[Update (October 1, 2020) : In shocking news that’s made Nick Cave and many other artistes shed hot tears, the local franchise of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has today confirmed that Sky News commentator Lauren Southern will not be addressing their shindig in Sydney this November. See : Alt-right activist Lauren Southern dumped from Conservative conference, Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 1, 2020. Remarkably, The Institute of Public Affairs, which is sponsoring CPAC, has declined to comment on this savage attack upon free speech, while event organiser Andrew Cooper has attributed Southern’s removal to scheduling issues. Further, Tom Tanuki has today revealed how and why Mr Potato Head, post-Christchurch, gave approval to Southern’s relocation and relaunch in STRAYA. See : THE FAR RIGHT FEMBOT FILES! Leaked Border Force notes raise more questions about what the f*ck Lauren Southern is doing in Australia & her supposed announcement “quitting” White Supremacy, True Crime News Weekly, October 1, 2020.]
Eighteen months after the Christchurch massacre, Sky News Australia has recently launched a campaign to rehabilitate the reputation of AltRight propagandist Lauren Southern.
For those of you coming in late, Southern’s agitational efforts on behalf of white nationalism in general and ‘The Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory in particular have won her a large fanbase — and not only among Australian media. Sadly, her prestige was tarnished and her political utility diminished somewhat by the death and destruction the killer wrought, and a few months after the killings she announced that she was ‘retiring’.
Which, as it turns out, was just another lie.
In any event, the campaign to ‘Reclaim Australia’ for Lauren Southern was kicked off by Sky News Australia presenter, The Spectator Australia editor and Southern fanboy Rowan Dean in July 2020, when his very normel zine published an article by her titled ‘Lauren Southern: keep the theatre of cancel culture off the Australian political stage’.
Nick Cave, eat your heart out!
The Spectator missive contained the usual whining but also news that, after a long and happy holiday, Southern had relocated Down Under in order to revive her career (see : Lauren Southern – now a new true blue Aussie – proves ‘cancel culture’ doesn’t exist, Tom Tanuki, True Crime News Weekly, July 28, 2020). Naturally, Southern made no mention of the massacre she helped inspire — nor of the many other wonderful actions she’s taken to merit the term Sky News attributes to her: ‘political activist’ — but this is ah, not-terribly-surprising. Then again, neither is the fact that not everybody is happy jumping down The Memory Hole with her. Commenting on the ‘Far-Right Online Ecosystem’ what influenced the New Zealand terrorist manifesto, the (other) Southern (Poverty Law Center) notes:
Lauren Southern, a Canadian far-right conspiracist who commands a large audience on YouTube, posted a video called “The Great Replacement” in July 2017, which was viewed over half-a-million times on Facebook and shared more than 7,000 times. Southern and racist alt-right YouTube performer Stefan Molyneux attempted to give a talk in New Zealand in August 2018, but the people running the venue cancelled the event after being swarmed by high-profile critics, including Jacinda Ardern, the country’s prime minister.
This was just one of her many Greatest Hits, which have included:
• In April 2015, before a failed tilt at public office (as a Libertarian Party candidate she gots 535 votes or 0.89%), Southern first attracted attention with her debut video on Ezra Levant’s propaganda network ‘The Rebel’ (see : convicted spousal abuser Avi Yemini), with a video titled “Why I Am Not A Feminist”.
• In June 2015, Southern crashed an anti-rape activist event called SlutWalk with a poster that read “There Is No Rape Culture in the West”.
• In March 2016, Southern attended a cancelled rally and counter-protest for fellow ‘Libertarian’ August Sol Invictus, where someone poured something on her head. For his part, Invictus credits Southern (a Canuckistanian) with understanding the deliberate destruction of our culture and the apathy that enables it better than most Americans. (Last month, Invictus was granted bail after being charged with domestic violence.)
• In 2017, Southern was detained by the Italian coast guard for trying — along with others in the Identitarian movement, including lvl boss Martin Sellner — to block a boat carrying refugees across the Mediterranean Sea.
• As part of her anti-refugee campaign, Southern helped to produce a doctored video which resulted in its target, Ariel Ricker (the American director of Advocates Abroad, a nonprofit group that assists refugees and other asylum-seekers), receiving in excess of 37,000 death and rape threats. Advocates Abroad later stated that [t]hose responsible for the video are extremists whose goal is to incite violent opposition to refugees and those who serve them. The death and rape threats that resulted from their video demonstrate their intentions.
• In 2018, Southern was denied entry to the UK along with Sellner and Brittany Pettibone.
• Later in 2018, Southern was warmly embraced by Sky News and other NewsCorpse properties on her tour of Australia with fellow propagandist Stefan Molyneux. Notably, the tour organisers employed members of the neo-Nazi groupuscule ‘The Lads Society’ as security. Along with entertaining local nazis, Sky News presenters and other racist losers, Southern also took the opportunity to go into bat for her fellow Whites in South Africa (which, as I understand it, has an interesting history of ‘race relations’). Thus:
One conspiracy theory that took off last year with the #whitegenocide hashtag claimed, falsely, that the South African government was massacring white farmers and stealing their land, in part driven by YouTubers like Lauren Southern, who has produced both a “great replacement” video, which disappeared after the Christchurch attack, and a higher-production video called “Farmlands.” It bubbled all the way up to Donald Trump, who credulously touted the story himself on Twitter, saying, “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”
The ‘White Genocide’ meme was of course promoted by Southern during her 2018 propaganda tour, when she was joined by bankrupt (and very eggy) former Senator Fraser Anning.
In My View
Fast-forward to September 2020 and Southern’s latest performance is on a new-ish show called ‘In My View’. The episode featured her along with Georgie Dent (‘a journalist, editor, author & passionate advocate for gender equality’), 2GB broadcaster Michael McLaren and, most curiously, Antoinette Lattouf, the co-founder and director of Media Diversity Australia (MDA). (Note that Women’s Agenda contains one reference to Southern in a piece by Dr Kaz Ross, who writes that Southern’s “It’s Okay to be White” T-shirt served as the inspiration for Senator Pauline Hanson’s recent Senate motion declaring the same message. Apparently, Ross’s warning that Australia should be wary of such figures failed to make it on to Dent’s agenda.)
As for MDA, it published a report into media diversity last month, which found that presenters, commentators and reporters on Australian television are overwhelmingly of an Anglo-Celtic background. It further notes that:
It is clear that Australian television news and current affairs media does not represent all Australians and this affects the way stories are told and framed. It has been almost three decades since the 1991 National Inquiry into Racist Violence by the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission raised concerns about the lack of diversity in the media leading to inadequate representation of significant sections of the Australian public.
Of course, as the title of the Inquiry suggests, it was undertaken by HREOC following representations to it about an apparent increase in the incidence of racially motivated violence in Australia. In the late ’80s, some of this violence was organised by way of Jim Saleam’s National Action (NA, Sydney) and Jack van Tongeren’s Australian Nationalists Movement (ANM, Perth). The Inquiry thus detailed a number of other things too, including attacks upon journalists and activists by the racist thugs of NA (see, for example, Reverend Dr Dorothy McRae-McMahon’s account in Australians Against Racism, Pluto Press, 1995). While NA collapsed some years later (a result of political exhaustion and opposition), the (explicitly) neo-Nazi banner has been taken up by others, including members of Southern’s 2018 security detail. Indeed, just yesterday members of the National Socialist Network were Twitter celebs and — like their antecedent Antipodean Resistance — have been busy this year distributing agitprop on whatever remains of University campuses.
Typically, the fact that members of a nazi groupuscule have been connected to neo-Nazi terror networks like ‘The Base’ has been ignored by Australian media, though if public declarations by ASIO are anything to go by, the prospect of another nazi massacre by a 110% Dinky-Di Aussie Patriot is actually something to be taken quite seriously. Still, leaving aside secret squirrels, the NSN hasn’t had much luck in Melbourne recently, Southern’s boys losing their bunker in Rowville just a few weeks ago — though again, this elicited precisely zero interest from Australian media, diverse or otherwise.
Southern herself is not. a. fan. of ‘diversity’, stating in her 2016 book Barbarians: How the Baby Boomers, Immigration, and Islam Screwed My Generation that racially-conscious yoof such as her will have to accept that diversity is not a strength, it’s a weakness. Its legacy is not peace and love, but division and hate.
In terms of situating Southern in this milieu — and, moreover, understanding the political function of her propaganda — another report worth consulting is Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube by Rebecca Lewis (Data & Society, September 18, 2018), which presents data from approximately 65 political influencers across 81 channels to identify the “Alternative Influence Network (AIN)”; an alternative media system that adopts the techniques of brand influencers to build audiences and “sell” them political ideology. Along with Southern, among the 65 ‘influencers’ are other former ‘Rebels’, including Faith Goldy, Gavin McInnes and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’).
With regards the September 20 episode of ‘In My View’, it’s fairly standard Sky News fare, with the political activist Lauren Southern being described as someone who thinks lock-downs in Australia and internationally have become a classist problem, driven by political elites. Then follows a discussion on the merits of governments employing private consultants, agricultural labour market shortages, and the importance of investing in child care. Southern’s contribution consisted of: hailing the virtues of privatisation (which she contrasts with the public sector AKA The Soviet Union AKA the White Sea–Baltic Canal) and calling for ‘More consultants, less bureaucrats!’; touting the moral virtues of manual labour for yoof while simultaneously complaining that it’s unfair for refugees, refugee organisations and those who advocate mass immigration to take political advantage of this alleged crisis (according to Southern, Trump, on the other hand, developed a very sensible policy response to The Immigrant Question) and so on and so forth.
tl; dr : It seems very unlikely Southern will be joining other immigrants picking fruit, but may well accept a jerb as a ‘political consultant’.
Finally, Southern expressed Thoughts, Opinions and Feels about the Coronavirus and the state’s responses to it. Specifically, she noted the disruptive effect of lockdowns on The Economy (citing the case of Tory cafe owner Michelle Loielo and the travails of the lawnmowing industry) and on The Family. She further claimed that merely asking questions of the regime means being called anti-science, that those responsible for enacting such policies (ie, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and The Political Class generally) were engaged in ‘virtue-signalling’, and that their own lives are untouched by these policies. Somewhat amusingly, Southern falsely claimed that multiple Australian government ministers have been penalised for breaking the rules they themselves have imposed, and half-seriously proposed that the ‘solution’ to these problems may be found by ensuring that for every job loss in private industry, a government employee loses theirs. Oh, she also reckoned that the Swedish model (5,865 deaths and counting) is real Good, and that Trump should go ahead and appoint a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election.
Again, nothing untypical for Sky.
To conclude: Sky is wanting to (re-)incorporate Southern into its programming schedule, and to an extent has already succeeded in doing so. This is in keeping with their earlier championing of Southern and her views, but is somewhat remarkable given that her rehabilitation takes place after a fellow believer in ‘The Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory massacred 51 Muslims (mostly immigrants and refugees) in Christchurch. Indeed, Southern has been further rewarded for her role as a propagandist for racism and xenophobia by being invited to guest star at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney in November. I think this says quite a lot about what passes for ‘conservatism’ in these crazy, topsy-turvy times, but while the dangers of normalising fascist politics have already been remarked upon by many, I can see no compelling reason why journalists and other media workers in Australia should voluntarily assist Southern and Sky in achieving this goal.
See also : Lauren Southern: The alt-right’s Canadian dog whistler, Brendan Joel Kelley, Hatewatch (Southern Poverty Law Center), November 7, 2017.
The Dave Chappelle ‘Attractive White Girl’ sketch springs to mind, in the manner of media manipulation, that is.
Thanks, love your work.
The Federal Police should prosecute newscorpse for promoting neonazis.
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Great to see the whiny cry babies having a meltdown on Lauren. She must be doing something right
A Comparison of Australian and Canadian Right-Wing Extremist Facebook Group Pages
October 7, 2020
It’s well known that social media platforms play a significant role in facilitating right-wing extremist support networks and propagating extremist narratives. The pervasiveness of right-wing extremist content globally on social media not only normalises extremist content online but has the potential to motivate acts of violence beyond the virtual realm. Therefore it has been a priority to identify exactly how extremist groups use social media to negotiate the use of violence, identify traits that extremists value as being part of the ‘in-group’, what racial identities are targeted as the ‘out-group’, and what aspects of their online activity offer insight into their offline worlds and actions.
To examine these questions a cross-national comparative analysis was conducted on 59 Australian and Canadian right-wing extremist Facebook group pages, drawing from a dataset of 97,479 publicly available posts, between 2011 and 2019. Australia and Canada based groups were compared because both Australia and Canada share historical, cultural and technological synergies and similarities. Australia and Canada share similar though distinct histories of colonialism and post-colonial ethnocentrism; multi-decade campaigns to establish multiculturalism and welcome the LGBTQ community in the social and political landscape. At the same time both have experienced a growth in online extremism and instances of right-wing terrorism related to resident right-wing extremist groups.
In reviewing and analysing this dataset – a number of patterns in online activity, types of user engagement, and the popularity of types of thematic content emerge.
Passive and Active User Engagement
The level of user engagement with online content correlated to perceptions of the acceptance of their ideological beliefs in broader mainstream society. Individuals who engaged with the online content of right-wing groups may have felt that wider society accepts aspects of their ideology and therefore, do not meet online ‘resistance’. This lack of resistance lessens the need for users to demonstrate their commitment to the movement by actively engaging with content online. It was found that administrators of Canadian groups produced more posts over time than Australian groups (+10.5%), and users of Canadian groups actively engaged content (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook at a higher rate compared to Australian groups (+43%). However, users of Australian groups favored passive forms of online engagement (post views) at a substantially higher rate compared to the Canadian movement (+64.9%). This suggests that Australian right-wing groups may be situated in a socio-political context that is more tolerant of aspects of right-wing ideology, compared to Canadian groups who may be met with greater resistance.
Negotiating the Use of Violence
Contextual factors shape each right-wing extremist group’s attitude towards the use of violence. Administrators of Australian Facebook group pages more often and more consistently referenced physical and personal forms of violence, such as ‘punching’ and ‘bashing’, while Canadian groups referenced lethal forms of firearm violence, such as ‘shooting’ and ‘shoot’. This discrepancy in the preferred method of violence is likely influenced by each country’s socio-historical and legislative context, in particular each population’s access to firearms and ammunition.
Identifying the ‘Other’
When it comes to identifying targeted groups, however, there is consistency between Australian and Canadian online extreme right-wing communities. Among Australian and Canadian right-wing extremist groups, Muslims are a prominent ‘othered’ identity or out-group. Within both Australian and Canadian extreme right contexts, Islam is considered to be synonymous with terrorism and poses an existential threat to ‘white’ national identity. Another stigmatised identity or out-group among Australian and Canadian right-wing extremist groups is the police. Police are depicted as unfairly protecting those who are considered harmful to society, unjustly prosecuting those who are considered to represent the nation’s best interest (right-wing groups), and are representative of a weak and/or corrupt democratic government who is (mis-)led by liberal values and ambitions. The words ‘Muslim’ and ‘police’ featured within the 30 most frequently used words by administrators of Australian and Canadian Facebook group pages over the eight year sample period.
Local and Transnational References
Right-wing extremist groups in both countries form part of a broader, indeed transnational, ideological support network that uses social media to share and vent grievances. These grievance narratives are framed differently in each country in reference to particular social and historical circumstances.
Although, as expected, each nation’s groups referenced their own national context most commonly, Canadian groups referenced Australia more than Australian groups referenced Canada. Australia was referenced 1791 times by Canadian groups at a higher frequency (+36.6%) and with greater variation (16 different variations) than Canada, which was referenced 1314 times by Australian groups (with 11 difference variations). While the local context remains an important frame of reference for online activity, this demonstrates that the wider international landscape remains important to extreme right-wing audiences.
The popularity of posts referencing certain racial identities appears to be influenced by each nation’s recent history and ethnographic distribution. For instance, terms such as ‘Asian’, ‘African’, ‘anglo’, ‘breed’, ‘invasion’, and ‘European’ featured in greater concentrations and with greater consistency among Australian groups. However, terms such as ‘blacks’, ‘hispanic’, ‘replacement’, and ‘superior’ were more concentrated and consistently referenced over time in Canadian groups. This has implications for content moderation mechanisms.
In February 2016, in response to user demand for an ability to communally share emotion, Facebook introduced a selection of modified emoji-based affordances (‘reactions’) graphically designed to represent emotional expressions (‘love’, ‘thankful’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’, ‘anger’).
Although users of Australian and Canadian right-wing extremist groups quickly utilised ‘reactions’ in response to content posted by administrators, Australian groups generally recycled one or two reactions at a significantly higher percentage rate relative to other reactions, while posts from Canadian groups appealed to a wider range of emotional sentiment. Other disparities in ‘reaction’ use include the frequency of the ‘anger’ reaction. The anger emoji reaction was the most popular in both datasets. ‘Anger’s’ popularity among users of Australian and Canadian group pages is not only characteristic of the reactionary propensities of right-wing ideology, but suggests that the identities, topics, and issues posted by administrators may intentionally evoke the anger ‘reaction’ as a means of solidarity.
Social movements leverage the collective effort of their members to achieve an aim. Using collective identities, themes, and interests, members are motivated by a desire for social connectedness and an affinity with a movement’s cause. Social media fundamentally alters the means and capacity by which right-wing groups and movements emerge and encourage their members to take collective action.
Although there are some common identities, themes, and topics that administrators of Australian and Canadian groups share, there remains a diversity of opinion and behaviour between the two movements on Facebook. These similarities and differences can inform counter violent extremist efforts to understand the ways in which sympathetic users interact on popular social media platforms, and how to problematise right-wing ideological narratives in Australia and Canada. As right-wing extremist movements on social media remain despite de-platforming efforts, these findings will support future investigations into how extremists interact on and with social media and their perception of ideological narratives online.