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Andrew Anglin, the founder of the far-right, white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, said he was cutting staff because the site’s readers had failed to donate. This follows years of efforts by opponents to have the site removed because of its antisemitism and racism.
Publications like The Daily Stormer and figures like Anglin experienced a rapid growth in popularity that coincided with President Donald Trump’s successful candidacy.
What is happening to The Daily Stormer?
On Monday, February 3, 2020, Anglin announced, via a post on The Daily Stormer, that he had “given 30-day notices to most of the staff.” Anglin complained that, despite telling readers that the site was in debt, only 60 had donated any money to the site for a total of just US$5,000. He claimed the cost to run the site in January was US$10,000.
In the post, Anglin warned that two of the site’s contributors had already been fired as a result of cutbacks and that the “race war section,” which depicts news of crimes committed by people of color, may not last.
Anglin went on to claim that his site is “the only large site…telling the truth about the Jews, and attempting to save white people.”
The post came to light when a journalist, Jon Brodkin, found Anglin’s post and tweeted a screen capture of it.
Who is Andrew Anglin?
Less than a decade ago, few people had heard of Anglin, a neo-Nazi the Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed a “a prolific Internet troll and serial harasser.” Anglin launched The Daily Stormer on July 4, 2013, the year after creating another, now-defunct site called Total Fascism.
In a 2014 interview with Vocativ, Anglin said he launched the site “to propagandize people…to look at the world in a certain way.” He said he wanted “an opportunity for a new right-wing to enter American politics.” He expressed distaste that the Republican Party included prominent Hispanic figures.
Anglin said he was raised in a liberal household. He read various philosophical and religious writers, but the views of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini spoke to him most. “I agree with all the core principles of National Socialism,” he said (referring to Nazism).
In only a few years, Anglin’s profile grew large enough that The Atlantic ran a cover story on him entitled “The Making of an American Nazi” in its December 2017 issue. The article explained that Anglin was associated with Richard Spencer, a prominent alt-right white nationalist with a history of racist remarks.
Anglin and his website’s rise to prominence coincided with the rise of other far-right (also known as alt-right) figures, including Spencer. While Spencer was labeled “articulate and well-dressed” in some quarters, The Atlantic reported that Anglin “[reveled] in the vile language common on the worst internet message boards.”
The Daily Stormer’s move to the dark web
In 2017, The Daily Stormer mocked Heather Heyers, the woman who died at the Charlottesville protest when a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd. In response, GoDaddy, the site’s original server, refused to host the site. Google also dropped The Daily Stormer’s domain registration. Following this, The Daily Stormer moved to the dark web.
The dark web cannot be accessed via normal web browsers or search engines like Google. Instead, one must use a Tor browser which anonymizes the user through proxy servers. While the dark web has become known for criminal enterprises, it’s also a refuge for groups (both legal and otherwise) that do not or cannot operate on the open internet.
What is deplatforming?
In simple terms, when a group or individual loses the platform on which they’ve expressed their views, they have been deplatformed. Deplatforming is a method that has been used against people accused of spreading hate speech or other dangerous ideologies, though some criticize it as censorship.
The prominent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who claimed the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, was deplatformed when his Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts were all suspended. Other prominent far-right voices, like Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer, have also been deplatformed for their controversial and frequently racist views.
White nationalists supported Trump’s candidacy
In 2015, publications including the New Yorker and Slate noted how the rise of the far-right in America corresponded with Trump’s surging (and ultimately successful) campaign for the presidency.
Trump announced his campaign with a speech in which he said, among other things, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Anglin endorsed Trump in The Daily Stormer and later argued that the president “loves” white nationalists after Trump’s infamous “very fine people on both sides” comment following the Charlottesville attack.
Spencer ardently supported Trump’s presidency and voted for him in 2016. However, the alt-right figure tweeted on January 8, 2020, “I deeply regret voting for and promoting Donald Trump in 2016.” This was in response to the US assassination of Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani. Spencer has been a frequent critic of Trump’s military actions.
White nationalism in the White House
Trump has frequently denied being a racist, claiming that he is “the least racist person”. His administration, however, has been called a pipeline for white nationalists, and he has repeatedly retweeted racists’ Twitter accounts.
Trump’s former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, was once the head of Breitbart, a far-right publication and “platform of the alt-right” (in Bannon’s own words).
Currently, Trump’s White House includes senior aide Stephen Miller. In November 2019, a Southern Poverty Law Center investigation uncovered a trove of emails from Miller to Breitbart writers.
The emails pushed white nationalist talking points and shared links from white nationalist websites. There have also been calls for Miller to be removed from the White House, but as of now he remains a Trump advisor.