Antifa Australia goes for the jugular (while I make some comments) …

On the weekend The Australian published a lengthy article by Chip Le Grand on antifa in Australia.

Below are some comments.

Antifa Australia goes for the jugular
Chip Le Grand
The Australian
December 9, 2017

The first rule of antifa is you do not talk about antifa. Not to a journalist, at any rate. It is less an organisation than a broad objective across the radical left; a determination to block, frustrate and ultimately silence far-right politics. It is fundamentally illiberal and necessarily secretive. For these reasons, it is poorly understood and readily mischaracterised.

Ssshhh …

To the best of my knowledge, there have only been one or two occasions on which anTEEfa in Australia have spoken to journalists. First, ‘Beneath the black mask: inside Australia’s anti-fascist Antifa groups’ (Peter Munro, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2016) contains interviews with three anti-fascists. Secondly, a former anti-fascist, Shayne Hunter, was recently interviewed for a piece in the Murdoch press (‘I established a terror movement in Australia, and I quit’, news.com.au, October 25, 2017). Perhaps the first time the term was used in media reportage in a local context was 2014 (Australia’s Golden Dawn Rally Falls Embarrassingly Flat, Lauren Gillin, VICE, May 7, 2014). See also : Cronulla protests: what is the anti-fascist group Antifa?, Michael McGowan, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 12, 2015 | Explainer: what is antifa, and where did it come from?, Troy Whitford, The Conversation, August 30, 2017.

Beyond that: while it’s true that ant-fascists generally seek to disrupt fascist organising, completely eradicating far-right and fascist politics is hardly an achievable objective. Instead, most seek to simply limit, as much as possible and given the means available, the growth of such political expressions. The liberality of these actions, as well as their public status, is generally determined by their context.

Antifa activists are not mindless thugs. They are well organised and, generally, experienced political and social activists who are prepared to resort to violence — they say reluctantly — to deny the far right any platform from which to promote its ideas. In Melbourne and Sydney this week, they mobilised more than 100 supporters within an hour to shout down a speaking event by the alt-right’s charismatic bomb thrower, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Leaving aside the alleged mindlessness and thuggery (and the claim that Milo is ‘charismatic’), the fact that several hundred people (ie, several hundred more than 100) mobilised in Melbourne in order to protest Milo Yiannopoulos’s performance at Melbourne Pavilion last Monday was. not. simply. the result of a preparedness to act at short notice, but rather active campaigning over months (and years).

[snip] The antifa view of the world is that far-right politics — particularly white supremacy, nationalist chauvinism and the kind of fascism that tore Europe apart in the middle of the 20th century — is again on the rise across Western democracies.

Accurate or otherwise, that’s not a view confined to those actively opposing white supremacy and ultra-nationalism, as a search for relevant materials would demonstrate. To put it another way: there’s a rational basis for concern over a resurgent far-right in Europe, both Western and Eastern. That said, Australia is somewhat peculiar in terms of Western democracies, a theme also explored in the relevant literature. Or as Oswald Mosley claimed in 1933: ‘I always thought it remarkable that Australia, without studying the Fascist political philosophy and methods, so spontaneously developed a form of fascism peculiarly suited to the needs of the British Empire.’ See also : Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association (ACRAWSA).

In the US, this conviction has made bedfellows of anarchists, Marxists, socialists, anti-racists and other militant activists beneath the antifa doona. In Australia, existing left-wing groups such as Socialist Alternative have diverted resources from other campaigns to fight what they describe as the fascist menace. New groups, such as Jews Against Fascism, have formed to fight the far right.

The start of this counterculture war can be traced to the Easter weekend two years ago when a large Reclaim Australia rally took over Melbourne’s Federation Square. Hassan is a 31-year-old bartender and events manager. He is also an active member of Socialist Alternative who contributes regularly to its online publication, Red Flag. “The size and breadth of that mobilisation of the far right shook many of us up,” he says. “Nationally, we decided to prioritise anti-fascist organising.”

The same event prompted Jordana Silverstein, a University of Melbourne academic, to form Jews Against Fascism. “We fundamentally disagree that if you ignore fascists they will go away,” she tells Inquirer. “They don’t. They become emboldened.”

In the US, contemporary antifa activity is generally traced back to the 1980s, when youth subcultures like skinhead and punk were the subject of concerted efforts at infiltration by the radical right, which in turn generated (militant) opposition. Hence it was in the late ’80s that Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) formed in New York and Anti-Racist Action (ARA) was born, the groundwork for the latter being laid by a skinhead crew in Minneapolis called The Baldies. (ARA’s contemporary expression is the Torch network.) A lot has happened between Then and Now, but certainly the Trump era has given added impetus to antifa organising in the US. See also : Inside the Underground Anti-Racist Movement That Brings the Fight to White Supremacists, Wes Enzinna, Mother Jones, May/June 2017.

In Australia, I’d argue that ‘the start of this counterculture war’ was a little earlier than April 4, 2015. Certainly, if anti-fascism is ‘less an organisation than a broad objective across the radical left; a determination to block, frustrate and ultimately silence far-right politics’, then its origins in Australia may be traced back as far as the 1920s and to the Italian migrant anti-fascists (see : Fascism, Anti-Fascism and the Italians in Australia: 1922–1945, Gianfranco Crestiani, Australian National University, 1980). More recently, anti-fascists in Melbourne actively campaigned against Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and National Action in the 1990s. [For (Marxist) analysis, see : How we stopped Pauline Hanson last time, Tess Lee Ack, Marxist Left Review, No.12 (Winter 2016) / Understanding Hansonism (Ben Reid) & When the Australian ruling class embraced fascism (Louise O’Shea), Marxist Left Review, No.13 (Summer 2017).]

Otherwise: SAlt was largely absent on April 4, 2015, this also being the weekend of their annual Marxism conference, and the opposition to Reclaim on that occasion was drawn from other segments of Teh Left in Melbourne.

The antifa armoury includes more than protest chants and punches. Mark Bray, formerly an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, published in Australia by Melbourne University Press. In interviews with anti-fascist activists in Europe and the US, Bray explores antifa tactics including the dark art of doxxing, a form of online sabotage pioneered by computer hackers.

In the antifa context, doxxing means the outing of Nazi sympathisers — the publication of ­information that identifies anonymous far-right bloggers or activists, which in turn puts pressure on employers to sack them. This year a University of Nebraska philosophy student, Cooper Ward, was doxxed and unmasked as the voice on an anti-Semitic podcast, The Daily Shoah. Bray says he was driven off campus and into hiding.

“Despite the media portrayal of a deranged, bloodthirsty antifa … the vast majority of anti-fascist tactics involve no physical violence whatsoever,” Bray writes.

“Anti-fascists conduct research on the far right online, in person and sometimes through infiltration; they dox them, push cultural milieux to disown them, pressure bosses to fire them and demand that venues cancel their shows, conferences and meetings; they organise educational events, reading groups, trainings, athletic tournaments and fundraisers; they write articles, leaflets and newspapers, drop banners, and make videos … But it is also true that some of them punch Nazis in the face and don’t apologise for it.”

Got d0x?

First, yes, ‘d0xxing’ is A Thing … though in Australia it tends not to extend as far as it does elsewhere. Thus, in my own case, while I’ve named a number of local AltRight figures — David Hilton (‘Moses Apostaticus’) is one recent example — I don’t publish full deets, most infos is drawn from open-sources and often relies upon simply drawing upon previous research (or is the result of a tip-off). Thus it’s also been possible to identify a number of the nazis who assembled outside Melbourne Pavilion last week simply by referring to previously published material. Inre Cooper Ward and ‘The Daily Shoah’, Ward was one of several neo-Nazis ‘outed’ at this time, including Mike Peinovich (‘Mike Enoch’). His outing as a neo-Nazi activist resulted, inter alia, in his separation from his (Jewish) wife — but the Shoah must and has gone on. Unmentioned but relevant in this context is that both the sitting MP George Christensen and former Labor leader turned angry old pensioner Mark Latham have appeared as guests on the podcast network TRS (for which ‘The Convict Report’ is the local expression).

[snip] A problem for the Australian antifa, and indeed for anti-fascist groups in Europe and the US, is that few people and organisations they oppose here have much to do with Nazism. Consider the rollcall of hard-right leaders who turned out in Kensington in support of Yian­nopoulos. Neil Erikson, a far-right agitator and leader of a small group known as Patriot Blue, used to be a Nazi but in recent years has publicly disavowed his former beliefs and now says he is a supporter of Israel.

Who you calling a Nazi, Nazi?

First, Erikson has publicly acknowledged the fact that, from his early- to mid- teens through until the end of 2015/beginning of 2016, he considered himself — and was considered by others — a neo-Nazi activist. A former member and/or associate of Blood & Honour and Nationalist Alternative, Erikson, in addition to having a criminal conviction for stalking a rabbi (February 2014), also ran with the short-lived gang ‘Crazy White Boys’, responsible for the attempted murder of Vietnamese student Minh Duong in 2012. Secondly, prior to ‘Patriot Blue’, Erikson had cycled through numerous other brands and Facebook platforms, and no doubt will jump on another bandwagon when it suits him. Finally, given his record, it’s not unreasonable to view Erikson’s posturings — first as a neo-Nazi, now as a ‘supporter of Israel’ — with some degree of skepticism, and to view his performances as being simply (and more accurately) opportunistic exercises by an attention-seeking, racist, meathead.

Blair Cottrell, the hulking former leader of the defunct United Patriots Front, is fascinated by Adolf Hitler as a historical figure but ridicules neo-Nazism as a contemporary political movement.

Or; Pull the other one (it’s got bells on).

Of course, being a semi-rational political actor, Cottrell doesn’t want to be known as a neo-Nazi. Like others, he understands that this is — still — a political kiss-of-death, properly the domain of uniform fetishists. That said, the reasons he may be described as one are rather more extensive than an apparent fascination with Mister Hitler: from celebrating his birthday to expressing a desire for every Australian school child to be issued with a copy of Mein Kampf … annually. Cottrell’s determination to fight the moral and political degeneracy allegedly caused by The Jew — of which ‘Cultural Marxism’, ‘feminism’ and ‘multiculturalism’ are major symptoms — lies at the heart of his political vision. I documented this in early 2015, collecting a series of his online postings on sites like Facebook and YouTube and republishing them as ‘Quotations From Chairman Blair Cottrell’ (July 27, 2015). Elements of this formed the basis of a The Sydney Morning Herald article published in October 2015 (Blair Cottrell, rising anti-Islam movement leader, wanted Hitler in the classroom, Michael Bachelard, Luke McMahon, October 17, 2015). Leaving aside the fact that Cottrell and the UPF lodged with members of Aryan Nations when they held a rally in Perth; that Queensland neo-Nazi Jim Perren, along with fellow neo-Nazi Bradley Trappitt (Combat 18), organised their failed party launch in Toowoomba in early 2016 (Perren described it as a mini-Nuremberg rally minus the swastikas); that in their internal discussions Cottrell recommended reading The Protocols; that the UPF gave birth to Antipodean Resistance and The Lads Society … leaving all that, and much more, aside, it’s also the case that Cottrell was denounced as a ‘Nazi’ by his former UPF colleagues Shermon Burgess and Neil Erikson. Finally, the words of Jean-Paul Sartre are rather apt in this context:

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

To continue:

Avi Yemini, a tough-on-crime activist, is a former Israeli soldier. He recently joined Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives and hopes to stand as a candidate in next year’s Victorian election.

Yemini is not a neo-Nazi, though he wouldn’t be the first Jew to assume such a mantle (cf. Danny Burros and Nathaniel Jacob Sassoon Sykes). Indeed, in May 2013, one Jewish bloke and Republican Party booster, David Cole/Stein, was exposed as a Holocaust denialist; most recently, he’s gone into bat for local ‘transcendental’ fascist Richard Wolstencroft. In any case, Yemini certainly loves associating with neo-Nazis and other fascists, and rarely misses an opportunity to join with them in castigating Bad People (leftists, Muslims, et. al.) for their crimes. On his relationship to the wider Jewish community, this statement by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society is germane.

As for Yiannopoulos, although some of his supporters are Nazi sympathisers — Inquirer was sent a picture of a man giving a Nazi salute as he walked out of his Kensington speaking engagement — there is scant evidence that he is.

When Yiannopoulos was preparing a treatise on the alt-right for the Breitbart website early last year, he sought the input of a white nationalist blogger and self-described Nazi, Andrew Auernheimer, and forwarded it along with contributions from other hard-right figures to his co-author, a Breitbart staff journalist. When the Buzzfeed news site obtained emails exchanged between Auernheimer and Yiannopoulos, it reported them as proof that “Breitbart and Milo smuggled Nazi and white nationalist ideas into the mainstream.” There was no smuggling involved, Nazi or otherwise; Yiannopoulos’s treatise was a rambling cook’s tour of right-wing groups, with Auernheimer quoted as an on-the-record source.

O RLLY.

Actually, the Buzzfeed article — Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream (Joseph Bernstein, October 6, 2017) — does a little more than document the fact that Yiannopoulos sought the input of neo-Nazi weev into one article he — or rather one of his Breitbart lackeys — wrote. Inter alia, the article ‘also reported that Yiannopoulos’s passwords included references to Kristallnacht, the 1938 anti-Semitic German pogrom that historians mark as the beginning of the Holocaust, and the Night of the Long Knives, the murderous 1934 purge of Hitler’s onetime allies by Nazi paramilitaries.’ It also contains footage of Milo singing karaoke while his friends make Nazi salutes. In any case, Roger Mercer, the billionaire hedge-fund manager bankrolling Breitbart and Milo, recently withdrew his support (citing ‘personal reasons’ for doing so).

[snip] The fallout for antifa [from Milo’s cancelled gig at Berkeley] has been mixed. Speaking to Inquirer from New York, Bray says the movement is stronger and better organised than it was a year ago. “The spectacle of Berkeley and the precedent it set emboldened a lot of anti-racists and anti-fascists,’’ he says. “It was a call to arms for the movement.’’

Berkeley also set in train a series of events that last week culminated in FBI director Christopher Wray announcing that antifa activists were the subject of a counter-terrorism investigation. Wray told the US House of Representatives homeland security committee: “While we are not investigating antifa as antifa — that’s an ideology and we don’t investigate ideologies — we are investigating a number of what we would call anarchist-extremist … people who are motivated to commit violent criminal activity on a kind of antifa ideology.’’

(Don’t Talk To The) FBI

On June 15, 1917, President Wilson signed the Espionage Act, which delineated punishments for foreign spies and prohibited organized resistance to WWI. A great deal of repressive federal and state legislation followed, including the Trading with the Enemy and Sedition Acts. The government apparatus for enforcing these laws also expanded, including to the recently formed Bureau of Investigation (a precursor to the FBI). These mechanisms were used against anarchists, the IWW, and other left-wing organizations: on the same day that the Espionage Act took effect, police arrested Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. The leader of the Socialist Party, Eugene Debs, was sentenced to ten years in prison for delivering an antiwar speech in Ohio in June, 1918. The ‘Red Scare’ of 1917–1921 reached a peak with the Palmer Raids of November 1919 and the targeting of the Union of Russian Workers, an anarcho-syndicalist labour union composed of Russian immigrants. On November 8, 700 police raided seventy-three radical centres, arrested more than 500 individuals, and seized tons of literature. Many of those arrested were transported to Ellis Island and deported to Russia on the transport ship, the Buford. Over 3,000 people were deported in 1919, 2,000 in 1920 and over 4,500 in 1921.

Fast-forward to the early 2000s, and the Red Scare has become the Green Scare. In January 2015, one of its primary targets, Eric McDavid, was released from prison after serving almost nine years jail, his conviction the outcome of an FBI entrapment operation. See : Manufacturing Terror: An FBI Informant Seduced Eric McDavid Into a Bomb Plot. Then the Government Lied About It., Trevor Aaronson, Katie Galloway, The Intercept, November 10, 2015. The FBI has also been actively engaged in the infiltration and disruption of other groups, projects and social movements during this period. CrimethInc:

… starting with the entrapment case of Eric McDavid—framed for a single conspiracy charge by an infiltrator who used his attraction to her to manipulate him into discussing illegal actions—the FBI seem to have switched strategies, focusing on younger targets who haven’t actually carried out any actions.

They stepped up this new strategy during the 2008 Republican National Convention, at which FBI informants Brandon Darby and Andrew Darst set up David McKay, Bradley Crowder, and Matthew DePalma on charges of possessing Molotov cocktails in two separate incidents. It’s important to note that the only Molotov cocktails that figured in the RNC protests at any point were the ones used to entrap these young men: the FBI were not responding to a threat, but inventing one.

Over the past month, the FBI have shifted into high gear with this approach. Immediately before May Day, five young men were set up on terrorism charges in Cleveland after an FBI infiltrator apparently guided them into planning to bomb a bridge, in what would have been the only such bombing carried out by anarchists in living memory. During the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago, three young men were arrested and charged with terrorist conspiracy once again involving the only Molotov cocktails within hundreds of miles, set up by at least two FBI informants.

And so on and so forth. To cut a long story short, the fact that the FBI is investigating anTEEfa should surprise no-one. As Ward Churchill has written (“To Disrupt, Discredit and Destroy”: The FBI’s Secret War against the Black Panther Party, [PDF], 1988]):

The FBI’s politically repressive activities did not commence during the 1960s, nor did they end with the formal termination of COINTELPRO in 1971. On the contrary, such operations have been sustained for nearly a century, becoming ever more refined, comprehensive and efficient. This in itself implies a marked degradation of whatever genuinely democratic possibilities once imbued “the American experiment,” an effect amplified significantly by the fact that the Bureau has consistently selected as targets those groups which, whatever their imperfections, have been most clearly committed to the realization of egalitarian ideals. All things considered, to describe the resulting sociopolitical dynamic as “undemocratic” would be to fundamentally understate the case. The FBI is and has always been a frankly anti-democratic institution, as are the social, political and economic elements it was created and maintained to protect.

Naturally, anti-fascists organise not only to defeat fascism, but also to combat repression. The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund is one such project, but there are others, and no doubt there’ll be more as the state — increasingly, in close collaboration with the corporate sector — acts to repress dissent.

See also : What Chip Le Grand gets wrogn about the Australian ‘alt-right’ (September 10, 2017) /// Three Way Fight /// Anti-Fascism Beyond the Headlines: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore Interviews Mark Bray, LA Review of Books, December 11, 2017.

Now that Yiannopoulos’s tour has ended, antifa in Australia will readjust its sights to homegrown targets …

The risk here is that, in the absence of genuine Nazis to punch, antifa will employ its tactics against people who hold legitimate conservative political views.

Bray, who introduces his book as a “unashamedly partisan call to arms”, defends militant anti-fascism as a “reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat”. If that threat in Australia is more perceived [than] real, where does that leave antifa?

Bonus! Aamer

Avi Yemini ~versus~ APEX : “Make Victoria Great Again” LOL (September 17, 2017)

This Sunday, September 17, Avi Yemini has organised a rally to castigate the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, for failing to stop African yoof from slaughtering Victorians.

Or something.

According to Avi:

The government has failed us.

Violent crime in Victoria is out of control and we refuse to wait until the next elections [sic] to demand safety and security for the good people of our great state.

We will be demanding:

1. Minimum sentencing for violent offenders, including teenage ‘minors’.

2. NO bail for violent offenders.

3. NO early release for violent offenders.

4. Adult jails for offenders over the age of 18. No matter their sob story.

5. Deportation of violent immigrant offenders.

6. Empowering the community through the legalisation of defensive tools, such as pepper spray.

Avi has previously stated that ‘[t]here’s no question that Melbourne is currently under siege’, and that those besieging it are APEX (‘APEX: How to end their reign of terror’, July 16, 2016). On APEX, see : In defense of the “Apex gang”, Kieran’s Review, November 7, 2016; on crime in Victoria, see : FactCheck Q&A: is violent crime getting worse in Victoria and do people feel less safe than ever?, The Conversation, February 18, 2017.

Joining him on the day will be All The Usual Suspects, drawn from A26A, Asolate Security Group, Patriots Defence League of Australia, Reclaim Australia, Soldiers of Odin, True Blue Crew, United Patriots Front and various other right-wing satellites.

Well, actually, lvl boss of the TBC, Kane Miller, announced on Tuesday that the boys from Bendigo and Melton will not be joining Avi on Sunday. According to Kane, this is because of the unfortunate fact that, while they too regard African yoof as being suitable only for deportation, Avi simply failed to respond to their messages to him about the event.

This is very sad news.

But wait! There’s more! On Friday, Kane informed the world that he and his Crew will indeed be attending on Sunday, because while they don’t support Avi or his #BFF Neil Erikson (who has previously denounced the TBC as the ‘True Meth Crew’), they rlly do hate African yoof as much as any other flag-waver.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In any case, the Soldiers of Odin — y’know, the mob founded by a Finnish neo-Nazi, Mika Ranta (Finnish Resistance Movement) — will mos def be present, including its President Jason (‘Jay B’) Moore, and Swiss member Jan Herweijer. Jan was recently in the news (August 22, 2017) because he ‘was issued with a letter from the immigration department last month informing him he had failed a character test. The letter, seen by nine.com.au, informs Mr Herweijer the department is considering cancelling his current bridging visa and refusing his partner visa application because of his online activity and affiliation with Soldiers of Odin (SOO).’ Note that in July:

Three men with ties to the [Nordic Resistance Movement] were sentenced on Friday to up to eight and a half years in prison for bomb attacks in western Sweden over the past year. Viktor Melin, 23, received the longest sentence for carrying out bomb attacks on a left-wing bookstore and an asylum center and an attempted bombing of a second asylum center. The attacks took place in November and January. Nobody was killed but one man was seriously wounded in the asylum center attack.

The Soldiers’ cousins in Sweden are also organising a march on a synagogue on Yom Kippur (Neo-Nazis Get Green Light To March Outside Swedish Synagogue On Yom Kippur, Aiden Pink, Forward, September 11, 2017).

Joining the Soldiers Of Odin will be whatever remains of the PDLA, which in this case seems to be Damian/Damien Kourevellis (Court told violent man not detained, Steve Butcher, The Age, March 26, 2009):

A man arrested and then released from hospital hours after threatening “suicide by police” was shot and wounded months later by an officer in a second violent confrontation. A court heard that father of three Damien Kourevellis left Sunshine Hospital on March 24 last year after police sought his involuntary detention under the Mental Health Act. Kourevellis that day had assaulted his partner, threatened to blow up her house with petrol bombs and then armed himself with a knife. But he was not charged for seven months.

Kourevellis later ‘pleaded guilty to nine charges from both incidents that included reckless conduct endangering serious injury to police and manufacturing an explosive device’, crimes which bring to mind both Blair Cottrell’s criminal record and of course my good friend Phill Galea, who if he wasn’t awaiting trial on terrorism charges would also be joining Avi outside Parliament.

One grouping that will not be present on Sunday will be Chris Shortis and the Australia First Party. Despite being a confirmed anti-Semite and White supremacist, Avi found time last week to congratulate Chris on his brave defence of the crime of inciting hatred for Muslims. This is a heartwarming tale and one which demonstrates that Avi and Chris can at least bond over their mutual fear and suspicion of Muslims and Africans.

Certainly, the extreme-right and neo-Nazis have nothing to fear from Avi, whose main concern is to combat those opposed to the extreme-right. Thus: The media love to highlight the stereotypical mad-dog, right-wing, “neo Nazi”-looking crew, but they’re not the real problem. The real problem is the so-called “anti-fascists” who claim to be standing against hate (ironically in a very hateful way). (‘Burning the flag: A hate crime every time, The Times of Israel, June 28, 2016).


ABOVE (L to R) : George Jameson (Party for Freedom, Sydney), Chris Shortis (Australia First Party, ex-United Patriots Front), Neil Erikson (ex-UPF, ex-Nationalist Alternative), Blair Cottrell (UPF, ex-NAlt), Ricky/Rikki Turner, Garry Hume, Luke Phipps.

Finally, the state government passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Public Order) Act 2017 this week, which:

essentially bans face coverings during protest events where OC (capsicum) spray is commonly deployed by police (often in inappropriate, excessive and potentially unlawful circumstances). This means journalists, photographers, street medics and legal observers, as well as protestors will not be able to protect themselves from the effects of direct spraying or by-spray. This is despite numerous recent incidents where journalists, medics and legal observers (along with dozens of protesters posing no threat to police whatsoever), have been directly sprayed by ill-disciplined, under trained or over-zealous police.

The CBD has also been declared a ‘designated zone’ between 8am and 8pm on Sunday.

See also : AJDS Statement on Avi Yemini and the rise of far-right racism, September 14, 2017 | Counter Fascism Action: Join the Jew Bloc (Hosted by Jews against fascism) | From Charlottesville to Melbourne: Unite to fight the far right (Hosted by Campaign Against Racism and Fascism): 11.30am, Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ State Library of Victoria.

What Chip Le Grand gets wrogn about the Australian ‘alt-right’

On the weekend The Australian published an article by Chip Le Grand titled ‘Inside Australia’s own fractious alt-right’ (September 9, 2017) in which the ‘alt-right’ (which is left undefined) is represented by the dynamic duo of Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson. The pair, along with Chris Shortis, were earlier in the week convicted of inciting hatred for Muslims; all three were at one stage members of the ‘United Patriots Front’ (UPF). The article is interesting but incomplete and what follows is my attempt to flesh out some of Le Grand’s account.

Cottrell the (neo-)Nazi

As Blair Cottrell tells Inquirer, “If you dress up as a brownshirt you are setting yourself up to be laughed at.’’

Cottrell first emerged into the public spotlight at the Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne on April 4, 2015. On that occasion he gave a brief speech, accompanied by his cousin Christopher and several other members of neo-Nazi grouplet Nationalist Alternative (NAlt). The grouplet emerged during the course of anti-mosque activism in Williamstown several years ago, and until recently met under the auspices of the English-Speaking Union of Victoria at its headquarters in Toorak Road, South Yarra. The leader of the group, Mark Hootsen, was exposed as such by fellow member Neil Erikson in mid- to late-2014 following a dispute between the pair.

Cottrell’s political views may be established by reference to his online commentary, on sites like Facebook and YouTube. I documented these views from May 2015, when he announced the formation of the ‘National Democratic Party of Australia’:

There’s another kid on the fascist bloc: the ‘National Democratic Party of Australia’ (which is neither national, democratic nor a party). The group had a rather inauspicious beginning, ripping off a WA design company (and the WA RSL) to produce NDP agitprop. A convinced racialist, its chief spokesperson, Blair Cottrell, has some association with the Australia First Party and Nationalist Alternative, both of which had a presence on April 4 and are also committed to returning on July 18/19.

Not surprisingly, the Australian version of the German NDP constituted a mere blip on the political radar, and Cottrell soon moved on to the United Patriots Front, “a coalition of neo-Nazis, fundamentalist Christians belonging to the Rise Up Australia Party (RUAP), and a handful of semi-pro Islamophobes”. His views were more exhaustively documented in Quotations From Chairman Blair Cottrell (July 27, 2015). As I noted at the time, “The content below is sourced from comments by Blair Cottrell (AKA ‘National Democratic Party of Australia’), Melbourne organiser and spokesperson for the United Patriots Front, on Facebook, YouTube and Google. Almost all of the comments have since been deleted as part of Cottrell’s efforts to erase his neo-Nazi political commitments.” Some of this content was later reported in ‘Blair Cottrell, rising anti-Islam movement leader, wanted Hitler in the classroom’ (Michael Bachelard, Luke McMahon, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 17, 2015).

In other words, Cottrell’s anxiety not to be portrayed as a neo-Nazi is both rational — being known as a neo-Nazi is the political kiss of death — and commonplace — most neo-Nazis lie and dissemble about their political commitments and Cottrell is no exception. Finally, it’s worth noting that his former kamerad Shermon Burgess claims that, when he met Cottrell for the first time in Melbourne in May 2015, Cottrell had a copy of Mein Kampf in his ute, and when asked why he travelled with a copy of Mister Hitler’s book, referred to it as ‘The White Man’s Bible’. In any event, even if Le Grand chooses to ignore it, there’s certainly no shortage of evidence of Cottrell’s neo-Nazi views.

Erikson the (neo-)Nazi

There are certainly Nazis on the fringes of Australia’s underground alt-right. Neil Erikson, one of Cottrell’s co-accused, used to be one, although he has in recent years disavowed them. He dismisses the emergence of Australia’s newest neo-Nazi group, the Antipodean Resistance, as uni kids playing dress-ups on Twitter and describes his own renunciation of National Socialism as a case of growing up.

“I used to admire Adolf Hitler years ago but since then I have woken up and seen a different side to it. I used to think that all Jews were evil. Now I see that the racist stuff comes from the left. I used to be anti-Israel, now I’m pro-Israel. You can’t be a nationalist and be against Israel.’’ He once accused Cottrell of being a Nazi. He now says he’s not. “There are Nazis out there but they are clowns,’’ he says. “We all think they are clowns.’’

LOL.

By his own admission, Erikson became a ‘Nazi’ as a teenybopper; he first renounced ‘Nazis’ and ‘Nazism’, however, after he and his kamerad Shermon Burgess left the UPF in late 2015, precisely on the basis that the UPF was considered by them to be irredeemably ‘Nazi’. As well as being a member of NAlt, Erikson was also a ‘Crazy White Boy’, a short-lived gang of boneheads whose main claim to fame was the attempted murder of Vietnamese student Minh Duong in Ascot Vale in June 2012. In December 2012, several nazi yoof were convicted of the crime, which is worth recalling in some detail:

Wayne O’Brien, aged 20, and Shannon Hudson, now 21, committed a deplorable and unforgiveable attack on their smaller victim who they jumped as he was walking home alone from a Moonee Ponds 7/Eleven store where he worked.

The victim, a 21-year-old Vietnamese international student, was listening to music on his iPhone when attacked unawares on June 27 this year.

During the ferocious 10-minute bashing he was called names including a “yellow dog”, but Supreme Court judge Justice Betty King today said the bashing robbery was only partially racially motivated.

The victim was punched in the face and, after toppling over a garden fence, was pinned down and punched and kicked.

After he handed over his phone, O’Brien and Hudson dragged him down and bashed him again.

“He was terrified and believed he was going to be beaten to death,” Justice King said in sentencing.

The victim was dragged by his legs into the street and punched and kicked some more, and was also stabbed with a sharp weapon.

“Eventually (he) lost consciousness and lay in the gutter,” Justice King said.

“Despite that, it would appear that the assault continued.”

In what the judge described as a “particularly chilling episode of violence”, Hudson picked up a loose brick from the ground and, after raising it above his head in both hands, brought it down on the man’s head.

“The brick itself broke in half,” Justice King said.

The victim was left lying unconscious and shirtless in a pool of blood.

According to Erikson, after the assault his ‘Boys’ asked him to help dispose of Duong’s body. Whether they did or not (Erikson states that he declined their invitation), it’s curious that Le Grand avoids connecting Cottrell and Erikson to NAlt, and Erikson to the Boys. Of course, Le Grand also avoids reference to the ‘Aryan Nations’ (AN) in Perth. According to Erikson, when the UPF travelled to Perth to attend a rally in November 2015, they stayed with fellow UPF (Perth) member Melony Jane Attwood. Attwood, along with fellow neo-Nazis Robert Wayne Edhouse and Corey Joshua Dymock, are currently on trial for the murder of Alan Taylor, bashed to death with a hammer as he slept at his Girrawheen home in April 2016: barely six months after Attwood/Taylor hosted Cottrell and Erikson (and Cottrell’s sidekick, Li’l Tommy Sewell) at her home in Perth.

In summary, while choosing to focus upon Cottrell and Erikson as the most familiar faces on the ‘alt-right’ in Australia makes a degree of sense, for unknown reasons the fact that both men have emerged from the neo-Nazi milieu is significantly downplayed.

Finally, a few brief notes on some other aspects of Le Grand’s reportage:

• On Facebook kicking the UPF and others off the platform, see : antifa notes (may 10, 2017) : United Patriots Front kicked off Facebook &c. Note that for a brief period the UPF spawned another page titled ‘UPF Media’, which also claimed at one point the title of ‘Alt Right Australia’;
• The nü neo-Nazi grouplet ‘Antipodean Resistance’ — ‘a group that openly proclaims its adherence to National Socialism’ (ie, Nazism) — was spawned by the UPF and NAlt. Formed last year and inspired by the (now-banned) UK group ‘National Action’, members of the group attended various rallies organised by the True Blue Crew and UPF in Melbourne, including the anti-leftist/anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant rally in Coburg in May 2016 and the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ counter-protest in the CBD (along with a superbly-disguised Blair Cottrell) in July 2016.

There is, of course, a lot more to say about AR — and last week the media embarked on a publicity campaign on behalf of the boys — but that will come in good time;
• Finally, the alt-right’s favourite Australian Jew, Avi Yemini, is indeed organising a rally next weekend in Melbourne. While his attempt at organising hate rallies in Melbourne in December 2016 and in Sydney in August 2017 were not entirely successful, for its part the ‘Campaign Against Racism & Fascism’ has organised a counter-protest ‘From Charlottesville to Melbourne: Unite to fight the far right’.

See also : Who is Moses Apostaticus? (September 8, 2017) | TheDingoes.xyz /// The Convict Report /// DingoCon (July 8, 2017) | Depends What You Mean By Extremist : A Review (of sorts) (May 19, 2017) | Melbourne neo-Nazis celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday & ANZAC Day 2017 (April 26, 2017) | A (very) brief guide to the Australian far right (December 2016 Edition) (December 5, 2016).