That document trotted out tried and true, even hoary, tropes of American white supremacism; with the exception of a few mentions of the internet, much of it could have been written at any point since the end of Jim Crow.
And while that could well turn out to be the extent of his online communication, my time in WPWW convinced me that our picture of the white supremacist internet is strikingly outdated, incomplete.
The group is so prolific in part because its members span time zones, an ocean.
And then I had to have a 14-line chat with the gatekeeper to the group, a guy who calls himself "Pa." It went exactly like this: Me: Hey- can I join the sf [Stormfront] group? They also discuss selfie sticks, steel beams, and rare Pepes. I learned of White Pride World Wide (WPWW) through a thread in the "Youth" subsection of Stormfront, the internet's leading white nationalist forum.
In the aftermath of last month's massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, dozens of reporters — including myself — swarmed the white supremacist web in an attempt to track terrorist Dylann Roof's ideological roots.
Whenever these disputes did flare up —as one did about the war in Ukraine — there was always someone there to remind the group of its true function: Trolling is a major feature of WPWW, and it was difficult to distinguish its members from the frequent posters on any misanthropic chan or subreddit festering in the penetralia of the internet, for whom racism is a shock tactic rather than a belief system.
A lot of the mocking language in the group ("You transgender pan sexual mocca frapacino latte fluid based homosexual"; "No, you cis scum, I'm a trans hippopotamus") was completely of a piece with the trolls of the wider internet.
While the basic messages of white supremacy remain constant, the media by which they are delivered change with technology.
From fabricated "firsthand" pamphlets (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion), to mass market paperbacks (The Turner Diaries), white supremacist messages migrated to ham radio, entered the digital era on bulletin board systems like the Liberty Bell Net, skipped over to Usenet groups and then made the jump to the World Wide Web on sites like Stormfront. And an instant delivery messaging app, one that is likely valued at billions of dollars, at that.
For all the press it has received in recent weeks, Stormfront (and its ilk) is old and ugly technology, a web forum (with flat membership) and a complementary talk radio show run and hosted by a 61-year-old former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan whom some posters on WPWW deride as an old crank.
The 'Youth' subforum receives a few posts a day, if that.
This surreality made me wonder if the posters themselves were old enough to distinguish fantasy from reality, whether their involvement with the group was a form of adolescent role-play.