Ben Schulman

The Disclaimer

The concepts of incitement and radicalization are not concrete. In the United States and Europe, the topics are most often discussed in the aftermath of a radical Islamist terrorist attack, or in discussions about the Islamic State and similar groups. In Israel, many conversations about the Palestinian Authority and Hamas include those two concepts. There is no universally accepted method to address incitement and radicalization, but one cannot discuss extremists and their actions without mentioning these two ideas. As we seek to understand the deadly attack perpetrated by James Alex Fields Jr., a neo-Nazi who came to Charlottesville for the ‘Unite the Right’ rally and ran over innocent protestors with his car, it is necessary to explore the atmosphere of incitement that facilitated his murder of Heather Heyer and injuring of 19 others. Mr. Fields did not suddenly decide to commit this act of terror. People like him are led to believe that killing innocents is a duty to one’s faith and race. Perhaps that sounds familiar.

Hateful propagandists follow a relatively similar script; they consistently demonize particular groups, missing no opportunity to depict them as subhuman enemies who seek to hurt you and destroy your way of life. It is not a stretch to say that Mr. Fields, who was described by a high school teacher as having “white supremacist views,” may have visited the Daily Stormer, a Neo-Nazi website named after Der Stürmer, the Nazi propaganda newspaper that helped establish the ideological justification for the Holocaust.

While Mr. Fields may not have visited the Daily Stormer specifically, there is little doubt that he was exposed to and supported white supremacist and alt-right ideas online. Screenshots of his Facebook profile show a picture of baby Hitler, as well as a photo of American soldiers ceremonially holding a swastika-adorned flag. Yet another photo depicts Bashar al-Assad, the war-criminal dictator of Syria and white supremacist hero, with the caption “UNDEFEATED,” while other illustrations praise President Trump. With that information in mind, if Mr. Fields visited the Daily Stormer, he would have come across the following headlines and bylines:

  • Number One Place in the World to be a Fat White Skank? Morocco (byline: women are such whores)
  • Baboon Jailed for Accidentally Killing White Man While Buying a Gun in a Parking Lot
  • London: Inbred Jewish Tapir Stabs Two People in Kike Neighborhood
  • Arch-Kike Kissinger Calls for US to Support ISIS in Syria and Iraq
  • Tucker GASSES, SKINS and LAMPSHADES Jew Calling for Censoring “Hate Speech”
  • Monkey Behind the Wheel Kills White Grandfather (Black + Car = Death)
  • Wild Negro Arrested for Assaulting Public Transit Passengers
  • A Woman Needs a Man (byline: This women needs a White man to slap her and breed her)
  • Des Moines Bar Accused of Racism for Enforcing Dress Code That Targets Nig-Nogs (byline: Nobody wants these apes around them.)
  • #UniteTheRight: Fight Breaks Out at Torchlit March! Nazis WIN!

That is only a very small sample. You may have rightfully guessed that there is no mention of any redeeming qualities possessed or good deeds performed by people of these groups. In the eyes of these Nazis, anyone unlike them is human filth, incapable of improving or contributing to the world. If one exclusively reads stories like these for many weeks or months, he or she (statistically he) may begin to genuinely believe that blacks, Jews, and leftists are hell-bent on destroying their ‘white’ way of life, and that women are ignorant sluts who are being stolen from them by the aforementioned groups. While this is clearly detached from reality, it is the reality being created by websites such as the Daily Stormer. What might one do when one believes that their ‘freedoms’ and ‘way of life’ are being threatened by subhuman monsters?

The Daily Stormer is filled with similar stories and images.
A screenshot from the Daily Stormer. The website has hundreds of stories and images that follow this theme.
An insane paragraph from the "Our Women are Being Stolen from Us" story.
A screenshot of a particularly insane paragraph from the “Our Women are Being Stolen from Us” story shown above.

Andrew Anglin, who runs the Daily Stormer, might make the counterpoint that the Daily Stormer has the following disclaimer: “We here at the Daily Stormer are opposed to violence. We seek revolution through the education of the masses. When the information is available to the people, systemic change will be inevitable and unavoidable. Anyone suggesting or promoting violence in the comments section will be immediately banned, permanently.” Leaving the parts about Nazi-led systemic change aside–a significant part of the statement to leave aside–this appears to be a pretty strong condemnation of violence.

But what if it isn’t? President Donald Trump was widely criticized for failing to explicitly condemn white supremacists and Nazis in the aftermath of the Charlottesville terrorist attack, and when he finally did condemn them, it seemed an insincere statement at best. The Daily Stormer’s statement demonstrates a similar form of insincerity. Their disclaimer is placed all the way at the bottom of the page, on the right-hand side, cast to the ‘corner’ of the digital ‘room.’ Up until last week, the physical design of their website and sidebar meant that one could scroll through the following content without ever seeing the disclaimer:

  • Nearly every story on the front page of the website, including David Duke’s radio show
  • 285 pages of stories tagged under “Jewish problem”
  • 591 pages of stories, mostly about anything wrong done by a black person, tagged under “Race War”
  • 275 pages of stories, filled with lengthy rants about leftists and LGBT people, tagged under “Society”
  • 697 pages of stories tagged under “US”
  • 736 pages of stories tagged under “World,” all meant to demonstrate that minorities are a ‘problem’ in every country

Each of these pages has ten stories, meaning that, until earlier this week, a person could read more than 2,750 poisonous diatribes about Jews, leftists, the LGBT community, and women, all without ever seeing the violence disclaimer. As for black people, this number skyrockets to 5,910 such rants. Furthermore, although the website explicitly condemns violence in small print, their reaction to the attack in Charlottesville demonstrates their true attitude regarding violence committed by its ideological bedfellows and the victims of such violence.

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville attack, the Daily Stormer lionized James Alex Fields Jr., calling him a “straight player” who “didn’t give a f–k” and had a “cool demeanor.” Regarding Heather Heyer, the woman killed by Mr. Fields, the tone of their headline was quite different: “Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut.” If we–with great difficulty–put aside our feelings of disgust and take an objective look at these words, it is abundantly clear what the Daily Stormer is saying: Heather Heyer deserved to be murdered, and Mr. Fields is a hero for killing her.

A screenshot of the Daily Stormer headline.
A screenshot of the Daily Stormer headline.

Incredulously, the story is worse than the headline, further solidifying their idea that she deserved to die. Mr. Anglin’s insane tirade on Heather Heyer and James Alex Fields Jr. includes the following quotes:

  • “[M]ost people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness.”
  • “Had she not died yesterday, hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been spent on propping-up this gross creature who had failed to do her most basic duty – her only real duty, in fact – and reproduce.”
  • “Whatever you think of the driver, it is clear that his actions saved us a lot of money. The costs of the food alone to sustain a woman of this size for another 49 years would be astronomical.”
  • “All old fat sluts are psychic vampires, and it is clear that Heather Heyer was playing this game hard.”

Had Mr. Anglin added the word ‘infidel’ or ‘crusader’ to his story, one could have mistaken him for a jihadist spokesman.

Somewhere in the United States, Canada, or Europe (perhaps all three), a white supremacist is smirking, quietly emboldened by what transpired in Charlottesville. He has witnessed another manifestation of the hate that drove Dylann Roof to massacre nine black church members, but the societal dynamics have frighteningly changed. The Charlottesville rally has proven that neo-Nazis are willing and able to rally in public without hiding their identity any longer. It demonstrated that there are no less than seven hundred white supremacists and neo-Nazis in this country, including many who are willing to drive hundreds of miles and take up arms for their cause. This supremacist believes, with compelling evidence, that the current President of the United States, as well as other high-ranking White House officials, are sympathetic to his ideology. He reads through sites such as the Daily Stormer, unaware of the disclaimer, or aware that its presence on the website is a legal, rather than moral, obligation. He knows that, should he carry out an attack, he will be celebrated by prominent neo-Nazi communities around the United States and abroad, and that millions around the world will know who he is. As you read these words, this as-yet-unknown white supremacist is being further radicalized, and he is preparing to injure and kill his fellow countrymen.

As a clarification, in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, The Daily Stormer domain was forced off of GoDaddy and Google. As a result of this domain change, the pictures which obscured the disclaimer are no longer on the website, which made the disclaimer on violence somewhat more prominent.

About the Author
Ben is a junior majoring in political science and economics at Washington University in St. Louis. The Arab Spring sparked a lifelong interest in geopolitics and anti-Semitism, which are the topics most frequently discussed in his pieces.