Alt Right is a pejorative

Alt Right Escape

Nobody wants to be alt-right on 4chan. A German user has just posted a picture of Milo Yiannopoulos, editor of the right-wing extremist news portal Breitbart, sucking an unpeeled banana. “Milo says the alt-right on 4chan and Reddit has no real problem with racial mixing, homosexuality, or even multicultural societies. Is that true? ”He asks.

"No," replies one, "and you can add Jews to your list."

“Of course,” says another. "/ Pol / has no problem with race mixing as long as the bull is white."

“The racially mixed Jewish fagot should speak for itself,” replies the next.

Another anonymous user puts each word in a separate paragraph because capital letters alone are not loud enough: "ES / GIBT / KEINE / ALT-RIGHT / AUF / 4CHAN."


4chan is an imageboard, a simple website where users anonymously exchange and discuss pictures. It was founded in 2003 by the then 15-year-old New Yorker Christopher Poole and initially served exclusively to discuss anime, Japanese cartoons. There are few rules and the moderation is relaxed. 4chan is one of the most creative places on the net, a kind of primeval soup of ideas from which chimeras arise, hideous and ingenious. Today a total of 69 sub-forums, so-called boards, are devoted to various topics, such as “Travel”, “Science & Math” or “Sexy Beautiful Women”.

“Politically Incorrect”, short / pol /, is the most controversial of them. Racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia - sometimes ironic, but on the whole real - are part of the board's basic noise. Occasionally its users, who call themselves / pol / acks (“/ pol / acken”), come together for joint activities. In 2015, for example, they placed ads on Twitter asking transsexuals to kill themselves - under the name of an uninvolved Australian feminist. A year ago, "Alt-Right" wasn't a dirty word on this board. But since the media started using it, most of them don't feel comfortable with this label anymore.

Where the internet pukes up after a long night

"Anything with a name can be attacked," says John Doe. He was active in the alt-right scene for about a year and a half, at 16 and 17, first on the Politically Incorrect boards of 4chan and 8chan, a similar, even less regulated side. He supplied r / The_Donald, a sub-forum of the Reddit discussion platform dedicated to Donald Trump, with new content and wrote the subtitles for the anti-refugee propaganda video "With Open Gates". He reported on events in his city. He once doxxed someone, put their private data on the Internet. He quit in summer 2016.

Of course his name is not John Doe. Nobody who is still alive is called that. But his former comrades-in-arms are pretty good at sniffing out private data. And views like the ones he represented for a while can “ruin the future” in Germany, he says.

The most popular board on 4chan is / b /, "Random", "the place the internet goes to throw up after a long night." John Doe usually stayed there too, “to catch a good thread, but they are rare”, also on / hr /, ie “High Resolution”, for nature and architecture photos, and on / g /, there is about technology. “At some point I was in / pol /”, says John, “because of the refugee crisis. And then I saw it all. Mainly rape news and stuff. Those were the first threads I looked at. I was scared and these posts confirmed my fears. "

8chan (or infinitechan) is 4chan's neglected little brother with even worse teeth, who can do anything. If you lock out 4chan, you will find a home here. On / suicide /, tired of life from all over the world discuss the best suicide methods. There is also a “Politically Incorrect” board. It hardly differs from the 4chan board of the same name. In the language of the / pol / s, muslim means “mudslime”, non-whites are called “shitskins”, homosexuals are considered to be “degenerate”. The Holocaust is called "hollowhoax" and firstly it was a great thing and secondly it never happened.

Anyone who is not “based” enough, for example using politically correct language, is quickly regarded as a “cuck”. In its actual meaning, the expression suggests that the person insulted enjoys watching his wife have sex with other men. It is applied to liberals and moderate conservatives alike, especially white men who stand up for the rights of a social group to which they do not belong. For most of the / pol / users, a Jewish world conspiracy aimed at exterminating the “white race” is a proven fact. Like many others, John Doe frequented both boards.

In June 2015 the Reddit sub-forum r / TheDonald was created, a small forum for discussions about the US presidential election from a Trump fan perspective, which over the course of a year developed into an authoritarian right-wing radical community whose slang and standards of the sayable remembered more and more of the / pol / s. "TheDonald was / pol / s outpost on Reddit," explains John Doe. "The users were baited with memes and willingly swallowed all the propaganda material."

In this context, memes are images that bring political statements to the point in a striking and humorous way and that can be shared again and again without much effort. The alt-right finally reached average citizens via the subreddit. "The useful idiots in 'r / TheDonald' have given up their social status and fought for / pol /, embarrassed themselves on Facebook and harassed themselves on Twitter." While you can go undetected on the imageboards and Reddit, you come out on Twitter and Facebook may be in front of friends, colleagues, family members and potential employers as right-wing extremists. Without r / TheDonald, the online discussion would not have been dominated so strongly and the alt-right would have remained a niche movement. ”There are no numbers to prove this.

He himself was later active on Facebook, under a pseudonym and with Le Happy Merchant as his profile picture, a widespread anti-Semitic caricature. “I was mainly on English-language sites. Because I didn't want to treat myself to German, that was too stupid for me. I went to the news posts and looked for people who you can't be sure what position they represent. I then added them and sent them various links. 'With Open Gates', for example. I littered them with infographics and ready-made text snippets and then watched the reactions. Quite often they had such a WTF moment and assured me that they were on Trump's side. "

“So you did campaign support for an American politician for free after school?” I ask. "Why?"

"I dont know."

He did it out of hatred, he explains on Reddit. “I wanted to see the world burn, I blamed others for my psychological problems and I enjoyed manipulating people.” Until the summer of 2016, he was in therapy for a depression.

He does not correspond to the cliché of the lonely, uneducated right wing from the lower middle class. His family is doing well financially, he is doing his Abitur himself in the spring and will go to university afterwards. He never spoke to his teachers about the views he expressed anonymously online. In general, he behaved differently offline. “Whenever I had contact with refugees, they were nice to me and I was nice to them. I can't just insult or abuse people, that's not what I'm the person for. I helped them when they asked me something, and once we smoked something together. In real life I never had problems with refugees. "

With Trump's campaign leader Bannon, Alt-Right went public

When Donald Trump appointed the head of the online magazine Breitbart, Stephen Bannon, as his election campaign leader in August 2016, the term alt-right finally moved into public awareness. At the Republican National Assembly, Bannon declared that Breitbart was "the platform of the alt-right." A comment from Ben Shapiro, a freelancer, suggests that the collaboration with Trump changed the magazine. "Andrew Breitbart [the magazine's late founder] despised racism," he wrote on the conservative Daily Wire website. "Now that Bannon supports Trump, Breitbart has become the alt-right's go-to website, where [tech editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushes white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate answer to political correctness, and the comment columns become a cesspool for racist white meme makers. "

Under Bannon's direction, the magazine became increasingly misogynistic with headlines such as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy” or “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism Or Cancer?”. Bannon relies on provocation. In July 2015, a right-wing youth shot and killed nine members of an African American congregation in a historically significant church in Charleston, South Carolina. In many of the photos that were subsequently published, the terrorist posed with the flag of the Confederate States of America. Just two weeks after the murders, Breitbart published an article entitled "Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage". According to a study by the Investigative Fund, 31 percent of the most influential Twitter users who used the hashtag #whitegenocide followed Breitbart's account - three times as many as comparable, moderately conservative magazines. The result for the anti-Muslim hashtag #counterjihad was even clearer: 62 percent of the particularly influential users who used this hashtag followed Breitbart.

Trump had flirted with the alt-right before. His campaign team used a picture of Hillary Clinton against a background of dollar bills next to a Star of David that reads “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”. The Trump campaign team defended the star was "not meant to be anti-Semitic". The picture had appeared on 8chan / pol a week earlier.

Alt-Right has many ideologies but no leaders

Since then, the media and parties have tried to define the alt-right, identify their leaders and intentions. This is difficult. Because Alt-Right is not a group, it has no members in the classic sense and no recognized leaders. There are influential actors who are revered by one section of the alt-right, despised by another, and simply ignored by many. There are also more or less great ideological differences between the many currents and individuals who act as Alt-Right.

The term alt-right was coined by Richard Spencer, the American publicist who spoke at a conference of white nationalists in Washington D.C. in November. a speech with "Heil Trump! Hail our people! Sieg Heil! ”Ended, whereupon his supporters showed the Hitler salute. In 2010 he registered the URL alternativenight.com. He directs the National Policy Institute, an organization that deals with “the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent in the United States and around the world”. His research is based on the racial theory of the early 20th century. The focus is on supposedly genetically determined differences between “races”, especially with regard to intelligence, personality and social behavior. Social mechanisms, political and historical facts are ignored, "purebred" is set as an ideal.

“To be white means to be a conqueror, a crusader, an explorer,” said Spencer at that conference, and: “America was a white country until the last generation, designed for us and our descendants. We made it. It is our legacy. It's ours. ”Spencer's intellectuals feel threatened by the increasing visibility of black, Hispanic and Asian citizens. So much so that they speak of “white genocide”, genocide of the whites. In the language of the Alt-Right intellectuals, racism means “human biodiversity” or “racial realism”.

Anti-feminist men's movement and classic neo-Nazis

There are ideological correspondences with the Dark Enlightenment, a neo-reactionary current that opposes the Enlightenment and its ideals. Dark enlightenment supporters would prefer traditional forms of government such as monarchy and feudalism to any democratic system and consider traditional gender roles to be a genetic necessity. Parts of the Manosphere, an anti-feminist men's movement, are also part of the Alt-Right. And then there are the 1488ers, classic neo-Nazis who see the Third Reich as the ideal state. The 14 stands for "14 Words", namely "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children." attributed to the American right-wing extremist David Eden Lane. “88” is twice the eighth letter of the alphabet, so “HH” for “Heil Hitler”.

The National Policy Institute sees itself as a scientific institution, the Dark Enlightenment sees itself as an academic counterculture. Other centers of right-wing radical thinking, such as The Right Stuff or The Daily Stormer, are designed for fun and provocation and target young readers. "My side is the opposite of anything they tell kids in school," says Mike Enoch, owner of The Right Stuff, on his The Daily Shoah podcast. “A third of my readers still go to school. Sometimes 14 year olds ask me what to do about a girl. These children are old enough to elect the next president. Until then, we have to get them in place. ”Andrew Anglin, owner of the donation-funded Daily Stormer, maintains his own army of trolls, which he occasionally harasses on people of public interest. Its readers also network offline - in book clubs, mainly in the USA. The only German club meets in Garmisch. However, the language of discussion is English.

Alt-Right wants to win in order to survive

"Young people are not primarily attracted to the ideology of the Alt-Right," says Milo Yiannopoulos in his "Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right". “You are there because it is fresh, daring and funny, while the teachings of your parents and grandparents seem boring, dogmatic and overly serious.” And further: “Are you really fanatics? Not anymore when death metal fans were actually satanists in the eighties. For them it is simply a means to upset their grandparents. "

Andrew Anglin contradicts him: “The true nature of movement is serious and idealistic. In an age of nihilism, absolute idealism has to be wrapped in irony to be taken seriously. Because anyone who tries to portray themselves as serious appears to be the exact opposite through the dull lens of postmodernism. "The goal of the Alt-Right is, he says," to build a stable and self-sustaining counterculture and ultimately to make it the dominant culture just as the Jewish-led revolutionary counterculture of the 1960s has become the dominant culture of the West. ”Anglin is“ about survival. We have to win, no matter how, or we will cease to exist. "

In 2015, Donald Trump tweeted a picture of himself as Pepe the Frog, wearing all of the American President's insignia. “Praise be to Kek!” Cheered the alt-right. For many it was clear at that moment that Trump would actually become president - conjured into office by Meme Magic. Meme Magic is an amalgam of chaos magic (an occult practice in which the focus is not on the form or the ritual, but the will to affect the world) and propaganda. It's the art of charging a symbol - in this case a frog named Pepe from a Matt Furie comic that originally had nothing to do with all of this - with meaning and spreading it around the world in the hope that life would like it Recreate art.

The term kek has its origins in Korean. The syllable ㅋ, which sounds like a voiced k, is used by Korean Internet users in a similar way to lol ("laughing out loud") in western cultures.ㅋ ㅋㅋㅋ would be transcribed as "kekekeke" and translated as "hahahaha". The expression became known through the online multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft. As a player, you can join one of two factions, the Alliance or the Horde. So that the members of the two warring camps cannot chat with each other, their statements are distorted by an in-game "translator". If a member of the Horde enters "lol", for example to express their joy at a victory, this is displayed to a member of the Alliance as "kek". So kek found its way into the language of the chans.

Kek happens to be the name of an Egyptian deity of chaos and darkness. Kek appears in her female form as a snake, in her male form as a frog. The Cult of Kek is a parody of religion: its followers view Pepe the frog as a modern manifestation of biscuit and try to influence political events and even the weather by spreading memes.

The theologian Tara Isabella Burton calls the Cult of Kek a "religion of nihilism". “What makes religion into religion”, she writes in her analysis “Apocalypse Whatever”, “are the images and the rhetoric that are charged with atavistic and esoteric archetypes (chaos; order; kek; frogs; a“ god emperor ”, around one to use the term commonly used on 4chan for Donald Trump), which spread virally because they fit the zeitgeist or meet a cultural need. “Religion works like a dictionary, a language. "From this perspective, it doesn't matter whether Kek’ really ’a god of chaos. Meme Magic is also real as a sign of cultural commitment. "

Alt-Righters often have many different social media accounts that reinforce and validate each other. That way, they always look a little more numerous, stronger, and a little more than they actually are. Depending on what voices they need on a particular topic, they pretend to be women or girls, “social justice warriors”, blacks or Muslims. To recognize a fake account as fake, it is often enough to google the profile picture. If it is a stock photo or other publicly available image, and if a person other than this Facebook or Twitter account has left no traces on the network, the probability that it is a fake account is high. Anyone who is familiar with the language patterns of the various communities will rarely have problems distinguishing between real and false accounts and assigning several networked accounts to one person.

Yes to Hitler - no to Merkel

The Alt-Right has a special relationship with Germany. The Third Reich is considered by many to be the perfect state. "You have a very utopian picture of Nazi Germany," explains John Doe. “For example, that there was no hunger during the war, that these are just lies from the Jews.” All the more, they detest Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy. Today's Germany is considered the "epicenter of the modern left and cuckoldry". “This is also because the Americans in particular know very little about Europe,” says John Doe. "Some of them really think it's civil war here."

While some international users can imagine “meming Mama Merkel in a political catastrophe”, the Germans on / pol / seem demotivated in this regard. “I see no sign that the German population will surprise the world with their voting decision. The vast majority of the votes will go to the four major parties. The real right will never gain momentum. "

At best, the AfD is seen as a stopgap solution. “What they lack,” says John Doe, “is a reasonable, eligible candidate. In reality, / pol / knows that the AfD also has no candidate. But Björn Höcke, who tries to recreate Hitler's speeches and falls on the face massively. "

An 8chan board called / deutschpol /, which is so German that you do not post in threads, but rather "post" in "threads", tries to heroize Björn Höcke and Frauke Petry in memes and the AfD as anime To make figure personable.

The memes are hardly ever spread. / deutschpol / is small, on an average day there are ninety, maybe a hundred users active, and the characters they use - anime references and jokes that can only be understood by those who have spent some time on the boards - are understood by most Germans Voters do not. Party programs are hardly discussed.

“Incorrect points in the party program are often ignored. For safety. Because if you had to give up the AfD, there would only be the NPD and Dierechte, and they are really bad, even from the point of view of / deutschpol /. “The German right does not move on image boards, but on Facebook and Twitter.

White gays are pro alt-right because they are afraid of Muslims

John Doe invested more and more time in the production of memes and infographics, and stayed longer and longer on the imageboards. Gradually he noticed more and more cracks and gaps in the mind-structure of the Alt-Right. The willingness with which the community accepted badly made and apparently untrustworthy propaganda material as long as it suited their worldview made him laugh. He also found that there was no place for himself in this worldview. John Doe has Italian ancestry. “I'm not an Aryan. Southerners like Greeks and Italians were seen as something lower. If one had such a / pol / world now in real life, one could assume that they would be second-class citizens. "

He draws parallels to the position of homosexuals in the Alt-Right: “Many gays, predominantly white gays, speak out in favor of the Alt-Right because they are afraid of Muslims. What they don't understand is that if the alt-right ever get their program through, they'll just be the next on the slaughter and really just used to show themselves off in public. "

Offline, he fell in love with a girl in the spring of 2016. The relationship between the two would be racial disgrace for his former comrades-in-arms. A conversation on Facebook made the final difference. “I talked to an American Jewess. Mainly about Muslims, about Islam, about people who are not white. She listened to me. When I then admitted that I was an anti-Semite, she asked me why, and when I told her, she responded. This person was very personable. I told her what I really thought and she never judged me. I looked at all the sources again and came to the conclusion that that's just not true. A conversation like that changes a lot. I couldn't go on lying either. ”In July, John Doe went into cold rehab.

This story provides the first clues as to how one can counteract online propaganda. But first let's say how not to do it. In this context, a video is important in which a student from the University of Massachusetts appears in an event organized by the controversial equity feminist Christina Hoff Sommers. She interrupts the lecture several times, chanting “Keep your hate speech from the campus!”, But also “Free speech!” And “Fuck you!” While waving her arms. She has an unusual hairstyle and is very overweight.

The video was posted on YouTube without the protester's consent and went viral, the young woman was nicknamed Trigglypuff (a portmanteau made up of "triggered" and the name of the round pink Pokémon Jigglypuff) and has since been on the conservative network as a typical example of a " Social Justice Warriors ”. “This cognitive dissonance and this freaking out and this fatness,” says John Doe, “all together creates a stereotype of the left that you can make fun of. She really helped the alt-right. ”The video has been copied, divided, re-cut countless times, with music and animated. "Even people who are on the left or in the center see them and laugh at them."

Outrage offers a target for attack. It confirms and rewards participants in the discourse who primarily want to provoke anyway. The series of events in which the video was recorded was called "The Triggering". The No Hate Speech Movement, a campaign by the Council of Europe, provides memes that can be used to counter hate speech online. Many come across as awkward in the same way as parents trying to use youth language. “That's ridiculous,” says John Doe. "Hate is not an opinion’? That's not how you start a conversation. "

What could work? "Ask questions. But neutrally formulated questions. Not ‘Why are you such a Nazi?’, But Why do you think that's the case? ’Take people seriously. Someone who really believes that they are threatened by white genocide only feels validated when you tell them that they are imagining it. And then just try to argue. ”He is now familiar with the discussion from both sides. "I had an argument with a guy from / pol / on Reddit some time ago, when I was already out of the right," he says, "and it was like a chat with my former self."

“What was it about?” I ask.

"About the crime rate of African Americans in the US. He showed me statistics from the FBI and blamed it on the breed. I explained to him how the graph misinterprets the report. Then I went into the various problems of African Americans and made it clear to him that I do not deny the disproportionate crime of African Americans, but do not use racial theory to explain. I then explained the crime with hopelessness, the ‘thug culture’ and the lack of opportunities in poorer areas. "

"How did he react?"

“He didn't really care. He then insulted me as kike or shill. But at the very end he at least admitted that the infographic was badly done. "


glossary

(((echo brackets)))

The names of people, groups or institutions who are Jewish or who are supposedly influenced by Jews are identified by anti-Semitic alt-fighters with three brackets. This practice was brought into being by the editors of the radical right-wing blog The Right Stuff.

based, adj.

In the Alt-Right, someone who openly expresses his right-wing extremist attitude without paying attention to possible consequences is described as based.

blue pill, red pill

In “The Matrix”, the Wachowskis' science fiction trilogy, the protagonist Neo has to choose between two pills: if he takes the blue pill, he remains in the matrix, the computer-generated illusion of our world. The red pill enables him to break out of the matrix and confronts him with the harsh reality of a human race dominated by machines. Alt-Righters see themselves as those who have chosen knowledge over comfort with the red pill, while the rest of the world lives in an illusion tinged with left-wing liberalism.

cuck

From cuckold, va. engl. for "horned husband"; in the fetish scene a submissive man who enjoys watching his wife have sex with other (often black) men. Alt-righters use the term as an insult to anyone who measures their standards for weakness.

Memes

Richard Dawkins coined the term meme as a cultural counterpart to the biological concept of the gene and defined a meme as “a unit of cultural tradition”. A meme is therefore a unit of meaning (e.g. a thought, a behavior, a style) that reproduces itself and is subject to natural selection. Since the turn of the millennium, the term has also been used - often in its English spelling, meme - for Internet phenomena that spread on social media.

normie

Pejorative term for someone who conforms to social conventions with ease.

Pepe the frog

Pepe the frog is a character from the comic "Boys Club" by the cartoonist Matt Furie. Furies Pepe is an apolitical hedonist who lives with three friends in a stoner flat share. A panel in which Pepe urinates says, “Feels good man” became popular on the imageboards 4chan and 8chan. In the course of the US election campaign, right-wing Internet users used the figure more and more frequently in anti-Semitic and racist contexts. In the fall of 2016, the Anti-Defamation League added the frog to their database of hate symbols. Matt Furie expressed his horror at the development of this comic.

shill

A cheater who pretends to be part of the public or the people but secretly collaborates with the rulers.

shitlord

Originally a pejorative term for users who are perceived as racist, sexist, homophobic or discriminatory in any other way, now adopted as a self-term.

shit posting

Posting aggressively bad, disruptive and offensive content with the aim of provocation. The originally pejorative term is used neutrally among alt-righters: In this context, shit posting is a cultural technique.

Social Justice Warrior (SJW)

Until the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, this term had a positive connotation and referred to someone who campaigns for social justice. The use of “Social Justice Warrior” as an insult became popular due to the Gamergate controversy. The actual meaning of the term has hardly changed.

trigger

Triggers are sensory perceptions that reactivate traumatic memories and B. can exacerbate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Blogs and magazines dealing with topics such as sexual violence, war and mental health often use trigger warnings so that those at risk can decide for themselves whether they want to expose themselves to the trigger at this point. Whether that makes sense is a matter of dispute. Internet trolls intentionally “trigger” their interlocutors in order to subsequently make fun of their emotional reaction.


Lead illustration: Sibylle Jazra for Krautreporter.