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Mon May 6, 2019, 03:06 PM

This article by a mom whose teenaged son joined the alt-right is very interesting and insightful

She writes about how it all started, and how it ended, and what motivated him to join and then leave. I'm the last person to give a damn about white supremacists' feelings, but for those who aren't permanently lost but who joined because of their need to feel like part of a community, it does have some insights.

https://www.washingtonian.com/2019/05/05/what-happened-after-my-13-year-old-son-joined-the-alt-right/

Who was living upstairs in the room with the bunk beds, surrounded by glow-in-the-dark solar-system decals? I couldn’t understand how this had happened. The situation was ludicrously overdetermined, as contrived as a bad movie. My husband and I poured everything we had into nurturing an empathetic, observant child. Until then, it had seemed to be working. Teachers and family friends had always commented on Sam’s kindness and especially his gentleness toward the “underdog.” Then an internet chorus of alt-right sirens sings their song of American History X to my kid and he turns into the evil twin of Alex P. Keaton: merciless, intolerant, unwilling to extend the benefit of the doubt to anyone.

snip

Soon Sam stopped trying to convince me to join his brave new world. He was so active on his favorite subreddit that the other group leaders, unaware that he was 13, appointed him a moderator. Among his new online besties, this was a huge honor and a boost to his cratered self-esteem. He loved Reddit and its unceasing conversations about the nuances of memes—he seemed in love with the whole enterprise, as if it were an adolescent crush.

But as Sam became a courtier among Reddit royalty, it became clear that meme-world was subject to a hierarchy as rigid and byzantine as England’s class system. If users didn’t follow the rules, they got humiliated publicly. The worst offenders were people who posted “normie” memes—pictures with upper-case slogans across the top and bottom. My husband and I started to hear a lot about normies, “normie culture,” and how normies were ruining the internet and destroying what they (meme insiders?) worked so hard to achieve. Sam and his fellow Redditors used language that was often violently hostile: Not only did normies have no right to dare participate in meme-world; they had no right to live. Literally.

snip

I began to see how white supremacists have been benefiting from what the writer Carole Cadwalladr has called the “circular knowledge economy”—how search algorithms feed an internet so ravenous for content that facts are optional. But worse, I discovered how expertly extremists have leveraged the web to prey on young people who are depressed. Search for the term “depression” on YouTube, and the professional-looking white supremacists lecturing on self-empowerment might have you nodding in agreement, too.

(There's a lot about the culture that I didn't know about; it's upsetting but useful to know the world so many of the alt-right live in. Luckily, this story has a happy ending.)

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Reply This article by a mom whose teenaged son joined the alt-right is very interesting and insightful (Original post)
renate May 6 OP
underpants May 6 #1
demmiblue May 6 #3
barbtries May 6 #8
underpants May 6 #23
NoMoreRepugs May 6 #2
zipplewrath May 6 #4
Eko May 6 #5
Dem2theMax May 6 #6
barbtries May 6 #7
Saviolo May 6 #11
barbtries May 6 #12
IronLionZion May 6 #9
rusty quoin May 6 #10
The Mouth May 6 #13
mia May 6 #14
0rganism May 6 #15
johannsyah May 6 #16
vlyons May 6 #17
Arazi May 6 #24
Vdizzle May 6 #27
hunter May 6 #30
GeoWilliam750 May 6 #18
hunter May 6 #19
Arazi May 6 #29
hunter May 6 #33
kimmylavin May 6 #20
mountain grammy May 6 #21
bloom May 6 #31
chia May 6 #22
voteearlyvoteoften May 6 #25
Vdizzle May 6 #26
StarfishSaver May 6 #28
misanthrope May 6 #32
UpInArms May 7 #34
treestar May 7 #35
Hortensis May 7 #36

Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 03:11 PM

1. 👀

Marking to read later

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Response to underpants (Reply #1)

Mon May 6, 2019, 03:24 PM

3. Same. n/t

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Response to underpants (Reply #1)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:06 PM

8. don't forget to.

read it all. it's worth the 5 or 10 minutes, i promise.

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Response to barbtries (Reply #8)

Mon May 6, 2019, 06:56 PM

23. I read it all. Very well written. Great piece.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 03:23 PM

2. If you have younger kids this is a MUST READ.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:01 PM

4. Similar for 24 hour news

"...how search algorithms feed an internet so ravenous for content that facts are optional. "


Unfortunately, we've seen something similar with 24 hour news. They are so desperate for content, that verified facts become inconvenient. They will talk for days about things that aren't true. In the beginning they'll couch it in "it's been reported". In hours it becomes, "and we have heard" and by the next day it is basically fact with all qualifiers removed. Look back at what CNN was reporting after Katrina that later turned out to be false. There is no time for a reporter to check on sources or to fact check information, it goes on TV and the "crawl" within minutes.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:02 PM

5. K&R

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:02 PM

6. Kicking to read later on today. nt.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:05 PM

7. on DU a couple weeks ago

a link was posted to a disaffected member of the so-called "alt right" - i call them white supremacists or nazis, because i don't like to concede their chosen euphemisms - anyhow, to his youtube video about how he had been sucked in. Watching his video led to others, and to youtube "influencers" who respond to this counterculture. Three in particular and here are the links to their youtube pages.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ6o36XL0CpYb6U5dNBiXHQ

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNvsIonJdJ5E4EXMa65VYpA

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCT8a7d6S6RJUivBgNRsiYg

they respond directly to "influencers" on the other side, with history and intelligence and just plain sense. Contrapoints's videos are also cinema and really entertaining. But the huge takeaway is how many nazis and white supremacists are out there, and the size of their following. Some of them have over a million subscribers on youtube.

again, i think of Rwanda.

Thank you for posting this. I am very happy for Sam that he extricated himself before anything truly terrible happened in his life.

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Response to barbtries (Reply #7)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:57 PM

11. Also worth checking out:

Here's an extremely long Twitter thread by someone who had been drawn into the alt-right, but came to his senses, and now speaks out strongly against them. I won't post the whole thread, just the lead tweet:





Plus this video, of how someone got pulled into the alt-right pipeline:

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Response to Saviolo (Reply #11)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:02 PM

12. thank you, i will check it out.

it's the sheer numbers that are really scary imo

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:27 PM

9. Same as ISIS and any other extremist groups

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 04:50 PM

10. That was good.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:08 PM

13. Very interesting

I feel for the kid.

There's no better way to create an implacable, unreasoning and eternal foe than to falsely accuse a person of something.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:15 PM

14. Excellent!

Thank you or posting this.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:30 PM

15. here's a companion piece from the POV of a formerly alt-right youth

i linked this in V&M about 6 weeks ago, it's a first-hand account of what it's like for a young person to fall down the alt-right rabbit hole:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/1017536548

imho, it's crucial that we understand as much as we can about this movement that's dead set on wrecking governments across the world in the name of racial or cultural "purity". they are hostile, they are well funded, they are persistent, and they are damn close to outright dominating online debates through sheer volume. we ignore this phenomenon at our peril.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:33 PM

16. my eyes got wet

when I was reading it. Very powerful.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:35 PM

17. So why aren't parents simply shutting it all down?

Parental blocking on RW hate sites. Take the damn computer away. Take away the cell phone too.

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Response to vlyons (Reply #17)

Mon May 6, 2019, 07:29 PM

24. They just use their friends equipment. Or the library

There is literally no way to keep them offline. Some kids provide a pipeline of burner phones they even sell to other kids who've had their cell phones confiscated

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Response to Arazi (Reply #24)

Mon May 6, 2019, 09:10 PM

27. Agreed!

Short of moving off the grid and homeschooling your kids, you can’t control things like this. Gentle nudges in the right direction and loving arms to provide the net when they fall. Much more than that and you risk boosting the “reactance” personality trait.

Reactance: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactance_(psychology)

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Response to Arazi (Reply #24)

Mon May 6, 2019, 10:04 PM

30. You underestimate the power of parents.

My siblings and I took our parent's occasional threats to move away to a place there was no telephone service, and the mail came every three weeks, and we couldn't understand what anyone was saying, and we wouldn't have any money... very, very seriously. Mostly because they did stuff like that for fun!

If any of us had fallen in with some horribly wrong crowd I'm not sure where we might have ended up. Maybe speaking one of the less common Inuit languages...

It's also possible many of our neighbors thought my parents, who are artists, were the wrong crowd.

My own kids were no angels. They regularly lost privileges as teens ... phones, going-out-with-friends, and later, car privileges.

They are now successful adults.

Anyways, I still worry about the kid in this article.

Teenagers are very good at telling their parents what they want to hear.

Next thing you know he'll have joined some white fascist club in college, or God Forbid, he'll be calling himself a "Libertarian."

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:52 PM

18. Thanks for posting

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 05:56 PM

19. Sounds like the mom of any other gangster to me.

This one happens to be white.

She's overthinking this.

Her kid joined a gang because that's what a lot of kids do, especially when their parents make excuses for them and don't directly confront their bullshit.

If my 14 year old son "Sam" asked to participate in some gangster rally he'd be fucking grounded forever without a computer or cell phone. If he had urgent schoolwork, then too bad, I'd tell him to do it on a school Chromebook. Our schools give these to kids who need them -- they're locked down tight and not especially private.

If he had disputes with the occasional rotten teacher or school administrator, tell him that happens to EVERYBODY. (But do check if it's something more than the usual teenage complaint... Shockingly, some of the scummiest teachers, the child molestors, etc., have carefully nurtured good reputations and are well loved by "everyone." )

Is there anyone here who didn't have a teacher or school administrator they didn't get along with, who was apparently trying to make their life a living hell? My favorite, looking back, told me I wouldn't be getting beaten up all the time if I'd just "Be a Man!" As a skinny, squeaky, highly reactive autistic spectrum kid, that wasn't in the cards. I escaped the frequent violence against me by quitting high school for college. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.

Every teenage kid feels "like no one is taking them seriously." You have to teach them that it's hard work to be taken seriously, that it's something they have to earn, and there are better ways of doing that than beating people up, shooting them, running them over with cars, blowing them up, or building a fucking wall.

There's always going to be some asshole promoting violence, racism, authoritarian religions, and other hatreds who will gladly take fools "seriously" as he uses them up and discards them to his own ends.

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Response to hunter (Reply #19)

Mon May 6, 2019, 09:39 PM

29. Your 14 yr old "son, Sam" would just buy a burner phone at school

Like weed or anything else.

He might not be intelligent enough/have enough savvy to "escape high school" by just "quitting" and "going to college."

"Everyone" might have a school teacher waiting to fuck them up, or its this kid who had the school administrators determined to destroy him on false accusations who now admit they went overboard on this case, threatening to destroy a 13 yr old boy legally.

So yeah maybe not anything like gang members, and maybe just a fucked up situation that offers some clue about how rich white boys get sucked into white nationalism (and then go on to fuck up a ton more shit globally. I'm looking at you Steve Miller)

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Response to Arazi (Reply #29)

Mon May 6, 2019, 10:39 PM

33. I replied above...

... and I still think it's exactly as it is with other gang members. Other gang members have cell phones and the internet too. I remember gang members, even fourteen year olds, were some of the first non-emergency-services people to have pagers.

As a thirteen year old boy I was already pretty immune to false accusations and threats no matter where they came from. I can possibly attribute that to my mom's religious fanaticism. The only person who could truly destroy you was God... everyone else looks pretty damned small in comparison.

I had childhood friends who killed themselves because they were gay. Later I watched many people, friends included, die of AIDS while Ronald Reagan laughed.

False accusations and blustering threats by a petty tyrant school administrators seem a little less dramatic to me.



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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 06:20 PM

20. WOW.

I am weeping, reading that.
For both of them.
So many emotions packed into one article...

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 06:52 PM

21. Thanks for posting this

What a story. I’ll be visiting my granddaughters this week and one of their boyfriends is a right wing jerk.. she asks me about stuff and I try to remain calm. This article made me realize I have to take her seriously.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #21)

Mon May 6, 2019, 10:13 PM

31. Maybe your granddaughter would read it.

Could help give her some perspective regarding her friends.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 06:55 PM

22. This was a great read, thanks for posting it. A couple of things:

One way I couldn't relate: I wouldn't have allowed my 13-year-old kids to have been online as much as Sam apparently was. Do parents forget how dark a place it can be? It's been around too long for them not to know. Not anymore.

One way I could relate: when she witnessed the interaction between the Nazi and the media:

"For the next ten minutes or so, the reporters filmed the Nazi. When they finally turned away from each other, each side seemed happy, shaking hands, nodding enthusiastically, and smiling their thanks. It was the most nakedly symbiotic transaction I’d ever witnessed. The reporters and the Nazi needed each other."

Since 2016, almost all media, including progressive media, have let Trump dictate the narrative. Have been afraid to use the hard words, like "lie." Have tried too hard to be "balanced" when reporting on racism and white supremacism. She nails it as far as I'm concerned, with the description of that "nakedly symbiotic transaction."

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 07:33 PM

25. Knr

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 09:05 PM

26. Great read.

It’s easy to say that the parents should have done this or that to prevent it, but in reality, things like this are sneaky and often the remedy eludes us. You don’t want to do such in such because the kid might react in such in such way. It takes subtlety or you risk alienating the kid even further to the point that recovering the situation is beyond the parents’ control. Tragic. But I’m glad this family saw through it and was able to recover.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 09:20 PM

28. This is a great read and very interesting, but

I'm troubled by the knowledge that similar sympathy/empathy were not and would not be invoked for a black inner city mother trying to explain why her son joined a gang.

When it comes to addressing similar dynamics for young people of color, the framing and response are very different. The young people aren't misguided or confused: they're criminals and thugs. Their families aren't looked at with compassion, but viewed as complicit and blamed for not raising their children right. They're not seen as victims of outside influences but as symptoms of a larger dysfunction in their community and race.

That said, thanks for posting this piece. It is very informative and provides some helpful insights.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2019, 10:24 PM

32. What jumped out at me

I didn't view Alex P. Keaton as a benign character. He was a stereotypical materialistic, elitist, superficial, Reagan-worshipping Yuppie.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2019, 08:19 AM

34. This was a fairly horrifying essay

imho ... the inability to overcome the propaganda that was fed to her son was woefully inadequate...

A bit of real history would have been good ...

I have a paper copy of an original report on Dauchau ... but it is available online now ... it was given to me by my father, who was in the army during WWII ...

Dachau - 7th Army Official Report, May 1945

It is four parts ... I would especially recommend it for a history lesson for everyone

http://tankdestroyer.net/images/stories/ArticlePDFs/Dachau_Report_-_Part_2.pdf

Maybe, if we would teach the atrocities of the past, we could avoid more of them in the future

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Response to renate (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2019, 09:48 AM

35. Good read

I think the parents handled it well. Good that the kid came to his senses.

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Response to renate (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2019, 12:46 PM

36. Interesting, but I do wonder about the validity of some of

her evaluations, and completeness, and hope her son continues to do well. Coming back from that immersion is a good sign, but he still has another decade of adolescence ahead of him.

Her use of the word "liberalism" in describing what would be an appallingly bad and illiberal misapplication of rules for protecting all students from sexual harassment caught my eye. Harassing a 13-year-old and demanding he write a statement of guilt for well over 6 hours without calling his parents?! Very often misuse of rules, which are typically intended to protect all parties and rights, that results in emotional and legal abuse is committed by people who are anything but liberal. And don't understand and/or agree with them.

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