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Sat 25 May 2019
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Major right-wing celebrities on social media betrayed their ideological guilt and complicity after the murder of 50 attending Mosques in Christchurch

The terrorist attacks in Christchurch have prompted a telling response from prominent figures of the right-wing media. In the immediate aftermath of the worst mass-shooting in the history of New Zealand, a flurry of defensive stances have been adopted by commentators.

Although quick to distance themselves from the beliefs of the shooter, many of these figures have been pushing an anti-Islam, anti-immigration narrative for years.

Candace Owens and Turning Point

Candace Owens, a prominent conservative commentator and activist, was namechecked as a major influence in the so-called manifesto of the shooter.

The actions and writings of the shooter seem to have been designed in part… to give a nudge and wink to the Internet forums from whence they slouched

Owens, also a Director of Turning Point USA, a conservative organisation with links to far-right American money, has been criticised for her reaction to the news. Rather than choosing to distance herself from the shooter’s views or condemning the violence, she tweeted “HAHA” and “LOL!” , and attempted to shift focus onto ‘racist Leftists’.

Following backlash to this reaction, she has issued a statement calling the incident a “tragedy”.

Paul Joseph Watson and Infowars

Paul Joseph Watson, editor of conspiracy and fake news website Infowars.com, rushed out an article claiming the media had circulated a hoax about Owens. He alleges the gunman’s reference to Candace in the manifesto was a “sick joke” meant to demonise the conservative commentator. His article cites no examples of this happening.

Watson, who has a long history of pushing an anti-Islamic narrative, publicly announced his becoming a member of UKIP last year, prompting accusations that the party was surging further to the right. These accusations were recently compounded by UKIP Leader Gerard Batten bringing in another far-right activist.

PewDiePie – Another Far Right Gateway

Earlier this week, the official UKIP Twitter account told its followers to subscribe to PewDiePie, a Swedish gamer and YouTuber, who has long been dogged by accusations of being a gateway to the far-right.

Moments before entering the mosque on Friday, the Christchurch shooter could be heard on his livestream saying “Subscribe to PewDiePie”. The slogan has become increasingly associated with the far-right. Over the weekend it was sprayed onto the wall of a UK school alongside swastikas and was last month scratched into a Second World War Memorial.

PewDiePie has unfollowed almost 600 accounts on Twitter since Christchurch, in an attempt to distance himself from all of the white nationalists he was following.

Lauren Southern and Markus Meechan

PewDiePie, AKA Felix Kjellberg, follows a number of prominent far-right activists on Twitter such as Lauren Southern and Stephan Molyneux, both of whom spread the white supremacist conspiracy theory known as “the great replacement” This theory was cited by the Christchurch Shooter in his manifesto.

In the wake of the shooting, Southern took down her video detailing theory but reinstated it a few hours later. Southern has also been interviewed by Watson on Infowars.com and Watson himself has promoted the idea of the “great replacement theory” several times.

Elsewhere, Markus Meechan, another YouTuber who joined UKIP alongside Watson, lamented that the victims of the shooting were being forgotten amidst discussions about the shooter and his motives.

Meechan went on to say that by focussing on what the shooter had said in his manifesto the media and public would be “doing everything [the shooter] wanted”.

Meechan has half a point: one of the shooter’s stated aims was to “create conflict,” and any exegesis of his manifesto will only bring far-right talking points further into the mainstream.

The actions and writings of the shooter seem to have been designed in part, if not wholly, to attract media attention and to give a nudge and wink to the Internet forums from whence they slouched. Meechan’s logic however is in-step with this general trend of right-wing commentators attempting to insulate themselves from criticism for pushing many aspects of the shooter’s purported ideology.

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