Are insular furry communities and MUCKs at risk of Alt-Right takeover?
In recent years SPR MUCK, a long standing furry fandom MUCK with an international user-base, has quickly seen it's membership decline. In my opinion, this has been caused by a small group of highly vocal users. These users would consistently quote from the playbook of the alt-right, attempt to suppress any discussion of topics such as 'Black Lives Matter' with accusations of being anti-police, and go so far as staging a take over of a location on the MUCK that explicitly allowed political discussion in order to then change the rules and shut political discussion down under claims that it 'only causes drama'. I was very surprised to discover one of these users had been made staff on the MUCK, and wanted to know how this could have happened.
To answer this question, I'd like to present to you an on-the-record conversation I had this weekend with "Snout", the head of policy. This conversation has been edited for terseness. It may serve as an important indicator of the risks of insular fandom attitudes and the peril of existing within a local bubble.
Do you know what happened to Rocky Mountain Fur Meet?
"Nope. Living half a world away from most cons, and not having funds to visit the few local Euro ones, I don't even care to hear con reports. What good are they to me?"
You may have noticed the world has a neo-nazi problem right now. Alt-furs are part of that.
"I haven't heard of anything neo-nazi caused in my little part of the world."
[after Snout was provided with an international press report of the issues]
Do you accept the fact that there have been organised attempts to infiltrate organised fandom by so called 'Alt-Right' neo-nazi and white-supremacist groups such as the AltFurs in furry fandom?
"I accept your statement of it. I haven't seen any facts to support it. [...] I've now been notified by you of the Alt-Furs existence, and if you can point me to more of their 'official agenda', I'd be prepared to deal with it in the future. [...] The Alt-Furs thing is something I haven't been aware of. [...] Besides this [Foxler]'s admittedly provocative arm band, the views of _some_ in the article makes me see them as the old 'burned furs' movement. 'Ban yiff etc!' and all that."
Back when I was [active] here, [a member of staff] was still cutting and pasting talking points from alt-fur groups. Any comment?
"Well, my views and actions are, to the degree I subjectively can, as neutral as possible, and I wouldn't invite any right _or_ leftist extreme person into a spot where they could have real power. Myself, I've excused me from a few wiz matters where I've felt that I was too biased for or against the person(s) being discussed. In short, I try to treat people fairly with the information I have."
Would you agree with the statement made recently by President Trump that 'I think there is blame on both sides between the Alt-Right and the Alt-Left'?
"He's put his foot in mouth so many times before and after becoming President of the USA that I just can't take him seriously. Now, taking this quote out of context and applying it here, as you do now, I can't comment since, again, i don't know the Alt-Right (furry) and Alt-Left (furry) agendas, or what they've said. It's, as mentioned before, something I haven't been made aware of. And unlike Burned Furs, that managed to make noise because the fandom was much smaller back then, this Alt-Right hasn't even become big enough to make fandom noise to the level where I've heard it."
I leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions as to the causes of SPR's decline. However, the MUCK I saw went from being a vibrant community of many voices, to a tiny bubble of 'the right kind of person', very quickly. It can be very easy to allow a loud minority dominate and push out those who might question their behavior, particularly when questioning them gets dismissed as "bringing up politics" and "causing drama".