A. No, they’re not.
Apart from that, I don’t like being verballed.
So, Last Thursday (no really!) I made a very brief appearance on Drive on ABC Melbourne to talk about a public protest against an end-of-year pride celebration called ‘Glitter Nova’ local neo-Nazis and fascists had threatened to organise that evening. In response, someone on Twitter wrote the following:
This is incorrect, as I stated at the time. But, being a sucker for punishment, I’ve since decided to undertake the dread task of listening to the interview and transcribing it below:
- Raf: So it’s called Glitter Nova, it was going to be at the Victorian Pride Centre tonight, run by Stonnington Youth Service[s] (that’s part of Stonnington Council): cancelled. Well, not cancelled: postponed. They are going to run it … Some nasty groups online, effectively saying they were going to protest it, I don’t know if it was because there was going to be drag artists there or not. To delve into whether or not this is new or old, what this means, we’re joined by Andy Fleming, who’s an anti-fascist researcher. Thanks for having words with us.
Andy: Thanks for having me on Raf.
R: Is it new that they sort of announce these protests?
A: Um, yes and no. I mean, I guess the community in this case that’s been targeted is one that’s been subject to fascist abuse for many years but as you may have noticed in the last few years in the United States in particular, performances which include drag kings [ie, drag performers], which are family-friendly, have been targeted by the far-right for disruption, so in that sense it’s not that surprising.
R: I think actually Marjorie Taylor Greene … the Congresswoman in, I think she’s in Atlanta, Georgia, she’s a big Trump supporter, I think she rose to prominence initially by opposing drag queens doing story time at a local library. So it’s a bit of a, it’s a signature protest for some of the far right groups?
A: Yeah it is. It has developed as such in the last few years and in this particular case there was a similar protest that took place in the beginning of October [end of September] in Moonee Ponds, which targeted a similar kind of event.
R: How would you describe these groups? Are they neo-Nazis? How would you describe them?
A: In this particular case yes, there are neo-Nazis, and there are others who belong on the right who might be called or might be members of group likes the Proud Boys and so on and so forth. So there’s a broad far right, but in this particular case neo-Nazis are taking the lead.
R: Is it the right decision to postpone the event?
A: I can’t really speak for the organisers. I think it needs to be … well, one thing that needs to be considered is the safety and security of those attending it, but on the other hand, whether or not it’s a good idea to allow threats being made by online groups like nazis to events like this, whether or not that should be considered sufficient reason to cancel an event, and whether or not this constitutes a pretty bad precedent.
R: OK so a slightly different question. As someone who researches fascists, does it embolden them?
A: Success does embolden them, yes. If their aim was to prevent an event from taking place, and they appear to have done so, I can’t see that dissuading them from carrying on in future. So unfortunately yes, I think that there’s a good argument that actually these sorts of things can embolden them.
R: Is there a way to ward this off? Is there, I dunno, do you speak about it more openly, do you not speak about it? I mean, if this is going to be a feature of any event organised say by the Pride Centre or if the library has a drag queen come and read a story, is there a way to pre-empt this do you think?
A: I think it’s probably a good idea for organisers, people organising these sorts of events, to consider the possibility that it may be subject to these sorts of threats, to take that into account and think about ways they can respond whether by ensuring that they have appropriate security in place or by publicising it and calling upon the community to support these events. There will be a rally in support of queer rights at the Pride Centre this evening, even though …
R: Oh so like as an anti-anti rally.
A: Yeah, as a way of demonstrating solidarity and saying that actually, most people welcome these events and are going to defend the right of organisations to hold them.
R: How do we hold these public conversations Andy? Because I mean this was a feature of the election campaign as well. The government accused the Liberals of preferencing nazis — I don’t want to get into the politics of it — then the government said we don’t want to name the people because we don’t want to give them publicity, like do we talk about it or do we not talk about it? What’s the right approach?
A: I think in general yes, it should be talked about. I mean how it’s talked about is another matter and, in the case of the election, I guess the question was, does it make sense, other than to note that there’s some alleged nazis taking part in the election, does it make sense to actually nominate them or is it sufficient to simply say well …
At this point my phone failed and the interview ended.
More later, maybe!