CONTENT WARNING: There will be a listing of slurs and discussion of hate speech and hate imagery. We are using these for identifying purposes, not to embolden a hierarchical oppressive worldview.
We want to warn against the dangers of using hateful imagery or language, even in an ironic or counter-recruiting fashion. Hate speech in the context of this report will cover racism, misogyny, and able-ism. Even if intentions are anti-racist or otherwise, use of these can result in a few negative consequences;
- It will allow unsafe people to gain access to safer spaces because by blurring the lines of hate speech — hateful language can be played off as ironic or worse become normalized. Normalization means detecting bad actors in these spaces will be difficult. Confusion of what is appropriate and what isn’t will give the community the wrong idea of who social justice activists and advocates are. The community may not be able to identify whom to trust and whom to guard from.
- Re-purposing hateful imagery or symbolism may not have the proper context and thus may reported on incorrectly and the wrong lessons or meaning may be reported and the wrong precedents could be set.
I) Jason Kessler, one of the leading organizers of 2017 Unite the Right rally that saw an anti-fascist murdered, began this journey in Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Kessler was removed from OWS spaces for endangering people in the OWS encampment by filming faces and urging violent actions. He later “left the left” after he he sympathized with a woman who was fired from her job after making a racist joke on twitter before boarding a flight.
In addition, Jason’s deeply held misogynistic nature predicted his journey from Obama volunteer to something on the “Neo-Völkisch” spectrum. Misogyny is often a marker for future right wing violence. This WaPo article provides an excellent review of Kessler’s history and journey into hate.
We want to again stress that this non-exhaustive list of slurs and hate language is to present a listing of what these terms mean in racist and other context and examples of those putting those terms to use. This is not our approval of these terms.
Certain words, phrases, and iterations of hate speech will have a dog-whistle effect. Words like “cuck” and suffixes like “-oid” indicate a racism that is beneath the waves but very much still there. Terms like “reeeee,” “sperg,” “autistic screeching or unintelligble screaming,” and suffix “-tard” will denote prejudice for able-ism and an internalized hatred for those that may be different. Those marginalized by these terms will notice as will astute anti-racists, anti-fascists, and other liberators. Persons of privilege will use them and cry foul when asked to not use them. Much like Kessler listed above, the loyalty to edgy humor should not outweigh loyalty to those oppressed. If it does — the person using the language not your ally but rather your future jailer.
The use of this language normalizes dehumanizing language and the concept of othering. This language originates often online in typically right wing and racist spaces.
It is precisely this use of language that anti-racists and others are able to mark whom not to trust — presented here are some examples of this kind of language as used by “Boogaloo Bois” (boog) and those within that sphere.
Boogs, whom we discussed in our last report, present in an unequal mix of three strains: crypto-fash, over-privileged libertarians on an adventure, and/or state actors. Because of this mixture developing trust with any boog is fraught and not worth it for anyone at risk of those groups. A boog may say some of the “right” things that could lend a belief that their objectives can align with liberation movements but their ultimate goal isn’t the abolition of the oppressive systems that have put us where we are today. They often lionize racist white slave owners with an 18th Century understanding of sociology.
Boogs are known to show up when unwelcome by communities such as Lansing, Atlanta, and Ann Arbor among others. Because their preference is to open carry firearms — this creates an aura of distrust for community defense (comdef) organizations such as those affiliated with the Coalition Of Armed Labor (COAL). These comdef orgs provide safety when asked and sometimes do open carry firearms (usually at request or permission of the local community organizers). The confusion and distrust of boogs can spill over into these comdef orgs or the trust of these comdef orgs could be in-authentically carried over to boogs who do not warrant that trust. Further along this line of logic should someone work openly with the boog it could devastate whatever trust the person or persons that worked with the boog had in the eyes of marginalized communities.
In summation on this point, hate language even when on the left finds itself being nothing more than a warning for oppression later. If someone is telling racist jokes and holding misogynistic or ableist views, they should not be welcomed into liberation spaces.
II) Our second thrust of why it is inadvisable for the left to use hate language, jargon, or imagery is the reoccurring and incorrect trope that Chairman Fred Hampton of the Chicago Black Panther Party (BPP) had worked with white supremacists.
This assertion is patently false. This falsehood comes from either misunderstanding or willful ignorance. The racists in the this “interpretation” are meant to be the Young Patriot Organization. A group of poor white migrants from Appalachia that were active in Chicago along with the BPP in the original iteration of the Rainbow Coalition. The YPO were an explicitly anti-capitalist and anti-racist socialist workers movement. However, they miscalculated in their initial attempts to re-purpose Confederate imagery away from its racist origins into an anti-capitalist meaning. This was a mistake as we will show.
In two books that greatly detail the relationship between the BPP and YPO they discuss the anti-racist nature of the YPO. These books are, Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times by Sonnie and Tracy, and Hy Thurman’s auto-biography, REVOLUTIONARY HILLBILLY. The podcast, “Millennials Are Killing Capitalism” has a great audio interview with Hy Thurman in which Thurman expresses that the YPO were anti-racist prior joining the BPP in the Rainbow Coalition.
(We say that the YPO were anti-racist while fully acknowledging that all white people have deeply rooted and embedded racism within. The organization was anti-racist even if members of that organization still held individual racist tendencies such as not realizing that racist images could not be repurposed.)
The YPO saw themselves as anti-racist as can be seen from a quote from founding member William “Preacherman” Fesperman, “Racism was a demon that had to be driven out and slain if we were going to have unity with other groups and to believe that all people have a right to self-determination and freedom. … We had to change to make life tolerable, and for life to have some sort of meaning.” (Root)
This is corroborated by BPP member, Bob Lee, who in discussing the history of the YPO prior to it’s formation had this to say, “Looking back, was there enough basis for unity? Hell, yeah! When I went to Uptown Chicago, I saw some of the worst slums imaginable. Horrible slums, and poor white people lived there. However, two organizations prepared the way for the Rainbow Coalition, without them there wouldn’t have been a chance of forming one. Rising Up Angry (RUA) and JOIN Community Union. The uptown neighborhood was prime recruiting zone for white supremacists. Most of the cats who were in the Patriots also had at least one family member in the Klan. Cats like Mike James and Jewnbug, and Tappis worked hard to fight that mentality. Mike James and RUA drove a wedge in that bullshit, that white supremacist bullshit, their groundwork was just amazing, out of this world.” Quote pulled from LibCom article.
Hy Thurman explains the reasoning the YPO had behind the use of the CSA battle-flag, “We wanted to talk to poor whites about living conditions in Uptown and try to get them involved in the Young Patriots to improve their living conditions. Many approaches were made to get a dialogue started country music, police brutality, sex, etc. But the universal symbols that all could relate to were the American Flag and the Confederate Flag. Knowing that the American Flag would not solicit much conversation the idea turned to the Rebel flag. ” (Thurman as interviewed by James Tracy)
Bob Lee understood the reasoning that the YPO had behind the re-use of the CSA battle-flag however he gave them his blessing to use it provided “so long as members were up for all the explaining they would have to do.” (Sonny & Tracy).
However, the ability to explain the appropriation of racist imagery like the CSA Battle-flag is all but lost when translated decades later without any context, as done infamously by former The Young Turks (TYT) personality and comedian Jimmy Dore. Dore [whose father and uncles were Chicago cops contemporaneously with the activities of the YPO and BPP] has repeated the falsehood that Chairman Fred worked with white supremacists. This hasn’t been the first time that the former TYT host, Dore had advocated for leftists to work with racists and bigots before. During an appearance on Katie Halper’s podcast, Dore claimed that it would be appropriate to work with Mike Cernovich. The conversation occurred at around the 31 minute mark, but they seem to have edited that section out. You can see from the comments in the Soundcloud that reference the original audio. That particular audio exists in the form of a response video by the Majority Report. At the 2 minute mark, Dore’s thoughts are on record.
During an interview of Chris Hedges, Dore and Hedges spoke falsehoods about Chairman Fred. Their assertion was that the YPO were white supremacists. Part of this confusion is laid at the feet of the YPO’s ill fated attempt to repurpose use of the CSA battle-flag, however there have been years of people correcting this narrative to Dore and others and despite this Dore and others continue to peddle this false narrative. Given Dore’s history of promoting leftists working with bigots in the past, we can only conclude that this lie is being repeated so as to create precedent for inviting other elements, such as the boog, into left spaces.
Eventually the YPO would see the error in their strategy. Hy Thurman again explains in the James Tracy interview, “I would not recommend it’s use by any group or anyone or any purpose and believe that it should be destroyed as a tribute to those who suffered pain and anguish in a great dark period of our history.”
The critical error by the YPO has been to leave open an ambiguity of their aims. Their anti-racist aims were waylay-ed by use of racist imagery. Even though the boog did not come from a place of anti-racism like the YPO did there is still a lesson here for the boog: if they are serious about anti-racist work, they will have to drop everything about the boog… symbolism, jokes, name, etc and de-radicalize. Dirty South Right Watch has an open invitation for any boogs in the Southern United States willing to do the work of a self-critique and reach out to their email to begin a good faith de-radicalization process. Boogs elsewhere can reach out to us at our email and we will work to find you a process to leave that sphere.
As discussed above by primary sources — the YPO were not white supremacists and painting them as such creates a false precedent wherein it is now appropriate to bring racists and other bigots into anti-racist and anti-bigot spaces, thereby putting our marginalized siblings at risk. We must combat hate language and imagery in our spaces so that our spaces remain safe.
The Lone Gunmen AFA