What does it take to expose the tactics of online hate mongers?
Talia Lavin, describes herself as a “schlubby, bisexual Jew living in Brooklyn” and as an unapologetic anti-racist. She has contributed her writing on right-wing activities to major publication outlets including The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New Republic and more. As a result, Lavin describes having been a frequent target for extremists. For her latest book, “Culture Warlords”, she created fictitious online characters and identity in order to infiltrate and better understand how and why this radical subculture (i.e. white nationalism) is started and expose it.
Read More: Black Lives Matter: Antiracist Books
In an article for the Daily Beast, she told the reporter: “There is no economic class, education level, or geographical region that is not part of the organized racist movement,” and continued “These people are from every walk of life. There are a lot of reasons for anger, and the people I have reported on take natural feelings of loneliness and turn them on vulnerable and marginalized people. And that’s what makes me angrier. They are human people making human choices to do evil.”
Her success in being accepted into the community, and with key members, was based on using one of her created characters, a sexy, blond, alter ego to gain trust and pry honest statements from her targets. The shockingly racist and extreme admissions of hate and even criminal “dreams” they expressed seemed to more than make up for the unorthodox catfish-like charade she used to gain their trust.
Needless to say with her real identity now known, and her first hand descriptions in the book out in the public sphere, she has all the more reason to fear backlash or acts of revenge. Her courage in taking on this dangerous task, and then speaking and writing about it, is heroic, to say the least.
Her wish for readers to take away from her book is this is an important issue and something that can and should be fought for, as Americans, it is our responsibility to speak out. She ends her interview saying, “we need a lot more anti-fascists out there.”
To read more information about Talia Lavin’s book, please see publisher details below. Her book is available for purchase as of October 6, 2020. Click to see and help independent bookstores, also available on Amazon.
Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy
Culture Warlords is the story of how Lavin, a frequent target of extremist trolls (including those at Fox News), dove into a byzantine online culture of hate and learned the intricacies of how white supremacy proliferates online. Within these pages, she reveals the extremists hiding in plain sight online: Incels. White nationalists. White supremacists. National Socialists. Proud Boys. Christian extremists.
In order to showcase them in their natural habitat, Talia assumes a range of identities, going undercover as a blonde Nazi babe, a forlorn incel, and a violent Aryan femme fatale. Along the way, she discovers a whites-only dating site geared toward racists looking for love, a disturbing extremist YouTube channel run by a fourteen-year-old girl with over 800,000 followers, the everyday heroes of the antifascist movement, and much more.
By combining compelling stories chock-full of catfishing and gate-crashing with her own in-depth, gut-wrenching research, she also turns the lens of anti-Semitism, racism, and white power back on itself in an attempt to dismantle and decimate the online hate movement from within. Shocking, humorous, and merciless in equal measure, Culture Warlords explores some of the vilest subcultures on the Web-and shows us how we can fight back.
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