CBS News is reporting on how our domestic terrorists -- the white supremacists, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, christian extremist groups -- are now using the internet to meet, coalesce, educated and share their hatred with like-minded sociopaths. I'd submit to CBS, they also do that through Hate Radio & Fox "news," where they now have an entire network inciting, promoting and spreading the same vitriolic that they once could only find in the dark recesses of society.
Before the Internet, James Von Brunn, the self-proclaimed white supremacist, anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who stands accused of murder at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, was relegated to using the mail to communicate his rage with like-minded haters. The only place for him to have his benighted views applauded was in sporadic clandestine meetings.
The Internet changed all that. Like his fellow bigots, Von Brunn found the Internet a boon to his warped causes. His maintained a hate Web site, "Holy Western Empire," where he touted and provided excerpts from his book that denied the Holocaust and praised Hitler. And online, in chat rooms, on bulletin boards and through links to other haters’ Web sites, Von Brunn had a virtual fan club, who cheered him on and legitimized his vicious thinking.
We will never know whether Von Brunn’s rage would have burned out but for the Internet, but we do know that he found validation for the rage he harbored on the Internet.
The Internet as the new propaganda machine for anti-Semites is not under the central control of a political party or group. It gains its power by being viral in nature. Everyone can be a publisher, even the most vicious anti-Semite. Hate begets hate, and its common appearance makes it seem acceptable and normal. Internet hate is what kept Von Brunn’s hateful lunacy at the boiling point.
And, perniciously, Internet hate speech serves to mislead and even recruit young people to become the next generation of anti-Semites and, perhaps, murders.
Blogging and social media sites are changing the way people communicate their reactions to events in the news and interact with each other. Those who harbor anti-Semitic beliefs are comfortable expressing themselves in cyberspace, where they can provoke a reaction from others or find like-minded individuals to affirm their beliefs.
In the aftermath of the Madoff revelations, the comments section following ordinary news stories contained rages against Jewish people for controlling (and ruining) the world’s finances. And YouTube frequently is the home of hate-filled replays of Nazi propaganda films.
The perniciousness of anti-Semitism on today’s Internet is that the more one sees it, the more one is likely to consider it normal, and acceptable. Good people are numbed by the proliferation, and daunted by the task of responding. Others consider it a reflection of what is acceptable in society. And then there are those on the fringe, like Von Brunn, who use such content as justification for murder.