By David Futrelle
“Stochastic terrorism,” as many of you know, is a way to terrify your enemies without getting your hands dirty, or even bothering to learn how to make a bomb or fire a gun.
It’s when someone says or publishes something nasty about someone they hate (or a group of such someones), knowing full well that there is a very good chance that their words will incite some unbalanced fanatic to physically assault or even kill the intended target.
Sometimes stochastic terrorists mention violence explicitly; other times it’s implicit. But the whole point of stochastic terrorism is to bring violence down on an enemy without having to do this violence oneself. It is, as one anonymous blogger has noted, a sort of “remote-control murder by lone wolf.”
Those who engage in stochastic terrorism generally do it with a wink and a nod, sometimes pretending it’s all a big joke, sometimes using dogwhistle language that gives them a certain degree of deniability when the gun or the bomb goes off for real.
For an unusually transparent example of stochastic terrorism, consider a rather alarming post that went up on The Daily Stormer yesterday. In the post, an anonymous Daily Stormer contributor who writes in a style strikingly similar to the site’s publisher Andrew Anglin offers some thoughts on the murder of five journalists at the Annapolis, Maryland Capital Gazette, rather theatrically urging his followers NOT to murder journalists themselves, all the while making abundantly clear that he would be pleased as punch if somehow a whole bunch of journalists were in fact murdered.
The writer who may be Anglin starts by describing the Capital Gazette as the “inevitable” result of media wickedness.
So someone finally shot up a newsroom. I’m surprised it has taken so long. … The media is an immensely powerful institution that is now explicitly geared toward bullying and destroying the lives of individuals. … The shooter at the Capital Gazette this week was not even alt-lite. He was just an ordinary person that got his life destroyed by a malicious journalist.
They cannot stop this from happening. As the media continues to abuse its position to hurt more and more little people, they’re going to find themselves in the crosshairs of an angry victim more often. This is Newton’s Third Law at work.
This is arguably stochastic terrorism right here, albeit of a particularly indirect sort — suggesting plainly that the journalists at the Capital Gazette (and journalists in general) deserve whatever “inevitable” violence comes their way.
But then Possibly Anglin gets more explicit. He starts with some not-altogether-convincing pleas to his followers to remain non-violent towards the media.
I would never endorse violence. None of you should go out and kill any journalists. None of you should encourage anyone to do it either.
He follows this by encouraging these same people to loudly and publicly endorse the murder of journalists if, you know, someone else were to do it.
What you do need to do, however, is push for the emotional normalization of violence against the media. When this kind of thing happens you need to go to everyone you know and say, “you know, I’d never kill any journalists myself, but I’d enthusiastically vote for any guy that says he’ll use state security services to do so.”
He then offers some tips so his readers can make their calls for murder sound more palatable to non-Nazis.
There are a number of dog whistles for Jews that you can express contempt bordering on the homicidal in public and still find normies on the street agreeing with you.
In Possibly Anglin’s mind, as you may have gathered, pretty much everyone he hates is either a Jew or a puppet of Jews.
You can say you feel that the media is contemptible and deserves vigorous extermination. You can say that you’d like to see lawyers and their families rounded up and put into camps, to a chorus of cheers of anyone that has ever interacted with the legal system. You can say that you value Internet freedom, and that when the YouTube censors found someone at their doorstep firing bullets at them, it set your soul aloft. You can say these things in public with a smile, often, and people will laugh and say, “if only.”
And then you can pull back the imaginary curtain to reveal that all these evil people who should be murdered (but not by you!) are all pawns of the, well, I think you know who he’s talking about.
After they absorb the message and the fire’s lit, you can tell them who Internet censors, journalists, and lawyers really are.
Not exactly subtle. But the Daily Stormer rarely is.
This is hardly the first time the writers at or readers of The Daily Stormer have made clear that their souls are indeed “set aloft” by the murder of their enemies.
After the murder of antifascist activist Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last year, Anglin and his readers competed to see who could post the most appaling meme mocking Heyer; in a post on the site, Anglin denounced the murdered woman as a “fat … slut” and a “drain on society.”
Earlier this year, when a disgruntled videomaker shot up YouTube headquarters before killing herself, the Daily Stormer declared that she was ” too good for this world” and encouraged readers to “Keep Meming the Free Speech Jihadist” to keep her memory alive.
This is stochastic terrorism at its crudest. And if it doesn’t lead directly to someone being murdered, it will certainly nudge many of Anglin’s readers closer to violence.