White supremacists in the US are taking genetic tests to prove their racial identity but are being left bitterly disappointed to learn their genes are not as pure as they presumed.
A new study from the University of California examined years’ worth of posts on Stormfront, a neo-Nazi forum which is the internet’s first major racial hate site, to decipher how members responded to their spit-in-a-cup genetic test results.
White nationalists were up in arms to discover they were not 100 per cent white European and instead had African, Jewish or Asian genes.
The researchers presented their results at a sociology conference in Montreal on Monday just 48 hours after neo-Nazis, KKK members and “alt-right” members clashed with anti-fascists at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
The study found white supremacists would express their indignation at the DNA test results by challenging their veracity and claiming to have a better grip on their genealogy than a scientific test. Some reacted by engaging in racist tirades or arguing the tests were a Jewish conspiracy.
Nevertheless, some of the responses to the tests, which have become increasingly popular among white nationalists, were found to be surprisingly sophisticated and less ignorant than one might imagine.
“If we believe their politics comes from lack of sophistication because they’re unintelligent or uneducated. I think we’re liable to make a lot of mistakes in how we cope with them,” Aaron Panofsky, one of the authors of the report, said.
“For academics, there was some uneasiness around hearing that science is being used in this way and that some of the critiques that white nationalists are making of genetics are the same critiques social scientists make of genetics,” the other author, Joan Donovan, added.
Mr Panofsky said he found it shocking so many people would post their results on the site despite Stormfront appearing to have strict rules about ethnicity.
“They will basically say if you want to be a member of Stormfront you have to be 100 percent white European, not Jewish,” he told STAT News.
The in-depth study, which was carried out in conjunction with the Data & Society Research Institute, studied comments left in 12 million posts left by more than 300,000 users on Stormfront. The team found 70 discussion threads, where 153 users posted about their DNA results from companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe with more than 3,000 posts in response.
Stormfront was set up by a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in the mid-1990s. The name was selected for its obvious connotations of a political or military front such as the Nazi stormtroopers and the Sturmabteilung, which literally translates to Storm Detachment, and was the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.
White supremacists have celebrated President Donald Trump’s response to the deadly violence in Virginia over the weekend which claimed three lives, with one woman killed after a car smashed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters.
After taking two days to condemn the KKK and neo-Nazi protesters, President Trump eventually gave in to political pressure and sustained criticism and explicitly condemned the actions of white nationalists as “repugnant”.
Nevertheless, he performed a U-turn a day later during a rowdy lobby in Trump Tower, drawing a parity between white supremacists and anti-fascists and saying counter-protesters who he dubbed the “alt-left” were as violent as the KKK and neo-Nazi protesters and the "alt-right" groups included some "very fine" people.
White supremacists hailed Mr Trump’s press conference. Richard Spencer, a leading white supremacist who helped organise the gathering in the quiet university town, took to Twitter to applaud the president “for speaking the truth”.
Former KKK grand wizard David Duke said: “Thank you, President Trump, for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
In the wake of the violence, a KKK leader has said he is happy Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was killed after a car drove at speed into anti-fascists, had passed away.
Justin Moore, the Grand Dragon for the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, said: "I'm sorta glad that them people got hit and I'm glad that girl died. They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody's freedom of speech, so it doesn't bother me that they got hurt at all."
He warned the deadly violence which ravaged the city was going to become more common, saying: "I think we're going to see more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events."