Racism

In a recent post, Far Right Attempting Regroupment, I noted that fascist agitator Shermon Burgess had changed his tune about Reclaim Australia.

A month after his public and acrimonious split from Reclaim, Burgess is now desperately preaching a message of “patriot unity” in an attempt to build support for planned rallies on July 18 (in Melbourne) and July 19 (elsewhere).

I noted that the “allied groups” Burgess has been name-checking are largely ephemeral, and that in reality he was probably drawing support (for things like his bus trip) from the likes of the Australia First Party:

The people on such a bus will not be coming from some MySpace group, instead they are almost certainly going to be drawn from the milieu around Jim Saleam’s Australia First Party, and their more obviously swastika licking friends in the Hammerskins and Squadron 88.

Burgess’ public position has been moving further toward the extreme edge of the far-right, but even so it is still surprising to see something as brazen as this go up on the United Patriots Front facebook page:

Jim Saleam and Neil Erikson appear together in a video posted on the United Patriots Front's Facebook page today.

Jim Saleam and Neil Erikson appear together in a video posted on the United Patriots Front’s Facebook page today.

Jim Saleam has a forty year career on the far right in Australia dotted with numerous criminal convictions. He started as a swastika wearing “National Socialist”, spent time in prison for arranging shotgun attacks and arson directed at political opponents, and now attempts to propagate an Australian fascism grounded in the history of the White Australia Policy.

Despite his attempts to distance himself from his swastika licking past, Saleam maintains an ongoing connection to the neo-Nazi scene, evidenced in particular by his continued work with longtime neo-Nazi and Squadron 88 mascot, Ross “the Skull” May.

From top left: 1. Jim Saleam (right) and Ross May in their National Socialist Party of Australia days. 2. Media coverage from one of Jim Saleam's many encounters with the law. 3. Ross May, Jim Saleam and others at a war memorial. 4. Jim Saleam's mug shot, taken after his arrest in connection with a shotgun attack on the house of Eddie Funde (ANC representative in Australia). 5. Jim Saleam, Ross May and other boneheads attempting to drum up support at Cronulla beach, approx. a year after the Cronulla riot. 6. Jim Saleam and Golden Dawn's Australia spokesperson Iggy Gavrilidis at a 2014 rally. 7. Ross May and Jim Saleam together at a rally. 8. Jim Saleam and Ross May at an Australia First meeting in 2014.

From top left:
1. Jim Saleam (right) and Ross May in their National Socialist Party of Australia days.
2. Media coverage from one of Jim Saleam’s many encounters with the law.
3. Ross May, Jim Saleam and others at a war memorial.
4. Jim Saleam’s mug shot, taken after his arrest in connection with a shotgun attack on the house of Eddie Funde (ANC representative in Australia).
5. Jim Saleam, Ross May and other boneheads attempting to drum up support at Cronulla beach, a year after the Cronulla riot.
6. Jim Saleam and Golden Dawn’s Australia spokesperson Iggy Gavrilidis at a 2014 rally.
7. Ross May and Jim Saleam together at a rally.
8. Jim Saleam and Ross May at an Australia First meeting in 2014.

In the video, Saleam expounds on a couple of his pet conspiracy theories, in particular his claim that the government funds anarchists in Australia. He is then joined in front of the camera by Neil Erikson to announce that:

On July 18 and July 19 Australia First Party throughout the country will be supporting the Reclaim Australia rallies. We want to see all patriotically minded Australians there to stop the intimidation at street level of the extreme left against patriotic freedom of expression.

For those unfamiliar with the career of Jim Saleam, I recommend checking out The Audacity of Hate by Greg Bearup, a 2009 profile originally published in SMH’s Good Weekend magazine.

Shermon Burgess and the United Patriots Front are now publicly and overtly aligned with a man who:

spent three and a half years in the 1990s in prison, for supplying a gun to two skinheads who shot up the home of an African National Congress representative while his young family was inside. He was jailed for a further two years for insurance fraud. In the 1970s, he was involved with Australia’s Nazi Party – the Nationalist Socialist Party of Australia – and has been photographed on several occasions wearing swastika armbands. He also had links to the Patriotic Youth League at the time of the 2005 Cronulla riots.

So what does this mean?

It is simply inconceivable that Shermon Burgess, Neil Erikson and the others grouped in the so-called United Patriots Front could be unaware of Jim Saleam’s status as Australia’s premier fascist ideologue. Neil Erikson’s appearance in this video with Jim Saleam was not some kind of mistake or misunderstanding.

This video is yet more evidence that Burgess and the UPF do not simply hate Muslims; they are embarked on a deliberate project to build a fascist political formation.

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Shermon Burgess at the Richmond UPF rally on May 31. Photography by Kenji Wardenclyffe.

The far-right milieu broadly grouped around “Reclaim Australia” intends to rally on July 18 and 19. The 18th will see one rally in Melbourne, with rallies in other cities to follow on the 19th.

The date chosen was doubtless intended to maximize offense, it coincides with this year’s Eid-al-Fitr (the celebrations marking the end of Ramadan).

The two day rally structure was announced by the self-described Great Aussie Patriot and Cooma based garbage collector (Correction/Apology), Shermon Burgess (before his public split with other Reclaim Australia organizers back in May). Burgess intends to buttress the Melbourne rally with support of fascists based in Sydney.

It remains difficult to assess the mobilizing power of a far-right milieu whose organization is largely informal and online, however it is clear that last months far-right split has weakened their appeal to the broader “Reclaim Australia” layer of Islamophobic racists.

When Shermon Burgess and a handful of other far-right activists announced they were departing the Reclaim Australia camp to form the United Patriots Front, they clearly believed that the wider layer of racists would follow them. The events in Richmond on May 31 demonstrated that this was not the case.

Shermon Burgess has now recognized his mistake. In video after video he now proclaims that “all the patriot groups are united” for the rally on July 18.

From a video earlier this evening:

“On July 18th, at Melbourne Parliament House at 1pm, we are having a rally against radical Islam. Australian’s are fed up, terrorism will only spread if we do not get on top of it. All patriot groups have put their differences aside because we all have to fight this.

Now it took me a long time to get groups to put their differences aside but now we are all allied. And I would like to thank the groups I have written down here who have decided to put their differences aside and all ally as one.

The following groups are: Reclaim Australia, United Patriots Front, Full Blooded Skips, Southern Cross Soldiers, Australian Defense League, Australian Republican Army, Aussie Brotherhood, Rise Up Australia and Australian Patriots Defense Movement.”

Burgess’ remarks about ‘unity’ are interesting in several respects.

Most obviously, there is irony is a call for unity coming from a man who has done more than most to prosecute splits on the far right. Burgess has been quick to denounce as “traitors” all manner of right-wing actors who were insufficiently far-right for his tastes, or who had the temerity to criticize his actions in any way whatsoever.

One early target of Burgess’ wrath was Catholic crazy and admin of the Reclaim Australia Rally – Melbourne Facebook page, Monica Evers. It was a decision I suspect Burgess came to regret; when Burgess first announced that the July 18 rally in Melbourne would be at Parliament house Evers responded with appropriately snarky remarks on the Reclaim Australia pages to the effect “We’ll announce our own rally locations THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”.

The posts have since been removed. Some kind of marriage of necessity has now been stitched up between Evers and Burgess, evidenced by the fact that the Facebook pages run by Evers now appear conciliatory towards Burgess and the fascist UPF. The “Reclaim” pages now promote Burgess’ bus trip from Sydney, and Burgess is now promoting a Facebook event registered to the “Reclaim Australia Rally – Melbourne” page.

Two other things stand out about Burgess’ remarks. One, he is no longer making any attempt to hide his association with obviously violent and fascist projects. In the lead up to April 4 Burgess attempted to conceal his past association with the Australian Defense League project, and attempted to remove the more obscene videos he had released as “Eureka Brigade”.

Now that this deception has been thoroughly blown open by left critics, Burgess is openly boasting ADL and is spruiking his Eureka Brigade work.

It is unclear to what extent this open return to the far-right edge has harmed his ability to communicate to the wider layer of casual Islamophobes. His primary Facebook page has stopped growing, it’s likes have plateaued at around 22,000 and his posts no longer receive the same frenetic interaction they did in the lead up to April 4. At least one individual Burgess had previously touted as part of his “United Patriots Front”, the F’N Aussie, has publicly fallen out with Burgess as a result of his increasingly neo-Nazi stance.

The other fact that is particularly interesting about Burgess’ patriot alliance are the number of participating groups that simply no longer exist.

The Southern Cross Soldiers were a MySpace group which has been defunct since at least 2010. The Australian Defense League has never really existed, despite the antics of self-proclaimed ADL President and military imposter Ralph Ceminara. The Australian Republican Army is a youtube channel with 72 subscribers, and the existence of the Full Blooded Skips is even more ephemeral.

Conversely, there are some notable absences from Burgess’ most recent video. Burgess is organizing a supporters bus that is intended to bring additional hard support from the far-right scene in Sydney to the Melbourne rally on July 18.

The people on such a bus will not be coming from some MySpace group, instead they are almost certainly going to be drawn from the milieu around Jim Saleam’s Australia First Party, and their more obviously swastika licking friends in the Hammerskins and Squadron 88. Burgess might be ready to own the ADL clown Ralph Ceminara, he still has the brains to avoid public association with this lot.

The far-right split in early May was certainly good for a laugh, and it gutted the ability of the UPF to mobilize forces for Richmond on May 31. Fascist agitators like Burgess do not yet have strength to issue a call-out on their own authority. The papered unity that Burgess has repeatedly announced is an attempt to undo the damage of the past two months, he is seeking to convince the wider layer of racists that came out on April 4 to return.

It is not yet clear how successful Burgess has been with his regroupment propaganda. I sincerely doubt he can totally reverse the ill-will generated by a public and acrimonious split with a few youtube videos. The far-right gathering that assembles in Melbourne on July 18 will likely be smaller than the April 4 assemblage, but on the flip side the apparent cooperation with other far-right actors could result in a more coherent gathering that is more capable of organized violence.

The Response

The wider Reclaim milieu is fixated on the Muslim community, if they come out on July 18 they will have Australian Muslims squarely in their sites.

The fascist activists gathered around Shermon Burgess in the UPF have a wider plan in which Muslim’s are merely the first target. The UPF and friends are just as fixated on ‘the left’:

Why are we focusing on Melbourne in particular for July 18? Because we need to win Melbourne. And why do we need to win Melbourne. For starters it is a strong hold, it is a left wing strong hold. Because the movement has been built up and no one has tried to stop it. No one. … Together we can break them.

Look at the Reclaim Australia rally back on April the 4th. We outnumbered the left wing in Sydney. We outnumbered the left wing in Brisbane. We outnumbered the left wing in Perth. Completely. Totally. They didn’t have a chance in hell.

We owned them. But they still have one small pocket of the country in Melbourne. And we are going to take that pocket of the country. Because we got more numbers than them.

So I’ve talked to my boys in the UPF. And we’ve decided what we’re going to do. Not only are we going to get all the patriot groups in Melbourne to the July 18th rally where all patriot groups will be united. But we’re also organising charter buses to get patriots from Canberra, and Sydney, and other places like that.

If we win Melbourne, we win the country. Because that’s where all the left wing propaganda comes out of.

The streets down there are communist red. Soon they will be patriotic red white and blue.

To the fascists of the UPF the traitorous enemy extends (in no particular order) to include those unions defending the rights of migrant workers, sex and gender diverse communities, the student movement, the environment movement, refugees, and anyone who differs from or disagrees with their vision of a violently “patriotic” misogynist flag waving ANZAC worshiping Australia. A quote from Martin Niemöller springs to mind.

A response to Reclaim, the UPF, and any other fascists dumb enough to show their faces in public is being prepared. I am the first to acknowledge that this response is far from complete, the fact that this response has been limited to a few “usual suspect” (and overwhelmingly white) left groupings is a significant weakness, and “a good shirt-fronting” is only ever a reactive strategy to a particular expression of far-right political organization.

None the less, I challenge anyone to make the case for “leaving this to the police”. If the far-right are able to openly organize, recruit and cohere, we will all reap the results.

Further Reading

Sam Oldham, ‘Reclaiming history from the angry white male’.

Anarchist Affinity, ‘A quick guide to staying safe and being effective: all out against ‘Reclaim Australia!’.

Planned Counter Rallies
Melbourne | Sydney | Canberra | Brisbane | Adelaide | Perth | Newcastle

In Melbourne you can text ‘subscribe’ to 0422 726 843 for updates.

Photo credit for featured image: Wardenclyffe Photography.

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Far-right agitator Shermon Burgess and his assorted fascist friends have announced their intention to rally at Richmond Town Hall this Sunday. The stated target of this rally is “the left”, in the person of Yarra City Councillor and Socialist Party member Steve Jolly.

The rally in Richmond is intended to build for the far-rights’ planned rally at Flagstaff Gardens on July 18; a rally which is ultimately intended to reverse the failure of the far-right Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne on April 4. It is a reversal that Burgess and friends blame on the “traitors” known as “the left”.

Richmond Town Hall will be empty on Sunday, council staff have been told to stay home, and Steve Jolly is hosting a public forum on responding to the Reclaim Australia types in Carlton.

Actual promotional material put out by Shermon Burgess and the 'United Patriots Front', describes their intended rally as "Burgess vs Jolly the Commie".

Actual promotional material put out by Shermon Burgess and the ‘United Patriots Front’, describes their intended rally as “Burgess vs Jolly the Commie”.

United Patriots Front?

For those that missed the hilarity on Facebook, the Reclaim Australia grouping recently performed the splits. Shermon Burgess fell out with other Reclaim Australia types in a dispute that seems to have centered on whether “patriots” were doing enough to push Burgess’ ‘Reclaim Australia’ branded clothing. As a result, Burgess and friends are now calling themselves the United Patriots Front.

According to their Facebook page;

The United Patriots Front is a nation wide movement, opposing the spread of Left Wing treason and spread of Islamism.

In practice UPF is a small handful of fascist activists organized online grouped around Shermon Burgess. Slackbastard has a rundown on who these clowns are, but in brief the key players are:

  • Shermon Burgess, reputed Cronulla rioter and former Australian Defense League member, I have previously described Burgess at more length here;
  • Neil Erikson, former Nationalist Alternative, currently calling himself Nationalist Republican Guard online, also described here;
  • Blair Cottrell, neo-Nazi responsible for so-called National Democratic Party of Australia.

How to respond?

The so-called United Patriots Front represents the far-right of the far-right Reclaim Australia milleu; they are the most clearly fascist elements operating in Australia today. It is difficult to know what mobilizing force they retain, but at present point 145 people have clicked “attending” on the UPF Facebook event for the Richmond protest and 3,744 people have ‘liked’ their Facebook page.

When reflecting on April 4 I wrote that “fascism has a public space agenda”:

Public rallies by racists and fascists are attempts to control or change who feels safe and comfortable in public space. At present (thankfully) it is socially unacceptable (mostly) to make overt statements of outright racism publicly; the public expression of racism often results in some form of social sanction. The far right is attempting to reverse this situation. By rallying in public they are seeking to embolden racists, and bring racism directly into public space. The results of this will be reaped in a increased harvest of racist abuse and attacks directed at Muslims.

It is interesting to note how after holding successful rallies in most Australian cities, the far right activists behind Reclaim Australia have obsessed over the fact they were disrupted and opposed in Melbourne. I wonder if history has anything to do with it.

Fascism in Melbourne has been effectively subterranean since the failure of two rallies called by the ADL in 2011. The same far-right elements that were defeated in 2011 are trying to end their subterranean exile and establish a public movement. When they stick their heads up in public, they need to be opposed, disrupted, and sent packing. For this reason I’ll be joining others from the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism at Richmond Town Hall on Sunday.

I intend to participate in this and further counter-demonstrations, however it is important to note that counter-demonstrating is neither a complete nor sufficient strategy. The UK network Anti-Fascist Action wrote in 1995:

the working class is the natural constituency of socialism, not fascism. Racism and socialism are incompatible. One only exists at the expense of the other. The success of the Far-Right is due to the fact that the Left are not seen as a credible option

While the initial aim must be to root out the organised racists/fascists ­the motive force behind the attacks – and throw down a challenge to those that provide them with facilities, the long-term solution must be to create communities of resistance. By creating some space, perhaps in time a real working class alternative to the lying bullshit that now passes for politics in this country can emerge. The entire Left has failed the working class, black and white alike, though many prefer to believe that the working class has failed the Left.

The leaflet is called Filling the Vacuum and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone who is serious about opposing attempts by the far-right to organize in Australia.

With that in mind, it is also important that the public forum that Steve Jolly and others have called is supported.

Some Useful Resources

Know Your Nazi!, a spotters guide. List names and photos of people worth avoiding/looking out for.

A quick guide to staying safe and being effective: All out against Reclaim Australia, a guide prepared by Anarchist Affinity for the last ‘Reclaim Australia’ counter rally.

Activist Rights Handbook, Fitzroy Legal Service, essential reading for anyone engaged in public protest in Victoria.

Melbourne Street Medics Collective, tons of useful information for staying safe at a public protest.

Bonus!

Related:

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I can’t be arsed putting together anything intelligent on “Reclaim Australia”, but there are a couple of brief comments I wanted to make.

1. Islam is not a race – and you are still a racist!

A message to the “reclaimers”: you are a pack of utter racists. You might think you’re being really clever with the whole “Islam is not a race” line, well it’s time for a sixty-five year old news flash: there is no such thing as biological ‘race’.

The category of ‘race’ is socially constructed; it is the product of a system of domination. ‘Race’ is constructed in order to define the out group. The creation and maintenance of a social system of domination and oppression that targets this outgroup is racism.

It doesn’t really matter if you are building a system of oppression that defines the outgroup by religion rather than skin colour, the essential element of racism is the construction of a system of oppression that targets an entire segment of the working class for villification and discrimination. Religion or skin colour, the dynamic is the same; “Reclaim Australia” is a racist project.

It is worth noting that without a relationship of power and domination, someone using a racial slur is not being racist, merely rude. The indigenous teenager who calls you a white c-nt is not creating or maintaining a hierachy of which you are the victim, she’s just being coarse (and in view of history, understandably so).

Related: Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race”, a presentation by Jeffrey Perry.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of Australians still think biological race exists. The majority now think it is bad to discriminate on the basis of race, but if race really does exist (in the world of “commonsense”) and “religion is not a race”, then the likes of Pauline Hanson and Shermon Burgess can continue claiming they’ve escaped being racists on a technicality.

Islamophobic racism is hardly the exclusive preserve of working class fascists like Shermon Burgess. The real work in constructing Islam as the “other” has been done by the state. The raft of “anti-terror” legislation, public propaganda, and fear mongering rhetoric that has emmanated from the top of the political hierachy has created the space in which fascists like Shermon Burgess are now operating.

See also: First Dog on the Moon, ‘A racist carrot reclaims Australia’, The Guardian.

2. If you equate abusing racists with racism you are a f-cking muppet

In the aftermath of the “Reclaim Australia” rallies it’s been pretty clear that the “I’m not racist but…” crowd aren’t the only ones who haven’t got the faintest idea of what actually constitutes racism. Take this choice quote is from Brad Chilcott, director of Welcome to Australia, in The Guardian yesterday:

Fighting hatred with hatred at Reclaim Australia rallies is a failure of progressive politics

What’s less obvious is what “progressives” were hoping to achieve this Easter by opposing naked hatred and foul abuse with public expressions of the same hatred and abuse.

If the counter demonstrations in Melbourne were nothing more than “public expressions of the same hatred and abuse”1 as “Reclaim Australia”, then racism is little more than foul language and a bad attitude.

To the likes of Chilcott racism is simply a vulgar attitude held in sections of the working class. His is the kind of analysis that assumes public policy in Australia is so racist because the Australian working class is so racist, our political leaders have not created racism, merely pandered to it and failed to “show leadership”. His role as a liberal anti-racist is to promote “diversity, compassion, generosity”2 amongst those unenlightened working class types. When that is your analysis, of course getting in the streets and shouting at racists is as bad as racism itself.

Chilcott is utterly wrong, he confuses the symptoms of racism with racism itself. “Hatred” and “foul abuse” are not racism itself, they are public expressions of racism. The public expression of racism creates, re-creates and reinforces the system of racism, but the system itself is more than this. Racism is a social structure of domination: one part of the working class is segmented off from the whole and subjected to greater oppression; the remainder of the class are co-opted into the process of racist oppression and are bought off with a position of relative privilege.

If you cannot criticise the structure of racism, and the system that creates and re-creates it, how can you attack racism? Obviously you can’t; if you cannot see the problem you cannot be effective in combatting it (except by pure chance). Chilcott is worse than ineffective, in failing to see what racism is he reacts against forces that actually have the potential to combat racism.

3. “Reclaim Australia” is fascist

Let’s call a spade a spade. “Reclaim Australia” is fascist, and I am not saying that simply because it has drawn the participation of an array of far right and overtly neo-Nazi supporters.

Fascism “is as a particular form of mass movement, possessing a core set of ideas, and in which the ideology and movement interact. … [It is] a specific form of reactionary mass movement” which is “racist, nationalist, and militarist”3. “Reclaim Australia” fits the fascist bill on all counts:

  • racist, in it’s demonisation and attacks on muslims and Islam, and its attempts to construct muslims as an other counterposed to “Australia” and “Australians”;
  • nationalist, with it’s overt flag-draped appeals to “Aussie pride”, continual talk of ‘patriotism’, and the casting of its campaign as ‘Islam vs Australia’;
  • militarist, in its continual appeals to the ANZAC myth, valorisation of the ADF, etc. It was telling at Melbourne rally just how many of the assembled bigots claimed they had “fought them” (meaning Muslims) “over there” (meaning in the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afganistan).

The organisers of the “Reclaim Australia” rallies certainly intended them to be the launching point for a far right movement. The anti-Islam conspiracy theories of “Reclaim Australia” are its core set of ideas, and I think we are seeing an interaction between the people gathering around the “Reclaim Australia” banner and these ideas.

Further Reading: Dave Renton, Fascism: Theory and Practice.

4. Racism and fascism have a public space agenda

Public space matters, and a heck of a lot of societal control and power is bound up in who is allowed in public space, how they are legally or societally required to act, dress, and so on. Fascism seeks to dominate public spaces and to drive opponents, targetted groups, and rival politics out of public space.

This is a half developed thought on my part, but a sizeable chunk of the historical experience of racism seems bound up in public space. Segregation for example, whether in Australia or the United States, had a heck of a lot to do with who was allowed where in public, and how they were required to act.

A good deal of a lot of the “Reclaim Australia” rhetoric is also basically about public space. Outlawing “the Burqa or any variant thereof”4 is essentially an attempt to control how people look in public. The conspiratorial rubbish around halal certification boils down to an attempt to determine what can or can’t appear on the packaging of goods sold in public.

Public rallies by racists and fascists are attempts to control or change who feels safe and comfortable in public space. At present (thankfully) it is socially unacceptable (mostly) to make overt statements of outright racism publically; the public expression of racism often results in some form of social sanction. The far right is attempting to reverse this situation. By rallying in public they are seeking to embolden racists, and bring racism directly into public space. The results of this will be reaped in a increased harvest of racist abuse and attacks directed at muslims.

More than anything else, the public space agenda of racism and fascism is the reason racism must be fought directly and in public, not behind closed doors on some farm in the hills.

A vocal and determined counter-rally is both a general rejection of racism, and a direct action to disrupt a specific attempt by racists to build an overtly racist movement in the public sphere.

Final thoughts

Bringing all this crap together… The last time the so-called “Australian Defense League” tried to have a rally in Melbourne thirty people attended. Four years later and with four months of preparation (and a significant rebranding), the far right managed to assemble a few hundred in Melbourne and Sydney, and concerningly large numbers in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth. They are seeking to build a far right movement on a base of anti-Muslim racism, and their rallies are clear attempts to embolden racists, intimidate Muslims, and build a milleu in which the far right can recruit and propagandize. The qualms of liberal anti-racists and social democrats should be dismissed, because when fascists rally on the streets they need to be smashed back into the sewers they rose out of.

Earlier Post: #Reclaimwhat and being stalked online, 28 March 2015.

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I have had a strange couple of days. Apparently some loon is going to “find out exactly who” I am and why I’ve apparently been “exposing union members’ mothers’ addresses to violent criminals”.

It’s just one of a string of bizarre messages I have received since a Cooma based garbage collector and a Melbourne based neo-Nazi posted claims that I was behind the website Reclaim What.

The neo-Nazi is a bloke named Neil Luke Erikson, he calls himself “Nationalist Republican Guard” online. The Cooma based garbage collector is Shermon Burgess, a flag wrapped Islamophobe who has been promoting a series of anti-islamic rallies due to be held on April 4.Watch movie online Get Out (2017)

Reclaim Australia

On its Facebook page Reclaim Australia is described as a “grass roots movement” to “stand together to stop halal tax, sharia law & islamisation”. It is the initiative of Shermon Burgess, the self-described “Great Aussie Patriot”, a man with form on the Australian far-right.

Burgess has now tried to conceal and distance himself from his previous record of promoting crude racism and racial vilification, but the remnants of his politics remain online for all to see. Some of the classier examples of his racism are the tunes he released as the lead singer in far-right band Eureka Brigade. Perhaps you have heard hits such as “Shit on a Mosque”, “Clockwork and the Shermonator” and “ADL Killing Machine”?

This is Shermon in “Shit on a Mosque (It’s what we do)”:

“We’ll shit on a mosque, she’ll be right,
punch some muslims and have a good time,
Ralph Cerminara will show you his might”

And these are some of lyrics from “ADL killing machine”:

“No sharia or halal,
time to get the .50 cal,
We’ll fight you fuckers to the end!
We like Buddhists Sikhs and Jews,
and the Christians too,
but there’s no fucking room for you!”

The rest are similarly awful, both in their racism and in their absence of any musical talent.

As you can probably guess from the lyrics, Shermon Burgess is a member of the Australian Defence League (ADL). The ADL is an attempt by the far-right in Australia to replicate the success of the UK based street gang the English Defence League.

Shermon’s music makes multiple glowing references to the antics of Sydney based military imposter Ralph Cerminara. Cerminara was the supposed president of the Australian Defence League who came to public attention last year when he led a comic attempt to attack the Islamic community in Lakemba. Cerminara and an accomplice went to the mosque in Lakemba, taunted locals, started a brawl, and were quickly arrested. By all accounts Cerminara and his accomplice copped a beating.

On an aside, Burgess is also on the record expressing delightful opinions about indigenous Australians:

“I have met some nice aboriginal people, right, but they are few and far between. Really, so many of them are just dickheads, you see them passed out on metho and bludging cigarettes, and still blaming the modern generation for what happened two hundred years ago”

Burgess has tried to bury his politics and reinvent himself as the supposedly mainstream ‘Great Aussie Patriot’, but his ongoing association with neo-Nazis gives lie to this supposed transformation.

Neil Erikson and the NRG

I must confess I had no idea who Melbourne based neo-Nazi Neil Erikson was until he decided I was behind Reclaim What (I’m not).

Erikson made the news last year after being arrested for making threatening phone calls to a Melbourne Rabbi:

Neil Luke Erikson, 29, phoned Rabbi Dovid Gutnick of Melbourne City Synagogue on three occasions, telling him “Give me the money Jew or else I will get you” and abusing him for his faith.

He also spoke of circumcisions, blood money and Jewish sidelocks and told Rabbi Gutnick he knew his location and was coming to get him.

Neil Erikson was a key part of the Melbourne neo-Fascist grouplet Nationalist Alternative before it imploded late last year; he has since gone on to establish the oddly named Nationalist Republican Guard.

Neil Erikson (left) and members of Nationalist Alternative at a neo-Nazi rally in 2012.

Neil Erikson (left) and members of Nationalist Alternative at a neo-Nazi rally in 2012. Photo and info h/t slackbastard.

The connection between Neil Erikson and Shermon Burgess has come to the fore in recent weeks as they seek to battle the (real or perceived) enemies of Reclaim Australia.

Unsurprisingly, as a racist organising a series of racist rallies, Burgess has received a variety of attention from anti-racists of all sorts. He appears to have been particularly irritated by the website Reclaim What who posted contact details for his employers at Cooma Shire and requested supporters phone and complain about the racist politics of one of their garbage collectors.

Neil Erikson is assisting Burgess in responding to his critics; under the name NRG Prop he has produced a series of videos attacking individuals he believes are responsible for the criticism of Shermon Burgess. Burgess is in turn quick to post and promote the various theories advanced by Erikson, in some cases beating him to the punch.

And how I fit into this…

It seems Neil Erikson has decided that I publish Reclaim What. Two days ago Shermon Burgess posted some screen shots from my Facebook profile, twitter account and personal website on his Facebook page with the caption:

Everyone we have been busy with our Hacker department working flat out but we have traced the Left Wing owner of the webpage and facebook page reclaimwhat.net and this is the man who gives out patriots personal addresses, writes up fake blogs. Here you can see who he is and…

(I’m working from a screen shot published by Reclaim What, the original message has since been removed).

In the days since Burgess put the above message on his Facebook page, Erikson has released a couple of videos poking fun at some old (and admittedly awful!) videos on my youtube account and vaguely threatening to find out who I ‘really’ am. I’ve also received a few weird text messages, and Facebook friends have contacted me in concern after receiving messages like this:

The kind of message weirdos are sending to my Facebook friends.

The kind of message weirdos are sending to my Facebook friends. If you receive anything like this, screen shot it for posterity and block the weirdo in question.

Which brings us to…

Union Member’s Mother’s Addresses!

Earlier tonight Erikson released a video claiming I had published his mother’s (???) address online. As best I can work out someone using the handle Death Sec has published a mobile phone number and a street address they claim belong to Erikson. The Facebook page Reclaim What then shared this info, and Erikson is livid. These are his remarks from that video:

Boy do we have more news on this Kieran Bennett fellow. It seems going from online he’s a supporter and organiser for NUW union. I am sorry to say mate, the person you exposed, Neil Erikson, you put his mothers address online, to incite violence against his mothers house. The funny thing is Neil Erikson is a member of the NUW union. He’s gonna find out exactly who you are Kieran Bennett and why you are exposing union members mothers addresses to violent criminals.

It’s a laugh a minute from these guys.

For the Record

Time to get a few things straight. I doubt the increasingly unhinged Shermon Burgess and his neo-Nazi friend will pay much attention to this, but for everyone else:

First: I don’t publish, write for, or contribute to Reclaim What. It’s nice to see people are sticking it to the racists though, even if I disagree with their tactical approach.

Second: Contacting Shermon’s boss to whinge about his political activity is silly at best and dangerous at worst. I am no fan of asking employers to police the political opinions of workers, primarily because the first target for such repression has long been the left. “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the…” anyone?

Third: I’m not in the habit of posting political opponents’ home addresses or private phone numbers online. Not even the racist ones. Petty online harassment will not defeat the political agenda of racism and fascism. Victory over the far right requires organizing in our workplaces, communities and streets.

Post Script

If you are in one of the major cities on April 4 there are rallies opposing Reclaim Australia planned in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide.

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