Twitter this week suspended accounts associated with the alt-right movement, as part of its commitment to crack down on hate speech. One noted alt-right account to go down in the purge, @RichardBSpencer, belonged to Richard Spencer, an American white nationalist known for promoting white supremacist views, as well as accounts belonging to Paul Town, Pax Dickinson, Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers.
The alt-right, a loose group espousing white nationalism, has been using the Internet, most notably Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, to gain influence and attack mainstream conservatives. Besides Spencer’s personal account, Twitter also deleted his National Policy Institute @npiamerica and his online magazine @radixjournal accounts.
Paul Town, who describes himself as “the leading thoughtleader of Alt-Right, nRX, and Hestia,” quickly reopened for business as @ThePaulTown.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Spencer advocates for a white homeland for the “dispossessed white race” and “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of non-white culture. The Anti-Defamation League cited Spencer in 2013 as “a leader in white supremacist circles” who has rejected the US conservative movement, because it “can’t or won’t represent explicitly white interests.”
Spencer has also said he wants blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews to be deported from the US.
Spencer compared the move against his neo-Nazi movement as both “corporate Stalinism” and the Gestapo’s 1934 “night of the long knives” purge of the SA’s leadership. He also described it as “execution squads across the alt right,” complaining that “they are purging people based on their views.”
Now, speaking of the “night of the long knife metaphor,” that memorable night in June 1934 was part of Adolf Hitler’s effort to get rid of his pesky fellow travelers from the days before he became ruler of Germany. Since another intensive user of Twitter happens to be one Donald J. Trump who has just become ruler of America, is Spencer casting himself as SA leader Ernst Röhm, to Donald Trump’s Hitler?
Those white boys do read up a lot about the Third Reich, don’t they.
White nationalist and chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party Matt Heimblach accused Twitter of reneging on their declared commitment to free speech. “There is a lot of concern over them trying to stop us, whether it’s the establishment or whether it’s these multinational corporations like Twitter or Google, but I really think it’s too little too late. This political revolution that we are seeing has already begun.” Heimblach also vowed that for every deleted account his loyalists would start a new one.
Of course, Twitter, unlike the US government, and despite its famous slogan about being “the free speech wing of the free speech party,” is not bound by the First Amendment in its private domain, and so, as the company spelled it out calmly, “The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted abuse and harassment, and we will suspend accounts that violate this policy.”
So far, Twitter, which last year deleted 125,000 ISIS-related accounts, certainly has the means to mow through the at-right accounts with the same vigor. And, in a move signaling its commitment, last July Twitter deleted the account of Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart, last July, for abusive behavior using hundreds of anonymous Twitter accounts to spread images of Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones alongside racist and sexist texts.JNi.Media