We’ve witnessed another weekend in which the far right has targeted people with a long history of social justice activism. Three weeks ago the far right openly assaulted anti-racism activists and counter-protestors in front of the gardaí. The latter confined themselves to policing those who had been assaulted and not the ones inflicting violence.
Not unexpectedly it has happened again. Outside the Dáil a small group of anti-racism and LGBTQI+ activists were accosted by a large crowd of far-right protestors who had gathered to demand an end to the government’s COVID-19 laws. Captured on video, a member of the crowd was seen assaulting one of the activists, longtime LGBTQI+ activist Izzy Kamikaze, with a piece of wood draped in the tricolour.
And, once more, the gardaí were more interested in policing the victims as opposed to the crowd. This was a crowd consisting of members of Generation Identity, the National Party, and men who are known to the gardaí for online harassment of women, migrants, as well as having sent death threats to The Beacon.
The reaction of the far right to events outside the Dáil has been telling. Across social media far-right supporters have revelled in the damage done. Having gotten away with numerous assaults on counter-protestors in the last few months, they are emboldened.
Others, in a repeat of the pattern commonly found in far-right circles, have resorted to inventing conspiracy theories about the assault. This has in part been fuelled by incomplete footage posted online by Ireland’s alt-right media. As a result, there are those claiming that the blood seen on the face of the activist assaulted by the crowd is fake; that she somehow planted the blood on herself in front of dozens of people without any of them noticing. And there are those claiming that she wasn’t as injured as she was.
Of course this is ludicrous. The full footage shows more clearly what happened and there can be no mistake: A crowd of far-right extremists gathered around a small group people and, knowing they outnumbered them, assaulted the group with the result being an injured and bloodied Izzy.
The far right also attempted to play up the fact that the initial response of the Garda Press Office to the attack was to say that there had been no incidents or arrests related to the protests. However, the press office has now updated its line.
It told The Beacon that gardaí “are investigating an incident of assault that occurred during a protest”. And although “No formal complaint has been made at this time”, gardaí are nonetheless in the process of carrying out an investigation.
There is no neutral
Both the gardaí and the mainstream media are lagging behind in their response to the very real threat now posed to people’s safety by our own homegrown extremists.
In the aftermath of the far-right assault on counter-protestors at the Custom House three weeks ago, the Irish Times ran with the bizarre story that the counter-protestors were violent. Footage from multiple angles of the far-right attack wasn’t enough proof of what took place.
Only after a large outcry on social media did the newspaper update the story with what actually happened. At the same time it made no comment as to why such the story was framed in such a manner in the first place.
Other parts of the media give a platform to those who spout far-right talking points and who, in some cases, are highly placed members of far-right parties. Why does Justin Barrett get a spot on Prime Time?
This comes from the idea of so-called balance, something that is pervasive across the mainstream media. But balance isn’t unbiased. It hinges upon the ideology of those using the platform in the first place. Having one person on a programme to discuss the rights of asylum seekers and migrants alongside someone who has openly said that all migrants must be deported, and is the leader of a far-right political party, isn’t balance whatsoever. It’s obscene.
And it’s obscene because we are being asked to accept that questioning the inherent rights of people to merely exist and live their lives is perfectly acceptable.
Robert Fisk has spoken of this very problem with the media. He points out that people’s lives shouldn’t be reported on like a football match in which one side did this and the other did that.
Instead, he argues:
Yes I think we should be objective and unbiased, on the side of those who suffer. If we were reporting the slave trade in the 18th century, would we give equal time to the slave-ship captain? No, we’d talk to the slaves and the survivors on that ship. If we were present at the liberation of a Nazi extermination camp, would we give equal time to the SS spokesman? No, I think not. We would interview the survivors and talk about the victims.
Worse to come
But this is where we are right now. The gardaí police the left and allow the far right to gather unencumbered and unchallenged. And the mainstream media, for the most part, seems incapable of understanding — or perhaps doesn’t want to understand — what’s going on.
There is massive anger at the government for its handling of the pandemic. People have suffered while government ministers and insiders literally partied. An obvious double standard exists in Irish society between our purported rulers and the average person.
The far right is using this to get people on the streets every weekend. New recruits are needed because, as has been said in the past, for the far right it’s a war. All we have to do is look to elsewhere in Europe to see what awaits us if nothing is done.
The Sweden Democrats, a party made up of neo-Nazis and which once floundered in the fringes of Swedish political life, is now the third-biggest party in the country.
We already have one far-right group in Síol na hÉireann actively recruiting and fundraising via local branches around the country. It, along with the National Party and other far-right groups, may not succeed electorally. But even in their failure groups like this are laying the groundwork for what’s possibly to come.
It’s time that Irish society realises the threat facing it. Otherwise we have some very dark years ahead of us.
Featured image via Twitter – Screenshot