One thing I’ve learnt in my relatively short time blogging and involvement in social network activism, is that the sources one uses, links to or cites, must be reputable, credible and as clean as a whistle. Any debate or argument can be lost in an instant if, in your haste, you provide a source that can be debunked or discredited. I, myself, have been guilty of this in the past, so I now ensure that I know exactly who and what I use to support my case. Their credentials, qualifications and body of work. Any political, religious or personal bias. Any history of controversy or skeletons in the cupboard. Any criticism, refutations or rebuttals. Using sources without doing your homework can leave you open to embarrassment and humiliation, your honesty, morality or integrity being questioned or forever being associated with unpleasant people with unpleasant views. In the cut-throat world of political activism these lapses will be seized upon and used against you at any and every opportunity.
In my experience there are two groups of people that persistently fall into this trap. There is the group that consider themselves to be serious activists, but due to the absurd or extreme nature of their position can only support their case with sources that range from the unreliable, to the dishonest, through to the most hateful, agenda driven bile imaginable. Then there are the eager but naive novices who in their haste to counter a point, discredit an opponent or rally a cause, will unknowingly endorse a source that exposes them to the consequences highlighted in the first paragraph.
In the context of anti-Islamophobia activism there is an unfortunately fine line between what is considered acceptable and unacceptable by the anti-Islam movement in their own propaganda. For politically strategic reasons, just about any accusation or smear can be levelled at the Muslim community using the time honoured techniques and tropes of demonising and dehumanising the ‘other’. But this can be a minefield for the inexperienced or lazy bigot.
The relatively new right wing bandwagon of Islamophobia has subtle but crucial differences to traditional far-right ideology and discourse. Muslims are accused of condoning and practising sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism as instructed by the Qu’ran and practices of the Prophet Muhammad. The problem for the uneducated Islamophobe, or the younger generation of right wing ‘patriots’ and Nationalists is that their own movement is aligned to, and integrated with many individuals and groups who have traditionally espoused the aforementioned views that they must now appear to find abhorrent.
My attention was caught by a tweet posted on the EDL hashtag by mountforrest, who regularly links to far-right websites, which contained a YouTube video entitled ‘European Race Awakens: A Golden Dawn for Sweden’ (it has now been changed as can be seen below).
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the concept of race or a passing familiarity with the various peoples of the European continent will immediately have spotted exactly what I did. There is no single ‘European race’. They might also have picked up on the unpleasant echoes of racial theory and Nordicism in the term. With my curiosity piqued I decided to give it a viewing.
This is when I noticed the people who had chosen to retweet (Twitter speak for sharing for the uninitiated) the short film.
In the Twittersphere retweets or RT’s can be interpreted in numerous ways. If unaccompanied by any additional text, elaboration or specific denunciations of said RT, it invariably implies an endorsement of the contents. It’s common practice to stipulate in your bio as to whether a retweet is to be considered an endorsement, especially if that person is in a position of responsibility such as politician, journalist or celebrity.
As can be seen from the screenshot, as well as EDL supporter QueenLareefer and prolific internet troll, racist, homophobe, Hitler worshipper and EDL supporter WeAreTheBrits, EDL leader and British Freedom Party deputy leader Tommy Robinson aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon has also retweeted this video.
The contents of this particular video was footage of what appeared to be two or three groups of Swedish nationalists parading with flags, chasing and attacking what seem to be counter demonstrators. It’s unclear whether these opposition groups are Antifascists, immigrant communities or both.
Despite being familiar with the numerous ‘counterjihad’ groups, various Defence Leagues and far right political parties across Europe, I realised that I didn’t recognise any of the flags or symbols being flown. They didn’t belong to the neo-fascist Swedish Democrats party, the Swedish Defence League, SIOE or any other group involved in anti-Muslim activism. I decided to do some digging to see if my instincts concerning the racist undercurrent of the theme were right. It took a while but this is what I found.
The two flags on display here belong to the Swedish Resistance Movement.
The video footage is poorly lit so here’s a photograph from their ‘Stop the Boer Genocide’ march.
The SMR is a militant Neo-Nazi organisation, who’s leader Klas Lund was a member of the White Aryan Resistance and has served time for manslaughter. The aims of Swedish Resistance Movement is to establish a Nordic government by revolution. The organization says their fight will require bloodshed.
Persons linked to the Swedish Resistance Movement have been involved in several acts of violence:
- Armed robbery, Sollentuna 1997
- Theft of weapons from the army in Strängnäs, September 1998
- Assault and battery of persons of African descent, Stockholm April 1999
- Assault and battery of homosexuals during Gay Pride in Stockholm, July 1999
- Assault and battery of ethnic Swedes at Gröna Lund, Stockholm 1999
- The murder of Björn Söderberg, Stockholm 1999
- Manslaughter in Skogås new year -2000, Stockholm 1999
- Three far left activists from the Socialist Justice Party and one conservative youth from the Moderate Youth League were seriously assaulted in Gothenburg 2008
The Swedish Security Service believes the SMR to be the biggest threat to Sweden’s national security.
The flag in the video still above is that of the Party of the Swedes.
They are a nationalist political party which was founded as the Peoples Front by members of the now defunct National Socialist Front.
The party describes its ideology as nationalism based on a biological ground. The political program states that:
1, Sweden should also in the future be Swedish: Only people who belong to the western genetic and cultural heritage, where the ethnic Swedes are included, should be Swedish citizens.
The flag being paraded by the marchers above is that of the aforementioned National Socialist Front.
It became a political party on 20 April 1999, the 110th birthday of Adolf Hitler. Whilst active the NSF demonstrated in Stockholm for the release of Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. The party had as its main goals the abolition of democracy, the repatriation of immigrants, the implementation of scientific racism and cutting taxes for families with many genetically healthy children.
Both groups are major players in Central European far-right extremism.
“A high level of militancy is connected with the activities of autonomous nationalists (Menhorn 2008). The AN are a strategic concept, organization and subculture – all three terms are possible for the designation of this phenomenon.”
“The violent actions of right-wing extremist are traditionally propagated at international level. The cult of the American right-wing terrorist group The Order or the Anti-Antifa concept of German origin are examples. In East Central Europe is right-wing extremist violence very strong (Mudde 2005: 275). Various violent activities from other countries have inspired foreign activists in contemporary East and Central Europe, and even transnational participation in them can be seen. Specific brutal forms of violence, mostly against people from Caucasus and Central Asia and against anti-Fascists, is typical of contemporary Russia, including video shots of executions or activities of racist gangs causing tens of victims. The “Russian Way” is a new popular term in the right-wing scene for the designation of violent struggle with terrorist means. The training by the Russian military veterans of post-Soviet conflicts is also propagated in several East Central European countries (of course not among the nationalists with strong anti-Russian
prejudices, as in Ukraine).”
“A popular concept is also vigilantism by paramilitary groups, which is inspired by the Hungarian guard (MG). The main aim of the MG and similar groups in other countries (National Guard – NG and Protection corps of the Worker´s Party – OS DS) is not the direct use of violence (they are unarmed formations), but the public demonstration of force. The real goal is intimidating ethnic minorities (mostly Roma people), who are connected with crime in public discourse (it is influenced by racist prejudices strongly).“
“A new form of violent activity – mass riot in the problem localities – was presented in the Czech town Litvínov in quarter Janov in Autumn 2008. More than thousand activists (mostly autonomous nationalists and right-wing extremist football hooligans) attacked the police and tried to attack the Roma settlement (Albert 2009). Participants of this riot were not only Czechs, but also Slovaks and Germans. One year later the north Bohemian NS-activists supported the raid of the Slovak community in the Roma settlement in Šarišské Michalany in Slovakia (Nejvyšší správní soud 2010: 6).”
I was now curious to know who was responsible for uploading Nazi propaganda onto YouTube.
Clicking on the appropriately named fasciststateUK’s channel reveals a wallpaper adorned with an immediately recognisable moustachioed man.
A browse through the channel uncovers gems such as these:
As well as fawning tributes to Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler, there is Holocaust denial and revisionism, praise for the BNP and the National Front and videos laughably referring to ‘My Tram Experience’ racist Emma West as the ‘Mother of England’ and ‘England’s Joan of Arc.’ There are also similar videos to the Swedish example posted on twitter charting and celebrating the perceived rise of National Socialism in Greece, Ukraine, Croatia, Romania, Germany, Poland and France.
The channel also hosts seven broadcasts of the a ‘White Network’ radio show hosted by a woman by the name of Carolyn Yeager. The Anti Defamation League gives us the low-down on her.
Carolyn Yeager is a Texas-based neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier who runs her own Web site. The site is filled with racist and anti-Semitic material, as well as essays promoting motherhood and home-schooling.
From April through August 2007, Yeager was the Texas state leader of neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP), a group that descended from the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi group in the country. She also assumed the position of Assistant Editor at the ANSWP’s magazine, National Socialist, in July 2007. In a 2007 profile inNational Socialist, she is quoted as praising Hitler, advocating the supremacy of the Aryan “race,” and claiming that the Jews’ “long-term plan is to drive us off the land and alienate us from our roots so that we will not fight.” In August 2007, Yeager defected from the ANSWP, which has been inactive since its leader Bill White was imprisoned on charges of threatening and intimidating various perceived enemies.
By 2009, Yeager was writing for The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial publication published by long-time anti-Semite Willis Carto. In the May/June 2009 issue of the magazine, Yeager co-authored an article, ”Who Are the Traitors? Frank Talks Inside the Fuehrer’s Headquarters Revealed by Hitler Confidant Hermann Giesler.” She also authored the book “Auschwitz: The Underground Guided Tour; What the Tour Guides Don’t Tell You at Auschwitz-Birkenau, published by The Barnes Review. In the book, Yeager claims that Auschwitz was not an extermination camp and that Nazi guards looked after the health of inmates. Reputable scholars estimate that 1.1 million people, 90% of them Jewish, died at Auschwitz.
To summarise, Tommy Robinson, the leader of the English Defence League and deputy leader of the British Freedom Party, retweeted a video of Swedish Neo-Nazi groups attacking opposition activists. These groups variously promote white nationalism, eugenics, repatriation and violent revolution. Have carried out violent attacks on minority groups, attend paramilitary training camps and openly espouse anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, racist, anti-democratic views. The video itself was uploaded to a channel devoted to the promotion of Nazism, Holocaust revisionism, white power, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and glorifying Hitler.
This wouldn’t be the first time he has used questionable sources either. In an attempt to discredit extremism expert and esteemed academic Matthew Goodwin, he ‘inadvertently’ used an entry from the Metapedia website. Metapedia is pro white supremacist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and glowingly praises Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. In his haste to smear Dr. Goodwin, Mr. Robinson quoted Metapedia live on BBC television and posted a link to them on twitter.
Since opening his twitter account, the EDL leader has committed faux pas after faux pas.
Let’s just remind ourselves that this person is the deputy leader of the British Freedom Party, who claim to be central in orientation and harbour ambitions of electoral success.
All this information compels an anti-bigotry activist to make a decision on what to deduce and how to use it. It would be easy to use this to smear and discredit both the person, the organisation and the political party he represents. If I was a ruthless cynic, I could manipulate the situation to make it appear that the person involved was openly endorsing, encouraging and celebrating the rise of National Socialism in Europe. Indeed, some people reading this may feel the urge to use this blog post for that very purpose.
Should we give Tommy Robinson the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to being impulsive, politically naive and, well, not very bright? Or do we decide not to patronise him? After all, he has been appointed the deputy head of a legitimate political party. A person in such a position would surely be aware of the consequences of disseminating potentially controversial material. They would no doubt have received media coaching or have been briefed on the dangers of bringing the party into disrepute. Should we therefore assume that the BFP are happy for their deputy leader to spread neo-Nazi propaganda? Or would they consider him to be a liability? A tactless bigot ill equipped for the political arena? Has he been careless in navigating the far-right minefield where the divisions are so blurred, or are the true colours of the former BNP member finally being revealed?
Confronted with a similar situation with the roles reversed, how would Tommy Robinson react? Would he behave with integrity and exercise caution, or smell blood and go for the jugular? Given his attempted smearing of Matthew Goodwin on national television to name but one incident, I think it’s obvious what the answer is. The moral dilemma is whether to afford Robinson the same courtesy. Being seen to openly endorse violent neo-Nazi groups could be extremely damaging to a fledgeling political career and the already dubious reputation of the leader of a supposedly peaceful, non-racist protest group. That would be a terrible shame.