A guard tower stands illuminated at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the official ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Picture: Omar Marques/Getty
A guard tower stands illuminated at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the official ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Picture: Omar Marques/Getty

Auschwitz anniversary only highlights our alt-Right problem

In January 1945, the Soviet army marched into Auschwitz and liberated the 7,000 prisoners still there.

Thousands more had been evacuated from the Nazi's biggest extermination centre in the days before the Russians arrived, many dying on the march out of Poland. More than a million people - mostly Jews - had already been murdered in the death camp.

75 years later, the sickness of Nazism is not only still with us, but growing.

They don't call it that anymore, mostly. The white supremacists hide under a barrage of names, loosely linked, but they're there. They're the alt-Right, the racist skinheads and their more bouffant buddies, holocaust deniers and white nationalists, white pride, and white separatists.

They're no longer just on fringe sites like 4Chan or Gab or Reddit. The new Nazis mix their messages up with a range of conspiracy theories on Facebook and YouTube.

In 2018, then federal Senator Fraser Anning used taxpayer funding to attend an alt-right rally in Melbourne, where some attendees were spotted wearing Nazi paraphernalia. Picture: supplied
In 2018, then federal Senator Fraser Anning used taxpayer funding to attend an alt-right rally in Melbourne, where some attendees were spotted wearing Nazi paraphernalia. Picture: supplied

Vulnerable, isolated young (usually) men start looking at some edgy material and before long the online algorithms drag them down into a morass of hate. Hate groups where some of them find acceptance.

Tony McAleer was one of them: A foot soldier of the White Aryan Resistance. Now he fights for compassion, and tells how a lonely boy child (usually, but not always a boy) would tumble into isolation.

His job as a recruiter was to pick them back up again, give them a feeling of acceptance, bring them into the fold. Then relentlessly turn them into violent, white supremacists.

He talks about how, in the '80s when he was a Neo-Fascistfascist (yet another name), he'd have to buy audiocassettes, books, and videos to integrate himself into the ideology. But today there are no barriers because you can find your people online, anonymously. They're gathering, not as the goosestepping hordes of the past, but an army of online vigilantes. And potential mass murderers.

 

Our spooks know this, and have warned of it often. The deaths some of them plot look more like the Christchurch massacre than the gas chambers.

The intolerance they preach is not just anti-Semitism anymore, although that often lurks at the heart of their fear-filled fantasies, it's an ultranationalism that talks about alien invasions of all sorts.

Instead of a mustachioed Hitler, preaching from a populist pulpit, they are a diaspora. They have their alt-Right heroes - often the angry young men who have killed people after writing anti-immigration manifestos online - but they're leaderless and nimble.

And, as I've written before, there is a striking Venn diagram interface with the incels - involuntarily celibate men who see themselves victims of a new world order where women are allowed to refuse to have sex with them.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre in the US has pegged more than 40 mass shootings there as coming from the alt-Right, the weird world of toxic trolls that crosses into real life with deadly effect.

In 2018, Mathias Cormann and other Coalition senators claimed their support for the “it’s OK to be white” bill was an administrative error. Picture: Sean Davey
In 2018, Mathias Cormann and other Coalition senators claimed their support for the “it’s OK to be white” bill was an administrative error. Picture: Sean Davey

The way the Nazis, and their new wave, work is by making groups of people "other", alien, and making them look like a threat to people's way of life.

They stoke division, mistrust, and fear. As do some leaders, some politicians.

Fear is the ultimate political motivator, blowing oxygen into people's fears and anxieties to win votes. That's what happens when politicians vote for a motion saying "it's OK to be white", or talk about invading hordes, or invent stories about the war on Christmas.

It's what they're doing when they're building walls or putting families in detention or using phrases like the "final solution" in Australian politics.

These public utterances may not be Nazi propaganda, but their "othering" effect is enabling the underworld. They're expanding the idea of what acceptable statements, policies, and actions look like. Becoming mainstream sabre-rattlers for the racist trolls.

Yesterday 91-year-old David Marks, who lost 35 family members at Auschwitz, begged for the world to remain ever vigilant.

"There are signs to look out for. If you don't watch out one day you wake up and it's too late," he told reporters.

@ToryShepherd


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