Posted on April 15, 2019

The Threat of White Power and Nationalism Rises While Conservatives Gaslight and Ignore the Danger

Frank Vyan Walton, Daily Kos, April 14, 2019

This week, CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers stated that white nationalist terrorism is on the rise and that the Trump administration is ignoring it, although federal prosecutors are not.

{snip}

In response to this report, DHS has argued that this reorganization has not changed its commitment to protecting the American people, and that this is not an indication that the department has diminished the “mission … to ensure that state and local partners can expeditiously access the capabilities, resources, and expertise necessary to share information and intelligence. ”

Somehow, I find that less than convincing.

{snip}

There’s also the fact that Huffpost released a letter by DHS senior policy adviser Katherine Gorka which called for pulling a $400,000 grant to anti-hate group Life After Hate, founded by former members of extremist groups intended to guide people out of the white nationalist movement, by arguing that anti-fascists are “the actual threats” to national security. {snip}

{snip}

So rather than working against white supremacist groups or working with anti-hate groups, Gorka apparently pushed to do the opposite.

{snip}

So we have the so-called “leader of the free world” using the same racist pop culture memes and references as the swamp dwellers at the Daily Stormer to support his campaign. And reports also indicate that white nationalists are increasingly recruiting gamers into their ranks.

{snip}

I can say that I’ve seen some of this myself. During the last several years, I was a player on the game Battlestar Galactica Online and found a lot of alt-right, proto-supremacist attitudes among some of my fellow players, particularly those who played the game as Cylons rather than humans. As a player vs. player game (PVP) there was a tendency to divide into factions, but this went much further than just a left-right or even Human-Cylon divide. {snip}

When I joined the wing, my Kill Death Ratio (KDR) was just 0.17 since I’d been flying around virtually alone and had only 200 PVP kills and about 1500 deaths by packs of nugget ganking Cylons — usually in Wegelin — who would swoop in out of nowhere, pound every low-level player into dust then speed away with a “Mwah ha ha” into the dark. It seemed like they were actively trying to discourage new players and crush their spirits so they would quickly quit and give up. (Which is apparently, exactly what happened to hundreds upon hundreds of them!)

In both the 1978 and 2004 television shows that inspired the game, Cylons were a group of murderous genocidal terrorists who attempted to destroy the entire human race using nuclear weapons and war crimes. The designers of the game felt that your basic normal human being wouldn’t want to play the “bad guy” without being given certain perks to incite them to do so and maintain a certain level of “balance” between the Human and Cylon factions. I always felt this wasn’t really necessary, as there would also be people who would prefer to play Freddie Kruger rather than Nancy Thompson, the titular hero of Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street who was portrayed by Heather Langenkamp. If you had a chance to cosplay as hero rather than pretend to be the monster that makes them jump in the night, quite a few people would choose the relative inhibition and freedom of being a monster. They really didn’t need to give perks to Cylons, because they got used to them and grew both arrogant and cocky because of it.

Many of them were happy to play exactly the part of “monster,” and within that they had an ideology of being relentlessly aggressive, rude, “non-PC,” and more than a bit bigoted, sexist, and racist. They, of course, would constantly deny and object to this characterization—but that was largely exactly what it was. They were weak little outsiders who used the ability to show power that internal game perks provided them for playing on the Cylon side to become a pack of bigoted thugs and bullies.

The big “secret” to their so-called Cylon greatness was basically cowardice, they flew together like a pack never letting any single player stray too far away so that all of their guns could be brought onto the same target at the same time using voice coms to coordinate everything. It’s not like it was Rocket Surgery, it was a pretty simple plan and also effective, but once you got them going they just wouldn’t shut up about it like they’d invented the wheel, water, the sun, the moon and the cure for the common cold. Geez.

{snip}

Just as I had seen this type of dishonorable behavior in video games, it’s also happened with fans of the sci-fi and action genres. Again, as I wrote a few weeks ago about the Brie Larson/Captain Marvel backlash, people who should have been fairly fully acclimated to the concepts of inclusion and diversity through programs they claim to be fans of such as Star Wars and Star Trek have instead devolved into self-admitted “Harpies.” {snip}

{snip}

If we can’t even imagine a measure of equality in our fantasy life, how exactly are we going to implement it in our real lives? Before you can actualize a positive vision, you have to be able to dream and imagine it credibly. This is how true progress works: someone dares to have the audacity to dream it up, then someone else goes out with equal and greater audacity and actually does it. If you can’t even imagine it, you’ll never implement it.

Before there was a real President Barack Obama, there was a President David Palmer on 24 portrayed by Dennis Haysbert and a President Beck in Deep Impact portrayed by Morgan Freeman. This progress was not insignificant even though it was slow, particularly when you compare this to one of Freeman’s first prominent roles as the vicious violent pimp named Fast Black who terrorized a reporter played by Christopher Reeve in 1987’s Street Smart. From Pimp to president in one career—that’s something.

{snip}

Because it’s not like we had a white nationalism hearing go completely off the rails this week as the GOP used a black woman and a Jewish man to gaslight Congress on the threat of white nationalism.

When Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee decided to hold a hearing on white nationalism, Republicans immediately set out to derail it. Following their longstanding pattern of inviting disreputable witnesses to testify before Congress, Republicans invited black conservative pundit Candace Owens and Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, to downplay the threat of white nationalism. Democrats on the committee, for their part, asked representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, Equal Justice Society, and the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law — as well as officials from Facebook and Google — to testify at Tuesday’s hearing.

What could have been a fruitful opportunity to address rampant white nationalism online and its rising body count in the real world, to hold tech giants accountable, and to ferret out best practices on deradicalization in a meaningful way that perhaps saves lives was “hijacked,” in the words of Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. Instead of addressing the threat of white nationalism in the United States and around the world, Republicans sought to claim that Democrats only pretend to care about anti-Semitism and racism as a cudgel against conservatives. From their witness list to their questions to their sustained attack on a colleague and Democrats, Republicans deliberately tried to evade the issue of growing white supremacist violence and trivialized the hearing. And based on the pervasive coverage, it appears that they were successful.

{snip}

However GOP guest Candace Owens wasn’t moved, and launched an off-the-rails rant against Antifa in the hearing on white supremacy, claiming that as a conservative she had been the victim of “left-wing” violence and “changed statistics.”

“What they won’t tell you about the statistics and the rise of white nationalism is that they’ve simply changed the data set points by widening the definition of hate crimes and upping the number of reporting agencies that are able to report on them!” she said. “They are manipulating statistics!”

Owens went on to say that the goal of purportedly faking hate crime statistics is to scare people of color into voting for Democrats in 2020 because “they feel that Donald Trump should not have beat Hillary.”

“If they were actually concerned about white nationalism they would be holding hearings on Antifa, a far-left violent white gang who determined, one day in Philadelphia, that I, a black woman, was not fit to sit in a restaurant!” she said.

{snip}

Simply talking about race—just the very existence of the idea—is too much for some of these people, and the fact is they have the luxury of not having to talk about it. They have the luxury of not really having to worry about it in any real, serious way.

The fact is they’re terrified that they might lose their primary position in society, where they automatically get 70 to 80 percent of the available slots before anyone else is ever considered. They still, to this day, get more than 70 percent of the speaking parts in TV and movies. They get 70 to 80 percent of the slots in most universities, and 70 to 80 percent of the well-paying jobs.

They don’t mind a few other people slipping in under the transom, like having one movie with a tough, kick-ass character like Ripley or Sarah Connor once in a few decades.

But don’t make them worry that that might become a regular thing. Don’t make them think about acting decently, and don’t make them worry that they might have to earn their slot against a broad array of competition for positions they assume they already have a right to and should always keep.

Don’t make them scared or angry. We won’t like them when they’re angry.

They don’t realize that technically, we don’t really like most of the MRAs and white nationalists anyway. We never will, and we can’t afford to give a shit about how angry they get.

Bigotry is essentially an act of cowardice. It’s making unfair and unjustified assumptions about someone else because you don’t have the guts to discover whether your presumptions are actually correct. {snip}

They scream and whine over minor and irrelevant offenses like movie casting choices and Gillette commercials because they don’t have that kind of courage, but we have to.

We don’t have a real choice, because courage is the only path to anything better. {snip}

{snip}