Far-right groups like The Base will radicalise Australians until we confront their beliefs

Perspective of interest:

As one of the reporters who worked to uncover the operations of white power accelerationist group, The Base, I view the Australian federal government’s listing of them as a proscribed terror groupthis week as a belated but important recognition of the danger presented by white supremacist organisations.

But the national security state is a blunt instrument, and the apparatus of anti-terrorism is no substitute for making anti-racism principles central to a more inclusive democracy.

At its height, The Base was a transnational network of white nationalists who were seeking to collectively plan and prepare for what they saw as the inevitable collapse of liberal democracies they saw as decadent and corrupted by the values of feminism and multiculturalism.

In the Guardian US, I was the first reporter to identify Rinaldo Nazzaro, an American former US intelligence contractor now based in Russia, as the group’s founder and leader.

Previously he had only been known by the aliases Norman Spear and Roman Wolf.

An infiltrator gave me unprecedented access to the group’s internal communications. There I saw that although their group claimed only to be preparing for disaster, their conversations functioned to further indoctrinate members in a poisonous ideology of racial hatred, and the group’s relentlessly repeated fantasies of terroristic violence, for some of them, translated into real-world acts of destruction.

Members of the group are now facing trial for offences ranging from vandalising synagogues to assassination plots

Late last month, one member, former Canadian serviceman Patrik Mathews, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for engaging in a terror plot with other members of the group.

Later, I showed how The Base’s efforts to recruit in Australia had led to them vetting Dean Smith in 2019, who was a federal election candidate for One Nation in Western Australia the same year. Smith ended up withdrawing his application and there is no evidence he has engaged in or planned any violence.

Source: Far-right groups like The Base will radicalise Australians until we confront their beliefs

Building back better includes taking action against hatred

The how is the difficult part:

“Don’t read the comments . . . Don’t feed the trolls.” There’s a certain caricature of people who write nasty, hateful comments online. This election campaign, it seemed as if the people who express hate in comments sections and on social media decided to show up in real life, armed with nasty signs and throwing rocks at the incumbent prime minister. Many of these protesters were supporters of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

Hate crimes are on the rise in Canada, including an increase in anti-Muslim hate arising from the policies and rhetoric of the post-9/11 world. We know hate crimes are the highest they’ve been since Statistics Canada started tracking them in 2009, that they are under-reported, and that only one per cent of reported hate crimes are investigated by police.

Some of this can be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic — for instance, a dramatic rise in anti-Asian hate crimes motivated by the virus’s origins in China. Researchers have also documented connections between the anti-vaxx movement and far-right groups. “The racist right that we monitor and the COVID conspiracy movement are inseparable from each other at this point,” Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told the Canadian Press.

We know there is a problem. I want to talk about what we can do about it. Here are policy solutions that we should take seriously in this new climate of hate and far-right extremist activity.

Scrutinize and go after far-right and white supremacist movements with the same vigour as other terrorist groups

When I was an undergraduate student in the 2010s, it was normal for officers from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to infiltrate Muslim Student Associations as part of anti-terrorism efforts by the Canadian government. Some students even had CSIS officers come knocking on their doors. These activities were done in the name of “community outreach,” presumably to groups thought to be potential breeding grounds for terrorism.

Over the past two decades, Canada has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on anti-terrorism efforts through activities such as counter-terrorism capacity building, research funding and augmenting agencies such as CSIS and the Canada Border Services Agency, Stephanie Carvin, associate professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, said in an interview.

So now that we know the demographics, whereabouts and identities of violent far-right extremists, where is the same level of policy action and government spending?

We need to dedicate adequate funding and personnel to root out violent extremism in far-right and white supremacist extremist groups. The federal government has acknowledged the threat of white supremacy and radicalization in Canada, and has funded research into far-right extremism and listed far-right and white supremacist groups as terrorist entities. But I want to see the same level of funding, urgency and legislation devoted to combatting white supremacist and far-right movements as we did other efforts to counter violent extremism. We urgently need governments to take action against hate — both harmful online activities and the violent hate crimes that have seen an uptick in recent years. The National Council of Canadian Muslims published a robust list of recommended legislation this summer, which provides clear direction for federal, provincial and municipal governments to better legislate against hate.

As part of pandemic recovery, find ways for people to connect with each other again

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, it’s hard to build political will to implement preventative policy solutions because the fruits of those investments often come many years later — when the government of the day is no longer in office.

We are emerging out of (and, strangely, simultaneously re-entering) a prolonged period of isolation and frustration. There are decades of research that show these conditions breed radicalization and extremist views. “Isolation exacerbates already existing grievances, leaving individuals vulnerable to extremism,” argued a May 2021 piece in openDemocracy. The Canadian government’s own 2018 National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence (which focuses on groups such as groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda but also references far-right extremism) acknowledged that a “desire for empowerment, belonging, [and] purpose” can help radicalize individuals.

There are policy implications for the isolation, frustration and anger we have all experienced over the last year and a half, and we see it in the increased polarization in our society. I want to see government fund programs that have people meaningfully engage with those they don’t agree with — Stanford University’s America in One Room project is a great example — as well as grassroots organizations that provide opportunities for individuals to connect with community. While Heritage Canada has funded anti-hate and anti-racism programs, these programs should be expanded in scope and funding as we emerge from this pandemic, especially given the tripling of popular support for the PPC in just two years.

It has only been a few months since four members of the Afzaal family were fatally run down by a truck in broad daylight in London, Ont. I wonder about the journey taken by the man accused of their murder. What happened to him in the years and months before this violent, Islamophobic crime? How many others are going through the same journey he did, and are on the cusp of expressing their hatred through violent means?

If we don’t take action fast enough, we will find out the hard way.

Source: https://policyresponse.ca/building-back-better-includes-taking-action-against-hatred/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=151021&utm_source=Policy+Response&utm_campaign=b0da1d1e1d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_02_25_11_09_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e0a96a8e52-b0da1d1e1d-377030342

Tremblay: Nuit et brouillard sur le passé [those who make Holocaust/Nazi comparisons to COVID restrictions]

Good commentary:

On s’inquiète beaucoup, à juste titre, devant les autodafés et les livres expédiés au nouvel enfer où croupissent les damnés. Mais ces ouvrages ne brûlent-ils pas davantage dans les mémoires ? Qui pousse à lire les trésors du passé tant que ça, au fait ? Faute de nombreux emprunts dans les bibliothèques, plus vite des chefs-d’œuvre se feront pilonner. À force de lever le nez sur la culture générale, taxée d’élitiste, vrai garde-fou pourtant et fanal d’éclaireur dans nos nuits, l’ignorance devient la norme et l’aveuglement, son terme.

Prenez les antivaccins défilant dans la rue avec leurs pancartes qui associent l’imposition du passeport sanitaire au sort des Juifs sous la botte nazie. Ils croient sentir le poids historique de l’étoile jaune sur leur t-shirt ou sur leur veste en s’en bricolant des récentes. Toute une coquetterie ! « Même oppression ; même combat pour les parias d’hier et d’aujourd’hui ! » crient-ils dans les manifs. À tous ceux-là, pour qui l’Holocauste ne fut qu’une répétition générale destinée à paver la voie aux supplices d’une vaccination générale réclamée au nom du bien commun, on dit : faites vos recherches. Voyez ! Lisez !

Le Troisième Reich est assez loin derrière pour verser nuit et brouillard sur les annales de l’humanité en ne laissant à des générations montantes que de vagues clichés de persécutions, récupérés pour mieux s’en draper. Mais les familles des survivants des camps de concentration, toute la communauté juive par extension, ne l’entendent pas de cette oreille et hurlent à l’indécence. On n’était pas là quand les Juifs de tant de pays d’Europe se sont fait imposer l’étoile infamante comme au bétail le sceau du maître. Pas là, quand ils se firent entasser dans des stades, puis des trains bondés, avant de se voir recrachés dans des camps pour être asservis ou brûlés. Mais comment plaider l’innocence ?

Pas là, mais transformés par certains témoignages à l’écran, à l’écrit. Du moins ceux d’entre nous qui s’y sont branchés. Que de nouveaux lecteurs se lèvent ! Car le nazisme aura brisé des illusions humanistes à jamais. Ces fringants SS torturant et tuant en série des foules d’innocents avant de repartir écouter du Wagner et du Brahms étaient des êtres dits sophistiqués ! La barbarie fleurit partout, clame ce terrible épisode et n’a pas fini d’obscurcir nos esprits. L’histoire récente en témoigne sous tous les méridiens. Reste que l’Holocauste, par sa démesure, s’inscrit comme le record du pire à dépasser.

À ceux-là qui font des amalgames entre le vaccin apte à sauver des vies et le processus d’extermination d’un peuple entier, on conseille la plongée en eau profonde dans les œuvres écrites jadis à l’encre rouge.

Bien sûr, les documentaires sur le règne d’Hitler sont présentés à la télé, des films de fiction en témoignent encore, mais les rescapés se font de moins en moins nombreux au fil des décennies. Se mettre à l’écoute de leur voix, c’est toucher du bout du doigt l’impensable et s’incliner devant la mémoire de ceux qui l’affrontèrent.

On n’était pas là, mais l’Italien Primo Levi, survivant d’Auschwitz, nous fait entrer par la petite porte dans le quotidien d’un camp d’extermination à travers son témoignage Si c’est un homme. Sans y avoir été, on saisit en fragments noirs, la peur infinie face aux bourreaux, le manque de solidarité des détenus affamés, même si l’auteur lui-même s’estimait incapable de traduire pareille expérience de déshumanisation ; voire de l’envisager : « Nous ne reviendrons pas, écrivait-il. Personne ne sortira d’ici qui pourrait porter au monde, avec le signe imprimé dans sa chair, la sinistre nouvelle de ce que l’homme, à Auschwitz, a pu faire d’un autre homme. »

Pas là, mais Elie Wiesel y était, lui. Et pénétrer ses souvenirs dans La Nuit, où il décrivait également Birkenau-Auschwitz, ses cheminées, l’odeur de la chair brûlée, le camp de Buna, puis la grande marche finale des morts-vivants entourés de nazis fuyant les troupes alliées, c’est ressentir un peu dans notre chair de quoi se nourrit une déchéance programmée. En effet, Elie Wiesel s’était même détourné de son père mourant qui implorait sa présence, pour s’éviter des coups, et la honte de son attitude ne l’a plus jamais quitté.

Pas là, mais on aura vu en plusieurs volets au cinéma Shoah, de Claude Lanzmann, sans voix hors-champ, sans images d’archives, sans experts commentant la chose ; juste des entrevues de survivants et de leurs bourreaux, qui glaçait le sang. Tout est accessible sur Internet, même ce documentaire de plus de neuf heures par les voix des témoins directs. Après avoir vu ça, qui oserait encore s’y référer pour se comparer ? On n’était pas là, piètre excuse ! La culture de l’ignorance est le principal cimetière des œuvres capables d’éclairer l’humanité.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/640200/chronique-nuit-et-brouillard-sur-le-passe?utm_source=infolettre-2021-10-14&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

Antisemitic rhetoric continues to be used by some opponents of COVID-19 measures

Unfortunately, not all that surprising:

Belle Jarniewski leaned back from her computer, seething with anger after she finished watching a video on Reddit showing a Winnipeg restaurateur accosting public health enforcement officers.

“I’m still shaking after listening to that rant. That was unbelievable,” she said.

The video shows Shea Ritchie, the owner of Chaise Lounge locations on Corydon Avenue and Provencher Boulevard, speaking with officers giving him tickets on Sept. 24 for allowing diners who choose not to be vaccinated to dine inside his restaurant.

Source: Antisemitic rhetoric continues to be used by some opponents of COVID-19 measures

Anger as French protesters compare vaccines to Nazi horrors

Outrageous but unfortunately all too typical of the more extreme anti-vaxxers:

A French Holocaust survivor has denounced anti-vaccination protesters comparing themselves to Jews who were persecuted by Nazi Germany during World War II. French officials and anti-racism groups joined the 94-year-old in expressing indignation.

As more than 100,000 people marched around France against government vaccine rules on Saturday, some demonstrators wore yellow stars recalling the ones the Nazis forced Jews to wear. Other demonstrators carried signs evoking the Auschwitz death camp or South Africa’s apartheid regime, claiming the French government was unfairly mistreating them with its anti-pandemic measures.

“You can’t imagine how much that upset me. This comparison is hateful. We must all rise up against this ignominy,” Holocaust survivor Joseph Szwarc said Sunday during a ceremony commemorating victims of antisemitic and racist acts by the French state, which collaborated with Adolf Hitler’s regime.

“I wore the star, I know what that is, I still have it in my flesh,” Szwarc, who was deported from France by the Nazis, said with tears in his eyes. “It is everyone’s duty to not allow this outrageous, antisemitic, racist wave to pass over us.”

France’s secretary of state for military affairs, who also attended the ceremony, called the protesters’ actions “intolerable and a disgrace for our republic.”

The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism said the protesters were “mocking victims of the Holocaust” and minimizing crimes against humanity committed during World War II.

Saturday’s protests involved a mix of people angry at the government for various reasons, and notably supporters of the far right. Prominent French far-right figures have been convicted in the past of antisemitism, racism and denying the Holocaust.

The government is introducing a bill Monday requiring all health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and requiring COVID passes to enter restaurants and other venues.

At a large protest in Paris on Saturday against vaccine rules, one demonstrator pasted a star on his back reading “not vaccinated.” Bruno Auquier, a 53-year-old town councilor who lives on the outskirts of Paris, drew a yellow star on his T-shirt and handed out arm bands with the star.

“I will never get vaccinated,” Auquier said. “People need to wake up,” he said, questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Auquier expressed concern that the new measures would restrict his two children’s freedom and pledged to take them out of school if vaccination becomes mandatory.

Polls suggest most French people support the measures, but they have prompted anger in some quarters. Vandals targeted two vaccination centers in southwest France over the weekend. One was set on fire, and another covered in graffiti, including a reference to the Nazi occupation of France.

France has reported more than 111,000 deaths in the pandemic, and new confirmed cases are increasing again, raising worries about renewed pressure on hospitals and further restrictions that would damage jobs and businesses.

Source: Anger as French protesters compare vaccines to Nazi horrors

‘Pandemic of hate’: Leaders, experts warn anti-lockdown protests linked to far right

Of note:

Online conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and protests against public health orders are helping to spread dangerous ideas laden with racism and bigotry, says a network monitoring hate groups in Canada.

The executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said since last year people espousing hateful beliefs have linked themselves to conspiracy and anti-lockdown movements around the novel coronavirus.

“We have two pandemics: We have the actual pandemic and then we have this pandemic of hate,” Evan Balgord said.

“Things are kind of getting worse both online and offline … with maybe one pandemic, we have kind of a solution for, but the hate thing, we don’t have a vaccine for that.

Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh was the latest on Monday to note a connection between anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests and far-right extremism.

His comments came as rallies against COVID-19 health orders are being staged across the country while many provincial doctors battle a deadly third wave of the pandemic.

“To brazenly not follow public-health guidelines puts people at risk and that is something that we’ve seen with extreme right-wing ideology, ” he told reporters.

These demonstrations have been met with frustration from some in the public over what they say appears to be a lack of police enforcement, and a few premiers have promised stiffer fines for COVID-19 rule-breakers.

The far right has become adept at integrating populist grievances into its own narratives and exploiting them to enhance membership, said Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, in a recent interview.

As a result, members of the far right have turned up at virtually all of the recent anti-lockdown gatherings, “trying to lend their support to that movement, and thereby garner support and sympathy, or solidarity, with their more extreme movement,” she said.

Mr. Balgord said such events make for “fertile hunting” for new recruits because hateful ideas are not being policed, and once someone believes in one conspiracy theory, it’s easy to believe in others.

“We now have a greatly increased number of people who are coming into close contact with racists and bigots of all stripes with more conspiracy theories,” he said.

And more than a year into the pandemic, Mr. Balgord said, organizers behind anti-lockdown protests in Vancouver, Toronto and the Prairies know figures from the country’s “racist right” are involved in their movement.

More recently, he said, some protesters have started showing up with Nazi imagery to depict themselves as being persecuted by the government.

“The racist right that we monitor and the COVID conspiracy movement are inseparable from each other at this point. We monitor them as if they are the same thing because they involve all the same people,” Mr. Balgord.

He said the network’s information is based on what it observes and the far-right figures it follows, but there is a lack of data tracking how conspiratorial thinking around COVID-19 has moved across Canada.

After Mr. Singh’s comments, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet played down the idea of a connection between the protests and far-right extremism, saying arguments suggesting a correlation were politically motivated.

“I am absolutely certain — absolutely certain — that people which have been involved in such discussions in the last hours and days know very well that there could be no link between … two things that should not be what they are, but are not related,” he said.

The NDP leader said he sees a link between those refusing to follow public-health advice and the ideologies of the extreme right because both show a disregard for the well-being of others and put people at risk.

“There is a connection, certainly.”

Mr. Singh said declining to listen to COVID-19 health orders is dangerous and needs to be called out.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi earlier called such demonstrations “thinly veiled white nationalist, supremacist anti-government protests” on Global’s “The West Block.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-pandemic-of-hate-leaders-experts-warn-anti-lockdown-protests-linked-to/

Alarm as German anti-maskers co-opt Nazi resister Sophie Scholl

Of note:

Sophie Scholl, the German resistance figure executed by the Nazis who was born 100 years ago on Sunday, has become an emblem of courage and a national hero for many.

But the legacy of the young woman sentenced to a brutal death for distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets has recently been co-opted by Germany’s anti-lockdown movement, to the dismay of historians and the Jewish community.

At a demonstration in April, one woman had a placard featuring a picture of Sophie Scholl draped on string around her shoulders.

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace,” it read — words famously pronounced by the resistance campaigner.

Even one of her nephews, Julian Aicher, has prominently spoken at corona skeptic demonstrations, including on a stage decorated with white roses — evoking the name of Scholl’s resistance group.

In a country where right-wing extremism is seen as the number one threat to security, and where a record number of xenophobic and anti-Semitic crimes were recorded in 2020, historians say the misappropriation of Scholl’s memory is deeply alarming.

Some also warn that democracy itself is being attacked at a time when living witnesses of World War II have dwindled significantly in numbers.

“By trivialising the Holocaust and dictatorship, these activists are endangering democracy,” said Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s anti-Semitism commissioner.

– Fourth favourite German –

On February 22, 1943, Scholl and her older brother Hans, both members of a small resistance group called the White Rose, were beheaded in the Stadelheim prison in Bavaria following a summary trial.

They had been found guilty of distributing pamphlets on the grounds of Munich University, having converted to the resistance after being exposed to the horrors of the Third Reich as members of Nazi organisations in their teens.

Sophie Scholl, born on May 9, 1921, has become the most famous face of the resistance movement, with surviving photos showing her distinctive cropped hair and determined smile.

Hundreds of schools and streets now bear her name, and in 2003 she was named the nation’s fourth favourite German behind Konrad Adenauer, Martin Luther and Karl Marx.

The country’s political class also like to evoke the memory of the young biology student who stood up to the Nazis.

Annalena Baerbock, the Green party’s candidate to become Germany’s next chancellor after Angela Merkel retires in the autumn, has named Scholl as one of her “heroes”.

Carola Rackete, the former captain of the Sea-Watch 3 migrant rescue ship, has said if Scholl were still alive, she would be part of the Antifa left-wing political movement.

But at the other end of the political spectrum, the far-right AfD also claimed in 2017 that Scholl would have given them her vote.

And now the resistance campaigner’s image has been hijacked by protesters against coronavirus restrictions in Germany, who have often sought to compare themselves with victims of the Nazis.

– ‘Vaccination makes you free’ –

Some protesters have been seen wearing yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis, carrying the words “not vaccinated”.

Others have worn concentration camp uniforms and carried placards with the words “Impfen macht frei” (“Vaccination makes you free”), a reference to the “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work makes you free”) inscription at the entrance to Auschwitz.

“I feel like Sophie Scholl, because I’ve been active in the resistance for months,” one protester told a rally against virus restrictions in Hanover in November, leading to widespread condemnation.

“Followers of conspiracy theories like to imagine themselves as victims, while demonising and delegitimising the democratic field,” Samuel Salzborn, the city of Berlin’s point man on anti-Semitism, told AFP.

According to Jens-Christian Wagner, a German historian who specialises in the Nazi era, the appropriation of Sophie Scholl by the anti-mask movement shows a loss of “historical awareness” among parts of the German population.

There are “almost no remaining witnesses” to the Nazi era, Wagner told AFP.

“They can no longer defend themselves when they are instrumentalised or when the far right rewrites history and the present by reversing guilt. It worries me,” he said.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has said it will monitor the “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, a particularly vocal anti-lockdown group, over concerns it poses a threat to democracy and has ties to right-wing extremism.

Source: Alarm as German anti-maskers co-opt Nazi resister Sophie Scholl

Germany Sees 72 Percent Increase in Anti-Immigrant Crimes

Of note:

Germany recorded a 72.4 percent increase in anti-immigrant crimes in 2020 – up to 5,298 total cases – as officials warned Tuesday that the country is experiencing a dangerous rise in far-right violence.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in total, far-right crimes rose 5.65 percent in 2020, and accounted for more than half of all “politically motivated” crimes.

“This shows again that right-wing extremism is the biggest threat for our country,” Seehofer said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

In February 2020, the country saw its deadliest anti-immigrant attack when nine immigrants were killed near Frankfurt, Germany, after a gunman opened fire and called for the “complete extermination” of many “races or cultures in our midst,” the AP reported.

Authorities have since raised concerns that the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AFD, which placed third in the country’s 2017 election and has grown in influence, has played a role in stoking a climate of hatred toward immigrants and the government.

German security agencies have warned of the growing threat of violent far-right extremism. In July 2019, a regional politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s party was killed by a neo-Nazi; three months later, a gunman tried to force his way into a synagogue on Yom Kippur, killing two people.

Seehofer said antisemitic crimes in Germany were up 15.7 percent in 2020 over 2019 with 2,351 total incidents — 94.6 percent of which were committed by a far-right suspect.

Of the total, 62 were acts of violence while the majority were antisemitic hate speech and other related crimes, frequently on the internet or over social media, Seehofer said.

“This development in Germany is not only troubling, but in view of our history, deeply shameful,” he said.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the German numbers highlighted a broader issue.

“This is a wake-up call, not just for Germany, but for the whole world,” he said. “These figures should ring alarm bells, because we are seeing similar trends across the Western world.”

Many in the AfD have expressed support for, and participated in, the regular protests in Germany against lockdown measures, organized by the Querdenker movement. The demonstrations have become increasingly violent, and the country’s domestic intelligence service last month said it had put some members of the movement under observation.

The protests have brought together a broad range of demonstrators, including people opposing vaccinations, those who deny the existence of the coronavirus, mask opponents, conspiracy theorists and others.

Seehofer said the protests have also attracted neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists, and have regularly become violent, targeting police and the media. Seehofer said of the 260 reported crimes against journalists, 112 were related to protests against coronavirus restrictions.

“I want to say here very clearly: These acts of violence are no longer about exercising a constitutional right (to demonstrate), but are acts of violence of a criminal nature that I condemn in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

Source: Germany Sees 72 Percent Increase in Anti-Immigrant Crimes

Pauline Hanson built a political career on white victimhood and brought far-right rhetoric to the mainstream

Of note. Bernier tried (and continues to try) to play a similar game:

Pauline Hanson and her party have only achieved modest electoral successes. Yet, she is undoubtedly Australia’s most successful populist politician and has had a profound impact on the way the country talks about issues like multiculturalism and immigration.

Hanson’s entire political career can be seen as a denial and rejection of the realities of whiteness in Australia – that is, the unearned benefits and privileges afforded to white people in settler-colonial countries.

Hanson has benefited from – and helped to shape – the normalisation of racism and xenophobia in Australia. She has pushed the boundaries of what can be “acceptably said” in public discourse and has had a disproportionate influence on the national debate.

In doing so, she has also created the political space for other far-right figures like Fraser Anning to emerge and become more a part of the political mainstream.

The birth of One Nation

Hanson first emerged on the political landscape in 1996 when she was disendorsed as the Liberal Party candidate for Oxley following racist comments she made about Indigenous people in a letter to the Queensland Times.

She contested the election anyway, running as an independent on a self-described nationalist, populist and protectionist platform, and won the seat with a large swing against the Labor incumbent.

In her maiden speech to the House of Representatives, Hanson claimed to speak on behalf of “mainstream Australians” and promised a “common sense” approach to politics.

Most controversially, Hanson warned Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Asians”, called for the abolition of multiculturalism and railed against Indigenous rights, so-called “political correctness” and “reverse-racism”.

The times suited Hanson. After 13 years of Labor government, John Howard and the Liberal Party looked to exploit a sense of resentment and grievance on the issues of multiculturalism and immigration, which arguably opened up the space for Hanson and helped to legitimise her views.

Indeed, in a 1996 speech delivered to the Queensland Liberal Party, Howard celebrated the idea people felt able to speak a little more freely and could do so without living in fear of being branded as a bigot or racist.

Hanson’s One Nation party was formed the following year and performed well at the 1998 Queensland state election, winning 11 seats.

Hanson’s downfall and political resurrection

One Nation’s initial success, however, was short-lived. Hanson failed to win the newly redistributed seat of Blair at the 1998 federal election. Her party then began to suffer from internal divisions, poor leadership and Hanson’s personal and financial scandals.

She was subsequently convicted of electoral fraud in 2003. (It was later overturned on appeal.)

After a number of failed federal and state campaigns (including under the rebranded Pauline’s United Australia Party), Hanson finally succeeded in being elected to the Senate in 2016, along with three other One Nation candidates.

This represented a high point for the party at the federal level and gave it considerable influence over government policy.

Hanson’s populist, nativist beliefs

Hanson can best be described as a populist radical right politician, alongside such figures as Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orbán.

For populist figures, politics are seen as a struggle between everyday, ordinary people and a corrupt, illegitimate and out-of-touch elite.

But more importantly, the populist radical right also uses the language of “us-versus-them” and portrays immigrants and refugees as existential threats to the safety, security and “culture” of a particular society.

In Hanson’s view, non-natives must either assimilate and embrace “Australian culture and values” or “go back to where they came from”.

Hanson has consistently drawn on a sense of grievance and victimhood – in particular, white victimhood. She has espoused a belief in the existence of so-called “reverse-racism” or “anti-white” racism since the outset of her political career.

Hanson has even gone so far as to claim the most downtrodden person in this country is the white Anglo-Saxon male.

The mainstreaming of the far-right

Hanson’s resurgence in 2016 occurred in a very different political climate than her first stint in parliament in the late 1990s.

Political scientist Cas Mudde refers to the 21st century as the “fourth wave of the far-right”. It is a time when far-right ideas are becoming increasingly tolerated, debated and normalised in the mainstream and the boundaries of what can be said are shifting.

Emboldened by years of normalised Islamophobia in Australia and the electoral successes of far-right parties globally, Hanson’s maiden Senate speech warned Australia was now in danger of being swamped by Muslims, who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.

She called for a “Trump style” immigration ban, a Royal Commission into Islam and the “banning of the burqa”.

Hanson’s resurgence has clearly cemented Muslims as the new “dangerous other”, though her racist attitudes towards First Nations people and Asian immigrants have also remained a constant.

Her claims of “anti-white racism” have also gained traction in the mainstream. For example, when Hanson put forth a Senate motion declaring “it’s OK to be white” in 2018, a surprising number of Coalition members voted for it and later defended it on Twitter.

It was only later, after a vocal outcry, that the Coalition backed down and claimed the votes were made in error.

The media have played a key role in the mainstreaming of Hanson and One Nation by consistently giving them a platform to voice far-right ideas.

Hanson’s legacy and impact on society

There are a couple of ways to think about Hanson’s legacy and impact on society.

The first is to gauge her direct influence on government policy through her role as a parliamentarian. There’s no doubt she has wielded considerable influence as one of a number of senators to hold the balance of power in recent years.

Yet, despite some success in influencing legislation and her recent appointment as deputy chair of the family law inquiry, Hanson has been largely unsuccessful in seeing her signature policies realised.

And while acknowledging Hanson’s role in mainstreaming far-right ideas, it’s important to note these ideas have existed before her maiden speeches and will exist well beyond her time in politics.

Exclusively focusing on Hanson’s individual acts ignores the systemic nature of racism and the role of the mainstream political class in reproducing and upholding these racist structures.

When assessing Hanson’s legacy, it may be comforting to view her as an aberration and reflection of a bygone era, but she remains very much a product of the Australian settler-colonial story.

It’s perhaps more accurate to think of Hanson as a symptom of racism and xenophobia in Australia, rather than its cause.

Munich bans use of Nazi ‘Jewish star’ at coronavirus protests

Sad that it has had to come to this:

The city of Munich banned the use of Nazi-era Stars of David at coronavirus protests on Sunday after participants were seen wearing them in recent weeks.

Several protesters in cities across Germany have started wearing six pointed, yellow stars with the word “unvaccinated” emblazoned on them. From the color to the font, they’re nearly identical to the badges Jewish people were forced to wear across Nazi-occupied territories during the Holocaust.

Read moreHow are Germany’s coronavirus protests different?

Other anti-lockdown protesters have also dressed up in stripped prisoner uniforms — drawing comparison to concentration camp prisoners — and held up signs reading: “Masks will set you free” or “Vaccination will set you free.”

The slogans reference the “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) signs that hung above several concentration camps, where millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Demonstrators are using the highly questionable protest tactics to voice their opposition to mandatory coronavirus vaccines — despite the fact that the German government has repeatedly said it will not implement such a program.

Politicians slam anti-Semitic tactic

Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism, said that wearing the altered Jewish stars was a “calculated breaking of a taboo,” reported local public broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk.

The tactic has been used increasingly in protests in Germany, Klein said. In using symbols of the Holocaust to provoke at protests, he added, the demonstrators downplay the victims and their suffering.

Other politicians have called for more cities and states to also ban the use of Nazi-era stars at protests and to label them as a form of incitement.

Rüdiger Erben, a Social Democrat lawmaker in the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt, said that the symbols have also appeared at protests in his state and that they have nothing to do with freedom of speech or freedom of assembly.

Whoever puts on one of the stars is acting “as an anti-Semite of the most repulsive kind,” Erben told news agency epd.

Protesters have been gathering for weeks in cities across Germany to demonstrate against the government’s restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Although participant numbers are starting to dwindle, politicians and analysts have grown increasingly concerned about right-wing extremist radicalization at the demonstrations.

Source: Munich bans use of Nazi ‘Jewish star’ at coronavirus protests