The Futile Crackdown on the “Far Right” is Creating Terrorists
Last week, a far-right terror attack in Germany left nine people dead. The gunman, Tobias Rathjen, ambushed two shisha bars in the town of Hanau, before shooting himself. There were no questions about the shooter’s motive; he had left a 24-page manifesto in which he called for the extermination of entire races of people in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
But when it comes to far-right extremism, it seems to me that neither liberals nor conservatives really know what they’re talking about. Not just in terms of the motivations of far-right extremists and terrorists, but the very nature of who they are and what they believe. Liberals, progressives, and Democrats would have you think that the far right has permeated the fabric of the Republican Party in the US and the Conservative Party in the UK. Meanwhile, conservatives might tell you that the far right barely even exists and is an invention of the progressive left.
Both are wrong.
As a former far-right activist, I have seen how young men are radicalized, how they find a home and a community in the extreme right, and what issues motivate them. I joined the largest white nationalist movement in recent British history as a teenager in 2008, and over a period of years was groomed by Britain’s most famous neo-Nazis to become a future leader of the movement. Following years of conspiracies, harassment, racist paranoia, and violence, I escaped and became the man I am today. I can’t say the same for my former friends.
Far-right extremism is misunderstood, but it is very real.
A report by the US Government Accountability Office from April 2017 found that while Islamists have killed more people in terror attacks, most ideologically motivated violent attacks are committed by far-right extremists. And, since then, the United States, Europe, and New Zealand have seen a flurry of shocking extreme-right terrorist incidents that have left many innocent people dead.
In January, it was reported that a 17-year-old British boy was convicted of six terror offences, including preparing acts of terrorism on synagogues and other locations in Durham, England. Judge David Stockdale QC described him as a “highly intelligent, widely read, quick-thinking and articulate young man.”
The story reminds of Jack Renshaw, a former friend from my hometown, who was sentenced in 2018 to life in prison for plotting to kill our local Member of Parliament, Rosie Cooper. A normal young lad, Jack had found a community in the far right, and didn’t see much hope for his future. He’d witnessed political negligence in our area and, after struggling to find acceptance anywhere else, found a home in Britain’s most extreme neo-Nazi movement.
From the horrific scenes of the Christchurch attack to the Poway Synagogue shooting, seemingly normal young white men all over the world are being radicalized by networks of online neo-Nazis.
Nobody seems to know the answer, and I think it’s because few really understand what the far right actually is. To understand why this is happening, it’s important to acknowledge the fundamental and important differences in worldview between national conservatives, and neo-Nazis.
White nationalists are not the same as populists, national conservatives, or nationalists. One group wishes to exterminate or deport entire races of people, and the others assert the primacy of their national culture. No matter how many times radical progressives lump President Trump or Prime Minister Johnson in with the neo-Nazis that commit terror attacks, they will always be wrong.
Extremists are not created in a void. Once we recognize the difference between real far-right activists and those who simply disagree with the “woke” agenda of radical progressives, it’s easier to understand the motivations of these young men. As I describe in my book Monster of Their Own Making, I believe my own radicalization as a teenager was the result of a “Three-Pronged Attack” from negligent politicians, a complicit media, and an emboldened far left. While I thankfully escaped extremism, most other young men do not, and end up burrowing further down the rabbit hole.
When the political class don’t seem to want to represent the interests of working-class people, in particular white working-class men, and when the media labels anyone who speaks out about difficult issues “racist,” it makes young men angry. When those young men express that anger, they are met with harassment campaigns from far-left ideologues who make it their life mission to ensure right-wing or conservative voices never enjoy meaningful employment ever again. Wearing balaclavas, they’ll attack you in the street with a bike lock or beat you to a pulp if you question their left-wing orthodoxy.
Is there any better way to legitimize the claims by neo-Nazis that there is a coordinated campaign to silence, kill, and even exterminate white people than by doing exactly what it is they claim is happening?
Similarly, online censorship has formed part of a futile crackdown on right-wing voices that has legitimized the arguments of far-right extremists. When moderate conservatives, or even many left-wing voices, are silenced by tech giants and condemned by politicians and media pundits, it gives young men no moderate outlet to voice their concerns. Making it increasingly difficult to operate online as a conservative does not get rid of far-right extremists – it creates more of them.
Young men, angry about uncontrolled immigration, enraged by Muslim grooming gangs in the United Kingdom, victimized by far-left progressives and feminists, and targeted by media smear campaigns are given no compelling reason not to join the ranks of far-right extremists and neo-Nazis. All this futile crackdown has done is push more people into the hands of the radical right – the real far right.
At least there they have a home, a community, and acceptance.
Meanwhile, our authorities continue to play a game of Whack-a-Mole, responding to reports of far-right terror attacks or stopping them just in the nick of time.
Isn’t it time we started listening to the motivations of these extremists and stopped the far right from capitalizing on our authorities’ inaction on those issues?