Reddit users are still calling for the mass murder of leftists, more than a year after Reddit banned a subreddit that promoted the meme.
In August 2017, Reddit banned r/physical_removal, a subreddit that called for leftists to be thrown to their deaths from helicopters. It was an allusion to the mass murders of political dissidents under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The subreddit amounted to incitement to violence, and violated Reddit’s terms of service, the company said. But the murder meme found a new home on r/the_donald, one of the largest subreddits. On Monday, other Redditors posted 30 instances of r/the_donald users calling for the same mass murders Reddit banned more than a year ago.
The calls to murder have proliferated across r/the_donald, which is among the largest subreddits. Posts archived on the subreddit r/AgainstHateSubreddits show r/the_donald users calling for the helicopter murder of Stoneman Douglas High School activists, communists, immigrants, and anti-fascists.
“I advocate for physical removal by helicopter,” one r/the_donald user wrote in response to an article criticizing Democrats. “It'd be wrong of me to kill a man, even if he's communist. That's why I kick the fucker out the door and let what happens happen.”
It was among dozens of similar posts on r/the_donald, despite being more than a year into the ban on the r/physical_removal reddit.
Reddit said the posts violated the site's terms.
"We are clear in our site-wide policies that content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people is not allowed on Reddit," a Reddit spokesperson said. "Users in violation of the site-wide policies in the situation at hand have been actioned, which can include suspensions from the site."
Multiple posts referencing the meme can still be found on r/the_donald.
Redditors’ references to “physical removal” originate from the writings of far-right philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who has called for self-determined societies that can “remove” people they dislike, namely political rivals and members of the LGBT community. His work became a favorite of neo-fascists who extended the concept of “removal” to entire nations and ethnic groups.
This same far-right set also idolizes Pinochet, who led a vicious, U.S.-backed crackdown on leftists in his country in the 1970s and ‘80s. One of his regime’s preferred murder methods was to throw political dissidents from helicopters into the ocean, where their bodies could not be recovered.
Originally popular with a small subset of online fascists, the Pinochet meme metastasized over the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency. Members of the Proud Boys, a violent far-right group, have attended violent rallies in shirts that read “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong,” a reference to a Nazi meme about Hitler, and "Make Communists Afraid of Rotary Aircraft Again.”
Last month, right-wing pundit Erick Erickson tweeted that the U.S. should install more “Pinochet types” in Central America. “I'm hoping for some helicopters in this plan,” he added.
His tweets wouldn’t be out of place on r/the_donald.
In at least one archived instance, a Redditor’s call to murder “leftists” referenced a conspiracy theory that falsely claimed a mass murderer in a Texas church was a communist.
Conspiracy theories, incubated by calls to violence in far-right social media circles, have recently led to murder. In late October, Robert Bowers opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 worshippers. In the lead-up to the massacre, Bowers had been an active user on Gab, an extremist-friendly social network, where he posted neo-Nazi propaganda and conspiracy theories about Jews.