For years, Roy Beck, founder and executive director of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA has sought to spread his extremist immigration reduction agenda, most famously through his dehumanizing “gumballs” video and presentations.
Last week, Beck continued this quest by creating an account on Reddit.com to participate in one of the site’s popular “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) question-and-answer sessions.
I’m answering questions LIVE from 3:30-4:30p ET on Reddit https://t.co/8rSX6F74Yb
— Roy Beck (@RoyBeck_NUSA) March 31, 2016
However, instead of soliciting questions from the majority of Reddit users, Beck had a particular target: supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Beck’s AMA was hosted on one of Reddit’s many “subreddits,” pages dedicated to a particular topic, titled “The_Donald.” The site describes itself as “the largest, best, and closest thing to an official campaign subreddit for Donald Trump 2016.” It was created nine months ago and currently has over 86,000 subscribers.
Beck’s decision to court Trump’s online supporters seems to be at odds with his group’s self-described non-partisan aims. Other subreddits, both partisan and non-partisan, with comparable participation would likely serve as a more suitable outlet.
Instead, Beck chose to court members of a pro-Trump online community that regularly contains bigoted and inflammatory speech.
For example, while Beck began his AMA at “The_Donald” one leading story on the website contained the headline, “HEY! /R/ALL! WHITE LIVES FUCKING MATTER, WHERES OUR SUPPORT! fucking twats.” The comment thread was published approximately four hours before Beck’s AMA and garnered over 480 comments — pushing it to the front page of “The_Donald” where Beck surely saw it before he began answering users’ questions.
In a December 2014 profile, the New York Times described Beck as the “genial force” behind the anti-immigrant movement’s success in blocking meaningful immigration reforms. Beck told the Times that he keeps a photo of civil rights activist Barbara Jordan on NumbersUSA’s website to actively ward off racists from joining his organization.
But while he may not actively invite racists and political extremists to join his organization, Beck has evidenced that he’s willing to come to them. Just as he has previously presented at the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens’ national conference, Beck’s Reddit AMA is evidence that his statements about distancing himself and NumbersUSA from bigotry simply do not hold water.
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