People often lay to the claim that members of the radical left are "defending the helpless" and shielding others against "state violence" or "right wing violence." This claim to a moral high ground has become the central root to their political ideology. Yet time and time again, the radical left has advocated and supported terrorists, criminals, and thieves. For those not familiar with the internal workings of the radical left, one of the most common types of support groups one can find on a local level is a "Black Cross." These support networks send money to so called "political prisoners" that the left views as innocent. Lets take a look at some of these prisoners. Casey Brezik Casey Brezik was jailed in 2013 after slashing the throat of a community college dean in a crazed attempt to assassinate the then governor of Missouri. He faces a twelve year sentence for his actions. Eric King After a failed attempt to firebomb a Kansas state government building in 2014, Eric King was sent federal prison. He is often touted by the left as a friendly "vegan anarchist" who "[maintains] his dedication to struggling for a world free of domination and oppression." Walter Bond An animal right activist, Walter Bond lit several leather and hide factories ablaze in the summer of 2010. He received a 12 year sentence for his crimes, and is set to be released in 2021. For those on the left who read this message: how can you possibly justify yourselves as having the moral high ground, when those who you support often engage in violence and terrorists acts? Do you believe these senseless crimes are justified? Why do you continue to support these people? I personally believe this simply fits a larger pattern I see growing across the left: power hunger fools with a penchant for violence are always looking for a way to justify their actions. This pattern has cropped up time and time again, I doubt this is the last time we will see it.
Everyone claims that big media companies like the Washington post or MSNBC are more reputable than, say Buzzfeed or Outbrain. The claim usually is that these big companies have more money to write real news rather than items designed to garner clicks. These claims are wrong. I to once upon a time made these claims, but that was long before I understood the mechanisms utilized to influence opinion and shift views. Many people are familiar with Google Analytic, and their infamous in-market and interest demographic sections. Google freely gives this information out in an attempt to get media companies on board with advertizing programs like adsense. Its no secret how much companies can see, but influencing people based on these numbers is not a thing often seen by outsiders. The truth is these numbers are still very useful to companies, even when they don't have to target the demographics as heavily as small clickbait websites like Buzzfeed. Where Buzzfeed is interested in getting viewers, big media companies have to keep their audiences trapped in a bubble of their own opinions, for fear of loosing consumers to other more agreeable companies. To do this, they must first capture the mind and intention of the average viewer, and spin their mind in their favor. This is not an easy task. Traditionally, to convince outside groups of an opinion, companies must appeal to certain targeted demographics. These demographics are usually only interested in a few topics that directly effect them, such as technology or health care. In an era long before the internet, media companies had to guess at their viewers interests. Simple tactics like surveys helped them get close, but never close enough. With the new boom in data mining and analytic, these companies have never had a better opportunity to build a bubble of influence. In plain and simple terms, the minds of their viewers have been explained to them down to a T, but its not just companies do this, whole syndicates of journalists are beginning to set agendas. Do you remember the JournoList, an email list of nearly 400 different writers who conspired to set agendas and messages between companies, setting a narrative as a whole. Did you know it is still alive? Groups like CabaList and the Groundswell group are actively setting narratives and agendas on both the right and left side of the political coin. Just remember, you agreed to the terms of service.
Many people assume that shills, subversives, and astroturfers aren't real. They assume that these people are distant, and would never effect them. These people are fatally wrong. I became aware of these shilling groups, often imbedded inside so called "de-radicalization" groups after having a rather interesting conversation with a British friend of mine. He pointed me in the direction of an interesting group called the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, known as the ISD. As I quickly found out, this well paid think-tank is engaged in identifying and researching tactics needed to as they put it "enhance understanding of what works in prevention, intervention and response to far-right extremism across Europe." In a somewhat unintelligent move, the ISD has freely published all of their manuals. Inside their pdf's a few re-occuring themes pops up. "Individual intervention" which I have written about before, and "hate speech response." The ISD has quite a lot to say about responding to "hate speech;" things that we see consistently but never associate with an organized effort. Approach #1: Takedowns Probably both the most and least interesting tactic the ISD recommends, takedowns are what you would expect. Banning users from social media, flagging & removing "hate speech" from websites, taking down posters and stickers, and even suppressing simple videos. Takedowns are uninteresting because they occur on a regular basis for people like us. They are interesting in the context of the ISD because of what they have to say about them. In a case study provided in their manual "On the front line: A guide to countering far-right extremism," the ISD talks about a group known as the "Against Violent Extremism network (AVE)" and their association with the new YouTube trusted flaggers program. The trusted flaggers program, also known as "YouTube Heroes" had a poor reception in its introduction due to Orwellian features such as automated reporting, mass flagging, mass comment removal, ect. The AVE is a group of "former" right wing "extremists" who have assisted in identifying hate speech on YouTube, and work directly with the trusted flaggers program to help stop it before it gains traction. AVE has a serious say in youtube's policy on extremism, and even directly sets policy on what to do with "hateful content." This puts an interesting spin on the YouTube heros incident. Records show that AVE has been working with the "YouTube trusted flaggers program" long before its public announcement. Part of the reason that their tools looks so bad may have been directly related to AVE's censorship campaign. Hard counter: Play off the Streisand Effect hard. The less they want people to know, the more they become interested. Approach #2: Alternative Narratives The ISD's second recommended strategy is something we have been seeing for a long time. With the media as a hammer, the ISD recommends that you create an "alternative narrative" through "community leaders." In practice, these types of activities end up in sketchy, blackmail zone territory, where community members may be forced to support a message or do an action to avoid bad press or defacement (check out the Sherry Spencer incident here). The ISD also has a few less harmful strategies suggested. For example in their case studies, they often suggest holding anti-racist events such as music festivals and small protests. They cite the Polish Never Again Association and their "Polish Woodstock" festival as an example of these efforts. Hard counter: Due to these tactic's reliance on identities and events, it lends itself vulnerable to tactics that de-legitimize faces and organizations. The public responds in weird ways to messages from people they don't trust Approach #3: Counter-narratives Similar to approach #2, the Counter-narratives strategy relies on public figures. However unlike the previous tactic, this one is less reliant on the people and more oriented to the actual message. It is an attempt at a direct attack, usually through messages that "mock, ridicule or undermine the legitimacy of extremists." Hard Counter: Meme harder and better. These groups suffer from a serious problem, they are not allowed to be offensive. The best comedy is edgy, use this to your advantage. One variant on approach number 3 is to use SEO tactics such as Google bombing and rank modification to gain traction. These tactics are actually extremely easy to counter. Google hates those who abuse its search engine more than they could ever hate you; SEO bombing and similar tactics undermine their profits. Report their website and the back-linking used along side it. Google will swiftly de-list or de-rank their website. What gets emphasized According the the ISD, the two most important parts of a "response" is the quantity and quality of message. By spreading a "well made" message far and wide, they hope to overshadow real grassroots nationalist activity before it ever hits the public. To help people create "counter narratives" the ISD runs a website called "Counter-Narrative toolkit" where they have created a huge archive of resources to help people plan, create, and spread message. Many of these tactics are sketchy at best, and usually involve google ad-words, paid tweets, and similar advertising. Some of their "video tutorials" (which are not produced by them) can recommend shaky tactics, some even involving botting and intentionally malicious activity. The Bottom Line The tactics used by these "de-radicalization" programs are weak at best, but still have power due to their sheer prevalence. Take time to understand who is attacking you at all times; their tactics might be easier to defeat than you think.
A lot of people have seen or heard of so called "de-radicalization" programs used to "bring youth out of activism." These programs brag about doing the "impossible" task of "helping people leave terrorism." Although most "de-radicalization" programs are seen in context of Islamic terror, most people are not familiar with many of the groups original focus, and forget that the first target of these "de-radicalization" was the far right. Increasingly, law enforcement has been turning to the tactics used by groups such as "EXIT-Deutschland," a far left wing "de-radicalization" group in Germany, to break up right wing activism groups. Should you find yourself caught in the grasp of these exploitative groups, it is imperative that you understand the methodology that they follow, and how to break free from their almost Orwellian tactics. Although there is a large internal debate on what tactics work, almost all "de-radicalization" groups follow the same three step process: Identify, Exploit, and Isolate (IEI for short). Identify The first step of all "de-radicalization" groups is to understand your motivations and thought processes as a person. There are many ways to go about this. Traditionally, "de-radicalization" programs will utilize standard interrogation tactics to find out highly personal things about your life. However some groups have started to weasel their way into your mind by attempting to forge a false personal relationship with the target. By making you feel "connected to them" they will be able to exploit your feelings as a means to understand your goals in life and your current state. Your interrogators will try to assess your position in these groups. They want to know your value as a target. They may ask preliminary questions about the activism group you are involved with and its activities. At this stage, these questions do not usually have to much in the way of depth, and are only designed to assess how much damage your absence from the group would cause. Exploit Now that your interrogators think they have an understanding of your motivations, they will attempt to abuse your beliefs, ideology, and sometimes even the people around you in an attempt to convince you to leave. They will attempt to convince you that without them, you cannot leave the "far right" and that you might suffer physical damage if you do it without them. Of course this is a complete myth (remember this?), however, Hollywood myth or not, your interrogators will stop at nothing to convince you that you need them. They will attempt to break you, by utilizing a complex series of lies and misdirections on their part. One common line used by these programs is that "you can't achieve your goals while inside these groups" or that "you will never become the person you wish to be unless you leave." Some groups have even used social pressure from academic or professional peers to advance their goals. If all else fails, your interrogators will threaten legal and social repercussions against you unless you leave. They will attempt to make you unhirable and undesirable by anyone and everyone you come in contact with while dangling promises of a nice, comfortable future in front of you. Usually this scorched earth tactic is reserved for high value targets, however if you are viewed as important enough, the program will stop at nothing to "convince" you to leave. Isolate In the case that the first two steps were successful, your interrogators will attempt to isolate you from your activist friends and may force you rat them out. This tactic, developed by the Oslo Municipality Police, is designed to help the program identify new and higher value targets to aid in their campaign to bring their enemies down. These programs often have limited resources, and will take any intelligence they can get. These programs have no problem with using you against your friends when they begin to target them. They will show you off as a person who has "co-operated" and will tell your friend that "people who have co-operated are treated well." They also may solicit your testimonial as a "former member" of the group for media purposes. Countering the program Most people view these programs as a threat to their group. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, these groups are a complete godsend. When "de-radicalization" programs such as these use dishonest and underhanded methods like IEI, few expect the same tactics to be thrown back at them. These programs are the perfect opportunity for a bit of counter-intelligence. If an interrogator believes that they have you under their thumb, they will rarely question or verify the claims you make about the group. It quickly becomes possible to manipulate these programs into doing your own media dirty work. Remember: your power as a political group is only as much as what others think you can achieve. What if one of these groups became convinced that it had found a "bombshell" about your group that they were going to release to the media. This "bombshell" is a game changer that will expose your group to the whole world, and everyone needs to know about this "bombshell." When the media reports come out, and their "bombshell" is proven to be fake, how much damage do you think it might cause to their image? How ridiculous do you think you can make the "bombshell?" Get creative, this is political trolling on a huge scale. If you aren't interested in trolling these groups, and you just want out of their grasp, the path to escape isn't that far off. Remember these groups have extremely limited resources. They will only target people they view as being high value. The key is to make yourself look low value at the beginning, and then lead them on to a fake target that is supposedly a leader (again, an excellent place for trolling). Never appear submissive or aggressive, always be somewhere in between. Never make eye contact with your interrogators, they will attempt to watch the movements of your eye to gauge what effects their questions had. Train yourself to look strait forward when a question is asked or you are giving an answer. This will thwart much of their tactics in the identification stage. If an investigator attempts to befriend you, stay aloof. Remember that they will use this "friendship" to exploit you later. People in the program, even when acting friendly, do not view you as a good person, no matter what they claim. Their mentality is "once a nazi, always a nazi," this will not change. By giving them little to no information, they will not be able to proceed to the exploitation phase. Although a main feature of these groups is pulling individuals out of "extremism," often their main focus is towards other tactics, such as online shilling and underhanded media reporting. In later articles, I will explain their methodology and provide some ideas for counter attacks. For further reading, you can check out some of their materials on this topic here and here.
Hillary Clinton has a secret online weapon under her control. A political action committee (or PAC) named "Correct The Record" is a group devoted to making Hillary Clinton look better on line by "correcting" the truth. To quote their website "strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton." Some people might shove off this PAC as being started without any support from her, or maybe a fringe group with no effect. These people would be dead wrong. This political action committee was started back in May of 2015, receiving its first donation on the 15th of the month. According to OpenSecrets.org it has raised nearly 5.1 million dollars for the simple act of defending Clinton online. For those of us who do not know, shilling is a propaganda technique in where people who pretend not to be associated with a group make the group look better through a variety of dishonest rhetoric and proxy accounts. The term "shill" was first used to describe a person planted in an auction to drive up the price of the bidding. Technically, under the Fraud act of 2006, shilling is illegal, but there is a small caveat. Only shilling practices in relation to online bidding are off limits, any corrupt business seeking to improve their image online has free reign to do whatever they please. Many might say that shills are mere speculation on the part of the public. However, we have seen time and time again that these organizations exist. The old guerrilla media scandal, and now the more recent plugmarketing scandal, there are countless examples of these groups online. Denying their existence is a folly. Digging around "Correct the Record" shows some interesting things. Their top payments are to a seemingly innocuous group called "American Bridge 21st Century." The American Bridge PAC is a well known super PAC that gives ammunition to mostly Republican candidates to attack other candidates. The strategy involved here seems to be divide an conquer, keeping Republicans fighting themselves is better than having them fight you. The group comes out of its shell about every election year to give more people new information. For those of you who think that Hillary Clinton is not really involved in any of this, I have a big surprise for you. Her two PAC's, Priorities USA and Hillary for America, paid them a total of 1,281,961 dollars according to OpenSecrets.org, doing so in about three separate payments each occurring with some time between them. At the end of the day, Correct The Record can't correct one thing on its record. It is a cut and dry shilling company, with to much money on its hands. If you see a post online "defending the truth" about Hillary, be weary and verify the truth behind it; that post might just have come strait from the mouth of the beast. http://correctrecord.org/ http://correctrecord.org/about/ http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cycle=2016&cmte=C00578997 https://americanbridgepac.org/ http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00492140&cycle=2016