Faking the News By Storm

Andrew Anglin

When a far right website called The Daily Stormer (named after Der Stürmer, said to be Adolf Hitler’s favourite magazine) gained publicity by offending readers, and before they were forced into obscurity after GoDaddy and Google, and even Russian web providers refused to register their domain, I gained access to their style guide (since it, along with a link, came up briefly in the mainstream news). I had no intention of writing for these people, but what I found in that document was a frank account of their thinking behind their practice of knowingly publishing racist and misogynist material.

To think this is OK, for one thing, the writer should be OK with the fact that they are writing for a group of unapologetic neo-Nazi white supremacists. The upshot is that they are quite honest about the fact that you (the first-time reader) won’t necessarily give them a positive reaction. What they are after is that while they made you angry, your subconscious accepts that information uncritically, according to The Daily Stormer understanding of human psychology. So, with enough unrelenting repetition of the same tropes, your mind will some day accept it. The Nazis understood the art of propaganda quite well, and it worked out quite successfully for their regime back in the 1930s. Anglin’s blog doesn’t seem all that different, nor is their effect any less calculated. As writer Luke O’Brien from The Atlantic wrote in the December 2017 issue, the site contained “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism”, referring to their tendency to appear to be joking about committing hate crimes on individuals, except that they were not joking. The appearance of joking, according to The Daily Stormer style manual, was intended to hook the new reader into reading more from their website.

The content manager of the site was a young man named Andrew Anglin (who by now would be 36 years old). Not much was known about him after 2017. Described in most reliable accounts as growing up as a troubled and confused teenager, he developed his world view by travelling to the Philippines and various countries in Europe. He was always very much a part of the right-wing online world, honing his opinions on 4Chan, and setting up a series of blogs over the years on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from conspiracy theories to survivalism, where he fancied himself as akin to Commander Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now: living alone in the Philippine rainforest and far from villages, but having nearly infinite power over the villagers. It was an obsessive romanticism which forced him to say that life in a South Asian jungle wasn’t for him, blaming his difficulties on the villagers.

It appeared for a while, after Anglin was denied his registry of The Daily Stormer that he disappeared into obscurity. And it was pretty effective obscurity too: many people including police and the media, were unable to locate him, though it was widely belived that he was somewhere in the American midwest at the time.

During the time he was active, it was likely that his screeds were being copied and spread by Russian hackers to Facebook and Twitter and other social media. It did not seem likely that he received any attribution for his articles, since there didn’t seem to be a big increase in traffic to his site caused by this. The Russian Government must have known that an American living in Russia had registered a website dealing in spreading pro-Nazi hate while lionizing Tump and Putin. However, it is not clear that he benefitted financially or drew hits to his site in any discernable number, and after he had his application to register his site rejected by the Russian government (and nearly everyone else), he did not seem to wind up any richer for his efforts. He was just used as a cog in the Russian disinformation apparatus, then the minute American media shone a light on him, he was thrown away  like a broken toy.

A look at the Internet as of this writing shows that The Daily Stormer is back up, with nearly all the articles bylined by Anglin, with the site registered with the Russian registrar r01.su, under an SU top level domain (TLD)  (meaning the country code appearing at the end of his server URL is actually the Soviet Union, instead of Russia, which would have been RU). It is likely he is still living in the United States, since there doesn’t appear to be a requirement that he needs to have business dealings or residency in Russia to have a Russian TLD.