“The Third Reich wasn’t real Fascism anyway” │ Marc James Beaton
Think, for a moment, about the modern day internet troll. You may well instantly conjure up an image of some twenty-something neckbeard who still lives with his parents who spends all day online, every day, telling minorities to off themselves without an iota of provocation, for example.
Consider for a moment that the stereotype isn’t entirely accurate. Consider that some people become internet trolls for a very necessary purpose: to satirise bad ideas, to hold the mirror up by taking ideas to their rational but absurd conclusion.
I’m sure anyone with half an interest in UK politics is now aware of the controversy surrounding the protesters who informed Anna Soubry that she is a Nazi – and now Parliament, and all the associated talking heads, seem to have set their unilateral condemnation and feeble attempts to point some blame into overdrive.
There exists a whole movement on the internet of so-called ‘Nazis’ such as YouTube comedian Count Dankula who have been slandered for the past-so-many years by the rabid left-leaning establishment in academia, business and politics.
The idea that certain individuals are ‘far-right’ is quite a convenient one for those on the left – with the post-modern worldview, we have seemingly reached a point where this term, and all the other ones (racist, homophobe, misogynist) are monikers that will almost unfailingly brand the accused’s name as mud. Shame and ostracization, flowing like a lahar. As the old saying goes, a lie will go halfway around the globe before the truth dons its boots.
I don’t remember exactly when I became a ‘Nazi’, but maybe looking at my university disciplinary record will provide some clues.
In the foundation year of my degree, the obligatory student union elections took place and I was critical of the direction of the students’ union. I got into a spirited debate with one of the candidates for presidency of the union after I criticised the focus of the union with him on its executive.
I questioned why the students’ union was using resources on creating gender neutral bathrooms, establishing a dedicated LGBT support centre and giving out rainbow coloured pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. I questioned why resources couldn’t be diverted to something more practical. The bus service arranged through the university and students’ union was always late. Of course, there was also just a small bus, so even when it did turn up, it was anyone’s guess as to who’d actually get on it. I asked questions as to why the university was doing nothing about the fact that the halls had stickers on the loft hatches warning of asbestos.
I made the very valid point that students are late to uni not because of their skin colour, sexual or gender identity. They are late by means of bus. I argued that asbestos in the halls is potentially harmful to all students regardless of whatever background the students’ union wanted to pigeonhole them into.
Given the nature of political discourse my points were not reasonably and honestly engaged and instead it was implied that I may be a homophobe. Tired of being slandered I posited the question ‘how can I be a homophobe if my best mate is a raging homo?’
The candidate then complained to the university and before too long I appeared before the university kangaroo court system answering the allegations. In the dock, I made a compelling argument in my defence, however fruitlessly – I had discussed the issue at great length with a lecturer who told me he had overheard the people dealing with the complaint say the university ‘had to be seen to be doing something’. Eventually I received an informal warning and was branded a ‘homophobe’.
At the start of my second year, one of the lectures in the first week changed room at short notice and we were put into what I can only describe as a social justice re-education camp. A German woman gave us a lecture on racism (an irony I pointed out) and I posited that everyone was from different backgrounds and everyone preferred to just get on with it rather than make a big deal of it and we don’t need to be lectured by a poncey professor on something we’re already comfortable with.
Again I received notification from the dean that I was to appear before his kangaroo court. By this point I knew the disciplinary regulations like the back of my hand and I knew that the process wasn’t being followed properly. I left the meeting. I received an email with the Dean’s offer of an informal resolution: my signing a formal behavioural contract with the university without so much as seeing the complaint against me and being given the opportunity to defend myself.
I replied to the dean, doubling down with the most academic ‘go fuck yourself’ I could muster – which I’m happy to share for anyone interested – and received a reply that no further action will be taken on this occasion, however any further such disciplinary incidents will be dealt with formally. Really, they don’t need to take any further action because the damage is already done. I’m now also a ‘racist.’
I was pretty peeved off at this point and naturally because all the assignments in that year had a theme of politics, there was no real opportunity to let up. We were given an assignment in which we had to create a piece of software which tracks the election activities of political parties and I thought it would be hilarious to use the assignment as an opportunity to poke the bear, rub his nose in it and jovially hold up the proverbial mirror.
I added an extra button to my software labelled ‘The Dean’s address to the faculty 2017/18’ and when you clicked the button a video played of Hitler’s ‘Triumph des Willens’ speech, outlining Nazi control of the state and its institutions to ensure ideological purity in the Third Reich.
I received my now customary email from the university informing me that a disciplinary procedure was to be started against me, but there was a kicker. The dean of a student’s faculty is usually in charge of discipline for students within their faculty. But in this case, because the complaint was made by the dean of the faculty, the university was trying to assign it to the dean of an entirely separate faculty.
I remember dreading that the disciplinary may be assigned to a dean from arts or humanities, but thankfully I was eventually swept up and dealt with by the deputy dean of the faculty of law.
Knowing my rights, I put forth my argument that my implication was that the content of the video was undesirable and the Dean’s application of disciplinary rules struck me as improper and undesirable. The Dean’s attempts to pull the wool over my eyes in the previous disciplinary as well as my knowledge from the first that the university ‘had to be seen to be doing something’ made it, in my eyes, a very valid criticism.
I think the deputy dean of law took my argument at face value however I also think the university had to be seen to be doing something once more, so I received another informal warning for my troubles. Of course, I also have the ‘Nazi’ label now.
My own experiences here are foundational to my viewpoint on the Anna Soubry controversy. I joke that this year I’m going to get in trouble for sexism and in my final year I’m going to go for the Islamophobic piece de resistance. The labels of homophobe, racist, sexist, misogynist, bigot, etc. are like badges of honour to me now, an indicator that I’ve annoyed the right people because, quite frankly, I’m none of those things.
An article from a few years ago has been shared in the past few days in my social media circles where Soubry is quoted as saying that ‘white working class’ voters who have ‘probably never even seen a migrant’ were a large part of why the leave campaign won the referendum and that ‘we have unleashed something’ through the EU referendum.
The implication is of course that all the white working-class voters are a bunch of Nazis and extremist lunatics. I’ve met several migrants Anna. I met a Somali lad who chose to study in the UK in the hope that he can convince any British people to come with him back to Somalia. He told me that all the investment in Somalia nowadays comes from China and when China builds a road, it inevitably needs to be rebuilt a year later. However, the roads built by the British during the colonial days, are still good roads today.
One of the overnight security guards in the halls was a gentleman also from Somalia. Being a poor sleeper, I’d often slip out in the small hours for a cigarette and there he always was, and he’d always stop and talk. His story is fascinating but not mine to tell, but he loves the British and our culture. He was also ardently against illegal immigration because he had to go through a process to get citizenship and thought it unfair that he should follow the law while lawbreakers aren’t punished, instead often given a free ride from the Border Force taxi service.
I also met a lot of Nigerians at university and the point I’d raise from my discussions with my Nigerian friends is that many in Africa are treated as a charity case because of the fact that we send aid money to African governments who misuse the money (much like our parliament’s expenses scandals) and instead we should trade more with Africa and do business to expand our economic activities mutually as partners, bypassing government and spreading the wealth.
Criticise socialism or communism to any left leaning academic these days and you’ll hear the tired retort that ‘the Soviet Union wasn’t real communism anyway’. Bad ideas like this in the mainstream are the very poison in the well of politics these days. People aren’t stupid and whilst they may not be educated enough to figure out exactly what the lie is, they are enlightened enough to know when they’re being lied to.
Anna Soubry has fallen victim to the implications of her own rhetoric. While there is a part of me that can’t help but be amused, dare I say even satisfied; I believe the right path for Anna to take would be to admit her part in it, apologise, then endeavour to do better. Disappointingly, she seems intent on involving an already overextended police force and doubling down on the appeal to ridicule fallacy that is her ‘far-right’ labelling.
Our outbreak of les Gilets-Jaunes, the Yellow Vests, is not a harbinger of fascism in the United Kingdom. Rather, it is a symptom of people tired of them being lied about and lied to. The accusation of Soubry being a Nazi is the mirror being held up in a satirical fashion, an assertion that the British people don’t need to be lectured by a poncey politician if you will. Soubry is just affronted to be receiving a taste of her own medicine – and of course, it has a bitter taste.
And really, those dubbing Mrs. Soubry a Nazi are never going to convince anyone that she is because it’s simply not true. However in holding up the mirror they do expose the truth, and we can all see that while Anna isn’t carrying a NSDAP membership card, she is the archetypal, anodyne, spineless 21st century politician.