The Sudden and Freakish Rise of Cyber Hate Groups
An introspective examination of the unprecedented rise of spiritual intolerance in our online communities
As a published journalist and writer, I’ve spent thousands of hours researching and doing follow-up work on countless subjects that demanded I find the most heart-rending ways of imparting reasoning with an intelligent choice. My belief is that simply reading an article without experiencing an evolution in emotional growth or change, to whatever degree, is a useless waste of time for the reader. Unless the reader is emotionally called to invest in the promise of a redemptive or morally driven storyline, or to some degree to move toward a genuine level of heart altering arousal, the resulting natural retention will most likely turn that read into a short-term memory moment. I tend to research story material that inspires emotional substance while also promising change. And always, to some measure generates actionable hope for a better world. Though realistically, hope isn’t commonly found until we consciously connect with a genuine need. Of the many subjects I’ve found that fit into that grouping, the one I repeatedly return to is captured in a quote I once read, taken from a lecture given by famous American Professor of Literature, Joseph Campbell. “For art to truly be art, it must inspire an aesthetic arrest.” In other words, it must inspire an authentic sense of catharsis that awakens an inner recognition of beauty, or at the very least, enlivens a call for something better.” The writerly art of journalistic transmission is included in that sentiment. This, of course, is an ideal, not the common writer’s norm.
My most relevant interest and genuinely earnest concern is the steep rise of hate groups in the US in the last decade. In 2019 hate groups in America have risen to the highest level in the last twenty years, adding an alarming 30% increase in violent hate-motivated crimes. Numerous factors play into why this increase developed so quickly. Much of it is politically driven. Though more influential than politics, the greatest perpetrator in generating crowd hate is unequivocally our new era of online social network manipulators. The cyber-world, as amazing as it’s been as a means for research, knowledge, and communication, has a serious dark side. It’s become a free platform for anyone who hopes to manipulate mob mentality to initiate and wage their campaigns of hate, loathing, and even incite violence through the spread of misdirection, anger, and fear.
This ancient breed of manipulators now enjoys a social reach that was once thought unimaginable. Manipulators that are not bound to any measure of truthfulness or facts. Free to say what they will, they’re more able to convince the innocent and unaware into taking on their intolerance driven opinions and emotions. The most common method they employ is the pretense of serving underdog groups related to various movements that hope to right the wrongs set on them by unjust circumstances or prejudice. A white supremacist might align with the underdog white factory worker who fears less opportunity in an atmosphere of racial equality. An extreme feminist might align with the #me too movement to spread damning lies about any man that seems a likely target. Innocent onlookers or members of originating movements that arose out of genuine concerns like fear of poverty or sexually abusive discord are thus turned toward hatred, fear, and resentment, instead of remedy. Where there is genuine discontent, there’s an opportunity to exploit. Hatemongers have always aligned themselves with the ill-judged, resentful, or abused. Hate proliferates through the fostering of anxiety, confusion and unsophisticated thinking in a field of previously impoverished circumstances.
We recently conducted a multi-person research polling in which numerous volunteers hit the streets of three large US urban city environments. Our mission was to randomly ask people of all races and walks of life for comments on what they believed were the most troubling emerging hate groups at this time. Nearly 70% of the respondents answered they believed our biggest global hate issue is our nations returning rise of white supremacy groups. The remaining 30% were spread thinner with a slightly broader array of beliefs. Though surprisingly, contrary to our nations widely held consensus, it was not anti-gay hate groups that came in at second place. What repeatedly dominated our queried public was a sense that America is plummeting into a returning era of spiritual and religious intolerance.
Religious or spiritual intolerance has long been the go-to control mechanism used by the sly and darkly ambitious political rulers who harnessed fear and prejudice for profit. Hence, the 600-year Vatican crusades, the horror of the witch burnings, and the endless religious wars, which outnumber all other historical wars combined. Sadly, spiritual xenophobia and intolerance may be more easily manipulated toward hatred than people might imagine. Amongst the uneducated, it only requires the combination of two key terms, “cult” and “guru,” to inflame the fear that leads to hatred. Neither of which belong together, or make any sense in their use to the astute. To the well-informed, guru simply means teacher. In the East, the title guru serves as a timeless and revered recognition of someone who has devoted his or her life to dispel ignorance. Alternately, the term cult is new, serving as a handy stone thrown at anyone that doesn’t believe the way a readied name-calling hate group might want them to. There have been groups or teachers who misled or distorted people’s perceptions for profit or fame. This is also true in established religions. There’s nothing new here. But the secret and all too convenient purpose for using the “cult” word has a more convenient use online today. Cult is an opportunity-word handed to the non-thinker that is used to sow distrust or hatred.
Cult and guru used together are most often the stealthy tactics of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a common liar’s call-to-arms that nearly always veils a deeper agenda of spiritual intolerance. The emotional manipulators who use these terms most often take on the persona of being your savior or helper. They have no problem fighting dirty, telling lies, or making false insinuations in order to get you to fall into emotional turmoil. They will always be on your side, often telling you they too have suffered, at least as much as you have, but probably much more. They use that sympathy to buddy their way into your mind.
Online crowd mentality is driven in a non-thinking collective fervor, in which singular discrimination is often psychologically overridden by the energy of the herd. What the hater says may invoke emotional fear, but is most likely a handy fabrication or twist of facts that are meant to bring you under their control. In the end, we witness this unfortunate rise in spiritual and religious intolerance, spreading in ways never before imagined. The question is, are our social networks willing to deal with this new threat? Certainly, Facebook isn’t! And neither is Google! Free speech is essential to a healthy society. But… we are now facing a new unprecedented threat of collective emotional mind control.
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