Members of the neo-Nazi National Action movement have mocked and celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed.
At 5:02pm yesterday evening, the @NANorthEast_ tweeted: “Only 649 MPs to go #WhiteJihad #ChurchillAkbar #BritainFirst #NationalAction #DayOfTheRope”. That tweet came minutes after West Yorkshire Police announced her death at 5pm, four hours after the attack. The insensitivity in the message was deliberate and targeted for maximum offence.
The @NANorthEast_ account serves as the ‘Regional North-East Branch of National Action’. Adding a Britain First hashtag was a clear attempting at reaching a wider audience. Britain First, the far-right political party and street defence organisation, had captured much of the online discussion as witnesses had confirmed that suspected killer Thomas Mair had shouted “Britain first” or “put Britain first” as he attacked Cox.
Subsequent tweets used the #JoeCox hashtag to share recruitment propaganda at 6:01pm. The account then tweeted praise for the murder suspect Thomas Mair. There’s a growing body of evidence that Mair shares their neo-Nazi ideology.
An hour later, a National Action member, posing under the pseudonym Celtic Raider, wrote on Russian social networking site VK: “Use the hash tag #JoCox to push antisemitic filth”. Attached was an image blaming Judaism for multiculturalism, feminism and anti-racism.
At 8:59pm, Celtic Raider wrote: “I bet she didn’t expect today’s events after a treacherous display of SJW action yesterday,” he ended the status with a laughing emoji. That reference to ‘SJW action’ was inaccurate as Jo Cox had tweeted that her husband and two children had promoted the ‘Remain’ campaign in the River Thames.
The mockery Celtic Raider offered was met with contempt from friends. One reply read ‘Fucking traitorous bitch anyway’ as another read ‘Just shows you, leftism is anti white. She got what she stood for’. Jöhan Berserkrblüt, replied, ‘she’s a disgrace to her surname as well as her race and deserves a rope for her treachery’. Celtic Raider’s response to Jöhan was “Jöhan, she got bullets and blade instead :^”.
It’s also possible that the person behind Celtic Raider has access to the @NANorthEast_ account. A tweet from the account used the same :^ symbol. The user had his other account @son_jorvik supended.
Be it mockery or sheer contempt, the account also found time to ridicule victims of the Orlando shootings. Yet it found an audience, albeit small, of like-minded fascists, white nationalists and racists.
Others copied the tactic. The user @uncuck_uk tweeted: “Traitors who advocate for the rape of women and children through forced immigration are traitors. No sympathy for #JoCoxMP”. That tweet encouraged this disturbing reply, “#JoCoxMP died because of her poor life choices (joining Labour, plus supporting both importing Muslim rapists into the UK and #Remain).”
John Suler’s influential theory helps us understand why individuals post extreme messages online. In short, our behaviours online fall into two categories: benign disinhibition (positive) and toxic disinhibition (negative).
Social media intensifies and subverts behavioural norms. It offers the chance for political difference to corrode into personal abuse and threats. They ignore our basic capacity for empathy. And turn tragedy into a means to further racist agendas.
Perhaps Twitter will now act to close accounts like @NANorthEast_ and @uncuck_uk.