“Fallon” is not her real name. It’s a pseudonym she’s using because she wants to remain anonymous. She knows that can be an elusive goal, chiefly because of people not unlike her. When I first contacted Fallon, here is what she told me about herself: she’s in her mid-30s; she’s white; she has children; she works a 9-to-5 office job; and she lives in Ohio. Continue Reading →
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A public appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer began tensely, but mostly peacefully, at the University of Florida on Thursday as police, protesters and white nationalists gathered for a planned speech that prompted Florida’s governor to declare a state of emergency. Continue Reading →
White Nationalist Richard Spencer’s tiki torch rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his distant dream of forming a white ethnostate steal headlines, but his views about women—that their role in politics be shrunk down to a barely visible place that would be unrecognizable to almost anyone in modern America—is seldom highlighted. Continue Reading →
Angela Merkel will continue as chancellor of Germany. But following an election that saw the rise of smaller parties – most notably the far right – her fourth term will probably be an eventful one in ways she would not wish for.
The Union parties (Merkel’s CDU and sister party CSU) finished in top place with just under 33%. They did nevertheless lose almost 9% over their previous election result of 2013.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD), coalition partner to the Union parties, finished a distant second, with just over 20% of the vote. For the SPD, this is a historic low: almost 6% down on the last election. Party leader Martin Schulz failed to come up to scratch in a lacklustre campaign.
Four smaller parties have managed to meet the 5% threshold to qualify for seats in parliament.
The right-wing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), achieved a dubious milestone in post-war German history. With a vote share of 12.5%, it will be the first overtly far-right nationalist party to enter the federal parliament.
The Left Party (die Linke) and the Green Party (Bündnis ‘90/die Grünen) made marginal gains to score 9% and just over 9% respectively. Big gains went to one party that had been more or less written off after the last election and to another that many commentators hoped never to see in parliament at federal level. The liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) rose from the ashes to return to parliament under their charismatic new leader Christian Lindner. With 10.7% of the vote, the party more than doubled its tally of the last election.
Forming a government
The new government will need to control 316 seats in the parliament to achieve the majority needed to take office. While probably technically possible, a continuation of the current Grand Coalition (GroKo) between CDU/CSU and SPD now seems unlikely.
Having sent mixed messages before the election, the SPD declared after the close of polls that it aims to work as an opposition party in the new parliament.
With the AfD and die Linke ruled out of a CDU/CSU-based coalition on ideological grounds, this leaves the possibility of a so-called Jamaica coalition of CDU/CSU, FDP and the Greens (the parties’ traditional colours of black, green and yellow tally with the Jamaican flag). However, this option is no foregone conclusion and could prove very unpopular with voters.
All roads lead to Merkel
Despite the consistency of the polls over the past few weeks, an unprecedented number of German voters – around 40% – remained undecided as late as a week before the election.
The uncertainty was palpable in an unusually nervy, volatile mood among the electorate. Psychologist Stephan Grünewald noted odd swings in public perceptions of the Merkel government’s achievements. One minute Germany was a “desolate land”, the next an “island of prosperity”.
Germans are well aware of their relative prosperity in Europe but seem to have been traumatised by the impact of the migrant crisis within their borders. Anxiety runs high over international tensions and there is a fear that Germany’s economic security is under threat. At one level, people could hardly be bothered about the election. Even so, social media posts exploded with rage and Merkel’s car was pelted with tomatoes at appearances in the east – her home territory.
The voters sensed that a change was overdue, but calculated that in practice all votes – other than for the radical outliers of the Left Party and AfD – would trickle back to Merkel. Ironically, the opposition parties fed the perception that there was no alternative to Merkel.
Before election day, all of the remaining mainstream parties – SPD, Greens and FDP – had seemed open to the idea of joining a coalition. With the Union parties bossing the polls at around 36% and the SPD well behind at around 22%, it was clear that any continuation of the GroKo would be led by Merkel, not Schulz.
Even after three terms in office and after testing the forbearance of the German public with her open doors asylum policy, 56% claimed in polling that they would rather see her remain chancellor while only 32% favoured Schulz. With neither the mainstream parties nor the voters daring to rock the boat, Merkel barely needed to campaign.
But now she faces another set of challenges before she can forge a new government. Before the election it was thought that the higher the vote for the AfD, the greater the likelihood that the vote of the other smaller parties would be squeezed, making a continuation of the crumbling CDU/CSU-SPD partnership unavoidable. Instead, it was the vote of the two main parties that was squeezed, apparently convincing the SPD that there was no future for it in a Merkel-led GroKo. Now Merkel must try to make a pact with two parties that will stretch the comfort zone of an already broad Union church.
Also, the higher the vote for the AfD, the greater the pressure that the CSU, the CDU’s more conservative and reactionary Bavarian sister party, can exert on the content of the government’s coalition agreement and on future policy direction. Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, had already announced his intention of driving the Union parties further to the right in the post-election coalition negotiations. The strident entry of the AfD into parliament will help him to justify his demands, including a more rigorous immigration control policy. With the CSU suffering a historic low of 38.5% – a drop of almost 11% of the vote – in its Bavarian constituency, it will be sure to press even harder for conservative reforms.
Samantha Bee points out that the Trump administration has defunded a program that monitors violent white supremacist groups, the most significant terror threat in the U.S. She’s been raising money for Life After Hate, which received financial support through the same program.… Continue Reading →
Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you. Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics… Continue Reading →
It looks like that a few web services and app providers are giving white nationalists the boot…
Firms like Twitter, Spotify, chat app Discord, and even famously anti-censorship Cloudflare are taking action against racists and neo-Nazis on their platforms, following this weekend’s deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It’s a significant change of heart for the tech industry, which has historically positioned itself as pro-“free speech.” But the rally led to a collective reassessment of the responsibilities of tech companies for the content they host and support.
Here’s a (non-comprehensive) sample of the action taken by tech businesses over the last week:
GoDaddy, a web-hosting service, booted the notorious neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, off its platform. The site moved to Google — which promptly ejected it too.
Apple’s payment service Apple Pay is cutting off white supremacists, disabling payment support for websites that sell racist and neo-Nazi apparel, BuzzFeed News reported.
Twitter suspended accounts associated with the Daily Stormer.
Facebook, which already has rules in place banning “hate speech” (unlike Twitter), banned accounts (on Facebook and Instagram) of at least one white nationalist who attended the rally. “It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
Discord, a chat platform that has been popular with the racist “alt-right” movement, cracked down on hate groups and shut down an alt-right server.
Spotify moved to remove “hate bands” from its music streaming service, telling Reuters: “Illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us.”
Cloudflare, a service that protects websites from DDoS cyber-attacks, stopped protecting the Daily Stormer — despite its previous commitments to be totally neutral as to the content it guards.
Domain registrar and hosting service Squarespace has ditched white nationalist customers including Richard Spencer.
And these groups acknowledge the pinch…
While President Donald Trump spent the week generating goodwill among the varied white nationalist groups that descended on Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, a wide swath of corporations, universities and localities were pushing back against them….
“I can’t think of another incident to which the backlash has been nearly so widespread,” Mark Pitcavage, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.
Most of the white nationalist, far-right and “anti-communist” groups that spoke with TPM acknowledged that squeeze, in addition to their association with a gory rally attended by neo-Nazis and decorated Ku Klux Klan members, as a setback. But the gloss they put on it varied widely: A number of group leaders insisted that the exposure they received through the “Unite the Right” rally is worth any ensuing hardship, and that other social media and web domain platforms will crop up to service their needs. Others described the ongoing backlash as a huge blow.
A Charlottesville organizer and white nationalist podcast host who goes by the pseudonym Caerulus Rex told TPM that his PayPal account had been terminated in the wake of Charlottesville. But Rex insisted that such moves would not “silence us.”
“There are already services stepping up to accept the money that paypal and the like dont want,” Rex said in an email. “Those companies that started refusing us service created an opportunity for tech savy [sic] individuals to profit by not being offended by the truth.”
I guess the “free speech” argument was beat by the fact that these white nationalists are repugnant to most people. And even those decision makers who are business minded see the that these groups are not really good for business.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it”
– President Trump
I have been seeing this assertion that the so-called “Anti-fa” is a direct left wing equivalent of the “Alt-Right” as far as a propensity for violence in op-eds and comment sections of the media as well as social media. I know that in Berkeley the “Anti-fa” showed up outside an event that featured Milo Yiannopoulos and there were violent attacks and acts of vandalism from the group. Antifa activists vandalized property and committed violence on Inauguration Day in Washington. Their actions have been relatively isolated, focused on disrupting white “Alt-Right” rallies and mostly not instigating trouble on their own.
An account of the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville by Jason Williams brings to question the accusation that the counter protesters provoked the violence on Friday…
On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-fascists had a torchlight march across the University of Virginia’s campus, a place to which they had not been invited. They openly chanted fascist slogans like “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us”.
When they reached a much smaller group of counter-protesters gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson, they surrounded them, hurled verbal abuse and then commenced beating them with lit torches and fists, and using pepper spray on them. Some protesters told me they had been sprayed with lighter fluid while naked flames burned all around them. Some of the people trapped around the statue responded with fists and pepper spray, but their actions, and their posture, was entirely defensive from the start. The “alt-right”, on the other hand, came prepared for violence, and they were spoiling for it.
Here is a description of events that took place on Saturday…
It was basically impossible to miss the antifa for the group of us who were on the steps of Emancipation Park in an effort to block the Nazis and alt-righters from entering. Soon after we got to the steps and linked arms, a group of white supremacists—I’m guessing somewhere between 20-45 of them—came up with their shields and batons and bats and shoved through us. We tried not to break the line, but they got through some of us—it was terrifying, to say the least—shoving forcefully with their shields and knocking a few folks over. We strengthened our resolve and committed to not break the line again. Some of the anarchists and anti-fascist folks came up to us and asked why we let them through and asked what they could do to help. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou talked with them for a bit, explaining what we were doing and our stance and asking them to not provoke the Nazis. They agreed quickly and stood right in front of us, offering their help and protection.
Less than 10 minutes later, a much larger group of the Nazi alt-righters come barreling up. My memory is again murky on the details. (I was frankly focused on not bolting from the scene and/or not soiling myself—I know hyperbole is common in recounting stories like these, but I was legitimately very worried for my well-being and safety, so I was trying to remember the training I had acquired as well as, for resolve, to remember why I was standing there.) But it had to have been at least 100 of them this go around. I recall feeling like I was going to pass out and was thankful that I was locked arms with folks so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground before getting beaten. I knew that the five anarchists and antifa in front of us and the 20 or so of us were no match for the 100-plus of them, but at this point I wasn’t letting go.
At that point, more of the anarchists and antifa milling nearby saw the huge mob of the Nazis approach and stepped in. They were about 200-300 feet away from us and stepped between us (the clergy and faith leaders) and the Nazis. This enraged the Nazis, who indeed quickly responded violently. At this point, Sekou made a call that it was unsafe—it had gotten very violent very fast—and told us to disperse quickly.
While one obviously can’t objectively say what a kind of alternate reality or “sliding doors”–type situation would have been, one can hypothesize or theorize. Based on what was happening all around, the looks on their faces, the sheer number of them, and the weapons they were wielding, my hypothesis or theory is that had the antifa not stepped in, those of us standing on the steps would definitely have been injured, very likely gravely so. On Democracy Now, Cornel West, who was also in the line with us, said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration—I saw it as a very reasonable hypothesis based on the facts we had.
I am sure that accounts of events of last weekend in Charlottesville will slowly come out, giving a more clear picture of events. I am not one to condone violence, but, if the “Anti-fa” was, indeed, protecting peaceful protesters against a violent, angry mob, I can only say I am glad they came to these people’s aid.
With these accounts, I would say calling both these groups, Alt-Right and Anti-fa, the same would be a false equivalency.
In July of 2015, South Carolina Highway Patrol Honor Guard quietly removed the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. The flag was surrendered to the museum curator of the Confederate Relic room in the State Museum, down the road from the Capitol.
I live in a town that if I drive 30 minutes east, I can have all the advantages of a bustling, diverse city. I can drive just 20 minutes to the west and be at a run-down roadhouse bar that displays its hatred and bigotry openly with sign and flags. Their changeable copy sign protested the removal of the flag in South Carolina. In the western area and the northwestern area of Georgia, the reaction to South Carolina retiring the Confederate flag was seen for weeks. Some towns were witnessing parades of trucks flying U.S. flags, “Don’t tread on me” flags, and Confederate Flags on the weekends for weeks that summer. These parades put some towns’ streets in gridlock. Minorities and immigrants were harassed.
In Douglas County, Georgia, the county where I live, was not spared these demonstrations for the love of Confederate Flags. A group the named themselves “Respect the Flag” were parading around the county on a Sunday in July 2015. 5 trucks pulled into an empty lot next to the home of an African American family that was having a gathering for a kid’s birthday outside. A member of Respect the Flag pulled a shotgun and pointed it at party-goers, used racial slurs and threatened to kill people at the party.
Here is the 911 call of one the people attending the party….
Two people, Kayla Rae Norton, 25, and Jose Ismael Torres, 26, were convicted of gang activity in February 2017. The judge sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 to serve in prison. Norton was given 15 years, with six to serve.
In reaction to this sentencing, Stephen Howard, imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, announced that 200 members will arrive in Douglas County to protest in March 2017. He threatened that the group will be armed and dressed in full robes. (The courthouse is approximately three blocks from where the African American family that was harassed lives.) I decided to go witness the rally with camera in hand. When I arrived, the Klan had not arrived, yet. There was a large law enforcement presence. The crowd was rather large in front of the courthouse. Most people there were in protest the Mississippi KKK. There were a handful people in support of the KKK. There were a few tense moments and words exchanged, but, for the most part, it was peaceful and without incident.
The Mississippi Klan did not show up for their demonstration.
Election season in Douglas County last fall did not go by without incident. Thom Wortham, Douglas County Commission Chair was campaigning at a festival that was held at the courthouse. Commissioner Wortham was elected in 2005 and it was expected that his challenger for the seat, Ramona Jackson Jones, would not pose much of a threat. All of this changed when a festival goer caught Wortham on a cell phone video making racist remarks regarding what would happen to Douglas County if the leadership in the county was primarily African American. (Douglas County is 41% African American.)
Randy Travis Fox5 report:
This video was the primary reason that Wortham lost his seat to Ramona Jackson Jones, as well as the first elected African American Sheriff of the county, as well as an African American Tax Commissioner.
And these are recent incidents and within a mile of my home.
These racists, Klan members, Alt-right, white supremacists whatever they call themselves, are in plain view. They are just not hiding anymore.
They say it is about flags and monuments. Charlottesville was not about a monument. The threat against that African American family was not about a flag. It is about the bigotry and racism like the thoughts expressed by Wortham.
And, yes, people are resisting.
All in plain view.
This was like watching Eric Cartman give a press conference. The Washington Post reports: President Trump on Tuesday said that counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend acted violently and should share the blame for the mayhem that left a woman dead and many others injured. The president also defended those protesting… Continue Reading →