In this week’s roundup: Stories that break the hate.
It’s been a rough week in America. So this week, we’re highlighting some of the glimpses of hope across the country.
Perhaps the tide is turning? From Tennessee, to Denver, to Virginia, hate groups and leaders have been ostracized, exposed and indicted over the past couple of weeks.
But first: Last Friday, we held a Reddit Ask Me Anything on the antifa movement.
We want to expand on that by answering your questions about this new era of hate in America. Send us an email with questions about leaders, ideologies, movements and whatever else. We’ll answer them in next week’s newsletter.
White supremacist club gets denied a spot in a restaurant
Over the weekend, white supremacists from around the country gathered in Crossville, Tennessee, for the annual conference of the influential neo-Nazi internet forum Stormfront.
Crossville locals went to great lengths to make the conference attendees feel unwelcome. And for good reason: According to records collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center, between 2009 and 2014, Stormfront users have been convicted of nearly 100 murders.
Conference attendees were barred from meeting at a local restaurant, The Beef & Barrel, the evening before the official event by the restaurant’s owner.
Organizers initially tried to keep the conference’s location a secret, switching locations inside Cumberland Mountain State Park, but dozens of anti-racist activists discovered the switch and spent the day protesting the gathering.
From USA Today:
“We’ve been coming to Crossville for three years,” said white nationalist Tom Pierce, a former Knox County Commission candidate in Tennessee who received 7 percent of the vote in his run for office. “There’s been no issues and no one has ever banned us. So what? There’s hundreds of other restaurants.”
Charlottesville rally organizer indicted
The man who organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Jason Kessler, has been indicted for perjury.
Kessler pleaded guilty to an assault charge in April and received a 30-day suspended sentence.
During a court appearance, he claimed that he was attacked while gathering signatures for a petition demanding the ouster the city’s vice mayor. However, surveillance video of the incident showed Kessler had instigated the confrontation.
In Virginia, felony perjury carries a maximum sentence of a $2,500 fine and 10 years in prison. He was released on bond on Wednesday morning.
There’s a really good “This American Life” piece on the relationship between Kessler and the vice mayor, who is African American.
Evangelical Christian leaders stand up to white nationalists
White evangelical Christians represent the cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s base. Now, some members of this group are leveraging their influence to get the president to take a stand against white nationalists.
An open letter co-signed by 39 evangelical pastors and activists from across the country urged the president to speak out against the racist elements of his base and inside his administration.
The letter reads, in part:
This movement gained public prominence during your candidacy for President of the United States. Supporters of the movement have claimed that you share their vision for our country. These same supporters have sought to use the political and cultural concerns of people of goodwill for their prejudiced political agendas. It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.
Alt-right ideology does not represent constitutional conservatism. The Constitution promotes the dignity and equality of all people. It maintains that we all have the ability to contribute to a just and free society.
Email leaker exposes how Breitbart intentionally fostered white supremacists
Someone accessed the email account of former Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos and leaked it to BuzzFeed, resulting in a blockbuster story about how the right-wing news site actively worked to mainstream white nationalism. The story, which is well worth reading in full, is packed with jaw-droppers about how former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon groomed Yiannopoulos to be the face of his publication and how Yiannopoulos touched nearly every important corner of the online white supremacist ecosystem.
For example, a video shows Yiannopoulos singing “America the Beautiful” at a Dallas karaoke bar while white supremacist leader Richard Spencer led members of the audience in Nazi salutes.
And when Yiannopoulos was writing a “big definitive guide to the alt-right,” he worked closely with Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, a notorious hacker who works for the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, and Devin Saucier, the editor of the white supremacist magazine American Renaissance.
Here’s an exchange with Saucier:
“I think you’ll like what I’m cooking up,” Yiannopoulos wrote to Saucier, the American Renaissance editor.
“I look forward to it,” Saucier replied. “Bannon, as you probably know, is sympathetic to much of it.”
Empathy for the racist
Theo E.J. Wilson went on an online mission to infiltrate the alt-right, and found something he wasn’t expecting: empathy.
After spending months talking with racists online, the black poet came away with a degree of understanding for the disenfranchised and confused white men he talked to in racist forums and on Facebook.
He blamed the left wing’s demonization of white males for helping create the alt-right.
“If you are a pale-skinned penis haver, you’re in league with Satan!” Wilson says a new TED Talk.
Wilson’s point is that America’s new young racists didn’t just wake up one day with hate in their hearts. And he implores his audience to go back to their communities and set up discussion groups with people they disagree with – away from their “online echo chambers,” where they can listen to, engage and debunk hateful ideas before they take root in young people.
It’s a must watch.
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