Online radicalization is something we hear too often about.
“The Rise of the Alt-Right” or “The rise of white supremacy” is something that is often accompanied with such a statement.
However, online radicalization goes far deeper than that.
We live in a day and age where we can say whatever we want and not think about it.
Just take a second and think about all the things you have said on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram. The things you have said to others, the good and the bad. Now be honest with yourself, would you have ever said those things to someone in their face?
Most people wouldn’t.
It’s easier to call someone a “Nazi” or a “White supremacist”, a “F*ggot” or a “N*gger” online, than actually say it to someones face.
But why is that? Well, because most of us don’t seek to hurt other people.
But when we go online, we are all anonymous, so it’s easier to forget that the people we talk to and talk about online, are real people.
way easier to call Trump supporters “Nazi bigots who should die” online
than go up to a hardworking father or mother who struggles paycheck to
paycheck, who voted for Trump in the hopes that he would bring change
and then call them those things.
Imagine your elderly mother or father are walking down the street, just minding their own business. All of a sudden, a group of people walk up to your elderly parent and starts calling them the worst things imaginable.
How would you feel if your parent called you up and tell you their story about how they got harassed out of the blue. It would make your blood boil, it would make your hand ball up into a fist, wouldn’t it?
So how is it, that we are okay with online harassment then?
According to the Telegraph “Cyberbullying makes young people twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide”.
This fact alone should make you very angry, and most people would indeed be angry.
A few years ago, if you would share a story of a kid who took their own life, people would be sick to their stomach that a kid would do such a thing.
People would be up in arms, crying out to the school to do something, some would even try to figure out who the bullies were that drove the kid to suicide, and give them a very stern lesson.
Now? Now the first thing people want to know is what the kid’s political views were.
“Oh, he was a Trump supporter? Well, one less!” or “Someone should give the heroes some cake!”
On the other side, you’d hear things like “Oh he was gay? Well, it’s a mental disorder!” or “LOL LIBTARD DOWN!”
Being a vile person isn’t exclusive to one side or the other, and I know that it will piss off a lot of people when I keep using anti-Trump rhetoric as an example, and I do this on purpose.
I do it because it’s the anti-Trump crowd that often forgets that we are doing the same thing, we accuse the other side of.
Being okay with online harassment because the target is someone we dislike escalates things drastically. Let’s take the Alt-Right as an example.
When most of us think about the Alt-Right, we think about white supremacist bigots, who want to build an ethnostate. We think of them as deplorable and the human manifestation of pure evil, but what drives people to become Alt-Right?
Did a white kid just wake up one day and all of a sudden was scared that “Jews will replace us”?
Obviously not, so maybe it’s bad parenting?
But the most parents of the Alt-Right aren’t white supremacists, so why the hell did their kid become one?
Online radicalization is an easy answer and will be the only answer we discuss in this story.
Okay, so how does one become radicalized to join the Alt-Right?
Great! Now we have a basis for our ultimate Alt-Right recruit, so now what?
Well, let’s give name him “Bob” because no one named Bob would actually join the Alt-Right!
Bob lives with his parents and is relatively poor.
Bob’s parents got Bob to go to a good College in the city!
Bob goes there and follows the lessons like any other student, but Bob finds it remarkable that his teacher compares Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler.
Hell, the teacher takes it a step further and calls the GOP “Fascists”.
Bob stays silent about all of it and just shakes his head in disapproval.
After class, Bob sees a protest in school against White Supremacy.
Bob hates racists, so he joins in the protest to see what’s going on.
“Trump is a fascist! Trump is a Nazi! White people are slavers! Safe spaces of minority students!” Are things being shouted.
Obviously, this doesn’t happen in every college, and before people scream “STRAWMAN!”, no, it’s not a strawman.
Berkley students burned down signs that said “Free speech.”
These things actually taking place in a lot of colleges and universities.
As you can imagine, Bob hearing these things day in and day out pisses him off.
No, Richard Spencer isn’t going to appear to Bob out of the blue and talk about the benefits of an Ethnostate yet.
This is simply the groundwork for most Republican and right-leaning students who become Alt-Right.
The next step is Social Media.
media is where things get serious. People use the internet to relax,
but anyone reading this who uses Social media knows that that’s not the
We love retweeting messages we like, and we love to comment on messages we dislike.
If people like Bob see that people like Trump get hatred online and in the media for no reason, Bob is inclined to think that this might be an Anti-Trump conspiracy. Bob doesn’t mind seeing CNN and MSNBC fact-check Trump and call Trump out on the lies that he spouts from time to time.
However, it starts to become a problem, when the media itself starts lying about Trump.
The biggest example is the 2 years long “Russia Gate” nonsense.
Mueller debunked any Russian collusion, and what does the media do?
Do they apologize? Do they correct their stories? No, they continue to push a narrative.
People like Bob who see that will start to distrust the media, and THIS is where the danger starts.
If journalists lie, then they won’t be believed if they break a story that actually has significance.
So a quick recap to our current ingredients for our Alt-Right soup.
– A white person from a poor family ✅
– Overly anti-conservative school ✅
– Distrust in journalists and the MSM ✅
We are nearly there!
is really angry that he can’t say that he’s a Trump supporter at
school, in fear of being bullied. Bob also hates the fact that his
teacher and some students keep attacking Republicans and Donald Trump.
Bob is furious that the MSM lies about Republicans and Trump, and he even starts to distrust his favorite news network FOX News.
At this point, Bob is a near perfect candidate for radicalization.
But at least Bob can follow his idols on Twitter.
Milo, Laura Loomer, and even Alex Jones are people he enjoys following online.
But then they get banned from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and even from search engines like Google.
This is where people like Bob feel that this is an attack on them personally.
Here is the point where intervention is needed because, without intervention, this is the point where Bob becomes radicalized.
Bob starts using more vile language online, gets his account suspended a few times and feels generally lost.
This is also the point where Bob sees that people like Richard Spencer got banned as well, so Bob checks out a few videos about this Richard Spencer dude.
He sees the video of Spencer calmly talking about Pepe, and out of nowhere, an Antifa thug punches Spencer in the face.
Reading the comments, Bob only sees cheers and laughter.
Are people really cheering on violence against a man who is simply expressing their views?
If they use violence against him, try to censor him, he must have a point, right?
And there it is, the final ingredient in the Alt-Right soup, and it seems to be ready.
“ For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
The more the media pushes anti-Trump hatred, the more radicalized the pro-Trump people get.
The more we ignore the violence of Antifa, the more violent the right becomes.
The more we stay silent on censorship, the bloodier the end result gets.
We shouldn’t remove “Hate speech” from the internet, we should allow it to stay, and we should use facts, reason, and logic to dismantle the horrid ideas.
If we can’t defeat horrible ideas with counter-arguments but instead resort to violence and censorship, how are we different from the Fascists?
We need to take a deep look at our own online behavior and how our treatment of people online, can have real-life consequences.
To accept censorship, violence, and lies as a tool to combat “hate”, then we lose sight of our liberal values.
To use Fascist tactics against those we deem Fascist, will only result in horrific murders as we saw in Charlottesville.
Our online behavior has real-life consequences.
Note: This was an article written by Alexis Kate, a friend of ours over at Medium.
We have permission to re-use her article.