Roy Moore’s long-time sugar-daddy its council chairman.

    With all that in mind, check out the Republican politician who is currently facing questions over his close ties to an extremist personality: Michael Peroutka, who is currently facing questions in Maryland about why he hasn’t renounced Roy Moore:

    The Los Angeles Times

    Anne Arundel Democrats call on Michael Peroutka to resign

    By Chase Cook

    December 8, 2017, 12:30 PM

    The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee is calling on County Council Chairman Michael Peroutka to resign.

    In a statement sent Friday to The Capital, committee Chairwoman Christine Davenport called on the Millersville Republican to relinquish his position as council chairman and resign from the council. The committee, which serves as the party organization in the county, also called on Republican members of the council to hold a new vote on the chairmanship.

    The committee cited Peroutka’s connection to U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, of Alabama. The Republican candidate has been accused of pursuing girls as young as 14, one of which revealed a sexual encounter she had with Moore when she was 14 and he was in his 30s. The encounter did not include intercourse, but the girl said the scenario made her uncomfortable and she avoided Moore’s follow-up call.

    Peroutka has been a longtime friend and supporter of Moore since his days as a judge.

    Moore has called the allegations “fake news” and a smear campaign. The Washington Post initially reported the story.

    “Peroutka has donated thousands to Moore’s campaign, has traveled to Alabama to campaign on his behalf, and even stood on stage with Moore to celebrate his primary election victory, last month,” Davenport wrote in her statement. “In our view, this conduct is a disgrace and a stain upon our county.”

    But the first-term councilman has broken his silence on the WNAV program “Your County Matters.” Each Monday and Thursday Peroutka provides brief — about a minute and a half — recorded thoughts about county issues.

    Peroutka said in his 15 years of friendship with Moore, he hasn’t heard him or seen him do anything “consistent with the accusations that have been reported.”

    The council chairman cautioned county residents not to relinquish due process when examining the accusations against Moore.

    “This is my witness, and it gives me no reason to withdraw my support or my friendship from him,” Peroutka said in the radio show.

    Peroutka was elected as the council chairman at Monday’s meeting. The decision was made along party lines in a 4-3 vote.

    This isn’t the first time Peroutka has been asked to resign. Most recently county residents asked him to step down because of his League of the South ties and racist comments made by the league’s president and co-founder, Michael Hill. Peroutka said he wouldn’t resign and has denounced Hill’s comments.

    The committee didn’t save its ire just for Peroutka.

    They also called on County Executive Steve Schuh and other Republican officials to denounce Peroutka and call for his resignation as well.

    Schuh supported Moore with a $1,000 donation after attending a September fundraiser in Severna Park. Schuh asked for that money back Monday, the same day a progressive media outlet wrote about the donation.

    The county executive said the story about the donation was not linked to his refund request. He called Moore a “creeper” and said the donation was made before knowing about the allegations. He called the allegations credible.

    Schuh, who has endorsed Peroutka’s 2018 re-election campaign, could not be reached for comment.

    ———-

    “Anne Arundel Democrats call on Michael Peroutka to resign” by Chase Cook; The Los Angeles Times; 12/08/2017.

    The committee cited Peroutka’s connection to U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, of Alabama. The Republican candidate has been accused of pursuing girls as young as 14, one of which revealed a sexual encounter she had with Moore when she was 14 and he was in his 30s. The encounter did not include intercourse, but the girl said the scenario made her uncomfortable and she avoided Moore’s follow-up call.”

    This is the state of the contemporary GOP: Michael Peroutka is an elected GOP official and Roy Moore is about to become an elected official. And Peroutka is apparently held in such high esteem by the Anne Arundel County GOP that they decided to make him council chairman this week.


    Peroutka was elected as the council chairman at Monday’s meeting. The decision was made along party lines in a 4-3 vote.

    And this decision to make him council chairman was done in a vacuum with no knowledge of Peroutka’s extremist associations. He’s been asked to step down over this kind of stuff before. Like when he was recently asked by county residents to step down over his League of the South ties and the horrible things the League’s co-founder, Michael Hill, has just said:


    This isn’t the first time Peroutka has been asked to resign. Most recently county residents asked him to step down because of his League of the South ties and racist comments made by the league’s president and co-founder, Michael Hill. Peroutka said he wouldn’t resign and has denounced Hill’s comments.

    So what exactly did League co-found Michael Hill say that led to public calls for Peroutka’s resignation? Oh, merely that Hill pledged to be, “a white supremacist, a racist, an anti-Semite, a homophobe, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe and any other sort of ‘phobe’ that benefits my people.” It’s the kind of comment that simultaneously lays bare exactly the kind of world-view the League of the South represents, which is probably why even Michael Peroutka denounced it. It’s the truth the neo-Confederate dares not speak…in public:

    Southern Poverty Law Center
    Hatewatch

    Former LOS Member Peroutka Denounces President Michael Hill

    by Hatewatch Staff
    June 21, 2017

    Speaking at a recent session of Maryland’s Anne Arundel County Council, former League of the South (LOS) member Councilman Michael Peroutka denounced statements made by the president of the Neo-Confederate LOS, Michael Hill.

    Peroutka opened the meeting by referring to Hill’s recent pledge “to be a white supremacist, a racist, an anti-Semite, a homophobe, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe and any other sort of ‘phobe’ that benefits my people” as “outrageous” and “inappropriate.”

    While Hatewatch and other publications long warned of the dangerous implications of Hill’s rhetoric and the League’s bent toward militancy, in 2014 Peroutka responded to alarm over his affiliation with the League by stating that “he had dropped his association with the League of the South over the summer, although he was vague about his reasons and said he ‘didn’t have any problem with the organization.’”

    Whether or not Peroutka’s denunciation was sincere, his timing in seeking office was, to say the least, providential. Shortly after Peroutka distanced himself from LOS while campaigning for office, Hill’s writing and speeches took an alarming turn toward unprecedented militancy, racism and anti-Semitism.

    Peroutka’s rebuff comes just as the League is preparing for its annual conference this weekend in Wetumpka, Alabama. The conference, which Peroutka sang “Dixie” at in 2012, generally consists of members sitting through hours of speeches from LOS higher-ups before lining the intersection of US Highways 231 and 14 for a protest. This year, the published schedule indicates the conference will be titled “Redeeming the Time: Preparing for the Inevitable Conflict” and contains no mention of a protest, but rather indicates that Hill has finally given up on hiding his rabid desire for a violent race war.

    David Duke, the notorious ex-Klansmen whose association was long seen as the kiss of death for far right groups seeking mainstream credibility, is slated as keynote speaker. Duke’s attendance comes along with speeches from long time LOS affiliates such as John Weaver, who will speak on “Gun Safety and Self Defense.” Weaver has offered gun training to the League and other far-right groups and has preached on slavery as a biblically ordained institution.

    Duke’s appearance comes on the back of League involvement in a series of high-publicity events with other far-right groups in Pikeville, Kentucky, New Orleans, Lousiana Auburn, Alabama, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Gainesville, Florida.

    Hill has boasted that the League has attended these events under the guise of its “Southern Defense Force,” a paramilitary wing of the LOS established this year to put combat the ‘leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization.

    Hill recently signed the League onto a far-right alliance known as the “Nationalist Front,” composed of various American and European far-right groups such as the Swedish Sveriges Nationella Förbund, National Socialist Movement (NSM), Texas Rebel Knights, Racial Nationalist Party of America, SS Action Group, Pacific Coast Knights of the KKK, Scottish National Socialist Party, White Nationalist Front (Canada), the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), White Lives Matter, Blood & Honour Social Club, and American Vanguard.

    While the League formerly eschewed any relationship with Klansmen such as Duke, his presence at the League’s conference, the League’s entry into the NF, as well as rumors that Hill is now admitting Klansmen into LOS as dual-members, show that Hill’s past statements were either disingenuous, hypocritical, or downright lies.

    ———-

    “Former LOS Member Peroutka Denounces President Michael Hill” by Hatewatch Staff; Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch; 06/27/2017

    “Peroutka opened the meeting by referring to Hill’s recent pledge “to be a white supremacist, a racist, an anti-Semite, a homophobe, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe and any other sort of ‘phobe’ that benefits my people” as “outrageous” and “inappropriate.””

    Outrageous and inappropriate, that’s how Michael Peroutka characterized Michael Hill’s proud white supremacist declaration. And while it’s true that they were outrageous and inappropriate comments, it’s also true that “outrageous” and “inappropriate” is an outrageous understatement considering what Hill said.

    And it’s not like Peroutka is new the League of the South or Michael Hill. As the article pointed out, this wasn’t the first time Peroutka disassociated himself with the League of the South. When he did this same song and dance back in 2014, Peroutka also noted that he “didn’t have any problem with the organization.” He just disassociated himself with the group for vague reasons:


    While Hatewatch and other publications long warned of the dangerous implications of Hill’s rhetoric and the League’s bent toward militancy, in 2014 Peroutka responded to alarm over his affiliation with the League by stating that “he had dropped his association with the League of the South over the summer, although he was vague about his reasons and said he ‘didn’t have any problem with the organization.’”

    And note how, it was only shortly after Peroutka’s 2014 disassociation with the League that Hill’s rhetoric suddenly became much, much more like that of an open neo-Nazi:


    Whether or not Peroutka’s denunciation was sincere, his timing in seeking office was, to say the least, providential. Shortly after Peroutka distanced himself from LOS while campaigning for office, Hill’s writing and speeches took an alarming turn toward unprecedented militancy, racism and anti-Semitism.

    That was 2014, when the League started getting openly militant. Flash forward to today, and we have the League make David Duke the keynote speaker at its annual conference and a growing number of alliances with far-right groups across North American and Europe, including Nazis:


    Peroutka’s rebuff comes just as the League is preparing for its annual conference this weekend in Wetumpka, Alabama. The conference, which Peroutka sang “Dixie” at in 2012, generally consists of members sitting through hours of speeches from LOS higher-ups before lining the intersection of US Highways 231 and 14 for a protest. This year, the published schedule indicates the conference will be titled “Redeeming the Time: Preparing for the Inevitable Conflict” and contains no mention of a protest, but rather indicates that Hill has finally given up on hiding his rabid desire for a violent race war.

    David Duke, the notorious ex-Klansmen whose association was long seen as the kiss of death for far right groups seeking mainstream credibility, is slated as keynote speaker. Duke’s attendance comes along with speeches from long time LOS affiliates such as John Weaver, who will speak on “Gun Safety and Self Defense.” Weaver has offered gun training to the League and other far-right groups and has preached on slavery as a biblically ordained institution.

    Duke’s appearance comes on the back of League involvement in a series of high-publicity events with other far-right groups in Pikeville, Kentucky, New Orleans, Lousiana Auburn, Alabama, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Gainesville, Florida.

    Hill has boasted that the League has attended these events under the guise of its “Southern Defense Force,” a paramilitary wing of the LOS established this year to put combat the ‘leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization.

    Hill recently signed the League onto a far-right alliance known as the “Nationalist Front,” composed of various American and European far-right groups such as the Swedish Sveriges Nationella Förbund, National Socialist Movement (NSM), Texas Rebel Knights, Racial Nationalist Party of America, SS Action Group, Pacific Coast Knights of the KKK, Scottish National Socialist Party, White Nationalist Front (Canada), the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), White Lives Matter, Blood & Honour Social Club, and American Vanguard.

    So we have League of the South co-founder Michael Hill basically calling for an alliance with an array of groups planning on mass violence and race wars. It’s certainly “outrageous” and “inappropriate”. As Peroutka put it.

    And yet, as the following SPLC profile on Hill describes, it’s not like the League of the South just suddenly started calling for militancy and race wars in 2014. It just became more open about it, but Michael Hill and the League have been getting openly militant and talking of race war long before Peroutka’s 2014 disassociation

    South Poverty Law Center
    Extremist Files

    Michael Hill

    Michael Hill represents the intellectual but racist faction of the neo-Confederate movement and is its most important proponent.

    Extremist Info
    Born: 1951
    Group: League of the South
    Location: Killen, AL
    Ideology: Neo-Confederate

    About Michael Hill

    Ironically, Hill was a professor for years at a historically black college before establishing the League of the South in 1994 as an institution devoted to reviving Southern heritage and, eventually, pushing for secession. As Hill spurred the group to become increasingly racist and militant in the late 1990s, most of the other academics who joined in 1994 fled as racial extremists took their place in a much-diminished institution. During the first decade of the 21stcentury, the group grew increasingly radical, talking about a coming “race war,” forming a paramilitary unit, and talking increasingly of weapons.

    In His Own Words

    “The destruction of states rights in the South was the first necessity leading to forced policies undermining the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and its institutions. [Arch-segregationist Alabama Gov. George] Wallace rightly identified the enemy and fought it until the attempt on his life in 1972.
    Southern Patriot, 1998.

    “[T]he evil genie of universal ‘human rights,’ once loosed from its bottle, can never be restrained because rights for women, racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals, pedophiles, etc., can be manufactured easily.”
    Essay posted to Dixienet.org, 1999

    “In part, [the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks] spring from an ‘open borders’ policy that has for the past four decades encouraged massive Third World immigration and thus cultural destabilization. Hence, these acts of violence were also the natural fruits of a regime committed to multiculturalism and diversity, hallmarks of empire rather than of nation. … [T]his is America’s wake-up call to forsake its idolatry and to return to its true Christian and Constitutional foundations.”
    Essay posted to Dixienet.org, 2001

    “If the scenario of the South (and the rest of America) being overrun by hordes of non-white immigrants does not appeal to you, then how is this disaster to be averted? By the people who oppose it rising up against their traitorous elite masters and their misanthropic rule. But to do this we must first rid ourselves of the fear of being called ‘racists’ and the other meaningless epithets they use against us. What is really meant by the [multiculturalism] advocates when they peg us as ‘racists’ is that we adhere to ethnocentrism, which is a natural affection for one’s own kind. This is both healthy and Biblical. I am not ashamed to say that I prefer my own kind and my own culture. Others can have theirs; I have mine. No group can survive for long if its members do not prefer their own over others.”
    Essay posted to Conservativetimes.org, 2007

    “Yes, the South has a ‘black’ problem. It also has a ‘yankee’ problem. But our biggest problem—and one even Christian members within our own ranks refuse (or fear) to acknowledge—is the ‘Jewry’ problem. Indeed, organized Jewry has been at the root of most of the South’s troubles for the past 100 years.”
    On an internal League of the South Facebook group

    “We Southern nationalists do not want a race war (or any sort of war). But if one is forced on us, we’ll participate. … Southern whites are geared up and armed to the teeth. … So if negroes think a ‘race war’ in modern America would be to their advantage, they had better prepare themselves for a very rude awakening. White people may be patient, but our patience does have a limit. You do not want to test that limit.”
    “A few notes on an American race war,” May 6, 2015

    “Never underestimate the perfidy of the organized Jew. He is craft enough to manipulate both sides in a conflict for his own advantage. From my experience and studies, I have come to the conclusion that his main enemy is European man—the inheritors of Christendom—and his main weapons against us are the various Third World peoples (including Muslims) he employs as his street-level foot soldiers, debt, propaganda, and our own guilt. If we are to survive, we must combat these weapons, and soon.” — On an internal League of the South Facebook group, December 8, 2015

    Background

    Sporting a white beard intended to give him the look of a Confederate Army officer, native Alabamian J. Michael Hill has done more than anyone to create a new, racially tinged Southern secession movement. Ironically, Hill taught British history for decades as he developed his thinking about the nature and religion of the South at historically black Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

    Hill was always an oddity at the school, roaming the campus wearing a Confederate flag pin and waxing nostalgic to his mostly black students about the “War Between the States.” In 1996, Hill told columnist Diane Roberts that his black students adored him; what he didn’t say was that he apparently did not share their warmth. In a 2000 posting to the invitation-only AlaReb E-mail list, Hill mocked his former students and co-workers. “A quote,” he wrote, “from a recent affirmative action hire: ‘Yesta-day I could not spell ‘secretary.’ Today I is one.'” He continued: “One of few benefits I got on a regular basis from having taught for 18 years at Stillman College was reading the class rolls on the first day of class.” He went on to list several “humorous” names of his black students, ending with, “Where do these people get such names?” Hill resigned from Stillman in 1998. Although school officials never said so publicly, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that Hill had become “an embarrassment” to the administration.

    Hill began to develop his ideas about a new Confederacy in the 1970s, while studying under Grady McWhiney and Forrest McDonald, two extremely conservative history professors at the University of Alabama. His mentors wrote Cracker Culture, a book that argued that the South was settled primarily by “Anglo-Celts,” while in the North it was British Protestants who predominated.

    Expanding on his old professors’ controversial claim that the South was different from the North because its population was “Celtic,” Hill published two books on Celtic history in the early 1990s. In 1994, he became an activist and put his ideas into practice, creating the Southern League, which was later renamed the League of the South (the original name was a takeoff on the separatist and anti-immigrant Northern League of Italy, but had to be changed after a baseball league of the same name threatened to sue), or LOS. The LOS envisioned a seceded South that would be run, basically, as a theocratic state marked by medieval legal distinctions between different types of citizens, with white males at the top of the hierarchy.

    Started with 40 people, the LOS initially included four men with Ph.D.s on its board, along with Jack Kershaw, who was once active in the segregationist White Citizens Council in Nashville and who remained on the board as late as 2009.

    Hill’s LOS started out complaining about the media treatment of white Southerners but quickly developed into a racist group calling for a second secession, attacking egalitarianism, describing antebellum slavery as “God-ordained,” opposing racial intermarriage, and defending segregation as a policy designed to protect the “integrity” of both the black and the white races.

    An early sign of the League’s underlying racism came in 1995, when Hill set up a student chapter at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. Within months, its members began to verbally attack gays, and chapter president Thomas Stedman wrote to the student newspaper to claim that “blacks did not invent … anything of note anywhere in the world.” Hill also praised extremists like the Holocaust-denying and immigrant-bashing Jean-Marie Le Pen of France, calling for “others like Le Pen to arise.” The “ravages of multiculturalism and so-called diversity,” Hill said, are anathema to him. Hill described the Pledge of Allegiance as “nationalist propaganda [meant] to indoctrinate” children with socialist ideas about government.

    In 2003, Hill led an attempt to resuscitate the Southern Party, another neo-Confederate organization. And he attacked the Supreme Court after its ruling in July of that year striking down anti-gay sodomy laws, saying the court was helping to advance what he called the “sodomite and civil rights agendas.”

    In 1998, just after he left Stillman, Hill claimed that the LOS had some 15,000 members. In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the organization to its list of hate groups based on its white supremacist ideology. Four years later, Hill’s former mentor, Forrest McDonald, who had attended the first meeting of the LOS in 1994, denounced him, telling the Intelligence Report that Hill’s racism had destroyed the group. By 2009, the League of the South could only draw a handful of participants to its events, and its publications were produced sporadically.

    But as Hill saw his academic support flee and his organization’s membership dwindle, his rhetoric grew more extreme, his racism more explicit. The Civil War, he says, wasn’t about slavery. It was the imposition by godless Yankees of a materialistic, capitalist industrial system on a South that embodied the only surviving remnant of “orthodox Christianity.” He decried the “evil genie of universal ‘human rights,’” and called egalitarianism a noxious “Jacobin” doctrine. America’s traitorous “elite masters,” he complained, had allowed it to be “overrun by hordes of non-white immigrants.”

    In a 2012 essay, he claimed that white people are endowed with a “God-ordained superiority.” Whites of “honor, genius and principle” left us with a “glorious heritage,” while black people “have never created anything approximating a civilization.” Slavery, he wrote, was “successfully defended from a Biblical standpoint” until “the institution’s legitimacy was systematically undermined in the name of ‘equality’ and misappropriated ‘Christian ethics.’” He also waxed nostalgic for the Jim Crow system of racial oppression.

    Particularly alarming was Hill’s growing penchant for inciting his remaining followers to violence. At a March 2011 LOS meeting in Georgia, he urged members to stock up on AK-47s, hollow-point bullets and tools to derail trains. That summer, at the League’s annual conference, the leader asked, “What would it take to get you to fight? The mantra [that] violence, or the serious threat thereof, never settles anything is patently false. History shows that it indeed does settle many things.”

    This increasingly vocal militancy brought the LOS’ ideology and goals closer and closer to those of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. In a January 2012 email, Hill declared the federal government an “organized criminal enterprise” led by “domestic terrorists,” and told his followers to prepare for a fight.

    Hill even took ideas straight from the playbook of the Posse Comitatus, a racist, anti-Semitic group that raged through the Midwest in the late 1970s and 1980s. Adherents of the Posse, which was the precursor to the contemporary “sovereign citizens” movement, believed that sheriffs were the highest legitimate law enforcement officials in the country. In addition to self-defense, Hill advised his followers to use their county sheriffs “as bulwarks against the criminal class. … He can lawfully tell the feds to ‘Go to Hell’ and stay out of his territory.”

    The year 2013 saw another major shift in strategy for Hill and the LOS as it adopted new rhetoric against “Southern demographic displacement.” The LOS deemphasized its longstanding objectives of a second southern secession and society dominated by “European Americans” during public events in order to portray a more moderate, conservative image. Under this new strategy, protests began focusing on more traditionally conservative themes such as opposition to immigration and same-sex marriage. Attendees were also required to follow a dress code at LOS demonstrations. Most remarkably, the group banned the usage of the Confederate battle flag at its events, much to the anger and chagrin of many of its members, in favor of a new “southern nationalist” flag.

    This shift in the LOS’ policy also led to Hill’s expulsion of Matthew Heimbach, one of the organizations most visible young members, after photos surfaced of Heimbach performing a Nazi salute at events with the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and the Imperial Klans of America. “Matthew Heimbach, a former member of The League of the South, has apparently decided to cast his lot with Nazis and others who do not represent the traditional South, the Southern Nationalist movement, and The League of the South,” Hill wrote on the Facebook page for an upcoming League event in Tennessee. “Neither he nor his friends will be welcome at our demonstrations.”

    But Hill apparently underwent a change of heart less than a year later, readmitting Heimbach and promoting him to a leadership position as LOS training director.

    The LOS’ more radical elements returned to the forefront shortly thereafter with the formation of an armed, paramilitary unit dubbed “the Indomitables” by Hill and the LOS’ leadership at the group’s 2014 national conference. The unit was tasked with advancing a second southern secession by any means necessary and embodied the increasingly extreme rhetoric of the group. “The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run,” wrote Hill on the League’s website. He concluded the essay by quoting Psalms: “Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.”

    In May 2015, Hill published what was probably his most provocative essay yet, pontificating about the possibility of an American “race war” and warning black Americans of “a very rude awakening” if such a war developed.

    Perhaps even more surprising was the appearance of an essay by Hill in The Barnes Review, one of the most well known historical revisionist and Holocaust denial publications. Hill’s essay titled, “The Politics of Provocation: Spiraling Out of Control,” capped more than a year of increasingly anti-Semitic postings in internal LOS Facebook groups.

    In the months leading up to the publication of Hill’s article, he regularly posted remarks such as, “Organized Jewry does its reputation among decent people no good by being neck-deep in pornography, the sex trafficking trade, and the homosexual agenda,” for LOS members to fawn over.

    In December of 2015, when responding to a question about non-religious individuals joining the LOS, Hill told an inquiring LOS member that, “The League is not the church. Though most of us are Christians, one does not have to be to join our ranks. We do not allow Muslims or Jews, however. Both have proven themselves, as organized groups, to be against our heritage and interests. We will take no chances with them. Your friend is welcome if he is neither a Muslim nor Jew.”

    ———-

    “Extremist Files: Michael Hill”; Southern Poverty Law Center; Accessed 12/09/2017

    “In a 2012 essay, he claimed that white people are endowed with a “God-ordained superiority.” Whites of “honor, genius and principle” left us with a “glorious heritage,” while black people “have never created anything approximating a civilization.” Slavery, he wrote, was “successfully defended from a Biblical standpoint” until “the institution’s legitimacy was systematically undermined in the name of ‘equality’ and misappropriated ‘Christian ethics.’” He also waxed nostalgic for the Jim Crow system of racial oppression.

    Yep, in 2012, Michael Hill described slavery as “successfully defended from a Biblical standpoint” until “the institution’s legitimacy was systematically undermined in the name of ‘equality’ and misappropriated ‘Christian ethics.’” And that was just one of the many comments of this nature that Hill has been making for decades.

    And note the parallels between Hill’s comments about the Civil War and Roy Moore’s impression that the slavery era was the last time America was “great”: As Hill sees it, the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. It was about the imposition by godless Yankees of a materialistic, capitalist industrial system on a South that embodied the only surviving remnant of “orthodox Christianity”:


    But as Hill saw his academic support flee and his organization’s membership dwindle, his rhetoric grew more extreme, his racism more explicit. The Civil War, he says, wasn’t about slavery. It was the imposition by godless Yankees of a materialistic, capitalist industrial system on a South that embodied the only surviving remnant of “orthodox Christianity.” He decried the “evil genie of universal ‘human rights,’” and called egalitarianism a noxious “Jacobin” doctrine. America’s traitorous “elite masters,” he complained, had allowed it to be “overrun by hordes of non-white immigrants.”

    That sure sounds like music to Roy Moore’s ears! After all, isn’t a casual dismissal of slavery coupled with a focus on the imposition of godless Yankee materialism as a threat to “orthodox Christianity” kind of Roy Moore’s brand at this point?

    So, to summarize, it appears that Roy Moore’s idea of what it would take to “Make America Great Again” has a rather disturbing overlap with that of Michael Hill, the militant neo-Confederate leader of the League of the South. And that’s why Michael Peroutka has become another headache for the GOP.

    And yet Peroutka hasn’t actually become that much of headache and his own words and associations should more than enough to make him a much bigger headache. But he’s only appears to have gotten attention in a single county in Maryland. It raises the question of why Moore’s ties to Peroutka hasn’t also been an issue for Moore during this campaign. And the answer to that question is clearly that Roy Moore allegedly stalked and sexually assaulted high-schoolers while he was a district attorney and Moore has responded by saying it’s all lies, which is understandably going to grab a lot of attention, especially in the #metoo national political context.

    It’s a reminder that, had Moore not been facing his teen-creeper accusations that morphed into a national nightmare of sorts, his nomination and likely victory would still be a national nightmare. Just a different kind of national nightmare. A national nightmare involving the legitimization of a neo-Confederate theocrat instead of a national nightmare involving the legitimization of a guy who cruises the local mall looking for high-school girls while he was a district attorney.

    But, of course, the Roy Moore national nightmare is both a nightmare about a teen creeper and a national nightmare about a neo-Confederate theocrat who pals around with pals of militant white supremacists who want to wage a race war and reimpose slavery and a whole lot of other nightmares. And don’t forget Moore’s campaign is also a national nightmare about a guy who thinks thinks the Biblical role of women bans them from politics and leadership roles in general. It’s a whole bunch of sub-nightmares all woven together into one giant multifaceted nightmare.

    It’s a recurring nightmare.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 9, 2017, 8:48 pm
  10. Oh look, another US government shutdown after Congress reaches an impasse over the budget. Given the frequency with which this happens in US politics in recent decades it’s tempting to snarkily remark, ‘Who could have seen that coming?

    But as the following article reminds points out, in this case the impasse really was a bit of surprise. The big sticking points were known well in advance. The issue of DACA – the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program created by President Obama to address ~800,000 ‘Dreamers’, undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children by their parents, who are suddenly at risk of deportation in early March – was obviously going to be a major issue for these budget negotiations. And sure enough, that’s the sticking point. Sort of. There’s a faction of GOPers who are actually demanding a Steve Bannon-esque immigration overhaul in return for their support in ending the shutdown.

    So that’s the shutdown situation. The Democrats drew a single line in the sand with this upcoming budget negotiation: Due to the urgency of resolving the Dreamer issue by the March 5th deadline (at which point they could lose their legal status, lose their jobs, and face deportation to countries they barely know), any budget bill needed to include the DACA fix. Because there is no belief in the Democratic party that Trump and the GOP will be willing to agree to a fix by the deadline. The budget bill really is the last chance for the Dreamers.

    And don’t forget that these Dreamers are at risk of losing their jobs and getting deported because Trump rescinded the previous agreement back in September and gave a 6 month window to resolve it. Trump listened to the Steve Bannon/Stephen Miller faction back in September and that’s how this situation was created.

    The default thing that happens if the DACA issue isn’t resolved by the deadline is the loss of legal status and jobs for the ‘Dreamers’ and the beginning of deportation of 800,000 people to countries they barely know. Which, of course, a cruel humanitarian disaster. An entirely avoidable cruel humanitarian disaster. Making this a ‘line in the sand’ in the budget negotiations with the threat of the shutdown really is pretty much only realistic option for the Democrats because kicking out all the Dreamers is a very Trumpian thing to do based on his record of words and deeds on immigration. Allowing this DACA negotiation to make it to the March 5th deadline is a guaranteed recipe for no real negotiations. The GOP will obviously make unrealistically outrageous demands to totally overhaul the immigration system in exchange for DACA.

    But even if the GOP promises to address DACA soon in exchange for the Democrats’ support on the budget to end the shutdown, the party lacks any credibility in general. This really is basically the last chance for the ‘Dreamers’ to avoid deportation to countries they barely know so it really is a humanitarian issue. And the GOP’s lack of credibility isn’t just based on its long track-record of incredulity. The GOP has already broken its word on these negotiations. Specifically, President Trump has already rejected a bipartisan proposal that included the Democrats making concessions that included funding for Trump’s border wall, limits on the ability of legal U.S. residents to sponsor their adult children for immigration, and a reduction in diversity visas. Democrats just offered that in exchange for saving the Dreams and Trump reportedly took it as an insult.

    So what will Trump accept in exchange for saving the Dreamers from deportation? Well, according to Chief of Staff John Kelly, Trump wants a bill that will appease the group of immigration hardline GOP holdouts like Senators Tom Cotton and Sonny Perdue who co-sponsored a bill to cut immigration in half and move away from family-focused immigration. And as we’ll see, these demands are being made by Senator Tom Cotton in order to get his support just to end the shutdown.

    As the article below also notes, Trump appears to be under the sway of his most hardline policy advisors (like Stephen Miller). And that’s why this current situation really is the last chance to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe: GOP pledges to address this issue soon in exchange for support on ending the shutdown now can’t be taken seriously because there’s no credibility behind them. Jon Kelly just basically said a massive Bannon-esque immigration overhaul is the only acceptable trade in exchange for saving the Dreamers. So we appear to be in the middle of a multifaceted GOP ‘gotcha’ strategy of trapping the Democrats in a situation where they’re forced to choose between holding out for the Dreamers’ last chance or ending the shutdown while the GOP blames them the whole time for creating this situation:

    New York Magazine

    Leaked Memo Shows White House Doesn’t Really Want a Dreamer Deal

    By Eric Levitz
    January 19, 2018 10:50 am

    Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that he believes undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children — and who went on to obey all (non-immigration) laws, and graduate from college or secure gainful employment — should be allowed to stay in the United States. On the day the president ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which had provided such immigrants with work permits and protection from deportation, he called on Congress to pass a legislative replacement for the Executive branch program. The president went on to say that if Congress failed to protect the program’s former beneficiaries, he would “revisit the issue,” and, ostensibly, protect them himself.

    But that shouldn’t be necessary. Last week, a bipartisan group of senators announced that they’d reached consensus on a DACA replacement bill: Even though the president and GOP leadership had claimed to support legal status for Dreamers as an end in itself (and thus should have been prepared to support legislation that does nothing but that), Democrats nonetheless agreed to back a DREAM Act that included funding for Trump’s border wall, limits on the ability of legal U.S. residents to sponsor their adult children for immigration, and a reduction in diversity visas — provisions championed by Republicans and loathed by the progressive base.

    And Trump took their offer as an insult.

    Later, White House chief of staff John Kelly informed the senators that the administration did not merely want a Dreamer bill that could pass Congress with bipartisan support but one that could earn the approval of “conservatives like Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).”

    Tom Cotton doesn’t like the term “Dreamers” — he prefers “illegal aliens.” The senator is the lead sponsor on a bill to cut legal immigration in half. Demanding a bipartisan immigration bill that Cotton can support is like demanding a bipartisan agreement to cut Social Security that Bernie Sanders will gladly co-sponsor. If Barack Obama had made the latter request during “Grand Bargain” negotiations in 2011, everyone involved would have understood that he did not actually want to pass a Grand Bargain.

    But Trump’s grasp of political reality is so loose, it’s genuinely unclear if he understands that he is asking for the impossible. And an internal White House memo, leaked to Axios on Friday, suggests that the president likely doesn’t comprehend the absurdity of his position — and that his closest advisers on immigration want to keep it that way.

    Shortly after Trump’s meeting with the senators behind the bipartisan DACA bill, staffers from the Justice Department and DHS prepared an internal memo assessing the merits of the legislation. In a document titled, “Flake-Graham-Durbin Proposal Would Cripple Border Security and Expand Chain Migration,” the staffers lamented that the bill:

    1.Fails to Secure the Border: “provides less than 10 percent of the necessary funds to construct the border wall.”

    2. Increases Illegal Immigration and Guarantees Future Amnesties: “provides immigration benefits to certain illegal aliens who came to the United States as juveniles.”

    3. Proposal Not Only Grants Citizenship To Up to 3 Million “DREAMers,” But Also Grants Legal Status to Their Parents: “grants a path to citizenship to an illegal population that is nearly five times larger than the population of DACA recipients.”

    4. Increases Chain Migration: “keeps chain migration in place while increasing the number of individuals eligible to bring in their foreign relatives through chain migration.”

    5. Fails To End the Visa Lottery.

    It’s worth remembering that Trump wasn’t inclined to cancel DACA in the first place. It took a lawsuit from several Republican state Attorneys General — and an ultimatum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to get the president to cut the Dreamers loose. Even then, Trump had Sessions announce the termination of the program for him, and expressed openness to reviving DACA over Twitter on the very same day.

    In September, a single conversation with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi convinced Trump to back a DACA bill that included no funding for his wall whatsoever. Less than two weeks ago, Trump told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that he would sign any DREAM Act that made it to his desk — and, momentarily, signed on to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposal for a “clean” version of the bill that wouldn’t include any border security measures at all.

    After all of these incidents, immigration hard-liners in Congress — and far-right White House adviser Stephen Miller — guided Trump back toward recalcitrance. Miller has long been the most conspicuous obstacle to a deal.. The Sessions acolyte and Breitbart darling has no interest in seeing Dreamers gain legal status. And as the administration’s resident immigration policy wonk, he has repeatedly sent Congress the same long list of impossible demands, including proposals that lack the support of a majority of congressional Republicans, like a halving of legal immigration and $18 billion for a border wall.

    The key revelation of the memo obtained by Axios is that Miller is not alone: Apparently, several of the administration’s top immigration policy hands are also committed to sabotaging a Dreamer deal — or, at the very least, to jeopardizing such a deal by pressing maximalist demands.

    This explains the incoherence of the White House’s position. Trump is personally inclined, at least some of the time, to notch a bipartisan victory, claim credit for achieving something that Obama failed to do, and celebrate his success in convincing Congress to make a down payment on his wall. But he is also highly impressionable and deeply racist, and surrounded by far-right ideologues who are eager to exploit both those traits to their own ends.

    At this point, the most viable path to a DREAM Act may be for Congress to simply ignore the White House, pass something roughly similar to the existing bipartisan proposal, and trust that, once the bill is in front of him, Trump will find the lure of a signing ceremony more compelling than the complaints of the West Wing’s conniving nativists.

    ———-

    “Leaked Memo Shows White House Doesn’t Really Want a Dreamer Deal” by Eric Levitz; New York Magazine; 01/19/2018

    “The key revelation of the memo obtained by Axios is that Miller is not alone: Apparently, several of the administration’s top immigration policy hands are also committed to sabotaging a Dreamer deal — or, at the very least, to jeopardizing such a deal by pressing maximalist demands.”

    Yep, several of the administration’s top immigration policy hands are out to tank any deal protecting the Dreamers. Either by convincing Trump to reject a Dreamer deal outright or by convincing him to make demands that Democrats couldn’t possibly support. And these policy hands have been lobbying Trump on this issue ever since he declared DACA null and void back in September. And keep doing it whenever he waivers. Hence Trump’s rejection of the bipartisan bill proposal filled with Democratic concessions:


    But that shouldn’t be necessary. Last week, a bipartisan group of senators announced that they’d reached consensus on a DACA replacement bill: Even though the president and GOP leadership had claimed to support legal status for Dreamers as an end in itself (and thus should have been prepared to support legislation that does nothing but that), Democrats nonetheless agreed to back a DREAM Act that included funding for Trump’s border wall, limits on the ability of legal U.S. residents to sponsor their adult children for immigration, and a reduction in diversity visas — provisions championed by Republicans and loathed by the progressive base.

    And Trump took their offer as an insult.

    “And Trump took their offer as an insult.”

    That was Trump’s view on the Democratic offer with massive concessions. Because he wants a bill that will appears the hardcore immigration faction of Senators Cotton, Perdue, and Goodlatte:


    Later, White House chief of staff John Kelly informed the senators that the administration did not merely want a Dreamer bill that could pass Congress with bipartisan support but one that could earn the approval of “conservatives like Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).”

    That happened. And then this happened shortly after Trump met with that bipartisan Senate delegation: Trump sat down with the hardliners:


    Shortly after Trump’s meeting with the senators behind the bipartisan DACA bill, staffers from the Justice Department and DHS prepared an internal memo assessing the merits of the legislation. In a document titled, “Flake-Graham-Durbin Proposal Would Cripple Border Security and Expand Chain Migration,” the staffers lamented that the bill:

    1.Fails to Secure the Border: “provides less than 10 percent of the necessary funds to construct the border wall.”

    2. Increases Illegal Immigration and Guarantees Future Amnesties: “provides immigration benefits to certain illegal aliens who came to the United States as juveniles.”

    3. Proposal Not Only Grants Citizenship To Up to 3 Million “DREAMers,” But Also Grants Legal Status to Their Parents: “grants a path to citizenship to an illegal population that is nearly five times larger than the population of DACA recipients.”

    4. Increases Chain Migration: “keeps chain migration in place while increasing the number of individuals eligible to bring in their foreign relatives through chain migration.”

    5. Fails To End the Visa Lottery.

    And this is the same hardliner group of White House policy advisors since he first announced the end to the DREAM Act back in September. So they’ve had a lot of time to influence him:


    In September, a single conversation with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi convinced Trump to back a DACA bill that included no funding for his wall whatsoever. Less than two weeks ago, Trump told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that he would sign any DREAM Act that made it to his desk — and, momentarily, signed on to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposal for a “clean” version of the bill that wouldn’t include any border security measures at all.

    After all of these incidents, immigration hard-liners in Congress — and far-right White House adviser Stephen Miller — guided Trump back toward recalcitrance. Miller has long been the most conspicuous obstacle to a deal.. The Sessions acolyte and Breitbart darling has no interest in seeing Dreamers gain legal status. And as the administration’s resident immigration policy wonk, he has repeatedly sent Congress the same long list of impossible demands, including proposals that lack the support of a majority of congressional Republicans, like a halving of legal immigration and $18 billion for a border wall.

    Less than two weeks ago, Trump told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that he would sign any DREAM Act that made it to his desk — and, momentarily, signed on to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposal for a “clean” version of the bill that wouldn’t include any border security measures at all.”

    So back in September, Trump declares the DREAM Act dead and gives a 6 month window to fix it. His advisors start lobbying him to not fix it at all. Then a couple of weeks ago he says he’ll sign ANY new version Congress presents him. The a bipartisan group of Senators makes an offer with a ton of Democratic concessions including money for ‘The Wall’. Trump rejects it, declares he needs something Tom Cotton will approve of, and then he meets with his hardline advisors. And here we are. Forced by Trump to placate Cotton. Who wants to cut immigration in half:


    Tom Cotton doesn’t like the term “Dreamers” — he prefers “illegal aliens.” The senator is the lead sponsor on a bill to cut legal immigration in half. Demanding a bipartisan immigration bill that Cotton can support is like demanding a bipartisan agreement to cut Social Security that Bernie Sanders will gladly co-sponsor. If Barack Obama had made the latter request during “Grand Bargain” negotiations in 2011, everyone involved would have understood that he did not actually want to pass a Grand Bargain.

    And there’s no denying that a large chunk of Trump’s base, which is the GOP’s base, is more likely to agree with the Tom Cotton view on these issues, like demanding an end to ‘chain-migration’ – the term for family-focused immigration policies which is a massive change to the US immigration policies – in exchange for supporting an end to the government shutdown:

    The Hill

    Cotton: I won’t commit to an immigration deal just because Trump supports it

    By Julia Manchester – 01/21/18 11:13 AM EST

    Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on Sunday he would not vote for an immigration deal just because President Trump supported it.

    “I can’t make that commitment at all,” Cotton told NBC’s Chuck Todd after he was asked if he would support whatever the president agreed to in the shutdown negotiations.

    “I will evaluate any deal on its merits and what’s best for the people of Arkansas and best for our country,” Cotton said on “Meet the Press.”

    Senate Republicans and Democrats failed to meet a midnight deadline on Saturday to reach a deal to fund the government.

    Democrats rejected funding legislation because it did not contain a fix for the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, while Republicans say Democrats are holding the government hostage. Trump in September said he would end the Obama-era program, which protects young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but gave Congress time to come up with a legislative solution.

    Cotton has proven to be one of the most vocal immigration hard-liners in the Senate.

    The Arkansas senator and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) have proposed a measure that seeks to end so-called chain migration, which allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members abroad to come to the U.S.

    ———-

    “Cotton: I won’t commit to an immigration deal just because Trump supports it” by Julia Manchester; The Hill; 01/21/2018

    “”I can’t make that commitment at all,” Cotton told NBC’s Chuck Todd after he was asked if he would support whatever the president agreed to in the shutdown negotiations.”

    Senator Tom Cotton wants an end to ‘chain-migration’ to support an end to the shutdown. And that’s the view of the Stephen Miller/Steve Bannon faction successfully manipulating Trump right now. It’s why even GOP Senator Lindsey Graham is calling Tom Cotton the ‘Steve King of the Senate’;

    The Hill

    Graham calls Tom Cotton ‘the Steve King of the Senate’

    By Max Greenwood – 01/19/18 01:30 PM EST

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has become “sort of the Steve King of the Senate,” a reference to one of the House’s most ardent immigration hard-liners.

    In an interview with MSNBC, Graham, who has advocated for legislative protections for young immigrants, rejected the notion of ending family-based immigration in exchange for enshrining the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law.

    A proposal by Cotton and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) seeks to end so-called chain migration, which allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members abroad to come to the U.S.

    “All I can say is we’re not going to end family immigration for DACA,” Graham said. “The Tom Cotton approach has no viability here. You know, he’s become sort of the Steve King of the Senate.”

    “I like Tom, but on immigration, he’s putting something on the table that there’s just no market for in Phase 1,” he added.

    King, an Iowa Republican, has been a vocal advocate for curbing immigration and ending DACA, an Obama-era program rescinded by Trump last fall.

    Democrats have insisted that any spending measure must include protections for DACA recipients, while some Republicans have called to address legal protections for the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, at a later date.

    ———-

    “Graham calls Tom Cotton ‘the Steve King of the Senate’
    ” by Max Greenwood; The Hill; 01/19/2018

    “In an interview with MSNBC, Graham, who has advocated for legislative protections for young immigrants, rejected the notion of ending family-based immigration in exchange for enshrining the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law.”

    So what exactly is Tom Cotton demanding in exchange for ending the government shutdown by demanding an end to ‘chain-migration’ immigration policies, where family members of immigrants are given a large percentage of annual slots (after an average wait period of 15 or so years)? Well, to answer that we have to take a look at the following Vox article about how end ‘chain-migration’ is a policy response to what amounts to an ‘Alt-Right’ Big Lie campaign about how immigration works in the US. Because according to the propaganda put out by far-right anti-immigrant white nationalist-oriented organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), ‘chain-migration’ allow a single immigration to lead to thousands of new immigrants for their families and their families’ families. And their families’ families’ families, etc. And it’s a Big Lie at the heart of deep sense of urgency embedded in the right-wing fear machine about impending ‘demographic-replacement’ and the loss of control for White America. And this gross mischaracterization of how immigration policy works is at the heart of Tom Cotton’s demands that Trump is demanding Democrats support in exchange for ending the shutdown:

    Vox

    What “chain migration” really means — and why Donald Trump hates it so much
    “Family-based immigration” doesn’t sound as scary — or get at the fear of losing control.

    By Dara Linddara
    Updated Dec 29, 2017, 1:20pm EST

    Over the course of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, his administration’s top immigration priority has shifted subtly. He’s talking less about deporting “bad hombres” and talking more — a lot more — about how “chain migration” is bad for the United States.

    “We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain,” Trump told the New York Times’s Mike Schmidt in an impromptu interview at his West Palm Beach golf club in December. He followed it up, as he does, with a tweet:

    The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017

    “Chain migration” — which is loosely used as a synonym for all immigration to the United States that happens based on family ties (when a US citizen or, in some cases, a green card holder petitions for a relative to join them) — has become a conservative boogeyman, and an excuse to cut down on legal immigration. It’s long been a target of immigration restrictionists whose concerns about immigration are less about people “respecting the law” than about the government exercising stricter control over who enters the country.

    Under the Trump administration, those restrictionists have more political power than they’ve had in a generation — and they’re using it to prosecute an aggressive case against the family-based system as it stands.

    The Trump administration’s attacks on “chain migration” have helped shift the terms of the debate over immigration policy. “Chain migration” is being invoked, among other things, to frame two totally different demands Republicans have made in the debate over legalizing immigrants temporarily covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program: preventing current DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents after becoming citizens, and cutting or eliminating some categories of family-based immigration for all immigrants in exchange for legalizing DACA enrollees.

    It's time to end Chain Migration: https://t.co/kad5A8Slw7 pic.twitter.com/735JzAZIUa— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 18, 2017

    But it’s not just during the DACA debate. The Trump administration blamed the failed New York subway bombing in December on “chain migration” because the would-be bomber came as the child of a US citizen’s sibling in 2010. Its National Security Strategy, issued Monday, called chain migration a security threat.

    In other words, the Trump administration’s attack on “chain migration” isn’t just a setup for a particular policy fight. It’s about who is allowed to be a part of America — and whether changes to the country’s makeup are healthy demographic development or a sign of uncontrolled invasion.

    “Chain migration” is the technical name for a commonsense idea: People are more likely to move where their relatives are

    The dynamic underlying “chain migration” is so simple that it sounds like common sense: People are more likely to move to where people they know live, and each new immigrant makes people they know more likely to move there in turn.

    But as obvious as the reality is on the ground, it wasn’t always incorporated into theoretical models of migration (particularly economic models). Economists tended to think about the decision to migrate as a simple calculus of how much money someone was making at home versus how much he could be making abroad, rather than understanding that the decision was more complicated — and that family and social relationships played a role.

    Princeton demographer Doug Massey, one of the leading scholars on immigration to the US at the end of the 20th century (and the beginning of the 21st), was one of the scholars who tried to correct this oversimplified view. As he put it in an essay for the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development in the early 1990s:

    The first migrants who leave for a new destination have no social ties to draw upon, and for them migration is costly, particularly if it involves entering another country without documents. After the first migrants have left, however, the costs of migration are substantially lower for their friends and relatives living in the community of origin. Because of the nature of kinship and friendship structures, each new migrant creates a set of people with social ties to the destination area.

    These immigrants would also end up behaving differently once they arrived in their new countries. If they were just there for economic reasons, they’d have an incentive to move back once they’d made enough money, or circulate back and forth. But immigrants who move for social reasons are moving to a new community — a new place they’ll stay. That’s an upside if you think it’s important for immigrants to become American — and a downside if you think the US should be much pickier about who gets to move here for good than it is about who gets to work here.

    One upshot of chain migration: Any policies that made it easier for immigrants to bring their relatives would allow migration chains to form, thus expanding immigration into the country. “Family reunification systems,” Massey wrote, “work at crosspurposes with the limitation of immigration.”

    Massey and the other demographers of “chain migration” weren’t presenting it as a negative. But their words were easily adopted by people who did. The Massey essay quoted above ended up being reprinted in an issue of The Social Contract — the journal founded by immigration restrictionist mogul John Tanton, who also founded the three most visible restrictionist organizations in American politics (the think tank the Center for Immigration Studies and the advocacy groups NumbersUSA and FAIR).

    The Social Contract was a forum for concerns about the threat of mass immigration (particularly mass nonwhite immigration) to the United States. (The Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers all Tanton-affiliated institutions to be “hate groups,” rundown of some of the journal’s more incendiary content.) Massey, on the other hand is a longtime supporter of reforms that would make it easier for immigrants to come to America.

    An article by a supporter of expansive immigration policy could be reprinted, with few apparent edits, in a journal for his intellectual opponents only because the debate over chain migration is fundamentally not about whether it happens, but whether it’s okay. Defenders of chain migration tend to argue that it’s important for immigrants to put down roots in the US, and that having a family here is part of what that means.

    Opponents, on the other hand, see family-based immigration as the government ceding some control for who gets to come here, so that it’s not selecting individuals in a vacuum — which leads rapidly to fears of the US government losing control of the immigration system entirely.

    The actual policy behind “chain migration”

    It’s not clear whether President Trump understands how family-based immigration actually works — and when it can lead to “chains” of relatives. Trump has claimed that the man who ran over several pedestrians in New York in November brought 23 (sometimes he says 24) relatives to the US in the seven years he’d lived here — a claim that chain migration opponent Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration studies said was impossible. And the White House’s “chain migration” diagram makes it looks like each generation of adults brings in children, which brings their children — which isn’t how chain migration works.

    To better understand what policies, exactly, opponents of “chain migration” are worried about, check out this chart from the restrictionist advocacy group NumbersUSA — which is a more detailed representation of the same fear of overwhelming, uncontrollable waves of migration.

    [see NumbersUSA graphic showing a single immigrant leading to thousands of new immigrants and children]

    Let’s walk through the scenario in that chart. It depicts an immigrant who’s come to the US on an employment-based green card (in black) and is able to bring over his spouse and children immediately. He can also — after he becomes a citizen (something the NumbersUSA chart doesn’t clarify) — petition for his parents and siblings to come to the US on green cards (all in gray).

    The siblings all bring over their spouses and children immediately, and the spouses (in orange, maroon, navy, and teal) can (upon naturalization) petition to bring over their own parents and siblings. The original immigrant’s parents (eventually) petition for their own siblings to come to the US, and the siblings then petition to bring over their married adult children — whose spouses can then (eventually)petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.

    Meanwhile, the original immigrant’s spouse, once she becomes a citizen, can petition for her parents (in pink) and her siblings (in blue, purple, red, and green). Those siblings bring over their spouses, who subsequently petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.

    There are a ton of assumptions in this model about the way immigrants behave — why is everyone in families of four or five? Does no one really want to stay in her home country? Is there no such thing as a bachelor in any of these families? — but the visa categories under US law make it a hypothetical possibility. But the thing is, US policymakers know that it’s a hypothetical possibility. And there are safeguards built into the system that restrict family-based immigration far more than the diagram would have you believe.

    In practice, bringing over a family member takes years — which makes it very hard to build a chain

    No one is automatically allowed to immigrate to the US. Anyone applying for residency in the country has to go through a standard vetting process — including a criminal and terrorism background check, and an evaluation of whether they’re likely to become a “public charge” in the US (i.e., be unable to support themselves for income and rely on social programs).

    Trump’s National Security Strategy claims that “chain migration” is a problem for national security, but there’s nothing inherent to the way someone is allowed to immigrate to the US that makes it harder for the US to catch would-be terrorists — that is, if anything, a failure of the screening process.

    The bigger obstacle, though, isn’t qualifying to immigrate — it’s that the number of hypothetically qualified family-based immigrants greatly exceeds the number of slots available for immigrants each year. The US doesn’t set caps on the number of spouses, minor children, or parents of US citizens who can come to the US each year — but, again, those categories in themselves don’t create chains.

    The categories that do create chains are strictly capped: 23,400 married children of US citizens (plus their own spouses and minor children) are allowed to immigrate each year, and 67,500 adult siblings of US citizens (plus spouses and minor children). Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.

    When people talk about the “visa backlog,” this is what they mean: In January 2018, for example, the US government will start processing applications for F4 visas (the siblings of US citizens) who first petitioned to let them immigrate on June 22, 2004, or earlier. That is, unless the sibling lives in India (in which case the petition had to be filed by December 2003 to get processed in January 2018), Mexico (November 1997), or the Philippines (September 1994).

    Understanding that an F4 visa is a 13- to 23-year process throws that NumbersUSA diagram into a different light. How implausible it is depends on your assumptions about how close together generations are, and how young the immigrants are when they come to the United States. But if you start by understanding that the first members of the orange, maroon, navy, teal, blue, purple, red, and green chains don’t enter the US until 18 years after the original immigrant (signified by black) does — and that the first immigrants in the yellow section of the chart don’t enter the country until 23 years later — it should give you a sense of how long it will take in to fill in the rest of the chain.

    In practice, this ultimately looks like a lot of people coming to the US in late middle age. That’s backed up by the data: A study from Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies — which is critical of “chain migration” — found that the average age of immigrants to the US has risen over the past few decades, and that family-based immigration was a substantial cause.

    But even then, the NumbersUSA scenario assumes that all the immigrants can afford to sponsor a family member to immigrate to the US. A US citizen (or green card holder seeking to bring an unmarried child or parent) has to prove to the government that they can provide financial support if their relative needs it, rather than relying on the government for aid.

    In practice, this means that every immigrant needs to have someone vouching for them whose household income is 125 percent of the poverty line — and the “household” includes the relative who’s trying to come to the US. In other words, a single adult could sponsor his parent to immigrate if he made at least $20,300 — 125 percent of the federal poverty line for a two-person household — but if he had a spouse and two children, he’d have to be making 125 percent of the poverty line for a five-person household. And that includes any other immigrants who the household is sponsoring at the same time.

    So an immigrant with a wife and two children who wanted to sponsor his parents and four siblings to immigrate as soon as he became a citizen would have to be making $56,875 — around the median income in the US. And if his spouse were trying to do the same thing with her parents and four siblings, as in the NumbersUSA chart, they’d have to be making $83,000 — which would place them in the 66th percentile of US household income.

    That’s not impossible. But it certainly calls into question the stereotype of family-based migration as a way for “low-skilled,” low-earning immigrants to bring their low-skilled, low-earning relatives into the US.

    There are ways for citizens to get other people to agree to help support a potential immigrant relative. But at the same time, the US government has discretion to reject an application, even if the citizen meets the income threshold, if they suspect that in practice the immigrant won’t be supported in the US. (Another factor in determining “public charge” is age — which is interesting, given the data about family-based immigrants being older.)

    Add all of these factors together, and it becomes clear that an immigrant won’t be able to bring that many relatives to the US over the course of his or her lifetime. Vaughan’s study found that as of 2015, immigrants who came to the US from 1981 to 2000 had sponsored an average of 1.77 relatives to come join them. The most recent immigrants in the study — those who came to the US in the late 1990s — had sponsored the most relatives: 3.46. But both of those numbers include the minor children they brought with them at the time: In other words, they were hardly starting 3.46 new “chains.”

    If anything, in fact, the family-based system is so overloaded that it ends up creating unrealistic hopes in people that they’ll be able to immigrate to the US. If your sibling moves to the US on a work visa, for example, you might start to hope that he’ll eventually be able to bring you along — but if you try to plan your life around that, you’ll end up waiting for two decades.

    There are hints all this panic over “chain migration” is really about fear of cultural change

    But the most stalwart opponents of “chain migration,” the ones who use it to refer to all family-based immigration, period, are talking not just about the mechanics of the chain but about a bigger normative question: whether allowing immigrants to come as family units, or allowing people to immigrate based on family relationships, gives the US too little control over who gets to come.

    The ultimate impression of both the White House and NumbersUSA “chain migration” diagrams is to make it seem that admitting a single immigrant unleashes an uncontrollable tide of infinite future family-based immigration — that each immigrant is a one-person Trojan horse for hundreds more.

    [see pro-Brexit campaign poster]

    “As more and more immigrants are admitted to the United States, the population eligible to sponsor their relatives for green cards increases exponentially,” the restrictionist group FAIR says on its website. “This means that every time one immigrant is admitted, the door is opened to many more.”

    This potent visual is why “chain migration” has been a longtime target of immigration restrictionists, even when the Republican Party as a whole was attempting to welcome legal immigrants. For people whose biggest fear regarding immigration is that immigrants will change the face of America — that they’ll trample the country’s “traditionally” white, Christian majority — there’s little more potent than the idea of immigrants bringing over huge families, replanting their communities whole in American soil.

    This fear goes hand in hand with a fear that immigrants won’t assimilate. When immigration restrictionists cite the second quarter of the 20th century as a great time for the United States, they’re not (at least explicitly) praising the racist country quotas that governed immigration at the time. They’re (explicitly) praising the fact that, with overall immigration levels low, immigrants were forced to interact with and eventually integrate among US citizens. The more immigrants that come over — and especially the more that immigrants bring their families over — the less, in theory, that they and their descendants will have to interact with people from outside of their community. In turn, this gets into fears that parts of America could become alien to Americans — cultural, or literal, “no-go zones.”

    The use of “chain migration” in the current debate over DACA, to refer to DACA recipients allowing their parents to become legal immigrants, complicates the matter even further. Because the parents of DACA recipients have, by definition, lived in the US as unauthorized immigrants, this isn’t really about bringing new people into the US — it’s about legalizing people who are already here (or bringing people back who have been deported, something US policy already makes pretty hard).

    Because these memes, and the fears that they provoke, are all so tightly connected, “chain migration” is both an ideological concern about America selecting immigrants based on their merit, and a racist smokescreen for fears of demographic change. It can be hard to separate the two. And it’s certainly not in the interests of the opponents of “chain migration” to try.

    There’s a reason that family-based immigration has lasted as long as it has

    It’s a lot easier to get people to agree, in theory, that the US should be accepting immigrants on the basis of “merit” — i.e., without concern for whether they have relatives living here — than it is to get them to agree on exactly what should be done to reduce the importance of family-based immigration to the current system.

    For one thing, many policymakers, including many Republicans, see allowing some family members to immigrate as an important factor in encouraging integration. Allowing immigrants to bring along their spouses and minor children, for example, makes it less likely that they’ll decide to return to their home countries — and it means their children will grow up American, in more ways than one.

    There are also policymakers who see family unity as a value worth protecting for its own sake (an argument you’ll often hear among religious advocates). And there’s, of course, an ethnic component. Asian Americans, in particular, feel that they are still trying to make up ground after decades of racist exclusion from the immigration system — and family-based immigration has been the best way for them to make that ground up. Mexican Americans, too, feel that the current system has unfairly forced Mexican immigrant families to be separated while other families get to reunite with ease.

    All of these objections have combined, so far, to make Democrats firmly opposed to any proposal that would restrict future family-based immigration. But as “chain migration” begins to eclipse other issues (like immigration enforcement in the interior of the US) as a top Republican priority, it’s not clear whether Democrats’ commitment to hypothetical legal immigrants of the future is going to win out over their commitment to legalizing unauthorized immigrants who are currently here.

    ———-

    “What “chain migration” really means — and why Donald Trump hates it so much” by Dara Linddara; Vox; 12/29/2017

    “Massey and the other demographers of “chain migration” weren’t presenting it as a negative. But their words were easily adopted by people who did. The Massey essay quoted above ended up being reprinted in an issue of The Social Contract — the journal founded by immigration restrictionist mogul John Tanton, who also founded the three most visible restrictionist organizations in American politics (the think tank the Center for Immigration Studies and the advocacy groups NumbersUSA and FAIR).”

    Adventures in unintended citations: Princeton demographer Doug Massey studies the motives behind immigration and recognizes the family element (people like to move to where they have relatives) and this gets twisted into ‘chain-migration’ hysteria by a bunch of white nationalists running anti-immigration ‘think-tanks’:


    The Social Contract was a forum for concerns about the threat of mass immigration (particularly mass nonwhite immigration) to the United States. (The Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers all Tanton-affiliated institutions to be “hate groups,” rundown of some of the journal’s more incendiary content.) Massey, on the other hand is a longtime supporter of reforms that would make it easier for immigrants to come to America.

    An article by a supporter of expansive immigration policy could be reprinted, with few apparent edits, in a journal for his intellectual opponents only because the debate over chain migration is fundamentally not about whether it happens, but whether it’s okay. Defenders of chain migration tend to argue that it’s important for immigrants to put down roots in the US, and that having a family here is part of what that means.

    Opponents, on the other hand, see family-based immigration as the government ceding some control for who gets to come here, so that it’s not selecting individuals in a vacuum — which leads rapidly to fears of the US government losing control of the immigration system entirely.

    And now Professor Massey’s work is used to justify blatant propaganda and disinformation embraced by a significant faction of the GOP and the Bannon/Miller wing of the Trump White House:


    The ultimate impression of both the White House and NumbersUSA “chain migration” diagrams is to make it seem that admitting a single immigrant unleashes an uncontrollable tide of infinite future family-based immigration — that each immigrant is a one-person Trojan horse for hundreds more.

    [see pro-Brexit campaign poster]

    “As more and more immigrants are admitted to the United States, the population eligible to sponsor their relatives for green cards increases exponentially,” the restrictionist group FAIR says on its website. “This means that every time one immigrant is admitted, the door is opened to many more.”

    This potent visual is why “chain migration” has been a longtime target of immigration restrictionists, even when the Republican Party as a whole was attempting to welcome legal immigrants. For people whose biggest fear regarding immigration is that immigrants will change the face of America — that they’ll trample the country’s “traditionally” white, Christian majority — there’s little more potent than the idea of immigrants bringing over huge families, replanting their communities whole in American soil.

    And it seems like President Trump might actually believe this is how US immigration policy works:


    The actual policy behind “chain migration”

    It’s not clear whether President Trump understands how family-based immigration actually works — and when it can lead to “chains” of relatives. Trump has claimed that the man who ran over several pedestrians in New York in November brought 23 (sometimes he says 24) relatives to the US in the seven years he’d lived here — a claim that chain migration opponent Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration studies said was impossible. And the White House’s “chain migration” diagram makes it looks like each generation of adults brings in children, which brings their children — which isn’t how chain migration works.

    To better understand what policies, exactly, opponents of “chain migration” are worried about, check out this chart from the restrictionist advocacy group NumbersUSA — which is a more detailed representation of the same fear of overwhelming, uncontrollable waves of migration.

    [see absurd NumbersUSA graphic showing a single immigrant leading to thousands of new immigrants and children]

    Let’s walk through the scenario in that chart. It depicts an immigrant who’s come to the US on an employment-based green card (in black) and is able to bring over his spouse and children immediately. He can also — after he becomes a citizen (something the NumbersUSA chart doesn’t clarify) — petition for his parents and siblings to come to the US on green cards (all in gray).

    The siblings all bring over their spouses and children immediately, and the spouses (in orange, maroon, navy, and teal) can (upon naturalization) petition to bring over their own parents and siblings. The original immigrant’s parents (eventually) petition for their own siblings to come to the US, and the siblings then petition to bring over their married adult children — whose spouses can then (eventually)petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.

    Meanwhile, the original immigrant’s spouse, once she becomes a citizen, can petition for her parents (in pink) and her siblings (in blue, purple, red, and green). Those siblings bring over their spouses, who subsequently petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.

    There are a ton of assumptions in this model about the way immigrants behave — why is everyone in families of four or five? Does no one really want to stay in her home country? Is there no such thing as a bachelor in any of these families? — but the visa categories under US law make it a hypothetical possibility. But the thing is, US policymakers know that it’s a hypothetical possibility. And there are safeguards built into the system that restrict family-based immigration far more than the diagram would have you believe.

    And this propaganda is all in the service of deceiving the public of the reality of how ‘chain migration’ works in the US: you can tug on those chains to bring some relatives. But those chains moving reeeeallly sloooowly:


    In practice, bringing over a family member takes years — which makes it very hard to build a chain

    No one is automatically allowed to immigrate to the US. Anyone applying for residency in the country has to go through a standard vetting process — including a criminal and terrorism background check, and an evaluation of whether they’re likely to become a “public charge” in the US (i.e., be unable to support themselves for income and rely on social programs).

    The categories that do create chains are strictly capped: 23,400 married children of US citizens (plus their own spouses and minor children) are allowed to immigrate each year, and 67,500 adult siblings of US citizens (plus spouses and minor children). Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.

    When people talk about the “visa backlog,” this is what they mean: In January 2018, for example, the US government will start processing applications for F4 visas (the siblings of US citizens) who first petitioned to let them immigrate on June 22, 2004, or earlier. That is, unless the sibling lives in India (in which case the petition had to be filed by December 2003 to get processed in January 2018), Mexico (November 1997), or the Philippines (September 1994).

    When people talk about the “visa backlog,” this is what they mean: In January 2018, for example, the US government will start processing applications for F4 visas (the siblings of US citizens) who first petitioned to let them immigrate on June 22, 2004, or earlier. That is, unless the sibling lives in India (in which case the petition had to be filed by December 2003 to get processed in January 2018), Mexico (November 1997), or the Philippines (September 1994).”

    That’s the reality of ‘chain migration’ in America. But Tom Cotton needs immigration cut in half and an end of family-focused policies. And an end to the diversity lottery entirely. In order to support ending the shut down. And President Trump’s chief of staff declared Trump wants a bill that satisfies Tom Cotton’s CIS-oriented faction.

    So, since the underlying real obstacle to ending this shutdown is the deep fear of immigrants flooding into America felt deeply by elements of Trump’s base and how the political need to placate those fears is holding up the resolution of the DACA crisis, and since those fears are based heavily on the gross mischaracterization of things like ‘chain migration’ (along with all the other anti-immigrant propaganda), perhaps part of the path forward out of this impasse is an education campaign to let people know that Tom Cotton and President Trump have succumbed to ‘Alt-Right’ garbage propaganda on the state of US immigration policies. ‘Alt-Right’ propaganda shut down the government and knowing that is part of overcoming it. Because while there may not be an epidemic of immigrants flooding the US like barbarian hordes, there is an epidemic of lies about it.

    It’s basically the last chance to stop an ‘Alt-Right’ lie from throwing the Dreamers’s lives into chaos. So that immigration-reality education campaign is pretty urgent. And long overdue.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 22, 2018, 1:13 am
  11. Well that was a fast. You blink and the government shutdown over the fate of the ~800,00 ‘Dreamers’ is over. That’s sort of how the US federal shutdown played out. It starts on midnight Friday night, when most federal employees aren’t working anyway, and on Monday it’s over by noon. The non-essential federal employees went on furlough for the morning.

    But the shutdown isn’t over for long. It was more of a tactical retreat for the Democrats. Because the offer the Democrats accepted from Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell merely deferred this same shutdown budget fight over the fate of the ‘Dreamers’ to February 8th.

    Plus the Democrats got 6 years of funding for the CHIP children’s health program in the deal (yes, the GOP was holding CHIP hostage too in addition to the Dreamers). So it was a tactical retreat with a sweetener. Sick children are no longer being held hostage in these negotiations.

    And that all means there’s going to be a two and a half week period when both parties prepare to have a new shutdown over the DREAM Act that will prevent the ‘Dreamers’ from all losing their jobs and getting subject to deportation to countries they barely know on March 5th.

    So what should we expect for the next shutdown? That’s very unclear, in large part because the overall political dynamics of this situation are extremely counterintuitive. How so? Well, for example, consider this: The most powerful leverage the Democrats hold in this situation is their power to save the GOP from itself.

    Yep. The Democrats cajoling the GOP into agreeing to a new DREAM Act is quite possibly the best thing that could happen to the GOP at this point. Why? Because if the GOP really goes through with what its base wants the GOP to do, almost all of the Dreamers will be deported and that’s going to be really unpopular. Recent polls on the question of whether or not the Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the US ranged from 70 to 80 percent support for allowing the Dreamers to stay. A poll back in September suggested two thirds of Republican voters wanted to grant the DACA Dreamers citizenship. But for a key white nationalist element of the GOP/Trump base, kicking all the Dreamers out is REALLY popular and the ONLY way the GOP can save the Dreamers is by almost completely shutting down immigration into the US.

    All that is why ‘winning’ on DACA (resulting in Dreamer deportations) is potentially a BIG net loss for the GOP. And that big loss could happen right when a crucial mid-term election threatens the GOP’s grip on Congress. In other words, when the GOP holds the Dreamers hostage, its holding itself hostage too and only the Democrats can save them from this self-fulfilling fate. That’s real leverage for the Democrats, but it’s extremely counterintuitive.

    And that all ironically makes the greatest threat the Democrats can make in the upcoming shutdown fight is the threat agree to fold on the shutdown without an agreement for the Dreamers. This test of wills is really a game of ‘chicken’ where the winner ends up driving off a cliff.

    But here’s the counterintuitive other side of that coin: While the Dreamers might have public support on their side, that support only manifests in real political power when they appear to be at risk of deportation. So in order for the Democrats to wield their leverage in the upcoming fight, the Dreamers have to remain at risk of deportation long enough for the American public to start demanding their situation gets fixed. And that’s why this strategic retreat from the shutdown wasn’t actually a bad move for the Democrats. Their best strategy is predicated on waiting for the GOP to basically ‘drop the mask’ and start harming the lives of the Dreamers because that’s exactly the kind of situation that translates into the kind of real public demand the GOP fears. The Dreamers counterintuitively have to lose to win. Just hopefully not lose too much. It’s that kind of situation. Sad!

    Another counterintuitive aspect to this Dreamer shutdown standoff is that the closer the Democrats get to the March 5th deadline, the better off the Dreamers are from a position making it clear to the American public that the GOP really is serious about deporting the Dreamers. Look at how the shutdown played out: When the Democrats entered Friday’s shutdown, their general argument was that Trump couldn’t be trusted to make good on his pledge to help the Dreamers and that’s why they were making the DREAM Act a requirement for passing the budget. But the GOP just said, “we want to work on the Dreamers, but separately from the budget.” And the Democrats didn’t have a clear response to the that. The GOP’s pledges to deal with the Dreamers after the budget is resolved lack credibility but that’s not an easy argument for the Democrats to make in the US media. So the Democrats had the right argument (the GOP and Trump aren’t serious about helping the Dreamers) at the wrong time (a month and a half before the March 5th deadline).

    But as time passes it keeps getting increasingly clear that the GOP wants to see some sort of massive immigration overhaul in exchange for helping the Dreamers and that massive overhaul is really just an excuse NOT to reach a deal and not to legalize them at all. Don’t forget that granting a path to citizenship for the Dreamers is an extremely unpopular outcome in the right-wing talk-radio/Fox News domain of conservative thought. And that suggests the GOP is going to keep ratcheting up its demands for a big far-right immigration overhaul the closer we get to March 5th, creating an absurdist dynamic where they demand the Steve Bannon/Stephen Miller immigration dream package on March 4th in exchange for saving the Dreamers. It’s the kind of perilous situation that counterintuitively helps the Dreamers by making their peril very clear. Because, again, the American public does want to help the Dreamers according to polls, they just haven’t realized that the GOP really does want to deport them and will do so if they are allowed.

    And that’s all why the Democrats really do have major leverage in this situation: if they can maneuver the GOP into a position where the public realizes the GOP is serious about deporting the Dreamers, it’s possible the Democrats can save the GOP from themselves and save the Dreamers at the same time by creating a public uproar about saving the Dreamers that is so undeniable the GOP can safely explain such a decision to their anti-immigrant base. And that scenario is ironically the best scenario for the Dreamers, Democrats, and elected GOPers who probably want to avoid a much more protracted and larger political headache with the voting public at large that could arise if Dreamer deportation actually starts happening.

    That’s two and a half weeks for the Democrats to make the following basic points:

    1. Trump and a large faction of the GOP wants to deport the ‘Dreamers’.

    2. That would be a horrible thing for the US to do.

    3. The only way the GOP is planning on letting the ‘Dreamers’ get amnesty and become US citizens is to get a massive Stephen Miller/Steve Bannon-esque immigration overhaul bill that in no way should be attached to the ‘Dreamers’ issue. Because that’s holding the ‘Dreamers’ hostage.

    4. Holding the ‘Dreamers’ hostage is a horrible thing for the GOP to do. There are plenty of other opportunities for the GOP to bargain for its immigration overhaul demands without holding them hostage.

    5. With the White House already openly backing Tom Cotton’s radical immigration overhaul bill as standard Trump is looking for, it’s pretty clear Trump will only accept a massive Stephen Miller/Steven Bannon-esque immigration overhaul in exchange for freeing the Dreamer hostages. Which, again, is a horrible thing to do.

    6. All the above points are reasons to treat this Dreamer issue as a looming moral and humanitarian crisis and opportunity for the US. Because doing the right thing, and just granting amnesty to the ‘Dreamers’ a path to citizenship without tying it up with a big far-right immigration overhaul, really is the only decent option. Doing the right thing is a possibility here, but only if the public demands it.

    But there’s on other significant hurdle that both helps and hurts the upcoming February 8th shutdown showdown in the Senate: While the upcoming February 8th fight is in the Senate, the person most relevant to those discussion is in the other chamber of Congress: House Speaker Paul Ryan, who, like Trump, has a history of promising to save the Dreamers while also promising to appease the people who want them deported:

    The Washington Post

    The fate of the ‘dreamers’ lies in Paul Ryan’s hands

    By Paul Waldman
    January 23, 2018 at 1:42 PM

    Amid all the talk of who “won” the government shutdown, there’s an extremely important question that needs to be asked, one that concerns real people’s lives: What happens now to the “dreamers”?

    Almost everyone in both parties professes to care about the young people who were brought to America as children and grew up here, whom President Barack Obama protected by installing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump canceled last fall. Can they actually hope to be protected? Will the deal Democrats made with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) result in a permanent extension of DACA and a path to citizenship for them? Will Trump betray them at the urging of his hard-line anti-immigrant advisers?

    The truth is that there is one person who can answer all those questions, one person who has the power both to forestall another shutdown and literally keep hundreds of thousands of young people from having their lives destroyed. That person is House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), and unfortunately, there isn’t much reason to believe he’ll do the right thing.

    The agreement Senate Democrats struck with McConnell was the following: they would support reopening the government until Feb. 8, and between now and then, McConnell would allow a vote on an immigration bill that would provide protections for the dreamers. There are a couple of different proposals floating around, but the bill will probably include some money for a border wall and other restrictions that Republicans want, such as ending the diversity visa lottery.

    But whatever the Senate passes would then have to pass the House. The trouble there isn’t getting the votes, because a bill that was acceptable to the Senate would likely be able to pass the House without much of a problem. Presuming all or nearly all House Democrats vote for it, it would only need two dozen of the 238 Republican members to join in. The question is whether Ryan would allow a vote on a bill. If he does not, the dreamers would lose their work permits and likely be driven underground. Some could be deported — ripped away from their families and the country they grew up in, to be sent back to places they barely know. It is no exaggeration to say their lives are in Ryan’s hands.

    And what do we know about what he’ll do? Like most Republicans, when questioned about dreamers, Ryan says the right things. Last January, Ryan had a powerful exchange with a dreamer mom, during which he hailed her contribution to her community and said he and Trump want to act to allow people like her to “get right with the law.” More recently, in September, he said that dreamers should “rest easy,” because the Republican-controlled Congress would make sure they get to stay. In December, he again said he wanted to “make sure that we don’t pull the rug out from under people.”

    But if Ryan is going to be true to those sentiments, he might have to break another promise — one he made to the hard-right Freedom Caucus.

    In 2015, when Ryan was vying for House speaker, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) demanded and received a promise from Ryan that, even after Obama was gone, Ryan would allow no immigration bill to be voted on unless it had the support of “a majority of the majority.”

    So let’s say the Senate passes a bill to protect dreamers. That bill might or might not be able to get a majority of House Republicans. Either way, Ryan may refuse to allow the bill to come to a vote — in effect vetoing any compromise. Then we could be facing another government shutdown.

    Minus the shutdown, that’s what happened in 2013. A bipartisan “Gang of Eight” spent months crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate 68-32. When it was sent to the House, Speaker John A. Boehner killed it in deference to his party’s hard-right wing. Then as now, the bill would have passed if Boehner had allowed it to be voted on.

    But what about Trump, you might ask? His own feelings are fluid on this issue, depending on what he saw any given morning on “Fox & Friends,” or whether his latest double cheeseburger is sitting right. He says admiring things about the dreamers, but he’s also an obvious bigot who wants to make America more white. We’ve seen many times how he can be pulled back from conciliatory positions by the hard-liners on his staff, including John F. Kelly and Stephen Miller.

    That leaves it up to Ryan. He’s already under pressure from his right, and this morning Politico reports that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) “told us the House doesn’t feel at all bound by [McConnell’s] agreement with Senate Democrats to consider immigration legislation by Feb. 8.”

    What it ultimately comes down to is these questions: How deep is Ryan’s cruelty? Will he condemn hundreds of thousands of dreamers to possible deportation because he’s afraid of the ultra-right members of his caucus? Or will he do what he himself says is the right thing?

    We all know that once the threat of the government shutdown has passed, there won’t be any immigration compromise. The conflicts within the Republican Party are just too deep. So it’s now or never, and the fact that dreamers are going to have to rely on Paul Ryan’s humanity makes it hard to be optimistic.

    ———-

    “The truth is that there is one person who can answer all those questions, one person who has the power both to forestall another shutdown and literally keep hundreds of thousands of young people from having their lives destroyed. That person is House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), and unfortunately, there isn’t much reason to believe he’ll do the right thing.”

    Yep, even if the Senate comes to a bipartisan budget bill that includes a DACA fix, there’s no reason to assuem Paul Ryan will even allow a vote on the issue in the House. And that’s why Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, is ironically the central person in this shutdown situation in the Senate. Ok, President Trump is actually the central person on this issue because he could resolve it all single-handed (he just needs to issue an Executive Order), but since he’s clearly not interested in doing that, the next most important person in this debate because Paul Ryan:


    The agreement Senate Democrats struck with McConnell was the following: they would support reopening the government until Feb. 8, and between now and then, McConnell would allow a vote on an immigration bill that would provide protections for the dreamers. There are a couple of different proposals floating around, but the bill will probably include some money for a border wall and other restrictions that Republicans want, such as ending the diversity visa lottery.

    But whatever the Senate passes would then have to pass the House. The trouble there isn’t getting the votes, because a bill that was acceptable to the Senate would likely be able to pass the House without much of a problem. Presuming all or nearly all House Democrats vote for it, it would only need two dozen of the 238 Republican members to join in. The question is whether Ryan would allow a vote on a bill. If he does not, the dreamers would lose their work permits and likely be driven underground. Some could be deported — ripped away from their families and the country they grew up in, to be sent back to places they barely know. It is no exaggeration to say their lives are in Ryan’s hands.

    So if Democrats in the Senate are planning on redo of the government shutdown over the DACA issue, and Paul Ryan’s cooperation is required in the House for this issue to be resolved, what’s Paul Ryan’s stance on the issue? Well, as we saw, like most elected GOP officials, Paul Ryan has publicly expressed his sympathy for the Dreamers and has long indicated that he supports a fix for them:


    Almost everyone in both parties professes to care about the young people who were brought to America as children and grew up here, whom President Barack Obama protected by installing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump canceled last fall. Can they actually hope to be protected? Will the deal Democrats made with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) result in a permanent extension of DACA and a path to citizenship for them? Will Trump betray them at the urging of his hard-line anti-immigrant advisers?

    And what do we know about what he’ll do? Like most Republicans, when questioned about dreamers, Ryan says the right things. Last January, Ryan had a powerful exchange with a dreamer mom, during which he hailed her contribution to her community and said he and Trump want to act to allow people like her to “get right with the law.” More recently, in September, he said that dreamers should “rest easy,” because the Republican-controlled Congress would make sure they get to stay. In December, he again said he wanted to “make sure that we don’t pull the rug out from under people.”

    BUT, Ryan has also made pledges to the far-right Freedom Caucus of his party that he won’t allow an immigration bill to have a vote in the House UNLESS this bill as the backing of the “majority of the majority” (a majority of House GOPers). And there’s no real reason to believe a majority of House GOPers have any interest in an immigration bill that grants amnesty to the Dreamers, despite all the happy talk from the party:


    But if Ryan is going to be true to those sentiments, he might have to break another promise — one he made to the hard-right Freedom Caucus.

    In 2015, when Ryan was vying for House speaker, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) demanded and received a promise from Ryan that, even after Obama was gone, Ryan would allow no immigration bill to be voted on unless it had the support of “a majority of the majority.”

    So let’s say the Senate passes a bill to protect dreamers. That bill might or might not be able to get a majority of House Republicans. Either way, Ryan may refuse to allow the bill to come to a vote — in effect vetoing any compromise. Then we could be facing another government shutdown.

    Minus the shutdown, that’s what happened in 2013. A bipartisan “Gang of Eight” spent months crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate 68-32. When it was sent to the House, Speaker John A. Boehner killed it in deference to his party’s hard-right wing. Then as now, the bill would have passed if Boehner had allowed it to be voted on.

    And that massive uncertainty swirling around the House Republicans is a big reason why making this DACA issue part of the budget fight is seen as really the only real chance to save the Dreamers from deportation but also simultaneously why it’s very unclear if the threat of shutdown in the Senate even can resolve the issue because the Senate has no control over the House or the White House:

    We all know that once the threat of the government shutdown has passed, there won’t be any immigration compromise. The conflicts within the Republican Party are just too deep. So it’s now or never, and the fact that dreamers are going to have to rely on Paul Ryan’s humanity makes it hard to be optimistic.

    And this situation – where there’s absolutely no compelling reason to believe the GOP has any real interest in helping the Dreamers (other than the fear of looking like monsters after all the horror stories come out following the mass deportations) – is why the new February 8th deadline has a ‘now or never’ feel to it.

    But let’s not forget that it’s really more of a ‘now or hopefully later when it’s more obvious the GOP is going to seriously deport these kids‘ scenario as opposed to a ‘now or never’ scenario. Because the closer we get to that March 5th DACA deadline, and the more obvious it becomes that the GOP really is seriously about deporting these kids, the likelier that we’ll actually see some sort of public backlash against the GOP. And that public backlash is pretty much the ONLY thing that can realistically compel the GOP to do the right thing. Don’t forget, the vast majority of voters, including a majority of GOP voters, really do want to protect the Dreamers, but that small hardcore anti-immigrant GOP base is intensely opposed to it. The GOP really is in a bind here.

    And let’s also not forget about the other scenario that could result in the ‘Dreamers’ being save. It’s a horrible scenario but it might ironically work: the GOP lets DACA expire, the Dreamers start getting deported, and the horror stories about almost a million people who were essentially young Americans having their lives destroyed shocks and sickens the American public to such an extent that the GOP feels compelled to pass a fix just to avoid looking like the party of the heartless. That’s the ‘now or later, perhaps too late for some‘ scenario that at least some members of the GOP probably wants to avoid as much as the Dreamers.

    So we have this strange ‘chicken and egg’ scenario where the most effective path to persuading the Republicans to change their stance on this issue is to let them have their way and act like a bunch of monsters. The Democrats can insist all they want that the GOP is just lying when it pretends to want an actual solution for the Dreamers, but until the American public truly believes that’s the case and can clearly see that the party really is heartless enough to destroy the lives of almost a million young people there’s limited leverage that the Democrats have in this debate.

    But what about all those pledges Paul Ryan has made about finding some solution for the Dreamers? Might there be reason to assume that he’ll make good on that? Well, to answer that question, let’s take a look at the reason statements of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Because as the Majority Whip, Scalise’s job is to basically get an idea of where the GOP caucus stands on issue. So what does Scalise have to say about the idea of the House getting together with the Senate and passing a DACA bill that protects the Dreamers? There will be NO DEAL from the House until the March 5th deadline. And any deal can NOT involve amnesty for the Dreamers. That’s what Scalise had to say on the issue:

    Politico

    Scalise says House not bound by McConnell’s deal with Senate Democrats

    01/23/2018 06:18 AM EST

    As the Senate was voting yesterday, we headed up to the third floor of the capitol to sit down with HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP STEVE SCALISE (R-LA.). Scalise was recently discharged from the hospital, where he had another post-shooting surgery. Monday was his first day back in the Capitol.

    SCALISE was in good spirits. He was sharp — especially considering he had surgery less than two weeks ago. He had a few thoughts about the immigration debate… Keep this in mind: Scalise — and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry of North Carolina — interact with every single House Republican. They know the mood of the conference as well as anyone.

    SCALISE told us the House doesn’t feel at all bound by SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL’S (R-KY) agreement with Senate Democrats to consider immigration legislation by Feb. 8. “March is really the timeline. … The House wasn’t part of that deal.”

    We asked SCALISE if Graham-Durbin — the bipartisan immigration deal du jour — stands a chance, and he said “not in the House.” “It’s good for everybody to put their ideas on paper but ultimately there are things that can and cannot pass in the House. And we have to work through those details and we’re working through them.”

    SCALISE said he thought it would “excite our base” if they get a big immigration deal. But he said bluntly: “We’re not going to pass a bill that has amnesty. There are things that would anger our base that I don’t see us passing in the House.”

    — EXPECTATION SETTING: The Senate seems quite ready to tackle a big, bipartisan immigration deal. The only big legislation the House has passed in the last year is a tax bill, which was done with Republicans only. As we kick off this immigration debate, set your expectations to the lowest common denominator. Yes, it’s true that if put on truth serum, a majority of the House would probably support the DREAM Act. But in the real world, the leadership will be worried about their own preservation, and conservatives will ensure the debate tacks to the right.

    … OF COURSE, there’s a case to be made that the House will feel such intense political pressure that they’ll have to put something on the floor that a huge chunk of the conference hates. Time will only tell. But we think that’s unlikely.

    ———-

    “Scalise says House not bound by McConnell’s deal with Senate Democrats”; Politico; 01/23/2018

    “SCALISE told us the House doesn’t feel at all bound by SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL’S (R-KY) agreement with Senate Democrats to consider immigration legislation by Feb. 8. “March is really the timeline. … The House wasn’t part of that deal.”

    So House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is basically saying that there is NO WAY the House will participate in any deal worked out by Senate Democrats and Republicans UNTIL we’re at the March 5th DACA deadline. That certainly complicates the Senate Democrats’ February 8th shutdown threats. BUT, look at what Scalise has to say about how for the GOP is willing to go with the ultimate March 5th deal: “We’re not going to pass a bill that has amnesty. There are things that would anger our base that I don’t see us passing in the House”:


    We asked SCALISE if Graham-Durbin — the bipartisan immigration deal du jour — stands a chance, and he said “not in the House.” “It’s good for everybody to put their ideas on paper but ultimately there are things that can and cannot pass in the House. And we have to work through those details and we’re working through them.”

    SCALISE said he thought it would “excite our base” if they get a big immigration deal. But he said bluntly: “We’re not going to pass a bill that has amnesty. There are things that would anger our base that I don’t see us passing in the House.”

    And if there’s no amnesty for the Dreamers, that means the House GOP is basically planning on kicking them out. And that is exactly the kind of thing that does help the Senate Democrat’s shutdown threats because the whole Democratic strategy in this situation is to make it clear that the GOP really is planning on doing something Americans by and large view as horrible. And the GOP has to know that deporting the Dreamers is not going to be popular at all.

    That’s weird dynamic of all this. Steve Scalise’s warning that the House GOP will not to anything about the Dreamers before the March 5th deadline weakens the Democrats’ bargaining power in the upcoming February 8th shutdown fight in the Senate because the House GOP has already made it clear it’s unwilling to negotiate on anything before March 5th. But Scalise’s assurances that “We’re not going to pass a bill that has amnesty. There are things that would anger our base that I don’t see us passing in the House,” only serve to strengthen the Democrats’ case by making it clear that the House GOP really is planning on deporting the Dreamers and that’s the most important case the Democrats can make in this situation since public outrage over Dreamer deportations is the only real strength they have in this situation.

    And don’t forget that the bipartisan offer the Senate made to the White House that Trump rejected ‘as an insult’ was an offer that included an enormous number of concessions: funding for Trump’s border wall, limits on the ability of legal U.S. residents to sponsor their adult children for immigration, and a reduction in diversity visas. That was all rejected by the White House when the Democrats made that offer. So it’s pretty clear that the GOP is planning on making a Steve Bannon/Stephen Miller immigration overhaul wish list as its demands for protecting the Dreamers, knowing full well that such demands are unlikely to be met. And that’s why the best strategy for saving the Dreamers probably revolves around making the case to the American public that the GOP leaders like Paul Ryan are lying when they say they want to help the Dreamers and the GOP is planning on making completely unrealistic demands with these negotiations about a complete immigration overhaul in order to create the excuse for deporting them and blaming the Democrats. It’s all a cynical game design to create a giant smokescreen so they can deport the Dreamers and act like they had no choice. That’s obviously the GOP’s plan, and the closer we get to that March 5th deadline the more obvious it becomes.

    Will this issue be resolved with the upcoming new February 8th shutdown showdown? It’s possible, but it’s hard to see that happening because the GOP is probably just going to incredulously say, “we want to protect the Dreamers, but just not now. Not until March 5th.” And that means we’re probably looking at a March 5th showdown of some sort. And even then, it’s still unclear a deal will be achieved at that point because so much of the GOP wants nothing to do with amnesty for the Dreamers at all and will keep making more and more extreme demands in exchange for some sort of Dreamer path to citizenship because they are actually searching for a reason to not protect the Dreamers (to placate their hardline base) while blaming the Democrats. It’s like a hostage negotiation with the Joker.

    So is there any real hope for the Dreamers? Sure, but only as long as the situation for them appears hopeless thanks to GOP heartlessness. How exactly the Democrats make that heartless hopelessness clear to the American public remains to be seen. Winston Churchill is said to have once quipped that ‘that Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else’. Is that true in this situation or is American going to do the wrong thing after trying everything else? We’ll find out.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 24, 2018, 5:26 pm
  12. There’s no shortage of ominous stories involving the GOP. But there’s nothing quite like stories about the GOP’s youth outreach organizations to maximize the ominousness, because they’re generally stories about college Republicans espousing Nazi-like views. And those are the people who are going to be running the GOP in a few decades. It’s no surprise the nihilistic agenda of the GOP attracts scary youths, but it’s still ominous.

    So in the spirit of ominous stories about the GOP’s youth outreach agenda, here’s a pair of articles about Turning Point USA. It’s one of the far-right organizations focused on college campus. In particular, focused on what it perceived to be the persecution of conservative voices on college campuses. In other words, it’s a form of liberal tyranny when there are protests against someone like Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, or Charles Murray coming to spew hate speech on a campus or when far-right ideas are laughed down in classrooms because they’re ungrounded and academically unsound. Making the point that this is tyranny is one of the primary purposes of Turning Point USA.

    But as Jane Mayer pointed out in an article back in December, Turning Point USA has quite a few more uses. For instance, it’s being used as a vehicle for the right-wing takeover of almost all the college student governments of major American universities. The idea is to get power, then defund left-wing organization, and repeal bans on hate speech.

    Turning Point also runs a McCarthyite “Professor Watch List” that claims to reveal outrageous left-wing professors. And Turning Point USA has millions of dollars in its annual budget.

    So who is paying for Turning Point’s activities? Well, that’s a secret. Most of the donors are anonymous, although we know Foster Friess – one of the key billionaires behind Ted Cruz – is heavily involved in the financing. And the petroleum industry too. Other than that it’s a secret.

    Turning Point was also revealed to be used as a political arm of some Republican campaigns, which is technically illegal because it’s calls itself a charity. But it turns out that Crystal Clanton, the second in command at the group, was apparently lending some Turning Point staff to the campaign of Ted Cruz. Gini Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice member Clarence Thomas, was the Cruz campaign contact person with Clanton.

    And, surprise, it turns out that Turning Point USA had a racially hostile environment. Clanton was revealed to have sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all … I hate blacks. End of story.” The few black members found themselves uninvited to evens. And, as we’ll see, the group has a very chummy relationship with a number of ‘Alt Right’ figures.

    Oh, and the group can boast the endorsements of Breitbart and the Trump family. Don Jr. and Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, are both openly close to the group.

    So we have a secret billionaire-funded far-right organization dedicated to attacking left-wing professors and taking over college student governments run by racists. And it’s acting as a potential pool for youth muscle for GOP campaigns while calling itself a tax-exempt charity so those secret billionaires have extra incentives to flood them with money. This is why the GOP youth outreach stories are so ominous:

    The New Yorker

    A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity

    By Jane Mayer

    December 21, 2017

    On Tuesday, in a convention center in West Palm Beach, Florida, amid chants of “USA!” and “The wall is going to be built!,” Donald Trump, Jr., kicked off a three-day annual summit for Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit. Based outside of Chicago, Turning Point’s aim is to foment a political revolution on America’s college campuses, in part by funnelling money into student government elections across the country to elect right-leaning candidates. But it is secretive about its funding and its donors, raising the prospect that “dark money” may now be shaping not just state and federal races but ones on campus..

    Turning Point touts its close relationship with the President’s family. The group’s Web site promoted Don, Jr.,’s appearance for weeks, featuring a photo of him raising a clenched fist. Its promotional materials include a quote from the younger Trump praising Turning Point: “What you guys have done” is “just amazing.” Lara Trump, the wife of Don, Jr.,’s brother Eric, is also involved with the group. In West Palm Beach on Wednesday, she hosted a luncheon promoting Turning Point’s coming Young Women’s Leadership Summit. The group’s twenty-four-year-old executive director and founder, Charlie Kirk, told me that he counts Don, Jr., as “a personal friend.”

    Turning Point casts itself as a grassroots response to what it perceives as liberal intolerance on college campuses. Kirk has called college campuses “islands of totalitarianism”; he and his supporters contend that conservatives are the true victims of discrimination in America, and he has vowed to fight back on behalf of what he has called his “Team Right.” Kirk is a frequent guest on Fox News, and last summer he was invited to give a speech at the Republican National Convention. That was where he met Donald Trump, Jr., and “hit it off” with him, Kirk said. After the convention, Kirk divided his time between Turning Point activities and working for the Trump campaign as a specialist in youth outreach. “I helped coördinate some rather successful events with him,” Kirk told me, referring to Don, Jr., “and I also carried his bags.” When friends threw Kirk a surprise birthday party earlier this year, Don, Jr., attended, as did Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump White House adviser.

    As Turning Point’s profile has risen, so has scrutiny of its funding and tactics. Internal documents that I obtained, as well as interviews with former employees, suggest that the group may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity. Former employees say that they were directed to work with prominent conservatives, including the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in aid of Republican Presidential candidates in 2016. Perhaps most troubling for an organization that holds up conservatives as the real victims of discrimination in America, Turning Point USA is also alleged to have fostered an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities. Screenshots provided to me by a source show that Crystal Clanton, who served until last summer as the group’s national field director, sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all … I hate blacks. End of story.”

    Clanton, who resigned after serving as the group’s second-highest official for five years, at first declined to comment. “I’m no longer with Turning Point and wish not to be a part of the story,” Clanton told me over e-mail. Later, in a second e-mail, she said, “I have no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.”

    John Ryan O’Rourke, the former Turning Point employee who received the text messages from Clanton, requested that the messages “not be used in any article or background information concerning Turning Point” and declined to comment on them. Kirk said in an e-mail that “Turning Point assessed the situation and took decisive action within 72 hours of being made aware of the issue.” Soon after, Clanton left the organization.

    While Kirk served as the public face of Turning Point, Clanton, its former field director, acted as its hands-on boss, according to former employees. In a 2016 book that Kirk co-authored with Brent Hamachek, “Time for a Turning Point: Setting a Course Toward Free Markets and Limited Government for Future Generations,” he described Clanton as “the best hire we ever could have made.” He called her “integral to the success of Turning Point while effectively serving as its chief operating officer.” He added, “Turning Point needs more Crystals; so does America.”

    Former Turning Point employees say that the organization was a difficult workplace and rife with tension, some of it racial. Gabrielle Fequiere, a former Turning Point employee, told me that she was the only African-American hired as a field director when she worked with the group, three years ago. “In looking back, I think it was racist,” she said. “At the time, I was blaming myself, and I thought I did something wrong.” Fequiere, who now works as a model, recalled that the young black recruits that she brought into the organization suddenly found themselves disinvited from the group’s annual student summit, and that when she herself attended, she watched speakers there who “spoke badly about black women having all these babies out of wedlock. It was really offensive.” (Kirk, through a spokesman, denied that any such incidents occurred, and said, “These accusations are absolutely baseless and even absurd.”)

    Fequiere said that Clanton fired her on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, on the grounds that she was not performing her job well. “I was the only black American employee they had, and they fired me on M.L.K. Day—it was so rude!” Fequiere told me. She added, “I felt very uncomfortable working there because I was black,” but she said she had seen white employees mistreated, as well. “My Democratic friends had told me that some Republicans didn’t care about the poor and minorities, and I thought it wasn’t true, but then I found the people they were talking about!”

    Speakers at Turning Point events on various college campuses have been accused of going out of their way to thumb their noses at ethnic and cultural sensitivities. The conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, whose appearance Turning Point co-hosted with the College Republicans at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, said that despite being gay, he hated “faggots,” lesbians, and feminists, who, he said, “fucking hate men.”

    In an effort to mock campus opposition to hate speech, members of the Turning Point chapter at Kent State University staged a protest last fall in which they appeared on campus wearing adult diapers and sucking on pacifiers while proclaiming “Safe Spaces are for Children.” The protest stirred widespread ridicule, and Kirk’s spokesman said that he disapproved of the display and later issued guidelines against other chapters repeating it.

    Kirk grew up in Wheeling, Illinois, and was an Eagle Scout; in a 2015 speech to the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley, he said that his “No. 1 dream in life” was to attend West Point, but the slot he considered his went to “a far less-qualified candidate of a different gender and a different persuasion” whose test scores he claimed he knew. (Kirk said he was being sarcastic when he made the comment.) An older acquaintance encouraged him to forgo college and launch a conservative analogue to the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org. Kirk acknowledged in an interview that it is something of an irony that he heads an organization devoted to waging political warfare on campuses when he never actually attended college himself. “I joke that I wasn’t smart enough to go to a four-year school,” Kirk told me, although he noted that he continued his studies at a community college.

    MoveOn, however, has one part set up as a super PAC, and another as a 501(c)4 “social-welfare group,” both of which are legally allowed to engage in political elections. It also has a policy of disclosing the names of anyone contributing five thousand dollars or more. In contrast, Turning Point is a 501(c)3 charity. This means that, unlike MoveOn donors, Turning Point donors can take tax deductions for their contributions and remain anonymous. In exchange for these benefits, however, the Internal Revenue Service strictly prohibits charities such as Turning Point from engaging either directly or indirectly in political elections.

    Several former Turning Point employees told me in interviews that they felt they were asked to participate in activities that crossed lines drawn by campaign-finance laws for groups like theirs. Payden Hall, who worked for Turning Point during the 2016 Presidential campaign, told me that Clanton, who was her boss, e-mailed her at her Turning Point address to make arrangements for her to coördinate with Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to help Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign. “That’s where the ambiguity began,” Hall recalled. Soon after, she said, Ginni Thomas, who was supporting Cruz’s candidacy and is on Turning Point’s advisory council, left a voice message for Hall and her sister, who also worked for Turning Point, saying that she was sending two hundred Cruz placards to them to distribute in the coming Wisconsin Presidential primary.

    “Crystal gave Ginni Thomas my private mailing address without my permission,” Hall recalled. “They gave out employees’ personal information to the wife of a Supreme Court Justice.” The next thing she knew, she said, hundreds of Cruz placards arrived at her home. “We threw them out,” Hall said. She was a Cruz supporter, but, she says, “We wanted to volunteer on our own terms, not to give in to pressure from a boss. I felt that if it wasn’t crossing a legal line, it was crossing a professional one.”

    Trevor Potter, a former Republican commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission who is the founder and president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign-finance-law watchdog group, said that Turning Point is barred from aiding political campaigns. “Under the law, a 501(c)3 can’t engage in political action or give anything of value to a campaign, including students, or the names of students,” he said. “If what Turning Point USA was doing was helping Republicans on campus and feeding them to campaigns, that’s a political operation, and it sounds as if it crosses the line.”

    Reached by phone, Ginni Thomas declined to comment. Clanton’s lawyer, Robert Grabermann, said that if she e-mailed Hall “at her TPUSA email address, it was an honest oversight and sincere mistake on Ms. Clanton’s part. Ms. Clanton categorically denies using TPUSA resources to aid any political campaign activities. She fully understands the 501 (c)(3) guidelines, and has on many occasions consulted with legal counsel to ensure that all personal campaign involvement was compliant with 501 (c)(3) rules.”

    Susan Walker, who worked for Turning Point USA in Florida, in 2016, told me that the group did aid Republican political campaigns. Walker said that a list she created while working for Turning Point, with the names of hundreds of student supporters, was given without her knowledge to someone working for Marco Rubio’s Presidential campaign. “That list had, like, seven hundred kids, and I worked my ass off to get it,” she said. “I had added notes on every student I talked to, and they were all on it still.” The Rubio operative, she added, “shouldn’t have had that list. We were a charity, and he was on a political campaign.”

    E-mails and interviews from other former Turning Point employees in South Carolina and Ohio showed crossover between Presidential-campaign work and work for the charity, as well. In South Carolina, a chain of e-mails shows, Kirk asked a Turning Point USA employee to round up students to support Cruz at the behest of two officials with a pro-Cruz super PAC. In a January 25, 2016, e-mail, Drew Ryun, a Turning Point advisory-council member who was helping run one of the pro-Cruz super PACs, asked Kirk to get another Turning Point employee to “send” the super PAC “as many kids as possible.” Ryun, a former deputy director of the Republican National Committee, explained that he needed “as many kids as you can generate for a WSJ piece on efforts in” South Carolina. After Kirk agreed to help, the e-mail thread shows, Kirk coördinated with Dan Tripp, Ryun’s associate at the pro-Cruz super PAC, who headed its operations in South Carolina and is the founder and president of Ground Game Strategies.

    “Yes!” Kirk answered Tripp when asked for help from Turning Point. “What part of SC?”

    “Greenville, Spartenburg or Anderson Counties,” Tripp replied.

    “Time of day and how long?” Kirk asked.

    “I’m thinking 2 hours late Sunday afternoon. Canvassing, training and pizza,” Tripp responded.

    “You got it, will recon shortly,” Kirk e-mailed back. Kirk explained that a Turning Point employee in South Carolina named Anna Scott Marsh would be the point person, and added that “Anna will be helping. Let’s rock this!”

    Soon after, e-mails show, Marsh, the Turning Point employee, promised to round up the requested recruits. “Sending something out tonight, and will send you a list hopefully tomorrow … I’m sure we can find some solid students here.” Marsh declined to comment about her e-mails.

    Asked about these practices, Kirk referred me to a statement from his lawyer, Sally Wagenmaker: “Turning Point USA works diligently to comply entirely with all relevant laws and regulations governing not-for-profit organizations. Turning Point USA focuses on fiscal conservatism, free market economics, and related student education and advocacy, all completely within applicable Section 501(c)(3) legal constraints.”

    Ryun confirmed that the exchanges occurred, but said that Kirk e-mailed him “via his personal e-mail and on his personal time!” Tripp, too, confirmed the e-mails, but said, “We welcomed many volunteers to our efforts and were grateful for their support. It would be quite troubling if campaign finance rules were interpreted to prevent conservative volunteers from exercising their right to be involved in the political process.”

    In a phone interview, Kirk declined to identify the donors who have supplied his group’s eight-million-dollar-plus annual budget, noting that many prefer to remain anonymous. But Kirk has spoken and fund-raised at various closed-door energy-industry gatherings, including those of the 2017 board meeting of the National Mining Association and the 2016 annual meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. In our interview, Kirk acknowledged that some of his donors “are in the fossil-fuel space.”

    Kirk’s ties to fossil-fuel magnates are controversial because Turning Point has helped organize opposition on campuses to students calling for schools to divest from fossil-fuel companies. Turning Point distributed a guide for college students with a foreword by Kirk, titled “10 Ways Fossil Fuels Improve Our Daily Lives.” In it, he argues, “Across the nation, college students are clamoring for their campuses to divest from fossil fuel … students are indoctrinated to believe the myth that fossil fuels are dirty and renewable energy is a plausible alternative … ” Turning Point, which also runs an online “Professor Watch List” that targets professors it believes are liberal, blamed “leftist professors” in its booklet for having “perpetuated” these “myths.” In the interview, Kirk told me that “We think targeting fossil fuels is rather unfair, and it is not really in the best interests of the universities to favor one type of political agenda over another.” It’s a message that “went great,” he said, when he delivered it at energy-industry meetings.

    Last May, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an investigative report on what it called Turning Point’s “stealth plan for political influence.” The story recounted accusations on multiple campuses that the group had funnelled money into student elections in violation of the spending caps and transparency requirements set by those schools. It detailed how student candidates backed by Turning Point had been forced to drop out of campus elections at the University of Maryland and Ohio State “after they were caught violating spending rules and attempting to hide the help they received from Turning Point.” It also quoted Kirk saying in an appearance before a conservative political group in 2015 that his group was “investing a lot of time and money and energy” in student-government elections. (In the story, Kirk denied any wrongdoing and said it was “completely ludicrous and ridiculous that there’s some sort of secret plan.”)

    A copy of a Turning Point brochure prepared for potential donors that I obtained provides a glimpse into the group’s tactics. (A former Turning Point employee said the brochure was closely held, and not posted online so that it couldn’t leak.) Its “Campus Victory Project” is described as a detailed, multi-phase plan to “commandeer the top office of Student Body President at each of the most recognizable and influential American Universities.”

    Phase 1 calls for victory in the “Power 5” conference schools, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Pacific 12 Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference. Phase 2 calls for winning the top student-government slots in every Division 1 N.C.A.A. school, of which it says there are more than three hundred. In the first three years of the plan, the brochure says, the group aims to capture the “outright majority” of student-government positions in eighty per cent of these schools.

    Once in control of student governments, the brochure says, Turning Point expects its allied campus leaders to follow a set political agenda. Among its planks are the defunding of progressive organizations on campus, the implementation of “free speech” policies eliminating barriers to hate speech, and the blocking of all campus “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movements. Turning Point’s agenda also calls for the student leaders it empowers to use student resources to host speakers and forums promoting “American Exceptionalism and Free Market ideals on campus.”

    Today, Turning Point claims to have a presence on more than a thousand college campuses nationwide, and to have “a stronger, more organized presence than all the left-wing campus groups combined.” Kirk told me his group had started three hundred new chapters in the past year. The Campus Victory Project brochure names more than fifty four-year colleges and universities where it claims the group helped effectuate student government victories in the 2016–17 year, including the University of California, Los Angeles, Syracuse, Purdue, Michigan State, Wake Forest, and the University of Southern California, and it names a hundred and twenty-two more schools whose governments the group hopes to “commandeer” in Phase 2. The brochure notes that completing the task will take money: specifically, $2.2 million.

    The prospect of “dark money”—contributions from anonymous donors to national ideological groups—flowing into campus elections has alarmed some students. “Students were outraged that our elections were being influenced from outside,” Danielle Di Scala, who last year was vice-president of the student government at Ohio State University, said. “I’d never seen that before, but it’s starting to be a trend. The problem,” she told me, “is it can price some student candidates out of the market when others are getting money from groups with unlimited funds.”

    Andy MacCracken, the executive director of the National Campus Leadership Council, said he worries that campus elections are “particularly vulnerable” to outside money, “because there aren’t really any standard rules.” MacCracken says it’s been “shocking to see how much of an operation there is from Turning Point,” adding that “there’s really nothing comparable that I’m aware of from left-wing groups.”. The push, he suggested, reflects a recognition on the part of conservatives about the future value of student leaders. “I can totally imagine they’re thinking that if we can win this on campuses, they will be the thought leaders down the road. This is a way to win it efficiently at the start. The challenge, though,” he says, “is that so much of this is in the dark.”

    ———–

    “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity” by Jane Mayer; The New Yorker; 12/21/2017

    “As Turning Point’s profile has risen, so has scrutiny of its funding and tactics. Internal documents that I obtained, as well as interviews with former employees, suggest that the group may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity. Former employees say that they were directed to work with prominent conservatives, including the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in aid of Republican Presidential candidates in 2016. Perhaps most troubling for an organization that holds up conservatives as the real victims of discrimination in America, Turning Point USA is also alleged to have fostered an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities. Screenshots provided to me by a source show that Crystal Clanton, who served until last summer as the group’s national field director, sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all … I hate blacks. End of story.”

    Turning Point USA: the conservative ‘charity’ dedicated to harassing liberal professor and a stealth campaign to take over student governments. And its national field director, who hates black people and was open about this, directed her employees to help Ted Cruz’s campaign. It’s quite a charity. No wonder the Trumps love it. And Turning Point’s founder, Charlie Kirk who now calls Don, Jr. a personal friend, was working for the Trump campaign as a specialist in youth outreach:


    Turning Point touts its close relationship with the President’s family. The group’s Web site promoted Don, Jr.,’s appearance for weeks, featuring a photo of him raising a clenched fist. Its promotional materials include a quote from the younger Trump praising Turning Point: “What you guys have done” is “just amazing.” Lara Trump, the wife of Don, Jr.,’s brother Eric, is also involved with the group. In West Palm Beach on Wednesday, she hosted a luncheon promoting Turning Point’s coming Young Women’s Leadership Summit. The group’s twenty-four-year-old executive director and founder, Charlie Kirk, told me that he counts Don, Jr., as “a personal friend.”

    Turning Point casts itself as a grassroots response to what it perceives as liberal intolerance on college campuses. Kirk has called college campuses “islands of totalitarianism”; he and his supporters contend that conservatives are the true victims of discrimination in America, and he has vowed to fight back on behalf of what he has called his “Team Right.” Kirk is a frequent guest on Fox News, and last summer he was invited to give a speech at the Republican National Convention. That was where he met Donald Trump, Jr., and “hit it off” with him, Kirk said. After the convention, Kirk divided his time between Turning Point activities and working for the Trump campaign as a specialist in youth outreach. “I helped coördinate some rather successful events with him,” Kirk told me, referring to Don, Jr., “and I also carried his bags.” When friends threw Kirk a surprise birthday party earlier this year, Don, Jr., attended, as did Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump White House adviser.

    Sebastian Gorka and Don, Jr. show up for your surprise birthday party. The joys of being a right-wing hack.

    And, as we should expect for a group with a national field director who openly hates black people, the black employees didn’t feel welcome. And the only black field director was fired of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day:


    Former Turning Point employees say that the organization was a difficult workplace and rife with tension, some of it racial. Gabrielle Fequiere, a former Turning Point employee, told me that she was the only African-American hired as a field director when she worked with the group, three years ago. “In looking back, I think it was racist,” she said. “At the time, I was blaming myself, and I thought I did something wrong.” Fequiere, who now works as a model, recalled that the young black recruits that she brought into the organization suddenly found themselves disinvited from the group’s annual student summit, and that when she herself attended, she watched speakers there who “spoke badly about black women having all these babies out of wedlock. It was really offensive.” (Kirk, through a spokesman, denied that any such incidents occurred, and said, “These accusations are absolutely baseless and even absurd.”)

    Fequiere said that Clanton fired her on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, on the grounds that she was not performing her job well. “I was the only black American employee they had, and they fired me on M.L.K. Day—it was so rude!” Fequiere told me. She added, “I felt very uncomfortable working there because I was black,” but she said she had seen white employees mistreated, as well. “My Democratic friends had told me that some Republicans didn’t care about the poor and minorities, and I thought it wasn’t true, but then I found the people they were talking about!”

    Speakers at Turning Point events on various college campuses have been accused of going out of their way to thumb their noses at ethnic and cultural sensitivities. The conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, whose appearance Turning Point co-hosted with the College Republicans at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, said that despite being gay, he hated “faggots,” lesbians, and feminists, who, he said, “fucking hate men.”

    In an effort to mock campus opposition to hate speech, members of the Turning Point chapter at Kent State University staged a protest last fall in which they appeared on campus wearing adult diapers and sucking on pacifiers while proclaiming “Safe Spaces are for Children.” The protest stirred widespread ridicule, and Kirk’s spokesman said that he disapproved of the display and later issued guidelines against other chapters repeating it

    And Turning Point can pay for these staffers with his millions in anonymous donations. Which are tax deductible because it calls itself a charity. Despite lending its staff to Republican campaigns. It’s the kind of thing that’s not going to b e limited to Turning Point but is instead likely an example of how a lot of political ‘charities’ operate to giving secret billionaires more bang for their buck:


    Kirk grew up in Wheeling, Illinois, and was an Eagle Scout; in a 2015 speech to the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley, he said that his “No. 1 dream in life” was to attend West Point, but the slot he considered his went to “a far less-qualified candidate of a different gender and a different persuasion” whose test scores he claimed he knew. (Kirk said he was being sarcastic when he made the comment.) An older acquaintance encouraged him to forgo college and launch a conservative analogue to the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org. Kirk acknowledged in an interview that it is something of an irony that he heads an organization devoted to waging political warfare on campuses when he never actually attended college himself. “I joke that I wasn’t smart enough to go to a four-year school,” Kirk told me, although he noted that he continued his studies at a community college.

    MoveOn, however, has one part set up as a super PAC, and another as a 501(c)4 “social-welfare group,” both of which are legally allowed to engage in political elections. It also has a policy of disclosing the names of anyone contributing five thousand dollars or more. In contrast, Turning Point is a 501(c)3 charity. This means that, unlike MoveOn donors, Turning Point donors can take tax deductions for their contributions and remain anonymous. In exchange for these benefits, however, the Internal Revenue Service strictly prohibits charities such as Turning Point from engaging either directly or indirectly in political elections.

    Several former Turning Point employees told me in interviews that they felt they were asked to participate in activities that crossed lines drawn by campaign-finance laws for groups like theirs. Payden Hall, who worked for Turning Point during the 2016 Presidential campaign, told me that Clanton, who was her boss, e-mailed her at her Turning Point address to make arrangements for her to coördinate with Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to help Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign. “That’s where the ambiguity began,” Hall recalled. Soon after, she said, Ginni Thomas, who was supporting Cruz’s candidacy and is on Turning Point’s advisory council, left a voice message for Hall and her sister, who also worked for Turning Point, saying that she was sending two hundred Cruz placards to them to distribute in the coming Wisconsin Presidential primary.

    “Crystal gave Ginni Thomas my private mailing address without my permission,” Hall recalled. “They gave out employees’ personal information to the wife of a Supreme Court Justice.” The next thing she knew, she said, hundreds of Cruz placards arrived at her home. “We threw them out,” Hall said. She was a Cruz supporter, but, she says, “We wanted to volunteer on our own terms, not to give in to pressure from a boss. I felt that if it wasn’t crossing a legal line, it was crossing a professional one.”

    Keep in mind that these are a bunch of former employees giving these testimonies. Seems like a pretty crappy place to work.

    So how many resources does Turning Point actually have on hand to lend to campaigns like Cruz’s and act as a political operative tax shelter? Well, it appears to have an $8 million annual budget. Raised from the energy industry:


    In a phone interview, Kirk declined to identify the donors who have supplied his group’s eight-million-dollar-plus annual budget, noting that many prefer to remain anonymous. But Kirk has spoken and fund-raised at various closed-door energy-industry gatherings, including those of the 2017 board meeting of the National Mining Association and the 2016 annual meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. In our interview, Kirk acknowledged that some of his donors “are in the fossil-fuel space.”

    Kirk’s ties to fossil-fuel magnates are controversial because Turning Point has helped organize opposition on campuses to students calling for schools to divest from fossil-fuel companies. Turning Point distributed a guide for college students with a foreword by Kirk, titled “10 Ways Fossil Fuels Improve Our Daily Lives.” In it, he argues, “Across the nation, college students are clamoring for their campuses to divest from fossil fuel … students are indoctrinated to believe the myth that fossil fuels are dirty and renewable energy is a plausible alternative … ” Turning Point, which also runs an online “Professor Watch List” that targets professors it believes are liberal, blamed “leftist professors” in its booklet for having “perpetuated” these “myths.” In the interview, Kirk told me that “We think targeting fossil fuels is rather unfair, and it is not really in the best interests of the universities to favor one type of political agenda over another.” It’s a message that “went great,” he said, when he delivered it at energy-industry meetings.

    And this energy industry-funded national right-wing campus activism group dedicated to portraying conservatives as a persecuted class on campus is being used as a vehicle for a right-wing takeover of college campuses across America:


    Last May, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an investigative report on what it called Turning Point’s “stealth plan for political influence.” The story recounted accusations on multiple campuses that the group had funnelled money into student elections in violation of the spending caps and transparency requirements set by those schools. It detailed how student candidates backed by Turning Point had been forced to drop out of campus elections at the University of Maryland and Ohio State “after they were caught violating spending rules and attempting to hide the help they received from Turning Point.” It also quoted Kirk saying in an appearance before a conservative political group in 2015 that his group was “investing a lot of time and money and energy” in student-government elections. (In the story, Kirk denied any wrongdoing and said it was “completely ludicrous and ridiculous that there’s some sort of secret plan.”)

    A copy of a Turning Point brochure prepared for potential donors that I obtained provides a glimpse into the group’s tactics. (A former Turning Point employee said the brochure was closely held, and not posted online so that it couldn’t leak.) Its “Campus Victory Project” is described as a detailed, multi-phase plan to “commandeer the top office of Student Body President at each of the most recognizable and influential American Universities.”

    Phase 1 calls for victory in the “Power 5” conference schools, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Pacific 12 Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference. Phase 2 calls for winning the top student-government slots in every Division 1 N.C.A.A. school, of which it says there are more than three hundred. In the first three years of the plan, the brochure says, the group aims to capture the “outright majority” of student-government positions in eighty per cent of these schools.

    Once in control of student governments, the brochure says, Turning Point expects its allied campus leaders to follow a set political agenda. Among its planks are the defunding of progressive organizations on campus, the implementation of “free speech” policies eliminating barriers to hate speech, and the blocking of all campus “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movements. Turning Point’s agenda also calls for the student leaders it empowers to use student resources to host speakers and forums promoting “American Exceptionalism and Free Market ideals on campus.”

    Today, Turning Point claims to have a presence on more than a thousand college campuses nationwide, and to have “a stronger, more organized presence than all the left-wing campus groups combined.” Kirk told me his group had started three hundred new chapters in the past year. The Campus Victory Project brochure names more than fifty four-year colleges and universities where it claims the group helped effectuate student government victories in the 2016–17 year, including the University of California, Los Angeles, Syracuse, Purdue, Michigan State, Wake Forest, and the University of Southern California, and it names a hundred and twenty-two more schools whose governments the group hopes to “commandeer” in Phase 2. The brochure notes that completing the task will take money: specifically, $2.2 million.

    Once in control of student governments, the brochure says, Turning Point expects its allied campus leaders to follow a set political agenda. Among its planks are the defunding of progressive organizations on campus, the implementation of “free speech” policies eliminating barriers to hate speech, and the blocking of all campus “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movements. Turning Point’s agenda also calls for the student leaders it empowers to use student resources to host speakers and forums promoting “American Exceptionalism and Free Market ideals on campus.””

    That’s the plan: defund left-wing groups on campus and get rid of campus hate speech laws.

    As Andy MacCracken, the executive director of the National Campus Leadership Council, puts it at the end, this is an investment in the thought leaders of the tomorrow. Literally an attempt to hijack student governments and, in the process, create young conservative ‘thought leaders’ who will hopefully be influential decades later. And, no, there doesn’t appear to be a left-wing equivalent of a group like this:


    Andy MacCracken, the executive director of the National Campus Leadership Council, said he worries that campus elections are “particularly vulnerable” to outside money, “because there aren’t really any standard rules.” MacCracken says it’s been “shocking to see how much of an operation there is from Turning Point,” adding that “there’s really nothing comparable that I’m aware of from left-wing groups.”. The push, he suggested, reflects a recognition on the part of conservatives about the future value of student leaders. “I can totally imagine they’re thinking that if we can win this on campuses, they will be the thought leaders down the road. This is a way to win it efficiently at the start. The challenge, though,” he says, “is that so much of this is in the dark.”

    “I can totally imagine they’re thinking that if we can win this on campuses, they will be the thought leaders down the road. This is a way to win it efficiently at the start. The challenge, though, is that so much of this is in the dark.”

    An investment in the future of thought by trying to take control of campuses to further the far-right agenda of the energy sector. There’s no shortage of ominousness there.

    So what should we expect from Turning Point? Will it succeed in its stealth campus crusade? Well, as the following piece from the Southern Poverty Law Center describes, it appears that Turning Point might have some more problems with disgruntled workers. But it’s a very different problem with the workers campaigning about racism and campaign financier violations:

    On February 12th, Kaitlin Bennett, the president of the Kent State University chapter of Turning Point USA, published a letter listing her reasons for resigning. And at the core of her complaints was what she saw as hypocrisy by TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk over his refusal to allow her to invite ‘Alt Right’ celebrity Kyle ‘the Based Stickman’ Chapman to speak at an event because Kirk wants the group to distance itself from the ‘Alt Right’. Bennett pointed out the hypocrisy by noting how Kirk had recently liked a tweet by James Alsupp, a white nationalist icon.

    And as the following article lays out, this outburst from Bennett happened just 10 days after Kirk had to publicly denounce members of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP) during a speech at the Colorado State University at Fort Collins. The TWP – which is Matt Hembach’s youth-oriented neo-Nazi organization – had been canvassing anti-immigrant fliers on the campus earlier that week, which sounds like piggy-backing on Kirk’s appearance. And then during Kirk’s speech some of the TWP members showed up outside with masks and shields and started chanting “blood and soil!”. So of course Kirk denounces them at that moment. You almost have to wonder if that was the point of the spectacle. To give Kirk a chance to denounce them while getting a bunch of attention.

    But that was the context of Bennett’s public resignation: Kirk had denounced the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party people in masks chanting “blood and soil!” 10 days earlier and he wouldn’t let Bennett invite ‘Alt Right’ celebrity Kyle ‘Stickman’ Chapman to come speak. So it seems pretty safe to say that Turning Point USA has an ‘Alt Right’ problem:

    Southern Poverty Law Center

    Turning Point USA’s blooming romance with the alt-right

    Brendan Joel Kelley
    February 16, 2018

    On Monday, February 12, Kaitlin Bennett, president of the Kent State University chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a self-proclaimed “student movement for free markets and limited government,” posted a scathing resignation letter online titled “I’m Turning Point USA’s Top Activist in the Country, & I Quit this Shitty Organization.”

    Addressed to a field director and a regional manager for TPUSA, Frankie O’Laughlin and Alana Mastrangelo, respectively, the letter detailed Bennett’s perceived lack of support from the national organization, but made some pointed claims related to the racist “alt-right.”

    Bennett asserted that O’Laughlin “told us we were not allowed to bring Kyle Chapman (the Based Stickman) to our campus since Turning Point wants to distance itself from the alt-right.” Chapman is the founder of the Proud Boys-affiliated Fraternal Order of Alt Knights, which he called the “tactical defensive arm” of the “western chauvinist” Proud Boys.

    Bennett went on to point out the hypocrisy of O’Laughlin rejecting Chapman as a guest, since O’Laughlin himself was “liking tweets from notorious Charlottesville attendee and white nationalist icon, James Allsupp,” and posted a screengrab of an Allsup tweet O’Laughlin liked. Allsup is an alt-right YouTube personality and speaks at white nationalist rallies.

    The same day Bennett’s resignation letter was posted online, the Kent State chapter of TPUSA disbanded itself. Bennett did not respond to a request for comment from Hatewatch.

    Just 10 days earlier, on February 2, a speaking engagement at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado, by TPUSA founder and director Charlie Kirk attracted a contingent of white nationalists from the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP). In the runup to the event, anti-immigrant fliers attributed to TWP had been posted on the CSU campus, causing both CSU’s president and its local TPUSA chapter to respond.

    “The TWP goes by various names online, but let me keep this simple: a Nazi is a Nazi is a Nazi. And the members of the Traditionalist Worker Party are unapologetic Nazis who advocate murdering all those who don’t align with their worldview,” CSU president Tony Frank wrote in a public statement.

    Regarding Kirk’s speaking engagement, titled “Smashing Socialism,” Frank wrote, “the recent appearance of white nationalist rhetoric on campus has been conflated with this speaker and caused concerns about the safety and security of religious groups, people of color, and other targeted populations relative to protestors and counter-protestors that may show up on campus Friday evening.”

    CSU’s TPUSA chapter responded with a statement saying, “TPUSA at CSU and UNC [University of Northern Colorado] condemns white nationalism and embraces students from all backgrounds.”

    While TPUSA founder Kirk was giving his speech, a group of alleged TWP members showed up on campus wearing masks and carrying shields, chanting the Nazi rallying cry “blood and soil!” The neo-Nazis briefly clashed with anti-racist protesters, and Kirk later crowed about the confrontation on Twitter:

    Got heated today after my speech today at Colorado State University
    Had ANTIFA, disgusting white-nationalists, and hundreds of protestors outside event
    Why free speech is awesome: these handful of radicals screamed at each other while hundreds of students filled our event!

    During his speech, Kirk acknowledged the white nationalists outside, but distanced himself and TPUSA from the neo-Nazis. “That BS they’re trying to say out there, it’s not who we are, it’s not what we believe, it’s not what Turning Point believes,” he said.

    “It’s very funny, they say, ‘Oh Charlie, you must be an ethno-nationalist because these four people with no lives show up outside your event. First of all, that’s a bunch of nonsense. Second of all, I don’t remember anyone saying that when all the communists show up to the Democrat events.”

    Still, in his appearance Kirk decried the concept of white privilege, calling the idea racist because the idea is based on skin color. “They’re trying to discredit good ideas and good arguments, just because you’re white, and that’s ridiculous,” he said.

    So what exactly is Turning Point USA, and why is the organization so attractive to neo-Nazis and the alt-right?

    TPUSA claims chapters on over 1,000 college and high school campuses across the country. It markets itself saying it promotes freedom, free markets and limited government — a brand of conservatism squarely aimed at millennials. Donald Trump, Jr., and his sister-in-law Lara Trump have promoted TPUSA, and according to a New Yorker expose on the group, “[a]mong its planks are the defunding of progressive organizations on campus, the implementation of ‘free speech’ policies eliminating barriers to hate speech, and the blocking of all campus ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ movements.”

    TPUSA has also been accused of violating spending cap and transparency rules at different college campuses by funneling “dark money” into student government elections, according to the New Yorker article. The piece also suggested TPUSA may have broken campaign finance laws by working to aid Republican presidential candidates in 2016.

    Then there’s TPUSA’s “Professor Watchlist,” a McCarthy-ist website featuring professors at universities across the country who TPUSA says “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

    Wendy Lynne Lee, a philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University (BU) in rural Pennsylvania for more than a quarter-century (who’s not yet on the Professor Watchlist), began tracking TPUSA’s activities in 2016. “Here was an organization that had a mission statement that said one thing: libertarian, free market, conservative… fine, but whose activities, affiliations, sources of funding, whose Twitter feed did not cohere, did not line up with its mission statement,” she says.

    Lee began collecting a “bibliography” documenting connections between TPUSA, its funders, advisors and guest speakers and online expressions of antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, racism, misogyny and anti-LGBT bias, as well as connections to prominent alt-right personalities.

    When Lee discovered there was a TPUSA chapter on her campus at BU, she went to the group’s campus advisor with her concerns and her bibliography. “These kids have free speech rights,” she explains, “but my issue was with formal university recognition that gets them access to all kinds of university-funded things and the use of the university logo. My objection to them wasn’t that they had a right to be here on campus.”

    Lee failed in her attempt to get TPUSA’s official campus recognition rescinded, and as a protest, put a hand-scrawled poster in her office window reading “BU-Turning Point USA = Alt-Right = White Supremacism.” When a local news report said some students were concerned the sign endorsed white supremacy, she changed it to read, “Reject white supremacism. Reject BU-Turning Point USA.”

    The backlash was swift. Days later posters appeared on Lee’s campus reading, “WARNING COMMUNIST PROFESSORS TEACH ON THIS CAMPUS.” An online meme with a photo of an animated Lee yelling behind a podium at an anti-fracking protest read, “THIS EXTREMIST PROFESSOR CLAIMS THAT FREEDOM IS THE NEW ‘WHITE SUPREMACY’ – WAIT… THAT WOMAN IS ALLOWED TO TEACH?!” It was shared nearly 3,000 times on Facebook..

    One connection Lee had highlighted in her bibliography was with alt-right misogynist Ivan Throne, a preposterous figure who spoke at TPUSA’s Mountain West Regional Conference in Denver in March 2017. Throne, who poses as a mysterious warrior persona he calls “Dark Triad Man,” and whose book has been endorsed by prominent white nationalist Greg Johnson on his Counter-Currents website, struck back on his own website in an article titled “The Incredible Howling Damp Virago of Bloomsburg University,” implying Lee was involved in the ecoterrorism movement.

    Kirk himself, besides advocating for the elimination of so-called safe spaces for minority students on campus and claiming that the concept of white privilege is itself racist, recently tweeted “Fact: A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male, than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a police officer” (a flawed statistic promulgated by neoconservative conspiracy theorist Dennis Prager). Kirk has also posted anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim tweets.

    A member of TPUSA’s advisory council, multimillionaire Foster Friess, has funded anti-Muslim organizations and urged students to “be more intolerant” in a commencement speech.

    Anti-Muslim sentiment seems all too common in TPUSA. The president of TPUSA’s chapter at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Colby Weatherspoon, has tweeted the anti-Muslim hashtag #IslamControlNow and claims membership in the misogynistic “western chauvinist” Proud Boys in his Twitter bio.

    During Islam Awareness Week at the University of Miami last March, a TPUSA member, Driena Sixto, co-hosted a “counter info session” called “The Truth of Being a Woman of Islam” which its organizer summed up as “being a woman of Islam often comes with many dangers.”

    And TPUSA was blasted for antisemitism after a writer named Adam Weinstein criticized the group on Twitter by responding on its official TPUSA account, “The best ‘grift’ this morning is having a guy named Weinstein criticize young people for wanting fewer hands in their pockets. Too good.” TPUSA later deleted the tweet and apologized, saying it was a reference to Harvey Weinstein rather than an insult regarding Jewish stereotypes.

    TPUSA has also featured former congressman Joe Walsh as a speaker at events. Walsh has been criticized as racist and anti-Muslim for his controversial statements and tweets, and was fired from a talk radio host gig in 2014 for using racial slurs — which didn’t seem to deter him, since he subsequently tweeted, “Found out if I said Redskins or Cracker or Redneck Bible Thumper, I could stay on. But if I said Nigger or Spick, they cut me off.”

    While TPUSA and Charlie Kirk claim to “condemn” the racist alt-right that seem to support the organization, as witnessed by the Traditionalist Worker Party demonstration in Fort Collins in early February, evidence is amassing that the attraction between the entities is largely mutual.

    ———-

    “Turning Point USA’s blooming romance with the alt-right” by Brendan Joel Kelley; Southern Poverty Law Center; 02/16/2018

    “While TPUSA and Charlie Kirk claim to “condemn” the racist alt-right that seem to support the organization, as witnessed by the Traditionalist Worker Party demonstration in Fort Collins in early February, evidence is amassing that the attraction between the entities is largely mutual.”

    Yes indeed, the evidence is amassing that Turning Point USA is really, really right-wing. And racist. And basically an ‘Alt Right’ front group for the campuses. Funded by wealthy people from the petroleum sector and Foster Friess. And when Wendy Lynne Lee, a philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University (BU) in rural Pennsylvania, exposed these elements of Turning Point USA, they waged an internet meme campaign against her:


    Wendy Lynne Lee, a philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University (BU) in rural Pennsylvania for more than a quarter-century (who’s not yet on the Professor Watchlist), began tracking TPUSA’s activities in 2016. “Here was an organization that had a mission statement that said one thing: libertarian, free market, conservative… fine, but whose activities, affiliations, sources of funding, whose Twitter feed did not cohere, did not line up with its mission statement,” she says.

    Lee began collecting a “bibliography” documenting connections between TPUSA, its funders, advisors and guest speakers and online expressions of antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, racism, misogyny and anti-LGBT bias, as well as connections to prominent alt-right personalities.

    When Lee discovered there was a TPUSA chapter on her campus at BU, she went to the group’s campus advisor with her concerns and her bibliography. “These kids have free speech rights,” she explains, “but my issue was with formal university recognition that gets them access to all kinds of university-funded things and the use of the university logo. My objection to them wasn’t that they had a right to be here on campus.”

    Lee failed in her attempt to get TPUSA’s official campus recognition rescinded, and as a protest, put a hand-scrawled poster in her office window reading “BU-Turning Point USA = Alt-Right = White Supremacism.” When a local news report said some students were concerned the sign endorsed white supremacy, she changed it to read, “Reject white supremacism. Reject BU-Turning Point USA.”

    The backlash was swift. Days later posters appeared on Lee’s campus reading, “WARNING COMMUNIST PROFESSORS TEACH ON THIS CAMPUS.” An online meme with a photo of an animated Lee yelling behind a podium at an anti-fracking protest read, “THIS EXTREMIST PROFESSOR CLAIMS THAT FREEDOM IS THE NEW ‘WHITE SUPREMACY’ – WAIT… THAT WOMAN IS ALLOWED TO TEACH?!” It was shared nearly 3,000 times on Facebook..

    One connection Lee had highlighted in her bibliography was with alt-right misogynist Ivan Throne, a preposterous figure who spoke at TPUSA’s Mountain West Regional Conference in Denver in March 2017. Throne, who poses as a mysterious warrior persona he calls “Dark Triad Man,” and whose book has been endorsed by prominent white nationalist Greg Johnson on his Counter-Currents website, struck back on his own website in an article titled “The Incredible Howling Damp Virago of Bloomsburg University,” implying Lee was involved in the ecoterrorism movement.

    And this ‘Alt Right’ orientation for Turning Point’s agenda that professor Lee was attacked for exposing bubbled over into public again when Kaitlin Bennett, the president of the Kent State University chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), posted her resignation letter that angrily denounced Charlie Kirk’s hypocrisy for not letting her invite Kyle ‘the Based Stickman’ Chapman to speak due to his decision to distance itself from the ‘Alt Right’. And that was 10 days after the Traditionalist Workers Party Members showed up and chanted “blood and soil!” during speech by Kirk at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado:


    On Monday, February 12, Kaitlin Bennett, president of the Kent State University chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a self-proclaimed “student movement for free markets and limited government,” posted a scathing resignation letter online titled “I’m Turning Point USA’s Top Activist in the Country, & I Quit this Shitty Organization.”

    Addressed to a field director and a regional manager for TPUSA, Frankie O’Laughlin and Alana Mastrangelo, respectively, the letter detailed Bennett’s perceived lack of support from the national organization, but made some pointed claims related to the racist “alt-right.”

    Bennett asserted that O’Laughlin “told us we were not allowed to bring Kyle Chapman (the Based Stickman) to our campus since Turning Point wants to distance itself from the alt-right.” Chapman is the founder of the Proud Boys-affiliated Fraternal Order of Alt Knights, which he called the “tactical defensive arm” of the “western chauvinist” Proud Boys.

    Bennett went on to point out the hypocrisy of O’Laughlin rejecting Chapman as a guest, since O’Laughlin himself was “liking tweets from notorious Charlottesville attendee and white nationalist icon, James Allsupp,” and posted a screengrab of an Allsup tweet O’Laughlin liked. Allsup is an alt-right YouTube personality and speaks at white nationalist rallies.

    The same day Bennett’s resignation letter was posted online, the Kent State chapter of TPUSA disbanded itself. Bennett did not respond to a request for comment from Hatewatch.

    Just 10 days earlier, on February 2, a speaking engagement at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado, by TPUSA founder and director Charlie Kirk attracted a contingent of white nationalists from the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP). In the runup to the event, anti-immigrant fliers attributed to TWP had been posted on the CSU campus, causing both CSU’s president and its local TPUSA chapter to respond.

    Yes, Turning Point USA, clearly has an ‘Alt Right’ problem. According to some former employees, it’s too racist. But according Kaitlin Bennett, it wasn’t racist enough. Or rather, Charlie Kirk wasn’t allowing her to be true to the real ‘Alt Right’ viewpoint that Kirk himself had embraced. So Bennett was mostly pissed they weren’t allowed to be openly ‘Alt Right’. Which she felt was dishonest and warranted the public resignation.

    So that’s how the GOP’s campus outreach efforts are ominously going.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 4, 2018, 10:45 pm
  13. Here’s a rather disturbing article about a neo-Nazi student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that directly relates to all of the outcry over the missed opportunities to stop Nikolas Cruz – the neo-Nazi who attacked his high school in Parkland, Florida, after repeatedly making clear his violent fantasies on social media:

    Videos of a self-described white nationalist UNL student, Daniel Kleve, chatting with other neo-Nazis on “Google Hangouts” and basically declaring that he was very intent on committing extreme violence in the name of a neo-Nazi revolution, but not committing that violence yet because the movement wasn’t ready, was leaked by Antifa Nebraska and shown to the school administration. And that’s not the only video of Kleve expressing violent desires. Kleve also worked security at the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville last year and is generally quite open about his view. As a result of the videos, some students at UNL are asking he be expelled over concerns that he’s a ticking time-bomb on campus. The UNL administration declined to take any action after reviewing the video and say he hasn’t made any direct threats and so there’s nothing they can do.

    It’s a particularly topical case given the numerous missed opportunities to intervene with Nikolas Cruz given all the warning signs and it raises a grim question for society posed by the rise of the neo-Nazi ‘Alt Right’ in general:

    How should society response to a movement with a long track record of extreme violence that makes very clear its planning on violence even more violence but has also made it clear that its primary recruiting tactic is to ‘play the victim’ and act like they are ‘fighting for freedom’ against a ‘repressive multicultural state’ that doesn’t give them the freedom to violently subjugate those they view as inferior? A movement of violence-prone trolls who thrive on nursing a victimhood narrative to justify further violence. Because that’s a movement that really is a ‘ticking time-bomb’. It’s such a sad and twisted situation but that’s where we are. How should society address this?:

    Mic

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln students fear alt-right activist on campus is a ticking time bomb

    By Chauncey Alcorn
    | Feb. 14, 2018

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student government is hosting a “Hate Will Never Win” rally Wednesday to send a message of defiance to their fellow Cornhusker, a self-described white nationalist named Daniel Kleve.

    The action is just the latest in a string of events over the last nine days that started when a video of Kleve talking about his racist views and lust for violence went viral Feb. 5. On Saturday, the UNL men’s basketball team wore matching “Hate Will Never Win” T-shirts in response to the controversy. Other UNL students hosted their own town-hall-style meeting Tuesday to discuss ways to address the situation on campus.

    “Just because I dress like a normie, a presentable person, doesn’t mean that I don’t love violence,” Kleve said in one of the Google Hangout videos leaked by the antifascist activist group Antifa Nebraska. “I want to be violent. Trust me. Really violent. It’s just not the right time. We need to build ourselves up. We need to be disciplined. We need to train ourselves and make ourselves hard … so that when the time comes, we can do what needs to be done.”

    [see video of Kleve expressing his desire for extreme violence “when the time comes”]

    Since Feb. 5, pictures have resurfaced showing Kleve standing with white supremacist members of Vanguard America as they beat a man Aug. 12 during the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Alex Fields, the suspect in the car attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer the same day, was also photographed carrying a Vanguard-provided shield.

    Another video shows Kleve talking about wanting to shoot a “Nigerian dude” who previously asked him about his “Pagan tattoos.”

    An Antifa Nebraska activist named Nestor said in an interview that his organization has been monitoring Kleve’s activities for about a year and had sent leaked pictures and screenshots from Kleve’s now-private social media accounts to UNL administrators six months ago. Nestor, who is also a student at the school, said his group went public with the videos because the school refused to do anything about Kleve. Some of the leaked images show Kleve posting threatening messages to Jewish people, using racial slurs and stereotypical memes.

    “We’ve been trying to bring this issue up for six months now. UNL didn’t take any action,” Nestor said Tuesday. “They’re walking this really fine line where they’re saying, ‘He’s not doing anything wrong. We can’t prove this. We can’t prove that.’”

    According to Nestor, one of Kleve’s posts read “Happy James Earl Ray Day,” celebrating the man who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In another post-Charlottesville post, Kleve announced his plans to “create the biggest far-right presence in Nebraska since the days of the [Ku Klux] Klan.”

    UNL administrators have hosted multiple town hall meetings in recent days allowing students to express their concerns about Kleve. The school has refused to expel, however, even though other universities have expelled students for espousing similar racist rhetoric.

    It’s a free speech debate colleges seem to be facing in greater numbers since President Donald Trump’s election. Far-right personalities like Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer and others have been barred from speaking on college campuses by progressive activists and anti-fascist demonstrators. Accusations of suppressing free speech have compelled universities to balance protecting conservative speech and keeping students safe from far-right extremists.

    “Every school has their own code of conduct that they deal with,” UNL’s interim director of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center Charlie Foster said in a phone interview. “If they don’t make direct threats, there’s very little we can do about that. I go to sleep at night and wake up thinking about the safety of our students … But First Amendment rights have to be taken seriously.”

    Kleve’s rhetoric and presence on campus have many students saying they fear he’s a ticking time bomb. Nestor and other UNL students believe Kleve’s remarks about violence meet the threshold for being considered threatening. Multiple students have called out the school’s reaction on social media.

    “They aren’t taking our safety seriously, in my opinion,” UNL student Kyiia Rollag said in an interview. “I am worried, though, that if [Kleve] does get expelled, then he might retaliate. It’s scary because he looks like the majority [of students] at my school so I wouldn’t be able to recognize him. Plus, it is not certain how many followers he has recruited already.”

    According to the Anti-Defamation League, Kleve and other white nationalist organizers have amplified their activities at colleges across the country since September 2016, the final few months of Trump’s successful White House bid. Since then, there have been 346 confirmed reports of “white supremacist propaganda” being found on university grounds.

    White nationalists like Kleve killed 18 Americans in 2017, more than any other extremist group, including the Islamic state and Al Qaeda. Their victims included black men like U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III and Timothy Caughman, who were fatally stabbed at random by white men with self-avowed or alleged alt-right ties.

    In recent days, Kleve has posted multiple videos on his YouTube channel claiming the viral video released by Antifa Nebraska was edited to make him seem like a “Hollywood villain” and “domestic terrorist,” adding that he and other white nationalists are the ones being victimized.

    “I’ve received overwhelming support from many Nebraskans, which I appreciate so much,” Kleve said. “We’re not going to be intimidated. We’re not going to be ashamed. We’re going to be proud to be white.”

    ———-

    “University of Nebraska-Lincoln students fear alt-right activist on campus is a ticking time bomb” by Chauncey Alcorn; Mic; 02/14/2018

    ““Just because I dress like a normie, a presentable person, doesn’t mean that I don’t love violence,” Kleve said in one of the Google Hangout videos leaked by the antifascist activist group Antifa Nebraska. “I want to be violent. Trust me. Really violent. It’s just not the right time. We need to build ourselves up. We need to be disciplined. We need to train ourselves and make ourselves hard … so that when the time comes, we can do what needs to be done.””

    That’s Daniel Kleve, in his own words. Words that sound a lot like what neo-Nazis around the world. And that’s part of what makes it so disturbing: it’s not just the rantings of a lone individual. It’s the expression of a long-held goal of the far-right. Recruit now in preparation for some sort of surprise overwhelming attack on society at some point in the future. In other words, a plan to carry out the Nazi takeover plot in Serpent’s Walk. That’s what Kleve was expressing in that leaked video.

    And the video is far from the only evidence that Kleve is a neo-Nazi. There’s the photos of him standing with members of Vanguard America at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. And another video where he shares his desire to shoot a “Nigerian dude” who previously asked him about his “Pagan tattoos”:


    Since Feb. 5, pictures have resurfaced showing Kleve standing with white supremacist members of Vanguard America as they beat a man Aug. 12 during the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Alex Fields, the suspect in the car attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer the same day, was also photographed carrying a Vanguard-provided shield.

    Another video shows Kleve talking about wanting to shoot a “Nigerian dude” who previously asked him about his “Pagan tattoos.”

    And Antifa Nebraska has spent months trying to get the UNL administration to take some sort of action, but to no avail. Because Kleve is technically not ‘doing anything wrong’ since there’s no proof that he’s actually going to commit an act of violence:


    An Antifa Nebraska activist named Nestor said in an interview that his organization has been monitoring Kleve’s activities for about a year and had sent leaked pictures and screenshots from Kleve’s now-private social media accounts to UNL administrators six months ago. Nestor, who is also a student at the school, said his group went public with the videos because the school refused to do anything about Kleve. Some of the leaked images show Kleve posting threatening messages to Jewish people, using racial slurs and stereotypical memes.

    “We’ve been trying to bring this issue up for six months now. UNL didn’t take any action,” Nestor said Tuesday. “They’re walking this really fine line where they’re saying, ‘He’s not doing anything wrong. We can’t prove this. We can’t prove that.’”

    According to Nestor, one of Kleve’s posts read “Happy James Earl Ray Day,” celebrating the man who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In another post-Charlottesville post, Kleve announced his plans to “create the biggest far-right presence in Nebraska since the days of the [Ku Klux] Klan.”

    UNL administrators have hosted multiple town hall meetings in recent days allowing students to express their concerns about Kleve. The school has refused to expel, however, even though other universities have expelled students for espousing similar racist rhetoric.

    It’s a free speech debate colleges seem to be facing in greater numbers since President Donald Trump’s election. Far-right personalities like Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer and others have been barred from speaking on college campuses by progressive activists and anti-fascist demonstrators. Accusations of suppressing free speech have compelled universities to balance protecting conservative speech and keeping students safe from far-right extremists.

    “Every school has their own code of conduct that they deal with,” UNL’s interim director of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center Charlie Foster said in a phone interview. “If they don’t make direct threats, there’s very little we can do about that. I go to sleep at night and wake up thinking about the safety of our students … But First Amendment rights have to be taken seriously.”

    “If they don’t make direct threats, there’s very little we can do about that.”

    That’s the position of the UNL administration. As long as neo-Nazis make general threats about organizing for the purpose of extreme violence it will be protected free-speech. It’s only a problem when it’s a direct threat.

    Not surprisingly, a number of students feel very differently, and those feelings are backed up by the fact the white nationalists killed more people than al Qaeda and ISIS in the US last year (and that doesn’t count the 17 people killed by Nikolas Cruz last month):


    Kleve’s rhetoric and presence on campus have many students saying they fear he’s a ticking time bomb. Nestor and other UNL students believe Kleve’s remarks about violence meet the threshold for being considered threatening. Multiple students have called out the school’s reaction on social media.

    “They aren’t taking our safety seriously, in my opinion,” UNL student Kyiia Rollag said in an interview. “I am worried, though, that if [Kleve] does get expelled, then he might retaliate. It’s scary because he looks like the majority [of students] at my school so I wouldn’t be able to recognize him. Plus, it is not certain how many followers he has recruited already.”

    White nationalists like Kleve killed 18 Americans in 2017, more than any other extremist group, including the Islamic state and Al Qaeda. Their victims included black men like U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III and Timothy Caughman, who were fatally stabbed at random by white men with self-avowed or alleged alt-right ties.

    But, of course, Kleve is complaining about how he’s being framed as some sort of “Hollywood villain” and “domestic terrorist”, and then falls back on the “we’re the real victims here” far-right rally cry:


    In recent days, Kleve has posted multiple videos on his YouTube channel claiming the viral video released by Antifa Nebraska was edited to make him seem like a “Hollywood villain” and “domestic terrorist,” adding that he and other white nationalists are the ones being victimized.

    “I’ve received overwhelming support from many Nebraskans, which I appreciate so much,” Kleve said. “We’re not going to be intimidated. We’re not going to be ashamed. We’re going to be proud to be white.”

    That’s right, Kleve and the other white supremacists plotting a violent subjugation of society are the real victims here.

    So given all that, is there anything that Kleve could do that would constitute ‘crossing the line’? Something that would make it very clear that this guy really is a ticking time-bomb waiting for the right time to engage in organized domestic terrorism? The answer is sadly very unclear, but as the following article notes, Kleve has also posted pictures of himself posing with Atomwaffen members along with Facebook posts where he encourages people to following in the footsteps of ‘the Order’ from The Turner Diaries, and that doesn’t appear to have crossed the line:

    Newsweek

    Nebraska White Supremacist Who Praises Violence Poses Unique Challenges to Campus Free Speech

    By Michael Edison Hayden
    On 2/13/18 at 12:16 PM

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) receives messages and phones calls about Daniel Kleve all the time these days. The 23-year-old undergraduate biochemistry major is a white supremacist who is overtly racist and dangerous, his classmates say. They don’t want to share classes with him, they don’t want to bump into him in a dining hall—they don’t want to see the tawny-haired man on campus ever again.

    Antifascist Action Nebraska, a local group that has developed a national reputation among activists for the relentlessness with which it tracks the movements of white supremacists, published a video of Kleve speaking with other extremists on Google Hangout, and it went viral last week, further inflaming the sense of outrage about him.

    [see Facebook pic of Kleve standing with members of Atomwaffen]

    “Just because I dress like a normie—a regular person—doesn’t mean I don’t love violence,” Kleve said to a group of peers regarding his ambitions as a white supremacist. “Trust me. I want to be violent. Trust me. Really violent.”

    Kleve, who is fond of posting selfies with guns to social media, also said that “now is not the right time” for violence, and he has argued that the edited video took his words out of context—but the language spoke for itself to students who were already concerned about him and his demonstrable connections to neo-Nazi groups. Hundreds of students demanding Kleve’s expulsion gathered on campus grounds to stage a protest on Wednesday of last week, adding a physical presence to what was already a sustained campaign of activism.

    The question about what to do with the increasingly isolated Kleve is emblematic of a larger issue facing colleges across the country. Even though the era of so-called alt-right politics that arose during the populist campaign of Donald Trump has shown signs of fracturing, it has emboldened a small but not insignificant number of young, white men to come forward with white supremacist or neo-Nazi beliefs. As this is happening, women, minorities and other communities that are threatened by the political goals of such men are becoming more sensitive to their presence, and demanding that schools take action to protect them. Young white supremacists were tied to a number of murders last year, further complicating the issue. The situation is a complex one, and it poses challenges to both administrators and to advocates of free speech.

    “Actual harassment is not protected speech”

    Samantha Harris, a researcher with Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), told Newsweek that the question of whether to expel an extremist like Kleve is typically drawn along one line: All political beliefs should be tolerated in academia, but “actual harassment is not protected speech.” By “actual harassment,” Harris said she meant anything that prohibits someone from receiving a normal education.

    In the case of Kleve, the university told Newsweek it was not clear he had made any threats against a specific student or students. But his classmates have told Newsweek that Kleve made them feel uneasy because they believed him to be capable of unleashing violence at any time. Additionally, Calvin Scott, 19, Kleve’s former roommate at an off-campus housing facility, and Scott’s friend, Jackie Schneider, 20, told Newsweek that Kleve made violent threats against people of color—generally and also about specific individuals. Both Scott and Schneider are people of color themselves, but neither of them are UNL students. Kleve has denied making such threats. UNL campus police told Newsweek that Kleve currently represented an active investigation, but declined to elaborate any further about what it entailed.

    [See Facebook photo of Kleve giving Nazi salute with members of Vanguard American before leaving for Charlottesville]

    The issue is tricky for UNL to navigate for reasons beyond the obvious. Politicians in the Republican-dominated state have been fiercely critical of the school for what they perceive to be its mistreatment of conservatives. The state is currently reviewing a bill surrounding campus free speech, for example, one of several similar measures being examined throughout the country. The Nebraska measure, Legislative Bill 718, introduced by state Senator Steve Halloran of Hastings, would force schools like UNL to create a “Committee on Free Expression” to provide an annual incident report to state residents about free speech matters. Critics say the bill, which was issued in response to a graduate student and lecturer who gave the finger to a student who was recruiting for a conservative group, is intended to amplify only voices of Republican students on campus. In response to the incident, UNL will not renew a contract to teach issued to the graduate student who made the gesture.

    In addition to this, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents has adopted its own policies to delineate areas where certain kinds of speech are permissible on campus. “When people want to censor viewpoints that people don’t like, universities have to step in and protect free speech,” Harris of FIRE argued to Newsweek, referring to both right- and left-leaning viewpoints. FIRE has defended not only conservative viewpoints on campus, but wrote a letter criticizing UNL for the way it treated the graduate student and lecturer caught up in the scandal.

    “Trust me. Really violent.”

    The students who claim Kleve is a danger to others argue that the school should be looking at his history to understand their concerns. He appeared in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12 in a contingent with Vanguard America, the white supremacist group whose followers included James Fields, the man charged with murdering antiracist activist Heather Heyer in a brutal car-ramming incident. He also posted photos of himself next to an Atomwaffen flag in 2017. Atomwaffen is a neo-Nazi group that has garnered headlines for being linked to a number of murders. Kleve told me he has “publicly disavowed” Atomwaffen, and no longer belongs to any white supremacist groups, but as recently as this year, he was posting white supremacist slogans on Facebook, and endorsing “the Order,” a fictional collective depicted in the neo-Nazi propaganda book The Turner Diaries.

    In the book, “the Order” slaughtered Jews, non-whites and other minorities in part of a make-believe race war. The book was admired by terrorists like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and David Copeland, a British man who murdered three people in a bombing campaign that was targeted at minorities in 1999. Keegan Hankes, an intelligence analyst with Southern Poverty Law Center, told Newsweek that people “should be concerned” about violence when dealing with those who associate with Vanguard America and Atomwaffen, even peripherally.

    [See Facebook post where Kleve shows off a handgun which he labels “Future Conservative starter pack”]

    “Everyone has to remember that this ideology is founded on building a white ethnostate,” Hankes said. “They believe that they are fighting for the survival of the white race.”

    Scott, who lived with Kleve from mid-October to the start of December 2017, told Newsweek that Kleve had an AR-15 assault rifle that he kept in a common area of their apartment. Schneider, Scott’s friend, said she saw the weapon as well but thought it was a shotgun. (She admitted to not knowing much about firearms, while Scott claimed to have a better understanding of them.) Scott also told Newsweek that Kleve kept a pistol “on him.” Nebraska is an open-carry state, and Lincoln Police confirmed to Newsweek that Kleve would be legally allowed to carry a weapon outside of campus. Kleve told Newsweek that his guns were purchased legally but would not elaborate on how many he owns, or their makes and models. He denied owning an AR-15, but declined to answer whether he owned any similar weapons that could be mistaken for one.

    Scott said he didn’t report to the police about threats Kleve made because he didn’t trust them to do their job, but he reported his roommate to the housing complex, asking for a separation. A report issued by the administration of their housing complex and given to Newsweek confirmed that Scott had expressed “concerns” about his roommate at the time he lived with Kleve. Their relationship ended when Kleve moved out. Kleve claimed Scott was making up stories about him.

    [see screenshot of Kleve’s Facebook post where he states: “You want to be militant. Be like the Order. Be a nameless group of extremists who act instead of talk. TWP and NF has a lot of good people. But you can’t be militant and be a popular movement. Atleast not in this particular instance in time.”]

    “Nothing has changed,” Leslie Reed, a spokesperson for the school, told Newsweek while students were protesting Kleve’s presence, regarding their hesitancy to remove him from UNL.

    The University of Nebraska can’t “discriminate against someone for having unpopular political beliefs,” she said previously.

    “I can’t wait to graduate so that I can get out of everyone’s hair”

    Students who spoke to Newsweek about Kleve, who frequently boasts about what he believes to be his talents as a propagandist, suggested that his tactics are having the opposite of their intended impact. Kleve is not only failing to make recruiting in-roads for his cause, the students claimed, but his views have made him into a pariah on campus. On Saturday, for example, the Nebraska’s men’s basketball team waged a protest against his presence before their game with Rutgers. The men wore T-shirts that read, “Hate Will Never Win.” Student athletes across campus, in fact, have used their influence to condemn Kleve, and a search for his name on Twitter will turn up what looks like a deluge of disgust from fellow classmates.

    Harris of FIRE argued to Newsweek that condemnation and debate is the best way to deal with a student like Kleve, so long as he was not harassing or endangering specific students. “The best way to combat [white supremacist advocacy] is with more speech and better ideas.” But because of Kleve’s apparent racist fixation with violence, he potentially represents a different case than other “alt-right” figures who have stirred protest on campuses.

    One similar case to Kleve’s is that of Mark Daniel Neuhoff, a 27-year-old graduate student in Virginia Tech’s English department. Neuhoff’s presence on campus sparked a massive outcry in the fall semester of 2017. Posts from Neuhoff’s Facebook account that appeared to endorse white supremacy, Hitler and the Nazi application of “Jewish stars” during World War II were leaked by a local antifascist group. Students were outraged when they saw them, and their feelings were complicated by the fact that Neuhoff taught undergraduates in his capacity as a teacher’s assistant.

    Virginia Tech told Newsweek that following relentless protests and phone calls, the administration and Neuhoff came to a quiet agreement that he would no longer teach there. Since that time, Neuhoff has become an outcast. He said he was grateful for the way the administration handled his case, but expressed feelings of despair and loneliness in describing his time in school there. He suggested that colleagues had ostracized him and severed all ties.

    [See Facebook post by David Neuhoff saying “If Hitler Had Won World War II We’d Have A Better, More Just World Today”]

    He told Newsweek that he was actually a “paleoconservative monarchist” and not a white supremacist, despite his posts appearing to praise Hitler, and claimed that his views were taken out of context. He also complained that the posts that appeared to many students to be deeply anti-Semitic were made on a locked feed, and that antifascist activists had infiltrated his account.

    “It’s made me feel extremely unwelcome and I can’t wait to graduate so that I can get out of everyone’s hair and they can get out of mine,” he told Newsweek about the atmosphere of his education.

    While Neuhoff longs to make an exit from academia, others on the far-right are eager to make inroads there, but so far with extremely limited success. Matthew Heimbach of Traditionalist Worker’s Party (TWP), a small but active neo-Nazi group, is attempting to start a college speaking tour called “National Socialism or Death” at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville later this month. He told Newsweek that the point of the exercise is to find common ground with “conservatives and socialists.” As with rallies staged by white supremacist Richard Spencer, though, protesters of the event are expected to outnumber his supporters. Heimbach argued that he was doing it to argue for a “safe space for fascists” in academia, but it is also unclear that fascist beliefs are really treated with any intolerance by administrators. Students like Neuhoff and Kleve are isolated, but they are also enrolled.

    The far right is a busy but ultimately small online community, at least when it comes to people who don’t operate anonymously. Neuhoff is Facebook friends with Kleve and interacts with him from time to time. He said that while Kleve is more involved with “what people call white nationalism, national socialism, and the pro-white cause in general,” he identifies with Kleve because of the degree to which they’ve been alienated from their peers in a left-leaning environment.

    “Our cases are the same,” Neuhoff argued to Newsweek about Kleve. “We have views other people don’t like and they’re taking things out of context or using any possible tactic to cause us harm while trying to convince people we are violent.”

    But two substantial differences exist between the complaints about Kleve and Neuhoff. Neuhoff told Newsweek that he never belonged to a white supremacist or neo-Nazi group. During the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that Saturday afternoon in August, for example, he said that he was in church. (Neuhoff is in the process of converting to Christian Orthodox after having grown up in a non-religious household.) Also, he said he doesn’t own any guns.

    “The student’s viewpoint — however hateful and intolerant it is — is also protected by the First Amendment.”

    Justin Myers, 18, a freshman business student at UNL and a self-described conservative, told Newsweek that while he wasn’t sure if Kleve had done enough to be “legally kicked off campus” in terms of his praise of violence, he would feel uncomfortable being anywhere near him in class.

    Myers also argued that there was a difference between the campus debates about free speech between conservatives and leftists, and the threat of overt neo-Nazism. “These guys hate our system of government and the freedoms we have,” Myers said.

    ———-

    “Nebraska White Supremacist Who Praises Violence Poses Unique Challenges to Campus Free Speech” by Michael Edison Hayden; Newsweek; 02/13/2018

    “Kleve, who is fond of posting selfies with guns to social media, also said that “now is not the right time” for violence, and he has argued that the edited video took his words out of context—but the language spoke for itself to students who were already concerned about him and his demonstrable connections to neo-Nazi groups. Hundreds of students demanding Kleve’s expulsion gathered on campus grounds to stage a protest on Wednesday of last week, adding a physical presence to what was already a sustained campaign of activism.”

    The neo-Nazi who is fond of posting selfies with guns to social media and says things like “now is not the right time” for violence wants to assure everyone that he’s not a threat and this is all being taken out of context. Which apparently means the photos of him posing with Atomwaffen members in front of an Atomwaffen flag are also being taken out of context. As well as his social media posts where he endorsed “The Order” from The Turner Diaries:


    [see Facebook pic of Kleve standing with members of Atomwaffen]

    The students who claim Kleve is a danger to others argue that the school should be looking at his history to understand their concerns. He appeared in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12 in a contingent with Vanguard America, the white supremacist group whose followers included James Fields, the man charged with murdering antiracist activist Heather Heyer in a brutal car-ramming incident. He also posted photos of himself next to an Atomwaffen flag in 2017. Atomwaffen is a neo-Nazi group that has garnered headlines for being linked to a number of murders. Kleve told me he has “publicly disavowed” Atomwaffen, and no longer belongs to any white supremacist groups, but as recently as this year, he was posting white supremacist slogans on Facebook, and endorsing “the Order,” a fictional collective depicted in the neo-Nazi propaganda book The Turner Diaries.

    In the book, “the Order” slaughtered Jews, non-whites and other minorities in part of a make-believe race war. The book was admired by terrorists like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and David Copeland, a British man who murdered three people in a bombing campaign that was targeted at minorities in 1999. Keegan Hankes, an intelligence analyst with Southern Poverty Law Center, told Newsweek that people “should be concerned” about violence when dealing with those who associate with Vanguard America and Atomwaffen, even peripherally.

    [See Facebook post where Kleve shows off a handgun which he labels “Future Conservative starter pack”]

    “Everyone has to remember that this ideology is founded on building a white ethnostate,” Hankes said. “They believe that they are fighting for the survival of the white race.”

    [see screenshot of Kleve’s Facebook post where he states: “You want to be militant. Be like the Order. Be a nameless group of extremists who act instead of talk. TWP and NF has a lot of good people. But you can’t be militant and be a popular movement. Atleast not in this particular instance in time.”]

    “You want to be militant. Be like the Order. Be a nameless group of extremists who act instead of talk. TWP and NF has a lot of good people. But you can’t be militant and be a popular movement. Atleast not in this particular instance in time.”

    Those were his words. Posted on Facebook. But if you’re alarmed you’re apparently just taking it out of context.

    Oh, and it turns out Kleve actually owns an AR-15. Or at least something that looks a lot like an AR-15, the mass shooter weapon of choice in America most recently used by Nikolas Cruz:


    Scott, who lived with Kleve from mid-October to the start of December 2017, told Newsweek that Kleve had an AR-15 assault rifle that he kept in a common area of their apartment. Schneider, Scott’s friend, said she saw the weapon as well but thought it was a shotgun. (She admitted to not knowing much about firearms, while Scott claimed to have a better understanding of them.) Scott also told Newsweek that Kleve kept a pistol “on him.” Nebraska is an open-carry state, and Lincoln Police confirmed to Newsweek that Kleve would be legally allowed to carry a weapon outside of campus. Kleve told Newsweek that his guns were purchased legally but would not elaborate on how many he owns, or their makes and models. He denied owning an AR-15, but declined to answer whether he owned any similar weapons that could be mistaken for one.

    And as the article notes, the question of what to do about a student like Kleve is emblematic of the larger issue of what to do about the sudden surge in open white supremacists who have decided to make a point of going on college campuses to spread their ideas and recruit others:


    The question about what to do with the increasingly isolated Kleve is emblematic of a larger issue facing colleges across the country. Even though the era of so-called alt-right politics that arose during the populist campaign of Donald Trump has shown signs of fracturing, it has emboldened a small but not insignificant number of young, white men to come forward with white supremacist or neo-Nazi beliefs. As this is happening, women, minorities and other communities that are threatened by the political goals of such men are becoming more sensitive to their presence, and demanding that schools take action to protect them. Young white supremacists were tied to a number of murders last year, further complicating the issue. The situation is a complex one, and it poses challenges to both administrators and to advocates of free speech.

    For instance, there’s Daniel Neuhoff, a 27-year-old graduate student in Virginia Tech’s English department who turns out to be a neo-Nazi. Although he assures us he’s actually just a “paleoconservative monarchist” and not a white supremacist, despite his praise of Hitler. It must be more ‘out of context’ judgement:


    One similar case to Kleve’s is that of Mark Daniel Neuhoff, a 27-year-old graduate student in Virginia Tech’s English department. Neuhoff’s presence on campus sparked a massive outcry in the fall semester of 2017. Posts from Neuhoff’s Facebook account that appeared to endorse white supremacy, Hitler and the Nazi application of “Jewish stars” during World War II were leaked by a local antifascist group. Students were outraged when they saw them, and their feelings were complicated by the fact that Neuhoff taught undergraduates in his capacity as a teacher’s assistant.

    He told Newsweek that he was actually a “paleoconservative monarchist” and not a white supremacist, despite his posts appearing to praise Hitler, and claimed that his views were taken out of context. He also complained that the posts that appeared to many students to be deeply anti-Semitic were made on a locked feed, and that antifascist activists had infiltrated his account.

    There’s also Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker’s Party (TWP), who is trying to start a college speaking tour. His goal? to argue for a “safe space for fascists” in academia:


    While Neuhoff longs to make an exit from academia, others on the far-right are eager to make inroads there, but so far with extremely limited success. Matthew Heimbach of Traditionalist Worker’s Party (TWP), a small but active neo-Nazi group, is attempting to start a college speaking tour called “National Socialism or Death” at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville later this month. He told Newsweek that the point of the exercise is to find common ground with “conservatives and socialists.” As with rallies staged by white supremacist Richard Spencer, though, protesters of the event are expected to outnumber his supporters. Heimbach argued that he was doing it to argue for a “safe space for fascists” in academia, but it is also unclear that fascist beliefs are really treated with any intolerance by administrators. Students like Neuhoff and Kleve are isolated, but they are also enrolled.

    Yep, according to Heimbach, fascists need “safe spaces” to espouse their fascist views. But as the article notes, they are indeed allowed to espouse those views, just not without criticism and potential ostracization.

    So what should colleges do about this surge in fascists and neo-Nazis seeking acceptance on campus? Well, in the case of UNL that question for likely be largely up to conservatives given that it’s an overwhelmingly Republican dominated state. And given the GOP’s championing of Alt-Right figures like Milo Yiannopoulos coming to campuses without getting protested – there are actually GOP-sponsored “Milo bills” in state legislatures across the USit’s hard to see the GOP getting too concerned about people like Kleve posing a threat.

    But there is hope. Sort of. As the self-described conservative UNL student interviewed in the article put it, while he’s not sure Kleve had don enough to be “legally kicked off campus”, he still sees a difference between the campus debates about free speech between conservatives and leftists, and the threat of overt neo-Nazism. It’s better than nothing:


    Justin Myers, 18, a freshman business student at UNL and a self-described conservative, told Newsweek that while he wasn’t sure if Kleve had done enough to be “legally kicked off campus” in terms of his praise of violence, he would feel uncomfortable being anywhere near him in class.

    Myers also argued that there was a difference between the campus debates about free speech between conservatives and leftists, and the threat of overt neo-Nazism. “These guys hate our system of government and the freedoms we have,” Myers said.

    But putting aside the question of whether or not UNL should expel a student like Kleve and returning to the outcry over the missed opportunities to intervene in Nikolas Cruz’s downward violence into neo-Nazi violence, the case of Daniel Kleve poses a rather significant question: how openly does a movement need to talk about its plans for violently overthrowing and subjugating society before its recognized as no longer protected free speech and instead is a significant threat to others where law enforcement gets involved? Posing with an Atomwaffen flag and promoting The Turner Diaries clearly doesn’t cross the line. So what does cross the line? It’s an awful open question for America.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 8, 2018, 11:41 pm
  14. The growing influence ‘Alt Right’ presents a number of challenges for the Republican Party. It’s never easy to simultaneously court and disown a voting bloc. But perhaps the greatest challenge is the generic challenge of how to deal with an infusion of people into the party who are predominantly angry young males with a strong nihilistic streak and a desire to watch society burn. And as the ‘Alt Right’ faction of the GOP grows larger and larger, the need to cater to that nihilistic sadism at the core of the ‘Alt Right’ worldview is only going to grow too.

    The GOP has long had a sadistic streak, but openly catering to that urge is risky politics. The party that has long branded itself on the Reaganesque slogan of ‘building a shining city on a hill’ is more and more forced to openly campaign the party of the people that want to burn the shining city down so they can revel in all the ‘snowflake tears’. When Paul Ryan’s primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, hires one of the most prominent anti-Semites in America, Kevin MacDonald, as his campaign spokesman, it’s pretty clear that the GOP’s ‘Southern Strategy’ dog-whistling of the past might not be loud enough for the growing ‘Alt Right’ conservatives. And that’s invariably going to change the public face of the party.

    So how is the conservative movement hoping to deal with the tricky politics of simultaneously hugging and shunning all these new, often young, ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazi conservatives who don’t get fired up by tradition ‘shining city on a hill’ Republican rhetoric and prefer a more ‘burn it down and take over’ Steve Bannon/Trump kind approach to politics? Well, as the following article notes, there is one source of ‘hope’ the party appears to be holding onto: Jordan Peterson, the Canadian conservative psychology professor who has quickly become a rising star in right-wing thought. A rising star peddling an ‘Alt-Right’-lite self-help gospel targeting frustrated young men with a message of embracing their masculinity and finding purpose in life by embracing Christianity and battling the forces of “cultural marxism” that are trying to strip men of their rightful male roles in a traditional culture that it their natural right. And since Peterson’s target audience heavily overlaps with the ‘Alt Right’ target audience of frustrated young males, the appears to be hope that Peterson will be able to tame the ‘Alt Right’-leaning young men and turn them into some more closely resembling the tradition ‘God, guns, and gays’ kind of conservatives political foot soldier:

    Mic

    Jordan Peterson is the rising self-help guru of young conservatives. Here’s what he’s telling them.

    By Jack Smith IV
    Feb. 3, 2018

    There’s a new self-help guru at the heart of modern conservatism. He’s a rousing speaker, encouraging his listeners to take control of their own destinies, like a wiry Tony Robbins who sounds like a Muppet and believes there are only two genders.

    His name is Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a Canadian professor who’s become the spiritual father of an online tribe of alienated, disaffected and resentful young men. In the past few months, Peterson’s rapidly gone from a little-known clinical psychologist to a veritable megachurch preacher of anti-communism and personal responsibility. His popularity is meteoric, and if progressives want to understand the ideological future of the conservative movement, they may want to pay notice.

    Peterson’s been described as “the stupid man’s smart person,” which is a good enough euphemism for saying “effective public intellectual.” Peterson’s YouTube channel has more than 700,000 subscribers, and he has a podcast in which he gives long addresses on classical philosophy. At his well-attended college talks, his adoring, largely male fanbase regularly approach him afterward to say that his advice has given them meaning and purpose.

    Peterson first earned international notoriety in November 2017 as the University of Toronto professor who refused to use gender-neutral pronouns after the introduction of a Canadian bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Peterson railed against the bill as a totalitarian crackdown on free speech. He threatened a hunger strike if he were jailed for not using someone’s preferred pronouns, although a letter from the Canadian Bar Association found that interpreting the law as Peterson did is “a misunderstanding of human rights and hate crimes legislation.”

    When former Google engineer James Damore was fired after writing his now-infamous internal memo about gender in the workplace, he did two interviews on YouTube before speaking with anyone in the mainstream press. One interview was with far-right talking head Stefan Molyneux. The other was with Peterson.

    But no single event did more to launch Peterson than his mid-January appearance on the British Channel 4 News, where he was confronted about his gender essentialism by veteran newscaster Cathy Newman.

    The interview was a disaster for Newman. For a half-hour, Newman peppered Peterson with assertions about his beliefs, misquoting Peterson back to himself. In a discussion about the gender pay gap, she continually tried to catch him in his sexism, employing the phrase “so what you’re really saying is…” followed by bold mischaracterizations of his comments as he lucidly recited statistics and anecdotes from his work as a clinical psychologist.

    The interview went viral with right wingers, who held it up as exemplary of one of their favorite tropes: the man of science employing logic against a radical feminist in media hell-bent on calling him a sexist.

    In the days that followed, conservative columnists rushed to his defense in the Guardian, the Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times announced that the “Jordan Peterson Moment” had arrived. Soon after, Peterson’s latest book, 12 Rules for Life, shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. In the Atlantic, resident conservative Conor Friedersdorf asked, “Why can’t people hear what Jordan Peterson is saying?”

    Consider the lobster

    Jordan Peterson is obsessed with lobsters. Several early pages in 12 Rules for Life are dedicated to lobsters and their behavior, how they fight, how they mate, their dominance hierarchies and their serotonin levels.

    “Look for your inspiration to the victorious lobster, with its 350 million years of practical wisdom,” Peterson wrote. “Stand up straight, with your shoulders back.”

    This is the first piece of advice he dispenses in his book and his lectures, aimed largely at the alienated and purposeless young men. Peterson’s work mixes psychology with basic self-help pablum, Joseph Campbell’s idea of the “Hero’s Journey,” motivational speaking, evolutionary biology, Disney movies like Pinocchio and Christianity. His advice is simple: Stand up straight. Make your bed. Only use speech that makes you feel strong. Pick up the heaviest burden you can find, and make yourself stronger by bearing it. Slay the dragon. Defend the West.

    Jordan Peterson is concerned for the young men of the world. They’ve become weak, resentful and bitter. Peterson worries that young men are scolded into believing their own confidence is a symptom of “toxic masculinity,” and given no words of encouragement. It’s a problem that regularly brings him to tears in talks and interviews.

    When Peterson speaks, he looks out into the crowd and sees the eyes of his mostly male audience light up at the mention of personal responsibility. But it never takes long before Peterson simmers over from lucid, effective advice and into tirades against feminists and social justice warriors. Even the lobsters are evidence that biology is biology, and that gender hierarchy must not be interrupted.

    “Do male crustaceans oppress female crustaceans?” Peterson asks in 12 Rules for Life. “Should their hierarchies be upended?”

    So what is this force Peterson says is bearing down on young men, bludgeoning their self-esteem with unfair accusations and reducing their capacity for personal responsibility? “Postmodernism.”

    To understand Peterson’s use of the word “postmodernism,” you need to become familiar with one of the most popular and implausible fantasies in modern conservatism: “cultural marxism.” Cultural marxism is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory developed in the 1980s largely in response to affirmative action, championed by everyone from far-right terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik to members of President Trump’s National Security Council.

    The conspiracy theory goes like this: A group of academics in the 1970s realized that Marxism had failed. So instead of class war between workers and owners, they developed a new idea as a revenge plot to unravel Western civilization: cultural warfare. Then, the story goes, this Marxist plot against white men and the nuclear family spread among universities and throughout the country. Diversity training? Black superheroes? Transgender rights? That’s all cultural Marxism.

    Peterson’s “postmodernism” and “neo-Marxism” is essentially the same as “cultural Marxism,” but with some of the names changed. Peterson not only sees Marxism everywhere, but sees its influence as the most pervasive threat to modern civilization. He often recommends the book The Gulag Archipelago, a 1973 history of Soviet labor camps, as the essential text for understanding “the central issue in our culture at the moment.” This is largely his issue with the pronoun debate: If we cede ground to the radical leftists, it’s not just pronouns, but our entire culture that’s at stake.

    “I believe that the reason this has caused so much noise — tremendous amount of noise, tremendous amount of attention on YouTube — is because there are things that are at stake in this discussion, despite its surface nature, that strike at the very heart of our civilization,” Peterson said during a Canadian broadcast interview.

    So how can the young men of the West defend themselves from a Marxist plot to tear apart the culture and the nuclear family? A rightly ordered soul.

    “What I’ve been telling young men is that there’s an actual reason why they need to grow up, which is that they have something to offer,” Peterson said in the Channel 4 interview. “That people have within them this capacity to set the world straight, and that’s necessary to manifest in the world.”

    Chicken Soup for the Capitalist Soul

    Self-help programs naturally lend themselves to a conservative worldview. Empowerment gurus often teach their adherents to give up on blame and focus on pulling themselves up by their spiritual bootstraps. In The New Prophets of Capital, Nicole Aschoff writes about how even liberal heros like Oprah can divert our attention away from the systems that produce poverty and anxiety, and instead focus our attention inward.

    “Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures,” Aschoff wrote. “In doing so, they make the American Dream seem attainable. If we just fix ourselves, we can achieve our goals.”

    In other words: Don’t worry about changing the world, focus on changing yourself. It doesn’t matter, for example, that one of the top indicators of income is where you were born, and not the structure of your family. The only thing that matters is what you’re going to do to prevail.

    Peterson has identified that nascent ingredient of conservative politics within self-help, and pulled its flavor straight to the surface.

    Where creating social progress requires collective action, Peterson says attempting to fix society at large is an arrogant project, akin to a monkey trying to repair a military helicopter by banging it with a wrench. He invokes the Sermon on the Mount — “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” — as evidence that anyone who calls into question the world without having perfectly ordered their own soul is a hypocrite.

    “The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism,” Peterson writes in his book. “It’s not communism, either, for that matter. It’s not the military-industrial complex. It’s not the patriarchy — that disposable, malleable, arbitrary cultural artifact.”

    No, he says. Those who want to fix the world are whiners, uninterested in doing the real work of taking responsibility for themselves.

    It’s no surprise that the mess of ideologies associated with the alt-right revere Peterson, a great defender of the “West.” For white nationalists, his writing about evolutionary biology supports their belief in a Darwinist contest for resources. For so-called “men’s rights” misogynists, Peterson reinforces the idea that feminism has turned modern men feeble. Peterson is a philosophical sage for radical anti-communists, and a demigod of YouTube debate pedantry.

    But Peterson rejects the far-right. Instead, he sees his work as a path away from all that, from the resentment and violence of fringe nihilists.

    “I’ve had many, many people write me from the right, or from the fringes of the radical right, saying precisely that listening to my lectures stopped them from going all of the way,” Peterson said in an interview on YouTube.

    And this is why modern conservatism is so enamored of Peterson.

    Since Trump’s election, there’s been a simmering fear that the future of the GOP would look less like the party of Reagan and will instead be led by disaffected white racists raised on a media diet of 4chan and provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos. Peterson promises to rescue the Lost Boys. He goes into the corners of the internet to rally the frightened fledgelings of the conservative movement yet to come, and raises them up to be good Republicans.

    Now, Peterson doesn’t himself identify as conservative, but mainstream conservative politics are the natural conclusion of nearly all of his teachings and beliefs.

    In one speech, delivered at Harvard and uploaded with the title “The Greatest Speech Every Student Should Hear,” he addressed the idea that the wealthiest 1% of society are hoarding wealth, calling it “absolute rubbish.” The wealthy accumulated what they have through lives of greatness, Peterson said, and if students would only become deserving through rigorous discipline and self-improvement, the 1% would find no greater delight than to hand out opportunities.

    “There are few things which are more intrinsically meaningful, if you’re an accomplished person, then to find young people who have the possibility of being accomplished and say, ‘Hey look, here’s an opportunity for you.’”

    Peterson believes Christianity is the foundation of societal greatness, that same-sex marriage is a potential Leftist assault on traditional family structures, and that “white privilege” is a destructive concept that will engender a suicidal level of guilt in the West. Self-help is all well and good for getting one’s life in shape, but when extrapolated to the level of national politics, the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” is a handy weapon for those who oppose single-payer health care.

    Peterson demands that his adherents not challenge the rules their forefathers set out for them, to “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” It was the French philosopher Michel Foucault who observed that everyday fascism can arise in the programs of self-discipline that make docile, obedient workers of us all. Then again, Peterson thinks Foucault is a treacherous, bitter and resentful charlatan at the center of the “neo-Marxist” plot against the West. So that’s that.

    But if the true cause of young men’s alienation isn’t the radical feminists, but the stagnation of wages relative to productivity, rapid decline in income equality, reduced opportunities and the decimation of fields once dominated by men? If the crisis of the West continues unchallenged by Peterson’s proteges, crumbling around them as they bear the burden of that pain and close their ears to collective demands for change?

    Well, then Peterson will only have that many more alienated young men whom he can teach to perpetuate the society that made them.

    The real problem is those god damn Marxists, anyway.

    ———-

    “Jordan Peterson is the rising self-help guru of young conservatives. Here’s what he’s telling them.” by Jack Smith IV; Mic; 02/03/2018

    “His name is Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a Canadian professor who’s become the spiritual father of an online tribe of alienated, disaffected and resentful young men. In the past few months, Peterson’s rapidly gone from a little-known clinical psychologist to a veritable megachurch preacher of anti-communism and personal responsibility. His popularity is meteoric, and if progressives want to understand the ideological future of the conservative movement, they may want to pay notice.”

    That’s Jordan Peterson, the man behind what appears to be a trendy self-help/men’s rights/anti-left traditionalist culture-warrior fusion message. And at this point it’s unclear how popular he’s going to get because his metoric rise is still underway. Especially with the help of Youtube (of course), where his channel has 700,000 subscribers:


    Peterson’s been described as “the stupid man’s smart person,” which is a good enough euphemism for saying “effective public intellectual.” Peterson’s YouTube channel has more than 700,000 subscribers, and he has a podcast in which he gives long addresses on classical philosophy. At his well-attended college talks, his adoring, largely male fanbase regularly approach him afterward to say that his advice has given them meaning and purpose.

    And James Damore, the Alt Right former Google engineer did his first two interviews with Stefan Malyneux, a prominent far-right promoter of eugenics and another interview with Jordan Peterson. Those were the first two interviews for Damore:


    When former Google engineer James Damore was fired after writing his now-infamous internal memo about gender in the workplace, he did two interviews on YouTube before speaking with anyone in the mainstream press. One interview was with far-right talking head Stefan Molyneux. The other was with Peterson.

    It’s an indication of Peterson’s Alt-Right appeal and why there appears to be so much hope that he’ll mold the disaffected Alt Right youth more in his image. And more in the image of lobsters, Peterson’s favorite animal. Apparently because lobsters are very hierarchical. By embracing their inner lobsters, men could embrace their masculinity without being shamed into thinking it’s toxic to do so:


    Consider the lobster

    Jordan Peterson is obsessed with lobsters. Several early pages in 12 Rules for Life are dedicated to lobsters and their behavior, how they fight, how they mate, their dominance hierarchies and their serotonin levels.

    “Look for your inspiration to the victorious lobster, with its 350 million years of practical wisdom,” Peterson wrote. “Stand up straight, with your shoulders back.”

    This is the first piece of advice he dispenses in his book and his lectures, aimed largely at the alienated and purposeless young men. Peterson’s work mixes psychology with basic self-help pablum, Joseph Campbell’s idea of the “Hero’s Journey,” motivational speaking, evolutionary biology, Disney movies like Pinocchio and Christianity. His advice is simple: Stand up straight. Make your bed. Only use speech that makes you feel strong. Pick up the heaviest burden you can find, and make yourself stronger by bearing it. Slay the dragon. Defend the West.

    Jordan Peterson is concerned for the young men of the world. They’ve become weak, resentful and bitter. Peterson worries that young men are scolded into believing their own confidence is a symptom of “toxic masculinity,” and given no words of encouragement. It’s a problem that regularly brings him to tears in talks and interviews.

    When Peterson speaks, he looks out into the crowd and sees the eyes of his mostly male audience light up at the mention of personal responsibility. But it never takes long before Peterson simmers over from lucid, effective advice and into tirades against feminists and social justice warriors. Even the lobsters are evidence that biology is biology, and that gender hierarchy must not be interrupted.

    “Do male crustaceans oppress female crustaceans?” Peterson asks in 12 Rules for Life. “Should their hierarchies be upended?”

    “Jordan Peterson is concerned for the young men of the world. They’ve become weak, resentful and bitter. Peterson worries that young men are scolded into believing their own confidence is a symptom of “toxic masculinity,” and given no words of encouragement. It’s a problem that regularly brings him to tears in talks and interviews.”

    And who is responsible for creating an atmosphere where embracing your inner lobster is labeled ‘toxic masculinity’? ‘Cultural Marxists’, that’s who. ‘Cultural Marxists’ who are scheming to sap men of their god given rights to assume their natural roles and embrace their inner hierarchical macho lobsters:


    So what is this force Peterson says is bearing down on young men, bludgeoning their self-esteem with unfair accusations and reducing their capacity for personal responsibility? “Postmodernism.”

    To understand Peterson’s use of the word “postmodernism,” you need to become familiar with one of the most popular and implausible fantasies in modern conservatism: “cultural marxism.” Cultural marxism is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory developed in the 1980s largely in response to affirmative action, championed by everyone from far-right terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik to members of President Trump’s National Security Council.

    The conspiracy theory goes like this: A group of academics in the 1970s realized that Marxism had failed. So instead of class war between workers and owners, they developed a new idea as a revenge plot to unravel Western civilization: cultural warfare. Then, the story goes, this Marxist plot against white men and the nuclear family spread among universities and throughout the country. Diversity training? Black superheroes? Transgender rights? That’s all cultural Marxism.

    Peterson’s “postmodernism” and “neo-Marxism” is essentially the same as “cultural Marxism,” but with some of the names changed. Peterson not only sees Marxism everywhere, but sees its influence as the most pervasive threat to modern civilization. He often recommends the book The Gulag Archipelago, a 1973 history of Soviet labor camps, as the essential text for understanding “the central issue in our culture at the moment.” This is largely his issue with the pronoun debate: If we cede ground to the radical leftists, it’s not just pronouns, but our entire culture that’s at stake.

    “I believe that the reason this has caused so much noise — tremendous amount of noise, tremendous amount of attention on YouTube — is because there are things that are at stake in this discussion, despite its surface nature, that strike at the very heart of our civilization,” Peterson said during a Canadian broadcast interview.

    “Peterson not only sees Marxism everywhere, but sees its influence as the most pervasive threat to modern civilization.”

    And that is why Peterson is the perfect guy to paper over the differences between the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis and more traditional ‘God and small-government’ conservatives: by fixating on ‘cultural marxism’ as an existential threat that these disaffected young men should find meaning in life by opposing, Peterson is basically repacking the Alt Right neo-Nazi worldview – a rehashed update of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, where the Jews lead the whole world in a giant conspiring to keep conservative white males down by promoting progressivism – and expressing it in the ‘God and small-government’ traditional GOP language. In other words, he’s ‘taming’ the Alt Right by teaching them how to cloak themselves as traditional conservatives more effectively.

    And that focus on a small-government, do-it-yourself message is so extreme in the worldview Peterson is peddling that he explicitly discourages trying to fix the world in general. That’s seen as arrogant and a distraction from fixing yourself. It’s another way Peterson helps channel the nihilism of the young Alt Right conservatives and turns it into a general apathy. A general apathy with the exception of the focus on fighting ‘cultural marxism’. You can see why the right-wing oligarchy that traditionally built and manages the conservative movement loves Peterson. He promises to turn out of control potential neo-Nazi terrorists into people focused on making themselves better culture warriors and little else:


    So how can the young men of the West defend themselves from a Marxist plot to tear apart the culture and the nuclear family? A rightly ordered soul.

    “What I’ve been telling young men is that there’s an actual reason why they need to grow up, which is that they have something to offer,” Peterson said in the Channel 4 interview. “That people have within them this capacity to set the world straight, and that’s necessary to manifest in the world.”

    Chicken Soup for the Capitalist Soul

    Self-help programs naturally lend themselves to a conservative worldview. Empowerment gurus often teach their adherents to give up on blame and focus on pulling themselves up by their spiritual bootstraps. In The New Prophets of Capital, Nicole Aschoff writes about how even liberal heros like Oprah can divert our attention away from the systems that produce poverty and anxiety, and instead focus our attention inward.

    “Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures,” Aschoff wrote. “In doing so, they make the American Dream seem attainable. If we just fix ourselves, we can achieve our goals.”

    In other words: Don’t worry about changing the world, focus on changing yourself. It doesn’t matter, for example, that one of the top indicators of income is where you were born, and not the structure of your family. The only thing that matters is what you’re going to do to prevail.

    Peterson has identified that nascent ingredient of conservative politics within self-help, and pulled its flavor straight to the surface.

    Where creating social progress requires collective action, Peterson says attempting to fix society at large is an arrogant project, akin to a monkey trying to repair a military helicopter by banging it with a wrench. He invokes the Sermon on the Mount — “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” — as evidence that anyone who calls into question the world without having perfectly ordered their own soul is a hypocrite.

    “The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism,” Peterson writes in his book. “It’s not communism, either, for that matter. It’s not the military-industrial complex. It’s not the patriarchy — that disposable, malleable, arbitrary cultural artifact.”

    No, he says. Those who want to fix the world are whiners, uninterested in doing the real work of taking responsibility for themselves.

    “No, he says. Those who want to fix the world are whiners, uninterested in doing the real work of taking responsibility for themselves.”

    If you want to improve the world, you’re a whiner running away from your responsibility to improve yourself. Just focus on opposing the ‘cultural Marxists’ (i.e. people trying to improve the world). That’s the antidote to the inherent nihilism of Nazism Peterson offers the GOP. An antidote that just might transform some of these neo-Nazis into disciplined right-wing foot soldiers by officially rejecting the far-right at the same time he’s espousing their worldview:


    It’s no surprise that the mess of ideologies associated with the alt-right revere Peterson, a great defender of the “West.” For white nationalists, his writing about evolutionary biology supports their belief in a Darwinist contest for resources. For so-called “men’s rights” misogynists, Peterson reinforces the idea that feminism has turned modern men feeble. Peterson is a philosophical sage for radical anti-communists, and a demigod of YouTube debate pedantry.

    But Peterson rejects the far-right. Instead, he sees his work as a path away from all that, from the resentment and violence of fringe nihilists.

    “I’ve had many, many people write me from the right, or from the fringes of the radical right, saying precisely that listening to my lectures stopped them from going all of the way,” Peterson said in an interview on YouTube.

    And this is why modern conservatism is so enamored of Peterson.

    Since Trump’s election, there’s been a simmering fear that the future of the GOP would look less like the party of Reagan and will instead be led by disaffected white racists raised on a media diet of 4chan and provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos. Peterson promises to rescue the Lost Boys. He goes into the corners of the internet to rally the frightened fledgelings of the conservative movement yet to come, and raises them up to be good Republicans.

    “Since Trump’s election, there’s been a simmering fear that the future of the GOP would look less like the party of Reagan and will instead be led by disaffected white racists raised on a media diet of 4chan and provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos. Peterson promises to rescue the Lost Boys. He goes into the corners of the internet to rally the frightened fledgelings of the conservative movement yet to come, and raises them up to be good Republicans.”

    And as the final patina of traditional conservatism to counter the anti-billionaire sentiments that sometimes exist on the far-right, Peterson has a very Calvinist message that explicitly rejects the notion that the concentration of wealth is a valid concern:


    Now, Peterson doesn’t himself identify as conservative, but mainstream conservative politics are the natural conclusion of nearly all of his teachings and beliefs.

    In one speech, delivered at Harvard and uploaded with the title “The Greatest Speech Every Student Should Hear,” he addressed the idea that the wealthiest 1% of society are hoarding wealth, calling it “absolute rubbish.” The wealthy accumulated what they have through lives of greatness, Peterson said, and if students would only become deserving through rigorous discipline and self-improvement, the 1% would find no greater delight than to hand out opportunities.

    “There are few things which are more intrinsically meaningful, if you’re an accomplished person, then to find young people who have the possibility of being accomplished and say, ‘Hey look, here’s an opportunity for you.’”

    Peterson believes Christianity is the foundation of societal greatness, that same-sex marriage is a potential Leftist assault on traditional family structures, and that “white privilege” is a destructive concept that will engender a suicidal level of guilt in the West. Self-help is all well and good for getting one’s life in shape, but when extrapolated to the level of national politics, the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” is a handy weapon for those who oppose single-payer health care.

    Peterson demands that his adherents not challenge the rules their forefathers set out for them, to “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” It was the French philosopher Michel Foucault who observed that everyday fascism can arise in the programs of self-discipline that make docile, obedient workers of us all. Then again, Peterson thinks Foucault is a treacherous, bitter and resentful charlatan at the center of the “neo-Marxist” plot against the West. So that’s that.

    “Peterson demands that his adherents not challenge the rules their forefathers set out for them, to “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.””

    In other words, don’t rock the boat. Instead, organize to throw all the hippies overboard. It’s like a Koch/Mercer dream message. And that’s why Jordan Peterson is currently being treated like a dream come true by the conservative establishment.

    It’s a fascinating development in the unfolding story of the rise of the Alt Right and the overt neo-Nazi takeover of the GOP. Trump is part of that story but it’s a story that is going to have a post-Trump chapter and we might be seeing the contours of that post-Trump story of the Alt Right with the emergence of Peterson as a thought-leader embraced by both the Alt Right and mainstream conservativism.

    So Peterson is basically offering the Alt Right and politically disaffected nihilist right-wing young men in general a pitch to ditch their nihilism and instead organize to burn down society together and replace it with one where men are free to embrace their role at the top of a macho lobster hierachy without being shamed for it. And the Alt Right appears to be liking what Peterson is selling. Will he succeed in inviting a bunch of Alt Right trolls into the political realm by morphing them into good little GOP operatives? Or will he fail keep the Alt Right trolls focused on Helter Skelter-style paths to power? Either way, it’s a depressing question.

    So if you do find yourself depressed by the rise of the Alt Right and the general success of far-right propaganda in keeping humanity divided and conquered, or depressed for any other reason, keep in mind that the Alt Right appears to be actively recruiting depressed people. Especially over the internet. Using Jordan Peterson videos on Youtube as the gateway.

    The way it works is the depressed person watched the ‘mainstream’ Jordan Peterson self-help videos on depression then get served up a more ‘Red-pill’-ish video of Peterson sounding more like an Alt Right guru. And then Youtube’s algorithm serves up videos for people like Stefen Molyneux next. And it goes on from there. Youtube is the slippery slope is the extremist’s recruitment dream tool.

    According to “MrHappyDieHappy”, the moniker for someone sounding the alarm over the Alt Right recruitment efforts they experienced as a depressed person on the internet, the “common railroad stages of ‘helpful’ linking to ‘motivational speakers’ goes ‘Jordan Peterson —> Stefan Molyneux —> Millennial Woes”.

    In other words, Jordan Peterson isn’t just becoming a gateway for people to move out of the trappings of the Alt Right and into the GOP fold, he’s also being used as a gateway for people to move into the Alt Right. He’s like a one-man GOP crytp-Nazi factory.

    So if you find yourself even more depressed after learning all that, you probably want to avoid the Jordan Peterson self-help videos while dealing with your depression:

    The Outline

    The Alt-right is recruiting depressed people
    Alt-right figures are targeting vulnerable communities with videos and, unfortunately, it seems to be working.

    Paris Martineau
    Feb—26—2018 02:02PM EST

    A video on YouTube entitled “Advice For People With Depression” has over half a million views. The title is generic enough, and to the unsuspecting viewer, lecturer Jordan Peterson could even look legitimate or knowledgable — a quick Google search will reveal that he even spoke at Harvard once. But as the video wears on, Peterson argues that men are depressed and frustrated because they don’t have a higher calling like women (who, according to Peterson, are biologically required to have and take care of infants). This leaves weak men seeking “impulsive, low-class pleasure,” he argues. Upon first glance he certainly doesn’t seem like a darling of the alt-right, but he is.

    Type “depression” or “depressed” into YouTube and it won’t be long until you stumble upon a suit-clad white supremacist giving a lecture on self-empowerment. They’re everywhere. For years, members of the alt-right have taken advantage of the internet’s most vulnerable, turning their fear and self-loathing into vitriolic extremism, and thanks to the movement’s recent galvanization, they’re only growing stronger.

    “I still wonder, how could I have been so stupid?” writes Reddit user u/pdesperaux, in a post detailing how he was accidentally seduced by the alt-right. “I was part of a cult. I know cults and I know brainwashing, I have researched them extensively, you’d think I would have noticed, right? Wrong. These are the same tactics that Scientology and ISIS use and I fell for them like a chump.”

    “NOBODY is talking about how the online depression community has been infiltrated by alt-right recruiters deliberately preying on the vulnerable,” writes Twitter user @MrHappyDieHappy in a thread on the issue. “There NEED to be public warnings about this. ‘Online pals’ have attempted to groom me multiple times when at my absolute lowest.”

    “You know your life is useless and meaningless,” Peterson says in his “Advice” video, turning towards the viewer, “you’re full of self-contempt and nihilism.” He doesn’t follow all of this rousing self-hatred with an answer, but rather merely teases at one. “[You] have had enough of that,” he says to a classroom full of men. “Rights, rights, rights, rights…”

    Peterson’s alt-light messaging quickly takes a darker turn. Finish that video and YouTube will queue up “Jordan Peterson – Don’t Be The Nice Guy” (1.3 million views), and “Jordan Peterson – The Tragic Story of the Man-Child” (over 853,000 views), both of which are practically right out of the redpill/incel handbook.

    The common railroad stages of ‘helpful’ linking to ‘motivational speakers’ goes ‘Jordan Peterson —> Stefan Molyneux —> Millennial Woes,” writes @MrHappyDieHappy. “The first is charismatic and not as harmful, but his persuasiveness leaves people open for the next two, who are frankly evil and dumb.” Molyneux, an anarcho-capitalist who promotes scientific racism and eugenics, has grown wildly popular amongst the alt-right as of late. His videos — which argue, among other things, that rape is a “moral right” — are often used to help transition vulnerable young men into the vitriolic and racist core of the alt-right.

    Though it may seem like a huge ideological leap, it makes sense, in a way. For some disillusioned and hopelessly confused young men, the alt-right offers two things they feel a serious lack of in the throes of depression: acceptance and community. These primer videos and their associated “support” groups do a shockingly good job of acknowledging the validity of the depressed man’s existence — something men don’t often feel they experience — and capitalize on that good will by galvanizing their members into a plan of action (which generally involves fighting against some group or class of people designated as “the enemy”). These sort of movements allot the depressed person a form of agency which they may never have experienced before. And whether it’s grounded in reality or not, that’s an addicting feeling.

    According to Christian Picciolini, a former neo-nazi who co-founded the peace advocacy organization, Life After Hate, these sort of recruiting tactics aren’t just common, but systematically enforced. “[The recruiters] are actively looking for these kind of broken individuals who they can promise acceptance, who they can promise identity to,” Picciolini said in an interview with Sam Seder. “Because in real life, perhaps these people are socially awkward — they’re not fitting in; they may be bullied — and they’re desperately looking for something. And the ideology and the dogma are not what drive people to this extremism, it’s in fact, I think, a broken search for that acceptance and that purpose and community.”

    Some of the most toxic unofficial alt-right communities online have operated on this principle. r/Incels (which is now banned, thankfully), began as a place for the “involuntarily celibate” to commiserate, but quickly became the place for extreme misogynists to gather and blame their problems on women and minorities. “Men going their own way,” (MGTOW) was initially a space for men to commune and protect their sovereignty as dudes “above all else,” it devolved into an infinitely racist and misogynistic hellhole. Similar fates have befallen r/Redpill, r/MensRights, and countless others. Commiseration begets community begets a vulnerable trend towards groupthink.

    While it’s easy to isolate purely hateful content, the type that preys upon the disenfranchised and uses much more insidious methods to bring them into the fold is much more difficult to manage on expansive platforms like YouTube. Particularly because the message being sent isn’t one of obvious in-your-face hate speech, or something so obviously objectionable, but rather more of a slow burn. It’s not the sort of thing you can train algorithms to spot — or at least, not yet — making the issue of containment that much harder to address.

    ———-

    “The Alt-right is recruiting depressed people” by Paris Martineau; The Outline; 02/26/2018

    Type “depression” or “depressed” into YouTube and it won’t be long until you stumble upon a suit-clad white supremacist giving a lecture on self-empowerment. They’re everywhere. For years, members of the alt-right have taken advantage of the internet’s most vulnerable, turning their fear and self-loathing into vitriolic extremism, and thanks to the movement’s recent galvanization, they’re only growing stronger.”

    And there we have it, the worst therapy for depression ever: an endless stream of white-supremacy videos on Youtube. Well, ok, ISIS recruitment videos would tie for worst therapy.

    And almost no one is warning depressed people about this:


    “I still wonder, how could I have been so stupid?” writes Reddit user u/pdesperaux, in a post detailing how he was accidentally seduced by the alt-right. “I was part of a cult. I know cults and I know brainwashing, I have researched them extensively, you’d think I would have noticed, right? Wrong. These are the same tactics that Scientology and ISIS use and I fell for them like a chump.”

    “NOBODY is talking about how the online depression community has been infiltrated by alt-right recruiters deliberately preying on the vulnerable,” writes Twitter user @MrHappyDieHappy in a thread on the issue. “There NEED to be public warnings about this. ‘Online pals’ have attempted to groom me multiple times when at my absolute lowest.”

    And that stream self-help Alt-Right gateway videos includes the Jordan Peterson. Then it turns to ‘redpilled’ Jordan Peterson videos:


    “You know your life is useless and meaningless,” Peterson says in his “Advice” video, turning towards the viewer, “you’re full of self-contempt and nihilism.” He doesn’t follow all of this rousing self-hatred with an answer, but rather merely teases at one. “[You] have had enough of that,” he says to a classroom full of men. “Rights, rights, rights, rights…”

    Peterson’s alt-light messaging quickly takes a darker turn. Finish that video and YouTube will queue up “Jordan Peterson – Don’t Be The Nice Guy” (1.3 million views), and “Jordan Peterson – The Tragic Story of the Man-Child” (over 853,000 views), both of which are practically right out of the redpill/incel handbook.

    The common railroad stages of ‘helpful’ linking to ‘motivational speakers’ goes ‘Jordan Peterson —> Stefan Molyneux —> Millennial Woes,” writes @MrHappyDieHappy. “The first is charismatic and not as harmful, but his persuasiveness leaves people open for the next two, who are frankly evil and dumb.” Molyneux, an anarcho-capitalist who promotes scientific racism and eugenics, has grown wildly popular amongst the alt-right as of late. His videos — which argue, among other things, that rape is a “moral right” — are often used to help transition vulnerable young men into the vitriolic and racist core of the alt-right.

    So what are Peterson and the Alt Right offering the depressed? A community that accepts them, which is exactly what Christian Picciolini, a former neo-nazi who co-founded the peace advocacy organization, Life After Hate, warns is a classic feature of neo-Nazi and extremist recruitment techniques:


    Though it may seem like a huge ideological leap, it makes sense, in a way. For some disillusioned and hopelessly confused young men, the alt-right offers two things they feel a serious lack of in the throes of depression: acceptance and community. These primer videos and their associated “support” groups do a shockingly good job of acknowledging the validity of the depressed man’s existence — something men don’t often feel they experience — and capitalize on that good will by galvanizing their members into a plan of action (which generally involves fighting against some group or class of people designated as “the enemy”). These sort of movements allot the depressed person a form of agency which they may never have experienced before. And whether it’s grounded in reality or not, that’s an addicting feeling.

    According to Christian Picciolini, a former neo-nazi who co-founded the peace advocacy organization, Life After Hate, these sort of recruiting tactics aren’t just common, but systematically enforced. “[The recruiters] are actively looking for these kind of broken individuals who they can promise acceptance, who they can promise identity to,” Picciolini said in an interview with Sam Seder. “Because in real life, perhaps these people are socially awkward — they’re not fitting in; they may be bullied — and they’re desperately looking for something. And the ideology and the dogma are not what drive people to this extremism, it’s in fact, I think, a broken search for that acceptance and that purpose and community.”

    And this approach of targeting depressed men was tragically on display when a reddit group for the “involuntarily celibate” to commiserate quickly became an Alt Right stomping ground where women and minorities (‘cultural Marxists’) got all the blame. The worldview shared by Jordan Peterson and the Alt Right became the dominant worldview of that online reddit “involuntarily celibate” community, making that community a new recruitment tool. It really is quite depressing:


    Some of the most toxic unofficial alt-right communities online have operated on this principle. r/Incels (which is now banned, thankfully), began as a place for the “involuntarily celibate” to commiserate, but quickly became the place for extreme misogynists to gather and blame their problems on women and minorities. “Men going their own way,” (MGTOW) was initially a space for men to commune and protect their sovereignty as dudes “above all else,” it devolved into an infinitely racist and misogynistic hellhole. Similar fates have befallen r/Redpill, r/MensRights, and countless others. Commiseration begets community begets a vulnerable trend towards groupthink.

    So, as we can see, Jordan Peterson is both fueling the growth fo the Alt Right and doing it using a message that creates the rhetorical cover story for those Alt Right believers to go into crypto-Nazi mode and become ‘respectable’ and join the GOP. A one-man far-right foot soldier conveyor belt based on the promotion of following key ideals:

    1. Those trying to make the world a better place are just running for the need to improve themselves.

    2. You can improve yourself and find meaning in life by focusing on the battle against ‘cultural Marxism’, i.e., the battle against the people trying to make the world a better place for everyone by making it a place with everyone in mind. That’s people are battle and get in the way of your inner lobster.

    3. If you’re feeling depressed or nihilistic, defeating ‘cultural Marxism’ is a good form of therapy for those feelings.

    And Peterson’s formula appears to be working. At least the part where Peterson funnels people in the Alt Right. We’ll see if he succeeds with pulling them out by turning them into card carrying God fearing Republicans. But with mainstream conservatism embracing him too it seems very possible that Jordan Peterson’s message could be a kind of uniting rallying cry for the GOP and its allied Alt Right troll army.

    So, yeah, beware the Jordan Peterson self-realization cult. The next thing you know you’re a Nazi and at the end of it all you’re a Jordan Peterson brand Republican. It’s a surprisingly vast and scary cult. Beware.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 11, 2018, 7:56 pm
  15. Oh great, it looks like the social media giants like Youtube and Facebook that are facing scrutiny over the way they’ve become major propaganda tools for the far right have competition: The Steam gaming app, a major distributor for very popular video games, appears to have a neo-Nazi problem. Specifically, neo-Nazis are using its chat room and voice-over-IP options to promote their ideology. Both the Daily Stormer and Andrew Auernheimer have Steam chat rooms. AtomWaffen too.

    And there’s also a problem with Steam chat forums that glorify school shooters. Yep. 173 such groups glorifying school shootings according to one count.

    And Steam isn’t the only popular gaming app that this neo-Nazi problem. Discord, another very popular app for gamers, also appears to have a number of chat rooms run by neo-Nazis. The Germanic Reconquista group of German neo-Nazis who were training people how to game Youtube’s algorithms did that training using Discord. And, again, Steam and Discord are both quite popular.

    So while school shootings like the shooting in Parkland, Florida, inevitably raise difficult questions over the role violent video games may have played in pushing the shooter towards such an act, it seems like the question over whether or not there’s a problem with video gaming chat apps promoting school shootings is a pretty simple question. Yes, there is indeed a problem. Specifically, the 173+ popular video game chat forums on Steam that glorify school shooters are indeed part of the school shooting problem. A school shooting problem that is part of the much larger problem of psychologically vulnerable people succumbing to violent hateful ideologies in general which is also being promoted over these popular chat apps:

    Newsweek

    Neo-Nazis, ‘Future School Shooters’ Using Leading Gaming App to Post Hateful Content in Hundreds of Groups: Report

    By Michael Edison Hayden
    On 3/7/18 at 5:43 PM

    A leading gaming app that is popular with adherents of the neo-Nazi wing of the alt-right movement has at least 173 groups dedicated to the glorification of school shootings, according to a report published last week by Reveal News. Separately, dozens of neo-Nazi groups have cultivated active communities on the app.

    The report notes that these Steam groups—which typically have between 30 and 200 active members—glorify men like 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured over a dozen others in the vicinity of the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before committing suicide in 2014.

    Rodger was a virulent misogynist and wanted to punish women for rejecting him. Other shooters, like Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech senior who killed 32 people in 2007, are also hailed in these Steam groups. The groups have names like “School Shooters Are Heroes” and “Shoot Up a School.” Some of them allude to “future” school shootings yet to take place and are filled with racist language.

    The link between violence and the scattered culture of internet Nazism has received greater scrutiny in recent weeks, following a CBS News report that suspected Parkland, Florida, mass shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly possessed gun magazines engraved with swastikas. Gaming apps like Steam have become increasingly popular within that community.

    One example of neo-Nazis using Steam is Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, who handles the technical side of the white supremacist troll website Daily Stormer, and several months ago appeared to threaten to “slaughter” Jewish children in retaliation for his website being taken offline. Auernheimer appears to have a group on the app, which discusses games in the context of whether they portray Adolf Hitler in a favorable light. The broader community of Daily Stormer also appears to have an active community on Steam called “Storm Sect” with roughly 200 members.

    Other neo-Nazi groups on Steam have more overtly hateful and violent names like “Fag Lynch Squad,” which depicts shadowy figures hanging limply from nooses in its profile picture. AtomWaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group linked to a number of murders, had its community on Steam removed earlier this month, Reveal News reported.

    Angela Nagle, a leftist writer, demonstrated links between the origins of the alt-right and gaming culture in her book Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right. The veneration of school shooters and other killers is similarly linked.

    It is not only on Steam where neo-Nazis have found a platform within the gaming world. Discord, another gaming app, was instrumental to young neo-Nazis in planning the Unite the Right event that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, which led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. Discord has made efforts to remove violent and far-right content from its app following reports of the rally, but new groups continue to pop up on that platform.

    Unicorn Riot, a volunteer media collective, published recordings and messages this week that appeared to reveal internal planning discussions from the young white supremacist group Patriot Front, which were initially hosted on Discord. Patriot Front splintered from Vanguard America, the group in which the man accused of killing Heyer allegedly marched during the protests in Charlottesville.

    Discord told Newsweek in a statement that the company is still trying to purge groups like Patriot Front from its app.

    “Discord has a Terms of Service and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere to. These specifically prohibit harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence,” a spokesperson said, noting that the group recently removed several offending servers. “Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate appropriate action against any reported Terms of Service violation by a server or user.”

    ———-

    “Neo-Nazis, ‘Future School Shooters’ Using Leading Gaming App to Post Hateful Content in Hundreds of Groups: Report” by Michael Edison Hayden; Newsweek; 03/17/2018

    “A leading gaming app that is popular with adherents of the neo-Nazi wing of the alt-right movement has at least 173 groups dedicated to the glorification of school shootings, according to a report published last week by Reveal News. Separately, dozens of neo-Nazi groups have cultivated active communities on the app.”

    At least 173 groups dedicated to the glorification of school shootings. And that’s just on Steam. When we’re wondering about cultural influences that might push someone to commit such an act, the various online forums glorifying past school shooters seem like a pretty clear cultural culprit. And each of these forums typically have 30-200 members:


    The report notes that these Steam groups—which typically have between 30 and 200 active members—glorify men like 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured over a dozen others in the vicinity of the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before committing suicide in 2014.

    Rodger was a virulent misogynist and wanted to punish women for rejecting him. Other shooters, like Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech senior who killed 32 people in 2007, are also hailed in these Steam groups. The groups have names like “School Shooters Are Heroes” and “Shoot Up a School.” Some of them allude to “future” school shootings yet to take place and are filled with racist language.

    “Some of them allude to “future” school shootings yet to take place and are filled with racist language”

    Recall the questions surrounding Nikolas Cruz and whether or not he was in contact with the “Republic of Florida” local neo-Nazi group. Also recall the reports that Republic of Florida leader Jordan Jereb was talking on a neo-Nazi chat forum, Gab, about how to set up “lone wolf” acts. So here’s were seeing posts in these Steam school shooter chat rooms filled with racist language where people talk about future school shootings. Might posting messages like that be part of a neo-Nazi technique for inspiring “lone wolves” that Jereb was talking about? Hopefully somebody is looking into that.

    Whether or not these school shooter forums are being set up and seeded by neo-Nazis, it’s pretty clear that the psychologically vulnerable people reading those forums are going to have plenty of other neo-Nazi forums they’re getting directed to within the Steam chatroom ecosystem. And that might even include the chat room set up by Andrew “weev” Auernheimer where they discuss whether or not games portray Hitler in a positive light. Or the chatroom set up by the Daily Stormer:


    The link between violence and the scattered culture of internet Nazism has received greater scrutiny in recent weeks, following a CBS News report that suspected Parkland, Florida, mass shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly possessed gun magazines engraved with swastikas. Gaming apps like Steam have become increasingly popular within that community.

    One example of neo-Nazis using Steam is Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, who handles the technical side of the white supremacist troll website Daily Stormer, and several months ago appeared to threaten to “slaughter” Jewish children in retaliation for his website being taken offline. Auernheimer appears to have a group on the app, which discusses games in the context of whether they portray Adolf Hitler in a favorable light. The broader community of Daily Stormer also appears to have an active community on Steam called “Storm Sect” with roughly 200 members.

    And even AtomWaffen had a group, until it was removed by Steam earlier this month. So Daily Stormer and Auernhiemer appear to have not crossed whatever line triggers the removal of a chat group:


    Other neo-Nazi groups on Steam have more overtly hateful and violent names like “Fag Lynch Squad,” which depicts shadowy figures hanging limply from nooses in its profile picture. AtomWaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group linked to a number of murders, had its community on Steam removed earlier this month, Reveal News reported.

    And Steam’s video gaming chatrooms are merely one of the video gaming chatroom ecosystems with a neo-Nazi presence. There’s also the popular Discord gaming communications app. And fortunately someone decided to leak months of the chat logs from the private Discord forum for Patriot Front, the neo-Nzi group that recent emerged as a splinter from Vanguard America after Vanguard America become associated with Alex Field, the driver who killed Heather Heyer at Charlottesville:


    It is not only on Steam where neo-Nazis have found a platform within the gaming world. Discord, another gaming app, was instrumental to young neo-Nazis in planning the Unite the Right event that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, which led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. Discord has made efforts to remove violent and far-right content from its app following reports of the rally, but new groups continue to pop up on that platform.

    Unicorn Riot, a volunteer media collective, published recordings and messages this week that appeared to reveal internal planning discussions from the young white supremacist group Patriot Front, which were initially hosted on Discord. Patriot Front splintered from Vanguard America, the group in which the man accused of killing Heyer allegedly marched during the protests in Charlottesville.

    Discord told Newsweek in a statement that the company is still trying to purge groups like Patriot Front from its app.

    “Discord told Newsweek in a statement that the company is still trying to purge groups like Patriot Front from its app.”

    Discord is “still trying to purge groups like Patriot Front from its app.” Which is another way of saying that it hasn’t actually purged the group from its app. And as a particularly disturbing report the Daily Beast recent made clear, one reason Discord might have so much trouble purging Patriot Front from its app is because it has difficulty purging any group from its app including groups that promote rape, the trading of revenge porn, and child pornography. Because people just make new Discord IDs to get around the ban and new forums after they get banned. In other words, all these extremist groups are on Discord because Discord is set up to make it very hard to actually kick them off.

    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks for these groups when they use Discord, and that includes the possibility that their private chat logs might get leaked, like what happened to Patriot Front when its chat logs from May 2017 to September 2017 were leaked to Unicorn Front. And this is actually a pretty big risk of using these forums as recruitment tools because the risk of leaking is always there. When those kinds of private neo-Nazi chat logs get leaked, the world gets reminded once again that Nazis really do plot real-world nightmares.

    And as the following Unicorn Riot report on those chat logs point out, in the case of Patriot Front, their real-world nightmare goals include an “ideal society” where “ethnostate rape gangs” are allowed to rape women who aren’t living according to “traditional values.” The only rule is that the rape gang could only rape a woman of the same race (because inter-racial ethnostate rape gangs would be wrong, you see). Given that the ‘Alt Right’ has focused on using the internet to promote a less-Nazi-ish public face for Nazism, it’s always a big set back for the ‘Alt Right’ when the internet is also used to reveal that their ideal society really does involve a nightmare future like ethnostate rape gangs:

    Unicorn Riot

    “We’re Americans, And We’re Fascists”: Inside Patriot Front

    March 5, 2018

    Lansing, MI – As white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at Michigan State University on Monday, March 5, far-right, neo-Nazi and “alt-right” factions have been arriving in the area ahead of his event.

    One such group is Patriot Front, which was formed after members of Vanguard America splintered off to create a new organization. Unicorn Riot has gained access to a large amount of materials from Patriot Front Discord servers, including chat lots and audio recordings of voice meetings. The records of conversations between Patriot Front leaders and members spans months and provides a unique insight into the operations of the self-described “American fascist” organization.

    Recorded conversations between members show an obsession with firearms, a non-stop tirade of racist, sexist and otherwise abusive language, and a desire to take action in the real world. Patriot Front members are also told that raping women is acceptable, “as long as you’re raping, like, people in your own race” and describe how in their ideal society, “ethnostate rape gangswould be allowed to freely target unmarried white women who did not adhere to “traditional values.” Discord users in the server repeatedly share pictures of themselves, wrestling, boxing, sparring, and shooting, which they casually refer to as “violence training.”

    Last year Unicorn Riot was sent the contents of the Southern Front Discord server, which contained chat logs (now available on our DiscordLeaks platform) from May to September 2017, showing the transition of members from Vanguard America to Patriot Front. Patriot Front’s founder, Thomas Rousseau, who posts using the name Thomas Ryan, was active in Vanguard America leadership and is the owner of the website BloodAndSoil.org, which had been Vanguard America’s official domain.

    Following a conflict between Rousseau and Vanguard America ‘CEO’ Dillon Irrizary (AKA Dillon Hopper) after Charlottesville, Rousseau resigned from Vanguard and took the website and a fair amount of active members with him. He founded Patriot Front the next day, and used the established ‘Blood and Soil’ website to boost its profile.

    Rousseau, who is 19 years old, acts as the leader of the group, which includes many older men in their thirties. He tells his side of the story of the split between Patriot Front and Vanguard America in a Discord voice call that took place on February 9. On the call, after making jokes reveling in Heather Heyer’s violent death in Charlottesville at Unite the Right on August 12, 2017, Rousseau describes the “PR nightmare” that ensued after pictures surfaced of car attacker James Alex Fields standing alongside members of Vanguard America, including himself. (As of August 12, Rousseau had not yet left Vanguard America to found Patriot Front.)

    Rousseau went on to claim that Vanguard America claimed “maybe” 250 members “at its peak” with 80 members actively participating. He boasted of accomplishing “more activism with apparently half of their people,” suggesting that Patriot Front has at most 125 members with perhaps 60 being regularly active.

    Patriot Front appears to be the most active in Texas, where it has three different local networks for members. On a February 11, 2018 voice call, members estimated that “Florida has 11 guys” but lamented that their group had little to no presence in Appalachia. The group also seems to have a small but established presence in New England states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont.

    Vanguard America is a member of the Nationalist Front coalition, along with the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), the League of the South, and the National Socialist Movement (NSM). While Patriot Front is actively feuding with Nationalist Front groups such as TWP, they still maintain an informal relationship through their affiliation with figures like Richard Spencer. An operational document (PDF) from Spencer’s appearance in Gainesville last October lists Patriot Front among the primary groups involved in an alt-right security “task force” which also included members of League of the South.

    While groups of young white men like Patriot Front are often used as a personal security force by alt-right VIPs such as Richard Spencer, Discord chats show some confusion and/or denial regarding this relationship. “We don’t do security at alt-right events”, Rousseau wrote on October 15, 2017. However, just two days later on October 17, another Patriot Front member wrote that “Thomas, Me, etc are all going” to Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida on October 19, adding “most” were attending “in a security capacity.”

    Late Sunday night after the Freedom for the Marketplace of Ideas (FMI) alt-right conference this weekend in Detroit, members of Patriot Front posted about how they had been acting as armed security for the event. “PF chi had to run armed patrols at FMI,” wrote user ‘Smiter IL.’ “Shit was crazy, but everything is ok.”

    The ‘Front and Center’ chat logs also reveal confusion and frustration among Patriot Front members after three men were arrested for shooting at antifascist protesters following Spencer’s Florida speech. William Fears, a Texas neo-Nazi arrested on October 17 along with his brother Colton Fears and his friend Tyler Tenbrink, has repeatedly associated with Patriot Front although he is not an official member. Writing about Fears and his two co-defendants now facing charges of attempted murder, Patriot Front Discord member ‘NDO Nick – TX’ wrote,

    We will not publicly disavow these guys. With that being said Will was told by multiple people including Cross and myself not to attend.” – Discord user ‘NDO Nick – TX’, October 20, 2017 8:41 PM

    ‘Nick’ also shared many images of himself and other white supremacists attending Spencer’s Gainesville event.

    While Vanguard America takes an openly national socialist approach, Thomas Rousseau and Patriot Front seek to present the same ideology in a slightly more subtle and patriotic package. While centering the group’s rhetoric around “American identity,” Discord messages reveal that Patriot Front’s vision is of an exclusively white America in which non-whites are driven out or forced into subordinate roles.

    The American Identity belongs to a certain group of people,” Rousseau wrote in a chat on October 15, “and citizenship doesn’t change that.” On November 1st, he reiterated his “American fascist” approach to branding the group: “If anyone asks what we are, we’re Americans, and we’re fascists. In that order exactly.” In a text chat on November 8, another Discord user in the Front and Center server further explained the strategic value of using patriotic American aesthetics to promote fascism.

    Patriotic American Imagery: Something true Americans identify with, and plausible deniability for us when associated with Naziism, etc.” – Discord user ‘Racist Milk TX’, November 8, 2017, 7:57 PM

    Rousseau, the group’s teenage leader, describes how his vision of an American ethnostate would inevitably involve the forced removal of all black people. “We’re incompatible… either they have to go, or they get to go, depending on how willing they are.

    Our anonymous source who reached out to us from inside Patriot Front said they represented “a group of concerned individuals” and told us why they decided to take steps to expose the group’s internal workings:

    We chose to obtain and pass on information about Patriot Front to ensure that anyone considering joining this group or others like it understands what type of organization they are committing to. This is a group that presents itself as a bulwark for the future of white people in public, while behind closed doors they speak openly of violent ethnic cleansing, the rape of white women, the forcible abortion of female people of color and death for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We have seen what those like them are capable of in Charlottesville and Orange County.”

    The new logs from the ‘Front and Center’ server, as well as a few related smaller chat groups, show how Patriot Front has continued organizing into 2018. Along with most of the alt-right since Charlottesville, Patriot Front taken up the tactic of short, unannounced ‘flash demo’ protests, in which they assemble in public to chant, hold banners, and take photos for propaganda before quickly dispersing to avoid counter-protesters. They held a short protest carrying flares and banners at the University of Texas campus on November 3, 2017, before being surrounded by police and quickly leaving the area. This ‘flash demo’ was written up for the Daily Stormer by Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray, who, while not a member of Patriot Front, generally acts as an ally and supporter. Other Patriot Front ‘flash demos’ have taken place in Austin, Texas and more recently in Burlington, Vermont, where members had to change locations at the last minute due to their plans allegedly being leaked to local antifascists.

    Patriot Front also places a strong emphasis on aggressively placing racist flyers and posters in public places, with members sharing hundreds of pictures of their escapades. The #activism channel in Patriot Front’s Discord server shows hundreds of images of mass-flyering campaigns carried out by member’s distributing the group’s racist propaganda. Cells of Patriot Front activists were also encouraged to carry out banner drops in their area. “20 minutes of work and we trigger hundreds,” gloated ‘NDO Eric – TX’ after a banner reading “America is a white nation” was dropped from a library balcony at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. While targets included government offices, churches, and synagogues, the overwhelming focus was on college campuses, with some Patriot Front members driving to several different campuses in one night to distribute hundreds of flyers.

    In a Discord voice meeting on February 13, a Patriot Front member with the username ‘Himmler’ described how he had hacked into hundreds of printers on college campuses to print off anti-semitic flyers. The man claims to have remotely accessed 29,000 printers and describes his actions as undertaken in collaboration with ‘Weev’, aka Andrew Aurenheimer, convicted hacker and systems administrator for the Daily Stormer. ‘Himmler’ brags about causing “upwards of $20,000” in financial damage due to ink used in the printing. He named UMass and DePaul as schools he had personally targeted.

    One user in the Patriot Front Discord server, ‘Machinesmiter-IL,’ bragged about how he was secretly using his founding position at the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University in Chicago to prime susceptible young white men to be receptive to fascist ideology. He boasted about putting up hundreds of flyers on his campus and the surrounding area, and how on November 4 he “hit Federal Plaza and the whole surrounding area hard… I probably got up at least 150-200 posters downtown.

    The Chicago-based Patriot Front member claimed in his fall 2017 Discord posts that he planned on leaving school for work in a few months but wanted to leave a racist legacy behind on Roosevelt campus. On November 8, Discord user ‘Machinesmiter-IL’ shared his progress in grooming Roosevelt College Republican members:

    My first College Republicans turnout was excellent. 10 white athletic males, a couple fashy haircuts, good discussion. This has awesome potential. They said they came, because of my Pepe flyer that I put up. Meme magick worked wonders for me in a 3 hour window. Pepe comes in clutch. We talked Introductory stuff, talked about demographics being destiny, how being a straight white male makes you an enemy, and are talking about our first event. We are going to try and get American Flags put up on campus.

    Conor Ryan, the president of the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University, was not available for comment as of this writing.

    In our previous leak from Patriot Front, we found that one active member of the group was working as a prison guard for the Georgia Department of Corrections. In the newer server logs, members of Patriot Front have also claimed to be collaborating with law enforcement against antifascists. “We’re going to have an Antifa arrest soon,” wrote user ‘PaleHorse FL’ on October 2nd, “I’m talking to Detective Declan Hickey of Charlottesville.”

    Patriot Front has also repeatedly engaged in disinformation campaigns in the aftermath of recent mass shootings. After the Las Vegas shooting last year, members were posting memes in Discord pushing the false conspiracy theory that shooter Stephen Paddock was tied to anti-racist groups. One image of the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting had an added caption which read “THE RADICAL LEFT AIMS TO EXTERMINATE WHITE CULTURE.” Immediately after the recent shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, Patriot Front members tried to paint shooter Nicholas Cruz, who had swastikas etched onto his ammunition, was an antifascist and a leftist. Users in the Front and Center Discord server also joined in online campaigns trying to slander surviving students as ‘crisis actors.’

    Patriot Front is expected to keep pushing their antisemitic, neo-Nazi message into the public sphere as they continue organizing in 2018. As various alt-right factions distance themselves from each other as they continue infighting and blaming each other for their movement’s failures, different groups appear to be experimenting with different approaches.

    Patriot Front prefers a traditionally American nationalist aesthetic in an attempt to reach ordinary white Americans, whereas more overtly national socialist groups such as the Traditionalist Worker Party openly advocate for breaking up the United States into forcibly separated race-based nations.

    As part of our in-depth reporting on white supremacist and far-right movements, Unicorn Riot has added the server logs from the Patriot Front servers to our public Discord Leaks platform. See links to specific servers below, along with .MP3 downloads of the full leaked audio recordings.

    We contacted Discord and asked them about Patriot Front and other neo-nazi groups using their platform to organize. They provided us with the following statement:

    Discord has a Terms of Service (ToS) and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere to. Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate appropriate action against any reported ToS violation by a server or user. We will continue to be aggressive to ensure that Discord exists for the community we set out to support – gamers.

    As of Monday afternoon, Patriot Front’s Discord servers were still online. By Tuesday afternoon, the servers appeared to have been shut down by the company.

    ———-

    ““We’re Americans, And We’re Fascists”: Inside Patriot Front”; Unicorn Riot; 03/05/2018

    “Recorded conversations between members show an obsession with firearms, a non-stop tirade of racist, sexist and otherwise abusive language, and a desire to take action in the real world. Patriot Front members are also told that raping women is acceptable, “as long as you’re raping, like, people in your own race” and describe how in their ideal society, “ethnostate rape gangswould be allowed to freely target unmarried white women who did not adhere to “traditional values.” Discord users in the server repeatedly share pictures of themselves, wrestling, boxing, sparring, and shooting, which they casually refer to as “violence training.””

    Raping women is acceptable, “as long as you’re raping, like, people in your own race”. That’s what people are taught in the private Patriot Front forums. Now we know thanks to the leaked chat logs from May to September 2017. It’s it’s a period that happens to cover Charlottesville and the creation of the the Patriot Front splinter group out of Vanguard America as a consequence of the negative fallout from the fact that Alex Fields, the neo-Nazi driver at Charlottesville who ran over Heather Heyer, was seen marching with Vanguard America members there. The association with Fields was seen as a “PR Nightmare”, which is pretty ironic consider their goals are the create ethnostate rape gangs. But that’s the game the ‘Alt Right’ is playing: put forth a public face that doesn’t talk about things like ethnostate rape gangs in order to recruit people into ideology where ethnostate rape gangs and running over people like Heather Heyer are the logical conclusions of the violent totalitarian worldviews openly shared on these neo-Nazi private chat forums:


    Last year Unicorn Riot was sent the contents of the Southern Front Discord server, which contained chat logs (now available on our DiscordLeaks platform) from May to September 2017, showing the transition of members from Vanguard America to Patriot Front. Patriot Front’s founder, Thomas Rousseau, who posts using the name Thomas Ryan, was active in Vanguard America leadership and is the owner of the website BloodAndSoil.org, which had been Vanguard America’s official domain.

    Following a conflict between Rousseau and Vanguard America ‘CEO’ Dillon Irrizary (AKA Dillon Hopper) after Charlottesville, Rousseau resigned from Vanguard and took the website and a fair amount of active members with him. He founded Patriot Front the next day, and used the established ‘Blood and Soil’ website to boost its profile.

    Rousseau, who is 19 years old, acts as the leader of the group, which includes many older men in their thirties. He tells his side of the story of the split between Patriot Front and Vanguard America in a Discord voice call that took place on February 9. On the call, after making jokes reveling in Heather Heyer’s violent death in Charlottesville at Unite the Right on August 12, 2017, Rousseau describes the “PR nightmare” that ensued after pictures surfaced of car attacker James Alex Fields standing alongside members of Vanguard America, including himself. (As of August 12, Rousseau had not yet left Vanguard America to found Patriot Front.)

    And that “PR nightmare” resulted Patriot Front, which boasts of getting more “activism” done with just half of Vanguard America’s size. Which would put Patriot Front at about 125 people:


    Rousseau went on to claim that Vanguard America claimed “maybe” 250 members “at its peak” with 80 members actively participating. He boasted of accomplishing “more activism with apparently half of their people,” suggesting that Patriot Front has at most 125 members with perhaps 60 being regularly active.

    Patriot Front appears to be the most active in Texas, where it has three different local networks for members. On a February 11, 2018 voice call, members estimated that “Florida has 11 guys” but lamented that their group had little to no presence in Appalachia. The group also seems to have a small but established presence in New England states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont.

    And Vanguard America is a member of the Nationalist Front coalition that includes the League of the South and the National Socialism Movement while Patriot Front acts as security for Richard Spencer events. It’s a reminder that the Richard Spencer college tour really is a tour to normalize the kind of worldview that would justify ethnostate rape gangs:


    Vanguard America is a member of the Nationalist Front coalition, along with the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), the League of the South, and the National Socialist Movement (NSM). While Patriot Front is actively feuding with Nationalist Front groups such as TWP, they still maintain an informal relationship through their affiliation with figures like Richard Spencer. An operational document (PDF) from Spencer’s appearance in Gainesville last October lists Patriot Front among the primary groups involved in an alt-right security “task force” which also included members of League of the South.

    While groups of young white men like Patriot Front are often used as a personal security force by alt-right VIPs such as Richard Spencer, Discord chats show some confusion and/or denial regarding this relationship.We don’t do security at alt-right events”, Rousseau wrote on October 15, 2017. However, just two days later on October 17, another Patriot Front member wrote that “Thomas, Me, etc are all going” to Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida on October 19, adding “most” were attending “in a security capacity.”

    Late Sunday night after the Freedom for the Marketplace of Ideas (FMI) alt-right conference this weekend in Detroit, members of Patriot Front posted about how they had been acting as armed security for the event. “PF chi had to run armed patrols at FMI,” wrote user ‘Smiter IL.’ “Shit was crazy, but everything is ok.”

    And it’s the extreme nature of what these groups are working towards that makes their focus on public image both ironic and understandable. And that also appeared to be part of why the Patriotic Front split from Vanguard America: Vanguard America has an openly national socialistic approach (they are open Nazis) while Patriotic Front prefers to frame things from a more traditional ‘patriot’ sense:


    While Vanguard America takes an openly national socialist approach, Thomas Rousseau and Patriot Front seek to present the same ideology in a slightly more subtle and patriotic package. While centering the group’s rhetoric around “American identity,” Discord messages reveal that Patriot Front’s vision is of an exclusively white America in which non-whites are driven out or forced into subordinate roles.

    The American Identity belongs to a certain group of people,” Rousseau wrote in a chat on October 15, “and citizenship doesn’t change that.” On November 1st, he reiterated his “American fascist” approach to branding the group: “If anyone asks what we are, we’re Americans, and we’re fascists. In that order exactly.” In a text chat on November 8, another Discord user in the Front and Center server further explained the strategic value of using patriotic American aesthetics to promote fascism.

    And Patriotic Front just recruit online. It’s apparently quite enthusiastic about leaving flyers on college campuses and elsewhere:


    Patriot Front also places a strong emphasis on aggressively placing racist flyers and posters in public places, with members sharing hundreds of pictures of their escapades. The #activism channel in Patriot Front’s Discord server shows hundreds of images of mass-flyering campaigns carried out by member’s distributing the group’s racist propaganda. Cells of Patriot Front activists were also encouraged to carry out banner drops in their area. “20 minutes of work and we trigger hundreds,” gloated ‘NDO Eric – TX’ after a banner reading “America is a white nation” was dropped from a library balcony at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. While targets included government offices, churches, and synagogues, the overwhelming focus was on college campuses, with some Patriot Front members driving to several different campuses in one night to distribute hundreds of flyers.

    And notice how their outreach also includes a Patriotic Front member learning from Andrew Auernheimer how to hack printers and this person claimed he and Auernheimer remotely hacked 29,000 printers and made them spit out anti-semitic flyers. And that did happen, back in 2016. Auernheimer blogged about it. It’s a reminder that, while Auernheimer is likely one of the most talented neo-Nazi hackers out there, he’s far from the only neo-Nazi hacker. Especially if he’s teaching other neo-Nazis how to be hackers:


    In a Discord voice meeting on February 13, a Patriot Front member with the username ‘Himmler’ described how he had hacked into hundreds of printers on college campuses to print off anti-semitic flyers. The man claims to have remotely accessed 29,000 printers and describes his actions as undertaken in collaboration with ‘Weev’, aka Andrew Aurenheimer, convicted hacker and systems administrator for the Daily Stormer. ‘Himmler’ brags about causing “upwards of $20,000” in financial damage due to ink used in the printing. He named UMass and DePaul as schools he had personally targeted.

    And then we discover that one Patriot Front member was the founding member of the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Because of course:


    One user in the Patriot Front Discord server, ‘Machinesmiter-IL,’ bragged about how he was secretly using his founding position at the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University in Chicago to prime susceptible young white men to be receptive to fascist ideology. He boasted about putting up hundreds of flyers on his campus and the surrounding area, and how on November 4 he “hit Federal Plaza and the whole surrounding area hard… I probably got up at least 150-200 posters downtown.

    The Chicago-based Patriot Front member claimed in his fall 2017 Discord posts that he planned on leaving school for work in a few months but wanted to leave a racist legacy behind on Roosevelt campus. On November 8, Discord user ‘Machinesmiter-IL’ shared his progress in grooming Roosevelt College Republican members:

    My first College Republicans turnout was excellent. 10 white athletic males, a couple fashy haircuts, good discussion. This has awesome potential. They said they came, because of my Pepe flyer that I put up. Meme magick worked wonders for me in a 3 hour window. Pepe comes in clutch. We talked Introductory stuff, talked about demographics being destiny, how being a straight white male makes you an enemy, and are talking about our first event. We are going to try and get American Flags put up on campus.

    Conor Ryan, the president of the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University, was not available for comment as of this writing.

    Oh, and we learn that Patriot Front has repeatedly engage in disinformation campaigns in the aftermath of recent mass shootings. In particular, they spread the rumors that Steven Paddock, the Vegas shooter, and Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, were members of antifa. Given the disinformation about Nikolas Cruz that we saw emanating from the far right, it’s hard to avoid the disturbing conclusion that disinformation from groups like Patriot Front following mass shooting is going to be permanent feature of American society. Which is extra disturbing since it involves mass shootings also being permanent feature of American society. But here we are:


    Patriot Front has also repeatedly engaged in disinformation campaigns in the aftermath of recent mass shootings. After the Las Vegas shooting last year, members were posting memes in Discord pushing the false conspiracy theory that shooter Stephen Paddock was tied to anti-racist groups. One image of the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting had an added caption which read “THE RADICAL LEFT AIMS TO EXTERMINATE WHITE CULTURE.Immediately after the recent shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, Patriot Front members tried to paint shooter Nicholas Cruz, who had swastikas etched onto his ammunition, was an antifascist and a leftist. Users in the Front and Center Discord server also joined in online campaigns trying to slander surviving students as ‘crisis actors.’

    This whole disturbing story about the use of video gaming chat apps to promote extremism and potentially cultivate “lone wolf” school shooters by glorifying school shooters in Nazi-infested chat rooms, and the subsequent leaking of some of the chat logs from some of these private neo-Nazi forums, all highlights how the internet is a double-edged sword for extremist movements, whether they’re neo-Nazis or ISIS.

    On the one hand, the internet makes it easier than ever for these kinds of groups spread their messages and ideologies while simultaneously putting forward a ‘nice’ public face when desired. Especially on Youtube. And the internet makes it easier than ever for active neo-Nazi group members to all communicate and coordinate, potentially anonymously.

    But on the other hand, the internet makes it easier than ever for everyone else to discover what groups like this are actually plotting. Because extremists are going to have to openly talk about their extremism at some point over the internet and things on the internet get leaked. And in this case those leaks mean the world gets reminder that Nazis want nightmare totalitarianism that involves things like “ethnostate rape gangs”.

    The internet giveth and the internet taketh away when it comes to the far right’s information warfare strategies. Although mostly giveth since the internet is still invaluable for recruitment and it’s not like it’s a revelation to learn Nazis a plotting Nazi-like schemes.

    It’s also all one big reason why we shouldn’t be surprised when the next school shooter is a Nazi.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 18, 2018, 10:34 pm
  16. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement raises a number of questions about the GOP’s prospects for maintaining control of the House of Representatives across the US. The GOP’s prospects in the House were already looking pretty ominous in the upcoming mid-terms. And that’s why it was such an exceptionally ominous sign for Ryan to announce his retirement: things were already looking bad for the GOP so it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Paul Ryan read those awful tea leaves and concluded that he was likely to lose his speakership and decided to retire instead. And now his seat is up for grabs and the Democrats have a much better chance of winning it. In other words, Paul Ryan move to extricate himself out the GOP’s bad situation has made the GOP’s bad situation worse.

    And as the following article notes, there’s another way the Ryan retirement makes the GOP’s bad situation worse, although it’s a somewhat different, albeit related, bad situation: the GOP’s bad situation of increasingly being the party of white supremacy and neo-Nazis.

    Yep, while there’s undoubtedly going to be a number of elected GOP officials in Wisconsin who are considering jumping into the primary race for Ryan’s seat, it turns out that Ryan already had a pair of primary opponents. And the leading opponents, Paul Nehlen, is quickly becoming one of the most prominant open white supremacist neo-Nazis in American politics and he’s set to only get more prominent thanks to Paul Ryan’s sudden retirement:

    The Daily Beast

    Paul Ryan’s Retirement Gives a Big Boost to the Most Prominent White Nationalist in U.S. Politics
    Paul Nehlen was banned from Twitter. Then he was banned from the Twitter of the Alt Right. Now, he’s well positioned to be the GOP nominee in Wisconsin’s 1st District

    Lachlan Markay
    04.11.18 12:23 PM ET

    House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from office makes, for the moment, an anti-Semitic white nationalist who has embraced the so-called Alt Right the Republican frontrunner in Wisconsin’s first congressional district.

    In a Facebook post hailing the news, GOP candidate Paul Nehlen called Ryan’s retirement “good news for America, bad news for special interests who bought Paul Ryan’s vote. My focus has always been on YOU.”

    In fact, Nehlen’s focus has not always been on “YOU,” his voters. Previously, his campaign criticized Ryan’s “silence on issues of [Jewish] media representation.”

    The antipathy is apparently mutual. Ryan’s campaign pulled no punches in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. “There are many qualified conservatives who would be effective representatives for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, and Paul Nehlen isn’t one of them,” said Kevin Seifert, the head of Ryan’s political operation. “His bigoted rhetoric and his reprehensible statements should disqualify him from holding any public office and we are confident voters in Southern Wisconsin feel the same way.”

    In large part because of his penchant for racially inflammatory or anti-Semitic remarks, Nehlan’s political prospects have not been taken all that seriously. Ryan defeated him by nearly 70 points in the 2016 Republican primary and the expectation was that the same would happen again this cycle.

    With Ryan’s retirement, those expectations change. Nehlen is one of two Republicans who had vied to replace Ryan in 2018, and while other Republicans are likely to jump into the contest before the district’s August primary, Nehlen has more visibility and political experience than his sole existing opponent, Army special forces veteran and businessman Nick Polce. He also is personally wealthy, though local media has investigated his company, Blue Skies Global LLC, and found scant evidence that it does any actual business.

    With cash to spare and his major primary opponent out of the way, Nehlen is not just a threat to win the nomination, but also is likely to solidify his place as the most prominent white nationalist in U.S. politics today. His brand of politics is so toxic that even Breitbart News, which has previously identified with the Alt Right and provided extensive and favorable coverage to Nehlen, recently disavowed him. And while Nehlen may be running as a Republican, the Wisconsin GOP wants nothing to do with him.

    “Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party,” a state party spokesperson said in February, shortly after Nehlen tweeted out a racist image of Meghan Markle, the biracial actress slated to marry Prince Harry next month.

    For that tweet, Nehlen was banned from the platform. But he found other ways to muse about race and politics online. He joined Gab, a Twitter alternative popular among the Alt Right. Last week, however, he was banned from that platform too.

    Nehlen’s travails on social media have inspired him to make online censorship the cornerstone of his policy platform. He proposes to “extend Americans’ First Amendment free speech protections onto major social media platforms,” though he insists that such a move would not require a constitutional amendment.

    Nehlen hails from the Trumpian wing of the Republican Party. And he rode hard on the president’s coattails during his thoroughly unsuccessful 2016 run. But last year, Nehlen took a hard turn even further right, embracing the personalities, affectations, and bigoted racial, religious, and political views of the country’s resurgent white nationalist community.

    Last month, Nehlen posted a link on his Gab page to an essay on the Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi forum. The piece, written by the site’s founder, Andrew Anglin, alleged a “Jewish policy of using violence, intimidation and threats of financial ruin to silence criticism of them.” Anglin added, “it simply is not controversial that America is run by Jews to the detrainment of the overwhelming majority of the American people.”

    On Easter, Nehlen shared a photoshopped image of himself sitting at the Oval Office desk surrounded by the severed heads of a group of Hasidic Jews.

    Though Nehlen has appeared on radio programs hosted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and other Alt Right leaders, his blatant anti-Semitism has been too much for some in the movement. Last month, Jared Taylor, the leading of white nationalist group American Renaissance, disinvited Nehlen from a conference the group was hosting.

    Nehlen further drew the Alt Right’s ire last week when he revealed the identity of a racist pro-Trump troll who goes by the name Ricky Vaughn. Nehlen’s “doxing” of Douglass Mackey, the man behind Ricky Vaughn, is was precipitated his banishment from Gab.

    That’s left Nehlen with few allies even in the fringe corners of the right-wing fever swamps where he was once hailed as a hero. But Nehlen’s political allies continue to make inroads in some corners of the political right. Former Nehlen campaign consultants recently acquired a right wing news website, Big League Politics, that they have used to advance the political interests of their current and former clients, including Nehlen, former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, and Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart.

    ———-

    “Paul Ryan’s Retirement Gives a Big Boost to the Most Prominent White Nationalist in U.S. Politics” by Lachlan Markay; The Daily Beast.; 04/11/2018

    “House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from office makes, for the moment, an anti-Semitic white nationalist who has embraced the so-called Alt Right the Republican frontrunner in Wisconsin’s first congressional district.”

    Yep, Paul Nehlen is, for the moment, the Republican frontrunner for the nomination in Paul Ryan’s district. Granted, that’s probably not going to last long after other people jump into the race. But for now he really is the effective frontrunner. And as the GOP frontrunner in Paul Ryan’s district that makes Paul Nehlen the effective frontrunner in the race to be the most prominent white nationalist in U.S. politics today (not counting Donald Trump, of course):


    In large part because of his penchant for racially inflammatory or anti-Semitic remarks, Nehlan’s political prospects have not been taken all that seriously. Ryan defeated him by nearly 70 points in the 2016 Republican primary and the expectation was that the same would happen again this cycle.

    With Ryan’s retirement, those expectations change. Nehlen is one of two Republicans who had vied to replace Ryan in 2018, and while other Republicans are likely to jump into the contest before the district’s August primary, Nehlen has more visibility and political experience than his sole existing opponent, Army special forces veteran and businessman Nick Polce. He also is personally wealthy, though local media has investigated his company, Blue Skies Global LLC, and found scant evidence that it does any actual business.

    With cash to spare and his major primary opponent out of the way, Nehlen is not just a threat to win the nomination, but also is likely to solidify his place as the most prominent white nationalist in U.S. politics today. His brand of politics is so toxic that even Breitbart News, which has previously identified with the Alt Right and provided extensive and favorable coverage to Nehlen, recently disavowed him. And while Nehlen may be running as a Republican, the Wisconsin GOP wants nothing to do with him.

    So how is Nehlen going to exploit this sudden, if temporary, frontrunner status? Well, based on what we know about Nehlen he’s presumably going to attack the Jews:


    In a Facebook post hailing the news, GOP candidate Paul Nehlen called Ryan’s retirement “good news for America, bad news for special interests who bought Paul Ryan’s vote. My focus has always been on YOU.”

    In fact, Nehlen’s focus has not always been on “YOU,” his voters. Previously, his campaign criticized Ryan’s “silence on issues of [Jewish] media representation.”

    And then he’ll probably post a bunch of tweets that are so racist that he’ll get kicked off of whatever social media platforms he hasn’t been kicked off of yet:


    “Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party,” a state party spokesperson said in February, shortly after Nehlen tweeted out a racist image of Meghan Markle, the biracial actress slated to marry Prince Harry next month.

    For that tweet, Nehlen was banned from the platform. But he found other ways to muse about race and politics online. He joined Gab, a Twitter alternative popular among the Alt Right. Last week, however, he was banned from that platform too.

    Nehlen’s travails on social media have inspired him to make online censorship the cornerstone of his policy platform. He proposes to “extend Americans’ First Amendment free speech protections onto major social media platforms,” though he insists that such a move would not require a constitutional amendment.

    And then Nehlen will probably use his sudden prominence to promote articles from places like the Daily Stormer to attack the Jews some more:


    Nehlen hails from the Trumpian wing of the Republican Party. And he rode hard on the president’s coattails during his thoroughly unsuccessful 2016 run. But last year, Nehlen took a hard turn even further right, embracing the personalities, affectations, and bigoted racial, religious, and political views of the country’s resurgent white nationalist community.

    Last month, Nehlen posted a link on his Gab page to an essay on the Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi forum. The piece, written by the site’s founder, Andrew Anglin, alleged a “Jewish policy of using violence, intimidation and threats of financial ruin to silence criticism of them.” Anglin added, “it simply is not controversial that America is run by Jews to the detrainment of the overwhelming majority of the American people.”

    On Easter, Nehlen shared a photoshopped image of himself sitting at the Oval Office desk surrounded by the severed heads of a group of Hasidic Jews.

    Finally, Nehlen will probably say or do something so outrageous that even his fellow white nationalists distance themselves from him:


    Though Nehlen has appeared on radio programs hosted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and other Alt Right leaders, his blatant anti-Semitism has been too much for some in the movement. Last month, Jared Taylor, the leading of white nationalist group American Renaissance, disinvited Nehlen from a conference the group was hosting.

    Nehlen further drew the Alt Right’s ire last week when he revealed the identity of a racist pro-Trump troll who goes by the name Ricky Vaughn. Nehlen’s “doxing” of Douglass Mackey, the man behind Ricky Vaughn, is was precipitated his banishment from Gab.

    And that’s what we should probably expect from the current frontrunner in the GOP primary for Paul Ryan’s seat. Because that’s what he’s been doing all along.

    So how long should we expect Nehlen to retain his frontrunner status in the GOP primary for Paul Ryan’s seat? Presumably until one of the more mainstream candidates enters the race, at which point Nehlen will no longer be the most prominent Republican in this particular primary race.

    That, of course, assumes he doesn’t end up winning the nomination. This is Trump’s GOP we’re talking about, after all.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 12, 2018, 11:06 pm
  17. Here’s a pair of articles that provide some important context to the van attack in Toronto by a suicidal man who drove over pedestrians and then shouted at the police to shoot him: the 25 year old van driver, Alek Minassian, posted a tribute on Facebook minutes before the attack to Elliot Rodger, who went on a 2014 shooting rampage in 2014 targeting women, and announced the beginning of the “Incel revolution”. His post also referenced 4chan:”Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.” Both Rodger, and Minassian, were self-described “incels” (involuntary celibates).

    And as we’re going to see, the incel movement is one element of a hyper-misogynistic sub-culture for men that has become a fertile recruiting ground for the ‘Alt Right’ and neo-Nazis. Basically, sexually frustrated come to these online communities looking for sympathy and like-minded friends end up getting turned into neo-Nazis convinced that feminism is part of a grand ‘cultural marxist’ plot to suppress white males.

    So, first, let’s take a look at how the ‘incel’ movement is part of this larger hyper-misogynistic “manosphere” sub-culture and how, when you look past the pervasive sexual frustration on the surface of the ‘incel’ movement, you’ll find an ideology that is fundamentally both nihilistic and authoritarian in nature:

    The Guardian

    ‘Raw hatred’: why the ‘incel’ movement targets and terrorises women

    The man accused of carrying out the Toronto van attack has alleged links to ‘involuntary celibate’ online communities. The language they use may be absurd, but the threat they pose could be deadly

    Zoe Williams

    Wed 25 Apr 2018 13.13 EDT
    Last modified on Wed 25 Apr 2018 13.29 EDT

    When a van was driven on to a Toronto pavement on Tuesday, killing 10 people and injuring 15, police chief Mark Saunders said that, while the incident appeared to be a deliberate act, there was no evidence of terrorism. The public safety minister Ralph Goodale backed this up, deeming the event “not part of an organised terror plot”. Canada has rules about these things: to count as terrorism, the attacker must have a political, religious or social motivation, something beyond “wanting to terrorise”.

    Why have the authorities been so fast to reject the idea of terrorism (taking as read that this may change; the tragedy is very fresh)? Shortly before the attack, a post appeared on the suspect’s Facebook profile, hailing the commencement of the “Incel Rebellion”, including the line “Private (Recruit) … Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161.” (“4chan is the main organising platform for the ‘alt-right’,” explains Mike Wendling, the author of Alt-Right: from 4Chan to the White House.)

    There is a reluctance to ascribe to the “incel” movement anything so lofty as an “ideology” or credit it with any developed, connected thinking, partly because it is so bizarre in conception.

    Standing for “involuntarily celibate”, the term was originally invented 20 years ago by a woman known only as Alana, who coined the term as a name for an online support forum for singles, basically a lonely hearts club. “It feels like being the scientist who figured out nuclear fission and then discovers it’s being used as a weapon for war,” she says, describing the feeling of watching it mutate into a Reddit muster point for violent misogyny.

    It is part of the “manosphere”, but is distinguished from men’s rights activism by what Wendling – who is also the editor of BBC Trending, the broadcaster’s social media investigation unit – calls its “raw hatred. It is vile. It is just incredibly unhinged and separate from reality and completely raw.” It has some crossover with white supremacism, in the sense that its adherents hang out in the same online spaces and share some of the same terminology, but it is quite distinctive in its hate figures: Stacys (attractive women); Chads (attractive men); and Normies (people who aren’t incels, ie can find partners but aren’t necessarily attractive). Basically, incels cannot get laid and they violently loathe anyone who can.

    Some of the fault, in their eyes, is with attractive men who have sex with too many women – “We need to do something about the polygamy problem,” said the Incelcast, an astonishing three-hour podcast about the Toronto attack – but, of course, the main problem is women themselves, who become foes as people, but also as a political entity. There is a lot of discussion about how best to punish them, with mass rape fantasies and threads on how to follow women without getting arrested, just for the thrill of having them notice you. Feminism is held responsible for a dude who can’t get laid, and birth control is said to have caused “women to date only Chads. It causes all sorts of negative social ramifications”.

    There are no numbers on how many adherents this doctrine has, or how extreme they are, “but it’s not one tiny bit of Reddit” says Wendling. “It’s big. It’s substantial. It’s a movement that has tens of thousands of people who visit these boards, these sub-Reddits, that are safe places for them.”

    Angela Nagle is the author of Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. She says: “There is a really interesting irony in the incel style of quasipolitics – they are both a response to and advocates of almost an Ayn Randian view of romance and human relationships. So they rail against the loneliness and the isolation and the individualism of modern life, but they seem to advocate it as well, in that they love the language of the strong triumphing over the weak. But they themselves are the weak.”

    Their landscape is strewn with completely unsquarable contradiction: “They’ll say how terrible it is that the left has won the culture wars and we should return to traditional hierarchies, but then they’ll use terms like ‘banging sluts’, which doesn’t make any sense, right?” Nagle continues. “Because you have to pick one. They want sexual availability and yet, at the same time, they express this disgust at promiscuity.”

    Incels obsess over their own unattractiveness – dividing the world into alphas and betas, with betas just your average, frustrated idiot dude, and omegas, as the incels often call themselves, the lowest of the low, scorned by everyone – they then use that self-acceptance as an insulation. They feel this makes them untouchable in their quest for supremacy over sluts.

    They borrow a lot of language from the equality/civil rights agenda – society “treats single men like trash, and it has to stop. The people in power, women, can change this, but they refuse to. They have blood on their hands,” read one post the morning after the Toronto attack. Basically, their virginity is a discrimination or apartheid issue, and only a state-distributed girlfriend programme, outlawing multiple partners, can rectify this grand injustice. Yet at the same time, they hate victims, snowflakes, liberals, those who campaign for any actual equality.

    The less sense their outlook makes, the more sense it makes, on some elemental level. Coherence, consistency, reason – these are all tools by which we understand, accommodate, include and listen to one another. In a purely authoritarian worldview, those are the rules you most enjoy not playing by. That makes it very difficult to formulate a response to, on an intellectual level, let alone a practical one: you can’t argue with a schema whose principle is that it will not brook argument. But the regular alternative – ridicule – is not necessarily wise, or right.

    Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista killer, uploaded a video to YouTube about his “retribution” against attractive women who wouldn’t sleep with him (and the attractive men they would sleep with) before killing six people in 2014. He was named by the Southern Poverty Law Center (which tracks activity on the far right) as the first terrorist of the “alt-right”: so even if incels don’t describe the full extent of far-right activity, so far they have been its most devastating subgroup.

    There is this huge disconnect between the threat they pose – which is, even if we accept Rodger as only a foot soldier, deadly – and the things they talk about, which are often absurd. In the sphere of the “pickup”, seduction is weaponised in the gender war: there is a huge amount of discussion about its finer points, but its core and only principle is that you get women to sleep with you (and behave) by making them feel insecure.

    When this, amazingly, doesn’t work, incels disappear down the wormhole of the black pill: the game is rigged from the start. Appearance is everything. If you’re dealt a bad hand, you’ve lost before you’ve started. This escalates to violent fantasy, since if the game is rigged, then the only thing that will get attractive women to sleep with you is force. Attractive men are collateral damage in the violent fantasy, though it is interesting that message boards can get away with a lot of mass rape fantasy, only to be shut down when a man starts fantasising about castrating his male roommate.

    From the way chatroom moderators respond to threats of violence against women, to the reluctance among authorities to name this as a terrorist threat, I am filled with this unsettling sense that because incels mainly want to kill, maim or assault women, they are simply not taken as seriously as if they wanted to kill pretty much anyone else. Doesn’t everyone want to kill women, sometimes, is the implication? Or at least give them a fright?

    Their behaviour is often ridiculous – someone last week got a tattoo of Jordan Peterson’s face (he is the pop philosopher of meninism) across his entire arm. The incels’ folk hero is the 30-year-old virgin wizard – if you can make it to 30 without having sex, you will be endowed with magical powers. And the threads are so pathetic that it is hard to feel anything but ambient pity (on the site Wiz Chan – subtitle “disregard females, acquire magic” – one thread titled How do I live in my sedan? is like a short story).

    Puzzling in the abstract, weirdly inevitable in the flesh, their stance combines that utterly flaky 90s joking-not-joking (“Hey, I was only joking when I said I wanted to rape you! Unless we’re actually in an alley and there’s no one else around”), raging self-pity, false appropriation and superhero costumes, all delivered with the deafening rage of the reptilian brain. It makes Four Lions look like Wittgenstein.

    But this fails to reflect, or reflect on, what modern terrorism is: the perpetrators don’t have to meet and their balaclavas don’t have to match. All they have to do is establish their hate figures and be consistent.

    ———-

    “‘Raw hatred’: why the ‘incel’ movement targets and terrorises women” by Zoe Williams; The Guardian; 04/25/2018

    “Why have the authorities been so fast to reject the idea of terrorism (taking as read that this may change; the tragedy is very fresh)? Shortly before the attack, a post appeared on the suspect’s Facebook profile, hailing the commencement of the “Incel Rebellion”, including the line “Private (Recruit) … Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161.” (“4chan is the main organising platform for the ‘alt-right’,” explains Mike Wendling, the author of Alt-Right: from 4Chan to the White House.)”

    Yep, a shout out to 4Chan and the “Incel Rebellion”. That give us an idea of the motive.

    And yet, as we saw, there was a strong hesitancy to call this an act of terrorism:


    There is a reluctance to ascribe to the “incel” movement anything so lofty as an “ideology” or credit it with any developed, connected thinking, partly because it is so bizarre in conception.

    Standing for “involuntarily celibate”, the term was originally invented 20 years ago by a woman known only as Alana, who coined the term as a name for an online support forum for singles, basically a lonely hearts club. “It feels like being the scientist who figured out nuclear fission and then discovers it’s being used as a weapon for war,” she says, describing the feeling of watching it mutate into a Reddit muster point for violent misogyny.

    It is part of the “manosphere”, but is distinguished from men’s rights activism by what Wendling – who is also the editor of BBC Trending, the broadcaster’s social media investigation unit – calls its “raw hatred. It is vile. It is just incredibly unhinged and separate from reality and completely raw.” It has some crossover with white supremacism, in the sense that its adherents hang out in the same online spaces and share some of the same terminology, but it is quite distinctive in its hate figures: Stacys (attractive women); Chads (attractive men); and Normies (people who aren’t incels, ie can find partners but aren’t necessarily attractive). Basically, incels cannot get laid and they violently loathe anyone who can.

    Some of the fault, in their eyes, is with attractive men who have sex with too many women – “We need to do something about the polygamy problem,” said the Incelcast, an astonishing three-hour podcast about the Toronto attack – but, of course, the main problem is women themselves, who become foes as people, but also as a political entity. There is a lot of discussion about how best to punish them, with mass rape fantasies and threads on how to follow women without getting arrested, just for the thrill of having them notice you. Feminism is held responsible for a dude who can’t get laid, and birth control is said to have caused “women to date only Chads. It causes all sorts of negative social ramifications”.

    There are no numbers on how many adherents this doctrine has, or how extreme they are, “but it’s not one tiny bit of Reddit” says Wendling. “It’s big. It’s substantial. It’s a movement that has tens of thousands of people who visit these boards, these sub-Reddits, that are safe places for them.”

    “There are no numbers on how many adherents this doctrine has, or how extreme they are, “but it’s not one tiny bit of Reddit” says Wendling. “It’s big. It’s substantial. It’s a movement that has tens of thousands of people who visit these boards, these sub-Reddits, that are safe places for them.””

    Tens of thousands of “incels”, mutually consoling each other online by jointly hating the modern world.

    And while the hesitancy to call this attack an act of terror no doubt has something to do with a general hesitancy to called far right violent acts by non-Muslims terrorism in the West, the general lack of appreciation for how much overlap there is between the “incel” movement and broader ‘Alt Right’ community likely also plays a role. But the “incel” movement is indeed an ideology. Because it’s basically the ‘Alt Right’ worldview, but with a particular focus on demonizing women for not wanting to sleep with these guys:


    Angela Nagle is the author of Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. She says: “There is a really interesting irony in the incel style of quasipolitics – they are both a response to and advocates of almost an Ayn Randian view of romance and human relationships. So they rail against the loneliness and the isolation and the individualism of modern life, but they seem to advocate it as well, in that they love the language of the strong triumphing over the weak. But they themselves are the weak.”

    Their landscape is strewn with completely unsquarable contradiction: “They’ll say how terrible it is that the left has won the culture wars and we should return to traditional hierarchies, but then they’ll use terms like ‘banging sluts’, which doesn’t make any sense, right?” Nagle continues. “Because you have to pick one. They want sexual availability and yet, at the same time, they express this disgust at promiscuity.”

    Incels obsess over their own unattractiveness – dividing the world into alphas and betas, with betas just your average, frustrated idiot dude, and omegas, as the incels often call themselves, the lowest of the low, scorned by everyone – they then use that self-acceptance as an insulation. They feel this makes them untouchable in their quest for supremacy over sluts.

    They borrow a lot of language from the equality/civil rights agenda – society “treats single men like trash, and it has to stop. The people in power, women, can change this, but they refuse to. They have blood on their hands,” read one post the morning after the Toronto attack. Basically, their virginity is a discrimination or apartheid issue, and only a state-distributed girlfriend programme, outlawing multiple partners, can rectify this grand injustice. Yet at the same time, they hate victims, snowflakes, liberals, those who campaign for any actual equality.

    The less sense their outlook makes, the more sense it makes, on some elemental level. Coherence, consistency, reason – these are all tools by which we understand, accommodate, include and listen to one another. In a purely authoritarian worldview, those are the rules you most enjoy not playing by. That makes it very difficult to formulate a response to, on an intellectual level, let alone a practical one: you can’t argue with a schema whose principle is that it will not brook argument. But the regular alternative – ridicule – is not necessarily wise, or right.

    And that’s overlap with the ‘Alt Right’ is why the Southern Poverty Law Center declared Elliot Rodger to be the first ‘Alt Right’ terrorist back in 2014. A terrorist who was responding to the perception that society was rigged against him and others like him because he could find women who would sleep with him:


    Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista killer, uploaded a video to YouTube about his “retribution” against attractive women who wouldn’t sleep with him (and the attractive men they would sleep with) before killing six people in 2014. He was named by the Southern Poverty Law Center (which tracks activity on the far right) as the first terrorist of the “alt-right”: so even if incels don’t describe the full extent of far-right activity, so far they have been its most devastating subgroup.

    There is this huge disconnect between the threat they pose – which is, even if we accept Rodger as only a foot soldier, deadly – and the things they talk about, which are often absurd. In the sphere of the “pickup”, seduction is weaponised in the gender war: there is a huge amount of discussion about its finer points, but its core and only principle is that you get women to sleep with you (and behave) by making them feel insecure.

    When this, amazingly, doesn’t work, incels disappear down the wormhole of the black pill: the game is rigged from the start. Appearance is everything. If you’re dealt a bad hand, you’ve lost before you’ve started. This escalates to violent fantasy, since if the game is rigged, then the only thing that will get attractive women to sleep with you is force. Attractive men are collateral damage in the violent fantasy, though it is interesting that message boards can get away with a lot of mass rape fantasy, only to be shut down when a man starts fantasising about castrating his male roommate.

    From the way chatroom moderators respond to threats of violence against women, to the reluctance among authorities to name this as a terrorist threat, I am filled with this unsettling sense that because incels mainly want to kill, maim or assault women, they are simply not taken as seriously as if they wanted to kill pretty much anyone else. Doesn’t everyone want to kill women, sometimes, is the implication? Or at least give them a fright?

    And as we should expect, Jordan Peterson, who’s videos are being used by a the far right to recruit depressed people, is popular with this crowd:


    Their behaviour is often ridiculous – someone last week got a tattoo of Jordan Peterson’s face (he is the pop philosopher of meninism) across his entire arm. The incels’ folk hero is the 30-year-old virgin wizard – if you can make it to 30 without having sex, you will be endowed with magical powers. And the threads are so pathetic that it is hard to feel anything but ambient pity (on the site Wiz Chan – subtitle “disregard females, acquire magic” – one thread titled How do I live in my sedan? is like a short story).

    So let’s take a closer look at how misogyny has become one of the key recruitment elements for converted sexually frusted young men into Alt Right neo-Nazis who are convinced that they are victims of a “cultural marxist” plot to oppress white males:

    Vox

    How the alt-right’s sexism lures men into white supremacy
    The movement’s many online communities prey on male insecurity to advance a racist political agenda.

    By Aja Romano
    Dec 14, 2016, 2:20pm EST

    In the wake of the election, perhaps no topic has been more widely discussed and debated than the self-described “alt-right” — the racist, sexist, meme-happy, mostly internet-based movement associated with radical white supremacy that has unexpectedly taken center stage in US politics after the election of Donald Trump.

    Though many consider the alt-right to be primarily a fringe movement encompassing multiple ideologies (including white nationalism and white supremacy), its supporters’ unorthodox tactics for promoting those ideologies were fundamental to Trump’s campaign, and thus fundamental to his victory. Said tactics include engaging in extremist discourse, using deceptive irony and racially tinged internet memes to confuse people into dismissing the “alt-right” label as a synonym for internet trolls, and spreading false and misleading information. Thus, it’s no surprise that the movement has become a focal point of the subsequent culture war and narrative surrounding the president-elect’s transition to the White House — particularly outrage that Trump arguably won through racist rhetoric and that his chief strategist is directly associated with the alt-right movement.

    But one foundational aspect of the alt-right’s various belief systems has been significantly downplayed following the election — even though it may be the key to understanding the movement’s racist, white nationalist agenda. While it’s true that the movement is most frequently described in terms of the self-stated, explicit white supremacy that defines many of its corners, for many of its members, the gateway drug that led them to join the alt-right in the first place wasn’t racist rhetoric but rather sexism: extreme misogyny evolving from male bonding gone haywire.

    The “alt-right” label is tricky to define, but the movement’s top priority is elevating the status of white men

    Don’t let the term “alt-right” fool you; despite the fact that it’s the self-chosen descriptor adopted by many white supremacists, the ideology under the hood is still the same. Not only do members of the alt-right support the most extreme version of Trump’s campaign promises to deport millions of immigrants and create a national registry for Muslims, but their ultimate goal is to ethnically cleanse nonwhite individuals from America and establish a completely white ethno-state.

    Members of the alt-right tend to be young white men spouting blatantly racist, nationalist, and misogynistic views that align eerily well with historical fascism, and many of these men openly advocate harassment and discrimination (or worse) of women and minority groups. (Indeed, since the election, overt tension surrounding these various spheres has led to hundreds of reported hate crimes.)

    Consequently, many people have pondered whether the “alt-right” label puts too fine a polish on what is at best an ugly mix of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. In response, many news organizations have grappled with whether it’s appropriate to use the term at all, and, if so, how to define it for their readers.

    But no matter what you call it, the movement is plainly built around a political agenda that seeks to advance the rights of white male citizens at the expense of everybody else.

    The alt-right’s indoctrination process starts out looking like a healthy way for men to socialize

    In a widely shared Twitter thread the morning after the election, writer Siyanda Mohutsiwa outlined what she views as the insidious process by which young men are radicalized into the alt-right.

    If people followed the alt-right groups on Reddit, they would know that young white Americans were told to hide their support of Trump.— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    These college educated young men were then ripe enough to be sold idea that Trump represented a return to Men Being Real Men— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Many of these radical white men were raised by single feminist mothers. Internet groups radicalized their sexual frustration into bigotry.
    — Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    These online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable & convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    When we talk about online radicalization we always talk about Muslims. But the radicalization of white men online is at astronomical levels— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Mohutsiwa’s tweetstorm elucidates an important, generally overlooked point: Most white men who become radicalized into the alt-right start out in search of some like-minded friends.

    Though various branches of the movement are often at odds with one another, they share a number of core beliefs — and a common meme-flavored vernacular — that serve to unite them in what is sometimes called “the manosphere.” This realm includes the “men’s rights” movement, pickup artist culture (a community of men also labeled “PUAs” that essentially makes a game of the art of bedding women), “incels” (men who are “involuntarily celibate” because they feel women reject them), and geek gatekeepers like supporters of the Gamergate movement.

    On the surface, PUA communities and incel communities have a lot of generic appeal: The PUA lifestyle emphasizes self-esteem and confidence building along with physical health, while the incel community allows men to bond over their struggle to achieve all of the above in spite of their sour luck with women. Meanwhile, gamers and geeks habitually tout the importance of gaming in providing social interaction for young men.

    These spaces foster the kind of male friendship whose importance doesn’t get a lot of attention in the real world. But the benefits of their existence are often accompanied (and sometimes negated) by their tendency to instill in their members a newfound articulation of fundamental anxiety over their position as men in a society where women are actively seeking empowerment.

    And in building its membership from so many different communities of white men who ultimately feel threatened and rejected by women, the movement promotes a sense of male entitlement that is easily radicalized into white nationalism and white supremacy.

    How sexism serves as the alt-right’s gateway drug

    In many alt-right communities, men are encouraged to view women as sexual and/or political targets that men must dominate. The men in these communities don’t see themselves as sexist; they see themselves as fighting against their own emasculation and sexual repression at the hands of strident feminists. (For instance, one alt-right blog described the activist group Code Pink as “a sort of liberal, feminist version of the Westboro Baptist Church.”)

    All of these individual communities advocate a distrust of feminism and an insistence that female empowerment necessarily disempowers men. One of the most famous, Reddit’s r/TheRedPill, even paints this ideology as a religious conversion: an “awakening,” or “taking the red pill” (a reference borrowed from The Matrix) to understand what they regard as the life-altering “truth” that feminism has ruined modern society for everyone (but especially for men). Many people who’ve tried engaging with r/TheRedPill only to walk away have described it as a place where relationships are viewed primarily in terms of power struggles rather than mutual respect and equality. “In practice,” one Reddit user wrote, “their ideas become pretty toxic really fast.”

    Redditor RZRtv experienced this first-hand; he found his way to r/TheRedPill after witnessing his father’s painful experience in court during a messy divorce. He told Vox that despite being socially progressive for most of his life, he had been drawn to the movement’s anti-feminist message, feeling resentment for the way feminism seemed to be blaming white men for everything.

    “I was grateful for the community to be raising points that affected my father and my life,” he told Vox, noting that Reddit’s various men’s rights forums were full of “great points” about how society expects men to be emotionally reserved. They also provided a basic form of support in acknowledging that men are allowed to be emotional, flawed humans, which he found to be “a big selling point.”

    Of course, many feminists frequently point out that gender stereotypes about men are unfair, harmful, and need dismantling, but feminists and men’s rights activists (commonly referred to as MRAs) rarely listen to each other. “Neither side seems to accurately assess its tribalism,” he said.

    RZRtv spent nearly two years in the community, but gradually soured on its message due to the overwhelming hatred, which “got to the point where everything seemed to be about taking down women or minorities, rather than helping men in the areas they faced discrimination,” he said.

    “The tipping point, where I was finally fed up, is memorable. There was an article posted to /r/MensRights with the title ‘Hillary Clinton will be worse for men than Donald Trump will be for women,’ which I knew was complete bullshit … [T]he blatant bullshit allowed to propagate in the community had finally reached a boiling point, and I stopped putting effort into the same causes.”

    It’s important to note that while sexism and bigotry ultimately drove RZRtv away from Reddit’s men’s rights communities, he says he never sought out a great deal of emotional support from them to begin with, “as I’m a pretty private person and don’t seek that type of thing out.” But other men who do lean on these communities for emotional support may be prone to falling further into the hate-filled environment.

    Mohutsiwa argued in her tweetstorm that we have been paying the wrong kind of attention to the alt-right’s internet havens. “When we talk about online radicalization we always talk about Muslims. But the radicalization of white men online is at astronomical levels,” she wrote. “That’s why I never got one strategy of Clinton’s campaign: highlighting Trump’s sexism. Trump supporters love him BECAUSE of his sexism.”

    The alt-right’s vernacular is full of sexist language. “Weak” moderates or liberals who buy into the feminist agenda are deemed “cucks,” a term derived from “cuckold,” the arcane Old English word for a man whose wife cheats on him. Many of the movement’s various subcommunities have insisted that the word is (warning: the following two links contain hate speech) strictly racist and that its origins center on white men being disempowered by miscegenation and other forms of interaction with members of other races. But in its practical use by the alt-right at large — most frequently to harass women online — the common implication is that progressive men are sexually disempowered by manipulative women.

    This ideology inevitably has political ramifications. On PUA forums, where men proudly talk about their “lay counts,” the default assumption in the days leading up to the election was that a vote for Hillary Clinton signified weakness that no real man would display. Witness this exchange that took place on one PUA forum the morning after the election:

    [see screenshot of PUA message board]

    The basic idea that “women are getting too out of hand” is the patriarchal common denominator. And it aligns perfectly with male rage against “social justice” activism, which in turn paves the way for white nationalism and white supremacy to gain a foothold.

    The alt-right’s ongoing fight against “social justice warriors” fuels a larger campaign of white supremacy

    These online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable & convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Over the past few years, Gamergate and male-centric Reddit communities have popularized the idea of “social justice warriors,” commonly abbreviated as SJWs. This disparaging label is an updated way to accuse progressives of extreme political correctness. The “SJW” label is a huge and successful weapon in the alt-right’s arsenal; it paints feminists as manipulative, oversensitive, shrill women who attack men with claims of sexism at the tiniest of provocations while rejecting their sexual advances.

    Men who deploy the “SJW” attack seek to reestablish control and agency over the cultural conversation by ridiculing progressive attempts to seek greater diversity and representation in media, and to dismiss basically anything that could be deemed “multiculturalism” or representation (see: Gamergate and this year’s Ghostbusters backlash).

    However, nested within the alt-right’s fight against SJWs is a flagrantly radical, white supremacist element.

    Members of the alt-right frequently refer to progressive culture as “cultural Marxism” — a favored catchphrase of Breitbart founder Andrew Breitbart. The academic term “cultural Marxism” is a positive one that denotes the spread of Marxist values throughout culture, but its common use today is much more pejorative. Members of the alt-right view SJWs who are actively trying to make art and culture more inclusive as attempting to incite sociocultural and socioeconomic upheaval under the guise of “diversity.”

    In fact, the term “cultural Marxism” is descended from actual Nazi propaganda — a distrust of modernism and the spread of non-Germanic culture that Hitler called “cultural Bolshevism.” In his book A History of Nazi Germany: 1919-1945, historian Joseph W. Bendersky notes that the phrase was code for the cultural purging that preceded the Holocaust. “Hitler referred to ‘cultural Bolshevism’ as a disease that would weaken the Germans and leave them prey to the Jews,” Bendersky writes. “A moral struggle was underway, and the outcome could determine the survival of the race.”

    The updated alt-right version of this idea primarily targets feminists and progressives as the instigators of this cultural demise. Their belief in insidious cultural plots against white patriarchy leads them to overlap and interact with another branch of the alt-right — the innumerable online right-wing conspiracy groups that see Jewish, Islamic, and foreign plots in perceived attacks on white patriarchal culture. The all-or-nothing urgency and the blatant nationalism and white supremacy of Hitler’s version of the phrase is still intact.

    The Trump Victory marks an important moment in HistoryIt was the day good people stood up & defeated evilCultural Marxism has been smashed pic.twitter.com/XF4TT7NPpz— Truthophobes (@truthophobes) November 9, 2016

    Regressive left has climaxed with Trump and Milo Effect, and 20 years of conditioning of cultural Marxism will soon be laid to rest. https://t.co/ogxTjTenA2— Kristina Dabic (@moonchildwander) November 9, 2016

    In essence, many men who were drawn to these communities because they wanted to get laid and gain self-confidence have found themselves embroiled in a culture war, one that started as a way to boost individual male autonomy and evolved into a way to wrest back control of the country — nay, the world — from shrill feminists and their weakling cuck supporters, which include “libtard” shills in the mainstream media.

    Young men came to these online groups for tips on picking up girls & came out believing that it was up to them to save Western civilization— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Ultimately, these groups found their hero in Donald Trump.

    Gamergate foreshadowed the alt-right’s rise — and created an unsettling template for the movement to expand

    In the wake of Trump’s victory, many have pointed to Gamergate’s sexist assault on feminism as a harbinger of things to come. Far more than the “fringe” components of the alt-right, the Gamergate movement drew mainstream attention from its beginnings in August 2014 and gained extensive coverage from popular geek media outlets as well as international news organizations as it grew. Though it peaked around the spring of 2015, the movement is still active; writing at the Guardian, Matt Lees points out that its supporters’ “techniques” of harassment and rhetorical victim blaming “have become the standard toolset of far-right voices online.”

    Writers who’ve reported on and/or been targeted by Gamergate have also noted the convergence of the group’s membership with that of the alt-right. David Futrelle is a journalist who has spent the past five years maintaining a men’s rights watch blog, We Hunted the Mammoth. In an email to Vox, he said that it’s “close to impossible to overstate the role of Gamergate in the process of [alt-right] radicalization.”

    From the start, Gamergate was based on the same sense of aggrieved entitlement that drives the alt-right — and many Trump voters. While Trump warned of the putative dangers of Muslims and Mexicans ‘invading’ America, Gamergaters talked about the dangers of so-called social justice warriors “invading” the world of gaming; many defined gaming as a “male space” or even a “male safe space,” and so it was no coincidence that they focused so much of their anger at supposed female interlopers — [including gaming cultural critics like] Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and others.

    By presenting themselves as beleaguered defenders of gaming’s “safe space,” gamergaters managed to convince themselves that their harassment of people like Sarkeesian and Quinn was in fact a defense of an imperiled culture. They were saving the world!

    One of the feminist targets of Gamergate was gaming journalist Leigh Alexander, who recently wrote about the movement’s expansion and convergence with the alt-right movement.

    “When I was harassed in an attempt to get me to abandon [progressive critical stances on the relationship between pop culture and politics] during the embarrassment that was ‘GamerGate,’ everyone told me it was just a radar blip,” she wrote.

    They said that the hit pieces on Breitbart about me, other women, and progressive voices in technology were just fringe issues. We should not give them any more attention, everyone said. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Now the CEO of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, is an advisor to incoming President Trump. And in the last few weeks all those same old people, the dross of imageboard culture with their same assembly-line right-wing memes, are back in my Twitter timeline letting me know they “won.” … These people’s fears, their power fantasies, are now steering the world.

    Futrelle pointed out to Vox that Gamergate’s explicit sexism led many of its members to 4chan and to 4chan’s even more extreme sibling 8chan (which became a haven for Gamergate after the movement was officially booted off 4chan for misogyny). In those enclaves, Futrelle says, “there were hordes of neo-quasi-Nazis (some ‘ironic’ Nazis but many others utterly sincere) ready to tell them that it wasn’t just gaming that needed saving, but Western Civilization itself.”

    He continued: “They weren’t fighting for the right to look at boobs in videogames any more, but fighting against ‘white genocide.’ Suddenly the weirdly inflated, often melodramatic rhetoric of Gamergate made more sense.”

    Gamergate-inspired violence also presaged the wave of hate crimes that have been reported since the election. Examples from the past two years include the threat of a mass shooting at a major public university because the university hosted Gamergate enemy Anita Sarkeesian; the many pro-rape statements made on PUA hubs and social media accounts by prominent pickup artists like the notorious internet troll Roosh V, who bragged about committing rape; and finally, the 2014 mass stabbing and shooting of six UC Santa Barbara students by Elliot Rodger, a man who fortified his misogyny and sense of alienation via the incel communities he frequented online.

    ———-

    “How the alt-right’s sexism lures men into white supremacy” by Aja Romano; Vox; 12/14/2016

    “But one foundational aspect of the alt-right’s various belief systems has been significantly downplayed following the election — even though it may be the key to understanding the movement’s racist, white nationalist agenda. While it’s true that the movement is most frequently described in terms of the self-stated, explicit white supremacy that defines many of its corners, for many of its members, the gateway drug that led them to join the alt-right in the first place wasn’t racist rhetoric but rather sexism: extreme misogyny evolving from male bonding gone haywire.

    Misogyny: it’s a potent gateway drug. And a gateway drug that starts off as just men socializing with each other on these kinds of “manosphere” online boards:


    The alt-right’s indoctrination process starts out looking like a healthy way for men to socialize

    In a widely shared Twitter thread the morning after the election, writer Siyanda Mohutsiwa outlined what she views as the insidious process by which young men are radicalized into the alt-right.

    If people followed the alt-right groups on Reddit, they would know that young white Americans were told to hide their support of Trump.— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    These college educated young men were then ripe enough to be sold idea that Trump represented a return to Men Being Real Men— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Many of these radical white men were raised by single feminist mothers. Internet groups radicalized their sexual frustration into bigotry.
    — Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    These online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable & convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    When we talk about online radicalization we always talk about Muslims. But the radicalization of white men online is at astronomical levels— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Mohutsiwa’s tweetstorm elucidates an important, generally overlooked point: Most white men who become radicalized into the alt-right start out in search of some like-minded friends.

    “Mohutsiwa’s tweetstorm elucidates an important, generally overlooked point: Most white men who become radicalized into the alt-right start out in search of some like-minded friends.”

    And these online communities of sexually frustrated young men veering into misogyny are the perfect recruitment grounds for the ‘Alt Right’, because while many of the sub-cultures on the ‘Alt Right’ are often at odds with each other, they all share some core beliefs and a sense that white males are victimized and oppressed by society is one of those core beliefs:


    Though various branches of the movement are often at odds with one another, they share a number of core beliefs — and a common meme-flavored vernacular — that serve to unite them in what is sometimes called “the manosphere.” This realm includes the “men’s rights” movement, pickup artist culture (a community of men also labeled “PUAs” that essentially makes a game of the art of bedding women), “incels” (men who are “involuntarily celibate” because they feel women reject them), and geek gatekeepers like supporters of the Gamergate movement.

    On the surface, PUA communities and incel communities have a lot of generic appeal: The PUA lifestyle emphasizes self-esteem and confidence building along with physical health, while the incel community allows men to bond over their struggle to achieve all of the above in spite of their sour luck with women. Meanwhile, gamers and geeks habitually tout the importance of gaming in providing social interaction for young men.

    These spaces foster the kind of male friendship whose importance doesn’t get a lot of attention in the real world. But the benefits of their existence are often accompanied (and sometimes negated) by their tendency to instill in their members a newfound articulation of fundamental anxiety over their position as men in a society where women are actively seeking empowerment.

    And in building its membership from so many different communities of white men who ultimately feel threatened and rejected by women, the movement promotes a sense of male entitlement that is easily radicalized into white nationalism and white supremacy.

    So of course this core belief in the oppossion of white males includes a core belief that feminism is a fundamentally malevolent force runing society. The “the life-altering “truth” that feminism has ruined modern society for everyone (but especially for men)” is treated as a kind of political religion:


    How sexism serves as the alt-right’s gateway drug

    In many alt-right communities, men are encouraged to view women as sexual and/or political targets that men must dominate. The men in these communities don’t see themselves as sexist; they see themselves as fighting against their own emasculation and sexual repression at the hands of strident feminists. (For instance, one alt-right blog described the activist group Code Pink as “a sort of liberal, feminist version of the Westboro Baptist Church.”)

    All of these individual communities advocate a distrust of feminism and an insistence that female empowerment necessarily disempowers men. One of the most famous, Reddit’s r/TheRedPill, even paints this ideology as a religious conversion: an “awakening,” or “taking the red pill” (a reference borrowed from The Matrix) to understand what they regard as the life-altering “truth” that feminism has ruined modern society for everyone (but especially for men). Many people who’ve tried engaging with r/TheRedPill only to walk away have described it as a place where relationships are viewed primarily in terms of power struggles rather than mutual respect and equality. “In practice,” one Reddit user wrote, “their ideas become pretty toxic really fast.”

    Mohutsiwa argued in her tweetstorm that we have been paying the wrong kind of attention to the alt-right’s internet havens. “When we talk about online radicalization we always talk about Muslims. But the radicalization of white men online is at astronomical levels,” she wrote. “That’s why I never got one strategy of Clinton’s campaign: highlighting Trump’s sexism. Trump supporters love him BECAUSE of his sexism.”

    And this fear and loathing of feminism and “social justice warriors” typically gets wrapped into the general term of “cultural marxism”, which is basically the same term Hitler used when describing what he described as the insidious effect Jews on have society:


    The alt-right’s vernacular is full of sexist language. “Weak” moderates or liberals who buy into the feminist agenda are deemed “cucks,” a term derived from “cuckold,” the arcane Old English word for a man whose wife cheats on him. Many of the movement’s various subcommunities have insisted that the word is (warning: the following two links contain hate speech) strictly racist and that its origins center on white men being disempowered by miscegenation and other forms of interaction with members of other races. But in its practical use by the alt-right at large — most frequently to harass women online — the common implication is that progressive men are sexually disempowered by manipulative women.

    This ideology inevitably has political ramifications. On PUA forums, where men proudly talk about their “lay counts,” the default assumption in the days leading up to the election was that a vote for Hillary Clinton signified weakness that no real man would display. Witness this exchange that took place on one PUA forum the morning after the election:

    [see screenshot of PUA message board]

    The basic idea that “women are getting too out of hand” is the patriarchal common denominator. And it aligns perfectly with male rage against “social justice” activism, which in turn paves the way for white nationalism and white supremacy to gain a foothold.

    The alt-right’s ongoing fight against “social justice warriors” fuels a larger campaign of white supremacy

    These online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable & convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood— Siyanda Mohutsiwa (@SiyandaWrites) November 9, 2016

    Over the past few years, Gamergate and male-centric Reddit communities have popularized the idea of “social justice warriors,” commonly abbreviated as SJWs. This disparaging label is an updated way to accuse progressives of extreme political correctness. The “SJW” label is a huge and successful weapon in the alt-right’s arsenal; it paints feminists as manipulative, oversensitive, shrill women who attack men with claims of sexism at the tiniest of provocations while rejecting their sexual advances.

    Men who deploy the “SJW” attack seek to reestablish control and agency over the cultural conversation by ridiculing progressive attempts to seek greater diversity and representation in media, and to dismiss basically anything that could be deemed “multiculturalism” or representation (see: Gamergate and this year’s Ghostbusters backlash).

    However, nested within the alt-right’s fight against SJWs is a flagrantly radical, white supremacist element.

    Members of the alt-right frequently refer to progressive culture as “cultural Marxism” — a favored catchphrase of Breitbart founder Andrew Breitbart. The academic term “cultural Marxism” is a positive one that denotes the spread of Marxist values throughout culture, but its common use today is much more pejorative. Members of the alt-right view SJWs who are actively trying to make art and culture more inclusive as attempting to incite sociocultural and socioeconomic upheaval under the guise of “diversity.”

    In fact, the term “cultural Marxism” is descended from actual Nazi propaganda — a distrust of modernism and the spread of non-Germanic culture that Hitler called “cultural Bolshevism.” In his book A History of Nazi Germany: 1919-1945, historian Joseph W. Bendersky notes that the phrase was code for the cultural purging that preceded the Holocaust. “Hitler referred to ‘cultural Bolshevism’ as a disease that would weaken the Germans and leave them prey to the Jews,” Bendersky writes. “A moral struggle was underway, and the outcome could determine the survival of the race.”

    The updated alt-right version of this idea primarily targets feminists and progressives as the instigators of this cultural demise. Their belief in insidious cultural plots against white patriarchy leads them to overlap and interact with another branch of the alt-right — the innumerable online right-wing conspiracy groups that see Jewish, Islamic, and foreign plots in perceived attacks on white patriarchal culture. The all-or-nothing urgency and the blatant nationalism and white supremacy of Hitler’s version of the phrase is still intact.

    In fact, the term “cultural Marxism” is descended from actual Nazi propaganda — a distrust of modernism and the spread of non-Germanic culture that Hitler called “cultural Bolshevism.” In his book A History of Nazi Germany: 1919-1945, historian Joseph W. Bendersky notes that the phrase was code for the cultural purging that preceded the Holocaust. “Hitler referred to ‘cultural Bolshevism’ as a disease that would weaken the Germans and leave them prey to the Jews,” Bendersky writes. “A moral struggle was underway, and the outcome could determine the survival of the race.””

    And as a result of this successful infiltration and propagandizing of these online communities of sexually frustrated men, we have a situation where the many men who were drawn to these communities because they wanted to either learn how to pick up women or share their frustrations find end up fighting the Alt Right’s broader culture war:

    The Trump Victory marks an important moment in HistoryIt was the day good people stood up & defeated evilCultural Marxism has been smashed pic.twitter.com/XF4TT7NPpz— Truthophobes (@truthophobes) November 9, 2016

    Regressive left has climaxed with Trump and Milo Effect, and 20 years of conditioning of cultural Marxism will soon be laid to rest. https://t.co/ogxTjTenA2— Kristina Dabic (@moonchildwander) November 9, 2016

    In essence, many men who were drawn to these communities because they wanted to get laid and gain self-confidence have found themselves embroiled in a culture war, one that started as a way to boost individual male autonomy and evolved into a way to wrest back control of the country — nay, the world — from shrill feminists and their weakling cuck supporters, which include “libtard” shills in the mainstream media.

    And that’s all a big reason why the attack in Toronto really was basically a terrorist attack. A neo-Nazi terrorist attack cloaked as a “Incel Rebellion”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 25, 2018, 3:45 pm
  18. And here we go again: On the heels of nominating open Nazi Arthur Jones in Illinois’s Third Congressional District, it looks like the GOP is at risk of nominating another neo-Nazi. This time it’s for California’s Senate race. For real.

    This is thanks, in part, to California’s “Jungle” primary system, where everyone from all parties participate in a single primary and the top two candidates have a runoff. But also thanks to the shockingly high support a Nazi candidate is getting in a race with 10 other GOP candidates. According to a recent poll conducted by local ABC News affiliates along with the polling company Survey USA, Dianne Feinstein is in the lead with 39 percent. And open Nazi Patrick Little is polling at 18 percent, putting him in second place a month away from the June 5th runoff vote:

    Newsweek

    Republican Senate Candidate, Who Has Called for Country ‘Free From Jews,’ Could be Dianne Feinstein’s Challenger

    By Michael Edison Hayden On 4/28/18 at 8:20 AM

    Overt anti-Semites have been slowly creeping into Republican politics in the aftermath of President Trump’s successful, populist candidacy, and now one of them has a fighting chance of representing the Republican Party in a Senate race.

    The man in question is Patrick Little, an extremist with hardline anti-Semitic views who is backed by David Duke and other far-right extremists. Little will be squaring off in a top-two primary with 10 other Republicans as well as Democrats and independents on June 5 for the chance to oppose veteran Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. According to a recent poll, released last week, he very much has a chance of winning the right to face off with the incumbent.

    A poll conducted by local ABC News affiliates along with the polling company Survey USA, suggested that Little is polling at 18 percent of the vote on the Republican ticket, a full 10 points ahead of his next strongest opponent. The 84-year-old Feinstein, who entered office in 1992, at the start of Bill Clinton’s first term, remains a solid favorite to win the state—polling at 39 percent.

    It’s unclear how predictive the poll will prove to be, or whether many Californians are intimately familiar with Little’s views, but the notion that he has any viability at all in the state is likely to raise alarm. Little has said he believes Jews should have no say over white non-Jews and wants to see them removed from the country altogether. On Gab, a social media site with large swaths of extremist users, he argues that the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, whose proprietors praise Adolf Hitler and have appeared to call for acts of violence against Jewish people, is too Jewish.

    “I propose a government that makes counter-semitism central to all aims of the state,” he wrote on that website, referring to a white nationalist euphemism for a hatred of Jews. He argued for forbidding “all immigration except of biological kin, where no person of Jewish origin may live, vacation or traverse.”

    He also wrote that he wanted to keep Americans “free from Jews.”

    Matt Barreto, a professor of political sciences at University of California, Los Angeles, told Newsweek that while the poll is concerning due to Little’s views, it isn’t a strong indicator that he will ever become Senator.

    “There’s been no campaign to speak of. All the discussion has been between Feinstein and [Democratic challenger] Kevin de León,” Barreto said. “I don’t believe that this candidate has much outreach.”

    He noted that many people may have no idea who Little is, and are simply responding to the fact that his name was grouped with the Republicans. He said that if his views became more widely known, it would likely sink his candidacy.

    [See screenshot of Patrick Little’s post on Gab saying: “Jews have no seat at the table in matters of white self-determination.

    We don’t have a seat at the table for how Japese rule themselves, why should Semites have on at ours?”]

    Barreto noted that Democrats dominate California politics and that the state Republican party is focused on issues of taxation. He described them as being more open-minded than the national party on issues like immigration, gay marriage and marijuana legalization, even if there are pockets of white supremacist voters in places like Orange County.

    Little did not respond to a request for comment on this story. His overtly anti-Semitic posts in the runup to an election follow the candidacy of Wisconsin-based Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, who has veered so far to the right that he has been disavowed by some prominent white nationalists.

    White Supremacist Richard Spencer wrote on Twitter this month that Nehlen “needs to just go away,” suggesting that he had embarrassed their cause of building a state for only whites by being too openly prejudiced. Most recently, Nehlen appeared on an extremist podcast inspired by racist mass murderer Dylann Roof. It’s unclear whether or not Little, whose political ambitions have so far received less scrutiny than Nehlen’s, will be similarly disavowed.

    Little is a vocal fan of Christopher Cantwell, an anti-Semitic podcast host and one of the white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August of 2017. Cantwell is an outspoken supporter of Adolf Hitler has made a hatred of Jews the crux of his political argument when he speaks to his audience. He told Newsweek Friday that Little has a slim chance of winning, even if they share the same prejudices.

    “I cannot claim to have familiarized myself with the mechanics of that race well enough to say,” Cantwell said. “However, I have my doubts that Holocaust revisionism polls well amongst Californians of any party.”

    ———-

    “Republican Senate Candidate, Who Has Called for Country ‘Free From Jews,’ Could be Dianne Feinstein’s Challenger” by Michael Edison Hayden; Newsweek; 04/28/2018

    ““I cannot claim to have familiarized myself with the mechanics of that race well enough to say,” Cantwell said. “However, I have my doubts that Holocaust revisionism polls well amongst Californians of any party.””

    Christopher Cantwell, an open admirer of Hitler, has his doubts about Patrick Little’s chances to win the GOP primary. And yet, as we just saw, the most recent polls put Little ahead of the rest of the Republican candidates. All ten of them. At 18 percent in the polls, Little is ten points ahead of his next rival:


    The man in question is Patrick Little, an extremist with hardline anti-Semitic views who is backed by David Duke and other far-right extremists. Little will be squaring off in a top-two primary with 10 other Republicans as well as Democrats and independents on June 5 for the chance to oppose veteran Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. According to a recent poll, released last week, he very much has a chance of winning the right to face off with the incumbent.

    A poll conducted by local ABC News affiliates along with the polling company Survey USA, suggested that Little is polling at 18 percent of the vote on the Republican ticket, a full 10 points ahead of his next strongest opponent. The 84-year-old Feinstein, who entered office in 1992, at the start of Bill Clinton’s first term, remains a solid favorite to win the state—polling at 39 percent.

    And Little isn’t your standard Alt Right figure. He’s the kind of the neo-Nazi that think the Daily Stormer is “too Jewish” and calls for make “counter-semitism central to all aims of the state”:


    It’s unclear how predictive the poll will prove to be, or whether many Californians are intimately familiar with Little’s views, but the notion that he has any viability at all in the state is likely to raise alarm. Little has said he believes Jews should have no say over white non-Jews and wants to see them removed from the country altogether. On Gab, a social media site with large swaths of extremist users, he argues that the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, whose proprietors praise Adolf Hitler and have appeared to call for acts of violence against Jewish people, is too Jewish.

    “I propose a government that makes counter-semitism central to all aims of the state,” he wrote on that website, referring to a white nationalist euphemism for a hatred of Jews. He argued for forbidding “all immigration except of biological kin, where no person of Jewish origin may live, vacation or traverse.”

    He also wrote that he wanted to keep Americans “free from Jews.”

    And, of course, Little isn’t alone in being an open Nazi prominently running in a GOP primary this year. In addition to Arthur Jones there’s Paul Nehlen, feted as an anti-establishment hero by Breitbart in 2016, dropping the mask and running as an open neo-Nazi this year. Even Richard Spencer disapproves of the guy, primarily because he’s too open about his views:


    Little did not respond to a request for comment on this story. His overtly anti-Semitic posts in the runup to an election follow the candidacy of Wisconsin-based Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, who has veered so far to the right that he has been disavowed by some prominent white nationalists.

    White Supremacist Richard Spencer wrote on Twitter this month that Nehlen “needs to just go away,” suggesting that he had embarrassed their cause of building a state for only whites by being too openly prejudiced. Most recently, Nehlen appeared on an extremist podcast inspired by racist mass murderer Dylann Roof. It’s unclear whether or not Little, whose political ambitions have so far received less scrutiny than Nehlen’s, will be similarly disavowed.

    “It’s unclear whether or not Little, whose political ambitions have so far received less scrutiny than Nehlen’s, will be similarly disavowed.”

    Yep, it’s still unclear whether or not the Little will be similarly disavowed. Because he’s still leading the GOP pack and second place overall making his the current front runner to run against Diane Feinstein. At least according to that poll. This is where we are.

    Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this is that, as University of California political science professor Matt Barreto points out, Little doesn’t appear to have any sort of visible campaign to speak of. He’s winning the GOP race without a visible campaign. That’s where the California GOP is these days:


    Matt Barreto, a professor of political sciences at University of California, Los Angeles, told Newsweek that while the poll is concerning due to Little’s views, it isn’t a strong indicator that he will ever become Senator.

    “There’s been no campaign to speak of. All the discussion has been between Feinstein and [Democratic challenger] Kevin de León,” Barreto said. “I don’t believe that this candidate has much outreach.”

    He noted that many people may have no idea who Little is, and are simply responding to the fact that his name was grouped with the Republicans. He said that if his views became more widely known, it would likely sink his candidacy.

    But as we saw, he is quite active on Gab, the Alt Right social media platform. So he does have a campaign to speak of, it’s just a campaign largely limited to on the Alt Right’s social media platform. Although Gab is reportedly not actually that active and largely a digital ghost town these days, so it seems like Patrick Little’s support from Gab would be fairly limited. And yet he’s getting support somehow with no visible campaign. He’s an open Nazi running a successful stealth campaign. This is also where we are.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 5, 2018, 12:39 am
  19. There’s no shortage of reasons to assume the the big North Korean denuclearization summit won’t result in anything close to denuclearization. But perhaps the biggest reason to assume it won’t result in any sort of diplomatic breakthrough is Trump. Or rather, Trump being Trump.

    At the same time, there’s no shortage of reasons to hope that the summit succeeds. Even if that means Trump gets a big political victory. Yes, if there is a breakthrough it will almost certainly happen despite Trump and be largely due to the efforts of the new South Korean Moon government. But a breakthrough would still be used to validate Trump’s schizo-bullying diplomatic style which would be unfortunate, just not so unfortunate that it doesn’t make a breakthrough worth it. Net, we should overwhelmingly hope for some sort of breakthrough.

    So in the hopes there is a real breakthrough and Trump doesn’t somehow screw this up, it’s worth noting that Trump does bring some unusual qualities to this summit that could come in handy for bridging the divide. How so? Well, it’s worth keeping in mind that North Korea’s government facing an existential paradox: the North Korean governments wants to engage the world as an equal platform, but it can’t actually engage the world as equals without exposing it’s people to it and the greatest threat to the North Korean regime is unfiltered information about the rest of the world.

    And even if the North Korean government never plans on voluntarily letting their people talk to the rest of the world, they have to be terrified that the civilians will someday get unfiltered internet access somehow. imagine devices with satellite internet services getting dropped into the country. That could happen someday. So you have to imagine that the North Korean government is constantly thinking about how to safely deflate it’s reality-bubble if that ever becomes necessary. Reality is literally an existential threat for Kim’s government.

    Conveniently, reality is also a threat to Trump. And one of those realities is that he’s had almost nothing to do with North and South Korea reaching this point and his antics on the topic have been generally unhelpful. It’s just one example of the number of qualities the Trump and Kim have in common that should give us hope that maybe the two really might hit it off. There’s a buddy comedy waiting to happen here. For real.

    Beyond that, it’s possibly a great and rare opportunity for Kim to actually open North Korea up to the rest of the world. How so? Well, now that America has sort of debased itself by electing Trump. Plus, far right ideologies is sweeping Europe. And this low point for the West kind of creates a great moment for the North Korean government to finally let their people see the world. It has to happen some day, why not today’s Trumpian dystopia. It’s hard to envision a better time for the Kim regime to compare itself to the rest of the world.

    So perhaps Trump and Kim and help each other with their reality bubble issues be striking a deal: Peace and denuclearization and in exchange Trump will say really nice things about Kim to the North Korean people as part of a plan to cushion the psychological blow when the North Koreans get access to information about the outside world and learn that their government has been holding them in an Orwellian trap. Trump, being a walking Orwellian trap himself, is kind of perfect for this. The degrading chaos of Trump is the perfect environment for Kim to make a big fateful move and show his people the world.

    But as the following articles make clear, Trump brings a certain critical deal-sweetener. The kind of sweetener that a god king like Kim would drool over: It turns out Trump is a bit of a god king himself. At least for a substantial and growing portion of the American evangelical Christian community. And this is exactly the kind of bandwagon Kim could jump onboard because it turns out Trump has found a theocratic angle where he can be as un-Christian (in the good sense) as possible and it doesn’t matter he’s still God’s vessel. Because Trump is apparently like Cyrus the Great, the Persian King who freed the Jews in Babylon. So, because Cyrus wasn’t Jewish, Trump doesn’t have to act like a Christian. That’s the gig. It’s perfect for Kim.

    Plus, South Korea’s conservative evangelical Christian community is both culturally significant and apparently includes a large number of churches that also preach that Trump is God’s man. So how about Trump and his team of evangelical enablers/annointers offered Kim dibs on some Bible prophecy goodness as part of a package deal for opening up North Korea to the world. How can Kim resist? Who knows what kind of new evangelical fans he might get.

    Trump may not be good at being president, but that might make him the perfect president for a historic deal with Kim Jong Un, especially if it was deal that led to a significant opening of North Korean society to the world. A thug clown president run the US and most of the West is going fascist. It’s the perfect moment for Kim to let his people meet the world. Kim, the the living god, and Trump, the prophet:

    Rightwing Watch

    Mark Taylor: Trump Is ‘A Political Prophet’ And ‘An Anointed Spiritual Machine’

    By Kyle Mantyla
    June 1, 2018 10:55 am

    Self-proclaimed “firefighter prophet” and right-wing conspiracy theorist Mark Taylor appeared on the “Watchmen Radio” program on Tuesday, where he said that President Trump is a “prophet” and declared that Christians who refuse to support him are harming the faith.

    Taylor, whose story is the focus of an upcoming movie from Liberty University, declared that in 2016, Christians had a choice between voting for “a demon-possessed witch” and “a man of God” and host Richard Keltner agreed, calling Hillary Clinton “a satanic, Illuminatic witch that’s into Pizzagate, child-humping and satanic rituals.”

    Taylor said that Christian leaders who criticized Trump for his infamous remarks about being able to sexually assault women with impunity because of his fame were exposed as frauds because “this man got born again way after that fact.”

    “Why were they coming against this man?” he angrily asked. “Because the Bible says your sins are wiped completely clean, they are washed clean in the blood of Jesus. Why are you even bringing this up? Period. Because of the political and social pressure they caved into. That right there exposed these leaders, they should have been shamed beyond belief because who in their right mind would ever want to come to Christ with these leaders as a leader, knowing that they’re going to come out publicly and condemn me for something I did 15 years ago?”

    “The Bible says, ‘Do not touch my anointed, but especially my prophets,’” Taylor added. “I believe Trump is a type of prophet, he’s a political prophet, and I said from day one, you had better be careful what you say about this man because you are touching God’s anointed … He’s an anointed spiritual machine.”

    [audio clip available here]

    ———-

    ” Mark Taylor: Trump Is ‘A Political Prophet’ And ‘An Anointed Spiritual Machine’” by Kyle Mantyla; Rightwing Watch; 06/01/2018

    ““The Bible says, ‘Do not touch my anointed, but especially my prophets,’” Taylor added. “I believe Trump is a type of prophet, he’s a political prophet, and I said from day one, you had better be careful what you say about this man because you are touching God’s anointed … He’s an anointed spiritual machine.”

    “He’s an anointed spiritual machine.” That’s Trump. An annointed spiritual machine. According to far right conspiracy theorist/self-declared prophet Mark Taylor. And his prophecy is about to get a lot more exposure in the Christian evangelical community now that Liberty Univerity, run by Trump booster Jerry Falwell, Jr., is making his Trump prophecy into a movie:


    Taylor, whose story is the focus of an upcoming movie from Liberty University, declared that in 2016, Christians had a choice between voting for “a demon-possessed witch” and “a man of God” and host Richard Keltner agreed, calling Hillary Clinton “a satanic, Illuminatic witch that’s into Pizzagate, child-humping and satanic rituals.”

    And as the following article points out, the upcoming Liberty University movie about Mark Taylor’s Trump prophecy isn’t simply a documentary. It’s intentionally infused with a strong sense of patriotism. A man who embodies God and country. It’s right up Kim’s ally:

    Rightwing Watch

    Liberty University Is Making A Movie About Trump-Loving ‘Firefighter Prophet’ Mark Taylor

    By Kyle Mantyla
    March 21, 2018 3:52 pm

    Mark Taylor is a former firefighter who claims that while he was watching Fox News back in 2011, God personally told him that Donald Trump would become president of the United States. Taylor initially thought that meant that Trump would challenge President Obama when he ran for re-election in 2012, but when that didn’t happen, Taylor realized that was because it was God’s plan to keep Obama in office for a second term so that Americans could “build a righteous anger” necessary to elect Trump and thereby save the world.

    When Trump was elected president in 2016, Taylor penned a book titled “The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story Of The Man Who Saw Tomorrow… And What He Says Is Coming Next” and quickly made a name for himself as a modem-day prophet and radical conspiracy theorist.

    In the last year, Taylor has claimed that God told him that Trump will replace five members of the Supreme Court, three of whom will be removed from the bench after being indicted for corruption, and that two of the five currently living former presidents will die as punishment for criticizing Trump, while the other three will be imprisoned and possibly executed for treason.

    Taylor, who claims that Trump will release the cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease during his second term in office and asserted that God made journalist Megyn Kelly ill as a “warning shot” to all those who would dare to criticize Trump, believes that thousands of elite satanic pedophiles have been secretly arrested and that we will soon start seeing them prosecuted via military tribunals that will “make Nuremberg look like a cakewalk.” Taylor actually predicted that we’d see mass arrests in February, but the fact that that obviously didn’t happen doesn’t seem to have harmed his standing as a “prophet” in any way.

    Last year, Taylor asserted that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which devastated parts of Texas and Florida respectively, were created and controlled by the Illuminati to punish the areas of the country that voted for Trump and to serve as a “training run” for a massive witchcraft attack against the president. On top of that, Taylor warned that the Freemasons and the Illuminati are using a special frequency to change people’s DNA in order to make them hate Trump so that they are unable to see how God is using him to save America.

    [audio clip available here]

    With an amazing track record like this, it was probably only a matter of time before Liberty University decided to turn Taylor’s life story into a feature film, which is a thing that is actually happening:

    It was officially announced Jan. 26 that the Liberty University Cinematic Arts department would be working on a feature film getting national theatrical release.

    “Commander” comes after the program’s first feature film “Extraordinary,” and a series of short films. “Commander” is an adaptation of the book “The Trump Prophecies.”

    The film, which is slated to be released in October, is the true story of an ex-firefighter named Mark Taylor who in 2011, while recovering from PTSD, had a vision that Donald Trump would be President.

    The message the film’s producer and financier Rick Eldridge wants to get across is how there is power in prayer and the impact it can have on a group of people mixed with patriotism.

    “I really want it to be a patriotic, a God and country message that we can understand,” Eldridge said. “The best thing I can take away is when people leave the theater they are really feeling proud about their country and the things God has blessed us with.”

    Predictably, this project is not sitting well with some Liberty students and alumni who have started a petition to get the university to cancel this “heretical film project” on the grounds that “this movie could reflect very poorly on all Liberty students and Liberty University as a whole,” especially those enrolled in the Cinematic Arts program who “do not want this movie on their resume and … are even considering using aliases on IMDB or dropping out.”

    Liberty University’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., has been an enthusiastic and loyal supporter of Trump’s, which has also not gone over well with some students and alumni.

    ———-

    “Liberty University Is Making A Movie About Trump-Loving ‘Firefighter Prophet’ Mark Taylor” By Kyle Mantyla; Rightwing Watch; 03/21/2018

    “When Trump was elected president in 2016, Taylor penned a book titled “The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story Of The Man Who Saw Tomorrow… And What He Says Is Coming Next” and quickly made a name for himself as a modem-day prophet and radical conspiracy theorist.

    “The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story Of The Man Who Saw Tomorrow… And What He Says Is Coming Next.” It’s quite a title. Sounds riveting. The movie adaptation will no doubt be riveting too:


    With an amazing track record like this, it was probably only a matter of time before Liberty University decided to turn Taylor’s life story into a feature film, which is a thing that is actually happening:

    It was officially announced Jan. 26 that the Liberty University Cinematic Arts department would be working on a feature film getting national theatrical release.

    “Commander” comes after the program’s first feature film “Extraordinary,” and a series of short films. “Commander” is an adaptation of the book “The Trump Prophecies.”

    The film, which is slated to be released in October, is the true story of an ex-firefighter named Mark Taylor who in 2011, while recovering from PTSD, had a vision that Donald Trump would be President.

    The message the film’s producer and financier Rick Eldridge wants to get across is how there is power in prayer and the impact it can have on a group of people mixed with patriotism.

    “I really want it to be a patriotic, a God and country message that we can understand,” Eldridge said. “The best thing I can take away is when people leave the theater they are really feeling proud about their country and the things God has blessed us with.”

    ““I really want it to be a patriotic, a God and country message that we can understand,” Eldridge said.”

    God and country. And Trump. That’s the message.

    But it’s not just Mark Taylor making these prophetic proclaimations and it’s not just Liberty University endorsing it. As the following article makes alarmingly clear, the belief that Trump is annointed by God is widespread among American evangelicals:

    Vox

    The biblical story the Christian right uses to defend Trump
    Why evangelicals are calling Trump a “modern-day Cyrus.”

    By Tara Isabella Burton
    Mar 5, 2018, 9:20am EST

    It’s a typical morning segment on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, late in 2016. The controversial Access Hollywood tapes, on which then-candidate Donald Trump can be heard boasting about grabbing women by the genitals, have just been released.

    Standing on a sunny street, reporter Chris Mitchell says, “Christians are divided about what to do on Donald Trump.”

    Some want to abandon him, he says. Others want to stand with him. But others, he says, are wondering: Does Trump have a “biblical mandate” to become president?

    Mitchell runs swiftly through the first two options, citing both a condemnation of Trump and an endorsement by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson. But it’s the third option — that God himself has chosen Trump to be president — that Mitchell focuses on.

    Evangelical thinker Lance Wallnau then gives Mitchell his take: Trump is a “modern-day Cyrus,” an ancient Persian king chosen by God to “navigate in chaos.”

    Mitchell notes that some evangelicals disagree but does not name or cite them. Instead, he cites the growing threat of China, Russia, and Iran, before Wallnau concludes, “America’s going to have a challenge either way. With Trump, I believe we have a Cyrus to navigate through the storm.”

    The comparison comes up frequently in the evangelical world. Many evangelical speakers and media outlets compare Trump to Cyrus, a historical Persian king who, in the sixth century BCE, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian captivity, a period during which Israelites had been forcibly resettled in exile. This allowed Jews to return to the area now known as Israel and build a temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus is referenced most prominently in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in which he appears as a figure of deliverance.

    That comparison has become more and more explicit in the wake of Trump’s presidency. Last week, an Israeli organization, the Mikdash Educational Center, minted a commemorative “Temple Coin” depicting Trump and Cyrus side by side, in honor of Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. It was among the most brazen, public links between Trump and Cyrus; one that takes the years of subtext running through outlets like Christian Broadcasting Network and, quite literally, sealed the comparison.

    Monday, however, an even higher-profile figure linked Trump and Cyrus. During his visit to Washington, DC, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu heavily implied Trump was Cyrus’s spiritual heir. Thanking Trump for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “We remember the proclamation of the great King Cyrus the Great — Persian King. Twenty-five hundred years ago, he proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon can come back and rebuild our temple in Jerusalem…And we remember how a few weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people throughout the ages.”

    While Cyrus is not Jewish and does not worship the God of Israel, he is nevertheless portrayed in Isaiah as an instrument of God — an unwitting conduit through which God effects his divine plan for history. Cyrus is, therefore, the archetype of the unlikely “vessel”: someone God has chosen for an important historical purpose, despite not looking like — or having the religious character of — an obvious man of God.

    For believers who subscribe to this account, Cyrus is a perfect historical antecedent to explain Trump’s presidency: a nonbeliever who nevertheless served as a vessel for divine interest.

    For these leaders, the biblical account of Cyrus allows them to develop a “vessel theology” around Donald Trump, one that allows them to reconcile his personal history of womanizing and alleged sexual assault with what they see as his divinely ordained purpose to restore a Christian America.

    “I think in some ways this is a kind of baptism of Donald Trump,” says John Fea, a professor of evangelical history at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “It’s the theopolitical version of money laundering, taking Scripture to … clean [up] your candidate.”

    This framing allows for the creation of Trump as a viable evangelical candidate regardless of his personal beliefs or actions. It allows evangelical leaders, and to a lesser extent ordinary evangelicals, to provide a compelling narrative for their support for him that transcends the mere pragmatic fact that he is a Republican. Instead of having to justify their views of Trump’s controversial past, including reports of sexual misconduct and adultery, the evangelical establishment can say Trump’s presidency was arranged by God, and thus legitimize their support for him — a support that has begun to divide ordinary evangelicals and create a kind of “schism.”

    Trump has capitalized on this idea of “vessel theology”

    Numerous evangelical leaders have used the Trump-as-Cyrus comparison to explain how a leader who, while not (originally) religious, might nevertheless figure into a divine historical plan.

    In December, Christian evangelical leader Mike Evans made the comparison while praising Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, another act with deep theological connotations. Before seeing Trump right after the announcement, Evans said, “the first word I’m going to say to him, ‘Cyrus, you’re Cyrus.’” He explained that Cyrus “was used as an instrument of God for deliverance in the Bible, and God has used this imperfect vessel, this flawed human being like you or I, this imperfect vessel, and he’s using him in an incredible, amazing way to fulfill his plans and purposes.”

    Likewise, last year, Creation Museum founder Ken Ham used the same rhetoric to explain how God had, in his view, brought Trump to power: “God is in total control,” Ham told the Deseret Daily News early last year. “He makes that very clear in the Bible where he tells us that he raises up kings and destroys kingdoms. He even calls a pagan king, Cyrus, his anointed, or his servant to do the things that he wants him to do.”

    Trump himself seemed to bolster this particular comparison. He referenced a (fake) quote from Cyrus in March 2017 as part of a speech commemorating Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

    Adhering the Cyrus motif to an American president — and particularly using it to justify evangelical support of the Trump presidency — is unique.

    Anbara Khalidi, a former research associate at University of Oxford’s Wadham College and an expert on American evangelical apocalyptic narratives, says she has not come across the Cyrus narrative in her previous study of evangelicals and politics. “I actually have personally never heard any of the Christian evangelicals I’ve researched refer to any politician as Cyrus,” she said in an email.

    Often, she said, the end-times-conscious evangelical communities she researched in the pre-Trump era were far more reticent to make specific associations between biblical figures and present-day ones.

    Khalidi said most evangelicals tend to be “pretty cautious” about associating individuals in history with biblical figures or prophecies. Rather, she says, many evangelicals traditionally speak more generally about “signs of the times” or indicators that the end, more broadly, may be at hand, without speaking specifically about linking modern politicians to given biblical prophecies or parallels.

    However, Khalidi said, the Trump-Cyrus association has gained traction in recent years, especially among those “who have recognized its political expediency.” Furthermore, Trump seems to have been encouraged to publicly embrace these associations.

    Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem late last year, for example, might have been seen as one such curated response, evoking the historical association between Cyrus and the liberation of the Jewish people as a kind of dog whistle to evangelical voters that he’s on their side.

    Fea pointed out that among a certain subset of evangelicals, even innocuous details seem to be evidence of prophecy. The most famous biblical verse about Cyrus as God’s “anointed” is found in Isaiah 45 — and Trump is the 45th president. Wallnau made this connection explicit, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that God spoke to him directly to tell him, “Isaiah 45 will be the 45th president … Isaiah 45 is Cyrus.”

    Andrew Whitehead, an assistant professor of sociology at Clemson University who focuses on the rise of Christian nationalism, agreed with Fea. “Christian nationalist rhetoric, defending America’s Christian heritage” — all these, he said, were common tropes throughout American history. “But what makes Trump interesting, a test as to the power of this Christian nationalist rhetoric, is that regardless of personal piety … his use of that rhetoric still resonated, and people still voted for him.” Trump managed to capture the evangelical imagination without being particularly evangelical — or, indeed, personally religious — himself.

    The Cyrus narrative allows evangelicals to thread a difficult rhetorical needle. It allows them to see Trump as “their” candidate — a candidate who will effect God’s will that America become a truly Christian nation — without requiring Trump himself to manifest any Christian virtues. He is, like Cyrus, anointed by God and thus has divine legitimacy (Trump’s spiritual advisers, including evangelical figures Robert Jeffress and Paula White, have repeatedly hammered this point), but he has no obligation to live out Christian principles in his personal life.

    According to Fea, this narrative works because it allows evangelicals to capitalize on Trump’s “strongman” persona — in practical terms, his ability to get votes — while allowing them to justify their support theologically and preserve their sense of Trump as a God-backed candidate.

    Someone like Ted Cruz, Fea says, may initially have been a “purer candidate” as far as evangelicals were concerned. But when it became clear that Trump was performing better in the Republican primary, they shifted tactics. “They have to have some kind of biblical or theological or Christian reason … for their support,” he says. But they also have to back a winner.

    Trump’s rhetoric ties into and significantly expands on a robust historical tradition of language and thought about God, and a kind of “vessel theology,” in American political history.

    Whitehead says the idea that God plays a divine role in politics is nothing new. When it comes to the presidency, narratives of divine intervention have been woven into American cultural discourse from the beginning of what Whitehead calls America’s “civil religion,” which he describes as a fusion of political and religious imagery.

    For example, after George Washington died, Whitehead said, “stories cropped up about his religiosity, about what a great man he was.”

    “Great leaders [have been historically] identified with how God was using them, or that God placed them there for a purpose,” he said. For America, a relatively new nation, this Christian mythos became a foundational element of creating a national identity. “Colonials had closer ties to Britain than they had to each other. Christianity became a part of that.”

    Fea concurs. Throughout the early history of America, he notes, American exceptionalism and a particular blend of Christian nationalism — seeing America as a kind of new chosen land for God’s intervention on a parallel with the Israel of the Old Testament — went hand in hand. He references the ideal of the “city on a hill,” an image from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, used by Puritan settler John Winthrop to describe how the new American colonies would serve as a model for Christian living.

    Fea references, too, the work of early American revivalist preachers like Jonathan Edwards, who believed the second coming of Christ was imminent in Boston during the 18th century. Fea says the idealistic nature of America’s founding — as a country that believes in “liberty and freedom” — has lent itself to appropriation by Christian narratives. “It’s sort of taking these Enlightenment ideas [of freedom and liberty],” he added. “Since day one, they have been kind of ‘baptized’ by evangelicals who say in a very unthoughtful way, ‘America is for freedom. God is for freedom. Therefore, God must privilege the US.’”

    This sense that God has “chosen” America as a special people, or that he acts directly in American affairs, has, Fea argues, given us quintessentially American historical phenomena such as Manifest Destiny, the imperialist expansion of the United States across North America.

    Therefore, at the very least, the idea that God intervenes directly in American political affairs, and uses American political figures as vessels to effect divine will, is deeply rooted in centuries of Christian nationalism.

    Trump’s whole team furthers the Cyrus narrative

    The continued prevalence of the Cyrus narrative throughout the campaign and the first year of Trump’s presidency speaks to its longevity and power. But it speaks, too, to the degree to which those around Trump — from his unofficial evangelical advisory council to Christian supporters on CBN — are able to signal to supporters that the evangelical agenda is receiving attention in the White House regardless of Trump’s actions, or even regardless of whether Trump is aware of what’s going on.

    After all, Trump himself has mentioned Cyrus just once (and made up a quote in the process). But every time those around Trump mention Cyrus, they’re signaling to their listeners that because Trump is nothing but a vessel for God’s will, he’s also somewhat irrelevant in the scheme of things.

    Pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain, they imply. The real work is being done by his evangelical influencers behind the scenes.

    But Trump, too, is doing his share of influencing, dog-whistling to evangelical rhetoric of an unexpected or incongruous “divine plan.”

    Within that paradigm, his somewhat incongruous anecdote during the State of the Union address about the New Mexico couple that adopted a homeless, heroin-addicted woman’s baby makes far more sense.

    Trump says of Ryan Holets, the New Mexico police officer who adopted the baby, that “Ryan said he felt God speak to him: ‘You will do it — because you can.’”

    Within the context of a presidential address, the anecdote felt jarring, out of place. But as a theological nod, the anecdote made perfect sense. The image of an unlikely individual chosen unexpectedly by God to shoulder a difficult and divinely ordained burden is a popular narrative within Christian, and more specifically evangelical, discourse.

    And it’s a narrative that Trump will continue to capitalize on to keep his evangelical voters close.

    ———

    “The biblical story the Christian right uses to defend Trump” by Tara Isabella Burton; Vox; 03/05/2018

    “Some want to abandon him, he says. Others want to stand with him. But others, he says, are wondering: Does Trump have a “biblical mandate” to become president?”

    Does Trump have a “biblical mandate” to become president? That’s the question many evangelical Christians in America are unfortunately asking themselves. Specifically, is Trump a new Cyrus the Great, the historical Persian king who conquered Babylon in the sixth century BC. Cyrus ended the Babylonian captivity and allowed captive Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. Thus, Cyrus the Great is seen as a non-Jewish figure who was acting as an agent of God. Same with Trump increasingly:


    Mitchell runs swiftly through the first two options, citing both a condemnation of Trump and an endorsement by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson. But it’s the third option — that God himself has chosen Trump to be president — that Mitchell focuses on.

    Evangelical thinker Lance Wallnau then gives Mitchell his take: Trump is a “modern-day Cyrus,” an ancient Persian king chosen by God to “navigate in chaos.”

    Mitchell notes that some evangelicals disagree but does not name or cite them. Instead, he cites the growing threat of China, Russia, and Iran, before Wallnau concludes, “America’s going to have a challenge either way. With Trump, I believe we have a Cyrus to navigate through the storm.”

    The comparison comes up frequently in the evangelical world. Many evangelical speakers and media outlets compare Trump to Cyrus, a historical Persian king who, in the sixth century BCE, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian captivity, a period during which Israelites had been forcibly resettled in exile. This allowed Jews to return to the area now known as Israel and build a temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus is referenced most prominently in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in which he appears as a figure of deliverance.

    “Evangelical thinker Lance Wallnau then gives Mitchell his take: Trump is a “modern-day Cyrus,” an ancient Persian king chosen by God to “navigate in chaos.””

    Trump as Chaos Navigator in Chief. Wonderful. And the fact that he creates half the chaos himself is presumably seen as divinely directed too.

    But it’s not limited to American evangelicals. Look who is also getting on board the ‘Trump is Cyrus’ meme: Benjamin Netanyahu:


    That comparison has become more and more explicit in the wake of Trump’s presidency. Last week, an Israeli organization, the Mikdash Educational Center, minted a commemorative “Temple Coin” depicting Trump and Cyrus side by side, in honor of Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. It was among the most brazen, public links between Trump and Cyrus; one that takes the years of subtext running through outlets like Christian Broadcasting Network and, quite literally, sealed the comparison.

    Monday, however, an even higher-profile figure linked Trump and Cyrus. During his visit to Washington, DC, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu heavily implied Trump was Cyrus’s spiritual heir. Thanking Trump for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “We remember the proclamation of the great King Cyrus the Great — Persian King. Twenty-five hundred years ago, he proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon can come back and rebuild our temple in Jerusalem…And we remember how a few weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people throughout the ages.”

    So this Cyrus-Trump comparison, coupled with the fact that Cyrus wasn’t Jewish but still an agent of God, basically allows Trump to behave in a most un-Christ-like manner and still be seen as an of God by a shockingly large number of evangelical Christians in America. That sure sounds like the kind of vibe Kim Jong Un would like to glom onto if his cult is going to join the world community:


    While Cyrus is not Jewish and does not worship the God of Israel, he is nevertheless portrayed in Isaiah as an instrument of God — an unwitting conduit through which God effects his divine plan for history. Cyrus is, therefore, the archetype of the unlikely “vessel”: someone God has chosen for an important historical purpose, despite not looking like — or having the religious character of — an obvious man of God.

    For believers who subscribe to this account, Cyrus is a perfect historical antecedent to explain Trump’s presidency: a nonbeliever who nevertheless served as a vessel for divine interest.

    For these leaders, the biblical account of Cyrus allows them to develop a “vessel theology” around Donald Trump, one that allows them to reconcile his personal history of womanizing and alleged sexual assault with what they see as his divinely ordained purpose to restore a Christian America.

    “I think in some ways this is a kind of baptism of Donald Trump,” says John Fea, a professor of evangelical history at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “It’s the theopolitical version of money laundering, taking Scripture to … clean [up] your candidate.”

    This framing allows for the creation of Trump as a viable evangelical candidate regardless of his personal beliefs or actions. It allows evangelical leaders, and to a lesser extent ordinary evangelicals, to provide a compelling narrative for their support for him that transcends the mere pragmatic fact that he is a Republican. Instead of having to justify their views of Trump’s controversial past, including reports of sexual misconduct and adultery, the evangelical establishment can say Trump’s presidency was arranged by God, and thus legitimize their support for him — a support that has begun to divide ordinary evangelicals and create a kind of “schism.”

    And note how Trump himself is encouraging this. That’s also a useful service he can offer Kim: if he denuclearizes Trump can help encourage his status as a Biblical figure born again. Trump can even offer the service of referencing fake quotes. That should be super useful for Kim:


    Trump himself seemed to bolster this particular comparison. He referenced a (fake) quote from Cyrus in March 2017 as part of a speech commemorating Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

    Khalidi said most evangelicals tend to be “pretty cautious” about associating individuals in history with biblical figures or prophecies. Rather, she says, many evangelicals traditionally speak more generally about “signs of the times” or indicators that the end, more broadly, may be at hand, without speaking specifically about linking modern politicians to given biblical prophecies or parallels.

    However, Khalidi said, the Trump-Cyrus association has gained traction in recent years, especially among those “who have recognized its political expediency.” Furthermore, Trump seems to have been encouraged to publicly embrace these associations.

    Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem late last year, for example, might have been seen as one such curated response, evoking the historical association between Cyrus and the liberation of the Jewish people as a kind of dog whistle to evangelical voters that he’s on their side.

    And these researchers of American evangelicalism haven’t seen this same kind of treatment by the American evangelical community of an American president in the past. Trump and his evangelical backers can offer Kim Jong Un a rare opportunity to get in on whatever weird scary reactionary theocratic malleability situation going on in the right-wing Christian evangelical community:


    Adhering the Cyrus motif to an American president — and particularly using it to justify evangelical support of the Trump presidency — is unique.

    Anbara Khalidi, a former research associate at University of Oxford’s Wadham College and an expert on American evangelical apocalyptic narratives, says she has not come across the Cyrus narrative in her previous study of evangelicals and politics. “I actually have personally never heard any of the Christian evangelicals I’ve researched refer to any politician as Cyrus,” she said in an email.

    Often, she said, the end-times-conscious evangelical communities she researched in the pre-Trump era were far more reticent to make specific associations between biblical figures and present-day ones.

    And that creates the perfect dynamic for Kim Jong Un to ‘thread the needle’ as he transitions from unchallenged living god king of an isolated North Korea into a challenged god king of a North Korea that gets introduced to the rest of the world. There’s going to be be quite a few shocks in store for North Korean society once they eventually get to see the rest of the world without the government filter. It has to happen someday and some serious needle threading is going to be required. Having Kim Jong Un get annointed as some sort of born again Biblical figure by Trump and the American evangelicals could be one way to thread that needle. Maybe they could come up with some sort of Biblical parallel to denuclearization that involves a Bliblical pledge not to attack a nation that disarms. It would be a novel, if disturbing and unfortunate, way to create the kind of security guarantee Kim would need for real denuclearization:


    Andrew Whitehead, an assistant professor of sociology at Clemson University who focuses on the rise of Christian nationalism, agreed with Fea. “Christian nationalist rhetoric, defending America’s Christian heritage” — all these, he said, were common tropes throughout American history. “But what makes Trump interesting, a test as to the power of this Christian nationalist rhetoric, is that regardless of personal piety … his use of that rhetoric still resonated, and people still voted for him.” Trump managed to capture the evangelical imagination without being particularly evangelical — or, indeed, personally religious — himself.

    The Cyrus narrative allows evangelicals to thread a difficult rhetorical needle. It allows them to see Trump as “their” candidate — a candidate who will effect God’s will that America become a truly Christian nation — without requiring Trump himself to manifest any Christian virtues. He is, like Cyrus, anointed by God and thus has divine legitimacy (Trump’s spiritual advisers, including evangelical figures Robert Jeffress and Paula White, have repeatedly hammered this point), but he has no obligation to live out Christian principles in his personal life.

    According to Fea, this narrative works because it allows evangelicals to capitalize on Trump’s “strongman” persona — in practical terms, his ability to get votes — while allowing them to justify their support theologically and preserve their sense of Trump as a God-backed candidate.

    Another selling point Trump has in these negotiations is that America is unusually well equipped to broker a deal that confers upon Kim some sort of Biblical significance: American history is infused with narratives of divine intervention in politics. In other words, the pumps for theocratic Christian nationalist creativity have been thoroughly primed in America. There’s got to be some sort of Bible verse that makes Kim look decent in exchange for denuclearization and peace. The US Christian community is good at this stuff:


    Trump’s rhetoric ties into and significantly expands on a robust historical tradition of language and thought about God, and a kind of “vessel theology,” in American political history.

    Whitehead says the idea that God plays a divine role in politics is nothing new. When it comes to the presidency, narratives of divine intervention have been woven into American cultural discourse from the beginning of what Whitehead calls America’s “civil religion,” which he describes as a fusion of political and religious imagery.

    For example, after George Washington died, Whitehead said, “stories cropped up about his religiosity, about what a great man he was.”

    “Great leaders [have been historically] identified with how God was using them, or that God placed them there for a purpose,” he said. For America, a relatively new nation, this Christian mythos became a foundational element of creating a national identity. “Colonials had closer ties to Britain than they had to each other. Christianity became a part of that.”

    Fea concurs. Throughout the early history of America, he notes, American exceptionalism and a particular blend of Christian nationalism — seeing America as a kind of new chosen land for God’s intervention on a parallel with the Israel of the Old Testament — went hand in hand. He references the ideal of the “city on a hill,” an image from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, used by Puritan settler John Winthrop to describe how the new American colonies would serve as a model for Christian living.

    Fea references, too, the work of early American revivalist preachers like Jonathan Edwards, who believed the second coming of Christ was imminent in Boston during the 18th century. Fea says the idealistic nature of America’s founding — as a country that believes in “liberty and freedom” — has lent itself to appropriation by Christian narratives. “It’s sort of taking these Enlightenment ideas [of freedom and liberty],” he added. “Since day one, they have been kind of ‘baptized’ by evangelicals who say in a very unthoughtful way, ‘America is for freedom. God is for freedom. Therefore, God must privilege the US.’”

    This sense that God has “chosen” America as a special people, or that he acts directly in American affairs, has, Fea argues, given us quintessentially American historical phenomena such as Manifest Destiny, the imperialist expansion of the United States across North America.

    Therefore, at the very least, the idea that God intervenes directly in American political affairs, and uses American political figures as vessels to effect divine will, is deeply rooted in centuries of Christian nationalism.

    And Trump’s team and supporters at places like Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) appear to be fully on board with quietly promoting this ‘Trump is Cyrus’ meme. It’s a group leadership effort:


    Trump’s whole team furthers the Cyrus narrative

    The continued prevalence of the Cyrus narrative throughout the campaign and the first year of Trump’s presidency speaks to its longevity and power. But it speaks, too, to the degree to which those around Trump — from his unofficial evangelical advisory council to Christian supporters on CBN — are able to signal to supporters that the evangelical agenda is receiving attention in the White House regardless of Trump’s actions, or even regardless of whether Trump is aware of what’s going on.

    After all, Trump himself has mentioned Cyrus just once (and made up a quote in the process). But every time those around Trump mention Cyrus, they’re signaling to their listeners that because Trump is nothing but a vessel for God’s will, he’s also somewhat irrelevant in the scheme of things.

    Pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain, they imply. The real work is being done by his evangelical influencers behind the scenes.

    “Pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain, they imply. The real work is being done by his evangelical influencers behind the scenes”

    Trump as an ungodly agent of God who is giving cover for his evangelical influencers to do God’s work behind the scenes. That appears to be be the messages his army of evangelical leader surrogates are sending. It’s also a great recipe for a theocracy. It’s perfect for Kim’s situation.

    Trafficking in prophecy obviously isn’t an ideal way to do major foreign policy, but given that Trump is president this is more of a ‘making lemonade’ kind of thing: If the US has to go through this dark period of Trump getting annointed a Biblical figure by a powerful faction of the American Christian community we might as well try to get something good out of it. Like denuclearization. Plus, Kim will have an incentive to keep doing more and more peaceful things to bolster his prophetic status.

    If Trump and Kim can just figure out which Biblical figure Kim vaguely resembles we can get the denuclearization under way. Kim will get a new divine leader status that will be super useful for both domestic and foreign propaganda and Trump will get a major foreign policy victory and bolster his prophetic status. And the world gets denuclearization. Winning all around. If you ignore the existential damage catering to authoritarian cults does to everything and the damage to the done by America being taught stupid lessons about the virtues of Trump’s schizo-bully diplomacy.

    So let’s hope for some of breakthrough in the upcoming summit. Maybe Trump, being a wannabe authoritarian eager to please other authoritarians, will have some sort of authoritarian-to-authoritarian buddy thing going on with Kim (finally, someone else who understands them). And if that’s what it takes for a major breakthrough, so be it. It’s well worth it. Maybe this can be Trump’s thing. Everybody finds one way to do good. Hopefully that’s Trump’s good deed thing. Trump the Dictator Whisperer.

    Can Kim Jong Un also be a Cyrus-like figure or is only one allowed? That seems like something Pat Robertson should figure out soon. Trump could invite all sorts of dictators into a Cyrus club. They could do a reality show.

    Better yet, Moon Jai-In’s peace push will succeed and none of this will be necessary. But if Trump and his network of evangelical leaders can offer some sort of prophetic role for Kim that really could be a deal sweetener. Just was a god king needs as he fights for the world’s acceptance. If Trump Tower Pyongyang ends up being part of the deal that’s also ok. Not ideal, but ok.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 10, 2018, 2:19 am
  20. Remember how it looked at one point like the California GOP might end up nominating Patrick Little, an open neo-Nazi, as its Senate candidate for California? That didn’t end up happening, but that hasn’t stopped the GOP was nominating a Nazi fellow traveler for Senate: Cory Stewart, a candidate deemed even too extreme from the Trump campaign two years ago, just won the Virginia GOP primary for the Senate. And while the National Senate Republican Committee has yet to endorse Stewart, President Trump is already tweeting out his support.

    Stewart is known for palling around with Jason Kessler, one of the lead organizers of Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year. And he almost won the GOP nomination for governor in last year’s race after heavily focusing his campaign on defending Confederate statues. Following the Unite the Right rally and the condemnations some in the Republican party had for the rally organizers, Stewart called them weak Republicans and blamed “half the violence” on the counter-protesters.

    And, of course, Stewart is a big fan of Paul Nehlen, the Alt Right candidate running in the Wisconsin primary for Paul Ryan’s seat. He even called Nehlen his personal hero last year during the Virginia women for Trump Inaugural Ball. Or at least he used to be a big fan of Nehlen’s until a little over a week ago when Stewart claimed to have subsequently disavowed Nehlen when asked about his past support by the Washington Post (presumably over Nehlen ‘dropping the mask’ and coming out as an overt neo-Nazi). So that’s the GOP’s Senate candidate in Virginia:

    The Daily Beast

    Trump Endorses Corey Stewart, the Alt-Right’s Favorite Candidate
    A pro-Confederate friend of anti-Semites got a presidential boost after winning the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia.

    Kelly Weill
    Gideon Resnick
    06.13.18 1:11 PM ET

    Two years ago, Corey Stewart was too extreme for the Trump campaign. This morning, he got Trump’s endorsement to run for Senate.

    Stewart won the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia on Tuesday. A county board member, Stewart almost won the Republican nomination for Virginia governor last year on a campaign of defending Confederate statues. Since then, he’s risen on the back of the alt-right, attending events with an architect of the violent Charlottesville rally and giving money to an anti-Semitic candidate in Wisconsin.

    “Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

    Kaine’s spokesperson called Stewart a “cruder imitation of Donald Trump who stokes white supremacy and brags about being ‘ruthless and vicious.’”

    While the president got behind him, Sen. Cory Gardner, chair of the National Senate Republican Committee, did not. “We have a big map, right now we are focused on Florida, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana,” Gardner told CNN’s Manu Raju. “I don’t see Virginia in it.”

    In 2016, Stewart was a local official in Prince William County and Virginia co-chairman of Trump’s campaign. After the Access Hollywood tape came out, he defended Trump’s remarks about sexually assaulting women, saying Trump “acted like a frat boy, as a lot of guys do.” He went to take part in a protest outside Republican National Committee headquarters, making references to “establishment pukes,” and was kicked off the campaign shortly after.

    As chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, Stewart pushed Trumpian positions including a proposal to allow county police to check the immigration status of anyone they arrested.

    Almost a year ago to the day, Stewart shocked political observers by nearly winning the GOP gubernatorial primary in Virginia against Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Stewart once even called Gillespie a “cuckservative.” (Gillespie was trounced by Democrat Ralph Northam last November.)

    Stewart campaigned on the preservation of Confederate monuments in the state after a push across the country to tear down the monuments. Stewart defended the Confederate flag as “not about racism” during a speech at an “Old South Ball” in April 2017, surrounded by Confederate flags and people dressed in Antebellum South cosplay.

    Stewart, originally from Minnesota, also sought to capitalize on a plan to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from a local park in Charlottesville.

    “Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don’t matter,” he tweeted.

    Stewart also touted the entirely baseless claim that President Obama wasn’t born in America.

    As Gillespie disappointed some moderate Republicans by turning towards cultural issues in his gubernatorial campaign—including a mailer about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem—Stewart told The Daily Beast that those decisions would be the reason why he won.

    “The Republican party is changing,” Stewart told The Daily Beast. “It’s becoming more populist. “There are going to be some dinosaurs out there who refuse to change and eventually they’re going to go extinct.”

    Since losing, Stewart has made multiple press appearances with Jason Kessler, one of the lead organizers of Unite the Right, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August. The pair attended a proto-Unite the Right rally together in February 2017, when they rallied against the removal of the Lee statue in Charlottesville .

    Stewart also spoke alongside Kessler at a February 2017 event for the group “Unity & Security for America,” a group Kessler founded for “defending Western Civilization including its history, culture and peoples while utterly dismantling Cultural Marxism.” Cultural Marxism is a favorite conspiracy on the far-right, which holds that liberals (Jews) are trying to destroy Western (white) society through popular culture.

    After Unite the Right, where a white supremacist allegedly killed an anti-racist protester with his car, Stewart condemned his fellow Republicans for condemning Nazis.

    “All the weak Republicans, they couldn’t apologize fast enough,” Stewart told The Washington Post after the murder at the Kessler-organized rally. “They played right into the hands of the left wing. Those [Nazi] people have nothing to do with the Republican Party. There was no reason to apologize.”He blamed “half the violence” on counter-protesters.

    Stewart also has ties to Paul Nehlen, a Republican running for Rep. Paul Ryan’s House seat on an anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim platform. A former Breitbart contributor, Nehlen lost the alt-right outlet’s backing after he was revealed to have made anti-semitic comments on former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s podcast. Nehlen was banned from Twitter after a racist tweet about Meghan Markle. On Gab, a social-media platform beloved by the alt-right, Nehlen posted photoshops of Jews’ heads on pikes, before getting banned for revealing the name of a formerly anonymous alt-right character.

    Despite Nehlen’s feuds with other members of the far-right, he found a welcome with Stewart, who paid him a $759 “fundraising commission” in May 2017, CNN first reported. Earlier that year, Stewart was also filmed praising Nehlen as one of his “personal heroes” and citing Nehlen’s campaigns as an inspiration.

    Stewart disavowed Nehlen in a statement to the Washington Post last week, saying he distanced himself from Nehlen “when he started saying all that crazy stuff.”

    ———-

    “Trump Endorses Corey Stewart, the Alt-Right’s Favorite Candidate” by Kelly Weill and Gideon Resnick; The Daily Beast; 06/13/2018

    “Stewart won the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia on Tuesday. A county board member, Stewart almost won the Republican nomination for Virginia governor last year on a campaign of defending Confederate statues. Since then, he’s risen on the back of the alt-right, attending events with an architect of the violent Charlottesville rally and giving money to an anti-Semitic candidate in Wisconsin.”

    Yep, the Alt Right’s candidate of choice just won the Virginia primary. And he’s already got Trump’s open endorsement:


    “Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

    Of course, the Trump team isn’t unfamiliar with Stewart. He used to be part of it when it was the Virginia co-chairman of Trump’s campaign (before getting kicked off for attending a protest at the RNC headquarters):


    In 2016, Stewart was a local official in Prince William County and Virginia co-chairman of Trump’s campaign. After the Access Hollywood tape came out, he defended Trump’s remarks about sexually assaulting women, saying Trump “acted like a frat boy, as a lot of guys do.” He went to take part in a protest outside Republican National Committee headquarters, making references to “establishment pukes,” and was kicked off the campaign shortly after.

    As chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, Stewart pushed Trumpian positions including a proposal to allow county police to check the immigration status of anyone they arrested.

    And Stewart isn’t unfamiliar with state-wide bids: He almost won the GOP nomination for governor last year, having based on campaign on (surprise, surprise) protecting Confederate statues:


    Almost a year ago to the day, Stewart shocked political observers by nearly winning the GOP gubernatorial primary in Virginia against Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Stewart once even called Gillespie a “cuckservative.” (Gillespie was trounced by Democrat Ralph Northam last November.)

    Stewart campaigned on the preservation of Confederate monuments in the state after a push across the country to tear down the monuments. Stewart defended the Confederate flag as “not about racism” during a speech at an “Old South Ball” in April 2017, surrounded by Confederate flags and people dressed in Antebellum South cosplay.

    Stewart, originally from Minnesota, also sought to capitalize on a plan to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from a local park in Charlottesville.

    “Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don’t matter,” he tweeted.

    And that near-win in last year’s GOP primary, based on a campaign focused on Confederate statues, happened after Stewart had already started hanging out with ‘Alt Right’ personality Jason Kessler, who helped organize the Unite the Right rally:


    Since losing, Stewart has made multiple press appearances with Jason Kessler, one of the lead organizers of Unite the Right, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August. The pair attended a proto-Unite the Right rally together in February 2017, when they rallied against the removal of the Lee statue in Charlottesville .

    Stewart also spoke alongside Kessler at a February 2017 event for the group “Unity & Security for America,” a group Kessler founded for “defending Western Civilization including its history, culture and peoples while utterly dismantling Cultural Marxism.” Cultural Marxism is a favorite conspiracy on the far-right, which holds that liberals (Jews) are trying to destroy Western (white) society through popular culture.

    And then after the violence at Charlottesville last year, Stewart decries the GOP’s condemnation of the far right marchers and tries to assert that the counter-protesters deserve blame for “half the violence”:


    After Unite the Right, where a white supremacist allegedly killed an anti-racist protester with his car, Stewart condemned his fellow Republicans for condemning Nazis.

    “All the weak Republicans, they couldn’t apologize fast enough,” Stewart told The Washington Post after the murder at the Kessler-organized rally. “They played right into the hands of the left wing. Those [Nazi] people have nothing to do with the Republican Party. There was no reason to apologize.”He blamed “half the violence” on counter-protesters.

    And, of course, Stewart couldn’t say enough nice things about Paul Nehlen…until last week when he belated disavowed him:


    Stewart also has ties to Paul Nehlen, a Republican running for Rep. Paul Ryan’s House seat on an anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim platform. A former Breitbart contributor, Nehlen lost the alt-right outlet’s backing after he was revealed to have made anti-semitic comments on former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s podcast. Nehlen was banned from Twitter after a racist tweet about Meghan Markle. On Gab, a social-media platform beloved by the alt-right, Nehlen posted photoshops of Jews’ heads on pikes, before getting banned for revealing the name of a formerly anonymous alt-right character.

    Despite Nehlen’s feuds with other members of the far-right, he found a welcome with Stewart, who paid him a $759 “fundraising commission” in May 2017, CNN first reported. Earlier that year, Stewart was also filmed praising Nehlen as one of his “personal heroes” and citing Nehlen’s campaigns as an inspiration.

    Stewart disavowed Nehlen in a statement to the Washington Post last week, saying he distanced himself from Nehlen “when he started saying all that crazy stuff.”

    The guy who only got around to disavowing Paul Nehlen a week ago was just nominated by Virginia’s Republicans for the US Senate. Keep in mind that even Steve Bannon and Breitbart disavowed Nehlen back in December for being too overtly neo-Nazi-ish so Stewart’s disavowal is belated even by Alt Right standards.

    And notice how before Nehlen drops the mask he’s Stewart’s personal hero, but after he drops mask even Stewart has to eventually disown him. There’s a clear lesson there for the Alt Right: As long as you don’t drop the mask entirely and make it impossible for your fellow GOPers to pretend you aren’t obviously a Nazi, like Nehlen did, the sky’s the limit for you in the GOP. Who knows, you could be a Senator someday. Maybe more.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 13, 2018, 3:32 pm
  21. One of the questions endlessly looming over the Trump era of the Republican party is whether or not ‘the line’ is ever going to be crossed. Which line? That nebulous line of indecency. The line that, if crossed by the Trump White House, is so ghastly that elected GOPers decided to openly condemn the White House knowing full well that they will probably be driven from office in retaliation but they do so because it’s not worth with the shame of being publicly complicit. That line. The line that, for the vast majority of GOP officials, has yet to be crossed. The personal integrity ‘line’.

    But it’s looking like we just might get an answer that question because a pretty outrageous line is current getting crossed and even some House GOPers are trying to back away from it. It’s the line crossed by the new “zero tolerance” illegal immigration policies the Trump administration put into place back in April that has already led to thousands of children being separated from their parents. There are now so many of these children that the Trump administration has exhausted existing facilities and is actually opening an immigrant child ‘tent city’. ‘The line’ is the sudden arbitrary decision to abuse the children who crossed the US border. Does such a line actually exist for GOP officials? We’ll see.

    As the US society is rapidly discovering, the implications of a “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal immigration includes criminal prosecution and jailing of all undocumented immigrants which, in turn, includes the the policy of tearing young children away from parents, potentially indefinitely. Thousands of undocumented children torn away from their parents for potentially years as their parents legal cases are processed. That’s the new policy. And this can include babies, including, in one alleged case, a baby torn away from its mother in the middle of breastfeeding. Worse, there appears to be policy of tricking parents into handing over their children by telling them the kids are going to get a bath and then never returning them. It’s like designed to induce trauma on both parent and child.

    That’s the new “zero tolerance” policy Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced in April. Things are clearly getting ghastly, even by GOP standards. Even the White House is clearly too embarrassed to take ownership of this new policy. At least parts of the White House. Trump is laughably blaming the Democrats for this new policy at the same time Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the new policy with a Bible passage (citing the same Bible passage previously used to justify slavery) and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Hielsen denied there was a policy of separating families at the border at all. As Benjy Sarlin aptly tweeted: “One WH faction seems to be lying about the family policy because they’re trolling (Trump), a separate faction is lying because they’re embarrassed by it (Nielsen), and a third faction is telling the truth because they’re proud of the policy (Sessions, Miller). Result: This.”

    As we’re going to see, the Trump White House and its allies are simultaneously making several argument for this policy:

    1. Parents and children should be separated purely based on the principle of justice (i.e. the parents are criminals and need to be punished. Period. If that traumatizes some kids it’s the parents fault).

    2. Parents and children should separated in order to ‘send a message’ (i.e. if a large number of parents and children are cruelly separated that will discourage others from trying).

    3. Parents and children should separated because that’s what’s required by law (this isn’t true but that’s what the White House is telling people) and that the only solution is for the Democrats to agree to change the law as part of the larger Steve Bannon/Stephen Miller-inspired far right immigration reform package that the White House and GOP in congress are keen on passing. A Bannon/Miller immigration overhaul package designed to address white anxieties about non-white immigration leading to a ‘browning of America’ (i.e. the Democrats are holding these kinds hostage by not agreeing to the Bannon/Miller immigration overhaul that would Make America White Again)

    So we have justifications for the mass separation of parents and children that fall under the category of ‘extreme justice’ (it’s the law), ‘extreme force’ (look what happens), and ‘extreme negotiation tactics’ (Democrats better accept the Bannon/Miller immigration package if they want the separation to end).

    And thus far, that kind of extremism is largely fine with the GOP officials which will probably remain the case as long as these policies remain popular with the GOP base. It’s clear that a large swath of the GOP base fundamentally thinks of the US as a country that should be run by white people for white people and is deeply anxious about the ‘browning’ of America. It’s the meta-sentiment behind much of the ‘white nationalism’ that has becoming the defining feature of Trumpian ‘populism’. It’s a sentiment that is expressed in its most extreme (extremely stupid) form as fearmongering about ‘white genocide’. Non-whites are fundamentally unable to assimilate into ‘American society’ and are also out breeding whites and planning on taking over, subjugating whites, and eventually exterminating them. That’s the meta-fear. Colonialism in reverse. It’s also profound projection when it’s neo-Nazis expressing the fear.

    And instead of trying focusing these fears on things like overpopulation in general and the need for the whole world to prioritize the elimination of global poverty and the traditional disempowerment of women (two key sources of higher birth rates of largely non-white poor countries that has the white nationalist so freaked out), these white nationalist movements are focused on radically changing US immigration policy back to when it was literally designed to ‘keep America white’. That’s the Bannon/Miller strategy that was behind the move to hold the DACA kids hostage and try to force the Democrats into backing the Bannon/Miller immigration overhaul and that same strategy appears to be in play right now with this new “zero tolerance” policy and the separation of children. Trump’s own words make that clear this child separation is being used as a bargaining chip over an immigration overhaul.

    So with US midterms fast approaching it’s going to be interesting to see how many GOPers conclude that this crosses ‘the line’. It’s a risky time for ghastly policies catering to the GOP’s nativist sentiments. Maybe that will fire up the Trump base and help offset anti-Trump sentiments but it seems like the kind of policy that could easily backfire.

    And whether or not this GOP policy ends up backfiring probably varies quite a bit across congressional races. Child ‘tent cities’ will be popular in some pro-Trump districts and absolutely toxic in others And that’s all part of why it’s going to be interesting to see whether or not the new “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented immigration manages to cross that ‘line’. There’s got to be plenty of US House districts where tearing children out of the arms of parents isn’t going to play well. At least let’s hope so.

    So we’ll see how much tolerance Trump’s fellow GOPers will have towards this new “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented families. It will probably depend in large part on how successful Trump himself is at convincing the public that this isn’t actually a Trump White House policy. But as the following article makes clear, while it’s true that the detention of families of undocumented immigrants is US policy that preceded the Trump administration, the recent decision to separate parents from children is very much a Trump administration decision. And the culmination of Stephen Miller’s pet project from the very beginning of the administration:

    The New York Times

    How Trump Came to Enforce a Practice of Separating Migrant Families

    By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear
    June 16, 2018

    WASHINGTON — Almost immediately after President Trump took office, his administration began weighing what for years had been regarded as the nuclear option in the effort to discourage immigrants from unlawfully entering the United States.

    Children would be separated from their parents if the families had been apprehended entering the country illegally, John F. Kelly, then the homeland security secretary, said in March 2017, “in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network.”

    For more than a decade, even as illegal immigration levels fell overall, seasonal spikes in unauthorized border crossings had bedeviled American presidents in both political parties, prompting them to cast about for increasingly aggressive ways to discourage migrants from making the trek.

    Yet for George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the idea of crying children torn from their parents’ arms was simply too inhumane — and too politically perilous — to embrace as policy, and Mr. Trump, though he had made an immigration crackdown one of the central issues of his campaign, succumbed to the same reality, publicly dropping the idea after Mr. Kelly’s comments touched off a swift backlash.

    Last month, facing a sharp uptick in illegal border crossings, Mr. Trump ordered a new effort to criminally prosecute anyone who crossed the border unlawfully — with few exceptions for parents traveling with their minor children.

    And now Mr. Trump faces the consequences. With thousands of children detained in makeshift shelters, his spokesmen this past week had to deny accusations that the administration was acting like Nazis. Even evangelical supporters like Franklin Graham said its policy was “disgraceful.”

    Among those who have professed objections to the policy is the president himself, who despite his tough rhetoric on immigration and his clear directive to show no mercy in enforcing the law, has searched publicly for someone else to blame for dividing families. He has falsely claimed that Democrats are responsible for the practice. But the kind of pictures so feared by Mr. Trump’s predecessors could end up defining a major domestic policy issue of his term.

    Inside the Trump administration, current and former officials say, there is considerable unease about the policy, which is regarded by some charged with carrying it out as unfeasible in practice and questionable morally. Kirstjen Nielsen, the current homeland security secretary, has clashed privately with Mr. Trump over the practice, sometimes inviting furious lectures from the president that have pushed her to the brink of resignation.

    But Mr. Miller has expressed none of the president’s misgivings. “No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” he said during an interview in his West Wing office this past week. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

    The administration’s critics are not buying that explanation. “This is not a zero tolerance policy, this is a zero humanity policy, and we can’t let it go on,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon.

    “Ripping children out of their parents’ arms to inflict harm on the child to influence the parents,” he added, “is unacceptable.”

    Beyond those moral objections, Jeh C. Johnson, who as secretary of homeland security was the point man for the Obama administration’s own struggles with illegal immigration, argued that deterrence, in and of itself, is neither practical nor a long-term solution to the problem.

    “I’ve seen this movie before, and I feel like what we are doing now, with the zero tolerance policy and separating parents and children for the purpose of deterrence, is banging our heads against the wall,” he said. “Whether it’s family detention, messaging about dangers of the journey, or messaging about separating families and zero tolerance, it’s always going to have at best a short-term reaction.”

    And that view was based on hard experience.

    When Central American migrants, including many unaccompanied children, began surging across the border in early 2014, Mr. Obama, the antithesis of his impulsive successor, had his own characteristic reaction: He formed a multiagency team at the White House to figure out what should be done.

    “This was the bane of my existence for three years,” Mr. Johnson said. “No matter what you did, somebody was going to be very angry at you.”

    The officials met in the office of Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, and convened a series of meetings in the Situation Room to go through their options. Migrants were increasingly exploiting existing immigration laws and court rulings, and using children as a way to get adults into the country, on the theory that families were being treated differently from single people.

    “The agencies were surfacing every possible idea,” Cecilia Muñoz, Mr. Obama’s top domestic policy adviser, recalled, including whether to separate parents from their children. “I do remember looking at each other like, ‘We’re not going to do this, are we?’ We spent five minutes thinking it through and concluded that it was a bad idea. The morality of it was clear — that’s not who we are.”

    They did, however, decide to vastly expand the detention of immigrant families, opening new facilities along the border where women and young children were held for long periods while they awaited a chance to have their cases processed.

    Mr. Johnson wrote an open letter to appear in Spanish-language news outlets warning parents that their children would be deported if they entered the United States illegally. He traveled to Guatemala to deliver the message in person. Opening a large family immigration detention facility in Dilley, Tex., he held a news conference to showcase what he called an “effective deterrent.”

    The steps led to just the kind of brutal images that Mr. Obama’s advisers feared: hundreds of young children, many dirty and some in tears, who were being held with their families in makeshift detention facilities.

    Immigrant advocacy groups denounced the policy, berating senior administration officials — some of whom were reduced to rueful apologies for a policy they said they could not justify — and telling Mr. Obama to his face during a meeting at the White House in late 2014 that he was turning his back on the most vulnerable people seeking refuge in the United States.

    Before long, the Obama administration would face legal challenges, and be forced to stop detaining families indefinitely. A federal judge in Washington ordered the administration in 2015 to stop detaining asylum-seeking Central American mothers and children in order to deter others from their region from coming into the United States.

    Under a 1997 consent decree known as the Flores settlement, unaccompanied children could be held in immigration detention for only a short period of time; in 2016, a federal judge ruled that the settlement applied to families as well, effectively requiring that they be released within 20 days. Many were released — some with GPS ankle bracelets to track their movements — and asked to return for a court date sometime in the future.

    It was Mr. Bush, who had firsthand experience with the border as governor of Texas and ran for president as a “compassionate conservative,” who initiated the “zero tolerance” approach for illegal immigration on which Mr. Trump’s policy is modeled.

    In 2005, he launched Operation Streamline, a program along a stretch of the border in Texas that referred all unlawful entrants for criminal prosecution, imprisoning them and expediting assembly-line-style trials geared toward quickly deporting them. The initiative yielded results and was soon expanded to more border sectors. Back then, however, exceptions were generally made for adults who were traveling with minor children, as well as juveniles and people who were ill.

    Mr. Obama’s administration employed the program at the height of the migration crisis as well, although it generally did not treat first-time border crossers as priorities for prosecution, and it detained families together in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody — administrative, rather than criminal, detention.

    Discussions began almost immediately after Mr. Trump took office about vastly expanding Operation Streamline, with almost none of those limitations. Even after Mr. Kelly stopped talking publicly about family separation, the Department of Homeland Security quietly tested the approach last summer in certain areas in Texas.

    Privately, Mr. Miller argued that bringing back “zero tolerance” would be a potent tool in a severely limited arsenal of strategies for stopping migrants from flooding across the border.

    The idea was to end a practice referred to by its detractors as “catch and release,” in which illegal immigrants apprehended at the border are released into the interior of the United States to await the processing of their cases. Mr. Miller argued that the policy provided a perverse incentive for migrants, essentially ensuring that if they could make it to the United States border and claim a “credible fear” of returning home, they would be given a chance to stay under asylum laws, at least temporarily.

    A lengthy backlog of asylum claims made it likely that it would be years before they would have to appear before a judge to back up that plea — and many never returned to do so.

    The situation was even more complicated when children were involved. A 2008 law meant to combat the trafficking of minors places strict requirements on how unaccompanied migrant children from Central America are to be treated.

    Minors from Mexico or Canada — countries contiguous with the United States — can be quickly sent back to their home countries unless it is deemed dangerous to do so. But those from other nations cannot be quickly returned; they must be transferred within 72 hours to the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services, and placed in the least restrictive setting possible. And the Flores ruling meant that children and families could not be held for more than 20 days.

    In October, after Mr. Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that gave legal status to undocumented immigrants raised in the United States, Mr. Miller insisted that any legislative package to codify those protections contain changes to close what he called the loopholes encouraging illegal immigrants to come.

    And in April, after the border numbers reached their zenith, Mr. Miller was instrumental in Mr. Trump’s decision to ratchet up the zero tolerance policy.

    “A big name of the game is deterrence,” Mr. Kelly, now the chief of staff, told NPR in May. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever — but the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”

    Technically, there is no Trump administration policy stating that illegal border crossers must be separated from their children. But the “zero tolerance policy” results in unlawful immigrants being taken into federal criminal custody, at which point their children are considered unaccompanied alien minors and taken away.

    Unlike Mr. Obama’s administration, Mr. Trump’s is treating all people who have crossed the border without authorization as subject to criminal prosecution, even if they tell the officer apprehending them that they are seeking asylum based on fear of returning to their home country, and whether or not they have their children in tow.

    “Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech on Thursday in Fort Wayne, Ind.

    “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government,” said Mr. Sessions, quoting Bible verse as he took exception to evangelical leaders who have called the practice abhorrent. “Because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

    ———-

    “How Trump Came to Enforce a Practice of Separating Migrant Families” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear; The New York Times; 06/16/2018

    “Almost immediately after President Trump took office, his administration began weighing what for years had been regarded as the nuclear option in the effort to discourage immigrants from unlawfully entering the United States.”

    Yep, the Trump administration is currently in the midst of what had for years been regarded as the “nuclear option”. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly warned this was coming back in March of 2017 when he was still the homeland security secretary. And he explained that it would be done as a deterence:


    Children would be separated from their parents if the families had been apprehended entering the country illegally, John F. Kelly, then the homeland security secretary, said in March 2017, “in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network.”

    And note how this appears to be in response to a season spike in illegal immigration levels that always hits in the spring. Trump’s new policy came during that spike. It’s quite a time to trigger the “nuclear option”:


    For more than a decade, even as illegal immigration levels fell overall, seasonal spikes in unauthorized border crossings had bedeviled American presidents in both political parties, prompting them to cast about for increasingly aggressive ways to discourage migrants from making the trek.

    Yet for George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the idea of crying children torn from their parents’ arms was simply too inhumane — and too politically perilous — to embrace as policy, and Mr. Trump, though he had made an immigration crackdown one of the central issues of his campaign, succumbed to the same reality, publicly dropping the idea after Mr. Kelly’s comments touched off a swift backlash.

    Last month, facing a sharp uptick in illegal border crossings, Mr. Trump ordered a new effort to criminally prosecute anyone who crossed the border unlawfully — with few exceptions for parents traveling with their minor children.

    And now Mr. Trump faces the consequences. With thousands of children detained in makeshift shelters, his spokesmen this past week had to deny accusations that the administration was acting like Nazis. Even evangelical supporters like Franklin Graham said its policy was “disgraceful.”

    And while Trump himself and others inside the administration are uneasy about going through with this, Stephen Miller remains convinced that mass child separation is both good politics and good policy:


    Among those who have professed objections to the policy is the president himself, who despite his tough rhetoric on immigration and his clear directive to show no mercy in enforcing the law, has searched publicly for someone else to blame for dividing families. He has falsely claimed that Democrats are responsible for the practice. But the kind of pictures so feared by Mr. Trump’s predecessors could end up defining a major domestic policy issue of his term.

    Inside the Trump administration, current and former officials say, there is considerable unease about the policy, which is regarded by some charged with carrying it out as unfeasible in practice and questionable morally. Kirstjen Nielsen, the current homeland security secretary, has clashed privately with Mr. Trump over the practice, sometimes inviting furious lectures from the president that have pushed her to the brink of resignation.

    But Mr. Miller has expressed none of the president’s misgivings. “No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” he said during an interview in his West Wing office this past week. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

    And as Obama’s homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, points out, the Obama administation’s had to deal with mass flows of Central and South American children coming in unaccompanied by parents along with the regular seasonal flows of families seeking asylum too. Especially during these seasonal spikes. And when Obama’s team tried to deter those mass flows of Central and South American asylum seakers – by implementing a harsh policy of detaining families by or unparented children in facilities for potentially long periods of time and making it clear in messaging campaigns in those countries that such policies were in place – the effect was just temporary as Johnson points out. The people Trump is using the “nuclear option” on now is also evidence of the temporary effects. So the policy started in April of separating children is, in part, an attempt at deterence by escalating penalties beyond the already pretty harsh penalties Obama had in place. So when Trump blames Obama and the Democrats for his policies, in way he’s correct in the sense that his policies are an escalation for the Democrats’ already very harsh penalties. Intentionally separating families to be extra mean is the new is the escalated deterrance:


    The administration’s critics are not buying that explanation. “This is not a zero tolerance policy, this is a zero humanity policy, and we can’t let it go on,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon.

    “Ripping children out of their parents’ arms to inflict harm on the child to influence the parents,” he added, “is unacceptable.”

    Beyond those moral objections, Jeh C. Johnson, who as secretary of homeland security was the point man for the Obama administration’s own struggles with illegal immigration, argued that deterrence, in and of itself, is neither practical nor a long-term solution to the problem.

    “I’ve seen this movie before, and I feel like what we are doing now, with the zero tolerance policy and separating parents and children for the purpose of deterrence, is banging our heads against the wall,” he said. “Whether it’s family detention, messaging about dangers of the journey, or messaging about separating families and zero tolerance, it’s always going to have at best a short-term reaction.”

    And that view was based on hard experience.

    When Central American migrants, including many unaccompanied children, began surging across the border in early 2014, Mr. Obama, the antithesis of his impulsive successor, had his own characteristic reaction: He formed a multiagency team at the White House to figure out what should be done.

    “This was the bane of my existence for three years,” Mr. Johnson said. “No matter what you did, somebody was going to be very angry at you.”

    The officials met in the office of Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, and convened a series of meetings in the Situation Room to go through their options. Migrants were increasingly exploiting existing immigration laws and court rulings, and using children as a way to get adults into the country, on the theory that families were being treated differently from single people.

    “The agencies were surfacing every possible idea,” Cecilia Muñoz, Mr. Obama’s top domestic policy adviser, recalled, including whether to separate parents from their children. “I do remember looking at each other like, ‘We’re not going to do this, are we?’ We spent five minutes thinking it through and concluded that it was a bad idea. The morality of it was clear — that’s not who we are.”

    They did, however, decide to vastly expand the detention of immigrant families, opening new facilities along the border where women and young children were held for long periods while they awaited a chance to have their cases processed.

    Mr. Johnson wrote an open letter to appear in Spanish-language news outlets warning parents that their children would be deported if they entered the United States illegally. He traveled to Guatemala to deliver the message in person. Opening a large family immigration detention facility in Dilley, Tex., he held a news conference to showcase what he called an “effective deterrent.”

    The steps led to just the kind of brutal images that Mr. Obama’s advisers feared: hundreds of young children, many dirty and some in tears, who were being held with their families in makeshift detention facilities.

    Immigrant advocacy groups denounced the policy, berating senior administration officials — some of whom were reduced to rueful apologies for a policy they said they could not justify — and telling Mr. Obama to his face during a meeting at the White House in late 2014 that he was turning his back on the most vulnerable people seeking refuge in the United States.

    And Obama’s policies of potentially indefinitely detaining families lost a legal challenge for being too harsh. The 1997 Flores settlement limited the time unaccompanied children could be held to 20 days and in 2016 a federal judge ruled that the Flores settlement applied to asylum-seeking families as well. So when Trump laughably tries to blame his new child separation policies on Democrats, it’s worth recalling how the Obama adminstration allowed for the indefinite detainment of families and was only prevented by the courts:


    Before long, the Obama administration would face legal challenges, and be forced to stop detaining families indefinitely. A federal judge in Washington ordered the administration in 2015 to stop detaining asylum-seeking Central American mothers and children in order to deter others from their region from coming into the United States.

    Under a 1997 consent decree known as the Flores settlement, unaccompanied children could be held in immigration detention for only a short period of time; in 2016, a federal judge ruled that the settlement applied to families as well, effectively requiring that they be released within 20 days. Many were released — some with GPS ankle bracelets to track their movements — and asked to return for a court date sometime in the future.

    “Before long, the Obama administration would face legal challenges, and be forced to stop detaining families indefinitely.”

    That’s a fun fact worth keeping in mind when GOPers claim the Democrats support ‘open borders’. Stephen Miller’s use of the “nuclear option” of child separation is intended to be a punitive escalation from an Obama-era policy of indefinite detainment of families that got struck down by the courts.

    It’s also notable how this is one of those instances where the Trump adminstration is legitimately more extreme than the George W. Bush administration. Because on most issues the Trump and Bush adminstrations are largly the same, but on some issues the Trump administration is legitimately more extreme. And this is one of those instances which is made clear by the fact that the Stephen Miller policy is basically the same policy as Bush’s “Operation Streamline” except without the waiver for parents with children. And the Trump administration apparently started talking about “zero tolerance” early on in the administration (recall the reports about Steve Bannon’s immigration ‘gulag’ plans just weeks into the administration). So this April 2018 policy is something they’ve been scheming for a while, and Stephen Miller is one of the chief schemers:


    It was Mr. Bush, who had firsthand experience with the border as governor of Texas and ran for president as a “compassionate conservative,” who initiated the “zero tolerance” approach for illegal immigration on which Mr. Trump’s policy is modeled.

    In 2005, he launched Operation Streamline, a program along a stretch of the border in Texas that referred all unlawful entrants for criminal prosecution, imprisoning them and expediting assembly-line-style trials geared toward quickly deporting them. The initiative yielded results and was soon expanded to more border sectors. Back then, however, exceptions were generally made for adults who were traveling with minor children, as well as juveniles and people who were ill.

    Mr. Obama’s administration employed the program at the height of the migration crisis as well, although it generally did not treat first-time border crossers as priorities for prosecution, and it detained families together in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody — administrative, rather than criminal, detention.

    Discussions began almost immediately after Mr. Trump took office about vastly expanding Operation Streamline, with almost none of those limitations. Even after Mr. Kelly stopped talking publicly about family separation, the Department of Homeland Security quietly tested the approach last summer in certain areas in Texas.

    Privately, Mr. Miller argued that bringing back “zero tolerance” would be a potent tool in a severely limited arsenal of strategies for stopping migrants from flooding across the border.

    And note the “perverse incentive” Miller wanted to end by implementing a “zero tolerance” policy of detaining everyone and not allowing them out with the expectation that they show up for a court case: Miller didn’t want immigrants claiming “credible fear” of returning home and being released (like with an ankle monitor) while they await their court hearings (i.e. asylum seekers). Miller felt that ‘catching and releasing’ undocumented asylum seekers found by authorities invited abuse of the asylum system and advocated for a policy of releasing no one and housing all undocumented asylum seekers in detention while they await their court hearing. And now children are separated from parents to be extra punitive:


    The idea was to end a practice referred to by its detractors as “catch and release,” in which illegal immigrants apprehended at the border are released into the interior of the United States to await the processing of their cases. Mr. Miller argued that the policy provided a perverse incentive for migrants, essentially ensuring that if they could make it to the United States border and claim a “credible fear” of returning home, they would be given a chance to stay under asylum laws, at least temporarily.

    A lengthy backlog of asylum claims made it likely that it would be years before they would have to appear before a judge to back up that plea — and many never returned to do so.

    The asylum option for Central And South Americans is a “perverse incentive” and had to be made harshly punitive to ensure it’s not abused. And by limiting access to asylum-seeker status, the Flores ruling that limited detainment to 20 days for families with children is avoided. There’s definitely something perverse about that.

    So Miller’s version of “Operation Streamline” relied on on automatically classifying everyone as a federal criminal to ensure they can’t even seek asylum and not allowing any waivers for parents with children, which ensuring that these children would be unaccompanied after their parents are sent to a federal detention center. Asylum is the key ‘loophole’, thanks to the Flores legal decision, that Miller was intent on closing by treating everyone as criminal. “Zero tolerance” means no special treatment for asylum seekers:


    The situation was even more complicated when children were involved. A 2008 law meant to combat the trafficking of minors places strict requirements on how unaccompanied migrant children from Central America are to be treated.

    Minors from Mexico or Canada — countries contiguous with the United States — can be quickly sent back to their home countries unless it is deemed dangerous to do so. But those from other nations cannot be quickly returned; they must be transferred within 72 hours to the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services, and placed in the least restrictive setting possible. And the Flores ruling meant that children and families could not be held for more than 20 days.

    Technically, there is no Trump administration policy stating that illegal border crossers must be separated from their children. But the “zero tolerance policy” results in unlawful immigrants being taken into federal criminal custody, at which point their children are considered unaccompanied alien minors and taken away.

    Unlike Mr. Obama’s administration, Mr. Trump’s is treating all people who have crossed the border without authorization as subject to criminal prosecution, even if they tell the officer apprehending them that they are seeking asylum based on fear of returning to their home country, and whether or not they have their children in tow.

    And when Trump suddenly ended the DACA program last fall, throwing millions of ‘Dreamers’ into legal limbo, it was Stephen Miller who was recommending that Trump demand legislation that closed what Miller called ‘loopholes encouraging illegal immigrants to come’ (loopholes like asylum) in exchange for legislation that protected the ‘Dreamers’:


    In October, after Mr. Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that gave legal status to undocumented immigrants raised in the United States, Mr. Miller insisted that any legislative package to codify those protections contain changes to close what he called the loopholes encouraging illegal immigrants to come.

    So when that legislative hostage taking over the DACA issue was thwarted by the US courts we have a new Miller-inspired plan to use family separation at the new legislative bargaining chip. It’s the same end goal (The Miller/Bannon ‘Make America White Again’ immigration law overhaul) but new hostages. So when you read comments from White House officials about this child separation policy being about “deterrence”, that does indeed appear to be part of the agenda, but don’t forget it’s about legislative hostage taking too. The child separation ends if the Democrats cave on the immigration overhaul demands. That’s the offer the GOP is currently making:


    And in April, after the border numbers reached their zenith, Mr. Miller was instrumental in Mr. Trump’s decision to ratchet up the zero tolerance policy.

    “A big name of the game is deterrence,” Mr. Kelly, now the chief of staff, told NPR in May. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever — but the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”

    And we have Jeff Sessions citing the Bible to justify this policy. And he cited Romans 13, a Bible passage that was often cited by slave owners to justify slavery. Of course:


    “Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech on Thursday in Fort Wayne, Ind.

    “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government,” said Mr. Sessions, quoting Bible verse as he took exception to evangelical leaders who have called the practice abhorrent. “Because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

    So it’s looking like Stephen Miller is chilling providing the direction for this White House’s immigration policy. And that direction centers around redeploying the kids-for-immigration-policy hostage-taking strategy that was deployed with the DACA showdown. The cruel policy will stop only after Democrats agreed to the Bannon/Miller immigration legislation. That’s the overarching strategy at work here, in addition to employing a strategy of overt cruelty towards children as a “deterrence”.

    And, again, this is all playing out in the lead up to the US mid-term elections. It’s pretty remarkable. Given the ‘what child separation? Blame the Democrats!’ rhetorical response coming out of the White House it seems like this is recognized by at least some White House strategists as a politically risky move. But Stephen Miller clearly doesn’t see it that way and he’s not the only influential voice pushing this stance. Steve Bannon chimed in over the weekend and, surprise, he’s very supportive of the child separation and completely unapologetic about it. The way Bannon sees it, there’s no need for Trump to “justify” anything. When these parents crossed the border with their kids they broke the law. And breaking the law means they will be prosecuted and the means separation the parents from the children. Period. No justification required. That’s the Bannon view: brain dead, heartless ‘law and order’. And no apologies:

    ABC News

    Not necessary to justify separating kids, parents at border, ‘it’s zero tolerance’: Bannon

    By Quinn Scanlan

    Jun 17, 2018, 12:50 PM ET

    Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said President Donald Trump doesn’t need to “justify” the policy of separating children from parents who are caught illegally crossing the southern U.S. border because the it is part of the administration’s “zero tolerance” approach on illegal immigration.

    “It’s zero tolerance. I don’t think you have to justify it,” Bannon, who was also CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign, said to ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview on “This Week” Sunday.

    “We ran on a policy — very simply — stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back to help our workers, and so he went to a zero tolerance policy,” Bannon said. “It’s a crime to come across illegally and children get separated. I mean, I hate to say it, that’s the law and he’s enforcing the law.”

    ———-

    “Not necessary to justify separating kids, parents at border, ‘it’s zero tolerance’: Bannon” by Quinn Scanlan; ABC News; 06/17/2018

    ““It’s zero tolerance. I don’t think you have to justify it.””

    No apologies. That’s the Bannon stance. And note how Bannon is portraying this policy as what Trump ran on. This is literally keeping a campaign promise:


    “We ran on a policy — very simply — stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back to help our workers, and so he went to a zero tolerance policy,” Bannon said. “It’s a crime to come across illegally and children get separated. I mean, I hate to say it, that’s the law and he’s enforcing the law.”

    So from Bannon’s perspective, Trump should be proud of his new child separation policy. That stands in contrast to the messaging coming from top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who took a much more conciatory, and deceptive, stance. According to Conway, “Nobody likes” breaking up families, but it’s all the Democrats fault because they haven’t agreed to the GOP ‘Make America White Again’ immigration overhaul package. And then Conway denies that these kids are being held hostage in order to get that overhaul package:

    Associated Press

    Trump adviser says ‘nobody likes’ family separation policy

    By JILL COLVIN
    06/17/2018

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A top White House adviser on Sunday distanced the Trump administration from responsibility for separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, even though the administration put in place and could easily end a policy that has led to a spike in cases of split and distraught families.

    President Donald Trump has tried to blame Democrats, who hold no levers of power in the government, for a situation that has sparked fury and a national debate over the moral implications of his hard-line approach to immigration enforcement.

    “Nobody likes” breaking up families and “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” said Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president.

    Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

    The administration wants to send a message, said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican critic of the policy, “that if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you. That’s traumatizing to the children who are innocent victims, and it is contrary to our values in this country.”

    Trump plans to meet with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss pending immigration legislation amid an election-season debate over an issue that helped vault the New York real estate mogul into the Oval Office in 2016. The House is expected to vote this week on a bill pushed by conservatives that may not have enough support to pass, and a compromise measure that includes key proposals supported by the president. The White House has indicated Trump would sign either of those.

    Conway rejected the idea that Trump was using the kids as leverage to force Democrats to negotiate on immigration and his long-promised border wall, even after Trump tweeted Saturday: “Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

    She, too, put the onus on Democrats, saying if there are serious about overhauling the system, “they’ll come together again and try to close these loopholes and get real immigration reform.”

    Asked whether the president was willing to end the policy, she said: “The president is ready to get meaningful immigration reform across the board.”

    To Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the administration is “using the grief, the tears, the pain of these kids as mortar to build our wall. And it’s an effort to extort a bill to their liking in the Congress.”

    Schiff said the practice was “deeply unethical” and that Republicans’ refusal to criticize Trump represented a “sad degeneration” of the GOP, which he said had become “the party of lies.”

    “There are other ways to negotiate between Republicans and Democrats. Using children, young children, as political foils is abhorrent,” said Sen Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island.

    Rep. Ben Ray Lujon, D-N.M., said Trump “could pick up the phone and stop it today.”

    Trump’s former chief strategist said Republicans would face steep consequences for pushing the compromise bill because it provides a path to citizenship for young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Steve Bannon argued that effort risked alienating Trump’s political base and contributing to election losses in November, when Republicans hope to preserve their congressional majorities.

    “I strongly recommend that we just wait until 2019, right, to address this,” he said, while defending the administration’s practice of separating parents from children as an example of Trump making good on a key campaign promise.

    “We ran on a policy, very simply, stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back, and to help our workers, OK? And so he went to a zero tolerance policy,” Bannon said. “Zero tolerance, it’s a crime to come across illegally, and children get separated,.”

    Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, said he was working on legislation that would end the practice of family separation.

    Speaking from Texas, where he was leading a march to a town where a new tent structure for children recently opened, O’Rourke said “we can do the right thing by this country and for those kids, and not do it at the price of a 2,000-mile, 30-foot-high, $30 billion wall, not doing it at the price of deporting people who are seeking asylum, deporting people in some cases back to certain death, not doing it at the cost of ending family migration, which is the story of this country.”

    The situation now is “inhumane” and “un-American,” he said. The blame, he said, rests “on all of us, not just the Trump administration.”

    ———-

    “Trump adviser says ‘nobody likes’ family separation policy” by JILL COLVIN; Associated Press; 06/17/2018

    ““Nobody likes” breaking up families and “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” said Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president.”

    “Nobody likes” breaking up families and “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms.” And blame the Democrats for it because they haven’t met Trump’s legislative demands. But don’t blame Trump for using the kids as legislative leverage. That’s Kellyanne’s message:


    Conway rejected the idea that Trump was using the kids as leverage to force Democrats to negotiate on immigration and his long-promised border wall, even after Trump tweeted Saturday: “Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

    She, too, put the onus on Democrats, saying if there are serious about overhauling the system, “they’ll come together again and try to close these loopholes and get real immigration reform.”

    Asked whether the president was willing to end the policy, she said: “The president is ready to get meaningful immigration reform across the board.”

    And those denials of using these kids as leverage are happening right in the middle of a GOP immigration overhaul legislative push. But don’t call it hostage-taking:


    Trump plans to meet with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss pending immigration legislation amid an election-season debate over an issue that helped vault the New York real estate mogul into the Oval Office in 2016. The House is expected to vote this week on a bill pushed by conservatives that may not have enough support to pass, and a compromise measure that includes key proposals supported by the president. The White House has indicated Trump would sign either of those.

    And note how Steve Bannon is explicitly recommending that the White House NOT find a solution to the DACA issue this year over fears that doing so could alienate Trump’s base because any ‘fix’ for DACA would likely involve a path to citizenship for some of them them (likely in exchange for a ‘Make America White Again’ immigration overhaul if current GOP demands are met). So that gives us a hint of the kind of advice Bannon is giving Trump: holding kids hostage is good politics:


    Trump’s former chief strategist said Republicans would face steep consequences for pushing the compromise bill because it provides a path to citizenship for young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Steve Bannon argued that effort risked alienating Trump’s political base and contributing to election losses in November, when Republicans hope to preserve their congressional majorities.

    “I strongly recommend that we just wait until 2019, right, to address this,” he said, while defending the administration’s practice of separating parents from children as an example of Trump making good on a key campaign promise.

    “We ran on a policy, very simply, stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back, and to help our workers, OK? And so he went to a zero tolerance policy,” Bannon said. “Zero tolerance, it’s a crime to come across illegally, and children get separated,.”

    And that all why it’s going to be grimly fascinating to see how this issue plays out. This policy of child separation is clearly morally outrageous, as evidenced by the White House denials of who is at fault or whether or not such a policy even exists. But this policy of child separation is also clearly politically popular with a key segment of Trump’s base, as evidence by Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller’s strategy recommendations. It’s a selectively popular moral outrage in the middle of an election year. On some level, selectively popular moral outrages are sort of Trump’s comfort zone. But it’s still a pretty risky comfort zone.

    This issue is also a great example of how the far right approach to complex problems leads to wild moral distortions: illegal immigration, like many issues where poverty, crime, and children are all potentially involved, is an issue that should prompt ample amounts of cognitive dissonance. Undocumented immigration is obviously an issue a society is going to want to avoid and somehow address. But it’s also an issue involving the most vulnerable people on the planet: desperately poor migrant parents and their children. So, obviously, whatever policy you come up with to address people breaking immigration law, you don’t want to end up abusing people. Especially desperately vulnerable children.

    That’s just morality 101 and yet, as Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway’s spin makes clear, that moral imperative of not abusing these desperate people can be casually swept aside in the face of conflicting moral imperatives like not having entirely unregulated immigration. The meta-moral imperative of coming up with creative solutions that don’t violate the various conflicted moral imperatives of a situation doesn’t appear to be a factor in Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway’s worldview which explains, in part, why far right solutions tend to be so bad. They aren’t real solutions to most problems because they subvert some moral imperatives in the service of other moral imperatives. It’s garbage policy that provides selective solutions by employing selective morality that can be used to justify anything. And, in this case, it’s being used to justify separating young children from parents as both a deterrent and political leverage. It’s a big win for ‘the rule of law’ that comes at the cost of undermining the moral paradigm upon which that law is supposed to be built.

    Because that’s what a nation gets when Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are your national moral compass. Instead of creatively coming up with solutions that address all of the various moral imperatives in complex situations (which should be a meta-goal of humanity) we get creative in justifications for grossly immoral actions. Or, a lack of creativity, in some cases. Bannon’s ‘zero tolerance’ for compassion stance wasn’t exactly creative.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 18, 2018, 9:26 am
  22. Here’s another one of those Trump era stories that is both unprecedented and inevitable given that this is the Trump era: President Trump just call for undocumented immigrants to be expelled from the US without due process. This is despite the fact that the US constitution ensures everyone, citizen or not, is afforded due process.

    The ostensible reasoning for dropping due process is that there aren’t enough judges to process all of the cases in a timely manner, exacerbating the detention ongoing crisis. But at the same time we have Trump rejecting calls for more judges to process these cases. So there’s clearly a desire to avoid even processing of these cases. Why is that?

    Well, we already have one very big clue as to why the Trump administration would like to skip due process and just deport all of these people: no due process means no asylum.

    Don’t forget that Stephen Miller, the white nationalist architect of the child separation policy, has already made it very clear that he views asylum claims as some sort of ‘loophole’ that needs to be close. And he’s already made it clear that the “zero tolerance” policy that treats ALL adult undocumented immigrants as criminals – with the side-effect of forced child separations – was intended to be a deterrent in order to discourage people, especially asylum seekers, from making the trip to the US at all.

    From the Stephen Miller (and Steve Bannon) perspective, stopping asylum seekers is a critical goal. And the strategy for achieving it is being accomplished by claiming that they aren’t actually people deserving of asylum (they’re all ‘cheating the system’) while simultaneously trying to preventing them claiming asylum in the first place, with the child separation policy designed as a deterrent to make people too scared even try and the trip to the US (yes, that would be a child abuse policy as a deterrent). And as the following article makes clear, ending due process is going to end a lot of asylum claims:

    Talking Points Memo
    Livewire

    Trump Says U.S. Should Expel Migrants Without Due Process

    By Matt Shuham
    June 24, 2018 2:29 pm

    President Donald Trump on Sunday proposed violating U.S. and international law by deporting “people [who] invade our Country,” presumably referring to undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers, without affording them their Due Process rights.

    We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2018

    ….Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit – we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2018

    “The right to Due Process of law is enshrined in the Constitution and extends to every person in the United States, irrespective of immigration status,” Jeremy McKinney, an immigration attorney and secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told TPM in an email responding to Trump’s tweet.

    “The Supreme Court, for well over a century has expressly recognized a person cannot be deported without Due Process. Due Process at its core means notice and a full and fair opportunity to be heard.”

    “I hate that we (as attorneys and media) have to spend any time on this stupidity,” he added.

    Trump has attacked immigrants’ legal rights before: In a speech earlier this month, he called some immigration lawyers “bad people” because they advise their clients with asylum claims on what to say in court.

    And he attacked lawmakers who’ve called for more immigration judges to help lighten the burdened system’s caseload, lying by saying the government was “hiring thousands and thousands” of new immigration judges. (It’s not.)

    “We don’t want judges, we want security on the border,” he said in the same speech. “We don’t want people coming in, we want them to come in through a legal process like everybody else who’s waiting to come into our country.”

    Some undocumented people are in fact eligible to be deported without having their case heard by an immigration judge, due to what’s known as “expedited removal,” a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act the use of which has dramatically expanded in recent decades.

    However — even aside from many immigrant advocates’ claims that the process has been vastly overused, and that many immigrants are not made fully aware of their full legal rights during expedited removal proceedings — the law still requires immigration judges hear out the claims of asylum-seekers and those who fear persecution if they are ejected from the country.

    “If, during the expedited removal process before a DHS officer, an individual indicates either an intention to apply for asylum or any fear of return to his or her home country, the officer must refer the individual for an interview with an asylum officer,” read a 2017 practice advisory from the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

    If an asylum officer rejects an asylum-seekers claim of “credible fear,” the asylum-seeker can appeal to an immigration judge.

    “That’s not a loophole,” McKinney told TPM. “That’s Due Process and consistent not only with federal law but our international obligations to protect refugees and asylees.”

    Trump’s tweet made no such distinctions.

    “What President Trump suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional,” the ACLU responded in a tweet. “Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally.”

    ?? What President Trump suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional.Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally. https://t.co/qsy58VACSB— ACLU (@ACLU) June 24, 2018

    “First immigrants don’t get due process,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) wrote in response to Trump’s tweet. “Then it will be criminals. Then the poor. Then anyone that disagrees with Trump.”

    U.S. and international law prohibit the United States from turning away or otherwise penalizing asylum-seekers, the former of which many advocates allege is evident in the now-frequent line to asylum-seekers at ports of entry that they are “at capacity.”

    “We are not absolutely saying that they cannot (make an asylum claim), we are just saying that we cannot process them at this time,” a border official protested to one advocate who’d accompanied asylum-seekers to a port of entry, as recorded by the Texas Monthly. The same report described border agents standing directly on the U.S.-Mexico border line, so as to prevent asylum-seekers from completing the necessary step of being on American soil before declaring asylum.

    A separate lawsuit filed recently by three asylum seekers alleges Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy violated the law by puni