Joining a white supremacy group – is it really a free choice?

 white power symbol

People who join a white supremacy group may think this was a 100% free choice. But we’re not so sure. In this article we’ll show you how white supremacy groups use very deliberate recruitment strategies to manipulate people into joining their group. Just like Coca-cola spends millions of dollars on advertising to make people believe Coke is the drink for them, white supremacy groups  advertise their messages to convince people that joining their group is the thing to do.

“So white power groups advertise. What’s wrong with that?” 

Nothing’s wrong with advertising. It lets us know about what’s out there for us and because we know advertising is biased, we’re still able to make up our own minds what we ‘buy-in’ to. The things is though, white supremacy groups aren’t up front about their advertising. They don’t tell people that they are being exposed to an ad. And they use strategies that they know will appeal to the people they want, i.e. teenagers and young adults. So people are being influenced without even realising it!

“So what kind of ways do white power groups advertise?” 

One way is through music and music festivals (e.g. the 2012 Hammered Music Festival on the Gold Coast Queensland). Often white power music is passed out free on the streets or at events where they know a lot of teenagers/young adults will be at. The music usually has violent and hateful lyrics which attack Jewish people, gay people and people from non-white backgrounds. Through these songs, the white supremacy groups teach people their hate messages and keep them in peoples’ minds.

“The music was absolutley essential to maintain the level of hate that is necessary to hurt people”  Former White Power leader, Arno Michaelis talks about the use of music in white supremacy groups.    

White supremacist groups also make and distribute their own video games. And just like white power music, these games have messages of white supremacy and hate. The games are violent and involve attacking people from non-white backgrounds and Jewish people. These ‘enemies’ are portrayed as super negative stereotypes, and the way a person succeeds in the game is by fighting these enemies off.

“Yeah but lots of video games are violent and it doesn’t mean anything”

Of course lots of video games involve violence, and the idea that everyone who plays a violent video game will go out and be violent in real life is pretty crazy.  But all the while people are playing these games they’re also being exposed to dehumanising messages about Jewish people and people from non-white backgrounds, and they’re being rewarded for being violent towards them. This is like the propaganda governments use during wars to make the enemy no longer human. It’s a classic “Us and Them” set up.

 

“Are music and games all that I have to watch out for?”

One of the most manipulative ways the groups recruit is by deliberately causing trouble. With music and video games people have a choice whether they listen to or play the games. But people don’t get a choice when white supremacy groups use this tactic. Stirring up trouble exploits people’s experiences of being bullied or excluded, and plays on peoples’  fears, anger and mistrust.

 

“That’s pretty sneaky. Is that all the ways now??????”

Nearly! White supremacy groups also exploit people’s religious beliefs to attract them to join their groups. The groups target people who are Christian and interpret Bible teachings in a way that promotes white superiority and hatred towards inferior Jewish and Gay people. The groups then use religion to justify racial hatred and violence.

And finally:

White-power groups use their own websites to manipulate and advertise their messages. They present their information as if it is objective and factual, but the reality is that they are really biased. Sometimes they even make things up to convince people that the situation is really bad, and that white people are on the brink of genocide.

The websites only focus on stories that relate to crimes committed by non-white people so that the situation seems much worse than it actually is. They use distant connections to universities and authors with PhD’s to make their content appear more factual. And they feed peoples’ feelings of fear, anger, and mistrust with forums that allow members to share hate-filled messages. The more times people spend on these forums, the more their hate and fear grows.

Want to read more about the strategies white supremacy groups use to recruit? Check out Recruitment in White Supremacy groups – Who do they want? And why? to find out more about the types of people white supremacy groups like to recruit.