This week the British government decided to refuse entry to the North American far-right vloggers Brittany Pettibone and Lauren Southern.
In the wake of the refusal, they and their supporters began a rebranding campaign, seeking to recast Pettibone and Southern as “conservative” activists or even conservative “journalists”.
The right-wing alternative media such as Breitbart and The Gateway Pundit were all too happy to adopt these inaccurate descriptions when writing about the events.
Worryingly, more mainstream figures such as Maajid Nawaz of the controversial Quilliam Foundation and a radio host at LBC repeated the mischaracterization calling Lauren Southern a “Christian conservative activist” and linking to a Fox News article as evidence.
Likewise, over 11-12 March Leave.EU, the unofficial Brexit campaign headed by UKIP’s former donor Arron Banks, tweeted 3 times either stating or implying that Southern and Pettibone were “conservative” and “journalists”.
Whether you agree or disagree with the government’s decision, helping Pettibone and Southern rebrand themselves in this way is deeply irresponsible.
Here’s why we should call Pettibone and Southern far-right:
Brittany Pettibone is a California-based author, far-right activist and social media personality who rose to prominence in online far-right circles after helping to promote conspiracy theories and through co-hosting the alt-right ‘Virtues of the West’ interview vlog dedicated to “[…]traditional gender roles and [the] love of one’s own culture, race and country”. More recently, she has garnered attention through her continued support for the anti-Muslim, anti-migrant and racial separatist identitarian movement.
Propagates extreme far-right conspiracy theories
Pettibone has previously propagated the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory (a conspiracy which ultimately led to a shooting) and continues to spread the “White Genocide” conspiracy that there are plans made by a shadowy global elite to turn white populations in majority white countries into racial minorities through immigration, diversity initiatives, support for access to abortion and other means.
— Brittany Pettibone (@BrittPettibone) January 13, 2017
Supported an anti-refugee project
Pettibone actively supported and promoted the “Defend Europe” mission in 2017. Organised by the anti-migrant, anti-Muslim and racial separatist Generation Identity movement, the mission disrupted the work of NGOs saving the lives of refugees crossing the Mediterranean.
— Brittany Pettibone (@BrittPettibone) 21 July 2017
Pettibone calling for financial support for Martin Sellner, de facto spokesperson for Generation Identity and the Defend Europe mission.
Supports far-right movements
Pettibone has promoted the spread of the identitarian movement to North America. Identitarianism calls for “ethnopluralism” which, in practice, this means racial segregation.
Supports a Catholic organisation “mired in antisemitism”
Pettibone has stated that she is a member of the international radical traditionalist Catholic organisation, the Society of Pope Pius X (SSPX), which the Anti-Defamation League has described as “mired in antisemitism”.
Until 2014, a notable member was Bishop Richard Williamson, who has engaged in repeated Holocaust denial as well as supported white supremacist and Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.
In 2015 the Southern Poverty Law Centre declared that the SSPX remained “a font of anti-Semitic propaganda” and in January 2018 it was praised by the white nationalist website The Occidental Observer for “training the next generation of Whites”.
Promotes various figures in the international far right
Pettibone has used her social media following to promote various figures in the international far right. Though she frequently denies that her engagement with them means she is necessarily promoting their views, she has also stated she is an activist as opposed to a journalist and has only given attention to far-right individuals and movements.
Whilst co-hosting ‘Virtues of the West’ with alt-right vlogger Tara McCarthy, Pettibone favourably interviewed, amongst others: anti-Muslim activist and former English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson), alt-right vlogger Lana Lokteff, conspiracy theorist, fake news propagator and Manosphere blogger Mike Cernovich, and counter-jihad writer Dr. Bill Warner.
Through her own vlog Pettibone has interviewed, amongst others: the white nationalist and antisemitic House Speaker candidate Paul Nehlen, alt-right vlogger Faith Goldy, and identitarian writer Martin Semlitsch (aka Martin Lichtmesz).
Pettibone has herself appeared on, amongst others: the white nationalist Red Ice TV YouTube channel, the leading US right-wing conspiracy media outlet InfoWars and, on multiple occasions, the vlog of Scottish white nationalist Colin Robertson (AKA Millenial Woes).
Southern is a Canadian far-right activist who runs one of the largest YouTube channels in the alt-light. She has built her success through her provocative anti-feminist and extreme anti-Muslim messages on YouTube and Twitter, as well as through her previous role presenting on the Canadian far-right alternative news outlet Rebel Media.
Propagates extreme far-right conspiracy theories
Southern has on her YouTube channel argued for “The Great Replacement” far-right conspiracy theory espoused by xenophobic scholar Renaud Camus. In Southern’s own words the theory maintains that “You have one people and in the space of one generation you have a different people”. The Great Replacement theory is regularly championed by far-right groups and websites, including the most extreme sections of the alt-right, and is taken to refer to the supposed “Islamification” of Europe by migrants and refugees, who are argued to pose an intrinsic threat to white Europeans.
Blames Muslims for the Holocaust
Southern, who herself claims her grandparents fled to Canada to escape the Nazis, argues that Muslims are to blame for the Holocaust in her book, Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants, and Islam Screwed My Generation:
“As far as I’m concerned, Hitler was just a SJW who happened to get freaky amounts of power and actually implement his #KillAllJews (the predecessor to #KillAllMen) worldview. Basically, if Hitler were writing today, he could’ve avoided all the verbiage in Mein Kampf and just complained about “Jew-splaining” on Tumblr and the message would be the same.
Oh, and another problem I have with Hitler? He fawned over Muslims more sycophantically than Justin Trudeau. Bibi Netanyahu was right to point out that Hitler decided on the Holocaust partly because Middle Eastern Muslims told him they didn’t want Jews expelled into the region.“
Stopped migrants by force
Southern supported and took part in the “Defend Europe” mission that sought to block NGO ships from rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean, effectively risking the lives of people coming from Northern Africa to Europe. In a video on Periscope filmed from the first boat-blocking she explained: “if the politicians won’t stop the boats, we’ll stop the boats!” She defends her dangerous actions by arguing that Muslims are “barbarians” that will lead to the fall of Western civilisation.
If only you read a history book you’d know opening your gates to the barbarians leads to the downfall of great civilizations ???????? https://t.co/W6us7EI1ML
— Lauren Southern (@Lauren_Southern) 12 February 2017
Is connected to the extreme far right
While Southern attempts to stay away from the issue of race by veiling it in anti-Muslim rhetoric, some of her closest colleagues and friends do not. Faith Goldy, whom Southern has made multiple videos with and who she worked closely together with at Rebel Media, has appeared on extreme right media outlet Red Ice TV and on a podcast by the neo-nazi Daily Stormer site. Goldy supported the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, a rally which led to the killing of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer and is a proponent of the idea of “white genocide”.
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