Most people see hate filtered through the individual events that reach our daily lives or news feeds – a chance encounter, a video, a story from a friend. But hate rarely emerges at random. There are patterns, sources, and cultures that give rise to hateful trends. When our team at the podcast Sounds Like Hate was approached with a trove of secret recordings from the Base’s vetting room for domestic terrorists in training, our goal was to understand the patterns in this data. You can hear the full story of our investigation by listening to our podcast series. The Base is a terrorist organization that began in 2018 to advance a white supremacist agenda of the collapse of America, an impending race war, and preparation for violence. Each recording contains a vetting call where members of the Base talk to potential recruits over the messaging app Wire. We were faced with the task of analyzing a significant amount of data, 83 hours in total. In this post, we will describe how we applied statistical analysis, data visualization, and machine learning to understand the trends beneath the hate.
To be clear, these vetting calls are not about conversion. The men who apply for membership are already believers. For instance, the men on these secret recordings share an interest in president Trump. His name was brought up 69 times and was mentioned in 18% of all conversations. While they didn’t all agree with him, they all agreed he was serving their agenda. “It’s a kind of like we’re climbing a ladder. We hit a rung and we hit another rung on a ladder. And so I think this next election will be just interesting. And depending if Trump wins and if the left, depending on how bad they freak out, how bad they riot and things like that. There’s potential for some, you know, mass kind of lawlessness and things like that.“ [Speaker 86] The central theme of the Base’s neo-Nazi doctrine is whiteness, both as a race and as a culture. In the recordings, “white” was mentioned more than “Black,” “Jew,” or any other racial/ethnic term combined. The most commonly mentioned phrases including “white” were “white nationalism,” “pro-white,” “white people,” and “white power.” When discussing white people, recruits would frequently extol their perceived virtues of whiteness and bemoan the perceived decline of the white race.
via splcenter: Quantifying the Race War in America