What with white supremacy suddenly, depressingly prominent in the news this week, there’s been an uptick of interest in the psychology of the tiki torch-wielding members of the so-called “alt-right.” Where do they organize? (The deep web, at least for now.) What do they want? (The same shitty stuff Nazis and other white supremacists have always wanted.) And, perhaps most interestingly: How do they react when genetic testing tells them they’re not as “racially pure” as they’ve always believed themselves to be?
Business Insider reports on a new study out of UCLA, coincidentally released just in time for this latest burst of national Nazi attention, on how members of the white supremacist forum Stormfront have reacted to their less-than “ideal” genetic testing results over the years. (A study that involved at least one of the researchers spending “four hours a day reading Stormfront in 2016,” which seems pretty close to our personal definitions of hell.) Riffing on a famous video of noted racist Craig Cobb being told on The Trisha Goddard Show that he’s only “86 percent European,” the study suggests that Cobb’s reaction—a mixture of outright denial, and questions about the validity of the tests—is pretty much par for the course.
It also notes, though, that while newer comers to the movement are often attacked and ostracized for their results coming back anything less than “pure,” older members are often comforted by their long-time friends, who help them to “think through” the results. The mental gymnastics on display are gut-churningly fascinating, as their fellow racists offer up platitudes that basically tell their comrades that they’re as white and racist as they think they are, regardless of what the tests say. (Others, meanwhile, question the science behind the assessments, bringing themselves weirdly into line with various critics of spit-in-a-cup genetic testing.) The most bizarre, arguments, though, actually come around to something like a pro-diversity stance, or at least the bigoted shadow version of one:
“Still others used these test results to put forth a twisted notion of diversity, one ‘that allows them to say, no, we’re really diverse and we don’t need non-white people to have a diverse society,’” the study’s author wrote.