Right-wing extremism: Ideology, online activism, and violence

Friday June 21, 12.45 - 14.15

Session 5, Auditorium 2, Eilert Sundt building

Chair: Graham Macklin

Paper presenters

  • Understanding Male Supremacist Violence as Terrorism - Alex DiBranco
  • Content Analysis of the Turner Diaries and Its Current Impacts on the Discourses of Emerging Right-Wing Extremist and Militia Groups - Fatih Karakus
  • Exploring the Online Far-Right: How forums cultivate collective identity - Jaclyn Fox
  • Keyboard Warriors  Digital Organisation and Right-Wing Extremism - Benjamin Lee


Understanding Male Supremacist Violence as Terrorism

Alex DiBranco, Yale University

European and American scholars in recent years have increased attention to far right movements, focusing on contemporary mobilizations of white supremacy and xenophobia. Only recently has attention turned to male supremacy as an extremist ideology, and to recognizing male supremacist violence as terrorism. Groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism have shifted to incorporating male supremacism into their studies of hate groups, extremism, and/or terrorism over the previous year. This paper will discuss the growing understanding of male supremacism as an ideology, the “incel” (“involuntarily celibate”) community and its particular endorsement of violence, and understanding this type of violence and threats against symbolic populations of (perceived unattainable) women such as sororities or yoga studios as a form of terrorism. Starting in January 2019, the researcher with a support team is collecting posts and comments daily from male supremacist online forums, which along with manifestos from idolized violent perpetrators, will be subjected to a qualitative content analysis that will enrich the understanding of the motivating frames, narratives, and ideology of these communities.

Content Analysis of the Turner Diaries and Its Current Impacts on the Discourses of Emerging Right-Wing Extremist and Militia Groups

Fatih Karakus, University of Ontario

The Turner Diaries, a dystopian novel, by William Luther Pierce has been viewed as the “bible” of right-wing extremism (RWE) and white supremacy since its publish in 1978.  It has inspired many terrorist attacks both in North America and Europe such as Oklahoma City Bombing of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. Still today, emerging RWE and militia groups’ discourses display major similarities with the Turner Diaries. For instance, Norman Spears, the leader of a relatively new militia group, The Base, explained their strategic plan to infiltrate the Federal government in quite a similar way with the Turner Diaries.

In this research, a detailed content analysis will be conducted. Then, a series of current discourses by RWE and militia groups will be identified for their similarities with the Turner Diaries. To this end, some of the recent interviews and/or speeches of the key figures will be analyzed. Finally, the potential road maps of these groups will be speculated.

This study will attempt to address the gap in literature on the similarities between the Turner Diaries and the emerging RWE and militia groups. Thus, it will contribute to the understanding of the subtleties in predicting the potential terrorist attacks or hate crimes.

Exploring the Online Far-Right: How forums cultivate collective identity

Jaclyn Fox, American University

On July 22, 2011, far-right extremist, Anders Breivik, murdered sixty-eight in Norway after posting an online manifesto espousing rhetoric of white supremacy. In 2014, Elliot Rodger killed seven after posting his manifesto regarding violent hatred of--and desire for domination over--women.  Although the expressed ideologies differed, what unites these two violent extremists, and many recent “alt”/far-right offenders, is participation in the online universe of far-right activity before, at times during, and after their violent attacks. Crucially, these offenders are from the dominant social classes (i.e. white, heterosexual males) and feel that they are being usurped by “inferior” others. This paper examines the ways in which online far-right communities create, cultivate, and mobilize collective identities around the idea of social usurpation by analyzing far-right message board discourse. Specifically, I examine variation in what/who is blamed for social usurpation, acceptability of violence to rectify this grievance, and emotions elicited among participants regarding loss of social status (sentiment analysis). I argue the degree to which online far-right groups use language supporting violence against the out-group shapes its collective identity and individual members’ perceptions of violence’s utility in ameliorating grievances.

Keyboard Warriors - Digital Organisation and Right-Wing Extremism

Benjamin Lee, Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), Lancaster University

The extreme right is often understood as a collection of discrete organised groups. However, extreme right lethal violence is often perpetrated by those with limited or no connection to organised groups.

Drawing on analysis from academics and extreme right activists, this paper sets out a model of the extreme right that is partially composed of a digital milieu composed of overlapping factions. Made up of a vast range of web presences tied both to individual actors as well as a range of organisations the milieu: creates a pool of ready-politicised activists; transmits and preserves extreme right ideology; preserves extreme right ideals through setbacks and suppression; and allows for low-cost and relatively anonymous participation.

While the rhetoric and goals of organised groups absolutely contribute to extreme right lethal violence, in this model they are only one set of voices in a complex and chaotic ideoscape. Extreme right lethal violence is conceptualised as a product of multiple (often competing) narratives rather than a strategic choice by a coherent set of actors. Thinking about the extreme right as a digital milieu enables researchers and practitioners to better understand the seemingly chaotic nature of extreme right lethal violence.

Published Apr. 23, 2019 1:21 PM - Last modified June 12, 2019 10:44 AM