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Barabarians in Baraboo

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Bara­boo High School Junior Prom pho­to­graph.

COMMENT:We have not­ed the pho­to of Bara­boo, Wis­con­sin high school stu­dents giv­ing the Nazi salute at their junior prom.

Now, Bara­boo Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can youth have erect­ed stat­ues of Ukrain­ian pogromist Simonon Petlu­ra (translit­er­at­ed spellings vary), along with Ukrain­ian Nazi lead­ers Roman Shukhevych and Stephan Ban­dera.

This is to be seen against the back­ground of the re-insti­tu­tion of OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine. We  will resume our exam­i­na­tion of the return of fas­cism to Ukraine in a For The Record series to begin next week.

What a shame! US based Ukrain­ian Youth Union in sum­mer camp in Bara­boo, Wis­con­sin erect­ed mon­u­ments in hon­or of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists, anti­semites, orga­niz­ers of Jew­ish pogroms, per­pe­tra­tors of Holo­caust, mass killings of Poles: Simon Petlu­ra, Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Ban­dera

 

 

 

Discussion

One comment for “Barabarians in Baraboo”

  1. It’s long been clear that have an open­ly white nation­al­ist pres­i­dent like Don­ald Trump would lead to a num­ber of long-term con­se­quences for the Unit­ed States. What has­n’t been clear is the extent to which Trump’s white nation­al­ism would end up infect­ing the youth of the Unit­ed States, which is the kind of trend that could have exceed­ing­ly long-term con­se­quences, espe­cial­ly when it’s young chil­dren being affect­ed by a white-nation­al­ist-friend­ly polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment. So along those lines, here’s the lat­est dis­turb­ing sto­ry about Amer­i­can school-aged chil­dren giv­ing Nazi salutes at school:

    A con­tro­ver­sy just erupt­ed in a Ten­nessee ele­men­tary school after Kei­th Gam­ble, the father of an 11 year old fifth grade girl, post­ed on social media about how his daugh­ter was dis­ci­plined for stand­ing up to her class­mates while they were engag­ing in a group Sieg Heil. But it gets worse. Because it turns out that her class­mates were mim­ic­k­ing a Sieg Heil that a stu­dent was told to give as part of a ‘Liv­ing His­to­ry’ class project where stu­dents would act out his­tor­i­cal fig­ures.

    The ‘Liv­ing His­to­ry’ class project was appar­ent­ly a rather elab­o­rate project because it involved rehearsals. It sounds like Hitler was one of the fig­ures to be cov­ered in the ‘Liv­ing His­to­ry’ project and a stu­dent was assigned to play him. This assign­ment not only includ­ed dress­ing up as Hitler and giv­ing a speech.

    Here’s how the stu­dent protest­ing this got in trou­ble with the school: dur­ing a rehearsal, the stu­dent play­ing Hitler was instruct­ed by the teacher on how to give a Sieg Heil. This upset Gam­ble’s daugh­ter who was then giv­en an oppor­tu­ni­ty to express her view on this in front of the class. After that she was told by the teach­ers to “not address it again.” The Sieg Heil was still repeat­ed­ly used by stu­dents and Gam­ble’s daugh­ter con­tin­ued to voice her con­cerns.

    She then learned that her class­mates were plan­ning on per­form­ing a mass Nazi salute direct­ed at her specif­i­cal­ly, so she told a dif­fer­ent teacher about this. That teacher inter­vened and told the stu­dent to stop giv­ing the salute. This result­ed in a dropoff of salutes, but only tem­porar­i­ly. The ‘Liv­ing His­to­ry’ project con­tin­ued to include the por­tray­al of Hitler with the Sieg Heil and dur­ing the rehearsals the salutes picked up again. Dur­ing one of the rehearsals, when the stu­dent play­ing Hitler gave the salute, around 10 to 20 of the stu­dents respond­ed with Sieg Heils of their own. Gam­ble’s daugh­ter respond­ed to this by shout­ing “stop it” and “put your hands down.” She was then giv­en a talk­ing-to by mul­ti­ple teach­ers and sent to the prin­ci­pals office for being “dis­re­spect­ful.” The school is deny­ing none of this with the excep­tion of deny­ing Gam­ble’s daugh­ter was actu­al­ly dis­ci­plined. And the school has respond­ed by declar­ing it will cease hav­ing a stu­dent por­tray Hitler or per­form the salute and will “find alter­na­tive means of cov­er­ing the fifth-grade his­to­ry stan­dard.”:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    Ten­nessee School Stops Teach­ing Kids To Do Nazi Salute After Stu­dent Push­es Back
    An 11-year-old was removed from class for speak­ing out repeat­ed­ly against her class­mates giv­ing the Sieg Heil salute.

    By Jen­na Amat­ul­li
    05/14/2019 05:45 pm ET

    A Ten­nessee ele­men­tary school will “no longer fea­ture a stu­dent por­tray­ing Hitler or the [Nazi] salute” as part of a class project about World War II after an 11-year-old was removed from her class­room last week for telling her class­mates to stop Nazi salut­ing one anoth­er.

    The stu­dents at the McFad­den School of Excel­lence in Murfrees­boro, Ten­nessee, had been taught to do the salute in their social stud­ies class.

    “My daugh­ter spoke out even though she was told by a teacher ‘not to address it.’ She has been bul­lied by class­mates and tar­get­ed per­son­al­ly with Nazi salutes, so school feels lone­ly some­times. But her fam­i­ly is so proud of her, and I bet there are oth­ers who are too,” wrote Kei­th Jacks Gam­ble, the child’s father, on Face­book.

    Gam­ble post­ed the sto­ry about his daugh­ter on Twit­ter as well, ask­ing oth­ers to sup­port her actions.

    He wrote in his posts that chil­dren at the McFad­den School of Excel­lence had “been giv­ing Nazi salutes in the hall­ways and at recess for weeks” after a fifth-grade social stud­ies teacher assigned a stu­dent to give the Sieg Heil salute while dressed as Adolf Hitler for a project.

    James Evans, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for Ruther­ford Coun­ty Schools, con­firmed the assign­ment to Huff­Post, indi­cat­ing that it was part of a “World War II exhib­it of Liv­ing His­to­ry” and involved a stu­dent “deliv­er­ing a speech, and at the end, giv­ing the Nazi salute.”

    In a detailed account writ­ten in emails and then shared on social media, Gam­ble and his part­ner offered a full time­line of the events they said tran­spired at their daughter’s school. Gam­ble shared redact­ed ver­sions of these emails, which he sent to the school for con­fir­ma­tion or amend­ment of the time­line.

    pic.twitter.com/JileU220Nr
    — Kei­th Jacks Gam­ble (@KeithJGamble) May 14, 2019

    Gamble’s emails state that his daugh­ter was upset at the instruc­tion to give a Nazi salute and that when she not­ed this, she was giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to air her griev­ances in front of the class. She was then instruct­ed by teach­ers to “not address it again.”

    How­ev­er, Gam­ble said, the salute was repeat­ed­ly used and his daugh­ter con­tin­ued to voice her con­cerns. After learn­ing that her class­mates were going to per­form a mass salute at her specif­i­cal­ly, she told anoth­er teacher, who then inter­vened and told stu­dents to not give the Nazi salute any­more because it is “wrong.”

    Still, the “Liv­ing His­to­ry” project con­tin­ued and, while the salutes had dropped off after that one teacher’s inter­ven­tion, they picked up again dur­ing the project’s rehearsal. At that time, 10 to 20 stu­dents respond­ed to the Sieg Heil from the stu­dent por­tray­ing Hitler with Sieg Heils of their own.

    Gamble’s daugh­ter shout­ed at her class­mates to “stop it” and “put your hands down,” and was then removed from the class for being “dis­re­spect­ful with her tone and body lan­guage to teach­ers.” She was then giv­en a talk­ing-to by var­i­ous teach­ers and sent to the principal’s office, who echoed that she had been “dis­re­spect­ful.”

    Evans, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, con­firmed these events to Huff­Post, adding that Gamble’s daugh­ter “was not dis­ci­plined or pun­ished in any way for her con­cerns or actions” and that “the school agrees the actions of the stu­dents were com­plete­ly inap­pro­pri­ate.”

    “The prin­ci­pal also inves­ti­gat­ed con­cerns that the salute had hap­pened more than once, and he was able to con­firm two instances where some stu­dents gave the salute (out­side of the his­to­ry project). Teach­ers inter­vened in both con­firmed instances. The prin­ci­pal held a meet­ing with all fifth-graders about what had hap­pened and to put a stop to any fur­ther instances,” Evans wrote via email.

    The direc­tor of Ruther­ford Coun­ty Schools has since sent an email to par­ents to “assure them we do not con­done any type of sym­bol­ism or actions that can [be] inter­pret­ed as hate-filled or insen­si­tive.” The McFad­den School of Excel­lence has also said it will cease hav­ing a stu­dent por­tray Hitler or per­form the salute and will “find alter­na­tive means of cov­er­ing the fifth-grade his­to­ry stan­dard.”

    When asked why the school assigned stu­dents to per­form the Nazi salute at all, Evans told Huff­Post that the project was “intend­ed to be an inter­ac­tive way for the stu­dents to learn the his­to­ry stan­dards for fifth grade” and that “mul­ti­ple his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and events are includ­ed and stu­dents are assigned roles to research and per­form.”

    “It was nev­er intend­ed to be offen­sive and the salute was def­i­nite­ly not encour­aged to be per­formed by the oth­er stu­dents,” he said.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ten­nessee School Stops Teach­ing Kids To Do Nazi Salute After Stu­dent Push­es Back” by Jen­na Amat­ul­li; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 05/14/2019

    “He wrote in his posts that chil­dren at the McFad­den School of Excel­lence had “been giv­ing Nazi salutes in the hall­ways and at recess for weeks” after a fifth-grade social stud­ies teacher assigned a stu­dent to give the Sieg Heil salute while dressed as Adolf Hitler for a project.”

    Weeks of Nazi salutes in the hall­ways dur­ing an offi­cial class project where a stu­dent was assigned to dress as Hitler and taught to Sieg Heil. That’s quite an immer­sive cur­ricu­lum. That’s the kind of atmos­phere that was cre­at­ed by this project and the stu­dent who object­ed lit­er­al­ly got bul­lied by her class with more Sieg Heils. And when she shout­ed “stop it” and “put your hands down,” in response to 10–20 stu­dents giv­ing a group Sieg Heil she was sent to the prin­ci­pal’s office:

    ...
    James Evans, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for Ruther­ford Coun­ty Schools, con­firmed the assign­ment to Huff­Post, indi­cat­ing that it was part of a “World War II exhib­it of Liv­ing His­to­ry” and involved a stu­dent “deliv­er­ing a speech, and at the end, giv­ing the Nazi salute.”

    ...

    Gamble’s emails state that his daugh­ter was upset at the instruc­tion to give a Nazi salute and that when she not­ed this, she was giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to air her griev­ances in front of the class. She was then instruct­ed by teach­ers to “not address it again.”

    How­ev­er, Gam­ble said, the salute was repeat­ed­ly used and his daugh­ter con­tin­ued to voice her con­cerns. After learn­ing that her class­mates were going to per­form a mass salute at her specif­i­cal­ly, she told anoth­er teacher, who then inter­vened and told stu­dents to not give the Nazi salute any­more because it is “wrong.”

    Still, the “Liv­ing His­to­ry” project con­tin­ued and, while the salutes had dropped off after that one teacher’s inter­ven­tion, they picked up again dur­ing the project’s rehearsal. At that time, 10 to 20 stu­dents respond­ed to the Sieg Heil from the stu­dent por­tray­ing Hitler with Sieg Heils of their own.

    Gamble’s daugh­ter shout­ed at her class­mates to “stop it” and “put your hands down,” and was then removed from the class for being “dis­re­spect­ful with her tone and body lan­guage to teach­ers.” She was then giv­en a talk­ing-to by var­i­ous teach­ers and sent to the principal’s office, who echoed that she had been “dis­re­spect­ful.”
    ...

    And the only part of this that the school denies is that she was ever dis­ci­plined or pun­ished. The rest of it the school acknowl­edged is true, includ­ing the fact that dress­ing up as Hitler and giv­ing a Sieg Heil was actu­al­ly a school assign­ment. In response, the school announced that it’s no longer going to have a stu­dent por­tray Hitler in future ver­sion of the ‘Liv­ing His­to­ry’ project:

    ...
    Evans, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, con­firmed these events to Huff­Post, adding that Gamble’s daugh­ter “was not dis­ci­plined or pun­ished in any way for her con­cerns or actions” and that “the school agrees the actions of the stu­dents were com­plete­ly inap­pro­pri­ate.”

    ...

    The direc­tor of Ruther­ford Coun­ty Schools has since sent an email to par­ents to “assure them we do not con­done any type of sym­bol­ism or actions that can [be] inter­pret­ed as hate-filled or insen­si­tive.” The McFad­den School of Excel­lence has also said it will cease hav­ing a stu­dent por­tray Hitler or per­form the salute and will “find alter­na­tive means of cov­er­ing the fifth-grade his­to­ry stan­dard.”
    ...

    So that’s all rather dis­turb­ing, although at this point we still need for fact about sit­u­a­tion to assess whether or not teach­ers were active­ly mak­ing light of Sieg Heil with a wink and nod with the stu­dent or of they were just large­ly obliv­i­ous. But the fact that hav­ing a stu­dent dress up like Hitler, make a speech, and give a Sieg Heil is part of the reg­u­lar 5th grade con­tent at this school sug­gests this isn’t the first time a kid has been giv­en this assign­ment. It rais­es the ques­tion of how long many years this project was been has been part of the school’s cur­ricu­lum. And that, in turn, rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not the mass Sieg Heil­ing by fel­low class­mates is a phe­nom­e­na of the last few years with Trump in office or if Sieg Heil­ing 5th graders in the hall­ways at this school was a reg­u­lar thing in years past.

    And while teach­ers con­don­ing these kinds of group Sieg Heils while dis­ci­plin­ing the stu­dent who opposed it is quite dis­turb­ing, let’s not for­get that these 5th graders are prob­a­bly far more influ­enced by each oth­er than by their teach­ers. that’s what makes the fact that kids of Sieg Heil­ing each oth­er in the hall­ways and turn­ing it into a fun joke so trou­bling. So along those lines, check out one of the lat­est neo-Nazi Youtube stars: a 14 year old girl, who cur­rent­ly has more than 800,000 YouTube fol­low­ers:

    Buz­zFeed News

    YouTube’s Newest Far-Right, Foul-Mouthed, Red-Pilling Star Is A 14-Year-Old Girl

    “Soph” has near­ly a mil­lion fol­low­ers on the giant video plat­form. The site’s exec­u­tives only have them­selves to blame.
    Joseph Bern­stein Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Post­ed on May 13, 2019, at 5:31 p.m. ET

    What does a 14-year-old girl dressed in a chador have to say on YouTube to amass more than 800,000 fol­low­ers?

    How about this: “I’ve become a devout fol­low­er of the Prophet Muham­mad. Suf­fice to say, I’ve been hav­ing a fu ck ton of fun. Of course, I get raped by my 40-year-old hus­band every so often and I have to wor­ship a black cube to indi­rect­ly please an ancient Canaan­ite god — but at least I get to go to San Fran and stone the shit out of some gays, and the cops can’t do any­thing about it because Cal­i­for­nia is a cryp­to-caliphate.”

    Or how about, sim­ply, “Kill your­self, fag­got.”

    Yes, if you want a vision of the future YouTube is mid­wif­ing, imag­ine a cheru­bic white girl mock­ing Islam­ic dress while lec­tur­ing her hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers about Mus­lim “rape gangs,” social jus­tice “homos,” and the evils wrought by George Soros — under the thin guise of edgy inter­net com­e­dy, for­ev­er.

    Actu­al­ly, don’t imag­ine it. Watch it. It’s already here.

    The video is called “Be Not Afraid,” and it may be the clear­est man­i­fes­ta­tion yet of the cul­ture the exec­u­tives of Alphabet’s video mon­ster are deliv­er­ing to mil­lions of kids around the world, now via chil­dren incu­bat­ed in that self­same cul­ture. To under­stand just how bad things have got­ten on the plat­form, you need to see it for your­self.

    Users — and more impor­tant­ly to YouTube, adver­tis­ers — have over the past year start­ed to hold the plat­form account­able for enabling the exploita­tion of chil­dren and expos­ing them to dis­turb­ing con­tent. But this video reveals an entire­ly dif­fer­ent way the plat­form is harm­ing kids: by let­ting them express extreme views in front of the entire world. This is what indoc­tri­na­tion looks like when it’s reflect­ed back by the indoc­tri­nat­ed.

    A 20-minute, unbro­ken, and hyper­ar­tic­u­late tirade osten­si­bly about ignor­ing crit­i­cism online, “Be Not Afraid” stars a high school fresh­man from the Bay Area who goes by the name Soph on YouTube. (She edits as well as scores the videos, which she says are comedic.) Through videos like these, she’s become a ris­ing star — with more than 800,000 fol­low­ers — in the uni­verse of con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, racists, and dem­a­gogues that owes its big bang to YouTube.

    The video plat­form for years has incen­tivized such con­tent through algo­rithms favor­ing sen­sa­tion­al videos, and, as recent report­ing has revealed, has delib­er­ate­ly ignored tox­ic con­tent as a growth strat­e­gy.

    Soph’s scripts, which she says she writes with a col­lab­o­ra­tor, are famil­iar: a mix of hatred toward Mus­lims, anti-black racism, Byzan­tine fear­mon­ger­ing about pedophil­ia, tis­sue-thin incel evo­lu­tion­ary psy­chol­o­gy, and reflex­ive mis­an­thropy that could have been copied and past­ed from a thou­sand dif­fer­ent 4chan posts. Of course, it’s all pre­sent­ed in the ter­mi­nal­ly iron­ic style pop­u­lar­ized by bound­ary-push­ing com­e­dy groups like the influ­en­tial Mil­lion Dol­lar Extreme and adopt­ed of late by white suprema­cist mass shoot­ers in Christchurch and San Diego.

    (Soph is even more explic­it­ly hate­ful on Dis­cord, the gam­ing chat app, where she recent­ly admit­ted to writ­ing under the user­name “lutenant fag­got” that she hoped for “A Hitler for Mus­lims” to “gas them all.”)

    ...

    Inter­views with Soph and asides in her videos reveal a young per­son whose iden­ti­ty is obvi­ous­ly still being formed. She didn’t start as a pol­i­tics cast­er but, pre­dictably, as a pro­fane 9‑year-old (9!) game stream­er called LtCor­bis. Influ­en­tial YouTu­bers Pyro­cyn­i­cal and Keem­star pro­mot­ed her ear­ly work, which ripped on YouTube cul­ture and the indig­ni­ties of being a fifth-grad­er instead of peo­ple of col­or and lib­er­als. (A 2016 Dai­ly Dot sto­ry about her bore the unin­ten­tion­al­ly pro­found head­line “This sweary, savvy, 11-year-old gamer girl is the future of YouTube.”) In more recent videos, Soph dis­clos­es a health issue that kept her out of class for long stretch­es. She con­fess­es to being unhap­py in school. She talks about a move from New York to Cal­i­for­nia. She iden­ti­fies by turns as “right-wing” and “anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist.” She’s 14, pre­co­cious, iso­lat­ed, and pissed off, a com­bi­na­tion that has pro­duced a lot of bad behav­ior over the years, but not all of it mon­e­tized through pre­roll ads and a Patre­on, and not all of it streamed to mil­lions.

    YouTube’s kid prob­lem is well-known. From dis­turb­ing auto-gen­er­at­ed car­toons to par­ents who play­act vio­lence with their chil­dren for clicks to a net­work of users exploit­ing videos of chil­dren for sex­u­al con­tent, the com­pa­ny has con­sis­tent­ly failed at pro­tect­ing the young users who are its most valu­able assets. But Soph’s pop­u­lar­i­ty rais­es anoth­er, per­haps more dif­fi­cult ques­tion, about whether YouTube has an oblig­a­tion to pro­tect such users from them­selves — and one anoth­er.

    Of course, that’s par­tial­ly the job of par­ents, a fact Soph point­ed out in a recent video while address­ing peo­ple alarmed by her con­tent.

    “I’m won­der­ing why they’re con­cerned with what I say instead of being con­cerned with the par­ents who let their kids watch me,” she said.

    It’s unclear how much Soph’s own par­ents know about her videos. Inter­net sleuths have fig­ured out details about her par­ents’ lives, one of whom Soph has claimed vot­ed for Hillary Clin­ton. In a recent inter­view, Soph said that her par­ents have nev­er had a seri­ous con­ver­sa­tion with her about the pol­i­tics of her videos, though she did respond angri­ly when a reporter attempt­ed to con­tact her dad.

    But the pow­ers of par­ents over chil­dren who live online are lim­it­ed. And YouTube has tak­en no own­er­ship over what is hap­pen­ing to kids who grow up inhal­ing its trade­mark stench of big­otry, con­spir­a­cy, and nihilism. Now the kids, or the smart ones any­way, seem to know it. Indeed, YouTube’s own incom­pe­tence and lack of qual­i­ty is one of Soph’s recur­ring themes; she acknowl­edges owing her fame to them.

    “The fact that I was 11 and could eas­i­ly fol­low the com­men­tary for­mu­la should have been a sign that the stan­dards for the genre were ter­ri­bly low,” she said in the same inter­view.

    Last month, after YouTube deac­ti­vat­ed com­ments on her videos — the plat­form dis­abled com­ments on all videos with chil­dren in response to an out­cry over the afore­men­tioned net­work of exploita­tion — Soph uploaded a 12-minute video in which she seemed to be dar­ing the plat­form to sus­pend her, know­ing full well that it wouldn’t.

    “Susan, I’ve known your address since last sum­mer,” Soph said, direct­ly address­ing YouTube CEO Susan Woj­ci­c­ki. “I’ve got a Luger and a mito­chon­dr­i­al dis­ease. I don’t care if I live. Why should I care if you live or your chil­dren? I just called an Uber. You’ve got about sev­en min­utes to draft up a will. ... I’m com­ing for you, and it ain’t gonna be pret­ty.”

    A far-right child come­di­an threat­en­ing to mur­der the exec­u­tive of the video site that has made her famous, for try­ing to pro­tect her from pedophiles: the state of YouTube in 2019.

    After being con­tact­ed about the sto­ry, YouTube reviewed Soph’s chan­nel. It removed the video con­tain­ing the death threat against Woj­ci­c­ki, but not “Be Not Afraid” or any oth­ers. The com­pa­ny also issued Soph a strike, which pre­vents her from upload­ing videos for a week. Accord­ing to YouTube, as per its terms of ser­vice, the plat­form is for chil­dren 13 and old­er, and it deletes accounts belong­ing to chil­dren under that age as it is made aware of them. Soph cre­at­ed her account at age 9 and received sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic­i­ty for her videos before turn­ing 13.

    Indeed, one of Soph’s mes­sages seems to be that in a world where the adults who have grown rich through tech­nol­o­gy took the impli­ca­tions of that tech­nol­o­gy seri­ous­ly, she wouldn’t exist. She’s a prob­lem, she seems to be say­ing, of YouTube’s own mak­ing.

    “You could beg me kick­ing and scream­ing to stop dis­sem­i­nat­ing the ideas I believe in, and it wouldn’t make a fuc king dif­fer­ence,” Soph says at the end of “Be Not Afraid,” in a pas­sage in which she seems to drop her shtick, if only for a moment. “Not only am I inoc­u­lat­ed to that bull­shit, most of Gen Z is too. Mil­len­ni­als grew up with MTV and nowa­days watch Col­bert. We, on the oth­er hand, grew up with the inter­net, so we have no cen­tral­ized source of infor­ma­tion that con­trols what we think. We fil­ter out the truth for our­selves; we’re not lazy. No one is brain­wash­ing kids. Kids are sim­ply learn­ing from hav­ing free access to infor­ma­tion, and there’s noth­ing you can do about it.”

    The ulti­mate tar­get of “Be Not Afraid” is, final­ly, adults: peo­ple who just don’t get why social jus­tice dis­course is mean­ing­less and co-opt­able, why school can’t com­pare to YouTube, why mass mur­der can be fun­ny. Peo­ple who have enough expe­ri­ence to know bet­ter. She’s sure that adults are self­ish and stu­pid, that the peo­ple with the most pow­er over her life are mak­ing it up as they go along, just like she is. When you look at the adults who have got­ten rich off the plat­form that cre­at­ed Soph, she isn’t com­plete­ly wrong. She’s been pub­lish­ing on YouTube for years with no con­se­quence oth­er than becom­ing famous.

    ———-

    “YouTube’s Newest Far-Right, Foul-Mouthed, Red-Pilling Star Is A 14-Year-Old Girl” by Joseph Bern­stein; Buz­zFeed News; 05/13/2019

    “The video is called “Be Not Afraid,” and it may be the clear­est man­i­fes­ta­tion yet of the cul­ture the exec­u­tives of Alphabet’s video mon­ster are deliv­er­ing to mil­lions of kids around the world, now via chil­dren incu­bat­ed in that self­same cul­ture. To under­stand just how bad things have got­ten on the plat­form, you need to see it for your­self.”

    Neo-Nazi kids reach­ing oth­er kids. Over YouTube. It was just a mat­ter of time. Although her audi­ence isn’t just kids. She’s a ris­ing star on YouTube’s ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazi uni­verse so adults are undoubt­ed a big part of her audi­ence. Specif­i­cal­ly, neo-Nazi adults:

    ...
    Users — and more impor­tant­ly to YouTube, adver­tis­ers — have over the past year start­ed to hold the plat­form account­able for enabling the exploita­tion of chil­dren and expos­ing them to dis­turb­ing con­tent. But this video reveals an entire­ly dif­fer­ent way the plat­form is harm­ing kids: by let­ting them express extreme views in front of the entire world. This is what indoc­tri­na­tion looks like when it’s reflect­ed back by the indoc­tri­nat­ed.

    A 20-minute, unbro­ken, and hyper­ar­tic­u­late tirade osten­si­bly about ignor­ing crit­i­cism online, “Be Not Afraid” stars a high school fresh­man from the Bay Area who goes by the name Soph on YouTube. (She edits as well as scores the videos, which she says are comedic.) Through videos like these, she’s become a ris­ing star — with more than 800,000 fol­low­ers — in the uni­verse of con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, racists, and dem­a­gogues that owes its big bang to YouTube.
    ...

    Adding to the dis­turb­ing nature of this sto­ry is that Soph has been a YouTube star since she was 9. But she was­n’t orig­i­nal­ly a neo-Nazi. She was a video gamer, and she was so pop­u­lar there were even arti­cles about her as an 11 year old ‘future of YouTube’. So Soph already had a large audi­ence of pre­sum­ably chil­dren before she became a neo-Nazi star:

    ...
    Inter­views with Soph and asides in her videos reveal a young per­son whose iden­ti­ty is obvi­ous­ly still being formed. She didn’t start as a pol­i­tics cast­er but, pre­dictably, as a pro­fane 9‑year-old (9!) game stream­er called LtCor­bis. Influ­en­tial YouTu­bers Pyro­cyn­i­cal and Keem­star pro­mot­ed her ear­ly work, which ripped on YouTube cul­ture and the indig­ni­ties of being a fifth-grad­er instead of peo­ple of col­or and lib­er­als. (A 2016 Dai­ly Dot sto­ry about her bore the unin­ten­tion­al­ly pro­found head­line “This sweary, savvy, 11-year-old gamer girl is the future of YouTube.”) In more recent videos, Soph dis­clos­es a health issue that kept her out of class for long stretch­es. She con­fess­es to being unhap­py in school. She talks about a move from New York to Cal­i­for­nia. She iden­ti­fies by turns as “right-wing” and “anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist.” She’s 14, pre­co­cious, iso­lat­ed, and pissed off, a com­bi­na­tion that has pro­duced a lot of bad behav­ior over the years, but not all of it mon­e­tized through pre­roll ads and a Patre­on, and not all of it streamed to mil­lions.
    ...

    But Soph isn’t just on YouTube. She’s also on Dis­cord, where she’s appar­ent­ly even more of an open neo-Nazi. Recall how Dis­cord has been quite pop­u­lar with neo-Nazis so we should expect that Soph is net­work­ing with all sorts of hor­ri­ble peo­ple on that app too:

    ...
    (Soph is even more explic­it­ly hate­ful on Dis­cord, the gam­ing chat app, where she recent­ly admit­ted to writ­ing under the user­name “lutenant fag­got” that she hoped for “A Hitler for Mus­lims” to “gas them all.”)
    ...

    And what has YouTube done to address this high­ly pop­u­lar neo-Nazi 14 year old? What it usu­al­ly does regard­ing neo-Nazis on its plat­form, which is basi­cal­ly noth­ing:

    ...
    The video plat­form for years has incen­tivized such con­tent through algo­rithms favor­ing sen­sa­tion­al videos, and, as recent report­ing has revealed, has delib­er­ate­ly ignored tox­ic con­tent as a growth strat­e­gy.

    ...

    YouTube’s kid prob­lem is well-known. From dis­turb­ing auto-gen­er­at­ed car­toons to par­ents who play­act vio­lence with their chil­dren for clicks to a net­work of users exploit­ing videos of chil­dren for sex­u­al con­tent, the com­pa­ny has con­sis­tent­ly failed at pro­tect­ing the young users who are its most valu­able assets. But Soph’s pop­u­lar­i­ty rais­es anoth­er, per­haps more dif­fi­cult ques­tion, about whether YouTube has an oblig­a­tion to pro­tect such users from them­selves — and one anoth­er.

    ...

    It’s unclear how much Soph’s own par­ents know about her videos. Inter­net sleuths have fig­ured out details about her par­ents’ lives, one of whom Soph has claimed vot­ed for Hillary Clin­ton. In a recent inter­view, Soph said that her par­ents have nev­er had a seri­ous con­ver­sa­tion with her about the pol­i­tics of her videos, though she did respond angri­ly when a reporter attempt­ed to con­tact her dad.

    But the pow­ers of par­ents over chil­dren who live online are lim­it­ed. And YouTube has tak­en no own­er­ship over what is hap­pen­ing to kids who grow up inhal­ing its trade­mark stench of big­otry, con­spir­a­cy, and nihilism. Now the kids, or the smart ones any­way, seem to know it. Indeed, YouTube’s own incom­pe­tence and lack of qual­i­ty is one of Soph’s recur­ring themes; she acknowl­edges owing her fame to them.

    “The fact that I was 11 and could eas­i­ly fol­low the com­men­tary for­mu­la should have been a sign that the stan­dards for the genre were ter­ri­bly low,” she said in the same inter­view.
    ...

    But it gets worse. Last month, YouTube deac­ti­vat­ed com­ments on all with chil­dren in order to address child exploita­tion on the plat­form. Soph respond­ed with a video that made death threats at YouTube’s CEO Susan Woj­ci­c­ki, appar­ent­ly bet­ting that YouTube would­n’t do any­thing about it. And she was cor­rect. After Buz­zFeed con­tact­ed YouTube about this sto­ry, YouTube reviewed Soph’s chan­nel and ONLY removed the death threat video. The rest of her chan­nel was left untouched. In oth­er words, YouTube basi­cal­ly endorsed her chan­nel after being con­tact­ed about this sto­ry. Or at least endorsed every­thing but the death threat:

    ...
    Last month, after YouTube deac­ti­vat­ed com­ments on her videos — the plat­form dis­abled com­ments on all videos with chil­dren in response to an out­cry over the afore­men­tioned net­work of exploita­tion — Soph uploaded a 12-minute video in which she seemed to be dar­ing the plat­form to sus­pend her, know­ing full well that it wouldn’t.

    “Susan, I’ve known your address since last sum­mer,” Soph said, direct­ly address­ing YouTube CEO Susan Woj­ci­c­ki. “I’ve got a Luger and a mito­chon­dr­i­al dis­ease. I don’t care if I live. Why should I care if you live or your chil­dren? I just called an Uber. You’ve got about sev­en min­utes to draft up a will. ... I’m com­ing for you, and it ain’t gonna be pret­ty.”

    A far-right child come­di­an threat­en­ing to mur­der the exec­u­tive of the video site that has made her famous, for try­ing to pro­tect her from pedophiles: the state of YouTube in 2019.

    After being con­tact­ed about the sto­ry, YouTube reviewed Soph’s chan­nel. It removed the video con­tain­ing the death threat against Woj­ci­c­ki, but not “Be Not Afraid” or any oth­ers. The com­pa­ny also issued Soph a strike, which pre­vents her from upload­ing videos for a week. Accord­ing to YouTube, as per its terms of ser­vice, the plat­form is for chil­dren 13 and old­er, and it deletes accounts belong­ing to chil­dren under that age as it is made aware of them. Soph cre­at­ed her account at age 9 and received sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic­i­ty for her videos before turn­ing 13.
    ...

    So in just three short years, the 11 year old ris­ing gamer YouTube star mor­phed into a 14 year old neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist. Let’s hope those Murfrees­boro 5th graders aren’t big fans of Soph.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 17, 2019, 1:44 pm

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