Concerns about online extremism are not new. In January 1985, the Anti-Defamation League released a report entitled Computerized Networks of Hate. Years before the Internet became a household word, that report exposed a computerized bulletin board created by and for white supremacists and accessible to anyone with a modem and a home computer. Aryan Nations, a paramilitary group affiliated with the "Identity Church" pseudo-theological hate movement, sponsored the bulletin board and named it "Aryan Nation Liberty Net." The project was the work of two individuals: Louis Beam, then a Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations leader, and George Dietz, the man behind the largest neo-Nazi publishing mill in the United States.
This bulletin board was a forerunner of extremism on the Internet. Computerized Networks of Hate detailed five ways the "Aryan Nation Liberty Net" served the white supremacist movement, all of which remain important to extremism on the Internet today. First, the bulletin board was designed to draw young people to the hate movement with appealing propaganda. Second, the network helped stir up hatred against the "enemies" of white supremacy. Third, the bulletin board was a means to make money. Fourth, the system offered the potential for circulating secret, coded messages among extremists, and finally, it bypassed embargoes that nations outside of the United States placed on hate literature.
Though Computerized Networks of Hate noted little to suggest that Aryan Nation Liberty Net represented a great leap forward in the spread of anti-Semitic and racist propaganda, it warned that "complacency" about this development "would be unwise." At the time, Beam wrote that the bulletin board was a "patriotic brain trust" and boasted that "computers are now bringing their power and capabilities" to the white supremacist movement. "The possibilities," Beam remarked, "have only been touched upon."
The same month that ADL released Computerized Networks of Hate, white supremacist Stephen Donald (Don) Black was released from prison. While serving just over two years, Black had learned to use computers. In 1981, Black was arrested with a group of nine other neo-Nazis and Klansmen in Slidell, Louisiana, and charged with plotting to invade the Caribbean island of Dominica, overthrow its government, and turn it into a "white state." He was convicted, and following an unsuccessful appeal, he surrendered to Federal marshals in December, 1982.
In the years following his release, Black gradually withdrew from white supremacist activism, eventually becoming a computer consultant. However, he did not disavow his racism. It was Black who would launch Stormfront, the first extremist hate site on the World Wide Web, a decade after ADL reported on "Aryan Nation Liberty Net." "There is the potential here to reach millions," Black said of the Internet. "I think it's a major breakthrough. I don't know if it's the ultimate solution to developing a white rights movement in this country, but it's certainly a significant advance."
Initially, Black could find only a handful of other Web sites that reflected his anti-Semitic, racist message. Today, hundreds of bigotry-laden sites promoting a variety of philosophies have joined Stormfront on the Web. The propaganda presented by these sites, from subtle to heavy-handed, is aimed at influencing both attitudes and behavior.
Though it is not always easy to draw a connection between online speech and violence, extremist groups with histories of violence have extensive Web sites. Additionally, extremists have used the Internet to comment favorably on violent acts. One Web site calls John William King, convicted murderer of James Byrd, an "American Hero" and asks readers to "give thanks to God" for King's act. Another site's "Memorial" to gay murder victim Matthew Shepard claims he "got himself killed" because of his "satanic lifestyle" and "will be in hell for all eternity."
Many extremist sites target the young. Hate groups such as the World Church of the Creator have posted Web sites filled with simple propaganda devoted specifically to wooing children. Bigotry-laced hard rock and the Internet have proved a natural match for racist Skinheads trying to capture the minds of teens.
While deeply disturbing, the growth of hate and extremism on the Internet simply mirrors the expansion of Internet use. What began as a small computer network used primarily by scientists and academic researchers has become a mass medium. Computers and Internet access are in workplaces, homes, schools and libraries, and prices for both are falling rapidly. For many Internet users in the United States, going online costs nothing. Large numbers of U.S. workers have free access to the Internet at their offices. Many U.S. residents use free Internet access at their local public libraries, and educational institutions regularly connect their students to the Web free of charge.
Most Internet Service Providers willingly "host" their customers' World Wide Web pages; in return for a user's access fee, they provide nearly unlimited use of the hardware and communications lines necessary for creating a site on the Web. Some Web-based services, such as Tripod and GeoCities, host Internet users' pages free of charge. All of the above provide free, easy-to-use Web development tools, making it simple, even for those who know nothing about computer programming, to create their own Web pages.
Beyond low cost and availability, the Internet provides a new type of information distribution, since time and distance are compressed. Information posted there is available instantaneously, 24 hours a day, from anywhere on the planet. The World Wide Web creates the illusion that all information is present in the user's computer at the instant it is needed. Accessing information has never been easier. What's more, the Internet has done more than that, for it has turned every user into a potential publisher. It has never been easier for any individual to broadcast his or her ideas to the world.
A worldwide collection of computers linked by high-speed phone lines, the Internet displays remarkable versatility, sometimes resembling a letter, on other occasions a telephone, and still other times a television. Like a printed letter, the Internet provides a way to communicate directly with others, near or far, but on the Internet, "E-mail" (electronic mail) is delivered nearly instantaneously (E-mail arrives so much more quickly than standard printed correspondence that users of the Internet sometimes call traditional letters "snail mail"). Furthermore, E-mail users pay nothing for the transmission of messages; their accounts are charged a flat fee for service, if they pay for their accounts at all.
Like a telephone, the Internet provides a way to communicate in "real time" with others. A person using a chat room or Internet Relay Chat channel to converse with friends can engage in a fast-paced conversation, for friends' words appear on the screen mere seconds after they've been typed. Like television, the Internet can "broadcast" information to vast audiences. Millions of Internet users can view the same World Wide Web site simultaneously, and Web sites, like television programs, are able to transmit text, sound, photos, and moving images. The growth of the Internet represents a revolution in communication as significant as that begun by the development of the printing press in the 15th century. Yet the time needed for its impact to be felt has been drastically telescoped. What took centuries is now taking place in a matter of a few years.
Even before Stormfront appeared on the Web, extremists had begun exploiting other ways to use the Internet, and these practices continue today. Lively conversations take place on numerous extremist Internet Relay Chat channels. The USENET, a collection of thousands of public discussion groups (or newsgroups) on which people write, read and respond to messages, attracts hundreds of thousands of participants each day, both active (those who write) and passive (those who simply read or "lurk"). Newsgroups have been compared to community bulletin boards. Haters of all sorts debate, rant, and insult their opponents on newsgroups with titles such as alt.politics.white-power and alt.revisionism.
Electronic mailing lists (or "listservs") flourish as well. Such lists are like private "bulletin boards" available only to subscribers. While some lists keep their subscription information confidential, most are easy to join. Postings to some of these lists are moderated (i.e., monitored by the list operator who applies certain standards of acceptability), but others are entirely unregulated.
In fashioning their lists, extremists and racists create an "electronic community" of like-minded people. Before the Internet, many extremists worked in relative isolation, forced to make a great effort to connect with others who shared their ideology. Today, on the Internet, bigots communicate easily, inexpensively, and sometimes anonymously with hundreds of fellow extremists. Online, extremists reinforce more easily each other's hateful convictions.
Extremists also use E-mail, which allows them to communicate with one another directly, their missives ostensibly hidden from public view. In fact, E-mail is not truly private: computer-savvy individuals can intercept and read private messages. Some users, nervous about eavesdroppers, now use cryptographic programs. Cryptography converts written material using a secret code, rendering it unreadable by anyone who does not have the means to decode it. With encrypted E-mail, extremists have found a secure forum in which to exchange ideas and plans.
E-mail can also be used to spread hate propaganda. With a mailing list and a message, hate mailings can easily reach the mailboxes of large numbers of people. Enterprising haters have managed to mass-mail hate materials to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of unsuspecting people without revealing their identity.
Though purveyors of hate make use of all the communication tools the Internet provides, the World Wide Web is their forum of choice. In addition to its multimedia capabilities and popularity with Internet users, the Web allows bigots to control their message. Organized haters complain about civil rights activists who critique their manifestoes in USENET newsgroups and other interactive forums. In contrast, haters can refuse to publish critical messages on their Web sites, just as a TV station can refuse to broadcast another station's opinions over its airwaves.
Furthermore, it is impossible for someone surfing the Web to know if any particular organization, other than one with a national reputation, is credible. Both the reputable and the disreputable are on the Web, and many Web users lack the experience and knowledge to distinguish between them. Increasingly, Web development tools have made it simple for bigots to create sites that visually resemble those of reputable organizations. Consequently, hate groups using the Web can more easily portray themselves as legitimate voices of authority.
Since its creation, Stormfront has served as a veritable supermarket of online hate, stocking its shelves with many forms of anti-Semitism and racism. In its first two years, Stormfront featured the writings of William Pierce of the neo-Nazi National Alliance; David Duke; representatives of the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review and other assorted extremists. By 1997, Black's site became home to the Web pages of other extremists, such as Aryan Nations and Ed Fields, racist publisher of The Truth At Last, a hate-filled newspaper. He also posted new reprints of white supremacist articles and essays, such as The Talmud: Judaism's holiest book documented and exposed. Meant to inflame Christians by characterizing the Talmud as primarily anti-Christian and filled with "malice," "hate-mongering" and "barbarities," this particularly scurrilous tract willfully distorts and misrepresents an important religious document while demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of its history, complexity, and role in Jewish religious practice.
Some of Black's recent efforts have involved the expansion of Stormfront: enlarging its collection of links, adding an interactive chat room, and housing additional racist Web sites. One of these sites, Our Legacy of Truth, offers the text of works such as "Proof of Negro Inferiority" by Alexander Winchell and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, as well as Willie Martin's "1001 Quotes By and About Jews." This pernicious compendium of quotations strings together mistranslated remarks made by Jews, statements of well-known non-Jews taken out of context, and the ravings of anti-Semites, so as to give readers the impression that Jews are constantly striving for global control. Another site now housed by Black, White Singles, serves as a free dating service for white supremacists. "Women and men listed on WS [White Singles] are heterosexual, white gentiles only," its Home Page declares. Well over 200 men and women have registered for this service, many of them submitting pictures of themselves for viewing by prospective mates. A third new site at Stormfront, White Nationalist News Agency (NNA), posts the text of articles from the Associated Press and other reputable news sources, seemingly without legal permission. Attached to these articles are the racist and anti-Semitic comments of Vincent Breeding, NNA editor and National Alliance activist of Tampa, Florida.
Beyond his additions to Stormfront, Black has begun to help other white supremacists by hosting their sites without publicly admitting that he is doing so. Unlike sites such as The Truth at Last or White Nationalist News Agency, which are housed by Black and are in effect part of Stormfront, it is not readily apparent that he services these other sites.
Adrian Edward Marlow of Suisun City, California, maintains one of these sites, White Pride World Wide.10 In fact, Marlow owns Black's Web server, the computer that contains his Web site and makes it available to Internet users. Black rents this server from Marlow and controls it electronically from a remote location: his home in West Palm Beach, Florida.11 Marlow also uses his own server to co-host white supremacist sites with Don Black.
Not surprisingly, White Pride World Wide is advertised on Stormfront and links to the mailing lists and chat room at Black's site. The rest of the site reflects Black's values as well: it includes "1001 Quotes By and About Jews," Madison Grant's racist tract The Passing of the Great Race and transcriptions of Louis Beam's speeches. Like Stormfront, White Pride World Wide also houses other racist Web sites, such as Verboten (a German-language extremist site) and women.wpww.com (a site created by and for white supremacist women).
Black hosts a site named Blitzcast, which Stormfront and White Pride World Wide recommend for those seeking online, racist audio "broadcasts." Using free audio software easily downloadable from the Web, visitors to Blitzcast can listen to the speeches of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell, the weekly radio addresses of National Alliance leader William Pierce, and the ravings of anti-Semitic Jew Benjamin Freedman. Also appearing at Blitzcast is Frank Weltner, who uses the pseudonym "Von Goldstein Mohammed" and runs Jew Watch, yet another site hosted by Black.
Jew Watch organizes its anti-Semitic materials much in the same way a popular Web directory might group more benign information. Weltner presents accusations that Jews were behind the terrors caused by Russia's Communist regime in "Jews, Communism, and The Job of Killing Off the USSR's Christians." "Jewish Genocides Today and Yesterday" describes an alleged Jewish plan to deport non-Jews from the U.S. in 1946. "90% of All United States News-papers Are Owned and Run by Jews" repeats the oft-heard charge that Jews run the media, and "The Rothschild Internationalist-Zionist- Banking-One World Order Family" claims that Jews control the world of finance. Adolf Hitler's writings, transcripts of Father Charles Coughlin's anti-Semitic radio broadcasts, and the text of Henry Ford Sr.'s bigoted International Jew are all available at Jew Watch as well.
When Marlow created Web sites at more than ten domain names that resembled the names of major daily newspapers, another misleading Web venture involving Black garnered attention. In October 1998, Marlow linked these sites directly to Stormfront. Consequently, Web users looking for news about Philadelphia at "philadelphiainquirer.com," for example, ended up visiting Don Black's site, not the Philadelphia Inquirer Home Page (which is located at phillynews.com). Other newspapers affected included the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Atlanta Constitution, and the London Telegraph.
As Black's site has grown and he has aggressively continued to promote it, an increasing number of Web users have been visiting Stormfront. Black told the Associated Press that the number of contacts to Stormfront doubled during the domain name incident, to 2,000 per day. According to Black, Web surfers have accessed Stormfront more than a million times since its debut.
Web users visiting Stormfront right now will likely find a bold advertisement in the lower left-hand corner of their screens. By clicking on it, they arrive at the Web site for perhaps America's best-known and most politically active racist: Black's mentor, David Duke.
Like Don Black, David Duke first became an active racist as a teen-ager. Soon after, as a student at Louisiana State University, he founded the neo-Nazi group White Youth Alliance. After his graduation, Duke founded the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and launched a publicity blitz that boosted its membership.
Duke's days as a Klan leader ended abruptly in 1980, after he was accused of trying to sell his group's membership list. Duke left the Klan to establish and head the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), which he himself confirmed was simply a Klan without robes. Though Duke shed his official role in the NAAWP when he became more politically active, he continued to maintain ties to the group and its agenda continued to parallel his.
Running as a Republican, Duke won a Louisiana State Legislature seat in January 1989, despite scrutiny and opposition from national Republican leaders. While in office, he continued to sell neo-Nazi literature. While claiming that he had repudiated racism, Duke made statements such as "Jews are trying to destroy all other cultures." Duke won 43.5 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful 1990 U.S. Senate race and 700,000 votes in a 1991 race for the governorship of Louisiana.
After an unsuccessful Presidential bid in 1992, Duke retreated from the political arena but continued to concentrate on raising his media profile. He tried his luck as a radio talk show host in 1993, but his controversial program, the "David Duke Conservative Hotline," proved unpopular. Two years after Duke failed to raise the $7,000 needed to continue broadcasting his program, he established The David Duke Report Online, a less costly venue for disseminating his views.
David Duke has embraced the Internet as a key to the future of the white supremacist movement. An article featured prominently at his site, "The Coming White Revolution -- Born on the Internet," outlines his high hopes that the Internet will "facilitate a world-wide revolution of White awareness."
Concerned that the "non-white birthrate," "massive immigration," and "racial intermarriage" will "reduce the founding people of America into a minority," Duke boasts at his Web site about the "genetic potential" of "our people," stressing the "innate intellectual & psychological differences" between whites and Blacks.
In another piece posted at his site, "Race and Christianity," Duke writes, "I truly believe that the future of this country, civilization, and planet is inseparably bound up with the destiny of our White race. I think, as the history of Christianity has shown, that our people have been the driving force in its triumph."
In November 1998, Duke renamed and redesigned his site. The site, now simply called David Duke, pictures Duke amid colorful images of an American flag, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and the White House. A "David Duke Biography" portrays the former Klan leader as a respectable citizen, listing the awards and degrees he has received and pointing out that he is a "publicly-elected Republican official" (Duke currently serves as the Chairman of the St. Tammany, Louisiana, Republican Parish Executive Committee). Duke's site also sells his autobiography, My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding; Duke promises to personally autograph all copies of the book ordered from the site.
Though Duke's site does not possess the depth or breadth of a site like Stormfront, his well-known name may attract curious, potential extremists browsing the Web. This is particularly troublesome considering Duke's expressed belief in the Internet as a white supremacist recruitment tool and his recent offline activities.
After years spent denying his racism in order to advance in politics, Duke has once again openly embraced the white supremacist movement. In a July 1997 article published by The Tallahassee Democrat, he acknowledged that his politics were becoming "more radical" in reaction to what he referred to as a "'growing undercurrent' of white frustration." Most disturbing are his speeches given in 1997 and 1998 at four separate events sponsored by the National Alliance, a group the Anti-Defamation League has identified as the single most dangerous organized hate group in the United States today.
The National Alliance
The National Alliance (NA) was originally established as the "Youth for Wallace" campaign in support of the failed 1968 Presidential bid of Alabama Governor George Wallace. After Wallace lost, the group was renamed the "National Youth Alliance." In 1970, William Pierce, a former American Nazi Party official, joined the group, and in 1974 (around the time that David Duke founded his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), Pierce took the reins and dropped the word "Youth" from the organization's name.
Now in his mid-60s, Pierce still leads the group out of a compound in West Virginia. Using the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald, he authored the novel The Turner Diaries, which details a successful world revolution by an all-white army, and the systematic extermination of Blacks, Jews, and other minorities. Many extremists regard The Turner Diaries as an explicit terrorism manual, and the novel is believed to have inspired several major acts of violence, including the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Pierce continues to encourage violence, viewing it as the ultimate solution to what he terms "the Jewish problem." His weekly radio program, American Dissident Voices (ADV), is rife with incendiary speech. Between his novels and his broadcasts, Pierce provides bigots with both an ideological and a practical framework for committing acts of mass destruction.
The National Alliance is currently the largest and most active neo-Nazi organization in the nation. In the past several years, dozens of violent crimes, including murders, bombings and robberies, have been traced to NA members or appear to have been inspired by the group's propaganda. At the same time, the organization's membership base has experienced major growth, with its numbers more than doubling since 1992.
The NA's current strength can be attributed to several factors: its willingness to cooperate with other extremists (such as David Duke); its energetic recruitment and other promotional activities; its vicious, but deceptively intellectualized propaganda, and a skillful embrace of the Internet.
A former physics professor at Oregon State University, Pierce was quick to understand the potential power of the Internet. Today, the NA's site is one of the best-organized and most informative hate sites on the Web. It promotes Pierce's Nazi-like ideology: biological determinism, hierarchical organization, an emphasis on will and sacrifice, and "a long-term eugenics program involving at least the entire populations of Europe and America."
In the section of its site entitled "What is the National Alliance?," the NA calls for the creation of "White Living Space" purged of all non-whites and demands the formation of a government "wholly committed to the service of [the white] race and subject to no non-Aryan influence." On the site, this section is reprinted in Swedish, Dutch, and German, as are French and German translations of The Turner Diaries and the text of selected ADV broadcasts in Swedish.
Also included on the NA's site are Pierce's anti-Semitic screed "Who Rules America" (a particular favorite among online bigots) and articles from the NA's print publications, Free Speech and National Vanguard. These documents contain familiar themes: America is in decline, its vital essence polluted by non-Aryans, and only the revolutionary program of the NA can save it.
The NA Web site also features an online version of the NA's National Vanguard Books catalog, which offers an extensive selection of racist and anti-Semitic books, videotapes, and cassettes. These items are divided into categories such as "National Socialist Revolution"; "Race: Science and Sociology"; and an especially long list of materials concerned with "Communism, Zionism, Feminism, and the Jews."
Visitors can order books from the National Alliance by downloading a user-friendly order form from the NA site, printing it out, and sending it to the NA with payment. Additionally, "any White person (a non-Jewish person of wholly European ancestry) of good character and at least 18 years of age who accepts as his own the goals of the National Alliance" can apply for membership using the Web, by downloading and printing out a membership form and mailing it to the group. Users can also find items relating to a particular topic by plugging in key words to the site's search engine; over 250 items turned up when searching for the term "Jews."
NA sympathizers have also increased the group's exposure by using public Internet forums, sending unsolicited E-mail messages, and disrupting USENET newsgroups. In the "Reviews and Commentaries" section of the Web site for Amazon.com, visitors are invited to comment on books they have read. In at least two reviews (no longer at the site), NA supporters promoted their organization's message. Reviewing The Turner Diaries, one of these sympathizers urged other readers to "contact the author's organization, the National Alliance, and get involved in the struggle for self-determination and freedom for our people." Another commentary lamented that whites who "just sit on their butts all day and allow the Jewish takeover of the U.S. to continue unchallenged really need to read the chapter called the 'Day of the Rope.' Everyone else who wants to fight needs to join the [NA]."
In October 1994, thousands of people in four states received an unsolicited E-mail message containing NA propaganda from an untraceable address. An action like this is considered a serious breach of "netiquette" (responsible Internet use). The NA disavowed this act but noted its interest in sending unsolicited messages in its newsletter.
A similar transmission of another National Alliance piece occurred in 1995, on the eve of the Jewish High Holy Days, and again in February 1998, when hundreds of people received an unsolicited E-mail message containing the transcript of Pierce's ADV program entitled "Bill, Monica, and Saddam." In it, Pierce claimed that by writing about the Monica Lewinsky affair, the "Jewish media bosses" harmed President Clinton, who "would do whatever they told him to do," but "had screwed up so many times that he had become a liability for them."
Those sympathetic to the NA have also targeted specific institutions, such as Southwest Texas University. In April 1998, three Black students there were charged with raping two white students at a dormitory party. The campus NAACP chapter voiced opposition to the charges and criticized school administrators for a "rush to judgment." In response, a National Alliance supporter sent 16,000 unsolicited E-mail messages to students and faculty calling on the NAACP to apologize to "victims of rape" and all white women. "The truth is," the E-mail read, "White people in this country are under attack by an ever-growing population of black criminals."
NA sympathizers have also posted thousands of messages to USENET newsgroups, seeing them as a way to broadcast their message widely. In its July 1995 Bulletin, the NA encouraged "the Alliance's seasoned cybernauts" to spread its Web site address "as widely as possible."
In a 1996 speech to the NA's Cleveland unit, Pierce described the NA's organized effort to dominate discussions in USENET newsgroups. He outlined the operations of an "Alliance Cybercell," a group of NA supporters active in USENET newsgroups. "We have organized members working as teams, not identifying themselves as Alliance members but going into these discussion groups and virtually taking them over," Pierce explained. These cell leaders "decide what discussion groups they want to get into...analyze the situation, analyze the types of propaganda that have been presented by the other side and we go in there and just tear them apart." Though Pierce encouraged online NA supporters to shift their recruiting activities from public debate to private discussions, one still finds NA members descending on USENET newsgroups and other public forums where they believe they might find sympathizers, spewing their hateful propaganda and inviting people to visit the NA Web site.
NA members correspond privately via E-mail not only with potential recruits, but also with each other. The organization claims to have established a "Rapid Response Team (RRT)," a group of NA volunteers who are contacted via E-mail to respond to special situations. According to the NA, this team serves many purposes, from gathering information to quickly alerting other NA members in their area when an "emergency" arises.
National Association for the Advancement of White People
While David Duke has recently allied himself with the National Alliance, his NAAWP has also jumped on the Internet bandwagon. Duke once described the NAAWP as "a perfect foil for me." Around 1990, soon after his successful run for the Louisiana State Legislature, he resigned from leadership of the group, but he still remained active behind the scenes. Duke's campaign treasurer, Paul Allen, became the NAAWP's leader, and the office for Duke's unsuccessful 1991 gubernatorial campaign served as the group's headquarters. The NAAWP has described Duke as "former NAAWP President and still, best friend to the organization," and Duke's Web site proudly identifies him as "founder and former National President of the NAAWP."
The NAAWP portrays itself as a non-profit "white rights" organization that defends white interests and rights in the same fashion that the NAACP works for the "Advancement of Colored People." Unlike some groups that proudly embrace the label of "racist," the NAAWP is more subtle in its hate. As early as 1985, the NAAWP encouraged its followers to mute their white supremacist views and "never refer to racial superiority or inferiority, only talk about racial differences, carefully avoiding value judgements." The NAAWP North Carolina chapter Web site responds to the question "Is the NAAWP a 'hate group'?" with a firm "absolutely not." At the national NAAWP site, a group leader writes, "I don't condemn black people. I want the best for them, both from a compassionate Christian-point-of-view, and because if they escape from the cycle of poverty, drugs, and crime, then we too will be better off." According to the NAAWP Michigan chapter, "the NAAWP doesn't stand for hating anyone, and more importantly it never has. It's about building a new, better society. A homogeneous community where everyone contributes, everyone benefits, and all share a common set of values and cultural beliefs."
The NAAWP, like David Duke, has tried to hide its hate, but its racist and anti-Semitic views, like those of its founder, are evident. NAAWP News, the group's newsletter, has regularly published articles with titles like "Anti-Semitism is normal for people seeking to control their own destiny"; "Jewish control of the media is the single most dangerous threat to Christianity," and "Why most Negroes are criminals."
On its Web sites as well, the NAAWP shows its true colors. "Tired of Black History Month, Martin Luther King Day, Miss Black USA, Black Entertainment Network, The United Negro College Fund, [and] Affirmative Action?" asks the NAAWP Arkansas chapter site. The Hawaii chapter's site calls gays "the worst predators on [sic] our children" and declares, "the Jesse Jacksons of this World just want White Women around to Pimp for Money and Drugs and to make the White Man Pay."
The National NAAWP Web site offers particularly clear examples of the bigotry that underlies the NAAWP's talk about "white rights." It presents an anti-Semitic essay by National Alliance member Kevin Alfred Strom with the comment, "this essay is a real call to all arms for all the races and nations of the world to rise up against these hypocrites, deceivers and tyrants - the j*ws [sic]." The site also posts another essay by Strom, "The Beast as Saint," which purports to discredit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a plagiarizer and a patron of prostitutes. A third document at the site, "Jews, Jews, Jews," offers "proof that the Jew really does control the media" in the way of a list of "Jewish CEOs.
Ku Klux Klan
NAAWP members sometimes attend rallies organized by an older, better-known hate group: the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). For more than 130 years, the Klan has provided a model for extremists by actively practicing and promoting bigotry, intimidation and violence.
The strength of America's oldest hate group has fluctuated, peaking and receding at various times in American history, coinciding with the rise and decline of social and economic discontent in the nation. The economic, political and cultural changes in the South after the Civil War, the dislocations in the early 1920s and the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s all fueled Klan growth.
In recent years, as a result of the counteractions of law enforcement and civil rights groups, changing fashions in the extremist movement, and internal power struggles, the Klan has lost much of its clout. David Duke's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which fell into decline when Don Black went to jail, underwent a major split in 1994. Other large, national Klans active in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s have also disintegrated. For instance, a 1987 Southern Poverty Law Center legal victory effectively dismantled the United Klans of America after its members lynched a Black teen-ager, Michael Donald. A 1993 court order disbanded the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan after group members pelted civil rights activists with rocks and bottles during a brotherhood march in Forsyth County, Georgia.
Still, in the 1990s, Klan members remain active and violent, planning terrorist bombings and burning Black churches. In April 1997, three Klan members were arrested in a plot to blow up a natural gas refinery near Fort Worth, Texas. Three more men with links to the Klan were arrested in February 1998 for planning to poison water supplies, rob banks, plant bombs, and commit assassinations. In a July 1998 court judgment, the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, its South Carolina state leader Horace King, and several other Klansmen were held responsible for their roles in a conspiracy to burn down a Black church.
Like other white supremacist groups, the Klan has turned to the Internet as a means to revitalize their movement and attract a new cadre of supporters and activists. "Up until last month, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Florida was very small," writes Brian K. Bass of his Klan group. "But now we have a website up, and our numbers are growing dramatically. We picked up 6 new members in just the last two weeks, and have other applications under consideration. I feel that this is due to the website." On the Web, some Klan factions favor the toned-down rhetoric associated with the NAAWP and other hate groups trying to appear mainstream. The first Klan page on the Web belonged to a group that adopted this strategy: Thom Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Robb's site presented a "kinder, gentler" Klan that teaches white racial pride but professes to be neither anti-Black nor anti-Catholic. Whites "have a right to be proud of their race" the site explains, adding that the popular image of a racist Klan is a lie deliberately spread by the liberal media.
Nonetheless, Robb's site relied on traditional Klan themes: whites are victims of intolerance who face racial extinction from a horde of Blacks and foreigners eager to intermarry and destroy American culture and religion; America should belong to Americans, not Asians, Arabs or Jews. Furthermore, early incarnations of Robb's site reprinted the "Franklin Prophecy," a vile, anti-Semitic speech falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
Today, Robb's Klan site reflects even stronger efforts to appear respectable, particularly in stating, like Duke, that the Klan's goal should be "political power." This "political power" is to be used to combat "anti-white and anti-Christian propaganda" and "to promote "White Christian civilization." Robb remains dismissive of the Klan's violent image, claiming his group "is well known through out [sic] law enforcement for being non-violent."
Some Klan members are not content with this toned-down language. One unabashedly bigoted Klan with more than a few Web sites, the Knights of the White Kamellia was founded in Louisiana in 1993. This group seeks to "maintain and defend the superiority of the White race," maintain "a marked difference between the White and Negro race," prevent the government "from falling into the hands of the Negro and or the ungodly," and educate "against miscegenation of the races."
Many other Klans are also now on the Web. Web users can find a membership application for the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, perhaps today's most vocal and active Klan, at that group's Web site. A few sites use the old Klan moniker "Invisible Empire," among them America's Invisible Empire of Alabama and Pennsylvania's Invisible Empire KKK. Smaller regional groups, such as the Southern Cross Militant Knights and the Northwest Knights, are active on the Internet as well.
While the Klans on the Web represent different factions and espouse various viewpoints, their Web sites are formatted in similar ways. Most Klan sites contain a membership application, a list of upcoming rallies, a statement of principles, an explanation of customs (such as cross burning), and a spurious account of Klan history. At many sites, the three latter items are adaptations, if not direct appropriations, of the materials originally posted at Robb's Klan sites. In fact, Robb threatened another Klan group with legal action for posting a document that Robb claims belongs exclusively to his Klan.
Furthermore, some Klan sites link to other Klan sites with which they are not affiliated. For instance, the North Georgia White Knights Web site links to many chapters of the Knights of the White Kamellia, the New Order Knights, and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The site for America's Invisible Empire links to the Web pages of the Northwest White Knights and Knights of the White Kamellia, among others. Such links, as well as the similarities between KKK sites, demonstrate the bonds among the different Klan factions, despite their infighting.
Identity Church Movement
The Identity Church movement, a pseudo-theological manifestation of racism and anti-Semitism on the far right, first came to light in the U.S. during the late 1970s and early 1980s, though its roots lie in the late years of the last century, with the British movement known as Anglo-Israelism.
Anglo-Israelism held that white Anglo-Saxons are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Adherents to this doctrine believed that England and the U.S. are the true Israel in which Biblical promises to the "Chosen People" are to be fulfilled. The Identity movement takes the position that white Anglo-Saxons not Jews are the real Biblical "Chosen People;" that Jews are the descendants of a union between Eve and Satan; and that the white race is inherently superior to other races. Identity believers assert that Blacks and other nonwhites are "mud people," on the same spiritual level as animals, and therefore without souls.
A nationwide movement, Identity has filled dozens of "churches" with its hate. Additionally, Identity has become the "religion" of choice for many hate groups, including Aryan Nations and the Posse Comitatus, in addition to some factions of the Ku Klux Klan.
Numerous Identity "churches" have established a Web presence in recent years, among them America's Promise Ministries, Stone Kingdom Ministries, and Kingdom Identity Ministries. Many of these organizations have made good use of the Web to market their pamphlets, books, and videotapes to their supporters. America's Promise Ministries offers Web users a vast online catalog of books, pamphlets, audio tapes, and video tapes filled with their racist beliefs. Along with a section full of online Identity books and book reviews, the Stone Kingdom Ministries Web site lists hundreds of "Bible Studies on Audiocassettes" for sale. Among bumper stickers, decals, charts, and other merchandise, the Kingdom Identity Ministries Web site retails Identity-based books written for children. Also at the Kingdom Identity site, Web users can enroll in a correspondence course, which consists of studying almost 300 pages of Identity materials, to receive a "Certificate in Christian Education."
With links to these "churches" at its Web site, the bimonthly newspaper The Jubilee of Midpines, California, serves as a national umbrella publication for Identity believers. Like the Web sites for those groups, the Jubilee site puts the power of the Web to use to raise funds. In addition to selling books and videotapes that the Jubilee guarantees "you won't find in the B. Dalton bookstore," visitors to the Jubilee site can sign up for subscriptions to the newspaper's print edition; buy advertising in its print or online versions, and purchase inexpensive, long distance telephone service that will benefit The Jubilee.
While some Identity "churches" focus on the Web's commercial potential, paramilitary Identity groups such as the Posse Comitatus and Aryan Nations have used it to encourage action.
William Potter Gale created an Identity group named Posse Comitatus, which means "power of the county" in Latin. Other Posses unaffiliated with Gale sprang up in its wake, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s. Loosely affiliated bands of armed anti-tax and anti-Federal government vigilantes and survivalists, these Posses believed that all government power is rooted at the county, not Federal, level.
Because they are convinced that the Federal government is controlled by "enemies" (usually Jews), Posse adherents resist paying taxes as well as other duties of law-abiding citizens. Aspects of the Posse's ideology, most notably its fierce hostility to Federal authority, reverberate among today's militia and common law court activists.
In the 1970s, Posses attracted Klan members and other anti-Semites (among them David Duke), and in 1983, these groups gained nationwide attention when active Posse member Gordon Kahl murdered two Federal Marshals in North Dakota and became a fugitive. When Kahl died in a shootout with Arkansas law enforcement officers, Posses and other Identity groups made him a martyr.
In 1991, James Wickstrom, an Identity minister and Posse leader based in Michigan, was convicted of plotting to distribute $100,000 in counterfeit bills to white supremacists at a 1988 Aryan Nations event. He was released from prison in 1994 and today runs a Posse Web site with fellow Identity "Pastor" August Kreis of Pennsylvania.
At his Posse Web site, Kreis calls "the occupying forces" of the "zionist [sic] or jewish [sic] occupied government" the enemies of "We the People" and describes them as the reason that the government has "grossly overstepped its bounds."
Kreis and Wickstrom also use their Web site to editorialize about current events. Written by Kreis, "Villain or American Folk Hero?" voices support for alleged abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. Kreis claims that "those who call themselves Identity" and "a growing consensus of conservative Christians" believe Rudolph has "done the will of...God."
In justifying Rudolph's alleged actions, Kreis stresses that "it is...an inarguable matter of Scriptural mandate that those involved with [abortion] have committed capital murder a crime punishable by DEATH!" Kreis maintains that "several hundred [Jewish Occupational Government] agents" are chasing Rudolph to "execute him" on the spot, and he urges "the proud European White folk living in this country" to "rise up against this tyrannical, parasitic [Jewish] communist government." Perhaps Rudolph engenders greater sympathy among this group because he himself may be an Identity believer: in 1984, he and his family spent several months at the Schell City, Missouri, Church of Israel compound run by Identity preacher Dan Gayman.
With regard to the brutal murder on October 23, 1998, of Dr. Barnett Slepian of upstate New York, likely targeted because he performed abortions, Kreis and Wickstrom comment, "Not much needs to be said. The justice in the 'putting to DEATH' of this jewish [sic] abortionist says it all!...Pray that other True Israelite Warriors across this land continue to rid our country of these murdering bastards!"
Aryan Nations & The Order
A contemporary of Posse Comitatus co-founder William Potter Gale, Wesley Swift was a Klan organizer who served as an aide to Gerald L.K. Smith, for many years America's most notorious peddler of anti-Semitism. During the 1950s, Swift was a leader of a Los Angeles church called the "Anglo-Saxon Christian Congregation." When Swift died, "Rev." Richard G. Butler proclaimed his "Church of Jesus Christ Christian" (CJCC) the direct successor to Swift's church. In the early 1970s, Butler formed a new group around his church: Aryan Nations (AN). Since then, he has held court at a 20-acre AN/CJCC compound in Northern Idaho, anticipating the creation of an exclusively white "national racist state" in the Pacific Northwest.
At its Web site, AN preaches that God's creation of Adam marked "the placing of the White Race upon this earth"; and that "the twelve tribes of Israel" are "now scattered throughout the world" and are "now known as the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Teutonic, Scandinavian, Celtic peoples." As a corollary, all non-whites are seen as inferior, but it is the Jews who are singled out as the special object of AN's "theologically" based hatred.
AN vilifies Jews as "the natural enemy of our Aryan (White) Race. This is attested by scripture and all secular history. The Jew is like a destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and the purity of our Race."
Citing the Book of Revelation, AN envisions a "battle" being fought "between the children of darkness (today known as Jews) and the children of light...the Aryan Race, the true Israel of the bible." According to AN, there will "soon" be a "day of reckoning," in which "the usurper will be thrown out by the terrible might of Yahweh's people, as they return to their roots and their special destiny."
In this struggle between the Jews and "the children of light," AN claims that the Jews have a surrogate: the United States Government, often referred to as "ZOG" (Zionist Occupied Government). In 1996, AN posted to its site an "Aryan Declaration of Independence," which declared, "the history of the present Zionist Occupied Government of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations... [all] having a direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states." Holding "the eradication of the White race and its culture" as "one of its foremost purposes," this "ZOG" is accused of relinquishing the "powers of government to private corporations, White traitors and ruling class Jewish families."
AN perceives itself as literally surrounded by enemies: vigorously fighting back is not only a solution to its problems, but a duty. According to AN, those whites who resist "ZOG" are "chosen and faithful," and the white "Racial Nation has a right and is under obligation to preserve itself and its members."
Although primarily an Identity group, AN embraces a neo-Nazi philosophy. Richard Butler himself has praised Hitler, and at the AN Web site, which announces, "WE BELIEVE in the gam-ma'di'on...a cross formed of four capital gammas...in the figure of a swastika," he is pictured giving the raised stiff-arm Nazi salute.
One of the most ambitious Identity Web sites, the AN site contains a membership application, a substantial book catalog, an online "Literature Archives" of hateful texts, and a long list of links to other hate sites.
AN is no stranger to violence. During the early 1980s, several of Butler's followers joined members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and some Klan splinter groups to form a secret organization called The Silent Brotherhood, also known as The Order, which planned to overthrow the U.S. government.
To raise money for its planned revolution, The Order engaged in a crime spree involving murder, counterfeiting, bank robberies, and armored-car hold-ups. Ostensibly, the group's activities ended with the death of its founder and leader, Robert J. Mathews, in a shootout with Federal agents in December 1984 and the incarceration of many of its members. Yet The Order has taken on a new life on the World Wide Web, serving as inspiration for today's Identity adherents and other white supremacists.
Hosted by the same Internet Service Provider as the AN Web site, the 14 Word Press Web site is devoted to the work of David Lane, an imprisoned member of The Order. Lane's best-known legacy is the "14 words": "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children." Despite the fact that Lane is a convicted felon serving a 190-year sentence in a high-security prison, his writings, including pieces from his monthly Focus Fourteen newsletter, can reach millions through the Internet. Among his columns, many of which are offered at the 14 Word Press site, is a sympathetic letter to convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
The symbols associated with Hitler's Nazis are attractive to bigots on the Web because they suggest anti-Semitism in an immediate, forceful way to the general public.
Like Identity "churches," neo-Nazis use the Web to market merchandise, selling items emblazoned with the instantly recognizable symbols of Hitler's Nazi party. Naming itself for the Shutzstaffel, the elite section of the Nazi Party that ran Hitler's extermination camps, the online store SS Enterprises specializes in selling Nazi-related paraphernalia, including newly-designed T-shirts, pins, patches, hats, stickers, flags, belt buckles, arm bands, and helmets bearing swastikas, the initials "SS," a German eagle, or an iron cross. Also available are Nazi patches, pins, rings, and hats designed during Hitler's era. Like the T-shirt a music fan might buy at a rock concert, one shirt reads "Adolf Hitler European Tour 1939-1945," listing the nations that Hitler invaded during those years. Other white supremacist T-shirts sold by SS Enterprises feature racist slogans such as "If we knew they were going to be this much trouble, we'd a picked our own damn cotton!!" or depictions of Klansmen behind phrases like "Boyz N' the Hood." Another shirt depicts a "Black Family Tree": a tree with nooses hung from it, seemingly ready for a Klan-style lynching.
At Our Hero's Library Web site, twentysomething neo-Nazi Tom Smith proudly displays a picture of his "Aryan hero," Adolf Hitler, flanked by animated, swirling swastikas. Hosted by Don Black's Stormfront, Smith's site features numerous Hitlerian essays covering topics such as eugenics and "Aryan" culture. Amidst photos of Jews with their eyes blacked out, he lists Jewish "powerlords" and posts a Jewish "surname index." "Before buying anything always check to make sure the company is not j*wish [sic]," Smith writes. Seeing Jewish conspiracies everywhere, he calls Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan Jewish "marionettes"; blames Jews for schoolyard violence in Arkansas, and declares them responsible for the conflict between Ireland and Britain. "The J*w has been and is always very aware of the conflict amongst non-j*ws, and is tireless in his pursuit of trying to profit from the internal feuds of his enemies," Smith writes. "When these feuds are not [innate] in and of themselves, the j*w creates new feuds via his presence in each of the opposing countries to create a new profit-scenario for himself." Also available at Our Hero's Library are downloadable copies of Smith's extensive messages to USENET newsgroups, the Internet's system of electronic bulletin boards.
Other neo-Nazis on the Web represent more established organizations and have been active in the white supremacist movement much longer, since the days of American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell. Following Rockwell's assassination by a disgruntled party member in 1967, Matthias (Matt) Koehl took over his American Nazi Party, renaming it the National Socialist White People's Party. In 1970, NSWPP member Frank Collin started his own group, the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA), made famous by its attempts to march through the predominantly Jewish town of Skokie, Illinois in 1977. Another former NSWPP member, Harold Covington joined the NSPA in the mid-1970s. At that time, Gary "Gerhard" Lauck, who went on to found the NSDAP-AO (a German acronym meaning National Socialist German Workers Party - Overseas Organization), was also a member of Collin's group. Covington took over the NSPA in 1980, after Collin was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing children. In 1982, Koehl dropped the name NSWPP in favor of the name "The New Order," and Covington's NSPA disbanded. In 1994, Covington founded a new group using the old name once used by Koehl: NSWPP. Today, Covington and Lauck both have a presence on the World Wide Web.
Harold Covington was one of the first neo-Nazis on the Web, establishing a site as early as 1996. Covington's original site defined National Socialism as "a world view for White People" and listed guiding principles such as "Racial Idealism" and "The Upward Development of the White Race." The site listed "Ten Basic Principles of National Socialism," which urged "Aryan" racial purity and conquest of the world. Covington lauded Rockwell at length and provided links to other white supremacist sites.
"Gerhard" Lauck has also been online for many years. In the early days of cyberspace, Lauck's materials were circulated on a closely guarded computer network named the "Thule Network," a bulletin board system similar to the "Aryan Nation Liberty Net." In order to gain access to the network, prospective users had to pass a loyalty test and a background check. According to some estimates, over 1,500 neo-Nazis in Germany had access to Lauck's propaganda via the "Thule Network," which remains active today.
In 1995, Danish authorities, acting on international warrants, arrested Lauck and agreed to extradite him to Germany, where he was sentenced in 1996 to four years in prison for inciting racial hatred by disseminating anti-Semitic and racist material. Lauck was released in March 1999 and deported to the United States.
While he was in jail, Lauck's Web site featured the headline, "Free Gerhard Lauck!" The site said about Lauck's arrest and imprisonment: "these illegal and reprehensible acts by the anti-White authorities are a direct assault upon ALL pro-White organizations. YOU are under attack now! If International Jewry is allowed to kidnap Gerhard Lauck their next step will be to systematically silence all pro-White leaders, organizations, and members worldwide one by one."
Like other neo-Nazis, Lauck has expressed intense approval for Hitler and hatred for Jews. He has stated that "anything that is bad for the Jews is good for us" and told a Danish audience that "the Jews were treated too nicely in the concentration camps." Yet buried among the Nazi-themed books sold at his Web site were a group of texts that question whether the Holocaust took place, bearing titles like "Auschwitz: Truth or Lie?" and "Did Six Million Really Die?"
Why would an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi such as Gerhard Lauck deny that the Holocaust took place? A July 1996 message from fellow neo-Nazi Harold Covington to his National Socialist White Peoples Party E-mail mailing list provides some possible reasons. Covington comments, "take away the Holocaust and both the National Socialists and the Jews become very different people, almost reversing roles."
Viewing the Holocaust as a "seemingly bottomless gold mine in the form of 'reparations' which has financed murderous Israeli aggression in the Middle East and numerous anti-White Jewish institutions," Covington wonders: "without the Holocaust, what are the Jews?" His answer: "Just a grubby little bunch of international bandits and assassins and squatters who have perpetrated the most massive, cynical fraud in human history."
Likewise, Covington thinks the general public would be "stunned with admiration for the brilliance of Adolf Hitler"29 if it believed the Holocaust did not happen. Paraphrasing prominent Holocaust historian and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, he declares that "the real purpose" of Holocaust denial is "to make National Socialism an acceptable political alternative again."
Since 1979, when Willis Carto founded the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a sizable Holocaust denial movement has surfaced. Holocaust deniers make the mendacious claim that the account of Nazi genocide universally accepted by legitimate historians is false, either in its entirety or in most of its central facts. To support this claim, they distort and even fabricate history.
Unlike Harold Covington, most in the Holocaust denial movement try hard to mask the anti-Semitism underlying their claims. Instead, hoping to make their views seem respectable, they pretend that their sole goal is to "correct" the historical record. Posing as historians and cloaking themselves in ersatz scholarship, the deniers claim that the Holocaust is a Jewish fabrication, not the product of Nazi hatred.
Holocaust deniers' thousands of pages of propaganda on the Web, presented as academic fact or in the guise of free and open "debate," take particular advantage of many Web users' difficulty distinguishing between reputable and disreputable Web sites.
When ADL first reported on Holocaust denial Web sites in 1996, only three existed: Greg Raven's IHR site, Bradley Smith's site for the Committee for Open Discussion of the Holocaust Story (CODOH), and the Zündelsite, which promotes the work of Canadian Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. Today, these sites are still among the most significant manifestations of Holocaust denial on the Web, but have been joined by more than a dozen others, as well as numerous sites with Holocaust-denial materials alongside other hateful propaganda.
Institute for Historical Review
The California-based IHR, which split with Willis Carto in 1993, remains the world's single most important outlet for Holocaust-denial propaganda. While the IHR seeks to gain credibility by working under the guise of scholarship and impartiality, many of its staffers and Editorial Advisory Committee members often participate in pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish activities. Current director Mark Weber was an activist in the National Alliance during the 1970s, and editorial advisor Robert Faurisson was convicted three times of violating French hate-crime laws because of his anti-Semitic activities. Other active participants in IHR include David Irving, the leading Holocaust denier in England, and Ernst Zündel, Canada's most notorious neo-Nazi.
From 1996 to 1998, IHR Associate Director Greg Raven housed extensive IHR materials at his "personal" Web site, which he claims is "not supported, sponsored, or financed by the Institute for Historical Review." Raven's "personal" site continues to exist, though he moved all of his IHR materials to a separate, "official" IHR site in March 1998.
The IHR Web site contains hundreds of online "revisionist" pamphlets, books, and articles, as well as a complete index of the JHR. Among IHR's leaflets, one finds "Auschwitz myths and facts," which claims that "Auschwitz was not an extermination center" and that "the story of mass killings in 'gas chambers' is a myth." Many JHR articles are reprinted in their entirety, including "Is The Diary of Anne Frank genuine?" Additionally, IHR publishes the full text of a few books at its site, such as Did Six Million Really Die? by British "revisionist" Richard Harwood.
Bradley Smith and CODOH
Formerly the "Media Project Director" for IHR, longtime Holocaust denier Bradley Smith joined current IHR leader Mark Weber in founding the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) in 1987. On his Web site, Smith presents himself as an intellectually honest gadfly with no ax to grind.
Smith works hard to create the image of a man who wants to encourage reasonable debate among reasonable people. His admission that "the Hitlerian regime was antisemitic [sic] and persecuted Jews" seems meant to show that it is intellectual honesty, not anti-Semitism, that leads him to deny that "the German state pursued a plan to kill all Jews or used homicidal 'gassing chambers' for mass murder."
For many years, Smith has been at the center of the deniers' college outreach program. He first drew public attention when about 70 college newspapers published his Holocaust denial ads, which he still regularly sends to campus editors, in the early and mid-1990s. All of these ads are reprinted at the CODOH Web site.
At first, Smith's ads featured long essays that outlined the deniers' position, such as Mark Weber's "The 'Jewish soap' myth." Smith's first widely published ad stated "the figure of 6 million Jewish deaths is an irresponsible exaggeration, and...no execution gas chambers existed in any camp in Europe which was under German control." This ad went on to note that the "purpose" of accounts of the Holocaust is "to drum up world sympathy and political and financial support for Jewish causes, especially for the formation of the State of Israel." Another early CODOH ad claimed "The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum displays no convincing proof whatsoever of homicidal gas chambers."
Upset about the high cost of these lengthy ads, Smith soon realized the power of the Internet. He began to place brief, inexpensive ads in school papers that merely listed his Web site and E-mail addresses. Not only did these ads cost less money, they also hid Smith's agenda. In addition, Smith tried to draw his readers' attention with misleading slogans such as "Ignore the Thought Police" and "Judge for yourself."
Smith's savvy marketing technique was tailor-made for students, many of whom are comfortable with the Internet, predisposed against authority, and willing to challenge received wisdom. Students responding favorably to these deceptive ads would realize Smith's intention to deny the Holocaust only after visiting the CODOH Web site, where they would receive his message without mediation.
Once at the CODOH site, students are targeted further. They are urged to distribute CODOH leaflets on their campuses and fight what Smith calls the "Campus Thought Police" (that is, legitimate Holocaust historians). Also, students are offered a set of links and asked to "choose a major" such as "Mathematics," "Science," or "Politics." By clicking on a "major," they are linked to Holocaust denial articles specially tailored to their areas of interest. Also presented is an innocuous-sounding section titled "Hot Links to Higher Learning," which contains links to a variety of Holocaust denial sites; Smith classifies such sites as "Social, Political and Historical Activism & Commentary."
The CODOH Web site today contains a vast amount of Holocaust-denial information. Visitors to the site can look for any one of over 1,000 separate documents using one of the site's eight search tools, such as its index of articles by subject and its chronological list of additions.
Particularly troublesome are the sections titled "War Crimes Trials" and "The Tangled Web: Zionism, Stalinism, and the Holocaust Story." "War Crimes Trials" offers articles that attack the objectivity and legal validity of the post-war Nuremberg Trials, where much information about the Holocaust first became public, and where the basic history of the genocide was first established. "The Tangled Web" suggests that Jews were responsible for Bolshevism in the Soviet Union while linking Zionism to Fascism. CODOH manages to present Jews as both International Communist conspirators and ultra-nationalist bigots who willingly cooperated with violent anti-Semites.
Zündel and Rimland
Another longtime "revisionist," Ernst Zündel has been the leading Holocaust-denial propagandist in Canada for more than two decades. In the early 1970s, Zündel penned pro-Nazi materials under the name Christof Friedrich, including the book The Hitler We Loved and Why. In the late 1970s, ads for his Samisdat Publishers Ltd. in George Dietz's neo-Nazi Liberty Bell magazine (based in West Virginia) offered Holocaust-denial books for sale, and Zündel wrote articles for Liberty Bell and another Dietz publication, White Power Report. In the early 1980s, the German government named Zündel as one of the world's largest distributors of neo-Nazi material.
Mid-1995 marked the debut of the Zündelsite. Though Zündel, a German citizen, lives in Canada, the site has been hosted by an Internet Service Provider in California. Zündel has denied that he operates the Zündelsite. Rather, he claims, the site is run by his "webmaster," Dr. Ingrid Rimland of California. Currently, the site is called "Ingrid Rimland's Zündelsite" and declares, "the Zündelsite, located in the USA, is owned and operated by Dr. Ingrid A. Rimland, an American citizen." Regardless of who actually maintains the Zündelsite, its agenda is clearly that of its namesake.
From its first appearance on the Internet, the Zündelsite made its Holocaust denial agenda unambiguous, challenging assertions that there "was a Fuhrer order for the genocidal killings of Jews, Gypsies and others"; disputing the fact that gas chambers were "designed for the express purpose of targeting groups of human beings," and refusing to believe that "the numbers of victims claimed to have been killed are anywhere near the number of people who actually died in concentration camps of whatever cause." The site rejects claims that "World War II was fought by the Germans to kill off the Jews as a group," arguing that these are "deliberately planned, systematic" deceptions "amounting to financial, political, emotional and spiritual extortion."
Early editions of the Zündelsite provided readers with Zündel's writings on "revisionism," including the text of his newsletters, book reviews and editorials. The site today focuses mostly on other sources of Holocaust denial propaganda, though it continues to sell audio and video tapes featuring Zündel.
The Zündel site contains an archive of daily "ZGram" E-mail messages sent by Ingrid Rimland to the site's supporters; almost a thousand messages are archived, dating back to early 1996. A passionate admirer of Zündel, Rimland shares his views on the Holocaust, seeing it as an extortion "racket" run by Jews for the purpose of financing Israel and humiliating Germany and Germans.
Both Zündel and Rimland lived through the defeat of the Nazis, and both lament it. Rimland holds high hopes that Holocaust "revisionism" will help revive the image of Hitler as a man who made Germany "the most progressive and advanced Nation of its time." In her view, teaching the facts of the Holocaust is emblematic of a systematic assault against people of German descent. "Holocaust teaching," she writes, "is...child abuse. It is adult abuse. It is ethnic abuse. I want to go on record that it is soul-abuse." Additionally, unlike many other Holocaust deniers, who go to great lengths to deny the anti-Jewish sentiment that fuels their views, Rimland has openly voiced her approval for anti-Semitism, calling it "a responsible and, indeed, unavoidable response to relentless provocation against the gentile culture and tradition conflicting with a Jewish culture and tradition."
The Zündelsite also reprints a book originally published by Zündel's Samisdat press: the infamous "Leuchter Report." Despite the fact that he has publicly acknowledged his lack of scientific credentials, Fred Leuchter claimed to have taken scientific "samples" from death camp gas chambers that prove they could not have been used to exterminate people. Notwithstanding the discredited nature of Leuchter's work, deniers like Zündel still pass his report off as fact, and the IHR continues to market it as "essential revisionist reading." Also posted at the Zündel site is the fallacious "Rudolf Report," by German "scientist" Germar Rudolf, which defends Leuchter's work. Rudolf also claims to have taken "samples" from masonry in gas chambers and found no trace of poison gas.
One high-profile Arab Holocaust denier is Swedish-based Moroccan exile Ahmed Rami, creator of the Radio Islam Web site. Once a lieutenant in the Moroccan military, Rami reportedly played a leading role in a failed 1972 coup d'état and fled, gaining political asylum in Sweden. In 1987, Rami began using a public access Swedish radio station to broadcast Radio Islam, ostensibly a public relations program for Sweden's Muslims but in fact a vehicle for unvarnished anti-Semitism.
Rami has rationalized his bigotry as support for Palestinian causes. While he has become a source of embarrassment for serious Palestinian activists, Holocaust deniers have unabashedly and enthusiastically associated with him. Rami spoke at the 1992 IHR conference and has often been praised by Ingrid Rimland, among others.
Off the air from 1993 to 1995, Rami's program returned in 1996, the same year that he established the Radio Islam Web site. From the start, Rami's site offered visitors anti-Semitic material in English, French, German, Swedish and Norwegian. Early versions of the site described the "so-called 'holocaust'" as a tool used by "Zionists" to win "sovereign rights to oppress and vilify other people," namely Palestinians. These "Zionists," according to Radio Islam, have a monopoly over "information services in the West" and bribe Western politicians to support them in their "Anti-Arab and anti-Moslem racism" and "hatred against everything German."
Today, visitors to the Radio Islam site are greeted with a statement that seems to deny Rami's extremism: "No hate. No violence. Races? Only one Human race." Yet his site has become even more bigoted than ever and demonstrates the implicit connection between Holocaust denial and other forms of anti-Semitism. Radio Islam promotes a myriad of anti-Semitic works in addition to those of Holocaust deniers such as Robert Faurisson, Greg Raven, John Ball, and Bradley Smith.
The Radio Islam site continues to portray the Holocaust as part of a Jewish conspiracy to draw the world's attention away from "the ongoing Zionist war waged against the peoples of Palestine and the Middle East" and "Zionism's totalitarian and racist backgrounds." To support this theory, it provides numerous anti-Semitic texts that allege Jewish conspiracies for political domination, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Expanding on the anti-Semitism expressed by its denial of the Holocaust, Radio Islam equates "Jewish Racism," envisioned as Jewish prejudice against Muslims, with "Jewish 'Religion,'" as outlined by the Talmud. Visitors to Radio Islam can read "The Truth About The Talmud" by Michael A. Hoffman II and Alan R. Critchley, which asserts that Jews are impelled, by religious law, to mistreat and attempt to dominate non-Jews. The Nature of Zionism by Vladimir Stepin, also available at the Radio Islam site, declares that Zionism rests on three basic beliefs: that Jews are "God's chosen people"; that all others are "merely two-legged animals (goys)," and that "Jews have both the right and the obligation to rule the world."
Furthermore, according to Radio Islam, the Jews are not the "chosen people" for they are not "'descendants' of the mythic Jews of the Bible." Rather, today's Jews are "descended from Mongolians and other Asiatic peoples who had adopted 'Judaism' as their 'religion' over 1,000 years ago and had become know as 'Jews.'" Often advanced by Identity believers, this theory alleges that most, if not all, Ashkenazic Jews descended from the Khazars, an obscure Turkic people whose leaders converted to Judaism in the eighth century. While Identity adherents employ this theory in order to bolster their assertion that Anglo-Saxon whites are actually the biblical Church of Israel, Rami uses it to demonstrate that the ancestors of the Jews were not from Palestine, implying that Israel has no right to exist.
World Church of the Creator
In 1973, Ben Klassen announced the birth of the Church of the Creator, publishing a 511-page book entitled Nature's Eternal Religion. In it, Klassen wrote, "we completely reject the Judeo-democratic-Marxist values of today and supplant them with new and basic values, of which race is the foundation." Sharing the Identity movement's view that non-whites are subhuman "mud people," Klassen believed "that which is good for the White Race is the highest virtue" and "that which is bad for the White Race is the ultimate sin." "Rahowa," an acronym for "Racial Holy War," was Klassen's battle cry and remains a rallying point for "Creators" today. The heart of his "religious creed" was "total war" against Jews and non-whites, "politically, militantly, financially, morally and religiously."
Under Klassen's leadership, Church of the Creator grew slowly but steadily. That growth stopped abruptly two decades later, in 1992, when George Loeb, a Church Reverend, was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Harold Mansfield Jr., an African-American Persian Gulf War veteran. In 1994, Mansfield's family, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, won $1 million in damages from Klassen's Church. Klassen appears to have anticipated this lawsuit, as he tried to rid the group of its assets and committed suicide in 1993.
Continuing legal problems forced Klassen's successor, Richard McCarty, to dissolve the group. In two separate incidents in California, police averted potential bombing sprees that were to be directed at Jews, Blacks, and homosexuals. In both cases, the would-be terrorists were closely affiliated with branches of Klassen's Church.
Church of the Creator was reborn in 1996 with the emergence of the young, charismatic Matt Hale as its leader. Following Hale's ascension as Pontifex Maximus (an ancient Roman title designated for the Church's supreme leader), the Church of the Creator became known as World Church of the Creator. Aggressive pamphleteering ensued; new local chapters were created, and membership has grown. Since Hale's ascension, Creators have been arrested in Florida for attacking an African-American boy and his father.
Additionally, WCOTC spawned dozens of sites on the World Wide Web, probably because most of its members are young and computer-literate. While Klassen was in his 70s when he led the Church, Hale is in his 20s, and he has taken his Church onto the Web with a vengeance.
At the group's main site, a document entitled "Expanding Creativity on the Net" (referring to the racist, anti-Semitic "religion" practiced by WCOTC) outlines Hale's plan for an "Internet Blitzkrieg." Calling the WCOTC central site "one of the finest White Power pages out there," Hale asserts that the Internet "has the potential to reach millions of White People with our message and we need to act on that immediately."
"We call on all Creators and White Racial Comrades to go to [Internet discussion groups] and debate and recruit with NEW people," he declares, "post our URL everywhere, as soon as possible."
Updated frequently, the WCOTC Home Page features books for sale, articles about WCOTC, editorials by Hale from The Struggle newsletter, and Hale's weekly "Voice of The Struggle" audio-on-demand broadcasts. The site makes WCOTC membership easy, providing a membership form, dozens of "contact points" in the United States, and a lengthy membership manual that covers topics from a WCOTC "Wedding Ceremony" to "Dealing with Law Enforcement."
According to this manual, "the inferior mud races are our deadly enemies, and the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race." Creators are urged to "relentlessly expand the White Race, and keep shrinking our enemies." Also spreading anti-Semitism, the "Jew Watch" section of the site contains the full text of Henry Ford's hate tract The International Jew. The online version of FACTS That the Government and the Media Don't Want You to Know, a pamphlet widely distributed by WCOTC, claims that Jews control the media, promotes the myth of a "Kosher Food Tax," and reprints spurious anti-Semitic documents purportedly penned by Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
Connected in a "Creator Webring" (which links WCOTC sites, one to the next, in a virtual circle), the World Church subsidiary sites serve a variety of purposes, though they share significant content with the group's main site. Many World Church sites have been housed at WCOTC.COM, which claims to be "dedicated to hosting all the WCOTC Web Pages all over the White World."
A formerly active World Church site highlights WCOTC's aggressive recruiting techniques: World Church of the Creator Kids! With a site like this, easily accessible to young Web surfers, the danger to impressionable youngsters posed by hate's reach on the World Wide Web becomes evident. The WCOTC Kids! site (subtitled "Creativity for Children!") utilized enticing graphics to lure young Web users. For instance, the site posted a picture of a white family next to the phrase, "The purpose of making this page is to help the younger members of the White Race understand our fight." While many of the documents at the site were copied directly from the WCOTC membership manual, one "What It Means To Be A Creator" - is an adaptation of a membership manual piece, "The Essence of a Creator." The children's version of this hateful tract simplified and tones down its language, making its racist ideology easier for children to understand.
Also available at the Kids! site were "Coloring Pages" and "Crossword Puzzles." Children were urged to "have fun" solving these puzzles while helping "educate" themselves "in the Creed of Creativity." Kids are encouraged to E-mail the site so that Creators can "answer any questions" they might have about the crosswords. It is suggested that youngsters print out and color illustrations bearing calligraphic, medieval designs, apparently upheld by WCOTC as artistic accomplishments of the "white race."
At the White Berets Web site, a drawing of white men holding guns and a WCOTC flag is set against a green, camouflage background. It describes the Church's "security legions," composed of "White Berets" and "White Rangers," who are charged with providing "security services for members and Church property." Though these uniformed militants are urged to "abide by the law of the land," they are instructed to own a handgun, practice "martial arts," and school themselves in "police communications."
The White Berets site also links to a "Frequently Asked Questions" pamphlet about racist Skinheads (violent, shaven-headed youths). In fact, the "White Berets" pictured at the site are themselves racist skinheads: they have shaved heads, wear suspenders, and sport combat boots. WCOTC has courted racist skinheads since the 1980s, a few WCOTC sites are specifically designed to target that element of the white supremacist "movement."
Visitors must click "OK" in a window that declares "Whites Only" before entering the Skinheads of Racial Holy War site, where they are greeted by a drawing of a giant WCOTC "White Beret" crushing a tiny, Hasidic Jew in his closed fist. The Web site for the SS Bootboys, who are referred to as the WCOTC "Church Band," also reflects a skinhead theme. This group of skinhead musicians, which has been active in the San Francisco area since the mid-1990s, plays what it calls "WP metal" [white power heavy metal music]. In addition to racist and anti-Semitic articles by William Pierce and Don Black, the SS Bootboys site provides Web users with audio recordings of the group's songs to download, such as "Coon" and "White Patriot."
Along with these WCOTC skinhead sites, Resistance Records, a racist Skinhead rock-and-roll record label, has long had a site on the Web. Resistance was founded by three Church members, and its former president, George Eric Hawthorne, has been described as "a top honcho in the Church of the Creator." While the Resistance Records site was one of the first racist skinhead sites on the Web, there are now dozens of sites that promote skinheads and their hate-filled brand of rock music.
The skinhead phenomenon originated in the early 1970s, when groups of menacing-looking, shaved-head, tattooed youths in combat boots appeared on the streets of England. For some, the racist and chauvinistic attitudes held by these gangs developed into a crude form of Nazism with a penchant for violence, exemplified by frequent, racially motivated attacks on Asian immigrants ("Paki-bashing") and homosexuals ("fag-bashing").
In the years that followed, the Skinhead movement spread from England to the Continent and beyond. Racist Skinheads are found today in almost every industrialized country whose majority population is of European stock, though not all Skinheads are racists. Skinheads are almost uniformly white youths in their teens and twenties, who respond to the movement's seductive sense of strength, group belonging and superiority over others.
Generally, neo-Nazi Skinheads' views have varied. Some believe in orthodox Nazi ideology, while others adhere to a mixture of racism, populism, ethnocentrism and ultranationalist chauvinism, along with a hodgepodge of Nazi-like attitudes.
Their numbers have grown substantially since Neo-Nazi Skinheads first appeared in the United States during the mid-1980s. Predictably, this growth has been matched by violence: since 1987, racist Skinheads have committed at least 43 murders in the United States as well as thousands of lesser crimes such as beatings, stabbings, shootings, thefts, and synagogue desecrations.
In addition to World Church of the Creator, Skinheads in the U.S. have also linked up with other established hate groups, such as Aryan Nations, the Ku Klux Klan, and Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR). On November 12, 1988, three members of a skinhead gang in Portland, Oregon, killed an Ethiopian immigrant, Mulugeta Seraw. In a suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center and ADL, it was later shown that Metzger and his son John had incited these Skinheads to murder Seraw. A jury awarded Seraw's family $12.5 million in damages, one of the largest civil verdicts of its kind in U.S. history.
A major aspect of Skinhead life is devotion to bands that play "oi" white power music, a hard-driving brand of rock and roll whose lyrics pound home a message of bigotry and violence. Music is the Skinhead movement's main propaganda weapon and its chief means of attracting young recruits. Skinhead use of the Internet has almost exclusively focused on racist music. Bigotry-laced hard rock and the Internet have proved a natural match in being used by white supremacists trying to capture the minds of youngsters.
Bigoted music companies sell their hateful music on the Web. The Tri-State Terror Web site peddles Aryan vs. Alien by the group Mudoven, which features a cover photo depicting corpses from Nazi concentration camps. According to that site, over 900 copies of this release have already been sold. Also available there are Racially Motivated Violence by Angry Aryans and Murder Squad by Blue-Eyed Devils, which displays a photo portraying three lynched Jews on its cover.
The huge Plunder and Pillage Web site serves as two fans' tribute to white power music. These lovers of racist rock, who go by the names "Plunder" and "Pillage," give their fellow fans the latest news on new releases and concert appearances of Skinhead bands; reviews of the latest white power records; reports on recent concerts; lyrics from various albums and transcripts of their interviews with over a dozen music groups. The Plunder and Pillage site also provides racist rockers a historical perspective in "Oi! The Classics," which features reviews of and sound clips from early "oi" albums that have "earned a spot in every skinhead's record collection."
The Skinhead who maintains The White Pride Network registered his site under Ian Stuart's name in order to hide his identity. At his site, he goes by the name "Micetrap." Though he cloaks himself with a pseudonym, Micetrap doesn't hide his hateful views. Claiming to "have been involved in the skinhead movement for many years," Micetrap declares the Holocaust "the biggest financial scam in history" and glorifies the Skinhead movement as "a sub-culture built for pissed off Pro-White youth to rebel against the ZOG system."
Formerly known as Whitepower, The White Pride Network features Micetrap's reviews of the latest racist rock records and houses the page for "Patriot Video Services," which stocks video tapes of white power bands performing. In addition to music-oriented pages, The White Pride Network pays tribute to Hitler; posts some of William Pierce's allegations of Jewish media control, and contains a "Skinhead Cyber Tattoo Parlor," which pictures racist designs etched in ink on Skinheads' arms, backs, and skulls. Micetrap also encourages his supporters to become active, offering to sell them E-mail addresses and space for Web sites, connecting them with each other in his "Personal Ads & Pen Pals" section, and giving them advice on how to use Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
Though not a Skinhead, Alex Curtis also uses the Internet as a tool to bring together and motivate the "youth of the Aryan Struggle." Along with racist Skinheads and WCOTC devotees, Curtis, who is still in his mid 20s, represents the new, young face of white supremacy on the Web.
Alex James Curtis, an anti-Semitic and racist activist based in San Diego, is a rising star among bigots on the Web. Originator of the Lemon Grove (San Diego) Ku Klux Klan, Curtis has described himself as a history student at San Diego State University.
The Nationalist Observer Web site is the online version of the print publication of the same name, which was founded by Curtis in 1996. Curtis is the editor of this online edition, posting his "Lead Editorials" from the print edition as well as content available exclusively online. Curtis also includes transcripts of his telephone hotline message; an archive of hateful articles by propagandists such as David Lane of The Order and neo-Nazi Matt Koehl, and a catalog of racist audio and video tapes. Additionally, readers can find Curtis' "White Power Manual," which suggests white supremacist propagandizing strategies and offers assistance to aspiring hatemongers.
Curtis believes Jews have corrupted the white race, using the media to convert whites into "comfort-loving cowards" who "sit passively" as Jews and minorities seize power. His Nationalist Observer "Tribute to Jewry" consists of a picture of "Jew York City" being destroyed by an atomic bomb under the caption "The quickest way to exterminate 6 million vermin!"
Curtis thinks the answer to whites' problems is separatism. "Racial separation seeks the preservation of life, whereas racial integration is the realization of the death of peoples," he writes. According to Curtis, white supremacists should not regard themselves as U.S. citizens, but as members of the white race who should concentrate on "moving into separatist areas or assisting in dismantling the system." He envisions a "race-centered" state in which "citizenship and residency will be explicitly stated as restricted to those of pure White ancestry."
He feels that only the elite of the white supremacist movement should participate in creating this state. "We believe the Aryan struggle to be an elite one," Curtis writes on the Nationalist Observer Home Page. "We don't promote democratic or mass appeals. We support the unity of our movement and the revolutionizing of our spirit into a combined force to take back control of our Race's destiny, by any means necessary."
Unity among white supremacists is central to Curtis' vision. He sees many different white supremacist movements as part of a single "White Nation." "We go by names such as White nationalists, White separatists, Skinheads, National Socialists, Ku Klux Klansmen, and Identity Christians, or others," Curtis writes, "but these people who put White Racial survival as their highest priority are members of the White Nation."
Many racist and anti-Semitic Web sites also contain anti-gay propaganda, but some Web pages, in particular C.N.G. (Cyber Nationalists Group) and S.T.R.A.I.G.H.T (Society To Remove All Immoral Godless Homosexual Trash), focus their hatred primarily on gays and lesbians. Perhaps the most vile and best-known anti-gay Web site is God Hates Fags, which is maintained by Benjamin Phelps, grandson and compatriot of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) leader Fred Phelps.
Incorporated May 15, 1967 as a not-for-profit organization adhering to Calvinistic Baptist beliefs, WBC (which is located in Topeka, Kansas) is well-known for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims and others it perceives as homosexual or connected to homosexuality. God Hates Fags contains an archive of photos depicting Fred Phelps and his supporters picketing, carrying signs bearing slogans such as "No Fags in Heaven"; "Thank God for AIDS," and "2 Gay Rights: AIDS and Hell." According to God Hates Fags, WBC has "conducted some 10,000 such demonstrations during the last five years at homosexual parades and other events," including the funeral of slain University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.
The site reprints dozens of flyers promoting its activities, including a few regarding Shepard. One states:
Matt Shepard now believes the Bible. He checked into Hell Oct. 12  where the worm that eats on him never dies and the fire is never quenched...Not the wealth of the world, nor an act of Congress, nor a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, nor all the prayers of mankind, nor any power on earth can buy Matt Shepard a drop of water to cool his tongue or ease his pain or ease his sentence a day short of eternity.
Citing the Book of Romans, WBC asserts that the Bible deems gays and anyone who supports them "worthy of death." The group believes the activities of gays and their supporters encourage God's anger against humankind. Addressing homosexuals, WBC states, "it was your ilk who brought destruction on Sodom, and it will be your ilk who fuels God's wrath to the point that there will be no remedy."
Reflecting a conspiracy-oriented outlook, WBC declares that gays have an "agenda" they are trying to impose on an unsuspecting public. This agenda involves "desensitizing the public," convincing people "to affirm their filthy lifestyle," and turning them away from Christianity. WBC believes, homosexuality is no longer classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association only because gays used "guerrilla theater tactics" at that group's convention for two successive years. WBC also believes that gays "infiltrate the house of God to try to make themselves look holy," and calls religious congregations that welcome gay members, ordain gay ministers, or perform gay marriages, "fag churches."
While WBC's anti-gay activities have received much press coverage, its anti-Semitism has gone largely unnoticed. According to God Hates Fags, The only true Jews are Christians. The rest of the people who claim to be Jews aren't, and they are nothing more than typical, impenitent sinners, who have no Lamb. As evidence of their apostacy [sic], the vast majority of Jews support fags.
In 1995, WBC picketed a synagogue in Kansas because it was holding a commemoration for victims of the Holocaust, including homosexuals.
"Militias" and "Common Law" Courts: "Patriots" Online
In mid-1994, bands of armed right-wing militants calling themselves "militias" began to appear in several states. Often spouting mistaken interpretations of early American history to justify their actions, militia members are united in their obsession with "protecting" Americans' Constitutional rights, which they claim the Federal government has trampled. A variety of activists make up the militia movement. There are those militia adherents who merely discuss the Constitution and perceived Federal intrusions. Others trade conspiracy theories at gun shows. At the extreme are members of heavily armed paramilitary units.
"Common law court" adherents declare themselves exempt from the laws of the United States. Using pseudo-legal theories based on selective and often bizarre interpretations of the Bible, the Magna Carta, state and Federal court decisions, and the U.S. and state constitutions, these activists present a serious threat to the rule of law by using phony liens, money orders, and documents in an attempt to defy the authority of legitimate courts.
Militia activists and common law court adherents refer to themselves as "patriots." Like anti-Semites and racists, these "patriots" have a fondness for historical distortions and conspiracy theories (such as the contention that the Federal Reserve runs the United States). Elements of overt anti-Semitism and racism have frequently surfaced in the "patriot" movement, which has been inspired by the activities of the Identity group Posse Comitatus.
Though many "patriots" deny the movement's racial and religious bigotry, its intolerance is apparent on the Web. For instance, though the Patriot Knowledge Base Web site states that "the enemy" is "not the Jewish masses," it posts the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, one of the world's most widely circulated anti-Semitic works. Similarly, the U.S.A. The Republic page links to the vicious Identity site God's Order Affirmed in Love while claiming "We Are Not Anti-Semitic."
Even though militia membership dwindled following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, militia members continue to plan bombings and robberies. Meanwhile, new militia-oriented Web sites continue to appear. Likewise, despite the fact that legitimate authorities have cracked down on unlawful common law court activities, common law court advocates persist in threatening violence and common law Web sites are still active. Currently, there are more than a hundred "patriot" sites on the Web.
Common law Web sites often post legal jargon out of context and link to reputable law sources, leading readers to misinterpret actual law. For instance, Dr. Tavel's Self-Help Legal Clinic, called "The Disneyland of the web for patriots and freedom fighters!" by the extremist publication Spotlight, links to online records of state and Federal rules, procedures, and laws. Visitors are encouraged to interpret this information based on fallacious common law principles and then use it in a court of law, even when under oath as part of a jury. The Legal Clinic posts a document entitled "The Citizens Rule Book - Jury Handbook," which encourages jurors to judge cases based on their own understanding of "natural, God-given, Common or Constitutional Law":
You as a juror armed merely with the knowledge of what a COMMON LAW JURY really is and what your common law rights, powers and duties really are, can do more to re-establish "liberty and justice for all" in this State and ultimately throughout all of the United States than all our Senators and Representatives put together. WHY? Because even without the concurrence of all of your fellow jurors, in a criminal trial, you, with your single vote of "NOT GUILTY" can nullify every rule of "law" that is not in accordance with the principles of natural, God-given, Common or Constitutional Law.
Numerous common law sites also promote anti-government activists as "sovereign citizens" answerable only to God and thus immune from state or Federal jurisdiction. Some offer a racist twist to this formulation, arguing that there are two classes of citizens: "Sovereign" white citizens, whose rights are God-given, and "Fourteenth Amendment" citizens, non-whites whose citizenship is granted only by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Militia Web sites express paranoid fantasies about a power-hungry government trying to impose tyranny on its citizens, a government often portrayed as a pawn of the United Nations or the vaguely defined "New World Order." False depictions of militia members as the true defenders of liberty and democracy abound.
For instance, one Militia of Montana Web site declares that group "an educational organization dedicated to the preservation of the freedoms of ALL Citizens of the State of Montana and of the United States of America." Yet the militia held "the tyranny of a run-away, out of control government" responsible for usurping those freedoms.
The "Articles of the Alliance Of the Southeastern States Militia" claim that group's members "stand against all enemies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, both foreign and domestic." The group appears to consider the government one of these "enemies": it pledges to actively resist whatever it feels constitutes "unconstitutional use of our armed forces...against the America people" and promises to "fight the New World Order, and any of its proponents, to the bitter end."
Many militia Web sites provide resources to help their readers become more active. For example, the Citizen Soldier Web site contains a "Militia/Survivalist" post exchange page, which links to the Web sites of weapons suppliers, as well as military manuals that cover topics including "combat training." The Minnesota Minutemen Militia site allows supporters to "enlist" online by filling out a simple form. The American Patriot Network and California Militia Web sites, among others, feature real-time chat rooms in which "patriots" can communicate with each other, and the United States Theatre Command Web site maintains the "Eagleflight" electronic mailing list, which often contains messages urging violent action from various militia members across the nation.
Militia and common law court propagandists on the Internet have openly expressed sympathy for "patriot" activists on trial for committing, or planning to commit, acts of violence. These sites lend credence to the anti-government movement by focusing on those who have actually come face to face with the government. Militia and common law Web sites have provided biased accounts of trial proceedings involving North American Militia of Southwest Michigan member Bradford Metcalf and the Montana Freemen, among others.
On November 18, 1998, members of the Montana Freemen, a group of common law court adherents notorious for their 81-day standoff with the FBI in 1996, were convicted on criminal charges including bank and mail fraud and armed robbery. During the trials that led to these convictions, the Fully Informed Grand Jurors Alliance (FIGJA) Web site, maintained by Georgia common law guru Elder Burk Hale and former Militia of Montana member Kamala Susan, kept Web users abreast of the latest happenings "at the request of family and friends of the 'Freemen' prisoners." Erroneously citing laws in support of the Freemen's cause, Hale posted photos of Freeman Ralph Clark, who he alleges was "tortured" by his jailers, as well as "Common Law Affidavits" written by other incarcerated Freemen.
On the same day as the Freemen decision, Bradford Metcalf was convicted of conspiring to possess machine guns; threatening to assault and murder Federal employees, and plotting to damage and destroy Federal buildings using explosives. As with the Freemen case, anti-government Web sites, such as Patriots Under Siege and Caged Patriots: An American Disgrace, kept militia sympathizers updated on the trial's progress and voiced support for its defendant.
In April 1996, Oklahoma Constitutional Militia leader Ray Lampley, his wife, Cecilia, and their friend John Baird were convicted of plotting to bomb ADL's Houston office, the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, welfare offices, abortion clinics, and gay bars. Also the leader of the Universal Church of God in Hanna, Oklahoma, Ray Lampley has expressed intensely anti-Semitic and anti-government views and visited Elohim City, an encampment on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border associated with the Identity movement.
Writing on the Web about the Lampley trial, Indiana-based militia figure Linda Thompson declared that the trials of Lampley and other militia figures were fixed by what she sees as a corrupt Federal government that pays informants to help convict anti-government activists:
At the defense table, the jury will see the "nut" or target and his "co-conspirators" and the jury will hear the babbling and crazy "confidential" tapes played, as they look at the "nut" and his "friends" while the "good-guy informant" tells them how all these folks were planning to do nasty terrible things. The "good-guy informant" of course will be backed up by "good-guy law enforcement" who will parade a lot of evidence, whether it is relevant or not, to support this public bastion of integrity, their informant, emphasizing how good his work was. The Ray Lampley case is a good example of this that most are familiar with.
Two weeks prior to his arrest, Ray Lampley told a group in Tulsa, "If you want to have freedom in this country, you are going to have to shed somebody's blood for it." He also suggested that he had been attempting to acquire bomb-making materials. "I only wanted one bag [of ammonium nitrate fertilizer,]" he said, "because I realized that one bag is enough to blow up several Federal buildings if you know the right thing."
Where did Lampley learn the "right thing" that told him "one bag is enough" to blow up several buildings? According to law enforcement authorities, he likely retrieved this information from bomb-making manuals. Several of these are available on the Internet.
In November 1995, Ray Lampley, Cecilia Lampley, and John Baird began construction of a bomb with the help of the bomb-making manual entitled "Homemade C-4." When the FBI arrested the conspirators, law enforcement agents recovered the bomb-making manuals Anarchist's Cookbook and Homemade Weapons, in addition to the "Homemade C-4" text, from the Lampley residence.
Many of these bomb-making instructions are available online. Numerous pages devoted to terror manuals are currently present on the Web, and explosives enthusiasts regularly post information at USENET newsgroups.
Additionally, some white supremacist sites, such as Death 2 ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government), have posted bomb-making instructions. Covered with Nazi and World Church of the Creator symbols, this site urged its readers to "Kill the jew [sic] pig before it's too late" and proclaimed its support for "black on black violence." Death 2 ZOG contains downloadable copies of bomb-making manuals such as "Jolly Roger Cookbook," "The Big Book of Mischief," and "Anarchy Cookbook."
William Powell's legendary Anarchist's Cookbook, first published in 1971, has inspired many Web pages. Though Powell's book has not been available on the Web in its entirety, a number of Web pages contain works named after it, such as "The Anarchist Cookbook IV," otherwise known as the BHU Pyrotechnics Cookbook. Explosive-related sections of this document, which is widely available on the Web, include "Making Plastic Explosives," "Napalm," and "Revised Pipe Bombs 4.14." "The Anarchy Cookbook IV" also contains instructive information about lock picking, computer "hacking," and robbing Automated Teller Machines.
Many versions of another popular online manual, the Terrorist's Handbook, include a disclaimer that warns, "don't try anything you find in this document!!! Many of the instructions doesn't [sic] even work." Yet these directions are posted nonetheless, instructing readers how to construct "High Order Explosives" such as "Ammonium Nitrate," "Dynamite," and "TNT" as well as "Molotov Cocktails," "Phone Bombs," and other destructive devices. Significantly, this Handbook also includes a "Checklist for Raids on Labs," concluding that "in the end, the serious terrorist would probably realize that if he/she wishes to make a truly useful explosive, he or she will have to steal the chemicals to make the explosive from a lab."
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Federal agents investigating at least 30 bombings and four attempted bombings between 1985 and June 1996 recovered bomb-making literature that the suspects had obtained from the Internet. In these investigations, the possession of bomb-making literature has been taken by law enforcement authorities as strong circumstantial evidence that this literature has been used to plan crimes.
Like other extremist material on the Internet, bomb-making manuals are readily accessible to children. In fact, these tracts have already been accessed by eager, impressionable youngsters. The Washington Post has described discussions among 14-year-olds about "which propellants are best to use, which Web sites have the best recipes and whether tin or aluminum soda cans make better bomb casings." Furthermore, children have used recipes found on the Web to create and detonate bombs. For example, two 15-year-old boys from Orem, Utah, landed in a juvenile-detention center after they constructed a pipe bomb using online instructions. Similarly, three high school students in Ogden, Utah, who ignited a bomb at a Jehovah's Witnesses church later told police they learned how to make the device from a Web page devoted to the Anarchists Cookbook.
Responding to Hate on the Internet
As an organization dedicated to the eradication of bigotry in all its forms, the Anti-Defamation League has long been concerned about the propagation of racism, anti-Semitism, and prejudice on the Internet. After all, this medium allows extremists easy access to a potential audience of millions. In numerous reports, the League has detailed the ways bigots are using the Internet to promote and recruit for their cause, communicate more easily and cheaply and reach new audiences - particularly the young.
Practically and legally, combating online extremism is enormously difficult. The First Amendment's protection of free speech shields most extremist propaganda, and Internet Service Providers, the private companies that host most extremist sites, may freely choose whether to house these sites or not. When providers choose not to host hateful sites, these sites migrate easily to the computers of services without such restrictions. Furthermore, the size of the Web, which contains hundreds of millions of distinct pages, complicates efforts to identify extremist material. Hundreds if not thousands of Web pages, some of which are not listed by search engines, contain bomb-making formulas.
What follows are answers to 10 frequently asked questions regarding regulation of hate on the Internet.
Why can't the government ban use of the Internet to spread hateful and racist ideology in the United States?
The Internet is probably the greatest forum for the exchange of ideas that the world has ever seen. It operates across national borders, and efforts by the international community or any one government to regulate speech on the Internet would be virtually impossible, both technologically and legally.
In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of freedom of speech to all Americans, even those whose opinions are reprehensible. In a number of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that our government may not regulate the content of Internet speech to an extent greater than it may regulate speech in more traditional areas of expression such as the print media, the broadcast media, or the public square. While courts may take into account the Internet's vast reach and accessibility, they must still approach attempts to censor or regulate speech online from a traditional constitutional framework.
What kind of hate speech on the Internet is not protected by the First Amendment?
Internet speech that is merely critical, annoying, offensive, or demeaning enjoys constitutional protection. However, the First Amendment does not provide a shield for libelous speech or copyright infringement, nor does it protect certain speech that threatens or harasses other people. For example, an E-mail or a posting on a Web site that expresses a clear intention or threat by its writer to commit an unlawful act against another specific person is likely to be actionable under criminal law. Persistent or pernicious harassment aimed at a specific individual is not protected if it inflicts or intends to inflict emotional or physical harm. To rise to this level, harassment on the Internet would have to consist of a "course of conduct" rather than a single isolated instance. A difficulty in enforcing laws against harassment is the ease of anonymous communication on the Internet. Using a service that provides almost-complete anonymity, a bigot may repeatedly E-mail his victim without being readily identified.
Blanket statements expressing hatred of an ethnic, racial, or religious nature are protected by the First Amendment, even if those statements mention individual people and even if they cause distress in those individuals. Similarly, denial of the Holocaust - though abhorrent - is almost never actionable under American law. The Constitution protects the vast majority of extremist Web sites that disseminate racist or anti-Semitic propaganda.
Has anyone ever been successfully prosecuted in the United States for sending racist threats via E-mail?
There is legal precedent for such a prosecution. In 1998, a former student was sentenced to one year in prison for sending E-mail death threats to 60 Asian-American students at the University of California, Irvine. His E-mail was signed "Asian hater" and threatened that he would "make it my life career [sic] to find and kill everyone one [sic] of you personally." That same year, another California man pled guilty to Federal civil rights charges after he sent racist E-mail threats to dozens of Latinos throughout the country.
Has anyone ever been held liable in the United States for encouraging acts of violence on the World Wide Web?
Yes. In 1999, a coalition of groups opposed to abortion was ordered to pay over $100 million in damages for providing information for a Web site called "Nuremberg Files" which posed a threat to the safety of a number of doctors and clinic workers who perform abortions. The site posted photos of abortion providers, their home addresses, license plate numbers, and the names of their spouses and children. In three instances, after a doctor listed on the site was murdered, a line was drawn through his name. Although the site fell short of explicitly calling for assault on doctors, the jury found that the information it contained amounted to a real threat of bodily harm.
Can hate crimes laws be used against hate on the Internet?
If a bigot's use of the Internet rises to the level of criminal conduct, it may subject the perpetrator to an enhanced sentence under a state's hate crimes law. Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia have such laws in place. The criminal's sentence may be more severe if the prosecution can prove that he or she intentionally selected the victim based on the victim's race, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. However, these laws do not apply to conduct or speech protected by the First Amendment.
May commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) prevent the use of their services by extremists?
Yes. Commercial ISPs, such as America Online (AOL), may voluntarily agree to prohibit users from sending racist or bigoted messages over their services. Such prohibitions do not implicate First Amendment rights because they are entered into through private contracts and do not involve government action in any way.
Once an ISP promulgates such regulations, it must monitor the use of its service to ensure that the regulations are followed. If a violation does occur, the ISP should, as a contractual matter, take action to prevent it from happening again. For example, if a participant in a chat room engages in racist speech in violation of the "terms of service" of the ISP, his account could be cancelled, or he could be forbidden from using the chat room in the future. ISPs should encourage users to report suspected violations to company representatives.
The effectiveness of this remedy is limited, however. Any subscriber to an ISP who loses his or her account for violating that ISP's regulations may resume propagating hate by subsequently signing up with any of the dozens of more permissive ISPs in the marketplace.
May universities prevent the use of their computer services for the promotion of extremist views?
Because private universities are not agents of the government, they may forbid users from engaging in offensive speech using university equipment or university services. Public universities, as agents of the government, must follow the First Amendment's prohibition against speech restrictions based on content or viewpoint.
Nonetheless, public universities may promulgate content-neutral regulations that effectively prevent the use of school facilities or services by extremists. For example, a university may limit use of its computers and server to academic activities only. This would likely prevent a student from creating a racist Web site for propaganda purposes or from sending racist E-mail from his student E-mail account. One such policy - at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana -stipulates that its computer services are "provided in support of the educational, research and public service missions of the University and its use must be limited to those purposes."
Universities depend on an atmosphere of academic freedom and uninhibited expression. Any decision to limit speech on a university campus - even speech in cyberspace - will inevitably affect this ideal. College administrators should confer with representatives from both the faculty and student body when implementing such policies.
How does the law in foreign countries differ from American law regarding hate on the Internet? Can an American citizen be subject to criminal charges abroad for sending or posting material that is illegal in other countries?
In most countries, hate speech does not receive the same constitutional protection as it does in the United States. In Germany, for example, it is illegal to promote Nazi ideology. In many European countries, it is illegal to deny the reality of the Holocaust. Authorities in Denmark, France, Britain, Germany, and Canada have brought charges for crimes involving hate speech on the Internet.
While national borders have little meaning in cyberspace, Internet users who export material that is illegal in some foreign countries may be subject to prosecution under certain circumstances. An American citizen who posts material on the Internet that is illegal in a foreign country could be prosecuted if he subjected himself to the jurisdiction of that country or of another country whose extradition laws would allow for his arrest and deportation. However, under American law, the United States will not extradite a person for engaging in a constitutionally protected activity even if that activity violates a criminal law elsewhere.
What are Internet "filters" and when is their use appropriate?
Filters are software that can be installed along with a Web browser to block access to certain Web sites that contain inappropriate or offensive material. Parents may choose to install filters on their children's computers in order to prevent them from viewing sites that contain pornography or other problematic material. ADL has developed a filter (ADL HateFilter™) that blocks access to Web sites that advocate hatred, bigotry, or violence towards Jews or other groups on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other immutable characteristics. HateFilter™, which can be downloaded from ADL's Web site, contains a "redirect" feature which offers users who try to access a blocked site the chance to link directly to related ADL educational material. The voluntary use of filtering software in private institutions or by parents in the home does not violate the First Amendment because such use involves no government action. There are also some commercially marketed filters that focus on offensive words and phrases. Such filters, which are not site-based, are designed primarily to screen out obscene and pornographic material.
May public schools and public libraries install filters on computer equipment available for public use?
The use of filters by public institutions, such as schools and libraries, has become a hotly contested issue that remains unresolved. At least one Federal court has ruled that a local library board may not require the use of filtering software on all library Internet computer terminals. A possible compromise for public libraries with multiple computers would be to allow unrestricted Internet use for adults, but to provide only supervised access for children.
Courts have not ruled on the constitutionality of hate speech filters on public school library computers. However, given the broad free speech rights afforded to students by the First Amendment, it is unlikely that courts would allow school libraries to require filters on all computers available for student use.