I think we all owe fringe groups an apology. In our mad dash to be open-minded and accepting of all cultures, communities, races and creeds, we carelessly let a few small but very loud groups slip through the cracks of our kindness. They are the extremist factions, and they are angry about being generalized, about being marginalized and just kind of about everything. No one really takes the time to understand the differences between hate groups or to see the intricate distinctions among zealots. Simply put, we are bigoted against the bigots, even in 2012.
For instance, did you know they've developed an appreciation for art?
But within each fringe group, their attention to detail is extraordinary. They know exactly who they like, who they agree with and, most importantly, who they despise. They have deliberately ignored the adage "Strength in numbers" to stick rigidly to their ideologies to the point that splinter groups fight more viciously with each other than with anyone who directly opposes their cause. So in the interest of understanding these communities and their crazy ideologies a little better, you have to first understand who they align themselves against, and in nearly every case, it's the people who share their convictions. I realize that's confusing, so let me show you what I mean.
All the theorists who believe that 9/11 was an inside job have (unfairly) labeled themselves "Truthers," which puts all opposition in the uncomfortable position of being "Liars" by default. That's just how conspiracy theories work: If you disagree, then you are almost certainly an agent of the conspiracy. Not surprisingly, that makes for some confusing and hilarious arguments among conspiracy theorists when they agree that a covert plot exists but can't agree on how it's executed.
"Tell me, how did the jet fuel get hot enough to melt those beams, huh?! Idiot! Now get ready for school."
9/11 conspiracy theorists run into this problem more often than simulated planes
The myth of Bigfoot gained traction in American culture around the 1950s and '60s, thanks largely in part to a plaster cast of a massive footprint and the video footage a Sasquatch casually strolling through the woods in the Pacific Northwest. That footage was shot by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, and despite the fact that it's one of the primary reasons anyone believes in Bigfoot in the first place, some cryptozoologists are doing everything in their power to debunk it.
Over 40 years after it was shot, with all the advancements in technology, special effects and gorilla suit upgrades, the footage looks objectively ridiculous. Even Bigfoot believers are forced to sheepishly admit that the footage is doing them more harm than good. Some of them are even actively trying to deconstruct the tape to prove it's fake so that they can move on to more reliable proof. In other words, the same people who probably became believers because of that footage are now trying to discredit it. And everyone seems sort of OK with that.
But there's also a constituency of cryptozoologists who still adamantly believe it's the most important piece of evidence that Bigfoot exists. These two opposing factions absolutely hate one another. They each think the other is an embarrassment to the field of study, making a mockery out of the "science."
"You have no idea how easy it was to get these coats."
To see just how furious their fights get, you only have to look at the
Hidden in the darkest, skinniest recesses of the Internet are the pro-ana (pro-anorexic)
"And then I sit like that for half an hour until my brain thinks it ate a meal."
It's nearly impossible to read through these forums without
On most issues, nearly all factions of the white power movement see eye to eye, provided that each of those eyes are blue. They can all agree that white people are the favorite kind of people and that every other race is infuriating, but just how infuriating is apparently an insurmountable point of contention between them.
White separatists are willing to tolerate the fact that other races exist in the world, but they advocate the creation of an "ethnically pure" country of just white people. In other words, they want an entire nation built on the principles of a '70s country club. Supremacists, on the other hand, can't sleep knowing that there are other ethnicities out there, just
But even with all the hatred they're expending on other races, both supremacists and separatists treat their bigotry like a marathon instead of a sprint, always saving a little reserve hatred that they can use on each other from time to time.
The clearest example of their mutual antagonism is smeared across Stormfront.org, the biggest white pride forum on the Internet. In
Ahh, now that's brotherhood.
Special thanks to David Wong for his help researching this column.
For more from Soren, check out 5 Baffling Real Internet Searches For Financial Advice and 5 Internet Prescribed 'Cleanses' That Made Me Immortal.