The Daily Stormer Founder Claims They’re Just ‘Ironic Nazis’

But Andrew Anglin also says he’s “very disgusted by [Jews’] behavior pattern”

Even though The Daily Stormer website carries tabs for the “Jewish problem” and “race wars” and features stories calling black people “apes,” founder Andrew Anglin insists he shouldn’t be labeled a real neo-Nazi.

“We are not neo-Nazis — we are ironic Nazis,” Anglin told TheWrap via email, even as he has continued to espouse extreme views on race and religion and struggled to secure an online host for his site since helping to organize last weekend’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“[We’ve] adopted the image of the Third Reich not because we necessarily want to re-create that exact system, but because it is powerful imagery that evokes intense emotion,” Anglin added.

But although the site has served as a digital sanctuary for neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Anglin insisted that The Daily Stormer stopped short of espousing actual Nazi ideology and used satire as a tool to outline the belief that “white people have a right to their own countries and a right to determine their own destiny as a people.”

“I tried for years to explain that I was not a Nazi or a white supremacist and I didn’t want to commit any genocides, but they just kept saying it anyway,” said Anglin, referring to the media. “So I decided to make it into a cartoon by referring to myself that way.”

But Marilyn Mayo, research fellow in the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, rejected Anglin’s attempt to draw subtle distinctions over his and his site’s extreme rhetoric. “As far as we’re concerned, there isn’t a difference between neo-Nazis and ‘ironic’ Nazis,” she told TheWrap. “They are just using different tactics (irony, satire, bigoted humor) to promote virulent racism and anti-Semitism.”

Despite pushing back against the “neo-Nazi” label, Anglin proceeded to share a number of notably extreme opinions. He suggested that African-Americans fared better during the Jim Crow era after the Civil War: “You look at the black family and black violence and drug rates and tell me if you think these people are better off now.”

And after insisting he didn’t “even hate the Jews,” Anglin said he was “simply very disgusted by their behavior pattern” and said they acted like “parasites.”

Since the site’s association with the “Unite the Right” rally became public, The Daily Stormer has had trouble staying online. A post calling Heather Heyer — the 32-year-old woman killed while protesting the “Unite the Right” rally — a “fat skank” and supporting “people on the ground” at her funeral prompted outrage, as even Russia banned its web companies from hosting the site.

GoDaddy and Google both terminated the site’s domain, finding Daily Stormer had violated their terms of service. A Google spokesperson outlined to TheWrap the subsection Daily Stormer violated; under “Representations and Warranties,” Google prohibits sites from “deceptive practices” and “items of a destructive or deceptive nature.”

Following the decision, Anglin told TheWrap GoDaddy and Google had curtailed his First Amendment rights.

“This is the state of free speech in 2017,” said Anglin. “Whatever you think of our ideas, that is what they are: ideas. If ideas now have the power to hurt people, physically, then the foundations of Western civilization have been fundamentally altered.”
While many have questioned the arbitrary silencing of speech by tech juggernauts, legal experts told TheWrap the Daily Stormer had no legal basis for its complaint. The First Amendment “limits only the government, not private parties such as Google and GoDaddy,” free speech expert and NYU adjunct law professor Floyd Abrams told TheWrap.

Because “neither GoDaddy or Google have any First Amendment obligations to any customer,” the Daily Stormer would not win a First Amendment lawsuit against those private companies, Santa Clara law professor and internet expert Eric Goldman told TheWrap.

After briefly turning to the dark web, Daily Stormer found refuge at a Russian domain name. But only hours after going live, the Russian government stepped in and prohibited any of the country’s web hosts from servicing the site. Russia has strict censorship rules, and those convicted of “rehabilitation of Nazism” face a 300,000 rubles (about $5,000) fine and up to five years in prison.

The white supremacist site has migrated back to the dark web to publish its anti-Jewish and anti-black screeds.

Susan Seager and Itay Hod contributed to this report.