Axel “ZexsOG” Torres, a member of the Army National Guard Twitch stream repeated an antisemitic phrase about the Holocaust while streaming on Twitch on August 27. “Yo, six million wasn’t enough,” Torres said. “Thank you so much for the follow, I appreciate you.”
“Six million wasn’t Enough” is a popular phrase among white supremacists and Neo Nazis. It’s a reference to the number of Jewish people who were killed in the Holcaust. It’s not clear Torres was aware he was spouting an antisemitic phrase. On Twitch, it’s typical for a streamer to say the username of a person who follows them or gives them a big enough donation during the stream.
A Twitch viewer with the username “6millionwasnt_nough” clipped the moment and saved it on Twitch under the title “Army Agreed.” During the stream, Torres was watching teammates play _Call of Duty: Warzone_ and interacting with fans. Just before he shared a antisemitic phrase, he shouted out someone else named Hyper Eagle.
“This was an unfortunate situation and goes against the Army values of fostering inclusiveness and diversity. We are working with our volunteers on the [Army National Guard] Twitch Page to educate them on screen names that may have racial or negative sentiment behind them,” Lieutenant colonel Jamie Alan Davis of the Army National Guard told Motherboard in an email.
“The COVID19 pandemic has forced recruiters to find creative ways to connect with their target audience, which isn't always perfect, and new approaches come with new challenges. We have since deleted the clip and we will no longer announce those types of screen names during live streams.”
On his public Facebook page, which went private yesterday afternoon after Motherboard reached out to the National Guard for comment, Torres shared posts that portrayed Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero and said "welfare destroyed black families." In another Facebook post, Torres expressed support for a bill under which "rioters" would lose welfare checks.
Torres did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.
This incident is just the latest in a series that shows the U.S. Military had no idea what it was getting into on Twitch. On Saturday night, a member of the U.S. Navy esports team played a game with “close friends” on an official Navy stream. The Sailors' friends used the usernames “Japan 1945,” “Nagasaki,” and “Gamer Word,” which is a known stand in for the n-word.
After the incident was covered on Motherboard and other publications, the Navy removed the Sailor from the U.S. Navy esports team.
"After the events surrounding the stream of Among Us on Saturday night, where three non-Navy affiliated users decided to use extremely inappropriate in-game usernames, we have paused streaming and are re-evaluating how we vet users who are allowed to play with us on stream in an effort to ensure that this does not happen again,” Command Lara Bollinger of the U.S. Navy Public Affairs Office told Motherboard in an email. “We do not condone those usernames and the Navy Goats and Glory team member’s immediate response that night was neither quick nor correct. His reaction to the situation was unbecoming of a member of our team and he will no longer be streaming with us."
The Navy says it doesn't condone this behavior, but it's increasingly obvious that the Pentagon was not prepared for what it meant to be on Twitch. Streaming live video for hours at a time, without a script, improvising and reacting to an onslaught of feedback, is a hard task for anyone. Judging by the performance we've seen across the military's various Twitch channels so far, it's not clear that the people it's choosing to represent it are ready for the job, which many, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, think shouldn't exist in the first place.
It was insidiously easy to get a member of the Army National Guard to repeat antisemitic speech without realizing it. It was also easy for a Guardsman like Torres—who has posted on his Facebook page about how welfare is destroying black families and shares misinformation about LGBTQ people—to become the face of the military. The fact that it was so easy means the military is not prepared for the extremist ideologies that have infiltrated so much of online life, including the gaming community.