Here’s the problem with right-wing activists calling neo-Nazis 'feds': op-ed
In a Sunday, September 3 op-ed published by The Daily Beast, Institute for Strategic Dialogue senior research manager Jared Holt argues "the allegations that ostensibly mainstream conservatives" raise that "neo-Nazis and others like them are 'feds' staging fake protests to sway public opinion or entrap conservative activists," is backed by "remarkably scant evidence."
Holt, who researches hate and extremist movements, points out that one week after a white gunman intentionally murdered three Black people at a Tallahassee, Florida Dollar General with a rifle marked with swastikas," nearly "five known neo-Nazi groups appeared to be active around Orlando this weekend," wearing "swastika flags and pro-Hitler signs," with "little, if any, notable resistance to their presence."
He writes "prominent right-wing online influencers seemed to agree: the neo-Nazi groups that demonstrated just two hours south of that murder scene must have been part of a 'false flag' operation staged by the federal government to smear their otherwise righteous conservative movements."
The term "false flag," Holt writes, "is increasingly synonymous with conspiracy theories defined by their reflexive rejection and disinterest in reality."
The neo-Nazis participating in these protests represented groups that extremism researchers like myself have been tracking for years. They are real, organized, and serious about what they are spreading: ideologies that inspire bloodshed and violence, often against minority communities.
Holt also notes:
Many of the same social media influencers who have encouraged others to reflexively believe right-wing extremists are actually performers straight out of 'central casting'—[are] part of a federal conspiracy— who also fashion themselves to be free thinkers, seemingly unaware of the block that conspiratorial thinking has imposed on their curiosity.
"After neo-Nazis demonstrated in Florida this weekend," he continues, "the self-described liberal 'intellectual dark web' figure Bret Weinstein retweeted a post from a person who self-identified as 'adjacent to the corners of the dissident right from which stuff like this would come' (they were quote-tweeting a video clip of the neo-Nazis assembled in Florida) and who tweeted demonstrably false claims about said groups that just a few minutes of research could dispel."
Holt insists, "This is how these conspiracy theories are mainstreamed, and how the right-wing convinces itself it doesn't have a real 'Nazi problem'—that it's all part of a grand...conspiracy to make them look bad."
Holt's full op-ed is available at this link (subscription required).
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