Opinions: 2 scrolls, at a glance

Austin Belet, Opinions Editor

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Content Warning: This article contains content that may provoke certain groups of people. 

Within a week, our country has experienced three mass shootings that have captivated public attention.

36 killed and 44 injured as a direct result of these atrocities. 

This piece will not mention the shooters. This piece will not discuss the details of the events. This piece will not address gun control measures.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival, the El Paso, and the Christchurch massacres all have one thing in common; a distinct and unmistakable tie to internet-circulated, racist rhetoric. The Dayton shooting does not prove to have had the same ties– but with shootings like Pulse and the Tree of Life synagogue, we cannot dismiss this aspect.

Christian Picciolini, for those who haven’t heard of him, is a former Neo-Nazi. In an interview with NPR, Picciolini details the practices that he used as a member of the Skinheads for recruitment; in this case, it was using music. He was employed by a record store in Chicago where he pawned his band’s music and, eventually, began to interact with the very people he hated most virulently.

Compassion is what drew him out of the movement.

This occured back in the late 90’s. Times have certainly changed.

With the dawn of an increasingly technologically-reliant world, and with greater access to the internet, these hate groups have adapted to this culture with the rest of us. Picciolini has detailed in previous interviews the methods hate groups use to recruit; they prey on the weaknesses of people. 

Those who are bullied, who feel othered, who feel as though there isn’t a greater community for them to belong to– they provide it. Not only do they provide it, but they nurture this person. Through this nurturing, they inoculate them with conspiracy theories about the white race being “phased out” by Jewish elites; inoculate them with inaccurate data that misrepresents IQ disparities between races; inoculate them with this vile concept that simply because they are a certain way, they are inherently better than anyone who isn’t them.

The internet has helped to foster this environment through websites such as– most notably– 4chan and 8chan. 

A brief glimpse into the /pol/ board of 4chan will quickly reveal abhorrent, derogatory language against Jewish people, Mexican immigrants, and women. 

The most terrifying part?

There is an audience; and they encourage it. 

The people lurking on these kinds of message boards are waiting to find people who are as angry and misguided as they are and incense them. They fan the flames of these arguments. 

In an episode of the podcast “The Daily” from the New York Times, the original creator of 8chan said he had seen comments on the message board saying “they hoped he could beat the high score of the New Zealand shooter,” regarding a shooting at a synagogue in California. 

Many of us enjoy the memes of Twitter or the food pictures on Instagram, but for a group of people, the /pol/ boards are where they find their entertainment. They find community with people who think like they do.

The days of the Klu Klux Klan burning crosses in front of people’s homes is not behind us, it has simply changed its face. Klansmen and Nazis no longer wear pointed hoods or swastikas on their bodies– they look like any of us. They aren’t obvious, they are coded.

Cuck. Globalism. Beta. 

They have effectively developed a whole language among their own so as to code their philosophies from “normies”.

But that isn’t to say more overt terms aren’t in play.

Things like “1488,” “blood and soil,” “the Great Replacement,” and phrases such as “Jews will not replace us,” are just as present as the aforementioned phrases. This, partnered with both new and old symbols of hate, has built an entire online community that praises these heinous acts. 

While writing this article, and against my better judgement, I looked on /pol/ boards to see how fast I could find this kind of vitriol. 

The answer: 2 scrolls, at a glance. 

This wasn’t even a hard look. I didn’t delve into comment threads or look for dog whistles, I just found one massive post. A word problem. Talking about how long it would take to kill every Mexican in the state of Texas if the El Paso Shooter killed at a rate of 20 people a day.

This isn’t easy news to swallow. In fact, I am sure you know people who have used these alt-right dog whistles before; things like identifying as an “Apache attack helicopter” or calling someone a “soy boy.” Whatever the case might be, it is incumbent upon us to call out bigoted hate speech where we see it. 

Don’t let it slide. 

The legal system has little leverage in this regard; things like the First Amendment and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 prevent the government from interfering in these mediums. Government intervention would prove to be difficult, especially as these message boards are frequently anonymous and the websites cannot be sued. Website administrators and forum moderators have more influence in this than anyone. 

This is something that is influenced by a social means, not a lawsuit. 

This is an exhausting topic to cover, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I have already written far more than I usually care to, but this point cannot be overemphasized. We exist in a society where the “us versus them” mentality has perverted our way of thinking. It seeps into the very nature of our lives. 

This process of marginalizing people is exactly what has caused this issue to persist– not re-emerge, as it has never died off. 

I don’t have all the answers as to how to solve this issue. Perhaps we find a better way to dismantle institutionally enforced racial segregation to promote more tolerant youth; maybe we criticize media for the way they portray stories; maybe it is showing kindness to the worst kinds of people as Picciolini suggests and Ken Parker has shown. 

It isn’t an easy topic to contend with, but so long as we want to see a safer America, we have to at least bring this topic to the table. 

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