On the night in 2008 that Barack Obama was elected president, the American neo-Nazi website Stormfront got such an unprecedented volume of traffic that its server crashed. A Florida-based collection of blogs, chat rooms, streaming radio, and even a lonely-hearts page (for heterosexual white Americans only), Stormfront has long brought together several strands of racism. Its denunciation of traditional targets of far-right hate—Jews, blacks, nonwhite immigrants—is now interwoven with rants against new versions of the old ones: Muslims, globalists, George Soros. The public can access most of the site, registered members all of it.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the country’s leading monitor of hate groups, Stormfront was for many years “the most trafficked white supremacist website online.” (Far-right activists take pride in such rankings and follow the SPLC’s website closely.) A long string of violent people have been Stormfront members, among them Anders Behring Breivik, who killed seventy-seven people, mostly teenagers, in Norway in 2011.
The website has been run since its founding in 1995 by Don Black, a veteran white nationalist, as supremacists prefer to call themselves these days. As grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, Black organized marches in defense of Robert Chambliss, who was convicted in 1977 for his part in the 1963 bombing in Birmingham that killed four African-American girls. Black then spent three years in federal prison for joining a bizarre plot to carry out an armed takeover of the Caribbean island of Dominica and turn it into a white utopia. He created Stormfront with the computer skills he learned behind bars.
For many years, the website was essentially a family operation, and an unusual family it was. Don’s wife, Chloe, had been formerly married to the country’s most prominent Klansman, ex–Louisiana state legislator David Duke, with whom she had two daughters. Duke and Don Black had been close friends since they met as teenagers in the white supremacy movement. Several years after Chloe divorced Duke, she married Black, with Duke serving as best man. Duke remained close to the family, becoming godfather to Chloe and Don’s son, Derek, and often joining the household for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don helped to raise the two daughters Chloe had had with Duke and helped with Duke’s Klan activities and political campaigns. Animated at work by the politics of hate, this peculiar blended family could not have had a more amicable life at home.
Young Derek Black, who was mostly homeschooled (his parents thought there were too many dark-skinned children in the public schools), turned out to be something of a child prodigy.…
This is exclusive content for subscribers only.
Try two months of unlimited access to The New York Review for just $1 a month.
Continue reading this article, and thousands more from our complete 55+ year archive, for the low introductory rate of just $1 a month.