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Immigration

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  • European "alt-right" ship tries to stop refugee rescue missions, fails miserably

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The campaign of Defend Europe, a European white nationalist “Identitarian” movement, to disrupt humanitarian search-and-rescue missions for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, ended yesterday after months of problems, from its ship’s mechanical failure to the crew’s sea-sickness. Despite the group’s claims of total and undisputable success, its campaign was nothing more than a stunt, and a failed one at that.

    Here’s a list of mishaps the campaign suffered over the past four months, as reported by HuffPost UK, the U.K.-based anti-extremism research and education group HOPE Not Hate, and others:

    • In May, pro-Trump troll Lauren Southern and three Defend Europe members were detained by the Italian Coast Guard after they attempted to block a search-and-rescue ship travelling to Sicily.
    • In June, the group’s PayPal account, through which it was soliciting donations, was frozen for violating the service’s terms
    • In July, the group’s ship, C-Star, was reportedly detained by Egyptian authorities in the Suez Canal due to a “lack of documentation and papers”; this detainment delayed the ship’s effort to reach the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Shortly after, several individuals linked to Defend Europe had their Patreon accounts suspended for violating the company’s terms by soliciting donations for “activities that are likely to cause loss of life.”
    • In late July, the ship’s captain and owner were detained in Northern Cyprus, and the crew was investigated for possible human trafficking. Following a two-day detention, the Defend Europe members were then deported from the port “for alleged people-smuggling.”
    • In several countries, regional government authorities, NGOs, and citizens protesting the group’s racist activities prevented the C-Star from resupplying, docking, and refueling at ports in Italy, Tunisia, Crete, Greek Cyprus, and Malta.
    • In August, the C-Star broke down and had to be rescued by a real refugee rescue ship.

    And, as HuffPost UK noted, the "successes" the group took credit for were actually spurred by regional governments and humanitarian organizations. Specifically, the recent decline in migrant crossings of the Mediterranean Sea was spurred by Italian and Libyan Coast Guard missions, Islamic State group clashes along the Libyan coast, and the weather -- not by a motley crew of anti-refugee 20-year-olds.

    As the outlet also documented, the actual activities of members of Defend Europe amounted to little more than shouting at faraway ships, unfurling anti-immigrant banners, and interviewing each other to promote their online brands. One thing is clear from Defend Europe’s months long operation -- it was an embarrassing failure.

  • "Alt-right" ship gets stranded at sea trying to keep migrants out of Europe, will be saved by refugee rescue ship

    Operators of the “alt-right” vessel previously accused their rescuers of human trafficking

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The C-Star, a ship used by anti-immigrant group Defend Europe to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, has been “stranded in the Central Mediterranean,” the Independent reported. Italian officials told Sea-Eye, a German nongovernmental organization (NGO) that operates rescue ships in the Mediterranean, that Defend Europe’s vessel “had suffered a mechanical failure and could not manoeuvre,” according to the report. Sea-Eye Chairman Michael Buschheuer confirmed that one of the group’s rescue ships had been dispatched to help the stranded vessel, saying, “To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs.”

    Defend Europe previously accused Sea-Eye, and other groups, of “colluding” with Libyan human traffickers. Yet Defend Europe’s C-Star was itself recently detained in the self-declared Turkish state of Northern Cyprus for document forgery and potential human trafficking of 20 Sri Lankan nationals found on board. Turkish Cypriot authorities deported nine crew members, including the captain, and a German “second captain” alleged to be a neo-Nazi.

    On August 11, the U.K. anti-extremism research and education group Hope Not Hate issued a formal complaint and request for an inspection of the ship in the wake of its technical failure, pointing out that this incident is further confirmation of what the organization has already reported -- that the ship is ill-equipped to care for the migrants it claims it can rescue. Defend Europe itself has acknowledged that its true mission is to prevent migration to Europe, and one of the campaign's spokespeople, Martin Sellner, has unabashedly reported that the campaign's plan is to force migrants back to North Africa. The banner the group proudly unfurled on the boat earlier this month plainly states, “You will not make Europe home.”

    From the Independent’s August 11 report:

    Volunteers on a German refugee rescue ship say they have been deployed to help a far-right vessel that has become stranded in the Central Mediterranean.

    Sea-Eye said Italian officials had told their crew that the C-Star, operated by an anti-immigration group calling itself Defend Europe, had suffered a mechanical failure and could not manoeuvre.

    A spokesperson for the group, which is among those Defend Europe has accused of “colluding” with Libyan people smugglers, said it was on its way to offer aid.

    Michael Buschheuer, the chairman of Sea-Eye, said: “To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs.”

    Defend Europe confirmed its ship was suffering a “minor technical problem” that was being resolved.

    “C-Star developed a minor technical problem during the night,” a spokesperson said, saying that its engine was stopped so it could be fixed.

    “This means that under [maritime laws to prevent collisions] the vessel is considered ‘not under command’ and information was sent out to vessels nearby in accordance with regulations.

    “This problem is about to be resolved.”

    The group, an offshoot of the white nationalist Identitarian movement, crowdfunded its ship with claims it would target “criminal NGOs…that are nothing less than part of the international human trafficking ring”.

  • White nationalist VDare hosting conference in Colorado with Breitbart columnist

    Conference at Cheyenne Mountain Resort will also feature writer who describes himself as “racist” and “homophobe”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE (8/14): Before he organized the August 12 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, Jason Kessler wrote multiple articles for VDare. A June 19 post (his most recent) concludes that the “governments of the West are waging a campaign of slow extermination against their own core populations. It is white genocide.” VDare also posted a defense of the Charlottesville rally on August 12 which concluded that “it’s not Unite The Right that is ‘dividing’ America. Whites who aren’t comfortable with being dispossessed in every single Western country, or with seeing the symbols of their heritage wiped out, gathered to protest peacefully. … Why should Unite The Right apologize for anything? Indeed, how can the ‘Far Right’ be regarded as anything other than an incredibly moderate protest movement against a deliberate campaign of genocide?” (The white supremacists did not actually “protest peacefully.”) 

    The white nationalist and anti-immigrant hate group VDare will host its next conference at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, CO. The 2018 event will feature anti-immigrant writer Peter Brimelow, Breitbart.com columnist Tom Tancredo, and writer John Derbyshire, who describes himself as a “mild and tolerant” “homophobe” and “racist.”

    Civil rights groups have heavily criticized VDare for its racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), VDare is a white nationalist website that “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” The Anti-Defamation League wrote that VDare is a racist site that “posts, promotes, and archives the work of racists, anti-immigrant figures, and anti-Semites.”

    Headlines on VDare include: “One Problem With These Hispanic Immigrants Is Their Disgusting Behavior,” “Indians Aren`t That Intelligent (On Average),” “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Hispanic Immigrants Taking Over FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa,” and “Roll Over, JIHAD—There’s Also HIJRA, Muslim Conquest By Immigration.”

    Numerous media outlets have correctly identified the site as white nationalist, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and CNN.

    VDare recently announced, and started taking reservations for, its April 2018 conference at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which is a part of Benchmark Resorts & Hotels. A booking page for the event states that it will feature “a weekend of candor, fellowship, and top-notch speakers, as we celebrate the shifting political tides and discuss the way forward for patriotic immigration reform and American national identity.”

    VDare attempted to hold its first public national conference at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park earlier this year, drawing criticism from Media Matters and SPLC. That event was also set to feature Brimelow, Tancredo and Derbyshire. The lodge subsequently took “steps to immediately cancel this booking” when it “became aware of the nature of VDare Foundation.” VDare responded by criticizing Media Matters for engaging in “cultural Marxism” and questioning whether “we live in a free country or not.”

    In response to Media Matters’ inquiry about VDare’s 2018 conference, a Cheyenne Mountain Resort spokesperson gave the following statement: “Cheyenne Mountain Resort respects the privacy of its guests and does not comment on groups or individuals that hold meetings at the resort.”

    VDare’s scheduled speakers for its 2018 conference have a history of pushing racist, anti-immigrant, and white nationalist views.

    Tancredo is a Breitbart columnist and a favorite immigration "expert" for White House chief strategist and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon. His columns regularly demonize immigrants as dangerous and disloyal invaders, with headlines such as “Mexico Is Sending Us Colonists, Not Immigrants,” “European Colonization, Not Refugee Resettlement,” and “From Jenner to D.C., Multiculturalism Virus Is Destroying the U.S.” He claimed in January 2016 that “Muslim rape culture … could be coming to a town near you all too soon” because of immigration.  

    Tancredo has a long history of making anti-immigrant and racist statements. The former Colorado congressman once suggested that the United States bomb Mecca; criticized Miami, FL, for purportedly becoming “a Third World country” because so many people speak Spanish there; and proposed a “civics literacy test before people can vote.”

    Derbyshire was fired from the National Review after he penned a column suggesting that white and Asian parents warn their children about the supposed threats posed by black people. Derbyshire has stated of his views: “I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one, and those things are going to be illegal pretty soon, the way we are going.”

    In a profile of Brimelow, SPLC wrote that he “is one of the leading voices in the anti-immigrant movement. Interestingly, he is himself an immigrant (from England), a fact that he regularly brings up when he worriedly notes that his son, with his ‘blue eyes’ and ‘blond hair,’ could grow up in an America in which whites have lost their population majority. For Brimelow, immigration itself is not the problem — it's the influx of non-whites that is destroying America.”

    *Updated with additional information. 

  • Stephen Miller accused Jim Acosta of "cosmopolitan bias," here is the term's ugly history

    In Politico Magazine, analyst Jeff Greenfield explains "The Ugly History of Stephen Miller's 'Cosmopolitan' Epithet"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In Politico Magazine political analyst Jeff Greenfield explained how President Donald Trump’s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller’s invocation of the word “cosmopolitan” in a White House press briefing to attack a reporter connected him to a long history of the term being weaponized by “anti-Democratic political movements,” often with clear anti-Semitic undertones.

    During an August 2 White House press briefing, Miller defended the president’s support of the RAISE Act, a Republican-sponsored immigration proposal that would prioritize immigration based on the "skills" immigrants bring to the country and favor English speakers over non-English speaking immigrants. Miller, who once reportedly told a classmate they could no longer be friends because his classmate was Latino, has a long history of promoting anti-immigrant policies. Miller also has a close relationship with former Breitbart executive chair and current White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and shares the same extreme nationalist ideology with him. During a contentious back-and-forth with CNN’s Jim Acosta over the RAISE Act in the press briefing, Miller accused Acosta of harboring “cosmopolitan bias.”  

    As Greenfield explained, the word “cosmopolitan” is something of a “cousin to ‘elitist,’ but with a more sinister undertone.” The word has come to represent “people or movements that are unmoored to the traditions and beliefs of a nation,” and has long been a favorite of “nationalist political figures” as a means of delegitimizing and attacking opposition forces. As Greenfield noted, the term was invoked by Josef Stalin to “purge” the Soviet Union of “dissident voices,” and has often carried strong anti-Semitic connotations. From the August 3 article:

    When TV news viewers saw Trump adviser Stephen Miller accuse Jim Acosta of harboring a “cosmopolitan bias” during Wednesday’s news conference, they might have wondered whether he was accusing the CNN White House reporter of an excessive fondness for the cocktail made famous on “Sex and the City.” It’s a term that’s seldom been heard in American political discourse. But to supporters of the Miller-Bannon worldview, it was a cause for celebration. Breitbart, where Steve Bannon reigned before becoming Trump’s chief political strategist, trumpeted Miller’s “evisceration” of Acosta and put the term in its headline. So did white nationalist Richard Spencer, who hailed Miller’s dust-up with Acosta as “a triumph.”

    [...]

    So what is a “cosmopolitan”? It’s a cousin to “elitist,” but with a more sinister undertone. It’s a way of branding people or movements that are unmoored to the traditions and beliefs of a nation, and identify more with like-minded people regardless of their nationality. (In this sense, the revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine might have been an early American cosmopolitan, when he declared: “The world is my country; all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”). In the eyes of their foes, “cosmopolitans” tend to cluster in the universities, the arts and in urban centers, where familiarity with diversity makes for a high comfort level with “untraditional” ideas and lives.

    [...]

    One reason why “cosmopolitan” is an unnerving term is that it was the key to an attempt by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to purge the culture of dissident voices. In a 1946 speech, he deplored works in which “the positive Soviet hero is derided and inferior before all things foreign and cosmopolitanism that we all fought against from the time of Lenin, characteristic of the political leftovers, is many times applauded.” It was part of a yearslong campaigned aimed at writers, theater critics, scientists and others who were connected with “bourgeois Western influences.” Not so incidentally, many of these “cosmopolitans” were Jewish, and official Soviet propaganda for a time devoted significant energy into “unmasking” the Jewish identities of writers who published under pseudonyms.

    What makes this history relevant is that, all across Europe, nationalist political figures are still making the same kinds of arguments—usually but not always stripped of blatant anti-Semitism—to constrict the flow of ideas and the boundaries of free political expression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, has more and more embraced this idea that unpatriotic forces threaten the nation.

  • The White House is relying on hate groups and their junk research to defend the RAISE Act

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & DINA RADTKE

    The White House has endorsed the RAISE Act, a staunchly anti-immigrant piece of legislation that would drastically cut legal immigration to the U.S. on the false premise that immigrants have a negative impact on the economy. To defend its support for the bill, the White House relied on widely-criticized studies by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and cited the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA for their praise of the bill. CIS, FAIR, and NumbersUSA are anti-immigrant nativist groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled “hate groups.” After years of right-wing media promoting their policies and mainstream media legitimizing them in their reports, the Trump administration is finally manifesting their nativist wish list.