How Teachers Are Fighting the #WhiteNationalists Brainwashing Their Students vice.com/en_us/article/…
German government officials have called for an investigation into @YouTube for allowing right-wing groups to use the Internet platform for disseminating #neoNazi material.
It used to be much easier to spot a budding #Nazi in the classroom, or at least a student harboring #extremist views, says Nora Flanagan, a Chicago public school teacher for 20+y.

You’d just look out for the troubled skinhead kid, maybe wearing steel-toed boots & a swastika pin.
Flanagan and other teachers say that #whitesupremacy, #antiSemitism and #misognyny are creeping into their classrooms, but are often CODED in ironic MEMES and SYMBOLS most adults aren’t fluent in.
Flanagan says she sees #extremist messaging more often and more openly than she used to, but ...

“It’s so much more subtle now, and there are so many more things to watch and listen for.”
Some teachers described students flashing the “OK” sign in class, which has been co-opted by online #whitesupremacists.
Others recalled their students changing desktop backgrounds to images of PewDiePie, a popular YouTuber accused repeatedly of trafficking in #racism and #antiSemitism.
“It’s subtle CODESPEAK,
it’s the SYMBOLS they use in their AVATARS in our online learning platforms,
it’s the LINKS they associate with in their bios.”
Teachers are coming to school armed with the “Confronting White Nationalism in Schools Toolkit” to help them spot #extremism when it shows up in the classroom and then try to address it.
Since Flanagan, with the help of another teacher in Portland and Oregon-based nonprofit the Western States Center, put together the 50-page toolkit in April 2019 they’ve fielded over 4,000 requests for copies.
Teachers, schools, and organizations from every state, plus 18 countries, including Japan, Austria, New Zealand, and Romania, have requested the $10 guide.
🚨“We are seeing young people with no criminal records, from relatively stable families, getting #radicalized — mostly on the internet.”
Other teachers say they’re using contemporary literature written from the perspectives of teen refugees or people of color to fight #extremism through instilling empathy in their students.
📌But recognizing SUBTLE expressions of #whitesupremacy isn’t the only challenge.

They’re also having to figure out when a student is being subversive — just “for the lulz” — versus when they’re exhibiting symptoms of being #radicalized or violence.
For example: a group of nine middle schoolers in Ojai, California formed a human swastika on school grounds.

The entire junior class at a high school in Wisconsin did Nazi salutes in their prom photos.
And graduating students from two different high schools in Chicago flashed the #whitesupremacist “OK” sign in their yearbooks.
Then there are the students who exhibited #antiSemitic or racist behavior at school and later went on to seek violence.
James Fields, from Ohio, was known as the “class Nazi” during high school and later rammed his car into a crowd of protesters during the #whitesupremacist rally in Charlottesville. vice.com/en_us/article/…
Teachers were already up against rising hate crimes in schools and mass shootings

But with the rise of #whitenationalist recruitment online and MAINSTREAMING of hateful language, they’re now navigating a more complicated and diffuse threat landscape than years past.
Experts are warning the 2020 ELECTION is likely to usher in a new wave of #hate and #extremism, and this will play out online and across social media where TEENS increasingly spend a large portion of their time.
Far-right extremists have, meanwhile, made no secret of their desire to #radicalize young people online.
Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, has said he hopes to target the “ADHD demographic,”
11-years-old and up.

“It doesn’t make sense to target anyone but young people,”

Anglin said on a podcast three years ago.
2017 study by James Hawdon, director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech, found that 70% of Americans 15 - 21 were exposed to #extremist messages online compared to 58% in 2013.

It spiked around the 2016 election
“The youngest cohort is the most diverse and diversifying, and #whitenationalism has become a counter-culture response to this diversity.”
The increase in online #extremist messaging coincided with a steady rise in reported hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents at schools.

According to the FBI, there were 340 reported hate crimes at K-12 schools in 2017 compared to 158 in 2013
The Anti-Defamation League says the number of anti-Semitic incidents at K-12 schools jumped by 94% between 2016 and 2017, from 235 to 457.

Last year, that dipped slightly, but it was still high: The ADL counted 344 incidents in 2018.
This leaves educators and school administrators feeling outmatched in influencing students who could be vulnerable to #radicalization — and in developing constructive ways to fight it.
“We are working to implement programs of understanding and multiculturalism, but what are the kids seeing in their daily lives?” said J, a social studies teacher at a middle school near Portland, Maine.
“What their friends and social media are teaching them — That’s a powerful opponent.”
In one example, a student in a U.S. history class turns in a research paper containing a citation to writings by white nationalist Richard Spencer.
“The early adolescent brain is a sponge, and that is good for some things, but it also means that these kids are absorbing negative language and ideology.“
Hawdon thinks that teachers should try a sympathetic approach in those scenarios that looks at the root cause for why a student could be a soft target for such ideas.
Any attempt to combat this without a nuanced understanding of why kids are feeling this way can lead to a backlash — and make them more entrenched in their beliefs.”
“Historically we’ve looked at kids who are economically disadvantaged,” said Flanagan. “But I’ve seen just as much from kids from privilege, who maybe feel like they’re losing some of that privilege and cultural ground.”

The normalization of hate poses another significant challenge to educators. J, the middle school teacher from Maine, says 🚨 he’s especially perplexed by the way white nationalistic language has seeped into the mainstream.
J said he had a few students who were setting images of YouTuber PewDiePie as the backgrounds on their school computers.

PewDiePie w 100M subscribers, likes to peddle #antiSemitic or #racist tropes in his videos and then say oopsies when he’s caught. 🤬huffpost.com/entry/pewdiepi…
Pewdiepie pulls $50k pledge to @ADL bc his fans got mad bc @ADL once (rightly) criticized him for his anti-Semitic content.

So instead of doing the right thing, and telling his fans that the ADL was right, he pulls pledge.

That tells me all I need to know.
J said he tried to explain this to his students, with mixed success.

“One of the students was polite about it, the other was belligerent,” J recalled.
“The next day there was a “Sub for PewdDiePie” sign on the door of my classroom.”

🚨J said the sign also said something along the lines of “We can’t let the Indians win.”
Another social studies teacher, who asked to be identified as “L” to allow her to speak candidly about her experiences, was teaching at a rural middle school in Appalachian Ohio until recently.

📌At times, she said, the Trump campaign reared its head in her classroom.
English teacher from a mostly white rural school in Vermont, named “C,” who also requested her name be withheld because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said that she noticed a couple students wearing “white lives matter” badges to class.
In response, she turned to “Teaching Tolerance,” an Alabama-based magazine started in the 1990’s by SPLC which takes on the thornier culture war issues facing educators today, including #extremism. It also recommends texts for teachers to use in class.
Some state lawmakers have also been trying to find ways to address the reported uptick in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents at schools in their jurisdictions. #HateIsNotAHoax
2017, lawmakers from 20 states pledged to pursue legislation to get laws requiring schools to teach about the Holocaust on the books.

Today, at least 12 states mandate some form of education about the genocide, and about half of those laws were signed since 2016.
Flanagan wants to see this issue elevated to the level of national conversation.

🚨“There is a near universal consensus among my colleagues and friends: this will get worse before it gets better.”
To request a copy of The Confronting White Nationalism in Schools Toolkit:

I got my copy today and will be sharing info with my kid’s principal.
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