SPLC capitulates to Red-Brown axis

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) last week issued a pressingly important report, "The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment." It refreshingly called out "red-brown populist collaboration"—documenting the growing convergence between figures on the supposed "left" and the radical, even fascist right, both in the US and in Europe. Playing a critical role is the Russo-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, who is bringing together supposed peaceniks and neo-fascists around supporting despots like Putin and Assad in the name of a "multi-polar" world.  But, depressingly, at the first howls of protest from this very Red-Brown alliance, SPLC folded like punks, removing the report from their website and issuing a pusillanimous apology.

From the shameful "Explanation and Apology":

[W]e extend a sincere apology to those who believe they have been falsely described in it, including Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, Tim Pool, Rania Khalek, and Brian Becker, and disclaim, as clearly as we can, any intention to suggest that any of them are white supremacists, fascists, and/or anti-Semites, that they hold such views, or that they are engaged in a conspiracy with the Russian government to promote such views or otherwise.

Those "who believe they have been falsely described"? Note that SPLC does not even admit to any errors or false charges—they are behaving as if we should pull our punches against those who collaborate with fascists because it might hurt their feelings! The very problematic Max Blumenthal seems to have led the charge on this, so let's see what the report actually had to say about him. The text is still available via the Wayback Machine...

Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson's FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal's RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of "Russia's position in the world" to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin's Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country's authoritarian conservative government as "part of the multipolar world."

"If you believe in a multipolar world,"  Blumenthal told Wright, "you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy." He specifically mentioned Becker's Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they "tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda."

Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party's Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called "Infowar: Will there be a winner" alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal's pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition's points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on "Loud & Clear" with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regular, Ray McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled "Hands off Syria." With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimes and helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminating Damascus’s water supply.

When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, "I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about."

Is any of this untrue? The links appear to bear it all out, and we have heard of no actual libel threats against SPLC. We at CounterVortex have been calling out exactly these figures in the sinister Red-Brown convergence for years. Let's see.... Max Blumenthal. The same one who exploited last year's Manchester bombing to join with Britain's right-wing tabloids in the unseemly pile-on against the Libyan revolutionaries who overthrew Qaddadfi. And  Ben Norton, who jumped on Wikileaks' Clinton e-mail dump to disingenuously puff dubious claims of (indirect) US support for ISIS. Best of all is Brian Becker of the "anti-war" (sic) ANSWER Coalition who rushes to exculpate the Assad regime of its every atrocity. Note that in December 2014, reps of Becker's United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) sat down with Russian and Italian fascists and neo-Confederate white nationalists at a Moscow conference on "Building a Multi-Polar World" hosted by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, an entity in Aleksandr Dugin's ideological orbit. 

Fox News' Tucker Carlson has become quite adept at appealing to the "left," in recent months running soft interviews with Glenn Greenwald (to dismiss the Russian hacking allegations as a "smear") and with Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation magazine's resident Putin booster.

Then we've got Jill Stein, who portrayed Trump as the lesser evil to Clinton because he "does not want to go to war with Russia," and whose running mate Ajamu Baraka is an unabashed cheerleader for the genocidal Assad. We're certainly glad to learn more of what went down at the sickening lovefest she attended in Moscow at the invitation of Kremilin mouthpiece RT in December 2015, where she amicably dined with Mike Flynn and Vladimir Putin.

And then the ultra-odious Hands Off Syria, avid supporters of the massive Russian military intervention in Syria who actually held a protest against the heroic White Helmets. Yes, they protested the people who daily risk their lives to save others from Assad regime and Moscow air-strikes! Once again, nothing worse than pro-war "anti-war" jive.

And look who are taking open glee at SPLC's capitulation... Kremlin propaganda organ RT, Trump propaganda organ Fox News, and the neo-Nazi Stormfront!

Doing the piece for RT is Rania Khalek, who accuses the SPLC report of "blatant falsehoods"—without actually enumerating any.

The SPLC's suppressed report was long overdue, and the organization's self-censorship is a disgrace. It also sets a very dangerous precedent. Hopefully, just as the Red-Brown axis intimidated SPLC into quashing the report, perhaps principled anti-fascist voices can shame them into daylighting it again if we raise enough of a stink. Meanwhile, the text is still available via the Wayback Machine, and should be widely distributed. 

New Politics calls out SPLC self-censorship

Charles Davis in New Politics provides "An Inside Look at How Pro-Russia Trolls Got the SPLC to Censor a Commie." The commie in question is Alexander Reid Ross, author of the supressed report, but apparently Davis himself figures in his own story, and yes there was a threat of litigation, though a seemingly spurious one. Forgive the somehwat gossipy tone, this is actually some pretty vital context:

I don't know Blumenthal well, but we have met before: six years ago at a bar in downtown Brooklyn where a single, square artisanal ice cube displaced what ought to have been $6 of gin in my $12 cocktail. It was a birthday party for a mutual friend who I no longer follow on Twitter.

It was with some surprise, then, that I received a call on March 13 from the SPLC's bemused general counsel, Jim Knoepp, regarding a peculiar legal threat Blumenthal had sent to the civil rights organization. That threat named me as a "shadow author" of an article I did not write by a man I did not know on topics we had never discussed.

Blumenthal would repeat this claim in an interview with Ed Schultz, an RT anchor who enjoyed previous stints as a conservative on talk radio and a liberal on MSNBC. "It's very clear," Blumenthal asserted. "This wasn't by one writer. This was by a cabal of people who have been trying to suppress dissent."

It only took $20, Blumenthal added, to pay for the threat of litigation that got the article by Ross pulled by the SPLC, the civil rights group apologizing for hurt feelings but not actually conceding any error in fact. The piece is now hosted elsewhere.

"I don't think it was even being read," Ross said when I spoke to him. What was being read were the claims being made about it. The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald, for instance, alleged that the SPLC had "published an article claiming that anti-war activists in the left were in an alliance, and were basically the same as, neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers."

This viral mischaracterization was why the SPLC retracted the piece. In its apology, the group said that some of those named in the article had protested that they had been "falsely described... as white supremacists, fascists, and/or anti-Semites." It continued: “Because neither we nor the article’s author intended to make any such accusations, we took it down while we re-examined its contents."

But, no. The piece did not "describe" anyone that way. That is a false characterization. Ross was reporting facts, not composing "descriptions." No litigation would have held up in court, as truth is an "absolute defense" in defamation or libel cases, and there has been no accusation that the report contained any untruths. Bottom line: SPLC were spineless punks for pulling the piece. 

Cohen does Carlson ...again

Once again, Stephen Cohen appears on Fox News' Tucker Carlson, calling on the US to make common cause with its fellow "Christian" nation Russia. (Mediaite)