With seldom talk of white nationalism as it relates to Neo-Nazis, a fascist movement, and its relation to its namesake, the epitome of fascists, it can become easy for those that don’t identify as any of the above to still become indoctrinated in the authoritarian political philosophy. We jump in there.
First, for journalists reading this:
Coverage of right-wing violence invariably addresses the outlets that aid young men in their radicalization, whether it is neo-Nazi news and discussion groups like Stormfront or simply message board chatter on 8chan, 4chan, Gab, and Reddit.
[YouTube’s] policies are not lax by accident, Vice’s Tess Owen pointed out at the event. “If they crack down on white nationalists, they’d have to crack down on Republican lawmakers, because white nationalists are talking like Republicans, and Republican lawmakers are talking like white nationalists,” she said. “We might hesitate to call a politician a racist because of the implications, and that’s a challenge for journalists as well.”Sam Thielman, Columbia Journalism Review; May 9, 2019.
For more information on what sites are distinctly radicalizing, please read the above article by Columbia Journalism Review completely. Not only will you find those sites to avoid, but there’s also information regarding the propagators of these fascist ideologies. It’s an informative read, especially when read beside my own article discussing the spread of propaganda.
“… he didn’t necessarily agree with [the bigot] but found him “interesting and controversial.”
It’s a common occurrence on the internet, but the above quote came from a director of a journalism program that was found to be very supportive of anti-Semitic views. More than 70 years since the end of World War II, the period most commonly associated with fascism, this should be a red flag. In fact, these views, are almost literally a red flag “because white nationalists are talking like Republicans, and Republican lawmakers are talking like white nationalists,” according to reporters with the Columbia Journalism Review.
White supremacists, nationalists, separatists, the alt-right, Neo-Nazis, whatever you call them, fascists are out in force. Violent force.
Research widely publicized by the New York Times, suggests that not only are those promoting violence hanging out with each other in similar Internet circles, but they are also referencing each other. They’re making jokes and manifestos citing their jokes, their hate, and their past violence. These groups ultimately goad members along their version of the continuum of force, against each other and especially against those seen as the out-group.
By acting as gatekeepers, Internet trolls and those in the in-groups of the Internet not only falsely inflate an appearance of prestige and authority but reproduce the social ladder for which many seek refuge on the Internet from. This becomes most evident on platforms that offer ratings or reward systems such as Reactions on Facebook, or Upvotes on Reddit or Imgur. These tools would otherwise be useful to those feeling abandoned by their communities or wholly alone in a world full of varying opinions and fandoms. And perhaps that’s the poison.
Does everyone want a world of their own? That quintessential group of friends like some 90’s rerun? Perhaps, but it seems a lot more like Mean Girls.
“You can’t sit with us.”
Back to authoritarianism. That ultimate control has two faces: the meme group gatekeepers and Trump’s vicious anti-immigrant messaging and policies. Falling in line with either of these faces, in any way, defers some decision-making power to these fascists.
Everyone knows total power corrupts totally, right? Well, since when does an authoritarian, a fascist, cede any of that power? Never. Don’t give yours away either.
So while you’re seeking a sense of community online, there isn’t a replacement for the real thing. Unfortunately, the alt-right, for one example, also realizes this, and that’s how you end up with events such as the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia which left one progressive protester, Heather Heyer, dead. It’s one example of how memes and actual fascists were able to co-opt others into their mission of hate.
“The Plastics” in this context aren’t those that would actually commit murder and violence. Here, they are those that simply crib the “humor” and the rhetoric in order to feel at home. Those people that Trump calls his base.
The Plastics are people looking for a shelter for what they believe is their identity. This is populist nationalism when the identity is a broad stroking brush. According to American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, “[o]ther contemporary leaders who could be put in this [populist nationalism] category are Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Jaroslaw Kaczynski of Poland, and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.”
Basically, every world leader Trump has invited to the White House has been a fascist. They compliment his brand of populist nationalism, Trumpism, as an equal adjacent. Fukuyama, in his book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, describes this brand succinctly “as patriots who seek to protect traditional national identity, an identity that is often explicitly connected to race, ethnicity, or religion.”
Blissfully unaware of the harm in their identity, the Plastics are lead down the dark path of Right-wing identity politics where violent extremism grows. All the while these views are harvested by racists and bigots in power, in the United States and around the world.
The Plastics become the free for soldiers and cudgel of oppressors. First menacingly, can then verbally, and then violently all the way to murder.
The worst part? The Plastics, for the most part, no not what they do. However, it’s a slippery slope if there ever was one.
While it may not be obvious how these views effect others, such as women and marginalized communities, ignorance isn’t always present. Sometimes it’s feigned.
Some, unfortunately, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, get their sick jollies from the thought that they have so much — authoritarian — control over another person’s life. Even if that control is only pushing someone to suicide. That is the ultimate danger in the bullying and threats from extremists besides the aforementioned mass shootings.
The Plastics aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they won’t go anywhere at all. Even if they become President of the United States, that’s where the roller coaster ends for them.
If you’re distancing yourself from those “friends,” seeking guidance after being attacked by trolls, or just sick of the hate, here’s a pro tip:
Block them and move on. Reach out to your real-life community for support. And remember what I mentioned above, they aren’t going anywhere with their lives, and anyone willing to put the work into themselves will.
Empower yourself. They may be teachers, policemen, and doctors, but you’re valuable in whatever way you choose to be. Fascism’s days are numbered and you’re not alone.
Anyone can go from protecting their identity to pressing for a fascist movement. However, please learn more in this post regarding how to be more critical of the communities you’re already engaged in. Echo chambers are one thing, but the FOX News’s that throw fuel on these dumpster fires are not far from reach for any media network. A post about the history of fascism in America is forthcoming.
If you’re still an asshole in the above ways, and don’t want to actively change that, you’re probably stupid. A fascist. Or both!
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.Martin Luther King, Jr.