As white supremacists routinely get booted from platforms like Patreon, Amazon, and GoFundMe, it has become increasingly difficult for them to find ways to make a profit. Sure there’s Chuck Johnson’s WeSearchr, an alt-right crowdfunding website that raised $150,000 for The Daily Stormer’s legal defense fund. But such a website only really works if your project attracts attention, and even then Johnson collects a portion of any successful “bounties.” Others have turned to cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to make donations to one another.
Still, there have been some services that have been slow or unwilling to turn away hate groups, such as PayPal and Cloudflare. And then there are online marketplaces like Teespring which allow independent creators to submit designs to be printed on shirts and sold.
To Teespring’s credit, the company does maintain an active presence on Twitter where it often handles customer complaints. It also has a very clear-cut policy prohibiting campaigns which “promote or glorify hatred toward people based on their age, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and religion.” However, content cannot reasonably be policed at all times, and some campaigns slip through the cracks — especially with the alt-right’s tendency to create arcane memes and messages.
For example, Teespring currently has campaigns by the Houston Goylers, an alt-right meet-up group composed of fans of The Right Stuff. The group itself was co-founded by the pseudonymous troll Goy Orbison, who has written articles for The Daily Stormer since May 4, 2017. At the Stormer, Orbison has:
- Praised a Russian politician who called for putting “faggots” in concentration camps;
- Written that gays and lesbians are “walking virus factories” and that “Jewish control of the media helped make AIDS marriage more acceptable in the US”;
- Alleged that the fashion industry is controlled by “nose goblins [Jews] and people with AIDS,” and that “RompHims” are part of a “concentrated kosher campaign to emasculate white men”;
- Called for a boycott of Heineken because of a message on their bottles promoting a “world without borders or barriers”;
- Referred to undocumented immigrants as “uninvited criminal pests” and advocated for shooting them on sight; and
- Called interracial relationships “bestiality” and wrote that white women shouldn’t “sleep with niggers” because “if you lay down with nogs, you wave up with HIV.”
Yet Teespring has sold and continues to advertise at least four T-shirt designs by the Goylers, and all four use some form of Nazi or Neo-Nazi iconography. Two of them depict the Goylers’ logo, an oil derrick in front of the sonnenrad, or sunwheel. The sonnenrad was appropriated by the Nazi regime and later used by Neo-Nazis:
One of the shirts shows the state of Texas with “Farm Road 1488” written on it. 1488 is well-known Neo-Nazi code for David Lane’s “14 Words” and the phrase “Heil Hitler.” Its description boasts that wearers can “dog whistle to your buddies while leaving normies in the dark”:
And then there’s the Pepenkopf, a combination of the Nazi Totenkopf (skull and crossbones) and alt-right mascot Pepe the Frog:
Then there’s the white nationalist hate group Vanguard America (formerly American Vanguard), whose logo is an eagle carrying the fasces. Its manifesto proclaims that democracy “has failed in this once great nation,” and calls for a “new Caesar to revive the American spirit.” It also decries multiculturalism in favor of “a nation exclusively for the White American peoples” who “forged the most powerful nation to ever have existed.”
Vanguard America is known for its postering campaigns, especially on college campuses. Some of their flyers read “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” “Stop the Rapes, Stop the Crime, Stop the Murder, Stop the Blacks,” and “Fascism: The Next Step for America.”
It also hawks its own T-shirt, with the innocuous campaign title “Moderate Republicans Defend!” The shirt, however, depicts an eagle and the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil” — or “Blut und Boden” in the original German:
Next, there’s white supremacist and amateur animator Murdoch Murdoch, whose ghastly-looking cartoons have been bafflingly popular on the alt-right. His racist cartoon shorts are filled with poorly cut-out pictures — sometimes still bearing watermarks — and characters whose dialogue never seems to be in sync with their mouths. One episode depicts William Luther Pierce, the deceased white supremacist leader, as a general as he and other Neo-Nazis battle “alt-lite” figures such as Paul Joseph Watson.
Murdoch Murdoch is currently selling four T-shirts through Teespring, which have been advertised on The Daily Stormer. Two of these shirts very clearly have white supremacist symbols on them. The first displays the sonnenrad and one of Murdoch Murdoch’s totally original characters:
The next depicts a parody of the Uncle Sam “I Want You for U.S. Army” recruitment poster used in WWI and WWII. It shows Uncle Sam with a gas mask and glowing eyes along with a yellow insignia on his right arm. The insignia — the Greek letter Λ in a circle — is actually used by the racist, far-right Identitarian movement:
Other shirts, however, are more difficult to catch when monitoring for hate speech. For example, two of Murdoch Murdoch’s shirts do not have any visible racist symbols on them. Absent an understanding of who Murdoch Murdoch is, the people at Teespring would in all likelihood have no idea that these campaigns were funding hate. One just shows Murdoch Murdoch’s name in gold letters:
The second shows a skull wearing a military helmet. And although I do not know the origin of the helmet decal, the abbreviation N.G.N.S. stands for “Nice Guy National Socialist” — the title of another Murdoch Murdoch video:
Another shirt sold on Teespring that is not obviously racist is one for Exodus Americanus, a white nationalist podcast that originated with The Right Stuff. Its mission statement attempts to cajole white, male readers into opening up to the alt-right by playing on their perceived sense of victimhood:
You are the man who has internalized egalitarianism, but still been called a privileged white male (evil). Anything to deny you a seat at the negotiation table. Anything to deny facing you on equal footing, on merits alone. You’ve never done anything to harm anyone, you’ve always been meritocratic to a fault, and yet you’ve still become the villain in a history that is being re-written by people who hate you.
What if I told you that you have the right to exist? Could you handle me pushing the logic even further and asserting that the United States of America deserves to exist? Would you be driven to madness, and howl at the stars in despair if I looked you dead in the eye and proclaimed that WESTERN CIVILIZATION is the light of the world and needs to be preserved, at all costs?
In spite of the racist content of the podcast (one episode is titled “N*ggers All the Way Down”), the Exodus Americanus shirt is fairly inconspicuous, showing a boar on a red and white flag. Yet the proceeds from its sales ensure that they can continue to churn out more white supremacist and anti-Semitic content:
Another racist group selling its merchandise on Teespring is called Inner Fatherland. It appears to exist solely as an online store which promises “based and edgy t-shirts.” It maintains a Facebook page that is rarely updated but does link to white nationalist websites like Atlantic Centurion:
It offers several alt-right themed shirts on its Teespring marketplace page, including one praising Rodrigo Duterte, the murderous leader of the Philippines, one with the slogan “Remove Kebab” — a joke about the Bosnian genocide — and one showing Moonman, the alt-right mascot appropriated from a 1980s McDonald’s campaign:
Redbubble, another popular online marketplace, also boasts a user agreement that prohibits hate speech. According to their agreement, users cannot submit content that contains “material that defames or vilifies any person, people, races, religion or religious group.” However, a cursory search of the website shows that users frequently duck these rules to sell explicitly racist merchandise.
A search results for the phrase “alt right” yields pages of merchandise, including shirts like these:
Here’s a couple advertising the Proud Boys, a violent right-wing organization whose members have attacked journalists and protesters alike:
And an anti-Semitic decal that plays on the “hook-nosed Jew” trope:
And one promoting the Pizzagate hoax:
And another pro-Identitarian shirt:
Like Teespring and Redbubble, Cafepress prohibits “inappropriate use of swastikas or other Nazi symbols” or images which glamorize “the actions of Hitler or other individuals or groups advocating ethnic cleansing, genocide or similar activities.” Additionally, it bans “symbols or marks signifying hate towards another group of people.” Yet there are many results for search terms like “white lives matter,” “alt-right,” and “white genocide.” There are even shirts and coffee mugs promoting the Neo-Nazi Northwest Front organization.
Now, with that being said, none of these companies are purposefully selling this merchandise while knowing it promotes hatred. All three have policies prohibiting items that promote the denigration of different races or religions and have ways to report questionable material.
However, all three need to take a more active role in policing their own content for hate speech, and would do well to look out for less obvious hate symbols. One resource they may find useful would be the Anti-Defamation League’s very own hate symbol database. But until they rectify this situation, the alt-right will continue to use their services to finance the spread of its poisonous ideology.