While I’ve been gone…
Apologies for the long absence! While I’ve been gone, I’ve been focused on what has turned out to be extremely important parts of the terrorist landscape: white supremacy and far-right conspiracies. My usual area of interest lies in the rhetorical strategies of Islamist extremists like al-Qaeda and ISIS, but there’s actually quite a bit of crossover in the strategies utilized by the jihadists and the far-right/white supremacists even though their ideologies are quite different. In some ways, the similarities between these groups reminds me of this Saturday Night Live skit:
The death of 8chan and the rise of Gab: social media use by the far right
Like many Islamists, far-right extremists have utilized social media to radicalize new members and to organize in-person/virtual events. So far, Detailed analyses on these movements’ rhetorical strategies and their ideologically-based groupings is forthcoming, because I’ve dedicated my time so far to gathering primary resources and tracking extremist activities. This seems to be an urgent need in the field of alt-right and domestically-grown extremism in that there are plenty of excellent books/articles on the testimony or anecdotes given by both extremists, law-enforcement officers, and NGOs dedicated to battling hate groups, but very few resources with raw data gathered from social media sites.
This gathering of data has been made more difficult by the closing down of 8chan, the platform on which the El Paso shooter posted his manifesto. The conspiracists and supremacists have had to flee to new social media platforms more sympathetic to their causes, including Gab, which absorbed many of the 8chan posters. In fact, most of my white supremacist mobile and computer-generated screenshots (of racist profiles, comments, threads, etc.) have been gathered from Gab, with Reddit and 4chan making up most of the rest of their social media landscape. There are a few posts on Instagram and Twitter (none from Facebook, so far, mainly because I consider it to be of a secondary importance and have yet to compile raw data from it) that have been included in my database, but the platforms have been very diligent in rooting out blatant hate speech. Also, white supremacists have balked at using what they consider to be Jewish-run companies, so they haven’t been posting there as often, although they often do show up in the comments sections of popular posts to troll liberal or moderate audiences.
QAnon and other far-right conspiracists
The other contingent that makes up the domestic extremist landscape are the far-right conspiracists, especially the adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. QAnon followers hold an ideology based on the theory of the deep state, which they believe has been built and supported by liberals, especially the Clintons. If you would like a brief introduction to the QAnon conspiracy as articulated by the conspiracists themselves, here is a Youtube video that many of the Twitter Q members have directed me to:
Although Q members have applauded Gab for “Its protection of free speech,” I have found a large population of conspiracists on Twitter and Instagram. This may be because their posts aren’t as blatantly racist, sexist, or homophobic as the out and proud white supremacists. There are, however many racist (especially against immigrants– legal or illegal), sexist, bigoted (especially Islamaphobic), and homophobic elements to the Q conspiracy, and they very clearly deride the liberals at large and the Democratic Party in particular. The movement even uses Pepe the frog, a well-known white supremacist emblem, as one of their mascots, although they argue that the well known meme isn’t racist.
I will have more specifics on all of these movements and delve into a more detailed analysis of their ideologies and rhetorical strategies at a later point, but this gives you a general introduction into the most important movements underpinning domestic extremists currently active in the United States.
So far, I have uploaded mobile screenshots from the previously mentioned social media platforms as well as some websites of known white supremacist organizations. Full screengrabs from desktop sites are forthcoming. Links to my ongoing primary research are available on the homepage of this site.