Stormfront.org is not your Reddit chatroom. “Every month is White history month,” reads a banner on the homepage. Twelve million posts discuss eugenics, the American Nazi Party, and WWII Revisionism. Over three hundred thousand white nationalists post on Stormfront, and their ideas have spread from obscure parts of the internet to prominent conservative publications.
While most of the comments on Stormfront would fall on deaf ears in the mainstream media, they have been welcomed by certain members of the alt-right, who embrace a more radical conservatism than the Republican platform.
To appeal to ordinary citizens, the alt-right refrains from using racial slurs and appeal to people’s logic instead of their emotions. “Race realism,” for example, argues that races are biologically different. The concept invokes themes seen in Social Darwinism emphasizing white superiority. Such rhetoric couches historically offensive language under a modern guise. And while misleading, race realism appeals to some Americans because it seems to normalize their racism and make it acceptable.
Some members of the alt-right, however, believe the public restricts their speech. “If I were a junior faculty at Yale, and I said some of the things publicly that I said to you, I would be fired,” said Jared Taylor ‘73, founder and editor of American Renaissance, a race realism publication that advocates white dominance. While some critics have called him a “crudely white supremacist,” Taylor, a Timothy Dwight College alum, says this name-calling underscores the intolerance of American culture.
“Everyone should speak as candidly as possible. However, we live in a society that is far from being free,” Taylor explained to The Politic. “People can lose their jobs simply because they express a certain point of view.”
Taylor highlights a discussion of free speech and race relations—one that Yale students and others around the country are having today. It’s difficult to hear every voice while maintaining a respectful and safe environment. So can Americans discuss race fairly?
“Leftist groups repress dissent on campus, but that’s been going on for years because it’s enabled by the university administrators,” said Peter Brimelow, author and founder of VDARE, in an interview with The Politic. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled Brimelow’s anti-immigration publication VDARE a “hate website.”
“It’s now essentially impossible to write frankly about immigration, let alone race, and remain in the mainstream media,” said Brimelow. “The simplest thing is to assume you live in an occupied country and speak only to people you trust.”
Over the past few years many Americans have begun to discuss their ideas online, and hateful comments have multiplied in those environments.
“Blacks are dangerous by nature and the last thing you want is a black in your neighborhood,” commented “awakenedrealist” on Stormfront. On an American Renaissance, article about illegal immigration, one user named “DP” commented, “I am so sick of these 3rd worlders from who knows where destroying our country.”
Since most comments are anonymous, anti-hate groups sometimes struggle to identify the person behind the computer screen. They have instead published personal information – home addresses and private emails – of more public individuals like Taylor and Brimelow.
“Our goal is to not merely chronicle these groups, but to destroy them. We say this openly, not as a secret,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at SPLC Intelligence Project, in an interview with The Politic. Potok, who once reported on the Oklahoma City Bombing, says SPLC primarily fights hate groups through the press.
“We frequently publish things that are very embarrassing and harmful to them,” said Potok, “and if we can’t destroy them this way, we marginalize them politically.”
Daryle Lamont Jenkins, founder of One People’s Project (OPP), agrees. Its mission aligns with those of other anti-hate groups, but OPP takes a more direct approach; it has interfered with various rallies and conferences. Jenkins recently helped cancel one of Taylor’s American Renaissance conferences in Washington D.C. In an interview with The Politic, Jenkins elaborated on OPP’s methods.
“We have basically been able to neutralize a number of well-known hate groups. Because we were able to take the [white nationalist] conferences out of Washington D.C., it neutralized them somewhat,” explained Jenkins.
But Jenkins is also open to acceptance. “It’s like a ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ policy with us,” he said. Jenkins believes people are not born to hate. Rather, they come from abusive homes and hateful parents.
“You have individuals who are trying to make their lives worth a damn. It’s only a matter of who got to them first: The more positive elements or the more negative ones,” Jenkins remarked.
Andy Friedland, assistant regional director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a plan to fight white supremacy.
“We can have an open conversation with people where we don’t punish, but instead work together with them,” he said to The Politic. “When we see something we disagree with, we speak up and we speak up loudly,” said Friedland.
Groups like the ADL, Stormfront, and OPP, however polarized they may seem, agree on the importance of free speech. “I probably value the First Amendment more than almost anyone. I would grant those privileges to everyone,” said Taylor.
Friedland and the ADL agree. “We don’t believe in suppressing other people’s right to speech. We understand it’s one of the most important parts of the U.S. Constitution,” he said.
While some might argue that alt-right speech is hate speech, Potok disagrees. “To call something hate speech is to describe speech you don’t like,” he said. His focus is not hate speech but what he labels “bogus speech.”
“The most important thing is to show that their propaganda is absolutely false,” explained Potok. “Surprise, surprise, the Holocaust actually happened. It’s an absolute falsehood that gay men molest children at a higher rate than straight men, and it’s utter hogwash that Muslims have a secret plan to implement Sharia law.”
But Jared Taylor says his allies are not the ones who restate falsehoods. He claims instead that many liberals use faulty logic to discuss failed race relations and “fall back on all these ad hoc explanations that blame white people.” And because his enemies restrict his right to speech, he has no platform to properly defend himself.
“My view of the world explains reality. Their view doesn’t,” asserted Taylor.
It’s possible that voices are stifled or silenced — even at Yale. “I think younger people are in an impossible position,” said Brimelow. And while young adults do write for his website, “all of VDARE.com’s younger writers are pseudonymous,” Brimelow continued.
Taylor agrees and said he is frustrated, but “[wishes] for a United States in which there is a genuine tolerance of dissent.”
Even Jenkins, who cancelled one of Taylor’s conferences, agrees with him on this point. “The racism discussion has been ignored,” he explained. It’s possible that when an entire viewpoint is crushed, it removes the chance to don’t fully debate the differences in opinion. And differences are important to Jenkins.
“Yes, we’re going to come from different backgrounds. My vision of a perfect society is that we learn from them, that we appreciate them, that we don’t disparage you, and that we don’t deny you your freedoms,” Jenkins stated.
Potok says demographic change has made discussions on race more difficult. “In 2043, we will be in a position [in the US] where no one race dominates,” Potok explained, which could complicate how diversity is viewed in America. It is not perfect, he said, and “we’ll never live in a world without hate.” But with open minds, American students might soon lead a new national conversation on the role of race in society.
“We’re heading to such an ideal place,” said Potok, “My hope is that at the end of this, we become this nation we’ve been trying to become for three hundred plus years.”