How Not to De-Radicalize a Twitter Neo-Nazi

I’d logged onto Twitter for my daily briefing, and was now having to justify my existence to a girl called Chelsea who was tweeting angrily at me for being born in her country.

“India is a backwards shit-heap,” she said, “and wherever Indians go, they make a mess.”

It’s tense debating someone who regards you as subhuman. You feel jittery and vertiginous, because your opponent is trying to point out flaws not just in your argument, but in your very DNA.

She tweeted again. “You ruined your own countries, now you come here and ruin mine.”

I don’t call people “racist,” because it’s an ad hominem fallacy that has never actually stopped anyone being racist. So, instead, I just tried to be reasonable, and listened (looked?).

She said the savagery of non-whites was clear in Sweden’s “rapefugee crisis.”

I told her I had nothing to do with that.

I could almost feel her indignation through my phone-screen. She said it was simple: brown people are genetically predisposed to aggression.

I told her I didn’t feel especially aggressive.

She said my feelings were irrelevant. Brown people in the US and UK commit substantially more violent crime than whites. And we only had to look at all the war-torn Asian and African countries to see that brown people are more violent. She added, “White countries are richer, cleaner, safer and more cultured. That’s why you come to live in our countries.”

I agreed that white civilizations have generally led the world for the last 300 years. But much of humanity’s 200,000 year history has been led by non-white cultures like the Mesopotamians and the Indus Valley civilization, while non-white nations like India and China will probably lead the future.

She stopped tweeting for a while, possibly to Google.

I was confident that in a debate or email discussion I could’ve held my own against Chelsea. However, at that time I was limited to Twitter on my phone, and, unfortunately, I’m not good at addressing civilizational crises in 140 characters. As a result, I could only provide vague responses to Chelsea’s pithy certainties.

As I fumbled with autocorrect to say something that was nuanced and not gibberish, Chelsea, confident and apparently armed with a full keyboard, began to avalanche me in white power tweets:

“Whites created the modern world.”

[Picture of elegant European architecture]

“Whites invented the Internet, which you’re using right now.”

[Inexplicable picture of Bill Gates]

“Just because the truth hurts, it doesn’t make it any less true.”

[Meme saying “Fuck your feelings”]

Chelsea’s profile picture showed a well-groomed twenty-something gazing out with an empathic smile while cradling a baby. It was hard for me to reconcile the photo with the vitriol I was reading, and I wondered if that made me as prejudiced as her.

“You’ve gone quiet,” she wrote. “I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but these things have to be said.”

She continued her fusillade, her tweets rumbling my phone and sending jolts through my hand. “We whites are too generous for our own good. We open our doors to anyone, even killers.

“And you ARE killers. The crime figures prove it. You commit more murders, you steal, you rape.

“Blacks are the worst. That’s not me talking. It’s the crime rates.

“Blacks statistically commit half of all murders but make up ten percent of the population.

“And you brown people are not much better. Look what you’ve done to Sweden. You’re imposing Sharia and turning white women into sex slaves.” Anger-emoji.

Chelsea’s outpouring of white pride had quickly darkened into bitterness, and she soon began lamenting the death of pale complexion on the altar of political correctness. She said anyone who tried to speak up for the dying white race was labelled a racist and shut out of society.

I reminded her that I hadn’t called her a racist.

She said I wasn’t really the problem. It was the “Jew-controlled globalist elites” like Angela Merkel, who were actively destroying the white gene pool by letting in tides of brown refugees, and censoring any who questioned it.

“If this doesn’t end,” she said, “there will be a race war.”

I suggested that a race war might be an overreaction. Perhaps Merkel opened Germany’s borders not to hurt white people, or even to help brown people, but for mostly pragmatic reasons: Germany has an aging population due to decreasing birth-rates, and seeks to replenish its labor force and boost its economy with immigration.

“This is white genocide,” she said. “We’re dying and you’re taking our place.”

I could only offer her a shrug-emoji. The obvious solution to an aging white population was more white babies. But all Europe-born people even brown onesare having fewer babies than immigrants from low-literacy countries. Female education decreases fertility; as migrants are assimilated into a host country, and adopt its ways, they have fewer children on average.

But it wasn’t just women who were losing fertility in the West; a meta-analysis of studies found that the sperm counts of Western men had halved between 1973 and 2011, while that of non-Western men hadn’t shown any significant change.

Chelsea asked why only people in the West were affected. I didn’t know. (Nor did scientists, although they have hypothesized it could involve atmospheric pollutants, mobile phones, or unhealthy lifestyles.)

I suspected Chelsea would assume it was part of a dastardly Jewish plot to destroy the white race, so I emphasized that the fall in fertility had affected all races in the West, including Jews themselves.

I explained that, whatever the causes, the result was a drop in the working-age population, and as this fell, so would GDP. In a hypercompetitive, capitalist world, maintaining a strong economy is essential for countries that wish to stay financially afloat, and the only feasible way to make up the deficit, at least for now, is immigration.

Chelsea said that the economic benefits of immigration were a lie told by the globalists. She said that migrants actually stole jobs from indigenous populations, and drove down wages for everyone.

I pointed out that the economic benefits of migration are well-documented; studies by both government departments and independent think-tanks have found that migrants do not put natives out of work, but actually create jobs for them. Another study by Oxford University found that, although migrants can slightly drive down wages for similarly-skilled natives in the short term, they increase wages for all in the long term by boosting the economy through labour, taxes and purchases, and also by creating businesses that create jobs and contributing to the knowledge economy.

Despite this, I conceded that migration couldn’t solve every problem, and it was essential that we investigated why Westerners were having fewer children.

As we spoke about fertility, and immigration, I noticed that my dispassionate, hateless approach became contagious. Chelsea soon apologized for her earlier racial abuse, and stressed that she didn’t hate “my people,” she just loved her own, and was upset because the world she had known was fading, and she couldn’t mourn it without being labelled a monster.

It seemed clear to me that her hatred wasn’t motivated by malice, but by fear and desperation. Her grip may have felt like a stranglehold, but she was just holding on for dear life.

I asked her about this world she had spoken of, which was supposedly fading. She seemed unable to define it, but kept using the term “traditional white culture.”

I told Chelsea that there is no such thing as “white culture,” because there are countless white cultures, from Hungarian Magyar to Russian Cossack to French Huguenot.

With effort, Chelsea managed to narrow down her fading world to “traditional English culture” — an equally meaningless term, given that all traditions were once innovations. Was she talking about Celtic culture, or Norman, or Tudor? I suspected she was talking about an age she had never experienced, one that didn’t evoke nostalgia but was an evocation of it, a tapestry of dreams and half-remembered history. Even so, I employed the principle of charity, and assumed her “traditional English culture” referred simply to the UK before the Second World War and resultant mass immigration.

I told her that, even though Western birth-rates were declining, there was no immediate danger to traditional English culture. The country’s history was still being taught in schools, and romanticized in books and movies. “Traditional” festivals, from Lent to Christmas, were still being celebrated everywhere. Castles and forts of old were still standing, and large swathes of land called heritage sites were dedicated solely to preserving the past.

“That’s not what I mean,” she said. “We’re losing our connection to our ancestors. It’s being stolen from us. Everything they fought for…”

(Fought for, Chelsea? You mean, like, freedom from fascism?)

I told Chelsea that she could probably trace her ancestry back to the Middle Ages, and to specific towns. In contrast, a descendant of slaves living in the US would have great difficulty tracing his ancestry further than two centuries. He would likely have no knowledge of his ancestral culture, and hence be forced to seek pride in being black rather than being, say, Mandinka or Hausa. (His ancestry could be considered stolen, but not yours, dear Chelsea.)

There was no reply from Chelsea for a while. Then, after a few minutes, she wrote, “Belgian chocolate Haagen Dazs is nothing compared to strawberry cheesecake.”

I suspected she was employing some grand metaphor about race, but then realized she was referencing a tweet I’d posted weeks ago championing Belgian chocolate Haagen Dazs, and she’d taken exception to it on the grounds that strawberry cheesecake was tastier. Apparently, the salted caramel and coffee flavors were also superior.

Normally, I would have been unsettled by someone making comments about my tweet history, but in Chelsea’s case it was oddly comforting. She had taken an interest in the minutiae of my life, and frivolously mentioned it to lighten the tone of the debate. Most crucially, within her bathetic remark was the assumption that I could appreciate her humor — that I was, in fact, not completely alien. This was progress.

Alas, I told Chelsea I had to go. She said she appreciated the discussion, and knew that not all non-white people were bad, but she still didn’t think they were ultimately compatible with whites. In her view, crime rates didn’t lie. I reflexively promised her some answers.

Some may ask why I wished to waste so much time on a petty Twitter exchange, but Chelsea’s worldview mattered, because it is quickly spreading; the recent chaos in Charlottesville was just another symptom of an epidemic of hatred that is resurgent across the West, gradually increasing its electoral share in Europe, encroaching into the cultural mainstream of countries such as Poland, and corresponding with bad omens like increased far-right violence in Germany and increased referrals for far-right extremism in the UK. Even New Zealand seems to be affected. Meanwhile, online, Twitter users who self-identify as white nationalists and Neo-Nazis have increased over 600% since 2012.

These growing demographics contribute significantly to the populist anti-immigrant, pro-free-speech movement, the alt-right, which is exerting a significant influence on Western politics, including on the President of the United States, and now threatens to supplant libertarian conservatism as the principal movement of the right.

Riding the alt-right’s backlash against political correctness are a new breed of fashionably edgy white nationalists like Richard Spencer and Lana Lokteff. They call themselves “Identitarians,” champion straight-talking and white skin, and, most dangerously of all, are polished and mild-mannered (as epitomized by the name of Spencer’s organization, the “National Policy Institute”).

One reason the new Identitarian movement is growing so fast is that no one will bother addressing its arguments. Mainstream commentators shrug it off as racist, seemingly unaware that its anger is made of accusations of racism; Identitarians regard “PC culture” as a system employed by the globalists (i.e. Jews) to suppress the truth about the evils of multiracialism.

This was why I wanted to address Chelsea’s views; dismissing them would only vindicate her. Instead, I would carefully research answers to her accusations, and present them for her consideration.

One claim she had made was that Jews were weakening white people through forced miscegenation. I found that there is no evidence that interracial reproduction produces weaker offspring. In fact, it may actually produce stronger offspring.

But even if Chelsea accepted this, she still considered non-white people to be more prone to violence than white people. Was she right?

One thing Chelsea said had stuck in my mind: “Black people are the worst.” In her view, humans didn’t get any more criminal than blacks. I felt this compelled me to defend them more than my fellow south Asians. If I could convince her that “the worst” were just like her, I could get her to see it of anyone.

Chelsea had said that blacks, despite making up only ten percent of the population, committed half of all murders. After some research, I found her claims were supported by a Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Telegraph to the Metropolitan Police, which revealed that 12% of London’s men are black, yet make up 54% of the city’s reported street crimes committed by men, along with 46% of the knife crimes and 67% of the gun crimes.

Similar figures can be found in the US, where the Department of Justice claims that blacks, despite making up 13% of the US population, were convicted of 52% of all the country’s homicides between 1980 and 2008.

Clearly, this had to be explained.

I carefully considered the line of defense to take.

There was, of course, the issue of racism. Crime rates of blacks do not account for the harsher scrutiny that black people currently receive from police and juries, as evidenced by the fact that they are far more likely to be unduly stopped and searched, far more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder, and far more likely to have killings counted as homicides. Crime rates don’t measure crime; they measure convictions. (And convictions are skewed by the kind of prejudice you favor, Chelsea.)

However, racism alone was not a sufficient explanation for the disparity in crime rates, because it could not explain why the Department of Justice’s figures for crime rates closely match the figures provided by victims themselves to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

A better explanation for black crime rates would’ve been to argue that criminality is hugely affected by non-genetic factors, such as poverty and alienation, which are a particular problem for black communities due to ghettoization and other relics of segregation (gang warfare in ghettos not only helps explain why blacks are more likely to be convicted of murder, but also why they are six times more likely than whites to be victims of murder).

Was that enough to explain the racial crime disparity? No, because too few studies in this area have been conducted, and those that have offer contradictory results. And herein lay the problem with this approach: it hinged on disproving Chelsea’s assertion that non-whites were inherently more violent — when I couldn’t be certain that she was wrong.

Average racial differences in behavior are well within the possibilities of evolutionary psychology. The postmodern left have tried to argue that race and behavior are purely social constructs, but they have no evidence for their claims, and have resorted to obscuring their epistemic nudity behind screens of psychobabble. (Their silhouettes are interpreted by the paranoid alt-right as conniving hunchbacked Jews trying to suppress the truth about race.)

Clearly, the postmodern strategy of dismissing facts is not just futile but counterproductive, because it not only fails to address crime disparities, but it also reinforces the white supremacist narrative.

And what if, one day, someone found incontrovertible proof that non-whites really were more violent? In that scenario, the case that we should treat all races equally because they’re all the same would collapse.

The cure to Chelsea’s hatred, then, lay not in denying the possibility of racial differences, but championing equal treatment in spite of them.

I first of all wanted to assure Chelsea that non-whites in general were not a threat. Differences between individuals of the same race are far greater than differences between races, and it is impossible to accurately predict anything about a person by recourse to race alone. The same report that claimed blacks accounted for 52% of homicides also found that the total homicide rate of blacks was 34 per 100,000 people, or 0.034%. It would be safe to say that, excluding poor, fatherless black people, this number would be much smaller. So, regardless of the causes of the crime disparity, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of blacks are peaceful and law-abiding, and any fear of them based on crime rates is as rational as fearing chocolate due to the off-chance of choking.

I planned to supplement my more substantive points with some good-natured wisecracks (Hey Chelsea, you know who has a higher violent crime rate than blacks? Far-right activists). She would obviously concoct some answers to this, and I would have been happy to hear them, because I was confident that the more I made Chelsea explain her beliefs to me, the more she would realize the irrationality of her hatred, and the less extreme she would become. It wasn’t a fool’s hope; it is actually supported by studies. Apparently, no one can convince someone of their own ignorance better than themselves.

But would that be enough to end her racism? No. For that, I had another strategy.

The best evidence that there was no Jewish conspiracy to stifle the truth about race lay not in anything I could say, but in the fact we were discussing it at all. And the best evidence that non-whites were human lay not in my arguments, but my behavior (Actions speak louder, a picture tells a thousand, etc). I therefore decided to approach the debate not as a rhetorician, but as a pretty cool guy. I also planned to involve in the debate a black friend of mine, whose calm and considerate nature would help remind Chelsea that statistics could not articulate the nuances of individuals.

This was the central part of my plan; I would debate Chelsea honestly, but my ultimate gambit was not any particular argument — it was the act of polite debate itself, which by its very existence disproved her conspiracy theory more eloquently than anything I could say.

The next day, I gathered all my links to academic sources. I’d researched all night, and felt I had an answer to anything Chelsea could throw at me.

I logged onto Twitter. I clicked on Chelsea’s profile page.

Her account had been suspended for breach of terms and conditions.

I slapped my forehead.

This is how the far-right grows online; by Twitter and other social networks’ efforts to suppress it. Chelsea spoke of a conspiracy of silence, and was silenced. Now embittered, locked out of the arena of ideas, her fears of censorship confirmed, she’ll seek sanctuary in far-right corners of the Web, where her opinions will boomerang back at her, and her howls of rage will echo in a chorus of comments that proclaim, “To hell with the globalist Jewish thought-police! We won’t be silent anymore!”

Globalist Jewish thought-police, if you’re monitoring this: you didn’t protect me from Chelsea’s views. You protected Chelsea’s views from me.

Gurwinder Bhogal

Gurwinder Bhogal is a freelance writer and researcher. His work has been featured in the UK's Sunday Express and on the blog of the counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam, which advises the UK government.

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Gurwinder Bhogal

Gurwinder Bhogal is a freelance writer and researcher. His work has been featured in the UK’s Sunday Express and on the blog of the counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam, which advises the UK government.

16 thoughts on “How Not to De-Radicalize a Twitter Neo-Nazi

  1. Excellent article, and thank you for trying to engage with Chelsea! She is obviously misguided, but those of us on the left need to recognize that beneath the vitriol there are real concerns that need to be addressed (e.g. how to ensure European cultures are preserved with all the migration, why crime rates are so disparate, and so on).

    But as someone else pointed out, there is one flaw in your remarks, namely, you suggested she could probably trace her ancestry back to the middle ages. Now, maybe most English people can do that; I don’t really know. I do know that many of us white Americans cannot. We often have some idea where our ancestors came from, but frequently there’s been a lot of mixing and uncertainty. In my own case, I know my mother’s mother’s family was Irish. But were they pure Irish? They’d lived in North America for some generations; there may well have been mixing. My mother’s father is Swedish, at least in part. But I have no idea how much; he may have been half Swedish, etc. On my father’s side, I have no idea; I am guessing Dutch or English based on my last name. However, that could be the result of one great-great-grandfather in a paternal line, and every other ancestor might be of a different ethnicity.

    I think trying to pin too much on racial identity is a bad idea, but the fact remains that I only know my own racial identity as ‘white.’ There is very little I can say beyond that except that I am a bit Irish and a bit Swedish.