I bet you can all name a lot of “launderers”

That’s a concept from Talia Levin’s new book, Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, which she expounds on in this interview.

Most people don’t start out waving swastikas. They are being led to this place by “launderers,” people who seem reasonable and who introduce racist ideas subtly, and give people permission to engage in hate that is more socially acceptable. The launderers can be YouTubers and right-wing influencers. They may start out saying there are too many women in Star Wars movies, or that lady Ghostbusters have ruined their childhood. It soon becomes easier and easier for them to say that feminism is harmful garbage that has caused them to be unhappy. From there it’s not a long journey. The slope is greased by people with high production values and a lot of money behind them.

They are not weird toothless masturbators living in their mothers’ basements. Every member of the organized racist movement that I surveilled, spoke to, and catfished was a person — a human being with complexity and dimensionality who has made amoral choices. Their humanity is an integral part of the portrait but it does not absolve them. They make the choice to disseminate evil. It makes them more worthy of condemnation. They have chosen to spread hate and fear. They have chosen to follow an ideology that makes them feel like heroes for hurting people who are already hurt.

Think about it. It’s easy to name a lot of these launderers. They range from talentless goofballs like PewDiePie to nasty lying culture warriors like Ben Shapiro to millionaire establishment spokespeople like Tucker Carlson to corrupt gangsters like Donald Trump. I bet you all can rattle off a long list yourself. All of them deny their racism and white nationalism with varying degrees of believability, and none of them ever face any consequences.


  1. nomadiq says

    You left out Sam Harris. He enables the easily tricked into thinking their racism is intelligent and logical, which is particularly insidious.

  2. vucodlak says

    I was thinking just yesterday about my childhood, and how I had friends across the gender spectrum, rather than just being friends with boys and doing boy things. I think that, more than anything else, is what enabled me to see through bullshit like “there are too many women in Star Wars movies.”

    In particular, one of my best friends in elementary and middle school was a girl. She was the biggest Star Wars (and Star Trek) fan I knew, and we hung out all the time. This frequently lead people to ask if we were an “item.*” We weren’t, and that attitude is a big part of the problem with this country. It was weird to so many people that I was friends (and just friends) with girls.

    It goes further than just that, though. In a lot of the classrooms I’ve been in, we were frequently “punished” for unruliness by being seated boy-girl-boy-girl. The takeaway for a lot of boys being that contact with girls was a bad thing (not that it ever shut me up). Some local schools have taken it further in the opposite direction, separating the boys and girls completely, reinforcing the divide that the general culture already insists is “natural.”

    The main launderer is simply our misogynistic culture. We’re trained almost from birth to see roughly half the species as some weird other. One thing I think we could do is to ban schools from segregating students by gender, as well as ending the de facto racial segregation that already exists. Another thing would be to encourage more mixed group activities starting as young as possible. These activities must not be competitive– no sports. In fact, no sports at all in schools would be an excellent idea, because competitive athletics are another big launderer.

    *I will admit that I had a huge crush on her… but I had a huge crush on a lot of my male friends, too. I had a tendency to fall in love with all my close friends, basically, although I wouldn’t have been able to admit to crushing on the guys back then. Not even to myself, although my fantasies involving my male friends were far more explicitly sexual than those involving my female friends.

  3. DanDare says

    This is one reason I hate the use of the terms left and right in this context. They are vague manipu-lables. Ask anyone what left really means and you get wildly varied responses.
    Launderers sit on the edge of one and draw people into the center of the other. “I’m left so trust me when I say 3rd wave feminists aren’t ” is a common ploy. Without a real definition of left that statement can’t be chalenged.

  4. hillaryrettig says

    This video The Alt-Right Playbook: How to Radicalize a Normie by Innuendo Studios is excellent:


    It makes the point that the people they target are often lonely or angry men at a particular stage in life, like newly divorced. This really resonated bc a young friend of mine who is now part of the alt-right traveled that exact path. He had a bad divorce, got sucked into the men’s rights (sic and sick) movement, and then…

    The video also says that the alt-righters deliberately game the algorithms so when you do a youtube search on “depression” you’re often led right to an alt-right feeder video.

    Also, add Stefan Molyneux to PZ’s list of launderers.