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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Why didn't Democracy Now disclose Russian ties to racist Charlottesville rally?

As we approach the first anniversary of the white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA on 12 August 2017, Democracy Now spent the hour Tuesday looking at various aspects of that event. The first two segments previewed selections from a new documentary by Frontline PBS and ProPublica titled Documenting Hate: Charlottesville, and an interview with A. C. Thompson, its producer. The final segment was an interview with the mother of Heather Heyer, the anti-fascist protester murdered by a racist.

US racist Matt Heimbach w Confederate & Russian flags
While this report was very informative and timely, there is one aspect of this event that Democracy Now failed to even touch upon, which nevertheless should be of great interest to its audience, and which is, in fact, essential to a throughgoing understanding of Charlottesville in context, and that is this: there are many connections between the organizers and participants of the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally and Putin's Russia. "You will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us" weren't the only vile things the racist chanted in Charlottesville. They also chanted "Russia is Our Friend."

The reason that is a vile slogan coming from them is that they see Russia as the first white nationalist state of a new era. They also admire Vladimir Putin, and his chief white nationalist ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin. Dugin has been called "Putin's brain," think of him as "Putin's Bannon." Dugin, for his part, hailed Trump as "the American Putin." The ultra-Right that united in Charlottesville see these Russians as leading the worldwide white supremacist movement that they belong to. This reverence for Russia was shared by the principal organizers of the fascist Charlottesville rally.

Richard Spencer on RT
This coming-out party for American neo-Nazis and latter-day Klansmen was Richard B. Spencer's baby. In case you just dropped in from Mars, he is a leading US white supremacist. Starting in May 2017, he led a series of racist rallies in Charlottesville, culminating in the big one in August where he was something like the keynote speaker. Richard Spencer sees himself as part of an international movement led by Vladimir Putin.  He has called Russia the “sole white power in the world,” and the compliment is returned.  He has gotten a lot of exposure on the Putin propaganda network RT. His Russian wife, a well known fascist on her own, Nina Byzantina, translates Dugin's works into English.

Google search for "Putin" on the DN site turns up 27,900 results. The same search for "Dugin" turns up zilch.
While Democracy Now has had quite a mouthful to say about Putin, they have never even mentioned Dugin, or his Tsargrad TV and Katehon think tank and website! What's wrong with this picture? Tsargrad TV has been called the Fox News of Russia for good reasons. Jack Harnick, Sean Hannity's former director and another Putin fanboy, help set it up. Not mentioning these things would be like writing volumes about Trump, but never speaking of Steve Bannon, Breitbart, or Fox News. Of course, if your mission was to somehow sell Trump to progressives in a foreign land, that is exactly what you would do. Since Democracy Now has had nothing to say about the well connected Dugin or his apparatus, its a safe bet they've had little to say about the ruling role white nationalism plays in Putin's Russia.

Matthew Heimbach on RT
Another one of the primary organizers of the Charlottesville rally was Matthew Heimbach, head of the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party. Think Progress named him "most important white supremacist of 2016."  Recently his TWP has been targeting college campuses, where ADL says white supremacist propaganda has nearly doubled in the 2017-18 academic year. At TWP rallies, Confederate and Russian flags have been seen flying side-by-side.

Before Charlottesville, he was arrested for attacking a protester at a Trump rally. He also looks to Russia for leadership. Salon reported on this in "Trump, the alt-right and the Kremlin: White supremacists’ Russia links are no secret," 17 August 2017, by Heather Digby Parton. That was almost a year ago, so Democracy Now really has no excuse for not knowing this stuff. For example, Parton reported:
Heimbach says, “Putin is the leader, really, of the anti-globalist forces around the world" and calls "Russia our most powerful ally" -- and by "our," he means the forces of white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center dubbed him "The Little F├╝hrer." Heimbach is also a member of the World National Conservative Movement, a product of the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM)
Benjamin Goggin, in Digg, 14 August 2017 called Matthew Heimbach "the neo-Nazi at the heart of the Charlottesville rally," and Heimbach credits Putin with turning Russia into an “axis for nationalists.”

Jared Taylor on RT
Jared Taylor, from American Renaissance, was another big supporter of the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally. He holds an annual white supremacist conference that has been getting bigger in recent years. Richard Spencer credits Taylor with "red pilling" him. Taylor is another Putin fan who travels to Russia and was a speaker at the St. Petersburg conference of ultra-right forces.  Sam Dickson, Council of Conservative Citizens member and lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan was also at the St. Petersburg conference. It is said that he had "become wealthy by taking the hard-earned money of poor African Americans," before he showed up in Charlottesville.

David Duke on RT
Probably the biggest name in American racist circles is David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and former Louisiana state representative. He was also one of the chief organizers and speakers at Charlottesvile. He is another Putin fanboy. Salon writes:
Duke has said that Russia is the “key to white survival" and has spent quite a bit of time there. He has ties to Dugin as well.
Rise Above Movement
The PBS/ProPublica documentary didn't mention any Russian connection either. The closest it got was saying that one of the US fascists it profiled had also attended a white supremacist conference in Europe.  That was Robert Rundo, who they described as "a leader of the violent white supremacist group known as the Rise Above Movement [RAM]." I identified RAM as one of the groups involved in the attack on the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice last August, one week before Charlottesville. I have done battle with these fools.  They came to shut down the meeting. They failed then, but vowed to return with greater numbers after Charlottesville. They never showed. Our meeting this Sunday will be the anniversary of that struggle, and we are vigilant.

On the ProPublica website we find out that while in Europe, Rundo hung out with Denis Nikitin, who they describe as "a burly Russian soccer hooligan who has become one of the most successful fight promoters in ultra-nationalist circles."  Nikitin also ran "a white nationalist clothing label, White Rex," which got away with advertising on facebook for three years according to the Huffington Post. Vice News called it "a sort of Nike for Nazis." Rundo promoted the WhiteRex line on his website. It is likely that much of the fascist garb on display at Charlottesville came from this Russian source.

After Charlottesville, the biggest white supremacist website, the Daily Stormer, lost its US Internet provider, when it finally found a new home, it was on a Russian domain.

Even Newsweek ran the very informative Charlottesville's Alt-Right Leaders have a Passion for Vladimir Putin, Tom Porter, 16 August 2017, so how could Democracy Now not be aware of these connections?

Understanding that Putin's Russia is currently leading a worldwide white nationalist movement and has the allegiance of the collection of neo-Nazis and white supremacists that gathered in Charlottesville, is indispensable to understanding this movement in the context they see themselves in. It is also key to understanding Donald Trump's closet support for the rally, as well as his obsequiousness in the presence of Vladimir Putin. Just like the white supremacists at the rally, Trump sees Putin as the leader of their movement. That is the real reason he is so deferential to Putin. It's not blackmail. Blackmail may make you submissive. It doesn't make you respectful.

Donald Trump, and many of the key people in his administration are also Putin-Dugin fanboys. Trump's "Drain the Swamp" mantra is very much a Dugin-Spencer thing. Steve K. Bannon looks to Putin for leadership of "the Judeo-Christian West." He is also a follower of Dugin. He gave a speech praising Dugin in June 2014 to high-level members of the World Congress of Families in the Vatican.

Stephen Miller knew Richard Spencer at Duke University, a fellow WH staffer told Vanity Fair "He's Waffen-SS." Stephen Miller was also in regular contact with George Papadopoulos in March 2016 when Papadopoulos was meeting people who claimed high-level contacts in the Russian government for the purpose of setting up a Putin-Trump meeting, according to the New York Times. When Trump campaign aide, Carter Page spoke to the New Economic School in Moscow, Dugin's Tsargrad TV covered it. Mike Flynn obviously had this own backchannel to Putin, and as a result of the Mueller investigation, we now know of more connections between the Trump cabal and Putin's Russia than would be economic to list in a brief article.

US white-Left politician on RT
We are presently in a very dangerous period. The fascist forces are gathering on many levels, and we may be sitting on the edge of a big disaster. Since Democracy Now generally promotes the white-Left version of "Russia is Our Friend," they may have been too embarrassed to report about the Russian influences on the Charlottesville racists, and their use of that slogan. But they did a great disservice to their audience by keeping quiet about it.

We have to come to terms with the fact that Russia isn't just trying influence the United States because it is a geo-political and economic competitor. Russia has changed from a socialist state under Lenin to a white supremacist state under Putin, and it is actively attempting to build white supremacist power in the United States at all levels. We must also come to terms with the harsh reality that those on the white-Left that cover up these connections, while at the same time promoting greater unity between Trump and Putin, are not our friends.

UPDATE 11 August 2018: CNN is reporting:
GOP lawmaker: Russian meddling fanned the flames in Charlottesville

By Clare Foran, CNN
11 August 2018
Washington (CNN)Republican Rep. Tom Garrett said Saturday that he was told during a briefing with the FBI director that Russian meddling played in a role in "fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville," Virginia, one year ago, when a white nationalist rally turned violent and resulted in the death of a counterprotester.

"I sat in a closed session briefing probably two months ago about Charlottesville with the director of the FBI, amongst others, and asked if Russian inter-meddling had to do with fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville. I was told yes, it did," Garrett told CNN's Ryan Nobles on "Newsroom." The congressman from Virginia said he asked during the briefing if the information was classified and was told it is not.

Garrett, a member of the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, said that Russian interference is "seeking to pit Americans against Americans to undermine confidence in Western-style democracies."

Referring to Russia, the congressman said, "They use events like this divisive racial fight ... and this is the sort of thing they do. As a member of Homeland Security, that's what scares me most, that Americans will be pitted against Americans over real differences, but that are minimal in the grand scheme of things. We are an American family of brothers and sisters regardless of religion and race, and we need to focus on that."

The FBI did not immediately return CNN's request for comment on the congressman's remarks.

FBI Director Christopher Wray referenced Charlottesville last month while discussing foreign interference at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado and said "foreign influence" is playing a role in efforts to "spin up domestic extremist movements."

"Along the lines of the question about Charlottesville, for example, to the extent that we have domestic terrorism in this country that is spun up by various ideologies, foreign influence is being used, in many ways, to capitalize on that and spin up domestic extremist movements to create terrorist attacks here inside," he said. More...
Let's see if Amy Goodman will be forced to cover this aspect of Charlottesville now.

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