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Hate sites are using the wider abortion argument to spread racism and extremism


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White supremacists are using the debate over women’s reproductive rights to promote racist and extremist agendas, a new study released today finds, following news Friday that millions of women in the US will lose the constitutional right to abortion.

American white nationalists are taking to a neo-Nazi website, “Stormfront,” to recruit more people for their thinking. Online, they describe abortions by white women as “murder” and try to “arm” the procedure. However, the extremists argue that abortion by non-white women is “acceptable” or even “desirable” because, they argue, the procedure could resolve threats to white dominance — including the “urgent need to limit the Third World population.”

The findings, published in the journal Information, Communication & Societycome to the site after a detailed computer-aided analysis of more than 30,000 messages spanning more than two decades.

The study authors caution that their evidence shows how white extremists “arm” abortion arguments to attract recruits, using political debate as a gateway argument inviting them to delve deeper into the ideology of white male supremacy.

“Our research shows that science, medicine and conspiracy theories meet in the dark corners of the internet,” said lead researcher Dr. Yotam Ophir of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, USA.

“The result is the creation and dissemination of dangerous racist and misogynistic ideas. These are often born in extremist platforms, but have spilled over into mainstream politics and discourse.”

Abortion law is a hotly contested topic in the US. On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, in a ruling that therefore gives individual states the right to ban the procedure.

In this study, Dr. In particular, Ophir and his team better understand how white nationalists not only use online abortion debates to advance their cause, but also apply different moral standards to whites and non-whites.

By analyzing messages posted between 2001 and 2017 on Stormfront — a discussion forum founded by former Ku Klax Klansman Don Black — the authors found a marked difference in the way far-right extremists conceptualized abortions for whites versus non-whites.

Abortions among white women were described as “murder.” Using an entire topic labeled “avoid abortions,” Stormfront users accused white women who viewed terminations as “deeply unethical” and even “betrayal” of the white race and their gender roles. For example, one user said of abortions among white women, “abortion is the worst of all, it is killing a child. Killing a child is worse than raising him/her without a father. Adoption is always an option.”

While in non-white women, abortion was often excused to limit non-white populations.

The authors say such discourse could be used to recruit members and “normalize extreme, racist ideologies.”

To protect the public, Dr. Ophir that people, including children, need better tools to navigate the “deceptive information environment of the 21st century.”

Other themes identified on Stormfront included “The Great Replacement Conspiracy Theory” – a supposed plot to replace white people with non-white immigrants that is said to have inspired the suspect in the Buffalo supermarket murder.

This is something that Dr. Ophir and colleagues argue that more attention from the mainstream press is needed amid concerns that the “great replacement conspiracy” is spreading.

“Possible solutions should not end with social media and the Internet. We also need to pay more attention to the emergence of such conspiracy thoughts among television channels like Fox News and prominent political figures,” he says.

Stormfront messages analyzed by the team were provided to the researchers by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other academics.

The site aims to propagate white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, as well as anti-Hinduism, anti-feminism, homophobia, transphobia, Holocaust denial, anti-Catholicism, and white supremacy. As of 2015, the website was estimated to have over 300,000 registered members.

Abortion trends in the US have changed since the landmark ruling of 1973

More information:
Arming Reproductive Rights: A Mixed Methods Analysis of White Nationalists’ Online Discussion About Abortions, Information Communication & Society (2022). DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2022.2077654

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Quote: Hate sites use the broader abortion argument to spread racism and extremism (2022, June 28) Retrieved June 28, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-sites-wider-abortion-argument-racism.html

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