I have always despised white supremacists and now it’s personal.
Their misappropriation of symbols and language has hit me right in the website.
When I started whiteknightnews.com I drew on the subtitle of a book I had written about alternatives to traditional media ownership as ways of sustaining journalism. That book was called Trust Ownership and the Future of News: Media moguls and white knights. I don’t need to tell you about the media moguls, but the white knights were the people who were prepared to ride to the rescue of journalism.
I drew on the Oxford English Dictionary definitions: “A person or thing that comes to the aid of someone” and “a welcome company bidding for a company facing an unwelcome takeover bid”.
It was also tipping my cap at the chivalry of medieval knights whose noble intentions somehow mirror what is required to keep journalism alive today. With hindsight, I should have realised that this was a two-edged sword.
The White Knights are a Texas-based white supremacist prison gang and the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is one of the largest Klan chapters in the United States. A friend pointed out this connection when the website was launched.
“Given how sensitive people are at the moment,” she said, “I am worried you might come in for some flak for the name of your website. Just trying to protect you from easily-offended people with too much time in their hands.”
I was not prepared to change the name of the website because I was affronted by the thought that white supremacists could appropriate a name that had stood for noble intentions. Why, I reasoned, should they be allowed to rob us a symbol that had been part of European literature since the 14th century, a chess piece for even longer, and a character familiar to every child who read Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass?
However, she had a point, so I took the precaution of placing a disclaimer on the website that stated it “emphatically has no connection with any white supremacist organisation and utterly rejects any of the doctrines of hate to which they adhere”.
I admit that the Christchurch mosque attacks, and a heightened appreciation of Islamic sensibilities, gave me pause for thought but I justified the continued use of the name by referring back to its dictionary meaning and the fact that the site was dedicated to constructive discussion about the news media. The website features the white knight from the 12thcentury Lewis chess set but the knight was in chess sets long before the first Crusade. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope it does not cause offence to any of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Now, however, I have to admit defeat. The ignorant, bigoted, waste-of-space white supremacists have won…indirectly.
I found that the website was not appearing in some online searches and a couple of friends overseas told me the site seemed to be blocked. I sought the assistance of my son who is an IT professional and he tactfully suggested the problem could lie in White Knight News.
Search engines and social media have installed filters to block extremist content and, he said, it is quite possible that my website was suffering collateral damage.
There is no point in trying to change the world (or a small but vital part of it) if access is compromised. The White Knight must go.
I cannot, however, bear to part with my little Lewis chessman. The noble warrior (of undisclosed hue) and his trusty steed will still be part of the masthead.