On May 14th 2020 VICE published an article about a website ‘register’ that doxxes interracial couples. It provided a database of white women who dated black men. After it drew media attention, the white supremacist page was seemingly hacked and then taken offline. On its social media presence, however, the website’s author encourages others to set up similar sites and promises to bring his white supremacist ‘register’ back online.
The ‘register’ mainly contains lists of white women dating non-white men. The site is as misogynist as it is white supremacist. It is a new expression of gendered white supremacist harassment amplified by the possibilities of the web. It illustrates a far-right proneness to authoritarianism and punitivity and neatly ties into conspiracy theories like the ‘Great Replacement’.
The now defunct website allowed submissions of accounts and other personal details, of white women who date or have dated black men. Personal details of these targeted women such as physical traits and where they live, or study were shared. White men, who subsequently dated these women, and women who have not dated black men but might, could also have their information submitted to this register. It was effectively a free-for-all harassment tool directed mainly at women. Women featured on the registry reportedly received abusive comments through their social media as a result. The ‘register’ was very unequivocal in its aim, labelling the women as “Traitors”; that is, very explicitly, as ‘race traitors’. The women were accused of “miscegenation”.
The invention of the crime of ‘miscegenation’ was a product of early colonialism and white supremacy. In the US the 1967 court ruling Loving v. Virginia de-criminalized interracial marriages. Yet the conviction that interracial relations ought not happen still seems to run deep among some US citizens. While 32% of white respondents to a 2008 questionnaire were open to relationships with African Americans, 38% rejected any relationship type (for themselves as well as for others; including dating, marriage or child-rearing) with African Americans. This online ‘register’, then, fits into a persistent opposition to interracial relationships, voicing it in the most extreme terms. The website reads:
“The traitors refers to those who have engaged in miscegenation presently or in the past. These are the girls who are too far gone and should never be accepted back. They made their choice.”
“Controlling sexuality is a key feature of white supremacy.”
The racism and misogyny motivating the users of the site is obvious. These ideologies are now expressed using the web; but intertwining racist and misogynist worldviews, especially regarding interracial relationships, is a century-old concern of white supremacists as Jessie Daniels notes in her book Cyber Racism: “Controlling sexuality is a key feature of white supremacy.” She continues: “A trope in extremist discourse and in mainstream American culture particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the danger and allure of sexual contact between a black man and a white woman.“ The ‘register’ is a 21st century iteration of this trope. It is perpetuated through the possibilities of the web 2.0, with an interactive feature where people can submit suggestions of who should be on the register, and comment on the women’s ‘profiles’. It also encompasses white women of a variety of nationalities – expanding on the idea of trans-nationals whiteness, i.e. a ‘global white race’ with a shared destiny that gained traction since “the far-right got a website”, and found expression in “White Pride Worldwide” (such are the slogans popularized by the white supremacist website Stormfront). It is this pocket of the web, where white supremacists debate and agitate since 1995, and where interracial relationships never ceased to be a concern. Members of the Stormfront-forum have been obsessively covering interracial as well as homosexual relationships for more than two decades. They are concerned with any relationship that does not create white offspring. Some users, on Stormfront and the ‘register’ alike, suspect a Jewish conspiracy behind encouraging ‘miscegenation’. With this, they incorporate antisemitic conspiracy theories into their narrative, following white supremacist tradition. Daniels expands: “The twist to this meme [sexual contact between black men and white women] when viewed through a white supremacist lens is that such alliances (e.g., miscegenation) are viewed as part of a larger Jewish-led conspiracy to both degrade the white race and simultaneously distract whites and blacks from Jewish attempts at control.” A trope that is intimately related to the conspiracy beliefs known as ‘The Great Replacement’ or ‘White Genocide’.
Demographics and the “Great Replacement” conspiracy belief
The far-right has always been obsessed with birth rates, and demographics often take the centre stage of their concerns. The Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, for example, has a ‘Demographic Countdown’ ticking away on the sidebar of every page. It counts the years, days, hours and even seconds down to when the population of white people will be below 50% in the United States. The conspiracy theory of a ‘Great Replacement’ of white people is palpable on the page. Again, this is not a new twist: the idea of white demographic degeneration was already conceptualized in the nineteenth century by French Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, whose “Essay on the Inequality of Human Races” became a foundational text for modern and contemporary racism. In the US, the fear of the decline of white birth rates in 1916 animated Madison Grant to write “The Passing of the Great Race”, a eugenicist tract, which became a foundational text for today’s “White Genocide” conspiracy theory. The fear of differential birth rates far supersedes the far-right and can be found in discourses surrounding the notion overpopulation.
Punitivity and online authoritarianism
The intended punishment of women through hateful comments sent to them illustrates a preference of the far-right for denunciation and punishment of individuals they deem deviant. Denouncing individuals and the belief that one is entitled to punish those that do not adhere to the standards the group sets (in this case for complete strangers) is an expression of authoritarian aggression. It is a common feature authoritarian groups, and found among right-wing groups.
The punitivity and the satisfaction the users of the site get out of it becomes clear in yet another section of the ‘register’. Some profiles were listed under the header ‘Toll paid’, which contained ‘profiles’ of women who became single mothers or suffered violence at the hand of their partners – framed as a just punishment that these women deserved for their choices. This punitive moralism is aided by the web. In the role of an unapologetic provocateur, common in online iterations of the far-right, the author explains that he would not take down any profiles and deemed himself untouchable. The boldness of the administrator’s claims and harassment is based in the anonymity that Internet provides.
All three elements, the racism and misogyny embedded in white supremacist thinking that focuses on controlling sexuality; the preoccupation with relationships that produce non-white children; and the authoritarian aggression and proneness to punishment(phantasies) are common among the far-right, and are mobilized to inflict harm.
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