Encounters with the far-right: Part 2
From semen retention to stalking, the far-right is alive & well in NZ. And that should bother you.
But this hellscape of a year is almost over. Out with old, in with the new. Next year will be totally different. Except it won’t. And I for one can’t wait to see what fresh new horrors appear in 2021.
Last week, I sent out a newsletter called Encounters with the far-right: Part 1. It was penned by Byron Clark, who’s been reporting on the far-right for some time. In the first part of his essay, he set the scene and how it’s evolved into what it is right now.
Just a few days later, Newsroom’s Marc Daalder ran a piece about how an editor over at a New Zealand think-tank was using his spare time to write a far-right blog:
In the piece on the “(Jewish) question”, he alleges that Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism, echoing a white supremacist trope which asks why Jews were expelled from so many countries in medieval times. The implication is that they deserved it - something Smith says outright.
“The answer to why Jews keep being kicked out of Christian countries is Jewish behaviour. Any time anti-scapegoat laws are overturned, society becomes enslaved by Jews. You think Christians were hard taskmasters? Read the Merchant of Venice to see how the Jews rule with the scapegoat mechanism.”
So yeah…. that happened.
With that in mind — here is part two of Byron’s essay, exploring the truly disgusting world of extreme racism in New Zealand. Buckle in, because this time we’re talking semen retention, stalking, and why it’s so important to push back.
The threats begin
When TradeMe had removed auctions for Trump-campaign style red caps bearing the slogan “Make Ardern Go Away” The seller, Mike Allen, using the pseudonym “Joe” called Magic Talk’s Sean Plunket to discuss what he saw as the politically motivated decision to remove his product.
At one point in the conversation, Plunket asks “are you a member of any groups that might be described as alt-right, neo-conservative, white supremecist or Nazi?” at which point Allen replies “Well, I’m a white male, so that puts me in all those groups doesn’t it?”
Meanwhile, on his Facebook page, Allan posted a picture of an acid attack victim with the comment “if this happens to my daughter I’m destroying mosque after mosque until I am taken out.”
A follower of his page then commented that the Christchurch shooter should be “let out for another go” with another saying that “this starts happening here and Christchurch won’t even be a warm up”
I reported the post to Facebook, and on the advice of people I shared the screenshots with on Twitter, to the police. Allen was not pleased, and asked his followers to find who had reported the post.
He found out it was me (though I know I was not the only one) and began posting about me on his new page.
After Allen’s posts, the below comment was posted on one of my YouTube videos, featuring the address I was staying at at the time:
“Gosh, I love riding on […….] and watching Byron ride his bike past me. He doesn’t even know there’s a nazi just a few doors down. It’d be a shame if someone dangerous knew he lived somewhere between […….]. A real shame.”
I began getting printouts of pictures from Mike Allen’s page in the letterbox. The goal of the local far-right was clear: to intimidate me into shutting up, by making me well aware they knew where I lived.
Action Zealandia, Wargus Christi and wanking.
The Dominion Movement never came out of the hiatus it went into immediately following the Christchurch shooting, but two new far-right groups soon emerged. The first was Action Zealandia, which has been shown to have some continuity with the Dominion Movement, who announced themselves on 4chan in August 2019.
Wargus Christi emerged a few months later, and appeared to be based mostly in the Manuatu. On social media the group described itself as “A martial-monastic Christian brotherhood of swole saints, meat monks and beef bishops."
The page promoted a medieval style Christianity, with a heavy emphasis on crusader imagery. They encouraged members to regularly work out at the gym, which was frequently described as “the temple of iron”, a phrase popularised by Marcus Follin, better known as “The Golden One”, a Swedish white nationalist YouTuber.
The group also forbade masturbation. This may seem odd to the unfamiliar, but it’s a surprisingly common practice among far-right groups, including notably the “Proud Boys” in the US. The practice is based on a thoroughly debunked theory that semen retention is linked to an increase in testosterone and male virility. As reported by Rolling Stone, a more extreme version of this far-right anti-masturbation philosophy has been promoted by former KKK leader David Duke, who has propagated the conspiracy theory that Jews dominate the adult entertainment industry and use pornography as a way to control white men. The use of the triple parentheses, a far-right dog whistle used to indicate a person is Jewish, around the word “pornographers” would appear to indicate Wargus Christi shared this belief.
I revealed the identity of Wargus Christi’s leader on Twitter. He had hidden his face in photos posted to the Wargus Christi page, but on his own Facebook had a profile photo taken in the same gym, with the same outfit. That man is Daniel Guy Waring. Back in 2010, Waring had been sentenced to community service for an attack on a Lutheran Church. At the time Waring and his accomplice told police they were anti-Jesus and anti-Christ, he later told a probation officer he was part of the Blood and Honour New Zealand, a neo-Nazi music promotion network and political group.
Waring and Allen united around a common enemy: the fat social justice warrior who had exposed them online. The two had the following conversation on the Wargus Christi page, with Allen using his pseudonymous “Joe Blowe” account.
The Wargus Christi harassment campaign didn’t amount to much beyond a handful of (soon muted) Twitter accounts. When one person found a photo of me at the gym, the group even decided maybe I wasn’t so bad after all.
In December 2019 a user on the Wargus Christi Telegram channel user posted that one of their members had been arrested, and was being held in a “military prison”.
I passed the Telegram screenshots on to Newsroom’s Marc Daalder, who got confirmation of the arrest from the New Zealand Defence Force and broke the story. After it spread through the rest of New Zealand’s media, Wargus Christi went dark. Deleting all social media presence including Telegram after posting one final goodbye message.
Undeterred by the threats and harassment so far, I had been continuing to produce YouTube videos, making a three part series I’d called “Stories New Zealand’s far-right is telling” looking at the conspiracy theories that had emerged in far-right spaces following the shooting. Those videos featured some clips from YouTube videos by Lee Williams. Williams’ videos had made him a person of interest to police who visited him twice following the mosque shooting.
His video about those police visits went viral after it was shared by Alex Jones, the American conspiracy theorist broadcaster behind InfoWars. Jones had spread the false-flag conspiracy about the attack and in the days following the shooting multiple InfoWars hosts and guests had expressed multiple points of agreement with the shooter’s manifesto.
Williams had requested a debate with me after I posted my first video (which didn’t feature him) but I had refused, stating that debating conspiracy theories gives them a legitimacy they don’t deserve, by the implication that these ideas are worthy of debating.
Williams, like Mike Allen, believes that it’s only a matter of time before there is a violent altercation with the left, something the pair discussed together.
On May 20, 2020 Lee posted a now deleted video titled “Leftist troll tries desperately to shut me down, but won’t even talk to me” stating that I was besmirching his character by scribing him as far-right. And claiming (falsely) about me that “he wants to hurt me, he wants to do damage to me...they will attack in gangs, with their faces covered, you know, like Antifa”.
His followers took this as a signal. It was time to go after me.
A thread about me, including my home address, was posted to 9chan, one of the new sites that had popped up to replace the now offline 8chan. 9chan is hosted on the same web server as Action Zealandia’s website, which is operated by Florida based Joshua Moon. Moon’s earlier website, Kiwi Farms, had been used to distribute the Christchurch shooters livestream video and manifesto. Following the shooting Moon had refused to cooperate with New Zealand police, responding to their inquiry with an email calling New Zealand a “shithole country” with “f****t law”.
When Netsafe attempted to use the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to have 9chan take down the accompanying picture of me, Moon posted their DMCA claim in the thread along with his reply, that using my image was fair use, as the Act allowed this for critique and ridicule. (He is not wrong, that’s the same provision in copyright law that allows me to feature clips of the YouTubers I’m criticising).
My details were also posted to far-right Telegram channels along with the comment “send him your best death threats for BT”. I began to get threats from as far away as Ukraine: “This fat big, Byron Clark, has been dox’d after harassing and doxing innocent conservative boomers for months. He lives at […..] Jump in and send your best death threats” said one post.
The fascists and the beer hall socialists
The Canterbury Socialist Society (CSS) has loomed large in the imagination of New Zealand’s far-right, which has always amused me as the group is not really an activist organisation, but something more akin to a club.
When Caleb Cain came to New Zealand I had asked the CSS to host a public event where I would interview him. Cain had been radicalised into the far-right online, but after the Christchurch shooting had got out of that world and now works on deradicalisation and raising awareness about young men being radicalised on the internet.
When Mike Allen heard about the event (which in the end had to be cancelled due to the global pandemic, which saw Cain having to cut his trip short) he made a Facebook post on one of his new pages that a content moderator wouldn’t recognise as a threat, but one that clearly had a different meaning than the literal one to anyone familiar with my history with Allen.
Allen wasn’t the first on the far-right to ask followers to attend a CSS meeting though. Before their Facebook Page was removed, Action Zealandia had posted about a social event implying they would gatecrash. That post was removed after the Auckland based group Tamaki Anti-Fascist Action outted Sam Brittenden as the person behind a Twitter account called Brittyboy3, which had also been sharing the Action Zealandia post.
I went to that social event, having made the decision that I was not going to let threats from the far-right stop me living my life. No members of Action Zealandia made their presence known at the time and for a while I didn’t really think about it, until one day on Twitter I noted that Action Zealandia hadn’t followed through with previous threats to gatecrash events, when it was suggested this is something they may do.
I then received the following email from an anonymous anti-fascist who had infiltrated an online group used by Action Zealandia. “Action Zealandia *have* attended CSS events before. How do you think Mike Allen got your address? One of the AZ nerds followed you home and then gave the address out. Sam Brittenden took these photos of you.”
I showed photos of Brittenden to the chair of the CSS asking if he had seen him at the bar that night. He had, remembering the face because he had asked him to pass the napkins.
Stupid scared boys
In court, Brittenden pleaded guilty to failing to assist police with a search warrant. He had refused to unlock his phone. We can only speculate as to what access to his phone would have opened up.
We knew at that point that another Action Zealandia member had communicated with the Atomwaffen terror group, and wanted to set up terror cells in New Zealand. The Action Zealandia podcast later interivewed a member of Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), a far-right Scandinavian group linked to several bombings and banned in Finland. We now also know that the Wargus Christi member facing court martial is being charged with espionage, but don’t yet know who he was providing information to.
In many of the photos of Brittenden from outside the courthouse, he is hiding his face with his shirt. He looks like what he is: a stupid, scared little boy. I can’t help but feel some sympathy for him, despite what he has brought down on me and its ongoing impact on my life, but in a world where acts of far-right terrorism have increased 250% in the last five years, stupid, scared boys are getting people killed.
I often get asked if I’m afraid for my safety. I suspect the aim of the threats I receive is more likely to be intimidation and people will not follow through. That said, two years ago no one expected a terrorist attack to happen in Christchurch, so I take threats seriously, filing police reports when they seem credible.
It’s probably the case that if I were to quit social media and stop talking about the far-right, they would eventually forget about me and move on. But that’s not a privilege everyone has. If you’re a woman out in public wearing a hijab, the far-right is never going to forget about you and move on. Many of the people on the front lines against fascism are from the communities the right is targeting. I have an enormous amount of admiration for Anjum Rahman and the work she does in particular.
I can’t have the insight that comes from being part of a targeted segment of the population — whether that’s Aotearoa’s Muslim or Jewish community, or someone who is transgender (another group that’s become a frequent target of alt-right bigotry).
I believe those voices need to be amplified, but I also believe they can’t be the only voices. Those of us from privileged majority groups must be vocal against hate and bigotry as well. So I’ll continue to speak, whatever the risk.
It’s strange to me that in 2020 we still have nazis — but we do. And I think wherever you are in the world, we need to be incredibly vigilant about this stuff. Even the fact I have to say that — “be vigilant about nazis”. What a thing to write. But we do. Because we can’t let that shit win.
Before I go, just letting you know that episode two of Armchaired & Dangerous is out now, wherever you listen to podcasts. In this episode we discuss mole children. Yes, mole children.