By Douglas Frisina
Cold Spring Harbor High School
"We Believe: that the Canaanite Jew is the natural enemy of our Aryan Race . . . The Jew is like a destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and the purity of our race . . . there is a battle being fought between the children of darkness (today known as Jews) and the children of light . . . the Aryan Race."
This hate-filled, neo-Nazi material was excerpted from the Aryan Nations' home page on the Internet, the very electronic institution that was created to link the ideas of the world together so that information could be shared, and humanity could take another step towards world-wide unity. Unfortunately, many people who believe in racial superiority have infected the Internet with prejudice and hatred.
Aryan Nations, was originally a term for a race of superior people, thought up from the twisted mind of Hitler himself. Hitler envisioned a population of blond-haired, blue-eyed people ruling the world. The contemporary, neo-Nazi group, Aryan Nations, while devoid of dreams of a blond-haired race, has taken to the Internet, where it can now preach its misguided sermons to thousands of people by way of Web sites, giving the hate group the one thing it craves the most: attention.
The Aryan Nations is a right-wing group of sophisticated zealots led by Richard G. Butler, an aircraft engineer, turned leader of this group of racists. Butler has lured devout Christians into his ranks with the idea that Christ himself calls his children to battle the Jews, and this is only one hate site on the Internet, which also houses other hate groups.
The Front Burner, another white-supremicist group with a Web page, engineered by neo-Nazis, justifies itself by stating that in a world full of points of view, some of them (namely, Front Burner's) are going to conflict with others. To the people at Front Burner, freedom of speech is nothing more than the regulation of point of views colliding with one another. The Aryan Nations and Front Burner aren't the only groups on the Internet, as many more have sprung up on Bulletin Board Services. These private hookups allow supremacists to connect into major services through various Internet Relay Chat programs, or IRCs, and through privately-owned bulletin board services, so that they are undetectable to the people who police such services.
With the Internet as a tool, racists like George Burdi have been able to reach their target audience -- disenfranchised, white, male teens. In a February 1996 New York Times article by Stephan Talty entitled, "The Method of a Neo-Nazi Mogul," Burdi is quoted as saying, "We have big plans for the Internet. It's uncontrollable. It's beautiful, uncensored." The teenagers Burdi reaches are often social misfits and part of a generation that uses the Internet as a place to meet new friends. Suddenly, the insecure youth has hundred of friends on the Internet who share a common goal: that the Caucasian race should be held above all others.
Although the teachings of the neo-Nazis have gained many more followers on the Internet, just as many anti-hate sites have sprung up. In my research, I contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Center, located in Los Angeles, California, which has more than 450,000 members and has publicly spoken out against racist Web pages.
Rabbi Abe Cooper, Associate Dean at the Center said, "I will briefly clarify our Center's position. First, we, too, believe in maximizing speech in the marketplace of ideas. Indeed, our concerns about Cyberspace are not the debate over ideas in discussion groups, but rather Web sites which are essentially paid multimedia advertisements. Just as the New York Times or CNN are not required and do not accept paid advertisements from the KKK or neo-Nazis, neither are the companies that sell Web site access required to take money from those promoting racial violence or terrorism. The public should know about these groups and their abhorrent ideas, but not in an unassailable, or unfiltered format. Let them be debated in the on-line discussion groups. Hope this contributes to your discussion and dialogue."
As one can see, the Simon Wiesenthal Center seeks only to regulate, not to ban or restrict. So the problem that remains is whether Internet providers will agree to ban racist materials on the Web pages of their customers. So far, the providers are against the banning. They believe that the answer to speech is yet more speech. Whatever the outcome, the uses of the Internet shall remain a hotly-debated topic for years to come.
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