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Hate on the World Wide Web:
A Brief Guide to Cyberspace Bigotry

Introduction

In 1995, former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader Don Black established Stormfront, the first white supremacist site on the World Wide Web. Since then, accessing the Internet and creating Web pages has become less expensive and technologically demanding. As a result, the number of sites on the Web and the number of people visiting them have grown. Mirroring this growth, the number of hateful Web sites has increased exponentially: hundreds upon hundreds of bigoted sites promoting a variety of philosophies, such as anti-Semitism and racism, have joined Stormfront on the Web.



Neo-Nazis

Numerous groups and individuals have created and maintained Web sites promoting the anti-Semitic, racist ideas of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party. The Web site for the National Alliance, the most prominent overtly Hitlerian organization in the United States today, features transcripts of broadcasts from leader William Pierce's weekly anti-Semitic radio broadcasts, the text of articles from the group's National Vanguard magazine, and a catalog of over 600 books. One National Vanguard article, "Who Rules America," lists Jews working in the media by name, claiming "there is nothing . . . more dangerous to the future of our people [than] Jewish control of the American mass media." Selling books by Hitler and Rudolf Hess, the NSDAP/AO (the German acronym for National Socialist German Workers Party-Overseas Organization) Web site blames Jews for inflation, media "brainwashing" and governmental corruption while depicting Blacks as criminals and rioters. A Web site entitled This Time the World, which prominently displays a giant swastika, contains the text of speeches by Joseph Goebbels and American neo-Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell, as well as a "gallery" of Nazi art. Additionally, many neo-Nazi skinheads (violent, racist, shaven-headed youths) such as the Oi! Boys and Hammer Skin Nation have established Web sites, many of which are devoted to racist hard rock music.



Ku Klux Klan

Today's Ku Klux Klan is more fragmented than at any time since World War II, but the group's many factions have been using the World Wide Web as a means to revitalization. Spreading the Klan's traditional message of hatred for Blacks, Jews and immigrants, numerous Klans and their local chapters are drawing attention to themselves by establishing Web sites. One Klan site proclaims goals such as maintaining and defending "the superiority of the White race," observing "a marked difference between the White and Negro race," and educating "against miscegenation of the races." Another site claims that Jews killed Jesus and describes them as Satan's people. A third pledges to "stop the uncontrolled, outrageous and unprecedented plague of immigration." Among those Klan groups with sites are many chapters of the Knights of the White Kamellia, the two factions of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and their subsidiary chapters, the North Georgia White Knights and the Southern Cross Militant Knights. Additionally, the number of Web sites for the National Association for the Advancement of White People (N.A.A.W.P.), a group founded by former Klan leader David Duke and often described as a "Klan without robes," has grown dramatically.



'Christian' Identity

A diabolical mixture of racism, anti-Semitism, and religion, the Identity Church movement teaches that Anglo-Saxons are the Jews described in the Bible, that Jews are the descendants of Satan, and that Blacks and other minorities are inferior "mud people." The G.O.A.L. Reference Library Web site contains documents such as The Talmud: Judaism's Holiest Book Exposed, which erroneously claims that the Talmud preaches violence against Christians, and Facts are Facts, which falsely asserts that today's Jews are not descended from the Jews described in the Bible. Expressing approval for white separatism, the Web site for militant Identity group Aryan Nations calls Jews "the natural enemy of our Aryan (White) Race," a "destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and the purity of our Race." Voicing support for alleged abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, James Wickstrom and August Kreis, leaders of the violent anti-Government group, Posse Comitatus, claim at their Web site that the "federal government has grossly overstepped its bounds" because it is run by Jews, "Satan's 'kids.'" In addition to these Identity sites, Be Wise as Serpents, Kingdom Identity Ministries, The Lords Work and many more are currently available online.



World Church of the Creator (WCOTC)

Sharing Identity Christianity's view that non-whites are subhuman "mud people," the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) attacks Christianity, Judaism, Blacks and immigrants with equal vehemence. The group's main Web site blames the Jews for the trade in Black slaves and accuses them of manipulating the government while declaring Blacks physiologically inferior and inherently criminal. WCOTC also presents a number of other attractive, well-designed sites, many of which are adorned by vicious drawings of the group's supporters brutalizing Jews and Blacks. The World Church of the Creator Kids Web site utilizes enticing graphics to lure young Web users and offers simplified versions of WCOTC documents, making them easier for children to understand. The site pictures an idealized portrait of a white family next to the phrase, "the purpose of making this page is to help the younger members of the White Race understand our fight." The WCOTC Women's Frontier Web site caters to bigoted women, declaring that the "White female voice must be heard" if the Church is to "truly accomplish its goal of taking back White territory worldwide."



White Supremacists

A number of sites, including Stormfront, promote white supremacy in general or espouse some amalgam of the philosophies detailed above. David Duke, America's best-known and most politically active racist, now spreads his slick white supremacist bile on the Internet. Concerned that the "non-white birthrate," "massive immigration" and "racial intermarriage" will "reduce the founding people of America into a minority," Duke boasts about the "genetic potential" of "our people," pointing out "innate intellectual & psychological differences" between whites and minorities. The site for White Aryan Resistance (WAR), a group led by San Diego-based white supremacist Tom Metzger, features unbearably crude caricatures of Blacks and Mexicans while applauding "racial and cultural separatism worldwide." Calling whites "Nature's finest handiwork," Metzger declares, "your race and only your race must be your religion." Fellow Californian Alex Curtis, creator of the Nationalist Observer Web site, attacks Jews, Blacks and immigrants, urging cooperation between "White nationalists, White separatists, Skinheads, National Socialists, Ku Klux Klansmen and Identity Christians." His "Tribute to Jewry" consists of a picture of "Jew York City" decimated by an atomic bomb. Other sites in this category include 14 Word Press, White Power World-Wide and The Occidental Pan-Aryan Crusader.



Holocaust Denial

Holocaust denial is a propaganda movement that seeks to deny the reality of the Nazi regime's systematic mass murder of 6 million Jews in Europe during World War II. By attacking the facts of the Holocaust, and by framing this attack as merely an unorthodox point of view, the Holocaust deniers' propaganda insinuates subtle but hateful anti-Semitic beliefs about Jews as exploiters of non-Jewish guilt, and as controllers of academia or the media. Holocaust deniers have used the Web to post thousands of pages of text filled with distortions and fabrications. The Zündelsite, voicing the views of Canadian propagandist Ernst Zündel, the Committee for Open Discussion of the Holocaust Story Web site, created by denier Bradley Smith, and Greg Raven's site for the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) are but a few of the many Holocaust denial sites on the Web.



What Can Be Done?

Censorship is not the answer to hate on the Internet. ADL supports the free speech guarantees embodied in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, believing that the best way to combat hateful speech is with more speech.

ADL continuously monitors and documents Internet hate. By communicating its findings, ADL promotes public awareness of the plans and history of online bigots, in line with the League's view that exposure will lead to rejection of haters and their propaganda. ADL has made available an increasing amount of information to Internet users by significantly expanding its Web site.

Additionally, in cooperation with The Learning Company (TLC) of Massachusetts, ADL plans to release filtering software using the technology of TLC's CyberPatrol® software. This software, titled ADL HateFilter™, will provide parents and others with the ability to block access to Internet sites that ADL believes promote hate directed at groups or individuals that are singled out because of their religion, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

HateFilter does not seek to prohibit hate speech on the Internet, but recognizes that the Internet is different from libraries and bookstores, where material can be labeled and organized in a way which enables parents to exercise discretion about what their children see. HateFilter is an attempt to afford parents the ability to exercise similar discretion over the Internet.


This report was originally issued in October 1998.

2001 Anti-Defamation League