Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

For The Record #1016 Miscellaneous Articles And Updates

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: As indi­cat­ed in the title, this show updates some paths of inquiry and intro­duces oth­ers.

Anton Reinthaller, first leader of the FPO

Dis­cus­sion begins with the ori­gins of the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty (FPO). The par­ty has its gen­e­sis with post World War II Third Reich vet­er­ans. Its first head was SS Gen­er­al Anton Reinthaller: ” . . . .  an hon­orary Brigade­führer (Major Gen­er­al) in the SS.[1] Hav­ing ini­tial­ly joined the SS in Decem­ber 1938 (with the mem­ber­ship num­ber 292,775)[2] he achieved his high­est rank on 30 Jan­u­ary 1941. . . . Reinthaller was brought before the Aus­tri­an Peo­ple’s Court and accused of ‘high trea­son against the Aus­tri­an peo­ple’, with the three [defen­dants] labelled as being those most respon­si­ble for the Anschluss [Nazi Ger­many’s annex­ing of Austria–D.E.] . . . .”

Fur­ther analy­sis of the devel­op­ment of the FPO, notes that the par­ty was found­ed by Third Reich vet­er­ans and Reinthaller’s suc­ces­sor was also an SS offi­cer. ” . . . . The par­ty was found­ed by the orig­i­nal Nazis in the 1950s and led by Nazis until the 1980s. . . . Reinthaller died in 1958 and was suc­ceed­ed as Free­dom Par­ty leader by Friedrich Peter, anoth­er for­mer Nazi Par­ty mem­ber and an offi­cer in the SS. Peter ran the par­ty for­mal­ly until 1978 and then played an infor­mal role well into the 1980s. . . .”

Against the back­ground of the gen­e­sis of the FPO, we note that Her­bert Kickl a for­mer speech writer for Jurg Haider is now the inte­ri­or min­is­ter of Aus­tria.

The FPO’s Her­bert Kickl is described as the “mas­ter­mind” behind the elec­toral suc­cess­es of the FPÖ that allowed it to enter into a coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

In March, a police unit head­ed by a Free­dom Par­ty mem­ber raid­ed the homes of four staffers and an office of the BVT (Bun­de­samt für Ver­fas­sungss­chutz und Ter­ror­is­mus Bekämp­fung, i.e., Fed­er­al Bureau for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion and for Coun­tert­er­ror­ism). The BVT is the bureau that deals with right-wing extrem­ism.

FPO head Jurg Haider

The head of the BVT was fired sev­er­al days after the raids. He had been the object of a vir­u­lent cam­paign by a web­site unzensuriert.at which is known as “the Aus­tri­an Bre­it­bart”. The for­mer edi­tor in chief of unzensuriert.at is now Kickl’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor.

As the arti­cle points out, hav­ing the far right in charge of Austria’s and Italy’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agen­cies doesn’t just put the anti-extrem­ist oper­a­tions of Aus­tria and Italy at risk. Because of data-shar­ing agree­ments across Europe, they’re also learn­ing what oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies of oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries (such as Ger­many) decid­ed to share with Aus­tria and Italy.

Key points of this sto­ry include:

  1. ” . . . . In Italy, far-right politi­cian Mat­teo Salvi­ni now serves as head of Italy’s inte­ri­or min­istry, which han­dles inter­nal secu­ri­ty and ter­ror­ism. . . . ”
  2. ” . . . . In Aus­tria, the spe­cif­ic inci­dent that has crys­tal­lized wider con­cerns in the world of espi­onage and coun­teres­pi­onage as well as coun­tert­er­ror was a series of raids ordered by the far-right inte­ri­or min­is­ter ear­li­er this year on the offices of the pro­fes­sion­al domes­tic intel­li­gence chief, whose orga­ni­za­tion had in the past con­duct­ed and coor­di­nat­ed with Ger­many its sur­veil­lance of right-wing extrem­ists. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . as one long-time secu­ri­ty advis­er to sev­er­al French pres­i­dents told The Dai­ly Beast, ‘The Aus­tri­an oper­a­tion against the intel­li­gence ser­vice by the min­istry of inte­ri­or had an impact on every oth­er intel­li­gence ser­vice in the West.’ . . . .”
  4. [Ger­man politi­cian Andrej] Hunko tells The Dai­ly Beast he is specif­i­cal­ly con­cerned that Kickl and his peo­ple would be able to acquire intel­li­gence about left­ist activists who oppose right-wing extrem­ism: ‘It is unthink­able what would hap­pen if secret infor­ma­tion about anti-fas­cist activ­i­ties falls into the hands of the extreme right via Austria’s con­ser­v­a­tive-far right gov­ern­ment.’ . . .”

Jar­rod Ramos, the alleged shoot­er at the Mary­land news­pa­per The Cap­i­tal Gazette was influ­enced by a theo­crat­ic neo-Con­fed­er­ate ide­ol­o­gy espoused by League of the South.

Specif­i­cal­ly, Ramos is a believ­er in the world­view expressed by League of the South lead­ers Mike Per­out­ka and Michael Hill, for whom a Bib­li­cal fun­da­men­tal­ist inter­pre­ta­tion of the Bible is the only REAL law and indi­vid­u­als are empow­ered enforce their inter­pre­ta­tion of Bib­li­cal law on their own.

Hill has also called for the for­ma­tion of death squads to tar­get jour­nal­ists, elect­ed offi­cials, and oth­er mem­bers of “the elite”. Hill has called for young men of “Chris­ten­dom” to become “cit­i­zen-sol­diers” to destroy the “gal­lop­ing tyran­ny” of our time.

” . . . . The League is a theo­crat­ic, seces­sion­ist orga­ni­za­tion whose leader, Michael Hill, had called for the for­ma­tion of death squads tar­get­ing jour­nal­ists, elect­ed offi­cials and oth­er mem­bers of ‘the elite.’ In his essay ‘A Bazooka in Every Pot,’ Hill described such an assas­si­na­tion cam­paign as part of ‘fourth-gen­er­a­tion war­fare,’ a style of decen­tral­ized con­flict that blurs the lines between war and pol­i­tics, com­bat­ants and civil­ians. . . . .”

Mike Per­out­ka was one of the only politi­cians Ramos tweet­ed about (he was sup­port­ive of Per­out­ka). The oth­er politi­cian was Don­ald Trump.

The author notes a pos­si­ble pair of events that may have cat­alyzed the shoot­ing: Three days before the shoot­ing, Pres­i­dent Trump once again demo­nized mem­ber of the media as “ene­mies of the peo­ple,” at a big out­door ral­ly in Cal­i­for­nia. The next day, Mike Per­out­ka lost his 2018 re-elec­tion bid in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry.

As Ramos’s social media posts reveal, anoth­er influ­ence on Ramos is the “Berserk” bloody ani­me movie. He made numer­ous ref­er­ences to Berserk in his posts, includ­ing the last tweet made min­utes before the shoot­ing. He even described him­self as play­ing a role in the world of “Berserk”, a world that includes vig­i­lante “hands of God”.

In FTR #756, we not­ed the strong over­lap­ping con­nec­tions between Edward Snow­den, Julian Assange, Ron Paul and the League of the South.

Ramos appears to have man­i­fest­ed the “lone wolf/leaderless resis­tance” strat­e­gy. ” . . . . ‘Ramos came to see him­self as some kind of vig­i­lante for right­eous­ness, cast­ing him­self for exam­ple as a ‘cru­sad­er’ . . . . Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates ana­lyst Fred­er­ick Clark­son told Salon. This vision was ‘not unlike the mil­i­taris­tic, mil­len­ni­al vision of Michael Hill,’ he con­tin­ued. . . .”

In FTR #888, we not­ed that Glenn Green­wald ran legal inter­fer­ence for the lead­er­less resis­tance strat­e­gy, free­ing up the likes of Michael Hill from civ­il lia­bil­i­ty for their advo­ca­cy of may­hem. Green­wald is, in effect, an acces­so­ry to the blood­shed alleged­ly real­ized by Ramos and oth­ers like him.

Next, we turn to the sub­ject of Hin­dut­va fas­cism. (For more about this sub­ject, see, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 988 and 989990, 991992, and 1015.

In FTR #1015, we high­light­ed the “cow vig­i­lantes” in India–Hindutva fas­cist gangs per­pe­trat­ing vio­lence on Mus­lims and low­er-caste Hin­dus. What­sApp is fuel­ing the vio­lence.

The may­or of Jaipur, Ashok Laho­ty, shared the rumor about beef being served at the hotel on a BJP What­sApp group.

It appears that the BJP is behind much of the rumor cam­paigns as part of its Hin­du nation­al­ist agen­da. ” . . . . Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has large­ly remained silent about the prob­lem, and ana­lysts say there’s a rea­son for that: Much of the fake news now spread­ing like wild­fire has been pro­mot­ed, if not cre­at­ed, by some of Modi’s most fer­vent sup­port­ers. . . .”

Modi has a well orches­trat­ed machine for dis­sem­i­nat­ing BJP’s fake news: ” . . . . In her book, ‘I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Dig­i­tal Army,’ jour­nal­ist Swati Chaturve­di explains how the par­ty orches­trates online cam­paigns to intim­i­date per­ceived gov­ern­ment crit­ics through a net­work of trolls on Twit­ter and Face­book. And she cites mul­ti­ple peo­ple who worked inside the BJP’s social media machine to make her case. . . . Chaturvedi’s find­ings were backed by anoth­er for­mer BJP cyber-vol­un­teer, Sad­havi Khosla, who left the par­ty in 2015 because of the con­stant bar­rage of misog­y­ny, Islam­o­pho­bia, and hatred she was asked to dis­sem­i­nate online. And Prodyut Bora, one of the mas­ter­minds of the BJP’s ear­ly tech­nol­o­gy and social media strat­e­gy, recent­ly offered a sim­i­lar out­look. He described his cre­ation as ‘Frankenstein’s mon­ster,’ and said that it had mor­phed from its orig­i­nal aim of bet­ter con­nect­ing with the party’s sup­port­ers. ‘I mean, occa­sion­al­ly, it’s just painful to watch what they have done with it,’ he told Huff­Post India last month. . . .”

Turn­ing from the sub­ject of fake news in India to fake news in the U.S., we con­clude with a look at what “deep fake” video tech­nol­o­gy may har­bin­ger.

When the ‘deep­fake’ video tech­nol­o­gy devel­ops to the point of being indis­tin­guish­able from real videos, the far right is going to go into over­drive cre­at­ing videos pur­port­ing to prove vir­tu­al­ly every far right fan­ta­sy you can imag­ine. Among the memes that might be rein­forced by such tech­nol­o­gy is the ‘Piz­za­Gate’ con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry pushed by the right wing in the final weeks of the 2016 alleg­ing that Hillary Clin­ton and num­ber of oth­er promi­nent Democ­rats are part of a Satanist child abuse ring.

Right wing polemi­cist Liz Crokin is repeat­ing her asser­tions that video of Hillary Clin­ton – specif­i­cal­ly, Hillary sex­u­al­ly abus­ing and then eat­ing the face of a child is float­ing around on the Dark Web is def­i­nite­ly real. Crokin is now warn­ing that reports about ‘deep­fake’ tech­nol­o­gy are dis­in­for­ma­tion sto­ries being pre­emp­tive­ly put out by the Deep State to make the pub­lic skep­ti­cal when the videos of Hillary cut­ting the face off of a child come to light.

1a. Dis­cus­sion begins with the ori­gins of the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty (FPO). The par­ty has its gen­e­sis with post World War II Third Reich vet­er­ans. Its first head was SS Gen­er­al Anton Reinthaller: ” . . . .  an hon­orary Brigade­führer (Major Gen­er­al) in the SS.[1] Hav­ing ini­tial­ly joined the SS in Decem­ber 1938 (with the mem­ber­ship num­ber 292,775)[2] he achieved his high­est rank on 30 Jan­u­ary 1941. . . . Reinthaller was brought before the Aus­tri­an Peo­ple’s Court and accused of ‘high trea­son against the Aus­tri­an peo­ple’, with the three [defen­dants] labelled as being those most respon­si­ble for the Anschluss [Nazi Ger­many’s annex­ing of Austria–D.E.] . . . .”

“Anton Reinthaller;” Wikipedia

. . . . Fol­low­ing this he was appoint­ed Under­sec­re­tary of State to the Reich Min­istry of Food and Agri­cul­ture under his old friend Dar­ré, and went on to fill a num­ber of posi­tions for the Nazi gov­ern­ment, includ­ing Gauamt­sleit­er of the Low­er Danube Land­volk, head of the Lan­desernährungsamt Donauland (region­al Food Office) and an hon­orary Brigade­führer (Major Gen­er­al) in the SS.[1] Hav­ing ini­tial­ly joined the SS in Decem­ber 1938 (with the mem­ber­ship num­ber 292,775)[2] he achieved his high­est rank on 30 Jan­u­ary 1941. . . .

. . . . Along with Rudolf Neu­may­er (Finance Min­is­ter) and Gui­do Schmidt (For­eign Min­is­ter under Schuschnigg), Reinthaller was brought before the Aus­tri­an Peo­ple’s Court and accused of “high trea­son against the Aus­tri­an peo­ple”, with the three labelled as being those most respon­si­ble for the Anschluss. Reinthaller was found guilty of less­er charges and sen­tenced to three years impris­on­ment, serv­ing the sen­tence from 1950 when he was released from Amer­i­can cus­tody. . . .

1b. Fur­ther analy­sis of the devel­op­ment of the FPO, notesthat the par­ty was found­ed by Third Reich vet­er­ans and Reinthaller’s suc­ces­sor was also an SS offi­cer. ” . . . . The par­ty was found­ed by the orig­i­nal Nazis in the 1950s and led by Nazis until the 1980s. . . . Reinthaller died in 1958 and was suc­ceed­ed as Free­dom Par­ty leader by Friedrich Peter, anoth­er for­mer Nazi Par­ty mem­ber and an offi­cer in the SS. Peter ran the par­ty for­mal­ly until 1978 and then played an infor­mal role well into the 1980s. . . .”

“The Far Right Is Now In Pow­er in Aus­tria” by Jor­dan Stan­cil; The Nation; 12/29/2017.

. . . . The leader of the Free­dom Par­ty and the new vice chan­cel­lor of Aus­tria, Heinz-Chris­t­ian Stra­che, has been pho­tographed more than once par­tic­i­pat­ing in para­mil­i­tary exer­cis­es with banned Nazi groups. News­pa­pers in Munich and Vien­na pub­lished these pho­tos along with Strache’s case-by-case denials, which usu­al­ly amount­ed to vague expla­na­tions about “paint­ball games” that he had not real­ized were “polit­i­cal.” Also, Stra­che was once arrest­ed by police in Ger­many for march­ing with neo-Nazis there, and he par­tic­i­pat­ed in the shout­ing-down of a per­for­mance of Thomas Bernhard’s famous 1988 play Heroes’ Square, which crit­i­cized Aus­tria for its fail­ure to deal with its Nazi past.

The Free­dom Par­ty has long been at the cen­ter of this fail­ure. Some media in the Unit­ed States, includ­ing The New York Times, have said that the par­ty was found­ed by neo-Nazis. This is inac­cu­rate. The par­ty was found­ed by the orig­i­nal Nazis in the 1950s and led by Nazis until the 1980s. Tech­ni­cal­ly, they were ex-Nazis, but the “ex” applies only because Hitler’s Ger­many, of which Aus­tria was a province, had been defeat­ed.

The first chair­man of the par­ty was Anton Reinthaller. He start­ed as a Nazi activist opposed to Austria’s First Repub­lic after World War I, then became a mem­ber of the Reich­stag after the coun­try joined Nazi Ger­many in 1938. He went on to hold numer­ous high-lev­el posi­tions in Hitler’s gov­ern­ment, includ­ing in the cab­i­net. For this, he served a jail sen­tence under Amer­i­can occu­pa­tion forces. Reinthaller died in 1958 and was suc­ceed­ed as Free­dom Par­ty leader by Friedrich Peter, anoth­er for­mer Nazi Par­ty mem­ber and an offi­cer in the SS. Peter ran the par­ty for­mal­ly until 1978 and then played an infor­mal role well into the 1980s. This is the polit­i­cal lin­eage of Vice Chan­cel­lor Stra­che. . .

1c. Against the back­ground of the gen­e­sis of the FPO, we note that a for­mer speech writer for Jurg Haider is now the inte­ri­or min­is­ter of Aus­tria.

The FPO’s Her­bert Kickl is described as the “mas­ter­mind” behind the elec­toral suc­cess­es of the FPÖ that allowed it to enter into a coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

In March, a police unit head­ed by a Free­dom Par­ty mem­ber raid­ed the homes of four staffers and an office of the BVT (Bun­de­samt für Ver­fas­sungss­chutz und Ter­ror­is­mus Bekämp­fung, i.e., Fed­er­al Bureau for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion and for Coun­tert­er­ror­ism). The BVT is the bureau that deals with right-wing extrem­ism.

The head of the BVT was fired sev­er­al days after the raids. He had been the object of a vir­u­lent cam­paign by a web­site Unzensuriert.at which is known as “the Aus­tri­an Bre­it­bart”. The for­mer edi­tor in chief of unzensuriert.at is now Kickl’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor.

As the arti­cle points out, hav­ing the far right in charge of Austria’s and Italy’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agen­cies doesn’t just put the anti-extrem­ist oper­a­tions of Aus­tria and Italy at risk. Because of data-shar­ing agree­ments across Europe, they’re also learn­ing what oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies of oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries (such as Ger­many) decid­ed to share with Aus­tria and Italy.

Key points of this sto­ry include:

  1. ” . . . . In Italy, far-right politi­cian Mat­teo Salvi­ni now serves as head of Italy’s inte­ri­or min­istry, which han­dles inter­nal secu­ri­ty and ter­ror­ism. . . . ”
  2. ” . . . . In Aus­tria, the spe­cif­ic inci­dent that has crys­tal­lized wider con­cerns in the world of espi­onage and coun­teres­pi­onage as well as coun­tert­er­ror was a series of raids ordered by the far-right inte­ri­or min­is­ter ear­li­er this year on the offices of the pro­fes­sion­al domes­tic intel­li­gence chief, whose orga­ni­za­tion had in the past con­duct­ed and coor­di­nat­ed with Ger­many its sur­veil­lance of right-wing extrem­ists. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . as one long-time secu­ri­ty advis­er to sev­er­al French pres­i­dents told The Dai­ly Beast, ‘The Aus­tri­an oper­a­tion against the intel­li­gence ser­vice by the min­istry of inte­ri­or had an impact on every oth­er intel­li­gence ser­vice in the West.’ . . . .”
  4. [Ger­man politi­cian Andrej] Hunko tells The Dai­ly Beast he is specif­i­cal­ly con­cerned that Kickl and his peo­ple would be able to acquire intel­li­gence about left­ist activists who oppose right-wing extrem­ism: ‘It is unthink­able what would hap­pen if secret infor­ma­tion about anti-fas­cist activ­i­ties falls into the hands of the extreme right via Austria’s con­ser­v­a­tive-far right gov­ern­ment.’ . . .”

“Nazi Sym­pa­thiz­ers Push­ing to Take Over Europe’s Spy Agen­cies” by Christo­pher Dick­ey, Josephine Huetlin, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimi­an; The Dai­ly Beast; 06/26/2018.

A slow-sim­mer­ing scan­dal in Aus­tria has brought into pub­lic view poten­tial­ly dis­as­trous divi­sions among West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies. As far-right politi­cians have joined coali­tion gov­ern­ments in Aus­tria and Italy and tak­en min­is­te­r­i­al posi­tions in charge of secu­ri­ty and law enforce­ment, con­cerns have grown among intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als that they will ignore or even encour­age the threat of vio­lent ultra-right extrem­ists.The extreme right is now in charge of the inte­ri­or min­istries in both Vien­na and Rome, putting con­spic­u­ous pres­sure on the intel­li­gence ser­vices. In Aus­tria, there have even been police raids on the homes and offices of top intel­li­gence ser­vice staffers.

Already, at least some intel­li­gence shar­ing between Ger­many and Aus­tria appears to have been cur­tailed, and the rela­tion­ship between Italy’s extreme-right-wing inte­ri­or min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvi­ni and oth­er major Euro­pean coun­tries is severe­ly, pub­licly strained. French Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron last week likened the rise of such pop­ulists to “lep­rosy all across Europe.” . . . .

. . . . Two years ago, Patrick Cal­var, the then-head of France’s Gen­er­al Direc­torate of Inter­nal Secu­ri­ty (DGSI), warned a com­mis­sion at the Nation­al Assem­bly in Paris that Euro­pean soci­ety was at a tip­ping point after the Jan­u­ary 2015 mas­sacres at the Paris offices of the satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Heb­do and at a kosher super­mar­ket, the Novem­ber 2015 car­nage at Paris cafés and the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall and oth­er inci­dents. And the prob­lem was not just with Mus­lim ter­ror­ists, but with anti-Mus­lim, anti-immi­grant extrem­ists on what he called the “ultra-right.”

Calvar’s closed-door ses­sion with the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee report­ed­ly paint­ed an extreme­ly bleak pic­ture: “We are on the verge of a civ­il war,” he said. His pub­lic tes­ti­mo­ny was hard­ly more opti­mistic. “Europe is in great dan­ger,” Cal­var said. “Extrem­ism is ris­ing all over and we are—we, the inter­nal secu­ri­ty services—are in the process of rede­ploy­ing resources to focus on the ultra-right that is wait­ing for noth­ing but a con­fronta­tion.”

Also in 2016, Ger­man spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen warned that right-wing extrem­ists in Ger­many were now net­work­ing with sim­i­lar groups across Europe.

Just last week­end, 10 peo­ple were arrest­ed in France under sus­pi­cion they were plan­ning attacks on mosques, rad­i­cal mus­lim lead­ers, and women wear­ing veils picked at ran­dom. Their web­site, called “Guerre de France,” or war for France, advo­cates prepa­ra­tion for the war to come, and not only against Mus­lims but against Jews as well.

In Italy, far-right politi­cian Mat­teo Salvi­ni now serves as head of Italy’s inte­ri­or min­istry, which han­dles inter­nal secu­ri­ty and ter­ror­ism. Salvi­ni, who assumed office on June 1, pre­vi­ous­ly has called for “mass cleans­ing, street by street, quar­ter by quar­ter” to get rid of migrants. One of his first acts as inte­ri­or min­is­ter was to announce a cen­sus for the Roma minor­i­ty, declar­ing that Roma with­out Ital­ian cit­i­zen­ship would have to leave the coun­try.

In Aus­tria, the spe­cif­ic inci­dent that has crys­tal­lized wider con­cerns in the world of espi­onage and coun­teres­pi­onage as well as coun­tert­er­ror was a series of raids ordered by the far-right inte­ri­or min­is­ter ear­li­er this year on the offices of the pro­fes­sion­al domes­tic intel­li­gence chief, whose orga­ni­za­tion had in the past con­duct­ed and coor­di­nat­ed with Ger­many its sur­veil­lance of right-wing extrem­ists.

Although there is no offi­cial con­fir­ma­tion, sev­er­al reports indi­cate Ger­many has since quit shar­ing such sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion with Aus­tria. And as one long-time secu­ri­ty advis­er to sev­er­al French pres­i­dents told The Dai­ly Beast, “The Aus­tri­an oper­a­tion against the intel­li­gence ser­vice by the min­istry of inte­ri­or had an impact on every oth­er intel­li­gence ser­vice in the West.” It was seen as, poten­tial­ly, the shape of things to come.

Austria’s far-right Free­dom Par­ty (FPÖ) gained con­trol of the inte­ri­or min­istry in Decem­ber, after the cen­ter-right par­ty agreed to form a rul­ing coali­tion with the once-scorned FPÖ.

Found­ed in 1956, the FPÖ has a strong Nazi pedi­gree. Its first leader was a for­mer SS offi­cer and the par­ty has nev­er real­ly strayed far from its roots.

The annu­al Ulrichs­berg gath­er­ing for the “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” of World War II vet­er­ans in the south­ern Aus­tri­an province of Carinthia was for a long time a nos­tal­gia-fest for for­mer SS offi­cers and oth­er Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors from across Europe. In recent years a new gen­er­a­tion of right-wing extrem­ists have joined in, too.

The gold­en days of Ulrichs­berg fea­tured the charis­mat­ic but self-destruc­tive leader of Austria’s far-right Free­dom Par­ty (FPÖ), Jörg Haider, who gave an infa­mous speech in 1995 prais­ing SS vet­er­ans as “decent men of char­ac­ter” who “stand by their con­vic­tions even in the strongest head­winds.” To say oth­er­wise, accord­ing to Haider, was to be “polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect.” 

Haider was killed in a car crash in 2010, but the gath­er­ing in Ulrichs­berg already had been can­celed the year before because one of the orga­niz­ers was caught trad­ing Nazi mem­o­ra­bil­ia on the inter­net (a swasti­ka and var­i­ous medals, all adver­tised as being “orig­i­nal and in excel­lent con­di­tion”). By 2012 it was start­ing to make a come­back, how­ev­er, and one par­tic­i­pant is among the most noto­ri­ous fig­ures of the Ger­man-speak­ing neo-Nazi scene: Got­tfried Küs­sel was twice impris­oned in Aus­tria for “Nazi revival­ism” and his rotund body, it has to be said, is rather rem­i­nis­cent of the late Her­mann Göring’s.

The first time the FPÖ entered gov­ern­ment, in 2000, it caused a major con­ti­nent-wide cri­sis. The Euro­pean Union levied sanc­tions on Aus­tria. Amid inter­na­tion­al pres­sure, Haider ced­ed the chan­cel­lor­ship to a less con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure. The sanc­tions were lift­ed only after the FPÖ demon­strat­ed that it met cer­tain human rights stan­dards.

But the polit­i­cal winds have changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly since then. The FPÖ joined the rul­ing coali­tion in Decem­ber 2017, after polit­i­cal star Sebas­t­ian Kurz revi­tal­ized Austria’s fail­ing cen­ter-right par­ty by dilut­ing far-right poli­cies to make them more palat­able for the gen­er­al pop­u­lace. When the FPÖ came in sec­ond, a coali­tion with Kurz’s par­ty seemed nat­ur­al. And with far-right pop­ulist par­ties advanc­ing across the con­ti­nent, Europe was in no posi­tion to sanc­tion Aus­tria this time around.

Since Decem­ber, the FPÖ’s Her­bert Kickl has been Austria’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter. Kickl, whose lean, griz­zled face and wire-rim glass­es make him look like a rad­i­cal con­spir­a­tor out of cen­tral cast­ing, used to write speech­es and gags for Haider. The for­mer pres­i­dent of the Vien­nese Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, Ariel Muz­i­cant, said in 2009 that Kickl’s texts remind­ed him of Joseph Goebbels.

In 2016, Kickl appeared at an extreme-right con­gress dubbed “Defend­ers of Europe.” The atten­dees were a mix of pan-Ger­man­ist frat-boy types who work for the Free­dom Par­ty, “new right” blog­gers with uni­ver­si­ty degrees who call them­selves “iden­ti­tar­i­ans,” and edi­tors from var­i­ous Ger­man and Aus­tri­an alter­na­tive news out­lets. One was a pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny from Graz that described Nation­al Social­ism (that is, Nazi ide­ol­o­gy) as “Europe’s attempt to prove itself against inter­na­tion­al super­pow­ers in the east and west.” Kickl gave the keynote speech and told the crowd: “I see the audi­ence that I wish for here, bet­ter than in the par­lia­ment.”

Today, Kickl often is described as the “mas­ter­mind” behind the elec­toral suc­cess­es of the FPÖ that allowed it to enter into a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with the some­what more main­stream Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Prime Min­is­ter Kurz.

As junior coali­tion part­ner, the Free­dom Par­ty now con­trols the defense, inte­ri­or and for­eign min­istries. Kurz has been cred­it­ed by some with best­ing the far right by embrac­ing its agen­da, which is a dubi­ous propo­si­tion when talk­ing about a par­ty that has nev­er real­ly shak­en off its Nazi her­itage. (Hack­ers dis­cov­ered that the party’s chair­man, Johann Gude­nus, who is not in the cur­rent gov­ern­ment, once had the Face­book pass­word “ heil­heil ”). . . .

. . . . In March this year, a police unit head­ed by a Free­dom Par­ty mem­ber raid­ed the homes of four staffers and an office of the domes­tic intel­li­gence agency known as the BVT (Bun­de­samt für Ver­fas­sungss­chutz und Ter­ror­is­mus Bekämp­fung, i.e., Fed­er­al Bureau for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion and for Coun­tert­er­ror­ism). The bureau deals with, among oth­er things, right-wing extrem­ism. . . .

The raids were jus­ti­fied as part of an inves­ti­ga­tion into alleged cor­rup­tion in the BVT. But this “inves­ti­ga­tion” was based on dubi­ous “insid­er info”: doc­u­ments that con­tained embar­rass­ing tales of sex par­ties and cliquish­ness but hard­ly any legal­ly rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion about actu­al oper­a­tions of the BVT. The mate­r­i­al, sup­pos­ed­ly writ­ten by a BVT employ­ee, was first offered around to the press in Vien­na a year ago, but no one was interested—until Kickl took over the inte­ri­or min­istry. Since he took over, he has appeared intent on dis­cred­it­ing the BVT and replac­ing its lead­er­ship with peo­ple loy­al to the FPÖ.

Peter Gridling, known as the stub­born but polit­i­cal­ly col­or­less head of the BVT for the last 10 years, was fired sev­er­al days after the raids. He had been the object of a vir­u­lent cam­paign by the web­site unzensuriert.at (known as “the Aus­tri­an Bre­it­bart”). The for­mer edi­tor in chief of unzensuriert.at is now Kickl’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor.

Gridling, along with intel­li­gence chiefs Cal­var in France and Maasen in Ger­many, warned in 2016 about a “dra­mat­ic rise” in right-wing extrem­ist crime. Sibylle Geissler, who direct­ed the BVT’s oper­a­tion watch­ing right-wing extrem­ism, wrote a report about unzensuriert.at and the 2016 “Defend Europe” con­fer­ence men­tioned ear­li­er.

Geissler report­ed that the Defend Europe con­gress is a “net­work­ing for the extreme right scene” and that unzensuriert.at pub­lish­es con­tent which is “in part extreme­ly xeno­pho­bic” and has “anti-Semit­ic ten­den­cies.” . . . .

. . . . Some of Geissler’s files were tak­en in the police raids launched by Kickl this year. And last month she wrote in an email, which was leaked to the Aus­tri­an week­ly mag­a­zine Fal­ter, that she is now sub­ject to a “witch hunt” by the inte­ri­or min­istry, which pre­vents her from con­tin­u­ing to do her job effec­tive­ly.

The police raids were clum­sy, but Kickl’s inte­ri­or min­istry still appears to have suc­ceed­ed in obstruct­ing the sur­veil­lance of right-wing extrem­ism in Aus­tria.

After the news went pub­lic, the Ger­man intel­li­gence ser­vice (BfV) asked the Aus­tri­an ser­vice if the pros­e­cu­tors had seized any of Germany’s shared intel­li­gence dur­ing the raids. The Ger­man inte­ri­or min­istry told the Ger­man Left Par­ty politi­cian Andrej Hunko that if this is the case, then “there needs to be a new inquiry about how coop­er­a­tion with the BVT can be con­tin­ued in the future.”

Aus­tria and Ger­many also trade intel via inter­na­tion­al forums like the CTG (Counter Ter­ror­ism Group). In a more recent inquiry by Hunko about the CTG, the Ger­man inte­ri­or min­istry con­firmed that a for­eign intel­li­gence agency that pass­es on Ger­man intel to a third par­ty, domes­tic or for­eign, with­out Germany’s per­mis­sion is a like­ly deal break­er, but said that one con­cern about ceas­ing coop­er­a­tion was that the leak or shar­ing with unde­sir­able third par­ties could be made worse.

Hunko tells The Dai­ly Beast he is specif­i­cal­ly con­cerned that Kickl and his peo­ple would be able to acquire intel­li­gence about left­ist activists who oppose right-wing extrem­ism: “It is unthink­able what would hap­pen if secret infor­ma­tion about anti-fas­cist activ­i­ties falls into the hands of the extreme right via Austria’s con­ser­v­a­tive-far right gov­ern­ment.”

He adds: “The same applies for Italy, above all with the neo-fas­cist Salvi­ni. I know that the Ger­man intel­li­gence has writ­ten reports on the sea res­cuers, some of whom are left-wing activists. It is a big prob­lem, if the heirs of fas­cist par­ties and move­ments now con­trol the intel­li­gence ser­vices and can pur­sue these activists with this infor­ma­tion.”

A few days after the BfV’s request in March for more infor­ma­tion about what the police took from the intel­li­gence agency, Chris­t­ian Pil­nacek, the sec­re­tary gen­er­al of the Aus­tri­an Min­istry of Jus­tice, denied that any Ger­man intel was tak­en in the raids. But last week, Pil­nacek admit­ted that offi­cers took a DVD labeled “Pho­tos Ulrichs­berg 2015,” which came orig­i­nal­ly from the BfV. The disc appar­ent­ly shows which peo­ple took part at the 2015 Ulrichs­berg gath­er­ing in Carinthia. Pil­nacek said that, from the DVD’s title, it was not clear that this was Germany’s infor­ma­tion. And he said that the DVD has now been returned to the BVT extrem­ism depart­ment. But of course the police under Kickl may now know details about Ger­man sources and meth­ods they might not have known before.

In the raid, the pros­e­cu­tors also took data from the “Nep­tune” net­work, which the BVT uses to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­er Euro­pean intel­li­gence agen­cies.

In light of the BVT affair, oppo­si­tion par­ties tried unsuc­cess­ful­ly to pass a motion of no con­fi­dence against Kickl. “No sane intel­li­gence ser­vice in the world will con­tin­ue to share infor­ma­tion with us, apart from maybe the weath­er fore­cast,” said Jan Krain­er from the Social Democ­rats.

BVT boss Peter Gridling, now rein­stat­ed, told the Ö1 Mor­gen­jour­nal (the morn­ing news) on Mon­day that “with­out a doubt” coop­er­a­tion with for­eign intel­li­gence has become “dif­fi­cult.” . . . .

Jar­rod Ramos

2.  Jar­rod Ramos, the alleged shoot­er at the Mary­land news­pa­per The Cap­i­tal Gazette was influ­enced by a theo­crat­ic neo-Con­fed­er­ate ide­ol­o­gy espoused by League of the South.

Specif­i­cal­ly, Ramos is a believ­er in the world­view expressed by League of the South lead­ers Mike Per­out­ka and Michael Hill, for whom a Bib­li­cal fun­da­men­tal­ist inter­pre­ta­tion of the Bible is the only REAL law and indi­vid­u­als are empow­ered enforce their inter­pre­ta­tion of Bib­li­cal law on their own.

Hill has also called for the for­ma­tion of death squads to tar­get jour­nal­ists, elect­ed offi­cials, and oth­er mem­bers of “the elite”. Hill has called for young men of “Chris­ten­dom” to become “cit­i­zen-sol­diers” to destroy the “gal­lop­ing tyran­ny” of our time.

” . . . . The League is a theo­crat­ic, seces­sion­ist orga­ni­za­tion whose leader, Michael Hill, had called for the for­ma­tion of death squads tar­get­ing jour­nal­ists, elect­ed offi­cials and oth­er mem­bers of ‘the elite.’ In his essay ‘A Bazooka in Every Pot,’ Hill described such an assas­si­na­tion cam­paign as part of ‘fourth-gen­er­a­tion war­fare,’ a style of decen­tral­ized con­flict that blurs the lines between war and pol­i­tics, com­bat­ants and civil­ians. . . . .”

Mike Per­out­ka was one of the only politi­cians Ramos tweet­ed about (he was sup­port­ive of Per­out­ka). The oth­er politi­cian was Don­ald Trump.

The author notes a pos­si­ble pair of events that may have cat­alyzed the shoot­ing: Three days before the shoot­ing, Pres­i­dent Trump once again demo­nized mem­ber of the media as “ene­mies of the peo­ple,” at a big out­door ral­ly in Cal­i­for­nia. The next day, Mike Per­out­ka lost his 2018 re-elec­tion bid in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry.

As Ramos’s social media posts reveal, anoth­er influ­ence on Ramos is the “Berserk” bloody ani­me movie. He made numer­ous ref­er­ences to Berserk in his posts, includ­ing the last tweet made min­utes before the shoot­ing. He even described him­self as play­ing a role in the world of “Berserk”, a world that includes vig­i­lante “hands of God”.

In FTR #756, we not­ed the strong over­lap­ping con­nec­tions between Edward Snow­den, Julian Assange, Ron Paul and the League of the South.

Ramos appears to have man­i­fest­ed the “lone wolf/leaderless resis­tance” strat­e­gy. ” . . . . ‘Ramos came to see him­self as some kind of vig­i­lante for right­eous­ness, cast­ing him­self for exam­ple as a ‘cru­sad­er’ . . . . Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates ana­lyst Fred­er­ick Clark­son told Salon. This vision was ‘not unlike the mil­i­taris­tic, mil­len­ni­al vision of Michael Hill,’ he con­tin­ued. . . .”

In FTR #888, we not­ed that Glenn Green­wald ran legal inter­fer­ence for the lead­er­less resis­tance strat­e­gy, free­ing up the likes of Michael Hill from civ­il lia­bil­i­ty for their advo­ca­cy of may­hem. Green­wald is, in effect, an acces­so­ry to the blood­shed alleged­ly real­ized by Ramos and oth­ers like him.

“Exclu­sive: Inside Accused Annapo­lis Shooter’s Alt-Right The­ol­o­gy of Mass Mur­der” by Jonathan Hut­son; Salon; 07/22/2018.

When news broke of an active shoot­ing at the Cap­i­tal Gazette, my local news­pa­per in Annapo­lis, Mary­land, I tweet­ed edi­tor Rick Hutzell to ask if he was safe, and how I could help. When police announced the arrest of 38-year-old Jar­rod Ramos as the sus­pect in the mass shoot­ing, I, like many oth­ers, delved into his Twit­ter accounts.I was shocked when I real­ized that Ramos – whom a grand jury just indict­ed on 23 charges, includ­ing five counts of first-degree mur­der – had con­tact­ed me two years ago. He taunt­ed me in response to the Capital’s March 2015 report about how I had helped law enforce­ment thwart a mass shoot­ing threat made on Twit­ter against grade school kids and Jews in Kalispell, Mon­tana, by a man named David J. Lenio.

What I learned about Ramos, as I fol­lowed his Twit­ter trail, reveals as strange a world­view as one could imag­ine inform­ing a mass-mur­der sce­nario. There are at least two main influ­ences evi­dent in Ramos’ tweets. One is a world­view tak­en from the theo­crat­ic wing of the alt-right, and the oth­er comes from a vio­lent ani­me sub­cul­ture cen­tered around a pop­u­lar man­ga, ani­me and film series titled “Berserk.” Tak­en togeth­er, they pro­vide a Roset­ta Stone that allows us to trans­late the sig­nif­i­cance of two reli­gious visions, in rela­tion to each oth­er, as they exist­ed in Ramos’ mind.

I believe these mutu­al­ly inform­ing visions allowed Ramos to cast him­self as a vig­i­lante hand of God. His theo­crat­ic world­view, com­bined with his immer­sion in the world of “Berserk,” helps to solve the mys­tery of his cryp­tic, final tweet and illu­mi­nate his pos­si­ble motive for mass mur­der.

For all of Ramos’ vivid­ly imag­ined right­eous­ness, this sto­ry begins with a woman-hat­ing, angry man. That there is a misog­y­nist root to Ramos’ rage-filled ram­page is no sur­prise. Numer­ous male mass mur­der­ers have back­grounds of stalk­ing and harass­ing women, espe­cial­ly online. Ramos’ beef with the Cap­i­tal goes back to his ill-con­ceived defama­tion suit against the paper, its pub­lish­er and a colum­nist for report­ing on his guilty plea for the online harass­ment of a woman he had known slight­ly in high school. In court doc­u­ments he object­ed to the Capital’s report that, after he had not heard from the woman in months, he told her, “Fu ck you, leave me alone.” Ramos told the judge that he felt it unfair that the reporter had not allowed him to offer an expla­na­tion. He com­plained to the judge, “That car­ries a clear impli­ca­tion that some­thing is wrong inside my head, that I’m insane.”

Whether Ramos is sane is a mat­ter for the court to deter­mine. But there is an expla­na­tion for these hos­tile words – which he cribbed from the pro­tag­o­nist in “Berserk” – and it has to do with Ramos’ world­view, which needs to be more clear­ly under­stood.

The alt-right half of the Roset­ta Stone

I believe Ramos con­tact­ed me ini­tial­ly because the Cap­i­tal had report­ed on my con­nec­tion to David Lenio, a white nation­al­ist who had tweet­ed threats of a pos­si­ble mass shoot­ing, and also because I was research­ing and writ­ing about ties between a local politi­cian named Michael Per­out­ka and a right-wing group called the League of the South.

The League is a theo­crat­ic, seces­sion­ist orga­ni­za­tion whose leader, Michael Hill, had called for the for­ma­tion of death squads tar­get­ing jour­nal­ists, elect­ed offi­cials and oth­er mem­bers of “the elite.” In his essay “A Bazooka in Every Pot,” Hill described such an assas­si­na­tion cam­paign as part of “fourth-gen­er­a­tion war­fare,” a style of decen­tral­ized con­flict that blurs the lines between war and pol­i­tics, com­bat­ants and civil­ians.

Hill wrote: “To over­sim­pli­fy, the pri­ma­ry tar­gets will not be ene­my sol­diers; instead, they will be polit­i­cal lead­ers, mem­bers of the hos­tile media, cul­tur­al icons, bureau­crats, and oth­er of the man­age­r­i­al elite with­out whom the engines of tyran­ny don’t run.”

That was not Hill’s only overt call to vio­lence. He fol­lowed up with anoth­er essay call­ing for young men of “Chris­ten­dom” to become “cit­i­zen-sol­diers” to destroy the “gal­lop­ing tyran­ny” of our time.

As for Per­out­ka, he is a neo-Con­fed­er­ate theo­crat who thinks that the wrong side won the Civ­il War and that our real nation­al anthem is “Dix­ie.” He is also a for­mer board mem­ber of the League, which had endorsed his suc­cess­ful 2014 cam­paign for a seat on Maryland’s Anne Arun­del Coun­ty Coun­cil, run­ning as a Repub­li­can. This is the same League that helped orga­nize the infa­mous torch-lit Unite the Right march in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, last sum­mer.

Over a peri­od of near­ly sev­en years, Per­out­ka is one of only two politi­cians whom Ramos tweet­ed about – the oth­er being Don­ald Trump, who has repeat­ed­ly vil­i­fied jour­nal­ists.

Jar­rod Ramos is not affil­i­at­ed with any polit­i­cal par­ty, and there is no evi­dence that he was polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed or that he act­ed on anyone’s orders. On the oth­er hand, as Salon’s Paul Rosen­berg has report­ed, he was influ­enced by the rhetoric and ide­ol­o­gy of the racist alt-right. And like Hill, Ramos showed bold bel­liger­ence toward man­age­r­i­al elites whom he viewed as ene­mies.

For exam­ple, Ramos wrote in his @EricHartleyFrnd Twit­ter bio (which he named in appar­ent mock­ery of a for­mer Cap­i­tal colum­nist whom Ramos had sued unsuc­cess­ful­ly for defama­tion), “Dear read­er: I cre­at­ed this page to defend myself. Now I’m suing the shit out of half of AA Coun­ty and mak­ing corpses of cor­rupt careers and cor­po­rate enti­ties.”

Jus­tice and pub­lic safe­ty require that we con­sid­er the con­text, includ­ing mul­ti­ple influ­ences and pos­si­ble trig­gers, when a sus­pect faces mass mur­der charges. There­fore, it is fair and nec­es­sary to ask whether Pres­i­dent Trump’s dem­a­goguery against jour­nal­ists could trig­ger some lone nut to mur­der them. . . . Soci­ol­o­gists call such a vio­lent response to cod­ed rhetoric “script­ed vio­lence” – and “heroes know which vil­lains to kill.” Fol­low­ers thus don’t require spe­cif­ic orders, but gath­er a sense of val­i­da­tion and right­eous­ness in car­ry­ing out a vio­lent cam­paign of soci­etal purifi­ca­tion against peo­ple des­ig­nat­ed as cor­rupt­ing influ­ences.

This sus­pect had a sim­mer­ing feud for sev­en years with the Cap­i­tal, its for­mer pub­lish­er and Eric Hart­ley, the for­mer colum­nist whom he had sued unsuc­cess­ful­ly. Ramos cre­at­ed a web­site on which he post­ed doc­u­ments and com­mu­ni­ca­tions about his case, describ­ing him­self as an agent of “the Inqui­si­tion” and “a cru­sad­er” who answered to a “High­er Author­i­ty” than civ­il gov­ern­ment and who met­ed out lit­er­al “car­nage” to his foes.

Ramos wrote of his per­ceived ene­mies: “The author­i­ty that per­mits their pow­er also stands poised to pun­ish its abuse. Even kings must answer to God, and a mod­ern day Inqui­si­tion is at hand. The poten­tial judge­ment is no less severe; the car­nage dif­fers only in lit­er­al terms. As this search for Truth com­mences, a cru­sad­er they could not kill approach­es.”

His cru­sade tar­get­ed court offi­cials as well as jour­nal­ists, whom he con­sid­ered dis­hon­est. For exam­ple, Ramos tweet­ed a quote from Ger­man poet Paul Ger­hardt: “When a man lies, he mur­ders some part of the world.” Ramos con­clud­ed, “Time to slay some mur­der­ous shit­bag esquires.” In anoth­er tweet crit­i­ciz­ing “inequity in the MD jus­tice sys­tem,” he said: “Here’s to High­er Author­i­ty hear­ing and #hurt­ing.”

To Ramos, defama­tion is a vio­la­tion of com­mon law but, more impor­tant, a vio­la­tion of God’s law that is wor­thy of hell­fire.

For exam­ple, he once tweet­ed: “Catholi­cism still says liars go to hell.”

He also tweet­ed, with­out attri­bu­tion or cita­tion, a quote from a 16th-cen­tu­ry church court case: “Again, my unruly tongue, if it were not pun­ished, it would not only set more of you on fire, but it would bold­en oth­ers to do the like.” This quote is from a con­fes­sion to defama­tion in Mit­ford v. Shaw, an eccle­si­as­ti­cal court case from 1569–70. Church courts in Eng­land had juris­dic­tion over cas­es of defama­tion when the plaintiff’s claim was not for mon­ey dam­ages but for the cor­rec­tion of a sin. (Com­mon law courts over­saw claims for mon­ey dam­ages.) Church courts sen­tenced vio­la­tors to do pub­lic penance, on pain of excom­mu­ni­ca­tion.

In the Mit­ford case, when the church court found Charles Shaw guilty of slan­der, he did penance by stand­ing up in church, wear­ing linen appar­el, and read­ing his con­fes­sion­al state­ment, which equates slan­der to mur­der, wor­thy of divine ret­ri­bu­tion.

Shaw stat­ed, “I acknowl­edge thus to slan­der my Chris­t­ian broth­er is an heinous offence, first towards God, who hath straight­ly for­bid­den it in his holy laws, account­ing it to be a kind of mur­der­ing of my neigh­bor, and threat­en­ing to pun­ish it with hell­fire and the loss of the king­dom of heav­en.”

Mod­ern-day theocrats, such as Per­out­ka, would like to see eccle­si­as­ti­cal courts replace the Amer­i­can judi­cial sys­tem. At a 2016 Sum­mer of Jus­tice ral­ly in Wichi­ta, Kansas, which took place the same week as the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Cleve­land, Per­out­ka called on his fel­low Chris­t­ian nation­al­ists to “take domin­ion over these posi­tions of civ­il author­i­ty” in order to “inter­pose” against laws that don’t square with their notion of God’s law.

Per­out­ka claimed that the only valid laws are ones which adhere to this fun­da­men­tal­ist vision of the Con­sti­tu­tion and the Bible. “What if the Con­gress did pass a law allow­ing abor­tion? And then what if a sit­ting pres­i­dent signed it and a sit­ting court val­i­dat­ed it?” he asked. “Would it be the law? No, of course not.” Then he slung on his gui­tar and filmed the crowd for a video for his new song, “Courts can­not make law.”

Near the end of the Sum­mer of Jus­tice, the anti-abor­tion group Oper­a­tion Save Amer­i­ca staged a kan­ga­roo “eccle­si­as­ti­cal court” which declared that Supreme Court rul­ings on abor­tion rights, LGBTQ rights, mar­riage equal­i­ty and the removal of gov­ern­ment-spon­sored prayer in schools were con­trary to God’s law. Eight “judges” took turns read­ing “charges” against the Supreme Court and then declared their deci­sions “null and void.”

The judges includ­ed the Rev. Matt Trewhel­la, leader of the Mil­wau­kee-based Mis­sion­ar­ies to the Pre­born, who had signed a state­ment in 1993 declar­ing that the mur­der of abor­tion providers was “jus­ti­fi­able homi­cide.” Con­vict­ed mur­der­ers Paul Hill and Michael Grif­fin lat­er unsuc­cess­ful­ly used “jus­ti­fi­able homi­cide” defens­es in their tri­als for killing abor­tion providers.

Ramos’ tweets make clear that in his the­o­log­i­cal view, jour­nal­ists who had alleged­ly framed him and court offi­cers who had sup­pos­ed­ly lied about him were as guilty as mur­der­ers and would ulti­mate­ly answer to God. He saw him­self as an agent of divine ret­ri­bu­tion. He was not sub­tle about how he would pun­ish the sin of defama­tion.

He tweet­ed: “Await­ing reprisal, death will be their acqui­si­tion.” This is a mis­quot­ed lyric from a thrash met­al song by Slay­er, “Rain­ing Blood.” The actu­al line is: “Await­ing reprisal, death will be their acquit­tance.” The song ends with a vision of vic­tims’ blood del­ug­ing a revenge-dri­ven killer: “Rain­ing blood from a lac­er­at­ed sky, bleed­ing its hor­ror, cre­at­ing my struc­ture. Now I shall reign in blood!”

“Ramos came to see him­self as some kind of vig­i­lante for right­eous­ness, cast­ing him­self for exam­ple as a ‘cru­sad­er’ and gun­ning down inno­cent peo­ple in a news­room,” Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates ana­lyst Fred­er­ick Clark­son told Salon. This vision was “not unlike the mil­i­taris­tic, mil­len­ni­al vision of Michael Hill,” he con­tin­ued. “Last year [Hill] ral­lied what he calls the South­ern Defense Force, which he envi­sions as not just a mod­ern Con­fed­er­ate army but the ‘Army of the True Liv­ing God.’”

So it makes sense that Ramos, who has metaphor­i­cal­ly casts him­self as a Chris­t­ian holy war­rior, would iden­ti­fy with Per­out­ka, a dyed-in-the-wool theo­crat who has argued that civ­il ser­vants must dis­obey any laws believed to be con­trary to God’s law. Ramos tweet­ed three times in defense of Per­out­ka, once to crow to Rema Rah­man, a jour­nal­ist at the Cap­i­tal, about Peroutka’s 2014 elec­tion to the Anne Arun­del Coun­ty Coun­cil. He tweet­ed: “Per­out­ka won and you lost @remawriter. Get over it. You’re already going to Hell, so why not con­cern your­self with more rel­e­vant mat­ters?”

He tweet­ed again to tell Rah­man to “shut the fu ck up” after she wrote a piece report­ing that ille­gal robo­calls might have helped put Peroutka’s cam­paign over the top. He said: “It’s not your place, so shut the fu ck up @capgaznews. Peroutka’s columns don’t get the pick­led shit sued out of him.”

He also tweet­ed: “Why are they so obsessed about Per­out­ka @capgaznews?” He added the hash­tag #CapDeath­Watch.

Ramos, who nursed griev­ances against per­ceived injus­tices, and who had sued a news­pa­per for defama­tion, also iden­ti­fied with Don­ald Trump. In response to an opin­ion col­umn in the Cap­i­tal that ques­tioned Trump’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the pres­i­den­cy, he tweet­ed a warn­ing: “Refer­ring to @realDonaldTrump as ‘unqual­i­fied’ @capgaznews could end bad­ly (again).” His tweet linked to a Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle about Trump’s law­suit against Uni­vi­sion, claim­ing breach of con­tract and defama­tion.

The next day, Ramos tweet­ed: “Fu ck you, leave me alone,” and linked to a Mary­land appel­late court doc­u­ment uphold­ing the dis­missal of his defama­tion case against the Cap­i­tal. It is rea­son­able to assume that this angry com­ment was direct­ed at the jour­nal­ists and news­pa­per who had best­ed him in court, and per­haps also at attor­neys and judges.

The embit­tered sus­pect with a vendet­ta against a local news­pa­per the jus­tice sys­tem had been sim­mer­ing since 2011. What trig­gered him in 2018? I don’t know. But short­ly before the mas­sacre, two things hap­pened that could have been fac­tors. Three days before the shoot­ing, Don­ald Trump had point­ed out mem­bers of the news media at a big out­door ral­ly in South Car­oli­na, demo­niz­ing them as “ene­mies of the peo­ple.” This is a phrase that dem­a­gogues through­out his­to­ry, from the French Rev­o­lu­tion to Nazi Ger­many and Stal­in­ist Rus­sia, have under­stood and used as an incite­ment to vio­lence. A day lat­er, Per­out­ka was defeat­ed in his 2018 re-elec­tion bid, los­ing to a female can­di­date in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry.

The “Berserk” half of the Roset­ta Stone

The oth­er, seem­ing­ly unre­lat­ed ele­ment of Ramos’ world­view is drawn from the world of ani­me, the source of his final, cryp­tic tweet, approx­i­mate­ly three min­utes before the shoot­ing began. It was a pecu­liar expres­sion he had used before: “Fu ck you, leave me alone.” This world of man­ga and ani­me informed the suspect’s hero-ver­sus-vil­lain world­view and also the way he expressed it through lan­guage and reli­gious sym­bol­ic imagery. While his tweets ref­er­enced main­stream sci-fi touch­stones, such as “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” his pri­ma­ry influ­ence was the uni­verse of “Berserk,” a blood-and-guts man­ga, ani­me and movie series that has also inspired sev­er­al video games.

Ramos tweet­ed numer­ous ref­er­ences to “Berserk” char­ac­ters, para­phrased quotes from them, and used sym­bol­ism drawn from the series. He described him­self as play­ing a role in the world of “Berserk” and hint­ed that an under­stand­ing of its fic­tion­al world was key to under­stand­ing his “psy­che.” Indeed, in a let­ter he wrote stat­ing his inten­tion of “killing every per­son present” in the Cap­i­tal news­room, he quot­ed from “Berserk.” As men­tioned above, he did so again in his final tweet before the shoot­ing began.

Ramos tweet­ed to ask whether Eric Hart­ley, the for­mer Cap­i­tal colum­nist, was “Ordained to Be Mur­dered by the God Hand?” In “Berserk,” the God Hand is a group of the five most pow­er­ful demons. The pho­to on Ramos’ Twit­ter avatar was the face of Hart­ley, with a Berserk sym­bol past­ed over it – a brand that marks vic­tims for demon­ic sac­ri­fice.

He tweet­ed, “Judge Nick doesn’t believe in the God Hand. I play a well-estab­lished part of that sys­tem by tweet­ing of it.” It appears that Ramos iden­ti­fied with the world of “Berserk” and saw him­self as play­ing a part in it.

Ramos also marked for­mer Cap­i­tal Gazette pub­lish­er Thomas Mar­quardt — whom he nick­named “Evil Tom” — with the demon­ic brand, in the ban­ner image for the Twit­ter account @EricHartleyFrnd. To Ramos, the brand sig­ni­fied that it was “Open Sea­son” to hunt and kill. He tweet­ed, “Anoth­er stooge @capgaznews says Evil Tom is going on his own terms? That mark on his head is called Brand of Sac­ri­fice; or now, Open Sea­son.” He also tweet­ed a YouTube link to the song “Mur­der” from the “Berserk” sound­track.

He repeat­ed­ly ref­er­enced a vam­pire char­ac­ter from “Berserk,” Nos­fer­atu Zodd, and tweet­ed an image of Zodd. He tweet­ed: “If you think this man [wants to be] your friend, know this: when his ambi­tion crum­bles, death will come for you — a death you can­not escape.” This is a para­phrased quote from Zodd, who said, “If you con­sid­er this man your true friend, and regard him as a broth­er, then know this. When this man’s ambi­tion crum­bles, it is your des­tiny to face your death. A death you can nev­er escape!”

Ramos also iden­ti­fied with “Berserk” char­ac­ters on sev­er­al oth­er occa­sions. He tweet­ed, “I told you once. I will have my own king­dom. Noth­ing has changed.” This is a close para­phrase of a quote from the char­ac­ter Grif­fith, who said, “I told you once, I will get my own king­dom. Noth­ing has changed.”

He tweet­ed, “I’m Fem­to. I can also do what­ev­er I want. I will have my own king­dom. I will choose the place you die,” adding a link to a trail­er for “Berserk.” Grif­fith dies and is reborn as Fem­to, a mem­ber of the God Hand, who is unde­terred by moral inhi­bi­tions. Fem­to becomes the spear­head of the God Hand’s schemes.

Ramos tweet­ed the ani­me cov­er art from “Berserk – The Gold­en Age Arc Movie Col­lec­tion” on DVD, which fea­tures the pro­tag­o­nist Guts. He twice quot­ed Guts, a swords­man moti­vat­ed by revenge whose left fore­arm is replaced by a pros­thet­ic which can be fit­ted with a can­non. Guts kills many ene­mies, includ­ing his pri­ma­ry antag­o­nist, Bish­op Moz­gus, who is a demon spawn with angel­ic wings. Before deliv­er­ing the coup de grâce, Guts tells Moz­gus, “If you meet your God, say this for me … Leave me the hell alone!”

The lat­ter is one of the most pop­u­lar quotes among “Berserk” fans. How­ev­er, some trans­late the quote, or para­phrase it dif­fer­ent­ly. For exam­ple: “If you meet your God, tell him to leave me the fu ck alone!”

Or, as Ramos tweet­ed, some three min­utes before the shoot­ing: “Fu ck you, leave me alone.” He then added anoth­er of his Twit­ter han­dles, @JudgeMoylanFrnd, which fea­tures the face of Charles Moy­lan, the judge who had dis­missed his defama­tion case, marked with the brand of sac­ri­fice.

Guts’ mes­sage for Moz­gus to take to his god is a famil­iar trope in action movies, the sort of com­ment that a pro­tag­o­nist makes before dis­patch­ing a vil­lain, such as “I’ll see you in Hell,” “See you on the oth­er side,” or “Has­ta la vista, baby.” How­ev­er, this “Leave me alone” mes­sage is not meant for the peo­ple whom the pro­tag­o­nist is about to kill; it is for them to car­ry to their god.

In light of Ramos’ hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly tweet­ed this same lan­guage in anger at both the Cap­i­tal and Mary­land court offi­cials, and that this close­ly tracks what Guts tells his pri­ma­ry antag­o­nist before deliv­er­ing the killing blow, Ramos was mak­ing clear his intent to kill. In the con­text of script­ed vio­lence, as when a politi­cian uses his office to demo­nize jour­nal­ists, indi­vid­u­als who view them­selves as holy war­riors or heroes moti­vat­ed by a sense of griev­ance know which vil­lains to kill.

Ramos, who rep­re­sent­ed him­self in his defama­tion case against the Cap­i­tal, insist­ed that he was sane and that he had not been mere­ly fan­ta­siz­ing online about being a preda­tor. He wrote on his web­site, “I’ve been learn­ing law for a dif­fer­ent kind of game. It’s no pub­lic­i­ty stunt, nor clin­i­cal insan­i­ty, nor preda­to­ry Inter­net fan­ta­sy, but very dan­ger­ous indeed.”

In the same doc­u­ment, he wrote, “Much like a life, what is the price of a name? Are these even two dif­fer­ent ques­tions?” Like the 16th-cen­tu­ry Eng­lish pen­i­tent who con­fessed to defama­tion in Mit­ford v. Shaw, call­ing it a kind of mur­der, Ramos equates the loss of his good name with the loss of a life. This is akin to the rea­son­ing of those who kill abor­tion providers: If, accord­ing to their under­stand­ing of God’s law, abor­tion is mur­der, then those who pro­vide abor­tions are sub­ject to death. Like­wise, if a theo­crat believes defama­tion to be a kind of mur­der, then what is the penal­ty?

After years of build-up, Ramos became a self-right­eous, aveng­ing char­ac­ter he had invent­ed for him­self, and announced his intent to kill, writ­ing to the newspaper’s for­mer attor­ney and to Mary­land court offi­cials that he was on his way to the Cap­i­tal news­room “with the objec­tive of killing every per­son present.” They received the let­ters after the mas­sacre. In a let­ter to Judge Moy­lan, he wrote, “Wel­come, Mr. Moy­lan, to your unex­pect­ed lega­cy: YOU should have died.” He signed off, “Friends for­ev­er, Jar­rod W. Ramos.”

Here again, Ramos is quot­ing from Berserk.

Guts’ adop­tive father Gam­bi­no blames him for the death of his wife. So he tries to kill Guts, while telling him, “You should have died.” In self-defense, Guts kills Gam­bi­no. But he feels guilty and con­flict­ed about this deed. A recur­ring night­mare of an army of skele­tons haunts him, their eye­less orbs glar­ing as they chant over and over, “You should have died.”

This mes­sage is not for the peo­ple whom the pro­tag­o­nist has killed, nor for the peo­ple he would have liked to kill. It is for Guts him­self – a killer who felt jus­ti­fied but also con­flict­ed and guilty even as he killed.

Ramos seems to be sug­gest­ing that, like the “Berserk” pro­tag­o­nist he ref­er­enced in his final tweet, he felt con­flict­ed about killing. It appears that just pri­or to the mass mur­der, Ramos sig­naled his real­iza­tion that, like Guts, he would feel guilty about it. This sug­gests that he knew right from wrong, and there­fore sup­ports the argu­ment that, as Ramos him­self has insist­ed, he was sane. While his final tweet indi­cates a ratio­nale that he must defend him­self from per­ceived oppres­sion and injus­tice (“Leave me alone”), his let­ter to the judge indi­cates that he antic­i­pates feel­ing haunt­ed by the con­scious­ness of guilt (“You should have died”).

Lessons learned

As our fam­i­ly mem­bers, friends and col­leagues die in one mass shoot­ing after anoth­er, we urge our­selves to under­stand what we could do dif­fer­ent­ly as a soci­ety. Why did this sus­pect do what he did? Each time, we come away with at least as many ques­tions as answers. I don’t claim to know the right ques­tions, let alone the answers. We all have a lot of work to do. But I have learned a few things from my research into Jar­rod Ramos’ world. One of them recalls Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “When some­one shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Ramos showed him­self to the world before he act­ed. He col­lect­ed a grab bag of griev­ances out of which he tried to forge a ratio­nale, arguably a the­ol­o­gy, that would give his revenge tale a tran­scen­dent mean­ing: It would be the sto­ry of his life. He revealed him­self often; soci­ety chose not to see or was unable to, or at any rate did not take him seri­ous­ly. He rec­og­nized this fact. After the mass mur­ders, his let­ters remind­ed us all, “I told you so.

Ramos’ world­view is clear­ly derived from mul­ti­ple, eso­teric sources – sources he may not have accessed all by him­self. This does not mean that he did not act alone; it does mean that he did not come to such sources as 16th-cen­tu­ry eccle­si­as­ti­cal court records by him­self. Some­one point­ed him in this direc­tion. Ramos is prob­a­bly not the only one who has been direct­ed to such mate­r­i­al in search of the will of God in the 21st Cen­tu­ry and one’s role in God’s plan.

Ramos called him­self “an arro­gant auto-didact,” with ref­er­ence to how he learned how to rep­re­sent him­self (how­ev­er unsuc­cess­ful­ly) in court. There is a rich his­to­ry on the far right of indi­vid­u­als — includ­ing self-pro­claimed “sov­er­eign cit­i­zens” and theocrats advo­cat­ing High­er Law — who defend them­selves by cob­bling togeth­er sup­posed legal prece­dents, divine author­i­ty and ill-con­ceived jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for ille­gal and some­times vio­lent acts.

There are also Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist think tanks, such as Michael Peroutka’s Insti­tute on the Con­sti­tu­tion, that ped­dle books and cours­es to self-taught advo­cates on how to “defend against those in oppo­si­tion to God’s Word.” How­ev­er out of the main­stream they may be, such peo­ple should be prop­er­ly under­stood and tak­en seri­ous­ly. They say what they mean; they mean what they say. When some­one speaks out about met­ing out car­nage in ser­vice to High­er Author­i­ty, let’s all pay atten­tion.

Ignor­ing an injus­tice col­lec­tor who views him­self as the hand of God doesn’t work. Ignor­ing the women he harass­es doesn’t work. Cod­dling him in the courts despite his overt law-break­ing doesn’t work. Ignor­ing the mul­ti­ple cul­tur­al influ­ences that shape and val­i­date his view­point doesn’t work. . . .

3. In FTR #1015, we high­light­ed the “cow vig­i­lantes” in India–Hindutva fas­cist gangs per­pe­trat­ing vio­lence on Mus­lims and low­er-caste Hin­dus. What­sApp is fuel­ing the vio­lence.

“India’s ‘cow vig­i­lantes’ hotel in the clear”; BBC; 05/10/2017.

A hotel own­er in the Indi­an state of Rajasthan has expressed his frus­tra­tion over the fact that his hotel has been closed for weeks over false accu­sa­tions that it had served beef on the premis­es.

Police on Tues­day said foren­sic tests on meat seized from the Hay­at Rab­bani hotel in March showed it was def­i­nite­ly not beef, but chick­en, the Hin­dus­tan Times report­ed. . . .

“From the very first day, I have been say­ing that it was chick­en but no one from the admin­is­tra­tion lis­tened to me,” hotel own­er Naeem Rab­bani told the paper. “The report con­firms all alle­ga­tions lev­elled on us were false.”

The hotel was closed after a group of “cow vig­i­lantes” protest­ed in front of it for hours in March, chant­i­ng nation­al­ist slo­gans.

The Indi­an Express web­site cit­ed a mem­ber of the group say­ing they had gath­ered there after read­ing about rumours of a beef par­ty at the hotel on What­sApp, alleged­ly sent by Jaipur’s may­or.

Such vig­i­lante groups have been involved with sev­er­al inci­dents of vio­lence in India, par­tic­u­lar­ly after the Hin­du nation­al­ist BJP par­ty came to pow­er in 2014. Last month, police inves­ti­gat­ed the death of a Mus­lim man who was attacked by a vig­i­lante group while trans­port­ing cows in Rajasthan. . . .

4.  As the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, the may­or of Jaipur, Ashok Laho­ty, shared the rumor about beef being served at the hotel on a BJP What­sApp group.

“Beef Rumours: Dadri Avert­ed, Police Watched Mob Beat Us, Say Jaipur Hotel Own­er, Man­ag­er” by Hamza Khan; Indi­an Express; 03/022/2017.

The man­ag­er of a Jaipur hotel that was laid siege to by cow vig­i­lantes over rumours of serv­ing beef on Sun­day night has alleged that after tak­ing him into cus­tody, police brought him back among the pro­test­ers “to calm them down” and he was slapped around and man­han­dled in police pres­ence.The own­er of Hotel Hay­at Rab­bani, Naeem Rab­bani, who held a press con­fer­ence with his staff here on Mon­day, said “a repeat of Dadri had been avert­ed”. Police, which reached the hotel in Sind­hi Camp a few min­utes after the crowd sur­round­ed it, has said that the meat they seized appeared to be “chick­en legs”, and it had been sent for test­ing to the foren­sic lab to pla­cate tem­pers. How­ev­er, hours after the inci­dent, Jaipur May­or Ashok Laho­ty shared a mes­sage on a BJP media cell What­sApp group say­ing the hotel had been sealed for “feed­ing beef to cows”. 

At the press con­fer­ence, Rab­bani said that on Sun­days, they pre­pare spe­cial chick­en for their nine staff mem­bers, and it was this that the crowd had mis­tak­en for beef. He said they nev­er serve beef. . . .

. . . .May­or Laho­ty admit­ted he had sent the What­sApp mes­sage say­ing it was beef. “Hotel Hay­at dwara gau­ma­ta ko beef khi­lane k dus-sahas karne par… hotel ko seize kiya gaya hai (Hotel Hay­at has been seized for dar­ing to feed beef to cows),” the mes­sage said. “I received the mes­sage so I for­ward­ed it,” he told The Indi­an Express. . . .

5. It appears that the BJP is behind much of the rumor cam­paigns as part of its Hin­du nation­al­ist agen­da. ” . . . . Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has large­ly remained silent about the prob­lem, and ana­lysts say there’s a rea­son for that: Much of the fake news now spread­ing like wild­fire has been pro­mot­ed, if not cre­at­ed, by some of Modi’s most fer­vent sup­port­ers. . . .”

Modi has a well orches­trat­ed machine for dis­sem­i­nat­ing BJP’s fake news: ” . . . . In her book, ‘I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Dig­i­tal Army,’ jour­nal­ist Swati Chaturve­di explains how the par­ty orches­trates online cam­paigns to intim­i­date per­ceived gov­ern­ment crit­ics through a net­work of trolls on Twit­ter and Face­book. And she cites mul­ti­ple peo­ple who worked inside the BJP’s social media machine to make her case. . . . Chaturvedi’s find­ings were backed by anoth­er for­mer BJP cyber-vol­un­teer, Sad­havi Khosla, who left the par­ty in 2015 because of the con­stant bar­rage of misog­y­ny, Islam­o­pho­bia, and hatred she was asked to dis­sem­i­nate online. And Prodyut Bora, one of the mas­ter­minds of the BJP’s ear­ly tech­nol­o­gy and social media strat­e­gy, recent­ly offered a sim­i­lar out­look. He described his cre­ation as “Frankenstein’s mon­ster,” and said that it had mor­phed from its orig­i­nal aim of bet­ter con­nect­ing with the party’s sup­port­ers. “I mean, occa­sion­al­ly, it’s just painful to watch what they have done with it,” he told Huff­Post India last month. . . .”

“India’s Fake News Epi­dem­ic Is Killing Peo­ple, and Modi’s Gov­ern­ment Has No Plan to Stop It” by David Gilbert and Zeenat Saberin; Vice News; 07/17/2018

. . . . Mob lynch­ings fueled by fear-mon­ger­ing rumors on What­sApp have surged across the sub­con­ti­nent in recent months, spark­ing hys­te­ria and vio­lence, baf­fling police, and leav­ing a trail of 18 dead since the begin­ning of May, with dozens more seri­ous­ly injured.

Yet Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has large­ly remained silent about the prob­lem, and ana­lysts say there’s a rea­son for that: Much of the fake news now spread­ing like wild­fire has been pro­mot­ed, if not cre­at­ed, by some of Modi’s most fer­vent sup­port­ers.

“While the media in India and else­where have focused on What­sApp deaths, we have to real­ize that this is only a spe­cif­ic way in which fake news is being spread by right-wing Hin­du suprema­cists, many of them close­ly linked to the rul­ing BJP and its par­ent body, the open­ly fas­cist RSS,” Amrit Wil­son, a writer and activist, told VICE News.

What­sApp told VICE News it has offered to meet with the Indi­an gov­ern­ment over the issue, but a source at the com­pa­ny with knowl­edge of its deal­ings said they have yet to receive a response. . . .

. . . . ana­lysts in India say there is rea­son to believe that Modi’s BJP par­ty is behind much of the fear-based fake news being pushed on What­sApp and oth­er social media plat­forms. Modi’s office did not respond to mul­ti­ple requests for com­ment on this sto­ry.

Recent­ly, the main oppo­si­tion par­ty hit out at Modi for “aid­ing and abet­ting” the spate of lynch­ing links to rumors spread via What­sApp.

“When the state gives the ‘License to Kill’ with impuni­ty and abdi­cates its solemn respon­si­bil­i­ty to uphold the ‘Rule of Law,’ result­ing in vig­i­lan­tism, death, and mer­ci­less killings of inno­cent lives, then each one of us should cas­ti­gate it, decry it, and ques­tion it,” Abhishek Singhvi, spokesper­son for the Nation­al Con­gress Par­ty, told reporters.

Facebook’s strug­gles to track and effec­tive­ly curb fake news are ampli­fied on What­sApp, where mes­sages are encrypt­ed so that even What­sApp can’t see their con­tent. While it is one of the app’s biggest sell­ing points, the added lay­er of secu­ri­ty makes it almost impos­si­ble for the com­pa­ny to track and remove fake news. In India, where many users are illit­er­ate and don’t have access to the wider inter­net, this means What­sApp rumors spread like wild­fire. . . .

. . . . the advent of What­sApp, com­bined with increased access to the inter­net, means rumors and fake news in India spread to all parts of the coun­try with a speed nev­er before seen.

Troll armies like those used by Modi’s BJP have tak­en advan­tage of the platform’s closed mes­sag­ing to push divi­sive, eth­ni­cal­ly charged con­tent with the desire to stoke fear and dis­cord.

When the body of 11-year-old Pur­na Biswas was found near his home of Mohan­pur in West Tripu­ra last month, no one knew why he had been killed. Hours lat­er, Ratan Lal Nath, a local BJP politi­cian, appeared at the boy’s home and false­ly claimed that his kid­ney had been cut from his body by organ traf­fick­ers. A day lat­er, the police had arrest­ed the two mur­der­ers who revealed Biswas’ death was relat­ed to a fam­i­ly land dis­pute.

This was hard­ly the first time BJP attempt­ed to use dan­ger­ous social media rumors for its polit­i­cal gain; it has been at the bedrock of the party’s stag­ger­ing suc­cess in recent years.

In her book, “I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Dig­i­tal Army,” jour­nal­ist Swati Chaturve­di explains how the par­ty orches­trates online cam­paigns to intim­i­date per­ceived gov­ern­ment crit­ics through a net­work of trolls on Twit­ter and Face­book. And she cites mul­ti­ple peo­ple who worked inside the BJP’s social media machine to make her case.

They’re not alone. Chaturvedi’s find­ings were backed by anoth­er for­mer BJP cyber-vol­un­teer, Sad­havi Khosla, who left the par­ty in 2015 because of the con­stant bar­rage of misog­y­ny, Islam­o­pho­bia, and hatred she was asked to dis­sem­i­nate online. And Prodyut Bora, one of the mas­ter­minds of the BJP’s ear­ly tech­nol­o­gy and social media strat­e­gy, recent­ly offered a sim­i­lar out­look. He described his cre­ation as “Frankenstein’s mon­ster,” and said that it had mor­phed from its orig­i­nal aim of bet­ter con­nect­ing with the party’s sup­port­ers. “I mean, occa­sion­al­ly, it’s just painful to watch what they have done with it,” he told Huff­Post India last month.

Right-wing pub­li­ca­tion Post­card News — dubbed “a mega fac­to­ry of fake news” — hit the head­lines in March when its founder, Mahesh Vikram Hegde, was arrest­ed for spread­ing false infor­ma­tion about a Jain monk being assault­ed by a Mus­lim youth. The monk was in fact injured in a minor road acci­dent, and police said Hegde was ful­ly aware of this fact when he made his claim.

Despite try­ing to incite reli­gious con­flict between two com­mu­ni­ties — or per­haps because of it — Hedge and Post­card News received robust sup­port from the BJP’s social media net­work. With­in hours, the #ReleaseMa­hesh­Hegde hash­tag was trend­ing on Twit­ter. As of this week, promi­nent BJP politi­cians were still pro­mot­ing sto­ries from Post­card News. . . .

. . . .This net­work is an exam­ple of what Harsh Tane­ja, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois Urbana-Cham­paign, describes as the “hier­ar­chi­cal tree-like struc­ture” of the BJP’s social media machine.

The high­ly struc­tured nature of the net­work allows nation­al mes­sages to flow down to every dis­trict in the coun­try, and con­verse­ly for a local vol­un­teer to flag some­thing up to the nation­al con­ver­sa­tion, Tane­ja explained.

“It is very well-struc­tured, it is well-fund­ed, and they have a lot of vol­un­teers,” Rohit Chopra, a media stud­ies pro­fes­sor at San­ta Clara Uni­ver­si­ty, told VICE News of the BJP social media machine. “There are peo­ple who see them­selves as ded­i­cat­ed war­riors.”

While the rumors on What­sApp warn of child abduc­tors and cow killers, the mes­sages often also come tinged with anti-Mus­lim or anti-Chris­t­ian sen­ti­ment, and fit into the wider pol­i­cy of Hin­du nation­al­ism that Modi’s gov­ern­ment has been accused of pro­mot­ing above all.

“While there is no evi­dence of it being orga­nized, there are all the symp­toms of it being orga­nized,” said Pratik Sin­ha, who runs the fact-check­ing web­site AltNews.com. He cit­ed the fact that every time an elec­tion approach­es, the lev­el of fake news he has to deal with increas­es.

Gov­ern­ment silence

For all the deaths, the gov­ern­ment has said very lit­tle. . . .

6. When the ‘deep­fake’ video tech­nol­o­gy devel­ops to the point of being indis­tin­guish­able from real videos, the far right is going to go into over­drive cre­at­ing videos pur­port­ing to prove vir­tu­al­ly every far right fan­ta­sy you can imag­ine. Among the memes that might be rein­forced by such tech­nol­o­gy is the ‘Piz­za­Gate’ con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry pushed by the right wing in the final weeks of the 2016 alleg­ing that Hillary Clin­ton and num­ber of oth­er promi­nent Democ­rats are part of a Satanist child abuse ring.

Right wing polemi­cist Liz Crokin is repeat­ing her asser­tions that video of Hillary Clin­ton – specif­i­cal­ly, Hillary sex­u­al­ly abus­ing and then eat­ing the face of a child is float­ing around on the Dark Web is def­i­nite­ly real. Crokin is now warn­ing that reports about ‘deep­fake’ tech­nol­o­gy are just dis­in­for­ma­tion sto­ries being pre­emp­tive­ly put out by the Deep State to make the pub­lic skep­ti­cal when the videos of Hillary cut­ting the face off of a child come to light:

“Liz Crokin: Trump Con­firmed The Exis­tence Of A Video Show­ing Hilary Clin­ton Tor­tur­ing A Child” by Kyle Manty­la; Right Wing Watch; 07/12/2018

Right-wing “jour­nal­ist” Liz Crokin appeared on Sheila Zilinsky’s pod­cast ear­li­er this week, where the two unhinged con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists dis­cussed Crokin’s asser­tion that a video exists show­ing Hillary Clin­ton sex­u­al­ly abus­ing and tor­tur­ing a child.“I under­stand that there is a video cir­cu­lat­ing on the dark web of [Clin­ton] eat­ing the face of a child,” Zilin­sky said. “Does this video exist?”

“Yes,” respond­ed Crokin. “There are videos that prove that Hillary Clin­ton is involved in child sex traf­fick­ing and pedophil­ia. I have sources that have told me that; I trust these sources, so there is evi­dence that exists that proves that she is involved in this stuff … I believe with all my heart that this is true.”

After claim­ing that “the deep state” tar­get­ed for­mer White House nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn for destruc­tion because he and his son “were expos­ing Piz­za­gate,” Crokin insist­ed that media reports warn­ing about the abil­i­ty to use mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate fake videos that make it appear as if famous peo­ple are say­ing or doing things are secret­ly a part of an effort to pre­pare the pub­lic to dis­miss the Clin­ton video when it is final­ly released.

“Based off of what lies they report, I can tell what they’re afraid of, I can tell what’s real­ly going on behind the scenes,” she said. “So the fact that they are say­ing, ‘Oh, if a tape comes out involv­ing Hillary or Oba­ma doing like a sex act or x, y, z, it’s fake news,’ that tells me that there are tapes that incrim­i­nate Oba­ma and Hillary.”

As fur­ther proof that such tapes exist, Crokin repeat­ed her claim that Pres­i­dent Trump’s tweet of a link to a fringe right-wing con­spir­a­cy web­site that fea­tured a video of her dis­cussing this sup­posed Clin­ton tape was con­fir­ma­tion of the verac­i­ty of her claims.

“When Pres­i­dent Trump retweet­ed MAGA Pill, MAGA Pill’s tweet was my video talk­ing about Hillary Clinton’s sex tape,” she insist­ed. “I know Pres­i­dent Trump, I’ve met him, I’ve stud­ied him, I’ve report­ed on him … I’ve known him and of him and report­ed on him for a very long time. I under­stand how his brain works, I under­stand how he thinks, I under­stand ‘The Art of War,’ his favorite book, I under­stand this man. And I know that Pres­i­dent Trump—there’s no way that he didn’t know when he retweet­ed MAGA Pill that my video talk­ing about Hillary Clinton’s sex tape was MAGA Pill’s pinned tweet. There is no way that Pres­i­dent Trump didn’t know that.” . . . .

 

Discussion

3 comments for “For The Record #1016 Miscellaneous Articles And Updates”

  1. This next arti­cle shows how the Ger­man AfD par­ty which is a thin­ly dis­guised Nazi par­ty is start­ing an off­shoot par­ty, Auf­bruch der deutschen Patri­oten” AdDp (Awak­en­ing of Ger­man Patri­ots) lead by André Poggen­burg’.

    The AdDp par­ty It is intend­ed to be com­posed of fur­ther right wing racists and extrem­ists. Pgggen­burg who has been crit­i­cized for using of Nazi-era vocab­u­lary, will bring at least two AfD allies, Egbert Ermer and Ben­jamin Przy­byl­la, into his fledg­ling par­ty.

    André Poggen­burg asserts that the plan is “to stay with the suc­cess­ful [polit­i­cal] posi­tion­ing of the AfD of around two years ago and not go along with the notice­able shift to the left”. One might safe­ly con­clude that the intent is for the par­ties to dis­crete­ly work togeth­er. This way AfD would be able to deflect any asser­tions of extrem­isim because the extrem­ists mem­bers would either trans­fer or join their broth­er par­ty, the AdDp. This would enable the AfD to gain polit­i­cal pow­er by appear­ing to be more main­stream.

    If there is any doubt about what the AdDp stands for, con­sid­er that their logol will be a corn­flower against the back­ground of a Ger­man flag. That flower was used as a secret sym­bol by the then-banned Nation­al Social­ists in 1930s Aus­tria until the Anschluss in 1938. Hitler was orig­in­i­nal­ly born and raised in Aus­tria.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/11/new-far-right-german-party-adopts-former-secret-nazi-symbol?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

    New far-right Ger­man par­ty adopts for­mer secret Nazi sym­bol

    AfD politi­cian quits to set up par­ty that uses sym­bol of 1930s Aus­tri­an Nazis in logo

    Josie Le Blond in Berlin
    Fri 11 Jan 2019 08.05 EST,
    The Guardian

    A Ger­man politi­cian has left the far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many to set up a new par­ty with a logo that uses a sym­bol adopt­ed as a secret sign by Aus­tri­an Nazis in the 1930s.

    André Poggen­burg resigned from his post as the AfD’s region­al leader in east­ern Sax­ony-Anhalt state last year after labelling Turks as “camel dri­vers” and immi­grants with dual nation­al­i­ty a “home­less mob we no longer want”. He announced his res­ig­na­tion from the par­ty in an email sent to the lead­er­ship ear­li­er this week.

    In the email he crit­i­cised the AfD for wor­ry­ing too much about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of being put under sur­veil­lance by Ger­man intel­li­gence. Sep­a­rate­ly he told Welt news­pa­per that he was opposed to a “shift to the left” in the AfD, which has spent the last months rid­ding itself of extreme ele­ments in an attempt to appear more mod­er­ate.

    “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the devel­op­ments inside the AfD in the last weeks and months has shown that it isn’t real­ly my polit­i­cal home any longer,” Poggen­burg wrote in the email.
    His new par­ty Auf­bruch der deutschen Patri­oten (Awak­en­ing of Ger­man Patri­ots) will use a corn­flower against the back­ground of a Ger­man flag. The small blue flower was used as a secret sym­bol by the then-banned Nation­al Social­ists in 1930s Aus­tria before the Anschluss of 1938 brought the Nazis to pow­er in the coun­try.

    Poggen­burg, who has repeat­ed­ly come under fire for his use of Nazi-era vocab­u­lary, will bring at least two AfD allies, Egbert Ermer and Ben­jamin Przy­byl­la, into his fledg­ling par­ty.

    The par­ty is said to be plan­ning an elec­toral debut at region­al elec­tions in the east­ern states of Sax­ony, Thuringia and Bran­den­burg this autumn.

    Poggen­burg told Welt that he does not want the par­ty to com­pete with the AfD, and that he pro­pos­es “to stay with the suc­cess­ful [polit­i­cal] posi­tion­ing of the AfD of around two years ago and not go along with the notice­able shift to the left”.

    The devel­op­ment will over­shad­ow the AfD’s annu­al con­fer­ence in the Sax­on town of Riesa, which opened on Fri­day. Del­e­gates will finalise the party’s pro­gramme for upcom­ing Euro­pean elec­tions and are expect­ed to reject a pro­pos­al sup­port­ing “Deux­it” – Ger­many exit­ing the EU.
    Fur­ther dis­trac­tion came after police released footage of Monday’s vio­lent attack on AfD politi­cian Frank Mag­nitz. The 66-sec­ond CCTV clip appears to show a man strik­ing Mag­nitz in the head from behind with his bare hand. Mag­nitz falls to the floor and the man flees, fol­lowed by two accom­plices.

    Police had ear­li­er said the footage cast doubt on the AfD’s account, in which the par­ty claimed unknown assailants knocked Mag­nitz to the ground with a wood­en instru­ment before beat­ing him around the head. Mag­nitz, who heads the AfD’s chap­ter in the city state of Bre­men, spent three days in hos­pi­tal after the attack.

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 12, 2019, 6:12 am
  2. @MARY BENTON

    https://imgur.com/a/YTLEj4q

    pic is an arti­cle from one of our biggest news­pa­pers, and it prac­ti­cal­ly nor­malis­es fas­cism. Höcke is part of the volkisch wing of the AfD, even the lead­ing AfD mem­bers have tried to expell him, because that guy is a text­book fas­cist with lit­er­al Nut­Sac talk­ing points. The arti­cle por­trays his “wor­ries” about the polit­i­cal dis­course become more “rough”, heads the arti­cle with a pic­ture of him being in a thinker pose, and guess what the fun­ni­est thing is? The arti­cle does­n’t men­tion ONCE his polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion, he is por­trayed as your aver­age politi­cian stat­ing his opin­ion.

    Posted by Neo | January 13, 2019, 5:59 pm
  3. We’re learn­ing about about the inter­na­tion­al net­work of fas­cists Bren­ton Tar­rant was in con­tact with before the Christchurch, New Zealand ter­ror attack. It appears that Tar­rant was quite fond of the Aus­tri­an neo-Nazi group “Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty” and even made a $1,700 dona­tion to the group about a year ago. Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty is one of those neo-Nazi out­fits that has attempt­ed to shed the street thug image of past Nazi move­ments and avoids sym­bols like swastikas. The leader of the group, Mar­tin Sell­ner, was active in the Aus­tri­an neo-Nazi scene as a teenag­er and was men­tored by one of Aus­tri­a’s most promi­nant neo-Nazis, Got­tfried Kus­sel. But now Sell­ner claims he’s no longer a neo-Nazi even though Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty is ded­i­cat­ing to pro­mot­ing a neo-Nazi agen­da of remov­ing all non-whites from Europe.

    Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty also por­trays itself as being under attack by under attack by immi­grants, peo­ple of col­or, Mus­lims, and Jews and pro­motes a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry fix­at­ed on “replace­ment” and the idea that these groups are try­ing to replace white peo­ple. The group hosts a webs page ded­i­cat­ed to “replace­ment” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry and the title of that page was also the title of Tar­ran­t’s man­i­festo which was almost entire­ly focused on this idi­ot­ic idea that white peo­ple were on the verge of being replaced.

    In 2017, Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty actu­al­ly obtained a boat that was ded­i­cat­ed to harass­ing refugees try­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean to reach Europe. Iron­i­cal­ly, the boat got strand­ed off the coast of Libya and was helped by one of the refugee res­cue ships.

    Gen­er­a­tion in Iden­ti­ty also has ties to the fig­ures behind the “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi march in Char­lottesville: In May 2017, two Marines unfurled a ban­ner with a Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty logo at a neo-Con­fed­er­ate ral­ly. One of them, Sgt. Michael Ches­ny, orga­nize the “Unite the Right” ral­ly months lat­er.

    So Tar­rant appears to have got­ten his ideas from one of the many neo-Nazi groups that tries to con­vince every­one it’s not a neo-Nazi group while pro­mot­ing a neo-Nazi world­view. Which is com­plete­ly in keep­ing with the exist­ing strat­e­gy of pro­mot­ing mass acts of vio­lence while main­tain­ing a degree of plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty. As the arti­cle puts it, “So bur­geon­ing mur­der­ers like Tar­rant under­stand what these groups mean when they smear Mus­lims as “invaders” set on “replac­ing” the white man. They aren’t explic­it­ly call­ing for mur­der; they’re mak­ing a case for it and wait­ing for a future mur­der­er to act.:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Alleged New Zealand Ter­ror­ist Donat­ed to ‘Iden­ti­tar­i­ans,’ a 21st Cen­tu­ry Fas­cist Move­ment

    They eschew swastikas and embrace gauzy names like ‘Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty,’ but they share vio­lent, racist beliefs with Nazis and the man accused of gun­ning down 50 Mus­lims.

    Kel­ly Weill
    03.27.19 3:17 PM ET

    The man accused of mur­der­ing 50 Mus­lims in a Christchurch, New Zealand this month pre­vi­ous­ly donat­ed near­ly $1,700 to a white suprema­cist group in Aus­tria, offi­cials there say.

    Approx­i­mate­ly a year before the New Zealand ter­ror­ist attack, alleged per­pe­tra­tor Bran­ton Tar­rant sent a large dona­tion to the Aus­tri­an Iden­ti­tar­i­an Move­ment, Aus­tri­an Chan­cel­lor Sebas­t­ian Kurz said Wednes­day. That group’s leader, Mar­tin Sell­ner, is the face of an inter­na­tion­al neo-fas­cist move­ment that claims not to be racist, while active­ly push­ing racist poli­cies and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Some of those con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries appeared ver­ba­tim in a man­i­festo Tar­rant released short­ly before the mass shoot­ing.

    Like many racists after oth­er racists’ mas­sacres, Sell­ner has tried dis­tanc­ing him­self from Tar­rant. But a bright line con­nects the fas­cist movement’s lead­ers, and the mur­der­ers who keep putting the movement’s ideas into prac­tice.

    “I’m not a mem­ber of a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion,” Sell­ner said in a YouTube video after Tarrant’s dona­tion came to light. “I have noth­ing to do with this man, oth­er than that I pas­sive­ly received a dona­tion from him.”

    Sell­ner and his ilk have tried to turn pas­siv­i­ty into a talk­ing point. This is the set who claim to be non-racist and non-vio­lent, and pass them­selves off as skin­ny jean-clad “hip­sters” in soft-hit­ting news pro­files. Sell­ner and one of his groups, Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty, eschew swastikas for new sym­bols that give them plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty when pressed on their far-right ties. Like Iden­ti­ty Evropa in the U.S. (recent­ly rebrand­ed as the Amer­i­can Iden­ti­ty Move­ment), Sellner’s so-called “iden­ti­tar­i­an” move­ment claims it sup­ports white “iden­ti­ty” by pro­mot­ing all- or major­i­ty-white nations.

    This fas­cist move­ment false­ly char­ac­ter­izes itself as under attack by immi­grants, peo­ple of col­or, Mus­lims, and Jews. Sell­ner and his move­ment spread con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about these racial and reli­gious groups “replac­ing” white peo­ple. Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty hosts a web page explain­ing the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry. That page’s title was the also title of the man­i­festo Tar­rant released before open­ing fire on Mus­lims, killing chil­dren as young as three.

    Joan Dono­van, direc­tor of Har­vard University’s Tech­nol­o­gy and Social Change Research Project, says the con­spir­a­cy is a new guise for old, racist rhetoric.

    “It’s racism and reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion cloaked as a polit­i­cal debate about immi­gra­tion,” Dono­van told The Dai­ly Beast. “On the one hand, GI [Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty] will talk about ‘replace­ment’ as a prob­lem relat­ed to polit­i­cal par­ties sup­port­ing immi­gra­tion gain­ing polit­i­cal pow­er. On the oth­er hand, they will explic­it­ly state that Mus­lims are ‘replac­ing’ white pop­u­la­tions and cul­ture. This con­fla­tion about the ‘right kind’ of immi­grant is part of their inter­na­tion­al cam­paigns to pro­mote white nation­al­ism across west­ern coun­tries.”

    The talk­ing points are a care­ful­ly tooled call for geno­cide; inevitably, some peo­ple like Tar­rant will act on them.

    As a teenag­er, Sell­ner was part of “the neo-Nazi scene” and took a well-known neo-Nazi as his men­tor, the BBC report­ed last year. Sell­ner does not deny the Nazi ties, but says he’s moved on to new right-wing move­ments.

    In actu­al­i­ty, his far-right Euro­pean scene would make fas­cists of old proud. Sell­ner spent years helm­ing Austria’s wing of the group Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty. Although he cur­rent­ly bills him­self as the head of the Aus­tri­an Iden­ti­tar­i­an Move­ment, the Wash­ing­ton Post char­ac­ter­izes the two groups as the same, and Sell­ner uses the “GI” ini­tials in some inter­net han­dles.

    Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty push­es an eth­nic cleans­ing pro­gram in Europe, by which non-white peo­ple would be deport­ed to the coun­tries where they or their ances­tors were born, Al Jazeera report­ed.

    In 2017, the group announced a plan to rent boats that would harass migrants and their allies on the seas. Refugees flee­ing dan­ger­ous locales often cross the Mediter­ranean Sea on dan­ger­ous inflat­able boats, and are some­times res­cued by aid orga­ni­za­tions. “We want to get a crew, equip a boat and set sails to the Mediter­ranean to chase down these ene­mies of Europe,” the group announced in a fundrais­ing plan that drew mon­ey from a neo-Nazi web­site and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

    The group’s ship even­tu­al­ly became strand­ed off the coast of Libya, only to be saved by one of the refugee res­cue ships they set out to antag­o­nize.

    Sell­ner was banned from enter­ing the U.K. with Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an racists last year, after the country’s home office accused them of trav­el­ing there “to insight [sic] ten­sions between local com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed King­dom.” (Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son sprang to Sellner’s defense on TV.)

    In May, Sell­ner and more than a dozen oth­er Iden­ti­tar­i­an Move­ment mem­bers were indict­ed by Aus­tri­an author­i­ties, and accused of incite­ment to hatred, form­ing a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, prop­er­ty dam­age and harass­ment. Sell­ner was lat­er acquit­ted. Sev­er­al months lat­er, Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty mem­bers were revealed to have links to explic­it neo-Nazis. The news led at least one promi­nent U.K. leader, but not Sell­ner, to dis­avow Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty.

    In the after­math of the Christchurch shoot­ing, Sell­ner was mak­ing new YouTube videos pro­mot­ing the racist con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that Tar­rant cit­ed in his man­i­festo. Sell­ner, who speaks Ger­man as his first lan­guage, released at least one of those videos on his Eng­lish-chan­nel.

    Europe’s iden­ti­tar­i­an move­ment hopes to be more than pub­lic­i­ty-friend­ly: it wants to be inter­na­tion­al.

    Those inter­na­tion­al ties have reached U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers. In May 2017, two Marines were arrest­ed after they unfurled a ban­ner with a Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty logo from a rooftop at a neo-Con­fed­er­ate ral­ly. Both men were allowed to return to duty. One, Sgt. Michael Ches­ny, went on to orga­nize the “Unite the Right” ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia months lat­er. In group chats before the ral­ly, Ches­ny dis­cussed hit­ting anti-racist pro­test­ers with cars or com­bine har­vesters. The August 2017 ral­ly turned dead­ly when a neo-Nazi delib­er­ate­ly drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist pro­test­ers.

    Oth­er Unite the Right orga­niz­ers includ­ed lead­ers of Iden­ti­ty Evropa, which mod­els itself after Europe’s iden­ti­tar­i­ans. Like their transat­lantic fel­lows, Iden­ti­ty Evropa push­es an inher­ent­ly racist agen­da behind a thin veneer of clean-cut respectabil­i­ty. The U.S. group might favor white polo shirts to white robes, but the dif­fer­ence between them and the Klan is scarce­ly more than a wardrobe change.

    So bur­geon­ing mur­der­ers like Tar­rant under­stand what these groups mean when they smear Mus­lims as “invaders” set on “replac­ing” the white man. They aren’t explic­it­ly call­ing for mur­der; they’re mak­ing a case for it and wait­ing for a future mur­der­er to act.

    Tar­rant was appar­ent­ly such a fan of Sell­ner and his move­ment that he made an unusu­al­ly large dona­tion to them at the begin­ning of 2018.

    At the time of the dona­tion, Aus­tri­an author­i­ties were mon­i­tor­ing Sellner’s finances as part of an anti-ter­ror probe, they said.

    “Most dona­tions were in the area of two to three fig­ures, where­as this dona­tion was in the low four-fig­ure area,” one offi­cial said of Tarrant’s near­ly $1,700 dona­tion.

    ...

    ———–

    “Alleged New Zealand Ter­ror­ist Donat­ed to ‘Iden­ti­tar­i­ans,’ a 21st Cen­tu­ry Fas­cist Move­ment” by Kel­ly Weill; The Dai­ly Beast; 03/27/2019

    “Like many racists after oth­er racists’ mas­sacres, Sell­ner has tried dis­tanc­ing him­self from Tar­rant. But a bright line con­nects the fas­cist movement’s lead­ers, and the mur­der­ers who keep putting the movement’s ideas into prac­tice.

    Yep, beyond Tar­ran­t’s $1,700 dona­tion, there’s quite a few oth­er facts that tie the ter­ror attack in New Zealand to Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty. Like the fact that Tar­ran­t’s man­i­festo had the same title as the Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty web page ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that cer­tain racial and reli­gious groups are try­ing to “replace” white peo­ple:

    ...
    Approx­i­mate­ly a year before the New Zealand ter­ror­ist attack, alleged per­pe­tra­tor Bran­ton Tar­rant sent a large dona­tion to the Aus­tri­an Iden­ti­tar­i­an Move­ment, Aus­tri­an Chan­cel­lor Sebas­t­ian Kurz said Wednes­day. That group’s leader, Mar­tin Sell­ner, is the face of an inter­na­tion­al neo-fas­cist move­ment that claims not to be racist, while active­ly push­ing racist poli­cies and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Some of those con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries appeared ver­ba­tim in a man­i­festo Tar­rant released short­ly before the mass shoot­ing.

    ...

    “I’m not a mem­ber of a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion,” Sell­ner said in a YouTube video after Tarrant’s dona­tion came to light. “I have noth­ing to do with this man, oth­er than that I pas­sive­ly received a dona­tion from him.”

    Sell­ner and his ilk have tried to turn pas­siv­i­ty into a talk­ing point. This is the set who claim to be non-racist and non-vio­lent, and pass them­selves off as skin­ny jean-clad “hip­sters” in soft-hit­ting news pro­files. Sell­ner and one of his groups, Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty, eschew swastikas for new sym­bols that give them plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty when pressed on their far-right ties. Like Iden­ti­ty Evropa in the U.S. (recent­ly rebrand­ed as the Amer­i­can Iden­ti­ty Move­ment), Sellner’s so-called “iden­ti­tar­i­an” move­ment claims it sup­ports white “iden­ti­ty” by pro­mot­ing all- or major­i­ty-white nations.

    This fas­cist move­ment false­ly char­ac­ter­izes itself as under attack by immi­grants, peo­ple of col­or, Mus­lims, and Jews. Sell­ner and his move­ment spread con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about these racial and reli­gious groups “replac­ing” white peo­ple. Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty hosts a web page explain­ing the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry. That page’s title was the also title of the man­i­festo Tar­rant released before open­ing fire on Mus­lims, killing chil­dren as young as three.

    ...

    The talk­ing points are a care­ful­ly tooled call for geno­cide; inevitably, some peo­ple like Tar­rant will act on them.

    ...

    So bur­geon­ing mur­der­ers like Tar­rant under­stand what these groups mean when they smear Mus­lims as “invaders” set on “replac­ing” the white man. They aren’t explic­it­ly call­ing for mur­der; they’re mak­ing a case for it and wait­ing for a future mur­der­er to act.
    ...

    Mar­tin Sell­ner him­self was actu­al­ly men­tored by one of Aus­tri­a’s most promi­nent neo-Nazis, but he claims to no longer be a Nazi any­one. Despite the fact that vir­tu­al­ly every­thing his group is advo­cat­ing is clas­sic Nazi ide­ol­o­gy. Like eth­ni­cal­ly clean­ing Europe:

    ...
    As a teenag­er, Sell­ner was part of “the neo-Nazi scene” and took a well-known neo-Nazi as his men­tor, the BBC report­ed last year. Sell­ner does not deny the Nazi ties, but says he’s moved on to new right-wing move­ments.

    In actu­al­i­ty, his far-right Euro­pean scene would make fas­cists of old proud. Sell­ner spent years helm­ing Austria’s wing of the group Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty. Although he cur­rent­ly bills him­self as the head of the Aus­tri­an Iden­ti­tar­i­an Move­ment, the Wash­ing­ton Post char­ac­ter­izes the two groups as the same, and Sell­ner uses the “GI” ini­tials in some inter­net han­dles.

    Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty push­es an eth­nic cleans­ing pro­gram in Europe, by which non-white peo­ple would be deport­ed to the coun­tries where they or their ances­tors were born, Al Jazeera report­ed.

    ...

    In May, Sell­ner and more than a dozen oth­er Iden­ti­tar­i­an Move­ment mem­bers were indict­ed by Aus­tri­an author­i­ties, and accused of incite­ment to hatred, form­ing a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, prop­er­ty dam­age and harass­ment. Sell­ner was lat­er acquit­ted. Sev­er­al months lat­er, Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty mem­bers were revealed to have links to explic­it neo-Nazis. The news led at least one promi­nent U.K. leader, but not Sell­ner, to dis­avow Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty.
    ...

    And Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty isn’t sim­ply pump­ing out Nazi pro­pa­gan­da. In 2017, they actu­al­ly got a boat to go harass refugees and the refugee res­cue ships. Until their boat was strand­ed and need­ed to be res­cued by one of those res­cue ships:

    ...
    In 2017, the group announced a plan to rent boats that would harass migrants and their allies on the seas. Refugees flee­ing dan­ger­ous locales often cross the Mediter­ranean Sea on dan­ger­ous inflat­able boats, and are some­times res­cued by aid orga­ni­za­tions. “We want to get a crew, equip a boat and set sails to the Mediter­ranean to chase down these ene­mies of Europe,” the group announced in a fundrais­ing plan that drew mon­ey from a neo-Nazi web­site and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

    The group’s ship even­tu­al­ly became strand­ed off the coast of Libya, only to be saved by one of the refugee res­cue ships they set out to antag­o­nize.
    ...

    Then there’s the ties to the orga­niz­ers of the Unite the Right ral­ly in Char­lottesville. It turns out that, months before the ral­ly, one of the orga­niz­ers unfurled a Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty ban­ner at a neo-Con­fed­er­ate ral­ly:

    ...
    Europe’s iden­ti­tar­i­an move­ment hopes to be more than pub­lic­i­ty-friend­ly: it wants to be inter­na­tion­al.

    Those inter­na­tion­al ties have reached U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers. In May 2017, two Marines were arrest­ed after they unfurled a ban­ner with a Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty logo from a rooftop at a neo-Con­fed­er­ate ral­ly. Both men were allowed to return to duty. One, Sgt. Michael Ches­ny, went on to orga­nize the “Unite the Right” ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia months lat­er. In group chats before the ral­ly, Ches­ny dis­cussed hit­ting anti-racist pro­test­ers with cars or com­bine har­vesters. The August 2017 ral­ly turned dead­ly when a neo-Nazi delib­er­ate­ly drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist pro­test­ers.

    Oth­er Unite the Right orga­niz­ers includ­ed lead­ers of Iden­ti­ty Evropa, which mod­els itself after Europe’s iden­ti­tar­i­ans. Like their transat­lantic fel­lows, Iden­ti­ty Evropa push­es an inher­ent­ly racist agen­da behind a thin veneer of clean-cut respectabil­i­ty. The U.S. group might favor white polo shirts to white robes, but the dif­fer­ence between them and the Klan is scarce­ly more than a wardrobe change.
    ...

    Final­ly, we have to note how Fox New’s Tuck­er Carl­son pas­sion­ate­ly defend­ed Sell­ner when he was banned from enter­ing the UK, high­light­ing the crit­i­cal role Fox News plays in the main­stream­ing of white nation­al­ist ideas:

    ...
    Sell­ner was banned from enter­ing the U.K. with Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an racists last year, after the country’s home office accused them of trav­el­ing there “to insight [sic] ten­sions between local com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed King­dom.” (Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son sprang to Sellner’s defense on TV.)
    ...

    As we can see, it’s not at all a stretch to label Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty an accom­plice in the Christchurch attacks. As the arti­cle points out, their entire strat­e­gy is to pump out pro-geno­cide rhetoric in a plau­si­bly deni­able man­ner and just wait for some­one like Tar­rant to act on it. The attack in Christchurch was all part of Sell­ner’s over­ar­ch­ing plan even if he did­n’t direct­ly plan that spe­cif­ic attack. Not plan­ning the spe­cif­ic attacks is cen­tral to the plan. It high­lights how the legal issues involv­ing what con­sti­tutes polit­i­cal­ly pro­tect­ed free speech (as high­light­ed by Glenn Green­wald’s work as a Nazi defense attor­ney) are going to be increas­ing­ly chal­leng­ing as this neo-Nazi strat­e­gy of call­ing for mass vio­lence in plau­si­bly deni­able man­ners con­tin­ues to suc­ceed in foment­ing attacks.

    And along those lines, it’s also worth tak­ing a clos­er look at the pro­mo­tion of Sell­ner and his neo-Nazi Twit­ter troll girl­friend Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone by Fox News’s Tuck­er Carl­son when they were banned from enter­ing the UK. Because it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that while groups like Gen­er­a­tion Iden­ti­ty are play­ing key roles in the main­stream­ing of neo-Nazi ide­olo­gies, almost no enti­ty has done more to main­stream white nation­al­ism in the US than Fox News and Tuck­er Carl­son is a lead­ing fig­ure in this push. Case in point:

    Think Progress

    Tuck­er Carl­son deliv­ers impas­sioned defense of white nation­al­ist ‘Piz­za­gate’ con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist
    Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone was barred from the U.K., along with two oth­er not­ed far-right fig­ures.

    Luke Barnes
    Mar 14, 2018, 11:35 am

    Tuck­er Carl­son used his prime-time spot on nation­al TV this week to defend a group of white nation­al­ists who believed in the Piz­za­gate con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry and who had pre­vi­ous­ly tried to stop human­i­tar­i­an ships from res­cu­ing drown­ing migrants.

    Not­ed Twit­ter troll Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone and her boyfriend, Aus­tri­an far-right activist Mar­tin Sell­ner, were barred from enter­ing the U.K. when they land­ed at Luton air­port on Tues­day. Sep­a­rate­ly, far-right YouTube per­son­al­i­ty Lau­ren South­ern was stopped by Bor­der Offi­cials at Calais and barred as well, with author­i­ties say­ing her pres­ence was “not con­ducive to the pub­lic good.” Immi­gra­tion author­i­ties removed Pet­ti­bone and Sell­ner based on intel­li­gence that the two were plan­ning to meet with far-right fig­ure Tom­my Robin­son, and that their vis­it was designed “to insight [sic] ten­sions between local com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed King­dom.”

    On Tues­day night, Carl­son dug in. “Amer­i­can YouTube per­son­al­i­ty Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone and her Aus­tri­an boyfriend were barred from enter­ing the U.K., because they planned to inter­view Tom­my Robin­son, an out­spo­ken crit­ic of Islam,” Carl­son said. “Then, on Mon­day, British police halt­ed a vis­it by Cana­di­an jour­nal­ist Lau­ren South­ern, on the grounds she was, quote, ‘a rad­i­cal Chris­t­ian,’ and there­fore, pos­si­bly a ter­ror­ist.”

    He com­plained, “Mean­while, rad­i­cal Mus­lims, more than 400 for­mer ISIS fight­ers were wel­comed.”

    Pet­ti­bone pre­vi­ous­ly described her­self as “one of the lead­ing author­i­ties on Piz­za­gate,” a fringe con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that claims for­mer Hillary Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta is involved in an inter­na­tion­al child sex ring. The unfound­ed con­spir­a­cy, which has been debunked sev­er­al times over, inspired an armed North Car­oli­na man to vis­it Comet Ping Pong Piz­za in Wash­ing­ton D.C. in 2016, where he attempt­ed to search the premis­es for sex­u­al­ly abused chil­dren he believed were tied to the sex ring. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, he found no evi­dence to sup­port the the­o­ry, and was arrest­ed by local police after fir­ing sev­er­al shots in the air with his assault-style rifle.

    South­ern, Pet­ti­bone, and Sell­ner were also all involved in attempts last sum­mer to stop human­i­tar­i­an ships from res­cu­ing migrants who were drown­ing in the Mediter­ranean Sea; the three claimed that the migrants were part of a con­ti­nen­tal “inva­sion.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly, their boat ran into trou­ble and they found them­selves being res­cued by the very human­i­tar­i­an groups they were protest­ing.

    Nat­u­ral­ly, Carl­son glossed over all this on Tues­day night, instead choos­ing to inter­view far-right British media per­son­al­i­ty Katie Hop­kins about how the U.K. bar­ring Pet­ti­bone, Sell­ner, and South­ern proved the nation “real­ly hates itself, its her­itage, its own peo­ple.”

    “It seems…that being white is con­sid­ered wrong, being Chris­t­ian is con­sid­ered wrong, Trump is wrong,” Hop­kins told Carl­son. “To be Islam­ic is right, to wel­come back jihadis is right, we shouldn’t pros­e­cute them, we should embrace them. It’s real­ly get­ting to a point here in the U.K. when we’re up there on the endan­gered species list. To be a white, Chris­t­ian, con­ser­v­a­tive woman like myself, I’m right up there on the endan­gered species list…up there with the black rhi­no — and the black rhino’s got an advan­tage because he’s black.”

    Hop­kins was pre­vi­ous­ly a pre­sen­ter on Britain’s LBC radio, where she was sacked after she tweet­ed that “we need a final solu­tion” in wake of the Man­ches­ter Are­na bomb­ing. Pri­or to that, she worked for MailOn­line, where she was repeat­ed­ly tak­en to court for libel and defama­tion, cost­ing her employ­ers tens of thou­sands of pounds in dam­ages and legal fees. (Dis­clo­sure: the author of this arti­cle pre­vi­ous­ly worked for MailOn­line.)

    Hop­kins now works for Rebel Media, the same far-right com­pa­ny with which Tom­my Robin­son works, and with which South­ern has worked pre­vi­ous­ly.

    ...

    ———-

    “Tuck­er Carl­son deliv­ers impas­sioned defense of white nation­al­ist ‘Piz­za­gate’ con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist” by Luke Barnes; Think Progress; 03/14/2018

    “On Tues­day night, Carl­son dug in. “Amer­i­can YouTube per­son­al­i­ty Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone and her Aus­tri­an boyfriend were barred from enter­ing the U.K., because they planned to inter­view Tom­my Robin­son, an out­spo­ken crit­ic of Islam,” Carl­son said. “Then, on Mon­day, British police halt­ed a vis­it by Cana­di­an jour­nal­ist Lau­ren South­ern, on the grounds she was, quote, ‘a rad­i­cal Chris­t­ian,’ and there­fore, pos­si­bly a ter­ror­ist.””

    That was Tuck­er Carl­son’s spin in the UK’s ban­ning of Sell­ner and Pet­ti­bone: they were being dis­crim­i­nat­ed against because they’re Chris­tians. It’s the kind of spin tai­lor made to enrage Fox News’s audi­ence and also tai­lor made to get them to sym­pa­thize with Sell­ner and Pet­ti­bone.

    Then Carl­son invit­ed on far right UK media per­son­al­i­ty Katie Hop­kins who pro­ceed­ed to tell the audi­ence that the ban­ning of Sell­ner and Pet­ti­bone was evi­dence that the UK “real­ly hates itself, its her­itage, its own peo­ple.” Which, of course, is com­plete­ly con­sis­tent with the “replace­ment” con­spir­a­cy that Sell­ner’s group pro­motes and was at the heart of Tar­ran­t’s man­i­festo:

    ...
    South­ern, Pet­ti­bone, and Sell­ner were also all involved in attempts last sum­mer to stop human­i­tar­i­an ships from res­cu­ing migrants who were drown­ing in the Mediter­ranean Sea; the three claimed that the migrants were part of a con­ti­nen­tal “inva­sion.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly, their boat ran into trou­ble and they found them­selves being res­cued by the very human­i­tar­i­an groups they were protest­ing.

    Nat­u­ral­ly, Carl­son glossed over all this on Tues­day night, instead choos­ing to inter­view far-right British media per­son­al­i­ty Katie Hop­kins about how the U.K. bar­ring Pet­ti­bone, Sell­ner, and South­ern proved the nation “real­ly hates itself, its her­itage, its own peo­ple.”

    “It seems…that being white is con­sid­ered wrong, being Chris­t­ian is con­sid­ered wrong, Trump is wrong,” Hop­kins told Carl­son. “To be Islam­ic is right, to wel­come back jihadis is right, we shouldn’t pros­e­cute them, we should embrace them. It’s real­ly get­ting to a point here in the U.K. when we’re up there on the endan­gered species list. To be a white, Chris­t­ian, con­ser­v­a­tive woman like myself, I’m right up there on the endan­gered species list…up there with the black rhi­no — and the black rhino’s got an advan­tage because he’s black.”
    ...

    And as an exam­ple of “talk­ing points that are a care­ful­ly tooled call for geno­cide”, it turns out that Hop­kins was actu­al­ly fired from Britain’s LBC radio after she declared “we need a final solu­tion” in the wake of the Man­ches­ter Are­na bomb­ing:

    ...
    Hop­kins was pre­vi­ous­ly a pre­sen­ter on Britain’s LBC radio, where she was sacked after she tweet­ed that “we need a final solu­tion” in wake of the Man­ches­ter Are­na bomb­ing. Pri­or to that, she worked for MailOn­line, where she was repeat­ed­ly tak­en to court for libel and defama­tion, cost­ing her employ­ers tens of thou­sands of pounds in dam­ages and legal fees. (Dis­clo­sure: the author of this arti­cle pre­vi­ous­ly worked for MailOn­line.)

    Hop­kins now works for Rebel Media, the same far-right com­pa­ny with which Tom­my Robin­son works, and with which South­ern has worked pre­vi­ous­ly.
    ...

    Again, this was on Fox News, the most pop­u­lar cable news chan­nel in the US. And one of the prime time hosts, no less. So we have Sell­ner, who aggres­sive­ly pro­motes a neo-Nazi exter­mi­na­tion­ist agen­da, being pro­mot­ed by a Fox News prime time host as sim­ply a crit­ic of Islam who was per­se­cut­ed by a gov­ern­ment that hates him because he’s Chris­t­ian and white. It’s a reminder that the con­tem­po­rary ‘plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty’ strat­e­gy employed by peo­ple like Sell­ner now relies on fig­ures like Tuck­er Carl­son par­tic­i­pat­ing in the denials.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 28, 2019, 2:24 pm

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