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Reading the Right: Swedish Crime, Pagan Gods, and Milo

Terror Sweden

We perused the far-right websites so you don't have to.

trudestress

The past week in news from far-right sites has seen excuses for Donald Trump's attacks on the mainstream media, excuses for his Sweden gaffe -- well, you get the picture. There have also been a wish of violence against Jennifer Lopez, not quite knowing what to make of Milo Yiannopoulos, and a very bizarre assertion that a recent meeting of top international business and government leaders is a harbinger of the end of the world as we know it.

Trump berated the news media in a press conference last Thursday, then tweeted Friday that NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, and The New York Times are "FAKE NEWS media" (yes, in all caps) and "the enemy of the American People." Even Fox News journalist Chris Wallace thought Trump crossed a line, but the president got a sympathetic hearing on websites such as Breitbart and Townhall.

Breitbart, for instance, reported on CNN anchor Don Lemon's disgust with a guest, political analyst Paris Dennard, who claimed a story Lemon was covering about the high cost of security for the first family was "fake news." Lemon called that a "stupid talking point" and said no one should label a story "fake news" simply because they disagree.

Some observers thought Lemon had a good point, but not the folks at Breitbart. "The incident is further evidence of rising concern at CNN over rising dissatisfaction with their biased, and sometimes unfactual reporting," wrote Breitbart contributor Ben Kew. In reality, that dissatisfaction is most likely concentrated among Trump and his partisans.

Trump also got support from Kurt Schlichter, a columnist carried by Townhall. "The wonderful thing about Trump -- and the thing that sets the Fredocons and wusspublicans fussing -- is that he gives exactly zero damns about the media's inflated and ridiculous self-image," Schlichter wrote. "He doesn't pay lip service to their lie that they are anything but what Instapundit calls 'Democratic Party operatives with bylines.' Trump called them the 'the enemy of the American People,' to which normals responded with 'Yeah, sounds about right.' ... It would be ironic that the media hates it when a politician tells the truth, except no one still believes the media is in the truth business."

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Trump has been roundly ridiculed for a statement he made at a rally in Florida Saturday, saying, "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?" Since he went on to mention terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, it appeared he was saying there had been such an attack in Sweden the previous night. There had not been, so Trump then tried to explain away the comment with a reference to a Fox News story about rising crime in Sweden because of the nation's hospitality to immigrants and refugees.

InfoWars, one of the craziest of the far-right sites, responded by carrying stories about deaths of children in Sweden, reportedly bystanders in a gang war among Somali refugees. But these tragedies don't indicate rising crime in the nation. "Overall, Sweden's average crime rate has fallen in recent years," The Washington Post reported, citing information from Stockholm University criminology professor at Felipe Estrada Dorner and other experts. "That drop has been observed for cases of lethal violence and for sexual assaults, two of the most serious categories of crime," the Post continued. "Moreover, an analysis by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, conducted between October 2015 and January 2016, came to the conclusion that refugees were responsible for only 1 percent of all incidents." But now Trump will probably accuse the Post of reporting "fake news."

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Speaking of Somalia, InfoWars' Alex Jones invoked it, quite horribly, in his response to Jennifer Lopez's Grammy Awards speech on the importance of the arts in the current political climate. She quoted esteemed author Toni Morrison, saying, "This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, and no room for fear. We do language. That is how civilizations heal."

Jones's response was to call Lopez a "tart" and wish violence on her. "He doesn't want to bring people in from Somalia where women are sold on [the] slave box," Jones said. "Why don't you go to Somalia for five minutes, lady, you'll be gang raped so fast it'll make your head spin."

A very mature and compassionate response, Mr. Jones.

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A big story as this week began was alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who happens to be gay, being disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he was to be keynote speaker, and losing a Simon & Schuster book deal because of videos in which he defended man-boy sex and made light of sexual assault. The far-right sites aren't sympathetic to gay people except to use them against Muslims, but some like to cite Yiannopoulos as an example of the left regulating speech. He even works for one of them, Breitbart, although his bosses are said to be considering his ouster.

Given all this and the very real offensiveness of Yiannopoulos's rhetoric in the videos -- which comes on top of the transphobic and misogynistic statements for which liberals have denounced him -- some on the right struggled with how to respond to the situation.

"I hope even Milo understands that this moment's predicament has nothing to do with free speech," Mark Davis wrote on Townhall. "Unlike campus fascists who have sought to disrupt his invited appearances, a convention and a publisher have the right to associate with whomever they please. This includes the right to disassociate for whatever reasons they may cite." (Of course, many of the campus protesters were not out to disrupt, merely to voice disagreement with him and question why he should be given a forum.) Davis concluded that CPAC was "stupid" to ever invite Yiannopoulos and that Simon & Schuster's decision was "totally the publisher's call."

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Lastly, one of the most bizarre things we encountered in the past week was a World Net Daily report on the World Government Summit, a recent conference in the United Arab Emirates that drew government officials from around the world, entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, and people from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The annual event's stated purpose is for participants to "engage in inspirational, thought-provoking, and future-focused dialogues that aim to shape the future of governments and help improve the lives of citizens worldwide."

WND, however, saw something sinister in the gathering. "This year, it featured a reconstruction of the Arch of Palmyra, the Roman triumphal arch that once welcomed travelers to the ancient Temple of Baal in the Syrian outpost of the empire," the site reported. "Baal worship featured rites of child sacrifice and sexual immorality. Some Christians have connected the pagan cult to the practices praised by 'liberals' today." The site also asserted that the image indicates the formation of an anti-Israel cabal and world conquest plans by Arab peoples. "Satan is using the false religion of Islam, more than any other system in his final push to establish global dominance and receive the worship of the nations," a "spiritual teacher" named Joel Richardson told WND. But Jesus will crush Satan, he added.

Can't make this stuff up. But we'll continue reading it so you don't have to.

trudestress
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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.