Michael Korolenko discusses online hate groups

Korolenko addressing his audience Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Bellevue College communication studies professor Michael Korolenko gave a lecture on online hate groups. Korolenko discussed the existence of hate groups on the web and how the internet helps them in gaining a larger following. He discussed several hate websites such as Stormfront that use the power of the internet to gain more followers.

Korolenko stated that the growth of hate groups is largely caused by the internet. The internet creates an easy platform for anyone to spread messages to a large population, which benefits hate groups that want to reach a larger audience. Korolenko remarked “It had never occurred to me that hate groups would create websites.”

One example is Stormfront, one of the world’s biggest hate group websites. The site curates over a million visits per month. Through this website, users share racist opinions and further spread hateful ideas to the many users viewing the site. The site describes itself as a community of white nationalists, saying that they are “the voice of the new, embattled White minority.”

Korolenko stated that websites like Stormfront end up “reaching an audience far wider than the members actually attributed to these groups,” which is threatening to the lives of African Americans, Muslims and Jewish people, all of which are threatened through Stormfront forums.

Additionally, there is “Stormfront for Kids” which teaches kids the ideas of white supremacism.

Korolenko continued that hate websites like Stormfront have resulted in mass violence and murders, the most recent being the Charleston church shooting, a mass shooting at the Emanuel

African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooter, Dylann Roof, killed nine African Americans in the church. Roof’s actions were praised and supported by people on Stormfront forums.

Some websites Korolenko spoke about are under the alternative right, a type of right wing ideology. White supremacism, Islamaphobia and anti-semitism are common themes expressed by members who identify under the term. The alt-right is mostly internet-based, and the ideas are expressed through many hate websites. Korolenko said that the alt-right “is a way of legitimizing hate sites.”

Korolenko pointed out that Donald Trump is a common theme on many hate sites which idolize him and his actions during the elections.

Korolenko noted that Trump has used his Twitter to retweet anti-Semitic comments and graphics, often created by white supremacist accounts. One graphic he retweeted depicted Hillary Clinton against a background of money with a six-pointed star and the quote “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” written inside.

At the end of the lecture, Korolenko advised his attendees to “Fight with knowledge and love, not hate.”