Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
While on the surface mainstream discussions about race appear to encompass the values and ideologies associated with egalitarianism, subtle and at times not so subtle discussions continue to disparage groups and individuals who have been historically associated with the minority. The growing existence of hate groups illustrates that arguments for these extreme ideologies are not only present but for some individuals are gaining in acceptance. For this reason, I perform a critical discourse analysis of the language of one of the most popular and prolific White Nationalist groups on the Internet, Stormfront. In particular, I examine how scientific and revisionist discourse is used throughout Stormfront to create a seemingly rational and legitimate justification for White Nationalist ideology. Focusing on scientific and historical discourses, this analysis identifies the similar argument types, orders of discourse, and styles between mainstream and White Nationalist discourse to show how seamlessly Stormfront discourse draws off of mainstream discourse. Designed to divert the audience from the stigma associated with White Nationalism, Stormfront users have intentionally adopted a mainstream script that follows current social norms. This analysis finds that Stormfront members use current scientific research to advance the White Nationalist ideology through the incorporation of a socially acceptable and mainstream discourse that is granted high status. Similarly, Stormfront members recontextualize authoritative historical discourses and mainstream mediated discourse to recast White Nationalists as the victims of inequality under a guise of legitimacy. Furthermore, both the science and revisionist threads on Stormfront use similar techniques (hyperlinking, source referral, etc.) and styles (assertions, legitimizing language, modality, etc.) to advance these arguments. Additionally, both threads incorporate external sources to their discourse, and this interdiscursivity gradually begins to chip away at the boundaries between extremist/hate/racist speech and mainstream discourse. These similar discourses are suggestive of a transition from the “extreme” to a more subtle, indirect racism that may have a more persuasive effect when presented under the guise of the socially acceptable.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Rhodes, Claire Davies, "From Slurs to Science, Racism to Revisionism: White Nationalist Rhetors and Legitimation in the Stormfront Community" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 765.