LEADER: Don Black
USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: United States; worldwide
Stormfront.org is a white nationalist web site that has been online since 1995. It was created, and is managed, by former Ku Klux Klan leader, Don Black. The site is intended both as a way of informing and supporting current white nationalists and as a way of attracting and recruiting new white nationalists.
The site describes itself as a resource for the courageous men and women fighting to preserve the white Western culture and as a forum for planning strategies and forming groups to ensure victory.
The Stormfront web site was created by white nationalist and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Don Black. It has been online since 1995.
The site was created mainly as a discussion board for white nationalists. The forums remain the most significant portion of the web site and are a way for white nationalists to interact, communicate, gain information, and learn about becoming activists. Since starting in 1995, the forums have grown in membership. As of 2005, the forums had over 50,000 members from around the world.
Another way the white nationalist message is disseminated is via articles on the site. The site initially started with several articles from well-known white nationalists, including William Pierce and David Duke. These essays communicated white nationalist propaganda designed to influence people to accept a white nationalist view and reject the mainstream view. As the site continued, the text library has expanded, steadily adding more essays. These essays promote anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and racism, while renouncing homosexuality and illegal immigration.
The site also contains a women's section with information intended to interest women and attract them to the white nationalist cause. Another section of the web site that has been added is the "white singles" section. This section allows members seeking a partner to post personal ads and find a partner with the same white nationalist views.
As the Stormfront web site expanded, it also added a section for kids. This section contains puzzles, music, and articles designed to attract children to the white nationalist cause.
The web site has also developed by adding links to various other web sites promoting the same cause, with some of these also owned by Don Black. Two of the web sites owned by Don Black are the White Nationalist News Agency (NNA), which posts articles from the mainstream news accompanied by white nationalist commentary on them, and The Truth at Last, which is the web site for the newspaper of the same name that claims to report the news suppressed by the daily press. Stormfront also links to various other sites, including White Pride World Wide and Blitzcast.
PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS
In an article by the BBC titled Battling Online Hate, Black is described as stating that the Stormfront web site has been invaluable in recruiting new people to the white nationalist cause.
- Don Black joined the Ku Klux Klan.
- Black became the leader, or Grand Wizard, of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Black was arrested for his part in a plan involving the invasion of Dominica. Black was sentenced to three years in prison and released in 1984.
- Black resigned from the KKK.
- Don Black created the Stormfront.org web site.
A large portion of the forums is made up of general topics, including theology, poetry, business and finance, health and fitness, homemaking, music and entertainment, and youth. These various sections allow people to communicate about issues that interest them and interact with other members who share the same issues or concerns. When it is noted that Don Black describes Stormfront as appealing to whites who feel discriminated against and who feel like they have been isolated by society, the general topics allowing people to connect with others over shared interests is important because it helps to create a feeling of shared community and belongingness. In an article by the Anti-Defamation League, Don Black is described referring to the Stormfront forums as a place for people who are attracted to his ideas to talk and form an online community. These forum topics also tend to have a white nationalist slant, but even without any particular white nationalist information being included, taking part in any discussion is likely to further the white nationalist cause simply because it makes people feel like part of the community and keeps them feeling positive about the cause.
Electronic Storm: Stormfront Grows a Thriving Neo-Nazi Community
On most days, the man once labeled a "near genius" in a Time magazine article spends the bulk of his time in an office of the Mandeville, La., home of infamous white supremacist David Duke.
There, Jamie Kelso whips across Duke's hardwood floors on a wheeled office chair as he attends to his work: monitoring the burgeoning community of the racist Stormfront Web site on one of six different computers.
To the thousands of white supremacists who regularly visit Stormfront and its forum, Kelso is best known by his e-moniker, "Charles A Lindbergh." He signs off all his posts with a quote from Lindbergh, a well-known racist and anti-Semite: "We can have peace and security only as long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood." "I admire the aviator so much, " Kelso says.
The aviator, were he still alive, might well admire Kelso. As Stormfront celebrates its 10th birthday—the first major hate site on the Internet, it was created by former Alabama Klan leader Don Black in 1995—Kelso has much to be proud of. In the three years he's been a senior moderator of the site, it has grown from fewer than 10,000 registered users to, as of mid-June, an astounding 52,566. And while many thousands of that ever-growing total probably haven't visited in years, independent Web monitors recently ranked Stormfront the 338th largest electronic forum on the Internet, putting it easily into the top 1% of all sites on the World Wide Web.
Black and Kelso have created something more than just another hate site that draws people for a few months, then fades for lack of interest. Using everything from good manners to "white scholarships" to such catchy gimmicks as highlighting its members' birthdays, these two men have built something that very few people on the entire Internet have—a genuine and very large cyber-community. That they did it at a time when major neo-Nazi groups are on the decline is merely icing.
"Without a doubt," Bob DeMarais, a former staff member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, wrote recently, "Stormfront is the most powerful active influence in the White Nationalist movement."
Want to find the latest headlines on black-on-white crime? Go to Stormfront. New developments in the National Alliance's leadership woes? Go to Stormfront. Details of yet another nefarious Jewish conspiracy? Go to Stormfront.
Stormfront's recent growth spurt is only the beginning, Kelso says. He and Black share a larger goal, one that their friend Duke also tried with a fair measure of success—establishing real legitimacy in the realm of public opinion.
FADE TO BLACK
It began with Don Black.
Going back to high school, Black had always been one of the more enthusiastic proponents of white power. One of his first forays into the organized movement was in the 1970s, when he volunteered for the late white supremacist J.B. Stoner's unsuccessful run for governor of Georgia.
That was until Stoner's campaign manager, Jerry Ray, the brother of Martin Luther King Jr. assassin James Earl Ray, shot him in the chest. The shooting apparently stemmed from accusations that Black had broken into Stoner's office to steal a mailing list for the National Socialist White People's Party.
After recovering, Black went on to join the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the group headed by Duke in the 1970s. Working on Duke's unsuccessful campaign for Louisiana state senate, Black won Duke's trust, moving up to become his mentor's right-hand man. When Duke left the group amid allegations that he'd tried to sell its membership list to another Klan group for $35,000, Black took over.
But Black quickly got into trouble himself. In 1981, he and nine other white supremacists were arrested as they prepared to board a yacht with which they intended to invade the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica, oust its black-run government, and transform it into a "white state."
Black's resulting three-year prison sentence was time well spent. He took classes in computer programming that would provide the basis for his future.
Not long after his release, Black launched an abysmally unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama. He wound up marrying Duke's ex-wife, Chloe, and moving to West Palm Beach, Fla. Once there, he began dabbling with his computer, eventually setting up a dial-up bulletin board service for the radical right. By March 1995, that service evolved into Stormfront, the Net's best-known hate site.
Black saw clearly that with this new technology, white supremacists might finally bypass the mainstream media and political apparatus, getting their message out to people who otherwise would never hear it—people who now could listen in the privacy of their own homes without fear of embarrassment or reproach. "The potential of the Net for organizations and movements such as ours is enormous," Black told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1996. "We're reaching tens of thousands of people who never before had access to our point of view."
Being the first of its kind helped Stormfront win enormous publicity. Black and his site were written up in newspapers around the country and the world, and he frequently appeared on major network news shows like ABC's "Nightline," where, clad in suit and tie, he talked politely about allowing people access to information not filtered by the "media monopoly." Though he undoubtedly turned off many viewers, each major TV appearance led to a spike in visitors to Stormfront.
T. K. Kim
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, 2005
The web site forums also show a focus on promoting the white nationalist cause worldwide. This includes having separate threads for the following countries or regions: Europe; Great Britain; Canada; Australia and New Zealand, Latin America; the Netherlands; Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland; Serbia; Russia; and South Africa. This feature allows individuals worldwide to discuss issues and communicate with other members in their local areas. This assists in creating a sense of unity and community, while making the Stormfront site seem relevant to all users regardless of their nation.
In a report presented at a meeting of the UN in 2000, international expert David Rosenthal referred to web sites such as Stormfront as being able to exist and flourish in the United States because the First Amendment protects people's right to free speech. Rosenthal described the United States as a safe haven for racists wanting to spread their message worldwide. Creator Don Black has described Stormfront as an effective method of reaching white people in America and throughout the world who feel they are being discriminated against. This suggests that Black has recognized that the Internet offers the possibility of reaching a global audience of current white nationalists, as well as individuals who can be drawn into the cause.
The Stormfront forums also have a section titled "Activism." This section has seven categories, all aimed at helping members carry out actions to assist the cause. There is an events section, where members can list news of white nationalist demonstrations, rallies, conferences, and media interviews. A strategy and tactics section is also included, allowing members to share information. In the local and regional section, individuals can leave their contact information so that others in the area can contact them and form an action group. There is also a section specifically for webmasters, with webmasters exchanging ideas and information on how to promote white nationalism via the Internet. In the legal issues section, individuals are informed about legal matters that might impact activists. The final section is called Pioneer Little Europe (PLE). A PLE is a term used to refer to a white community where whites live in close proximity to businesses supporting the white nationalist cause. This section of the forums invites individuals to state their interest in being part of a PLE and to describe the role they would play in the PLE. In total, this section of the forums invites individuals to become activists, gives current activists the opportunity to gain information, and allows for activists to unite and act together.
The web site also shows evidence of efforts to attract certain groups of individuals to the cause. This includes women, with a section of the web site dedicated to topics aimed at women. This also includes children, with a section of the web site aimed at promoting the white nationalist message to an audience of children. This is done with activities likely to interest young people, including puzzles and games. This section of the web site is also claimed to be created by Black's young son, Derek. It is unknown whether Derek actually provides the content, but the section is written as if coming from him. The kid's sections also presents the white nationalist message via references that children can relate to, such as Pokemon. In addition, the kid's section provides a history of the white race from a white nationalist view. This material is designed to educate children on this view before they learn the mainstream view of white history.
Don Black is the owner of the Stormfront.org web site and the leader of the Stormfront organization. Black first became involved in the white nationalist movement when he joined the White Youth Alliance at age 15.
In 1975, Black joined the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and became the KKK's organizer for Alabama. In 1978, the leader of the KKK, David Duke, resigned and Black became the national director of the KKK. This position is referred to within the KKK as the Grand Wizard.
In 1981, Black was arrested while preparing to board a boat stocked with weapons. The weapons were intended to be used to invade Dominica. Black was sentenced to three years in prison and released in 1984.
In 1987, Black resigned from the KKK, stating that the group had a reputation for random violence and could never be a viable political movement. Black's plan was to promote the white nationalist cause via mainstream methods, with the intention of increasing the legitimacy of the cause and attracting new members.
In 1995, Black created the Stormfront web site. Black remains an active member on the Stormfront forums, providing information to members and engaging in discussions with members. Black has described the success of the Stormfront web site as a victory for the white nationalist movement.
Overall, the web site is largely interactive, inviting members to be part of the community, rather than to just read information. This matches with the web site's purpose of supporting and encouraging white individuals who feel discriminated against and isolated in society. If white individuals feel that they do not have a voice and have been ignored by society, the web site gives them an opportunity to be part of something greater. This strategy is considered an effective method for attracting new members, regardless of whether they specifically accept a white nationalist view of society.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes the Stormfront web site as a supermarket of online hatred, stocking its shelves with anti-Semitism and racism. While noting that Don Black does not consider himself a hatemonger, the ADL describes Black's version of white pride as involving demeaning and demonizing Jews and non-whites.
In a book on cybercrime, authors Brian Loader and Douglas Thomas describe the threat of web sites such as Stormfront as being substantial. The authors describe how web sites are used to promote neo-Nazi ideas, including that messages can reach an unlimited number of possible supporters, that messages can be presented without any form of approval, and that members can easily share information, including across national borders. The authors also note that groups have used the medium of the Internet specifically to attract new members to the group. The Internet is an effective medium for achieving this goal because anyone who accesses the Internet is able to find the web site, including individuals finding it by accident and without an initial awareness of the cause of the web site. This allows individuals like Don Black to promote their message to a larger audience than ever before. It is also noted that web sites such as Stormfront are specifically designed to appeal to the needs of individuals likely to become members. This means that potential members do not necessarily need to have white nationalist ideals to be attracted to the organization and its cause. Instead, they may be unemployed white people frustrated with the lack of employment. If the Stormfront web site then presents information describing how undocumented immigrants have stolen jobs and suggests that it is the white person who is being discriminated against, the person who was already disgruntled may accept this solution and become a supporter of white nationalism.
One significant supporter of the Stormfront web site is David Duke. David Duke is a white supremacist, was Don Black's mentor, and is the leader of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). Duke's strategy has been to mainstream the cause of white nationalists, including disguising the ideas of white nationalists. The Stormfront web site fits into Duke's strategy, with Duke supporting the web site and considering it to be an effective tool for educating people.
Don Black has remained committed to the Stormfront web site since 1995 and has continually expanded it. There is no suggestion that this trend will not continue, with Stormfront expected to expand both in the offerings of its site and in the number of members.
Loader, B., and D. Thomas. Cybercrime: Law, Security And Privacy in the Information Age. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Rosenthal, David. Racism on the Internet. Geneva: World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, 2000.
Anti-Defamation League. "Don Black: White Pride World Wide." 〈http://www.adl.org/poisoning_web/black.asp〉 (accessed October 2, 2005).
BBC News. "Battling Online Hate." 〈http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1516271.stm〉 (accessed October 2, 2005).
BBC News. "Cyber-racists 'Safe in US.'" 〈http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/645262.stm〉 (accessed October 2, 2005).