News / USA

Researchers say Racist Internet Sites Breed Hate

Mike O'Sullivan
LOS ANGELES — American Sikhs have been mourning the victims of the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin - and are trying to comprehend an act that seems senseless.  The shooter's motives are unclear, but one organization that monitors hate groups points to the Internet as a breeding ground for racial hatred.

In the Los Angeles suburb of Walnut, Sikhs and other community members gathered for a vigil to remember the victims of the Wisconsin shooting.

Some also tried to understand what motivated the accused shooter, Wade Michael Page.   

California temple member Nachhatar Singh Bhullar calls the act senseless.

"It could happen anywhere.  Somebody can come anywhere and do those things," he said.

But researchers into hate groups say Page had ties to music groups with a white supremacist message and they speculate that his hatred sparked the rampage.

Tim Zaal, 48, recognizes the message.  He came to the Sikh temple to offer condolences, but says he once viewed all dark-skinned people with hatred.  He spent a year in jail for attacking an Iranian couple and has been involved in other hate crimes.  In the 1980s, he was a skinhead and organizer for the neo-Nazi group White Aryan Resistance.

"The white racialist movement was moving into a different direction.  Rather than have all these great big organizations, they started to operate in these little cells," he said.

And they started organizing online.  

Rick Eaton is a researcher on hate groups with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which monitors social sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and distributes an online research app - or application - to law enforcement agencies.

He says a world of hatred, little seen by most Americans, thrives on racist music, epithets and symbols.

"The name of the song is Keep Fighting, and it says their job is to keep fighting and if you don't, I'll kill you myself," he said.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says through music and diatribes, the online sites spread ideas,  attract revenue and recruits, and strengthen their commitment to a set of beliefs.

“It's empowerment, it's validation," he said.

He says, for people on the fringe, the sites create the illusion of a mass movement.  

There are limits to what law enforcement can do in the absence of a crime, no matter how offensive the hate speech, says Teresa Carlson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Until somebody actually threatens, there’s a threat of force or violence, we can not open an investigation," she said.

Rabbi Cooper says companies that dominate the Internet need to do more.

"The social networking on the Internet could and should be doing a lot more to marginalize the message, messages and messengers of hatred and intolerance and terrorism," he said.

Meanwhile, the Sikhs of California are trying to understand how a quiet house of worship could become the scene of such a tragedy.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More