Undercover With the Alt-Right

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/alt-right-white-supremacy-undercover.html

Last September, Patrik Hermansson, a 25-year-old graduate student from Sweden, went undercover in the world of the extreme right. Posing as a student writing a thesis about the suppression of right-wing speech, he traveled from London to New York to Charlottesville, Va. — and into the heart of a dangerous movement that is experiencing a profound rejuvenation.

Mr. Hermansson, who was sent undercover by the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, spent months insinuating himself into the alt-right, using his Swedish nationality (many neo-Nazis are obsessed with Sweden because of its “Nordic” heritage) as a way in. It wasn’t always easy. “You want to punch them in the face,” he told me of the people he met undercover. “You want to scream and do whatever — leave. But you can’t do any of those things. You have to sit and smile.”

What he learned while undercover is one part of a shocking, comprehensive new report from Hope Not Hate that sheds light on the strange landscape of the alt-right, the much discussed, little understood and largely anonymous far-right movement that exists mostly online and that has come to national attention in part because of its support for Donald Trump.

As a result of the growing influence of the far-right social-media ecosystem, once-moribund hate groups in both the United States and Europe — groups that mostly existed long before “alt-right” entered the vernacular — are enjoying a striking uptick in recruitment.

This latest wave of potential members is young — teenage and 20-something men (they’re mostly men) appear to be exhibiting interest in far-right ideas in numbers that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These young men are being radicalized largely through the work of a popular group of new far-right internet personalities whose videos, blog posts and tweets have been consistently nudging the boundaries of acceptable conversation to the right — one of the explicit goals of racist extremists everywhere.

And while “globalist” may be one of the alt-right’s favorite slurs, Hope Not Hate conclusively shows that the alt-right is itself now a global movement with regular interaction among far-right figures from Scotland to Sweden to Seattle.

Mr. Hermansson’s story offers vital insights into these groups’ tactics and their sometimes bizarre practices. During his time undercover, he hung out with heavily armed Holocaust deniers and attended gatherings where extremists drank mead from a traditional Viking horn and prayed to the Norse god Odin. In Charlottesville, he marched alongside hundreds of young neo-Nazis and white supremacists before he was sprayed with Mace by a counterprotester and witnessed the car attack that killed Heather Heyer.

In Britain, Mr. Hermansson attended a private dinner of extremists where Greg Johnson, a reclusive leading American far-right figure who is editor in chief of Counter-Currents Publishing, explained the need to “mainstream this stuff — or, more precisely, we need to bring the mainstream towards us.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/alt-right-white-supremacy-undercover.html

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Intersectionality? Not while feminists participate in pile-ons

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/11/intersectionality-not-while-feminists-participate-in-pile-ons

Mainstream feminism cannot comprehend that racism and sexism are not experienced separately but simultaneously

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Despite mainstream western feminism’s claims to embrace them, it is becoming apparent that the radical origins of terms like “identity politics”, “women of colour”, and, in particular, “intersectionality” – which were concerned not only with race but with overturning all forms of exploitation including class systems – are being betrayed and stripped of their interrogative nature.

As outlined by Kimberle Crenshaw, intersectionality is not so much something that someone “identifies” as, but a useful term that easily illustrates certain truths; namely that when multiple forms of oppressions meet, they create new, compound oppressions that are experienced acutely by those who belong to certain marginalised groups.

Unmoored from structural analysis, intersectional feminism is fast becoming a shallow buzzword that elevates the individual, stifles dissent, and, most worrying, is being weaponised to silence women of colour.

Representation and diversity, for instance, can be important indicators of social progress. In feminist discourse however, they are increasingly served as substitutes for such progress. The giddiness surrounding Hillary Clinton as almost First Female President™ and the silliness over Wonder Woman as First Female Superhero™ both fostered an atmosphere of hostility to any women who had the audacity not to feel “represented” by either.

You weren’t “With Her”? No, it’s not because you’re an Arab woman who balks at Clinton’s fondness for bombing the Middle East; you just have internalised misogyny. Think Wonder Woman was average and kinda sexist? Too bad; she empowers ALL women. And don’t even consider bringing up Gal Gadot’s pro-IDF sentiments, that makes you a “racist.”

For all its talk of intersectionality, mainstream feminism still cannot comprehend that racism and sexism are not experienced separately but simultaneously.

As such, for those of us negotiating these two particular intersections, enjoyment of, say, The Handmaid’s Tale was tempered by the gushing feminist accolades hailing it a terrifying glimpse into a future that might happen. Never mind that Aboriginal women continue to have their children taken from them by the state, or the hundreds of years that black women’s bodies were mined to perpetuate slavery and colonialism.

Meanwhile, the First Female Doctor Who™ was greeted so rapturously, you’d think she’d won the US election. It also completely overshadowed the casting of Arab-Canadian actor Mena Moussad in the upcoming live action Aladdin. Yes, Moussad is a man. But after decades of depictions as terrorists, religious fanatics, and barbaric illiterate extras in their own lands, an Arab is again a leading man.

This significant event for many Arab women living in the west, who also suffer as a result of these stereotypes, was deftly swept aside as feminism celebrated the apparently unusual practice of granting a starring role to a white actress.

This is how whiteness reasserts itself, by sweeping the concerns of non-white women aside on the mistaken assumption that we too can separate our gender from our race.

Nowhere is it more apparent than in internet call-out culture. As we’ve written before, feminism cannot be involved in collective, meaningful change that benefits us all as long as it considers the internet pile-on bonafide political activism. Piling on individuals until they submit, may be the easiest way to express solidarity, but, in the long-term, it is actually one of the least effective.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/11/intersectionality-not-while-feminists-participate-in-pile-ons

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