News & Politics

Why Stormfront Being Shut Down Isn't Necessarily a Good Thing

Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other alt-right factions scuffled with counter-demonstrators near Emancipation Park (Formerly "Lee Park") in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones)(Sipa via AP Images)

Stormfront is a notorious neo-Nazi web forum. Thousands of racists congregate on its pages, sharing hate with one another and urging each other to do…well, whatever. It’s a vile cesspool of hate.

Or, more accurately, it was.

Tech website Gizmodo is giddy over Stormfront being the latest casualty in the war between Silicon Valley and racists.

The massive crackdown on the internet’s festering white supremacist contingent claimed another victory last night: Stormfront.

[…]

Currently, a Whois search shows that Stormfront.org’s domain provider—Network Solutions LLC, a company under Web.com—has placed a hold on the site. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the closure comes at the behest of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which drafted a letter to Web.com’s CEO pointing out that, after more than 20 years, Stormfront was in clear violation of his company’s acceptable use policies. Gizmodo has reached out to Web.com but has not yet received a comment.

[…]

Ideally, we could close this chapter of internet-enabled hatred for good, but in all likeliness Stormfront will do what the Daily Stormer has been doing for weeks now: hopping between domains, providers, and hosts; ping ponging between the dark net and the clear web. For now, however, Stormfront’s jettison serves as a strong symbolic victory.

I’d caution Gizmodo and those of a similar mind to be careful with their celebrations. This isn’t a good thing at all.

Now, I have no sympathy for the trials and tribulations of racists. If most of them had their way, they’d line my wife and children up against the wall for being part Native American and probably line me beside them for “miscegenation” or some such nonsense. I have no use for people who think superficial genetic traits make anyone better or worse than anyone else.

I’m also not going to argue against this on free speech grounds, though those certainly exist. After all, those can be countered with things like property rights arguments or freedom of association grounds for the companies that have killed these services.

No, I’m going to tell you straight out that I want these people out in the open. I want everyone to see them, to know they’re out there, to read what they think. I want everyone to know they’re there so no one can pretend their vile rhetoric only exists in the past.

Make no mistake, they won’t disappear. You can make life difficult for them, but they’ll just find a way to set up so that you will never be able to touch them. But in so doing, you may camouflage them. You may give them cover that will let you and others pretend that they’ve been defeated, that they are an artifact of a bygone era that will never plague mankind again.

But they won’t be gone. They’ll have just gone underground where you can’t see them, where you can’t study them and understand them. They’ll be where you don’t know where to look to see what their disgusting, bigoted little minds are cooking up.

Knowledge is power, and if this keeps up, we’ll find our knowledge of their warped justifications becoming insufficient, which will allow them to grow.

That’s something that no one really wants.

Fight them, to be sure, but do it with words and ideas. Using tactics like this can be amusing, but amusing tactics have a tendency to backfire spectacularly.