Stepping into dogshit isn’t the most pleasurable thing, but journalists sometimes have to subject themselves to nasty experiences in order to understand and report what’s really happening. It was in this intrepid spirit of discovery that I visited the website of The Daily Stormer [TDS], which calls itself “the most censored publication in history.”
I don’t know that that characterization is accurate; at any rate, the “other” most censored publications in history—Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Lolita, The Satanic Verses—are High Literature, whereas The Daily Stormer is the dogshit to which I referred. But as I say, in the spirit of journalism, I offer you this brief description of it, so that you, yourself, don’t have to go there.
Most of TDS’s articles are on these topics:
Anti-Media [except for fox]
of which the last, anti-Semitism, constitutes the core of TDS’s raison d’etre. The attacks on Jews are truly bizarre: it’s not in the particulars, which vary from day to day, but in the psychoneurotic obsession the site’s writers have with Jews. Do they secretly envy us? Hitler too suffered from this obsession; it drove him insane, and because nobody stopped him, 80 million people died, large tracts of Europe were reduced to rubble, and Germany ceased to exist as a country.
Trump may have a similar legacy; we’ll see. In the meantime, if there were a satiric publication that pretended to be anti-semitic, a sort of Colbert Report parody of race-baiting violence, TDS would qualify. It’s so patently ridiculous–think Mad Magazine–that you can hardly believe these people are serious. “Jewish Comic Book Propagandist Stan Lee Finally Dies.” I mean, really?
The National Enquirer achieved its reputation for satiric humor with funny headlines like “Supreme Court Justice Scalia Murdered By A Hooker.” Intelligent people understood that the Enquirer’s stories were fake, and that its headlines were written by very talented, rather cynical New Yorkers who knew how to catch shopper’s eyes. What we didn’t know (but do now) was that the Enquirer’s publisher, David Pecker, was a closet supporter of Trump; Pecker’s lies were meant to influence feeble-minded, low-information white people to hate on Democrats.
The Daily Stormer is the online equivalent of The National Enquirer. Much creative effort goes into crafting its articles in a way that maximally excites white, rightwing nationalists. TDS’s publisher, Andrew Anglin, works in the David Pecker mold, with an additional twist: his idol is Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist, who invented many of the modern techniques of inciting race hatred amongst the neurotic, frightened masses.
(Standup segue: Here’s a headline inspired by the National Enquirer and The Daily Stormer: Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin Caught in Gay Sex Orgy With Eric and Donald Trump Junior)
The name, Daily Stormer, was appropriated by Anglin from the newspaper Der Sturmer, one of the Nazi Party’s favorite rags (which, incidentally, Hitler privately ridiculed). TDS’s connection with Nazis stems directly from Anglin’s fascination with them; his most memorable quote is “By the Grace of God, I found Adolf Hitler.”
I have found myself lately caught up in debates over what constitutes free speech. Rightwingers have criticized my writings concerning Isabella Chow, the conservative Christian who is leading the anti-transgender fight on the U.C. Berkeley campus. Her supporters ask me why I would censor Chow but allow, say, Bernie Sanders to speak on campus. My response has been that not all “free” speech is equal. We do not allow certain forms of speech that are based on inciting violence. You can’t tweet that you want to kill Trump without expecting a nasty visit from the Secret Service.
Free speech is an important issue, and we do have to tread cautiously when we make decisions about what’s allowed and what isn’t. When all those social media companies—Facebook, YouTube, Apple, Spotify—removed Alex Jones’ (Info Wars) content, they certainly engaged in censorious behavior: let’s be clear about that. But they made the decision—correctly, in my judgment—that preventing the violence Jones’ comments provoke outweighs in importance protecting his free speech rights.
Surely we can agree with their decision: some forms of expression have to be eliminated to protect domestic tranquility, a phrase the Founders included in the Preamble to the Constitution, by which they meant that peace, calm, and law and order ought to prevail in America, for the benefit of all. When you have voices like Jones’, Anglin’s, Chow’s and, yes, Trump’s instigating hatred and fear, that is the opposite of “peace and calm.” They provoke, not domestic tranquility, but domestic terrorism. Unless you desire domestic unrest—which can lead only to the worst possible outcome—you have to be in favor of silencing these voices. If you had a wound you wouldn’t keep picking at it; you’d leave it alone to let the body’s natural defenses heal you. Same thing: Jones, Anglin, Chow, Trump, they all pick at America’s wounds. They don’t want healing.
But why not? They, themselves, are not honest enough to admit their motives, leaving the rest of us to infer what they’re really up to. Here’s my suspicion: they want civil war. They really do. They think their young white thugs are tougher, stronger, more numerous and better equipped at warfare than we snowflake, elite, gay coastal liberals, if it comes to shooting. That’s where things stand: and with each passing day, I sense what’s coming: open battles in the streets in America, the immediate spark being the Right’s insistence that nothing happen to Trump no matter what criminal activities Mueller proves him to have committed. The rest of us—the majority–will insist on Justice being done. Justice will not be done, if Trump and his brownshirts prevail. The clash will be a stark illustration of that old, rhetorical question: “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” We’re about to find out.