Extremist Views of the ‘Britain First’ Party

blair word cloud 2

 

Recently, the far-right group ‘Britain First’ has been making waves in international media with an article about them in Time magazine.

http://time.com/3556526/uk-far-right-facebook-expands-us/

Although the group has a small membership, they are very active on social media, with a large support base on Facebook.

The group recently posted an article from the main stream newspaper The Daily Express about Tony Blair’s support of Albania joining the EU.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/434107/Tony-Blair-will-help-three-million-Albanians-get-the-right-to-work-in-the-UK

The brief article in the newspaper describes how Tony Blair is assisting the Albanian government’s attempt to join the EU, however, the title reads,

Tony Blair will help three million Albanians get the right to work in the UE

The article has received considerable attention since it was posted on the Britain First Facebook page with over 500 ‘likes’, 300 ‘shares’ and 600 comments.

The comments were collected into a corpus for analysis.

A principle pattern found within the postings was concerned with labeling Tony Blair as a traitor.

traitor

The Britain First supporters consider him a traitor because, as the title suggests, in supporting Albanian entry into the EU, Blair is also supporting immigration to the UK.

Certain poster go beyond labeling Blair a traitor by writing that he should be punished.

blair concordance

There are also many examples of racists rhetoric:

post

Although the leadership of Britain First reject the label of far-right, it is evident that not only is there a large amount of support for their cyber activism, but that certain supporter hold extremist views, which appear to be condoned by the group’s Facebook moderators.

 

 

Rape, Attack, Abuse, Assault: Representations of Women in the Far-Right using Corpus Linguistics

edl word cloud

 

In this post, I’m using a corpus of postings on Facebook by supporters of the EDL to study how women are constructed in far-right discourse. I’m using Sketch Engine, and in particular Word Sketch, a function which provides detailed collocational information of search words.

women and children

This post focuses on the words woman and women. When I looked at collocates which are the object of woman / women, the following table was obtained:

object of women

 

The collocates appear to suggest a high degree of negativity associated with women, a great deal of violence and oppression as the collocates include: rape, treat, attack, stone, cover abuse, assault, oppress, hate, marry, insult, see. Other collocates not shown above include force and beat, which further empathize the discourse prosody of violence, oppression and victimization which is associated with women in discourses produced by members and supporters of far-right ideology

In this post, I’ll  focus on the concordance lines of the more frequent collocates.

rape

 

treat

 

attack

 

The concordance lines present a certain amount of context to the collocational information. In the first set of concordance lines there appears to be a discussion as to whether white men rape women, or whether this can be an issue for which Muslim men are solely responsible. The notion that women are victims appears to be accepted. The second set of concordance lines construct women as being treat badly by Asian men, and the third set depicts women as being defenseless and victims of physical attack.

 

muslim women

 

Word Sketch can also provide information of the modifiers of search words. The most common modifiers of women are as follows:

modifier of women

white women 2

muslim women 2

Both white women and Muslim women are constructed as victims. White women are constructed as victims of rape, whereas Muslim women appear to be constructed as the victims of oppression by Muslim men.

The depiction of women as victims, primarily of violence by Muslim men and Muslim culture, positions male supporters of the EDL as defenders of women and consequently of values and traditions of English culture.

 

 

Incitement to Hatred on Every Concordance Line

Continuing on the theme of the English Defence League, I find analyzing the concordance lines from a corpus of texts from the EDL’s Facebook page quite alarming.

In England and Wales it can be an offence to stir up hatred on the grounds of:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation.

I’m using Sketch Engine (http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/) to analyze the data, and this is an example of what I am observing:

incitement to hatred

The EDL’s motto is “Not racist, not violent, no longer silent”, and yet members post such material online. The data appear to contain examples of incitement to hatred. From a linguistics approach perhaps they are also examples of lexical drift as the discourse becomes increasingly violent when compared with texts written by EDL leaders.

Analysing EDL Corpora Data Using WordWanderer

Recently, I’ve been looking at corpora of texts from the EDL website and the EDL Facebook page. From the corpus of Facebook data, one of the keywords is Muslims. Using the online visualisation tool WordWanderer (http://wordwanderer.org/), I want to show the nature of the collocates of this keyword.

wordwanderer.muslims

Just by spending a minute looking at the visualisation produced by this software package, I think you are able to discover the discourses produced by the members of a group who claim to be non-racist and non-violent. Collocates such as kill, eradicate, invade, spread and dirty begin to demonstrate the nature of the texts.

A Corpus Linguistic Study of Right-Wing Populist Discourses.

This is something I’ve been working on recently:

 

A Corpus Linguistic Study of Right-Wing Populist Discourses.

 

Abstract

 

This paper uses methods from corpus linguistics to analyse discourses produced by a populist far-right movement, the English Defence League (EDL), an organisation which the group elite claim is opposed to the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in the United Kingdom. Two corpora are analysed using the online Corpus Query System, Sketch Engine (Kilgarriff et al. 2004); one corpus is compiled of texts published by the group leaders on their official website and the second of texts written by group members on the organisation’s Facebook page. While the group’s mission statement declares that their aim is to oppose radical Islam, an investigation of the data utilising keyword analysis, concordance and collocational information, and Word Sketches demonstrates that they are a racist organisation opposed to all forms Islam and immigration of Muslims to the United Kingdom. The study of group members’ texts reveals a discrimination against Muslims based on cultural otherness, intolerance and xenophobia. Furthermore, by using corpus linguistic methodologies, it is argued that although the group elite declare that their aim is to create a non-violent message concerning the supposed threat of radical Islam to the native culture, a significant number of group members are inspired to greater levels of racist rhetoric, Islamophobia or to incite acts of hatred and violence, which it is claimed may lead to instances of violence and further divisions and alienation within communities of the United Kingdom or other multicultural societies. By investigating the discourses of racist, populist movements such as the EDL, contemporary racist ideologies, hate speech and forms of mobilization may be more fully understood and countered.

 

Keywords: Right-Wing Populism, Islamophobia, the English Defence League, Hate Speech

 

References

 

Adam Kilgarriff, Pavel Rychly, Pavel Smrz, David Tugwell. 2004. ‘The Sketch Engine.’ Proceedings of Euralex, Lorient, France; pp. 105-116

A Closer Look At “The Bible Of The Racist Right” Using A Corpus Approach

turner diaries

I recently looked again at the Turner Diaries and thought that perhaps I could analyse it using a corpus linguistic approach. The Turner Diaries has been a principle text for the extreme right for some years now, and as there are so many mentions of extremism in the media recently, it does seem appropriate to consider how such a text is constructed.

The above visualisation was made using IBM’s ‘Many Eyes’ software, which can be found at:

 http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/

By a quick glance, it is possible to see the central themes of the text being people, white, black, organization & system. However, I want to look at the text using Wordsmith Tools. Firstly, the word list:

1

As with many word lists organised by frequency, most of the words are function words, although I do find it interesting that we and our are so high on the list. However, if I scroll down the list looking for the most frequent lexical words, then a clearer picture of the contents of the book may be obtained.

The 20 most frequent lexical words are as follows:

system (252), organization (221), people (218), white (165), area (148), police (113), building (112), day (111), black (110), blacks 107), against (104), military (95), work (90), order (88), Washington (84), government (77), members (75), country (73), man (73), public (67).

It does appear that a principle semantic field of the text is related to ethnic groups people / white / black / blacks. Another semantic field appears to be related to the establishment military / Washington / government / public. There are words connected to a group organization / order / members. 

Often a study of keywords can be more significant:

2

The fact that we and our have the highest levels of keyness appears to suggest that a principle discourse within the text is concerned with the construction and maintenance of the in-group.

If I look at the collocates of our and order them by levels of keyness, the following list is produced:

3

The majority of the words appear to be related to a form of struggle.

The collocates could also be organised by frequency, which produces the following:

4

As people collocates frequently with our, a look at concordance lines of this phrase might be insightful.

5

The concordance lines have been randomly select, although they do appear to indicate a semantic field of the victimisation and struggle of the in-group.

Perhaps this is a root of extremism; groups or ideologues within groups create a discourse of victimisation, which in turn leads individuals to believe that they must respond to such perceived injustice.

And finally a visualisation of chapter 1 using Gephi.

gephi

Quite interesting if you use a microscope!

“…in our land our women have to see the same,” extremist rhetoric

The Woolwich attacker stated,” I apologise that women had to witness this today. But in our land, our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.” This was described as characteristic of jihadist discourse in the media.

I wish to demonstrate that such rhetoric is not solely used by jihadist extremists, but is characteristic of texts from other extremist movements.

I will do so by analyzing a corpus of the Turner Diaries.

The Turner Diaries is a novel written in 1978 by William Luther Pierce (a white supremacist leader) which depicts a violent revolution in the United States and a race war leading to the extermination of all “impure” groups such as Jews, gay people, and non-whites. The book has been described as a “bible of the racist right” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The novel has been linked to a number of violent crimes committed by white separatists such as Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing.

By using WordSmith (Version 6) I can calculate the key words in the white supremacist text:

20


As can be seen the word with the 3rd highest level of keyness if OUR, a word which was very prominent in the Woolwich attacker’s utterances.

If I wished to look at the collocates of OUR, I find the following:

21

From this it can be seen that PEOPLE collocates the most frequently with OUR and so a look at the concordance lines of this phrase may be insightful.

24

 

The concordance lines demonstrate a strong construction of us/them groups, which may be seen as characteristic for a racist text. However, there is also a very clear semantic prosody related to the victimization of the in-group, as the following lines demonstrate:

killed one of our people

our people are being killed

picking off our people

When our people first began to disappear

our people have been badly roughed up

four of our people have been killed by snipers

a much greater harm will ultimately befall our people

 

From this brief study of an extremist text, an observation may be made that not only jihadist discourse construct an in-group as being victimized, other radical groups or texts such as the one I have presented here appear to use a similar strategy in order to justify their actions or beliefs.