“No wonder that actual children become so anesthetized that they are content with the pseudo-stimuli of television, so that by adolescence they have to shoot up to feel. They sit in class without motivation, walk the streets in sullen rage, and seek desperately for sensuous transcendence in sounds, speeds and sex for an alternative script to the soulless and joyless dealing, handling, coping, managing life as a program of practical reason. Unconsciously, they recollect something else, something more, which they would find again, sometimes by suicide.”‘Soul of Shamanism’ by Daniel C. Noel – author quoting James Hillman
Or sometimes by violence, in seeking that lost sense of identity, community and purpose. After this right-wing terrorist attack in New Zealand some are saying there needs to be action taken against social media sites, which to my mind seems to completely miss the point.
Hidden, pushed to the far margins, hate does not go away it merely festers within those dark corners out of sight, with those marginalized and seeking identity, community and purpose vulnerable to the white supremacist narratives.
Watching a segment of Democracy Now this morning, they had on a former neo-nazi from the 80s and 90s who helps turn back these radicalized individuals, Christian Picciolini who runs the Free Radicals Project, saying basically the instigators of the White Supremacist movement are going to the forums where the vulnerable hang-out, Autism or Mental Health forums for instance, and spoon-feed them their racist ideas, offering them that identity, community and purpose they are seeking.
There is a reason that right-wing violence against minorities is on the rise, and not just in the U.S., but worldwide. There is a reason why these right-wing terrorist mention the POTUS in their missives, and why white supremacists follow him, and see him as their leader.
Yet, are these attacks really on the rise?
Well, the Center For Strategic & International Studies, a bipartisan research organization founded 50 years ago to provide strategic insights and policy solutions to help decisionmakers chart a course toward a better world says yes;
The Rise in Far-Right ExtremismCSIS | The Rise of Far-Right Extremism in the United States | by Seth G. Jones
Terrorist attacks by right-wing extremists in the United States have increased. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of such attacks was five or less per year. They then rose to 14 in 2012; continued at a similar level between 2012 and 2016, with a mean of 11 attacks and a median of 13 attacks; and then jumped to 31 in 2017. FBI arrests of right-wing extremists also increased in 2018.
Harold Brown Chair; Director, Transnational Threats Project; and Senior Adviser, International Security Program – November 7th, 2018
Social Media platforms are just the tool, and while there does need to be some oversight I guess in order to pressure these platforms to maintain and build on their ability to root out hate speech and be vigilant as to how and who is using the platform, again, plugging the hole in the dam is a short-term solution and goes nowhere near to addressing the underlying issue, which is the fact these individuals are so vulnerable to these racist narratives whispered into their ears by recruiters of hate.
But, how does it happen? Well, these new neo-nazi do not present themselves in the classic garb of the skinhead, they don’t come dressed like Klansmen, instead they come dressed as moderate conservatives, maybe even left-wing, concerned citizens, suburban, normal. They come to them on gaming forums, recommendations via YouTube, and do not spout their racist rhetoric all in one go, instead littering the dialogue, putting out the breadcrumbs, and quietly, slowly, leading them towards that extremist right-wing way.
I can personally attest to that, as that is exactly how I came upon the Intellectual Dark Web, that group of individuals who like to maintain their moderate, even left-wing leanings, and I came upon for the first time names such Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin and their shows, featuring guests such as Sam Harris, Eric and Bret Weinstein, and Jordan Peterson, to name just a few. From there, once I’d clicked on those videos my recommendations began to change, featuring more and more of the same, but also those who were more and more right-wing, and so my brief sojourn down that rabbit hole began, and ended once I’d figured out what the underlying characteristic that each of these individual possessed, and realizing what I had stumbled upon – one of the gateways to radicalization.
Matt, a former right-winger who asked to withhold his name, was personally trapped in such a filter bubble.
For instance, he described watching a video of Bill Maher and Ben Affleck discussing Islam, and seeing recommended a more extreme video about Islam by Infowars employee and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson. That video led to the next video, and the next.
“Delve into [Watson’s] channel and start finding his anti-immigration stuff which often in turn leads people to become more sympathetic to ethno-nationalist politics,” Matt said.
“This sort of indirectly sent me down a path to moving way more to the right politically as it led me to discover other people with similar far-right views.”
“I think the anti-SJW stuff appeals to young white guys who feel like they’re losing their status for lack of a better term,” he said. “They see that minorities are advocating for their own rights and this makes them uncomfortable so they try and fight against it.”The Daily Beast | How YouTube Built a Radicalization Machine for the Far-Right | by Kelly Weill – 12.17.18 5:03 AM ET
My fear is that there is going to be this backlash enamored with the idea of censorship, playing into an already robust anti-social justice movement, and restricting social media platforms will lead to a game of whack-a-mole, forcing these groups further into the darkest reaches of the internet, out of sight and left to fester and grow unchecked, creating a new social platform with no such restrictions or censorship.
Perhaps I’m wrong in this assumption, but are we all not seeking our own happiness? So how does one find that thing called happiness by hating someone? How is happiness achieved by blaming one’s unhappiness on someone else? How do we become happy by blaming others? Does that not seem shortsighted? For if it is someone else fault, if we are not to blame, we also have less control over how to fix it.
I honestly do not understand how blaming the great and mighty “other” is a solution to anything, seriously, that violence and job loss, poverty, and whatever else is somehow the fault of the refugee, the immigrant?
Now, course, it is dead-simple to understand why certain governments grasp on to this narrative with both hands, saves them the trouble of dealing with the complexities involved in actually solving the issues as the outsider has always been the easiest to blame.
Yet, I have come to realize that in fact I have missed the point, entirely misunderstood the real fear behind the white supremacist, which of course is all to do with one thing, only one thing, and not about any of those other things. In fact those other things are just how the vulnerable are led astray to the right-wing extremist mindset, since the continued dominion of the colour of the skin is really the only objective, of white skin, white culture and whatever values and religion get dragged along with it, the motivation, the concern, the fear is and has always been about the supremacy of white skin in a world that is becoming a multitude of colours, values and faiths.
This belief is confusing to my mind, as I don’t quite understand how skin colour denotes anything upon the bearer, as one is as prone to violence, evil deeds and all the rest as other skin colours. In fact, most serial killers are white, mass murders are committed most often by those with white skin, at least this is the case in United States and in Canada. Immigrants are far less likely to commit violent crimes to their homegrown counterparts, as most immigrants are busy striving to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Certainly inner cities often experience the brunt of gangs and other violent acts, and certainly there is a higher proponent of violent crimes within certain ethnic neighbourhoods. Yet other factors, such poverty and over population are the primary culprit, as white neighbourhoods with both those factors as well have higher rates of violent crime.
Once we needed to fear strangers for our safety, yet, this is no longer the case, right? Humanity is supposed to have evolved past this reptilian brain that fears what it does not understand, have we not? Maybe not.
“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being YOU: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”Wade Davis –An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet, and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.”
Maybe the only way is through compassion, through listening, allowing those who disagree with us to have their say, not for them to attack, or us to attack, to listen and see what it is that fuels that hate. By asking why? By listening, to gain a glimpse, and at the same time by offering our understanding we are more apt to change a mind. Not right away, not right there as we are talking, but later, at home, as they walk away, the drive home, given a chance to speak and explain, and to someone who opposes you, but is willing to listen, and so maybe they did in turn, and who knows what seed may be planted.