He presented himself as ”Erik Hallberg”, a political refugee from the l
September 20, 2017 11:20 AM   Subscribe

 
I just read this during my lunch break. This quote from the NYT article is what most frightened me:
This goal of mainstreaming is an abiding fixation of the far right, whose members are well aware of the problems their movement has had with attracting young people in recent decades. At one point in Mr. Hermansson’s footage, Colin Robertson, a far-right YouTube personality who goes by the name Millennial Woes, explained to an older extremist the importance of putting forward a friendly, accessible face: “If we don’t appear like angry misfits, then we will end up making friendships with people who don’t agree with us,” he said.”
[emphasis mine]
posted by Fizz at 11:25 AM on September 20 [11 favorites]


It's the normalization of it all that most scares me.
posted by Fizz at 11:27 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


Very grateful that there are people willing to do this.
posted by Melismata at 11:43 AM on September 20 [9 favorites]


This guy was at the Charlottesville march, undercover. Crazy.

So, maybe, technically, there were "fine people on both sides"?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:50 AM on September 20 [26 favorites]


This goal of mainstreaming is an abiding fixation of the far right, whose members are well aware of the problems their movement has had with attracting young people in recent decades

It's not just about attracting new converts. For years these guys have been adopting mainstream identities (they're called "ghost skins") to make it easier to join law enforcement organizations and use those positions to violently act out their ideology on a daily basis. I feel like a lot of stuff like the abuses of ICE and police reactions in places like Berkeley and Charlottesville makes a lot more sense once you realize that a significant number of people in those jobs are dedicated members of white supremacist organizations who are consciously using the power given to them to commit atrocities and abet those of their fellow members.
posted by Copronymus at 11:53 AM on September 20 [49 favorites]


Also one became President.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:08 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


These groups also send their members to join the Army, get into Special Forces and Ranger school, and learn all they can. Tim McVeigh was one.

I hasten to add that that is not the majority of SF and Rangers. As a population, however, they are really right wing, so it would be easy for an extremist to pass there.
posted by corvikate at 12:22 PM on September 20 [5 favorites]


I hasten to add that that is not the majority of SF and Rangers. As a population, however, they are really right wing, so it would be easy for an extremist to pass there.

"it's not their culture but it would be really easy for an extremist to pass there"

i don't think that's as reassuring as you think it is
posted by entropicamericana at 12:32 PM on September 20 [26 favorites]


To riff on what Copronymus and corvikate said: Remember the Oathkeepers, the "patriots" mainly consisting of members of law enforcement, the military, and quasi-governmental armed forces at the state and local level? Yeah, they're now the de facto security presence at white supremacist events, out there making "citizens' arrests" on protesters and anybody else that they deem a threat, often in tandem with the uniformed cops.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:33 PM on September 20 [11 favorites]


. I feel like a lot of stuff like the abuses of ICE and police reactions in places like Berkeley and Charlottesville makes a lot more sense once you realize that a significant number of people in those jobs are dedicated members of white supremacist organizations who are consciously using the power given to them to commit atrocities and abet those of their fellow members.

Also police shootings. I strongly suspect that a lot of the unjustifiable police shootings that get excused because the police were "scared" are actually white supremacist murders. I mean, in one sense all these police shootings are white supremacist murders, in that they are the result of white supremacy, but I also think that many of them are probably premeditated and consciously ideologized.


“If we don’t appear like angry misfits, then we will end up making friendships with people who don’t agree with us,” he said.”


Think of this when centrists are all "why can't you just go along to get along" and "why are you so PC". White people are always pressuring other white people to be nice to moderately racist, moderately misogynist, moderately hateful whites - as long as they aren't literally frothing at the mouth, we're all supposed to avoid rocking the boat. "Are some races/genders/sexualities/ethnicities/religions inferior to others and therefore should they be deprived of rights and freedoms" is not an open question. It's settled and the answer is NO. People who want to reopen that question are NOT acceptable, no matter how they talk or dress. Anyone who isn't with us is against us on this one.
posted by Frowner at 12:40 PM on September 20 [50 favorites]


A thought occurred to me the other day: The one thing on which Nazis and antifa agree is that if you're not on the side of antifa, you're on the side of the Nazis.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:07 PM on September 20 [15 favorites]


At work yesterday I got into a fairly heated debate with a young white dude(I'm white also) who said we should just ignore these people; that we're just giving them power by paying attention to them. He also defended their right to free speech, even though we live in Vancouver, BC and being Canadians, Nazi propaganda is considered hate speech by the law. Uuugggghhhh.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 1:50 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


We need to think stuff through more. The way a society - any society - works is that there are things we can differ on and things we can't. Some societies have a lot of the first and few of the last, with some it's the other way. But what makes a society into a society is that there are some foundations. Those foundations may only be "we can't all just punch each other and take each other's stuff", or they may be more complex, but they have to exist. And what kind of thing they are determines what the society is.

We must have a society where participation requires accepting racial equality at every level - foundational "I believe all races are intrinsically equal", juridical, whatever. "Racial equality y/n" can't be an open question, any more than "spree killing, y/n" can be an open question.

The price of admission to society needs to be a belief in complete racial equality. If you don't believe that, your political opinions do not count, you cannot be a political actor, you are not welcome to advance those questions, no one needs to listen to you - just like if you were an advocate for serial killing or for poisoning your political opponents. If someone comes up to me and says that we should be able to kill and eat our neighbors' pets, I don't say "gee,yes, that's an interesting question for debate, here is why I think it's a terrible idea, let me persuade you"; I back away and tell everyone that this guy is unsafe./

The thing is, it's tricky to determine what the minimum shared ideas are, and you can have terrible shared ideas. That's where the existential fear comes in.

But we should be asserting that - flawed though humans are, etc - the price of admission as a political/civic actor must be the belief in complete racial equality. That's just what it has to be. There can't be any havering on that - we might as well be saying "well, we can't get anywhere as a society unless we repeatedly debate whether spree killing is a good idea".
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on September 20 [30 favorites]


Am I crazy to think theres lots of people capable of making declarations supporting racial equality but then acting racist?

Did you guys read that okcupid blog post on race and dating? Yeah plenty of fine sentiments, not a lot of actual tolerance.

So how do you deal with that without talking openly about people's racial bias?
posted by doobiedoo at 4:36 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


"Talking openly about racial bias" isn't the same as "let's debate whether racial equality is real", which is what happens when white people cozy up to neatly dressed racists.

If someone is saying they're not racist and acting racist, they should be called out, and they should work on that. If someone is doing their best not to be racist but social conditioning causes them to act racist - which is pretty normal - they should, through acts of will, work on that. If someone says to me, "I am racist, can you prove I shouldn't be?" I'm not going to debate that one - first, because it's always a trick question, and second because I don't debate, like, whether sexual assault or torture are okay either.

If someone says to me, "Fellow white person, I was raised with these racist ideas and it bothers me, because I don't want to be racist. What are some resources that I can use to deprogram myself", I will be only too glad to talk to them about the shitty ideas that we white people are raised with and how I believe we can try to root them out.

On another note, what societies say about themselves is important. It's better for us as a society to say that racism is wrong and the races are equal and use that as a starting point than it is to say "let's all debate whether racism is okay - of course racism is bad, but let's interview these well-dressed white nationalists".

I guess that fundamentally I believe that people raised with racist beliefs need to commit themselves to rooting out those beliefs. It's like - not to trivialize - negative self-talk. Maybe I have a problem with negative self talk - negative self talk exists, it's bad and there are strategies to combat it that I need to use. Acknowledging that it is a habit I have is not the same as saying, "well, before we can move on, we should debate whether I really am the worst person it's possible to be, and only when it is proved that I'm actually not the worst can we tackle this problem of negative self talk". The act of negative self talk is the problem that needs to be solved, not the content of the talk, and that can only happen at least partly by an effort of will.

And again, I think that this is the lowest bar, the bare minimum for participation in society. If you can't even acknowledge racial equality, you aren't making the minimum effort.
posted by Frowner at 5:10 PM on September 20 [10 favorites]


> I guess that fundamentally I believe that people raised with racist beliefs need to commit themselves to rooting out those beliefs.

Yes, exactly, and "people" includes the vast, overwhelming, might-as-well-be-everyone majority of us. Even if our parents didn't explicitly teach us, even if they told us that Racist Uncle was wrong to say those things at Thanksgiving, we still pick up so much dreck from our peers and media. That's the thing: It's systemic. You don't have to stand in a special line to pick up your order of Racist and Racially Biased Assumptions That are Just, You Know, Normal. Pretty much everyone gets that package whether they want it or not.

The people I'm always wariest of are the ones who go "I'm not racist..."
posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


I get some heat for this line:

Either the framers were right and all men are created equal or the Confederates* were right and white people are better than the rest. Which do you believe it to be?

And I'll grant that it's a pretty heavy rhetorical trick, but it generally gets my point across. And yes, I do believe wholeheartedly that the choice is that stark.

* I know this is about Nazis but we should hold the Confederacy in the same moral light.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:52 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Either the framers were right and all men are created equal or the Confederates* were right and white people are better than the rest. Which do you believe it to be?

But they both believed white people are better than all other people.
posted by yonega at 10:12 AM on September 21


yonega, I get what you're saying and I don't disagree with it. That said, Thomas Heffwrson didn't include any qualifiers, so I choose to include non-white men, women and non-binary folks in that statement. If he didn't want them included, he should have written with more precise language instead of going for the soaring rhetoric.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:03 AM on September 22


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