October 8, 2020
A Swedish journalist takes readers on a journey exposing some of the world’s most notorious alt-right groups. (Credit: Sasha Freemind)
(NEW YORK) — An undercover investigation into the stupefying world of the extreme alt-right movement inspired a profoundly interesting piece of advocacy journalism. “My Year Inside The International Alt-Right” was written by Swedish journalist Patrik Hermansson and published by Hope Not Hate, a UK advocacy group that campaigns against racism and fascism. In his article, Hermansson, a gay Swede and anti-racism activist, took readers on a journey exposing his first-person interactions with some of the world’s most notorious alt-right groups.
Throughout his piece, Hermansson illustrates the recruitment activities, conspiracies and shared visions for the future from racist extremists spanning territories across Europe and the United States. He describes, in detail, their practice of Nazi Rituals and bewildering theories over a “coming race-war,” their rejection of climate change and the Holocaust, and their belief that Whites are victims of genocide. He provides a harrowing glimpse into their secret meetings where swastikas line the walls and members openly applaud violent demonstrations. Including the 2016 mass shooting at an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida where 49 people were killed and 53 more were injured. And the group’s alleged connection to the White House.
By documenting his experiences and educating readers on his insights, he is advocating for the denouncement of white supremacy, racism, and the promotion of violence against large groups of people. Hermansson writes, “Allowing these hateful ideas to go unchallenged allows them to become normal.” By inserting himself into the story, Hermansson was able to paint a vivid picture of the shocking beliefs and ingenuity of its members in disseminating a culture of hate through the use of technology and conspiracy tactics to pressure normal people into supporting distinctly racist ideals.
I believe advocacy journalism, this piece, in particular, is valuable in the public’s ongoing understanding of far-right groups as they continue to experience what appears to be a surprising increase in membership and support amid President Trump’s tenure. The article draws attention to the ways in which their influence poses a danger to our developing society. Even being aware of a potential exaggeration, the claims by alt-right leader, Jason Jorjani regarding his contacts within the Trump Administration are concerning for myself, and I’m sure for many citizens who oppose the embrace of racism, sexism, homophobia, and violence.
Hermansson went through great lengths to report his story. Before reading this article, I was under the impression, like many I presume, that this group of extremists was not a real threat. To me, such blatant disbelief in the Holocaust was unfathomable. I thought, surely their existence would not have a sustainable influence. I believed ignoring these ideas would eventually make them invisible. It’s clear now, that the alt-right has been successfully recruiting new, young members and bolstering their ideas of white supremacy.
When there’s a group that so abruptly and systemically promotes brutality against innocent people, it takes the powerful tool of advocacy journalism to educate the public. Although objectivity is a valuable principle in journalism, there are limits. Therefore advocacy journalism has an important place.