Watching the defectives: a fake news diary

Not a Trump protester. A London rioter

A far from comprehensive selection of the hatemongering bullshit being spread by the far right

This isn’t intended to be a fully fledged post – more of a resource. It will never be exhaustive, but I want to keep a record of some of the most spectacular examples of fake news and or/twisted facts circulated by far right and so-called libertarian websites.

I’ll just make the one observation for now: if your cause is really so just, why do you need to make so much shit up?

Watson tweet

The deception: Self-styled alt-right “counterculture” guru Paul Joseph Watson posted this tweet on 16th January 2017. The wording is unambiguous: anti-fascist protesters were plotting an acid attack at an event to celebrate Trump’s inauguration.

The truth: The “acid” in question was butyric acid. The protesters were planning to let off a stink bomb.

Screenshot of fake news website

The deception: A group of Muslim immigrants in Berlin kidnapped a teenage girl and raped her repeatedly for 30 hours.

The truth: The girl, a 13-year-old Russian-German, later admitted making up the story. None of the far-right websites bothered updating their articles or taking them down.

Golding tweetThe deception: Paul Golding, leader of the confederacy of cunts that is Britain First, posted a video on his Twitter account purportedly showing British Muslims celebrating the terror attack in the Champs-Elysees in Paris in April 2017.

The truth: The video, filmed in 2009, showed Pakistani cricket fans celebrating victory over Sri Lanka, as anyone who watched the video to the end – and saw them shouting “Pakistan” and hugging passing white people – could have worked out.

Not a Trump protester. A London rioter

The deception: Hillary Clinton supporters staged violent riots after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

The truth: There was some trouble. But a number of far-right websites and Twitter accounts used pictures from the 2011 London riots as “proof” of the violence. (The picture above was used, inter alia, in a Guardian article in June 2016, five months before the supposed riots.)

Not praying to Mecca

The deception: Schools in the US are forcing non-Muslim primary school children to pray to Mecca.

The truth: It was a tornado drill.

Little girl with scar

The deception: A four-year-old boy was beaten by a gang of Muslim immigrants in Sweden.

The truth: The picture the far-right pricks used showed a four-year-old girl savaged by her family’s rottweiler in Cardiff in 2008.

Tweet by prick

The deception: When news broke of an explosion near the team bus of the Borussia Dortmund football team in April 2017, a rumour circulated that Islamic jihadists were responsible. Paul Joseph Watson was quick to point this out to his 573,000 followers on Twitter.

The truth: A few days later, police arrested a German-Russian market trader over the incident. He had carried out the attack in order to drive down Borussia Dortmund’s share price. Did Paul Joseph Watson hasten to convey this rather significant development to his 573,000 followers? Did he fuck.

Crane with people dangling from it

The deception: A few weeks back, a lot of Islamophobes on Twitter circulated the above photo, claiming that it showed a mass execution of gay men in Saudi Arabia (or sometimes Iran). The tweets were all deleted when the con was pointed out, but I saved the photo.

The truth: It was an Icelandic dance troupe rehearsing a performance for the Rekjavik arts festival.

The deception: Muslims never speak out against jihadist terror.

The truth:

Muslims speaking out against terror

If you find any particularly egregious examples of equivocation, misrepresentation, or outright mendacity designed to fuel hatred like this, let me know and I’ll add them to the list. But please make sure it’s all properly sourced.


Attack of the phantom Nazis

Trump's tiny inauguration crowd

The fascists on social media don’t have a following. They’re trying to build one

Trump's tiny inauguration crowd
That’s about the size of it.

The rise of the alt-right is undoubtedly a concern; but perhaps not as big a concern as you feared. And you can stop it getting any bigger without leaving your front room.

A year of interacting with fascists on social media has taught me a few things. First off, a lot of them are bots, automated accounts set up by … well, that speculation’s for another day.

Second, many of them are the same people operating several accounts. Most haven’t even made the effort to conceal their multiple personas, using similar handles and profile pictures. Even those that have soon give themselves away by using the same boilerplate phrases, or making the same grammatical mistakes.

Why do they bother? Well, the first lesson of movement-building 101 is to create the impression that your constituency is bigger than it really is. There are a lot of weak-minded people around, and a lot more who like the idea of being part of a club. If they think everyone else is becoming a fascist, FOMO might lead them to sign up. And the bigger a movement appears, the more likely it is that those who disagree will be cowed into silence.

Sure, 17 million Brits voted Leave and 60 million Americans voted for Trump. But the vast majority weren’t fascists. Many were disillusioned, protesters, people misled by the media. On the whole, they voted for change – not violent revolution.

The reason the fascists have taken to Twitter and Facebook is precisely that they haven’t found enough people in the real world who support their ideas. They don’t have a following; they’re trying to build one.

And the good news for decent folk everywhere is that they’re shit at it. Today’s fascists are, broadly speaking, as dumb as posts. They communicate almost exclusively in slogans and memes, are barely conversant in their native language, and can rarely muster followers in double figures. This generation of Nazis couldn’t organise a putsch in a beer hall. And most of them are either atrophied virgins cowering in their mummy’s basement, pensioners who wouldn’t last a second in a fight, or nihilistic trolls who only believe what they write for as long as it takes to rattle a liberal. Any far-right action right now would basically consist of few fat shaven-headed football fans on Stella, hoping for a ruck.

Nigel Farage cancelled his march on the Supreme Court in December not on security grounds, but out of fear of an embarrassingly small turnout. Though it may not seem like it at times, decent folk outnumber these cowardly shits by a factor of hundreds to one, and they’re generally younger and brighter to boot.

While I don’t think the fascists have the courage or the numbers to take to the streets at this point, that might not always remain the case. But we need not let things get to that point. Nazification is not inevitable.

All decent folk have to do to prevent any further rise of the alt-right is speak up. Stop pretending they’ll go away; start objecting, resisting. If enough voices combine in a huge shout of “NOT ON MY WATCH”, they will remain fragmented, disorganised, disheartened.

Wars and intolerance and hate have been a blight on human history. But the direction of progress is unmistakable. The more tolerant we are, the more successful we are. The more we cooperate, instead of competing, the more safe and prosperous and happy we become. Humanity has achieved its dominance of this planet precisely as a consequence of its humanity.

So, by all means, block a Nazi today. But make sure you (metaphorically) punch him in the face first. Let him know that he is on the wrong side of history; that this petulant little burst of fascism, as Barack Obama put it last week, is a comma, not a period.