Online radicalization

Continuing the discussion from Mark Zuckerberg says he's not an atheist anymore:

I liked this so much, I wanted to continue to discuss it. I think this is an important point to take into consideration. We have heard endless chatter from the 4th estate about how young men are being radicalized online for groups like Daesh and Boko Haram, but Siyanda Mohutsiya made this same point about young men being radicalized by MRAs and PUA communities:

It struck me as a point that’s likely true and that has been ignored. Given that, in addition to various attacks from people radicalized online by groups like Daesh, what about young (often white) men who have carried out attacks based on their engagement with these communities? There was the one guy out in… was it california a few years ago, who specifically went out and shot women at a college? And then Roof certainly was radicalized into white supremacy online, in his own words.

I wonder why people aren’t making this connection more broadly, as there is a shared sort of world view going on, especially about women and “outsiders” of different kinds.


Silly Mindy. It’s not terrorism when white people do it.


Yes, yes… I know. These poor white dudes are just mentally ill. :wink:

But I do think it’s an interesting and productive question to focus on…


To be honest, I’m not sure I ever bought the idea of “radicalized” Muslims. I think we say that to avoid the conclusion that any people would fight back if they were invaded and occupied.

And as for crossing national boundaries, didn’t Irish Americans give ample support to the IRA, back in the 70s? They didn’t even have an internet to blame - maybe it was Rock-n-Roll that turned them evil. Or maybe immigrants still care about their homeland even a few generations later.


I can see that. But I don’t think we should fully discount the idea of radicalization, even if the roots of radicalization aren’t purely about religion, but go back to imperial policies.

Oh yes! Absolutely. And Albanian Americans supported groups like the KLA during the Balkan wars! Oh, and a key proponent of the war on terror in Congress, Peter King, was a rather strong supporter of the IRA:

Absolutely. I don’t disagree with that.


A lot of these people aren’t from countries that have been invaded and occupied, and they aren’t fighting western occupying forces. But “radicalised” is also an emotionally charged term that we can conveniently use for anyone we disagree with. We’re even getting radicalised Bernie supporters:

This is actually one of the similarities – while there will be people who join an extremist group out of desperation, many of the radicalised people are not particularly marginalised, compared with other members of their group. In Pakistan, Islamic extremists target young and educated people who are often from well-off, moderate backgrounds. This seems to be fairly common in Europe and America too; while there are plenty of marginalised people, the few who actually committed acts of terrorism often had stable jobs and were doing pretty well. In a lot of cases, the parents find it very hard to understand how this could have happened, since they taught their kids relatively liberal values. Irish Americans who supported the IRA weren’t threatened at all, even if they had family living in Northern Ireland. MRAs aren’t necessarily from disadvantaged backgrounds either – the one in California that @Mindysan33 mentioned was the son of wealthy people. I remember reading about another MRA who was basically being supported by the women around him. Bin Laden was rich and connected. The Air Berlin pilot who crashed the plane a couple of years ago lived in a big house with his parents. Anders Brevik is the son of a diplomat and economist.

It seems like this happens quite a bit – people don’t necessarily become radicalised because their “enemy” has taken everything from them personally – it’s often middle class young people from ideologically moderate backgrounds with means, education and a pretty good life ahead of them. It seems many identify with more disadvantaged members of their group, but it would be interesting to explore their motivations. Maybe they have more time to ruminate on and discuss real and imagined attacks on their group?


I wonder how much one’s susceptibility to radicalization comes from a sense of alienation or from the sort of feeling in the pit of their stomach that a life without a purpose is meaningless? Like, does supporting the IRA in north Ireland give comfortable Americans a cause that they could engage in, make a difference with (colonization of the ancestral homeland), and get some meaning in one’s life?


“How about that… a whole PACK of Lone Wolves!”


Ghad fucking tweet storms. When will people realize that Twitter is perhaps the worst platform in the world for things like this. I just can’t read these no matter how interesting they are, and in this case I really wanted to read it.


Does this help:

If people followed the alt-right groups on Reddit, they would know that young white Americans were told to hide their support of Trump. When we talk about online radicalization we always talk about Muslims. But the radicalization of white men online is at astronomical levels. That's why I never got one strategy of Clinton's campaign: highlighting Trump's sexism. Trump supporters love him BECAUSE of his sexism. Plus, those who don't believe he is sexist, think the accusations of assault are proof of how society rewards women for "lying about rape." These college educated young men were then ripe enough to be sold idea that Trump represented a return to Men Being Real Men...

Then she was asked:

thing I struggle with on alt-right- what do they actually want & what's the vision? Is it nihilism or has ideology emerged?

And she replied:

what I've surmised so far is a genuine belief in a return to an ideal america. "Before feminists & minorities destroyed the dream"

Followed by a follow up question of:

as with Brexit, a call to return to a version of country they've never experienced, and never existed.

To which she replied:

yup! A fantasy world

Lastly, she noted:

Many of these radical white men were raised by single feminist mothers. Internet groups radicalized their sexual frustration into bigotry. These online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable & convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood. I've seen this happen w/ a FB friend who lives in a tiny 100% white town in Finland. He started posting about "flawed multiculturalism." How could a guy who goes months w/o seeing POC be so adamant about failings of "multiculturalism"? Online radicalization.

Paranoia seems to be one motivator, and a narrative where you’re the threatened minority is compelling (it’s the theme of plenty of movies). I kind of think the red pill is a good analogy for MRAs and other radicalised groups – a simplistic explanation for reality that gives you clear meaning in life and someone to fight against. Interestingly enough, you can see how Neo’s attitude toward the unenlightened changes once he’s joined his ragtag group of freedom fighters; he used to help his landlady (who is a real person) take out her trash, now anyone in the Matrix is less important than his goals. It’s OK that all these real people died – he saved Trinity and looked cool!

After all, every one of the innocent bystanders is basically a tool of the system he’s fighting.

If they could at least structure the article that reports on them so that it doesn’t repeat any tweets, that would help people to follow the thread.


Romanticization of the past, coupled with a feeling of (or maybe the need to feel) injustice along with being far enough away that the very real horrors being committed don’t make it through the rose-tinted glasses. “Make America Great Again” fits perfectly into this.

Mix in some social isolation and “othering” and it’s a toxic mess that goes straight past any empathy. And when some/many/most are lacking any cause to believe in, it’s not surprising it’s so effective at radicalising people.


Damn, you are awesome.


I think the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Palestinian Intifadas would make a good case study to look at for contrast. The ‘foot soldiers’ in those conflicts have mostly been young disadvantaged Palestinians, and as far as I know the recent knife attacks have all been perpetrated by a similar demographic.

I think it would also be fair to look at the United States invasions of Iraq, specifically the 2002 invasion, which I believe radicalized both members of the general population (Alienation, accepted collateral damage, and false imprisonment) and the military (fired).

The actions of the United States: torture, drone strikes, civilian casualties, invasion of sovereign countries, etc. makes for very strong propaganda that can effectively be wielded against us to radicalize the educated young men you speak of in your post. However I believe they can also lead to direct radicalization, look at how the ISIS network came out of the prison systems we built up across Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. I’m not sure what the stats are on direct family radicalization from things like drone strikes and torture (I’m sure it occurs) but I do know that one of the arguments for not releasing prisoners for Guantanamo is that we have effectively radicalized them against ourselves, even if they weren’t before they were imprisoned.

Under this context I have to ask, is paranoia ever legitimate? Is radicalization ever… ‘good’? Is it always ‘bad’?To me it seems fair to expect the Palestinians to radicalize against Israel, they have been wronged in many ways. Is it a cause we should support? I don’t like choosing sides in discussions like this, but I do have to say there are radicalized groups I empathize with (ELF, The Weather Underground, etc.), and yet I would most definitely fall under the definition of a educated white male: privileged. This should arguably make my grievance’s less… grieves. Should it effect my empathy to causes that do not directly effect me (For example my sympathy to Palestinians)?


Clearly, if you go read the Clinton and misogyny thread, I’m not… But I care about this issue, think it’s interesting, and I care what your opinion is and if some cutting and pasting gets to hearing your view, than I’ll happily do it. :wink:


Chumbawamba’s song Celebration, Florida despite being written nearly two decades ago and being about a real place feels more and more like an allegory for the mindset of the typical Trump supporter.

Everything about it from nostalgia for something that never existed, to the world’s problems all only affecting “others”, to removing anybody deemed questionable to protect the blissful citizens just screams “MAGA” to me.


[quote=“Boundegar, post:4, topic:92516”]And as for crossing national boundaries, didn’t Irish Americans give ample support to the IRA, back in the 70s?

Near the start of Shrub’s war, when anti-Islamic bigotry was at a peak across the industrialised world, a speech was quoted in the NSW Parliament.

That speech focussed on a group of immigrants to Australia. It complained that they were alien to Australian culture, owed their allegience to foreign religious leaders, maintained secret terrorist training camps in the hills and treated “their” women horribly.

It was a speech from the 1930’s, and the people discussed were, of course, the Irish.


Yep. Those evil catholics!


I was radicalized by my tabletop role-playing game group being filled with queers, transgender folks, and communists (true story!). Spend eight years, 15 or more hours a month, locked in a room with folks making narratives and stories and it will skew you forever!


@jsroberts covered lots of this and more but theres also the aspect in this case that the jihadi urge is simply part and parcel of the culture in question with a long history unto itself, we just call it something else in “our” culture these days.

There has been a bit of writing about just this, that the current environment of secular Western culture fails people in a fundamental human aspect.