On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah, we talk to Talia Lavin [Twitter]: writer, podcaster and author of Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy (Hachette, 2020):
Talia Lavin is every fascist’s worst nightmare: a loud and unapologetic young Jewish woman, with the online investigative know-how to expose the tactics and ideologies of online hatemongers. Outspoken and uncompromising, Lavin’s debut uncovers the hidden corners of the web where extremists hang out, from white nationalists and incels to national socialists and Proud Boys.
‘Righteous indignation meets techie magic to shine light on one of America’s most malignant warts’ says Kirkus; ‘The best catfish you’ll find outside the mighty Mississippi. Five stars’ says Cam.
See also : Going Undercover on a Racist Dating Site: An antifa reporter swipes white, Talia Lavin, The Nation, October 9, 2020 | QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic, Talia Lavin, The New Republic, September 30, 2020 (‘How the ancient, antisemitic nocturnal ritual fantasy expresses itself through the ages—and explains the right’s fascination with fringe conspiracy theories’) | What’s antifa? Journalist Talia Lavin on the reality behind the media’s “pernicious lies”, Roger Sollenberger, Salon, June 15, 2020 | The Russians and Ukrainians Translating the Christchurch Shooter’s Manifesto, August 14, 2019.
*Please note that the podcast version of this episode [Apple, Spotify] contains a longer conversation with Talia.
4.30pm, Thursday, October 15, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website
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Asio to review terror terms including ‘rightwing extremists’ which Liberal MP says causes anxiety
In-house review will also cover emergence of new groups such as those based on conspiracies arising from the pandemic
Thu 15 Oct 2020 19.30 AEDT
Australia’s domestic spy agency is reviewing the language it uses to refer to terrorism after some conservative government senators argued its warnings about the increasing threat posed by the “extreme right wing” caused “unnecessary anxiety”.
The head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mike Burgess, flagged the review while reaffirming the country’s terrorism threat level remained at “probable” and he saw no prospect it would be lowered in the foreseeable future.
“Sunni Islamic extremism remains Asio’s greatest concern,” Burgess said in the organisation’s annual report released on Thursday.
“At the same time, rightwing extremists are more organised, sophisticated, ideological and active than previous years.”
With “extreme rightwing individuals” now the subject of about one-third of Asio’s counter-terrorism investigations, the report said many such groups and individuals had seized on Covid-19 “believing it reinforces the narratives and conspiracies at the core of their ideologies”.
“They see the pandemic as proof of the failure of globalisation, multiculturalism and democracy, and confirmation that societal collapse and a ‘race war’ are inevitable.”
While the annual report mentions “rightwing extremists” elsewhere it uses other language including “extremists such as neo-Nazis”.
NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells raised the issue of language during a parliamentary hearing earlier on Thursday when she said “fascism and communism are two sides of the same coin”, adding to concerns she had previously raised of conservatives being offended about the use of “right”.
“Where we have so many diverse diaspora communities and they interact with the broader Australian community, surely it is more correct to refer to ‘extremism’ rather than label it one way or the other,” she told Burgess during Thursday’s hearing.
Burgess disclosed that Asio was “reviewing the terms we use” and he acknowledged that there may be “more helpful” language.
Fierravanti-Wells said she was concerned about terms causing “unnecessary anxiety” and was “very pleased to hear your comments about the labelling because I think that’s very important”.
Guardian Australia understands all terrorism-related terminology is on the table in the review, not just the phrase “extreme right wing”.
The review, to be conducted in-house by Asio, will aim to ensure the terms are fit for purpose and don’t cause confusion. It comes amid the backdrop of the emergence of a range of new groups, such as incels, which don’t fit neatly into existing terminology.
The review is expected to consider the language choices deployed by Australia’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence network. In America, for example, authorities have recently referred to concerns about “white supremacist violent extremists”.
Burgess told the hearing there was a global trend of increasing dissatisfaction with government and society.
Tasmanian Liberal party senator Eric Abetz also mentioned “the apparently growing extreme rightwing ideologies” and asked whether that was race-based in any way.
“It can be race, it can be sense of nationalism, white supremacism, neo-Nazi [views] … there are some strange groups out there, senator,” Burgess replied. He added that some groups had latched on to the notion that Covid-19 was a conspiracy.
Asio was concerned about any ideologies that promoted violence, Burgess said, not extreme views that did not lead to violence.
After Burgess mentioned the extreme rightwing threat in his annual threat assessment speech in February, the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, raised concerns about extremism of the “far left” and “far right”, saying the authorities would tackle any threats posed by “rightwing lunatics or leftwing lunatics”.
Labor has called on the government to step up its action to tackle rightwing extremism.