by Naama Kates
Friday, 5
August 2022
Response
11:51

No, children aren’t being ‘ensnared’ by the far-Right

The Guardian keeps exaggerating the threat of online extremism
by Naama Kates
Screengrab from the Guardian report

The late, great George Carlin has a legendary bit about ‘Airline Announcements’, a brilliant deconstruction of the absurdity and imprecision of modern language. “Please check around your immediate seating area for any personal belongings you might have brought on board”, he drawls, imitating the lifeless delivery of a flight attendant before cocking his head to the side in chummy defiance. “Well”, he winks. “I might have brought my arrowhead collection. I didn’t… so I’m not going to look for it! I’m going to look for things I brought. It would seem to enhance the likelihood of my finding something, wouldn’t you say?”

Carlin had obviously never met an extremism researcher, because in that occupation, part of the thrill of the hunt is the promise that one will emerge triumphant, with the head of a neo-Nazi accelerationist incel to mount proudly over the mantle. It’s not a question of “if” — these experts simply never come home empty-handed.  

Yesterday, the Guardian ran two full pieces about the masterful extremists currently preying on our children online. Both quoted all the usual suspects, doling out the usual warnings about the savvy machinations of ‘professional trolls’ who hang around gaming platforms to ‘ensnare’ unsuspecting children into the far-Right ecosystem. 

An analysis of ‘far-right activity on [gaming app] Discord,’ conducted by Jacob Davey of the Institute of Strategic Dialogue suggested that these Right-wing extremists use the platform to form communities, copying the ‘strategies used by mainstream social media influencers.’ This may sound nefarious, but it’s how everyone uses social media, and most ‘extremists’ want followers for the same vapid reasons we all do.

Julia Ebner, whose online undercover work has conferred on her some authority on the matter, warned, however, that this is a deliberate and organised effort with the explicit goal of “attracting young people and radicalising them to support, or carry out, extreme acts”.

Supposedly, these shadowy extremists infiltrate gaming networks by starting their own video game tournaments, slyly distributing racist literature, and embarking on coordinated campaigns to bully the kids into agreement.

In my experience, it really doesn’t work this way. Legitimately dangerous, violent extremist collectives are cautious and very conscious of their OpSec. It requires sophistication and resolve to penetrate their private groups, as evidenced by the fact that even talented experts, like Ebner herself, must try so hard to “infiltrate” them. Most researchers wouldn’t even know where to start. Why would it be so easy for little Billy from the Call of Duty chat? 

Equally far-fetched is the notion that these groups hire and pay ‘professional trolls’ to spend hours ensnaring anyone. The truth is, they don’t have to. Some young people are desperately attracted to darkness — to evil, danger, death, and it is often innocent, and quite natural: human darkness is intriguing. It is also ubiquitous. Kids don’t need to be lured or manipulated into seeking it out; they see it on the news every night. They even read about it in the Guardian.

According to the piece, somebody from the Home Office agrees with me. “You’ve got to know where to start looking for that stuff, you’ve got to know the right accounts”, they told the Guardian. “They’re not being tricked into being rightwing extremists. And there isn’t some mastermind at the centre pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes.” 

Oddly, however, this individual declined to be identified — a descriptor often reserved for spooks or whistleblowers. Why? Is it now career suicide to make such an anodyne statement of unadorned fact? To suggest that maybe, just maybe, the cartoon villain isn’t responsible this time? 

Both pieces, to the credit of the authors, explicitly acknowledged that the number of young people involved with the far-Right in Britain “remains tiny” (though of course they couldn’t resist tweaking the parameters for maximum effect until something sounded bad). But it’s not until after the headlines and all those expert soundbites to get to that bit, three-quarters of the way through the story — by which point readers have probably already been convinced that the experts have done all the research in the world and must be right.

Somehow, they always find exactly what they’re looking for. It is almost uncanny. Maybe it’s because they, too, only look for what they brought. 

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Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
14 days ago

What about all those children ensnared by the Guardian and the BBC.
What is to be done?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
12 days ago

Agreed, we need to rescue them from the Transgender Storytime Library gulags!

R S Foster
R S Foster
14 days ago

…meanwhile, elsewhere in Guardianworld, one of our biggest problems is “Islamophobia”…in that when people look like devout Muslims, act like devout Muslims, behave like devout Muslims and blow up tube trains, buses, and teenagers at rock concerts “in the name of Islam”…other people might make the odd disobliging remark about them in public.

I feel they should reflect on how Muslim-Majority Societies typically treat their religious minorities, without any provocation and simply for being there at all..!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
14 days ago
Reply to  R S Foster

hear hear!

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
11 days ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Amen. I noticed that when I was reading these Guardian reports. It’s a pet subject for their resident Islamophile, Owen Jones. He’s like a turkey voting for Christmas. The favourite Tory of him and his ilk is Baroness Warsi, because of this issue. They seem to somehow forget she’s an evil Tory. Meanwhile, don’t say anything bad about Islam. Don’t even think it!

Jim Jam
Jim Jam
14 days ago

I too had the pleasure of reading this propadanda article yesterday.

My first thought was how quickly the hacks who cobbled the peice together would launch an attack were, say, the Daily Mail to put out such an alarmist and misleading account of the threat of ‘far left’ extremism. Ernest allogations as to the shameless practice of stirring up fear for clicks and cynical alarmist political posturing would no doubt be the shrill and pious cry.

My second thought was that, since the article was not open to comments, it must have been calculated that (as with, incidentally nearly every opinion peice written there by feminist uberwoke high priest Arwa Mahdawi) even most of the Guardian readership would be able to see it as the drivel it is, and so must be absolutely denied the opportunity to point this observation out.

Last edited 14 days ago by Jim Jam
Jim Beam
Jim Beam
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

That’s a shame. Would have made for good reading!

Jim Jam
Jim Jam
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim Beam

Indeed, though a good substitute is reading the comments beneath most articles penned by Owen Jones. Its not a proud boast, but I must admit there is some satisfaction to be gained watching two equally insuffereable tribes – the FBPE, Starmer worshippers and the Corbynite lunatics – attacking each other.

Last edited 13 days ago by Jim Jam
Naama Kates
Naama Kates
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

Lol.

Last edited 13 days ago by Naama Kates
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

I love seeing the revolution eating its own in the Guardian – the very delight of schadenfreude.

Dominic A
Dominic A
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

I’ve been reading & commenting on the Guardian for over 15 years – in the last 2 years they have shut down (now, totally) comments on what they deem to be ‘controversial subjects’. Now comments are only allowed on apolitical/neutral, or Tory bad/Labour good subjects. I can only surmise that this shift is a shocked reaction to seeing the groundswell of comments than are highly critical of woke articles and authors.

I imagine that the editors tell themselves that they are protecting their staff and readers from being traumatised…..by words, but it looks like a cop out to me. They clutched their beads in horror, and plugged their ears to the voices they do not like – from within their own echo-chamber!

Tyler Lord
Tyler Lord
13 days ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Impossible to parody.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
12 days ago
Reply to  Dominic A

The Daily Telegraph also shuts down comments on an article when these become too strongly against the narrative of the article or the writer; and even delete comments en masse when this becomes extreme.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
12 days ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Commenting has become well nigh impossible on most media sites, I notice over the last few days that whole discussions are being closed down. We should be aware and prepared for what is to come as the “social” and mainstream media become more virulent.
We are fortunate to have a site like this where all non aggressive comment is allowed, but I would urge all here to contribute as much as we can to keep Unherd open and free.
I have only had one comment removed here, but the site management contacted me and we discussed my motivation before they put the comment back up. That is how a comments site should be run.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
11 days ago
Reply to  Alex Tickell

It’s not free! Except, to my surprise, I can now comment here again…

Last edited 11 days ago by Daniel Goldstein
Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
14 days ago

This is a bit rich coming from a newspaper whose readership minority have disproportionate representation in primary, secondary and tertiary education and use their positions of responsibility to slant the views and opinions of the minors in their charge.

Lance Stewart
Lance Stewart
14 days ago

The article bypasses the question we need to put around everything these days, I e. “What exactly do they mean by … “. What equates with being on the “extreme right”? Taking pride in our culture & history, and wanting to preserve the identity of the native Brits who created it all ? Or have we already reached the stage that simply failing to eagerly promote Wokeness is enough to be a fascist, racist, sexist, elitist, homophobe ?

Last edited 14 days ago by menten21
Patience Easy
Patience Easy
14 days ago
Reply to  Lance Stewart

Well I think we know the answer to that question.

William Foster
William Foster
14 days ago
Reply to  Lance Stewart

Or have we already reached the stage

Yes. That is what they are normalising; antifa, Kendi etc.. ‘Anti’ is a misnomer for ‘inverse’.
EE have and advert running on TV at present. Unless I have it wrong we’re being told that only men can be sexist and eradication of sexism is solely a male responsibility. The reality is that misandry is actively encouraged, celebrated and baked into everyday life.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
13 days ago
Reply to  Lance Stewart

Eventually the term ‘far-right’ will come to encompass people who are skeptical of ‘experts’ and resistant to ever-growing government control.

Jack Delingby
Jack Delingby
12 days ago
Reply to  Lance Stewart

We are already there with the “not promoting wokeness” side of things. Take anti-racism for example, it is not merely enough to just treat people of other skin colours and ethnic origin how you would like to be treated (the greatest anti-racist action anyone can take in my view), but you must also be explicitly anti-racist. Usually that involves doing whatever BLM, Khendi or Diangelo say rather conveniently.

Aw Zk
Aw Zk
13 days ago

When children are being groomed online by the far right The Guardian wants to find out about it and wants the public to know about it. When underage girls in Keighley were being groomed in real life and raped by gangs of Asian men The Guardian didn’t want to find out about it and didn’t want the public to know about it, as demonstrated by this quote from former Keighley Labour MP Ann Cryer who wrote an article for the Daily Mail about how she tried to raise awareness of this which was published on 11th August 2017:
“Support was not forthcoming from all quarters. I couldn’t get The Guardian interested. Its reporters seemed paralysed by political correctness.”
Then The Guardian couldn’t find a groper in its own building even though it was told about him by lots of women who worked for them for over a decade,

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
14 days ago

as has oft been said ” far right” is not only a misnomer, but has become Orwellian double- speak used by the far left National Socialists against anyone with whom they disagree, and of course link, whenever possible the term far fight with Nazism… whereas it is they who are, as I say, the National Socialists?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
14 days ago

The only worrying thing in that screenshot is the bit about “age-profile of referrals and arrests getting younger”.

So who are these referees getting the young folk arrested and thus their lives probably destroyed?

Fearless Guardianistas like the “comment is unfree” heroine?

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
13 days ago

Teachers primarily, I expect. There are occasional articles about kids being referred to Prevent for the most ridiculous things – saying they like Nigel Farage, or that being white isn’t bad etc.

Michael J
Michael J
13 days ago

I doubt that a few edgy teenagers swapping spicy memes on discord is much of a threat to this country.

Patience Easy
Patience Easy
14 days ago

The conspiracy theories coming out of these researchers heads make the Great Replacement Theory look like scientific fact.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
13 days ago

I read the article on The Guardian. The tone was clueless and cloying. Even cartoon characters such as Pepe the Frog have become alleged right-wing icons. Who’s next: He-Man and Skeletor?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2PUiRp7HyU

Last edited 13 days ago by Julian Farrows
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
13 days ago

I think it’s a scandal these so called researchers receive funding. Surely there are better uses for the money.

Jack Delingby
Jack Delingby
12 days ago

At my workplace, they run a bunch of stuff on far right extremism (even though it is extremely rare in the area) but when it came to the summer of 2020, we were more or less barraged with pro-BLM propaganda on a daily basis and advised to go and read all this divisive woke drivel from Khendi and Diangelo among others. Too bad these groups and institutions don’t also look into left wing extremism, they’d find it all over their workplaces.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
12 days ago

There have been more far-right terrorist attacks carried out on the screens of the BBC, ITV and Apple TV in the last 2 years, than on the streets of the UK in my entire lifetime. These media folk used to annoy me but I can just laugh at them now. A privilege of old age and not having to care too much about which handcart will eventually take us all to hell.

Last edited 12 days ago by Dustin Needle
Jim Beam
Jim Beam
13 days ago

They sure did waste a lot of space on this insanity.

R Wright
R Wright
13 days ago

Discord grooms thousands of young people into becoming eunuchs a year. The far right spends its time arguing over posts about African pornstars and the ‘Jewish Question’. One of these is more of a threat to wider society than the other.

Tyler Lord
Tyler Lord
13 days ago

The Victim/Oppressor dichotomy on full display here. The “Children” are hapless victims ensnared, the “Trolls” are omnipotent manipulators (who were once, perhaps, victims themselves?) No shades of gray.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
12 days ago

I’ve heard the project for Transgenders reading to children in libraries is actually a secret far right project to recruit kids.
C’mon everyone – share the rumour!

Peter B
Peter B
11 days ago

“The Guardian keeps exaggerating …”.
No need to say anything more.

Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
11 days ago

The ”extremists” are the ones doing the ”research” I think. Any political or social position white people take that is self-affirmative is inevitably misconstrued by ”experts.” All resistance to mass immigration and white displacement must be presented as a pathology by these types. They know that in a climate of free debate that is free from name calling, they cannot justify why only minorities should behave in their own ethnic interests and not white majorities.
The Heritage Site | Adam McDermont | Substack

K R
K R
10 days ago

I just took out a subscription to UnHerd today, mainly because the Guardian – which I’ve been reading for 20+ years – is beginning to give me such ball ache. I saw the article concerned and it is indeed worthy of the Daily Mail.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
11 days ago

I saw this the other day and The Guardian reports do instil panic in the reader, so I welcome the above article as a corrective. As mentioned below, the newspaper is preoccupied with “Islamophobia”. As if no one sane could find Islam scary. Another preoccupation in the Guardian is The Great Replacement. This theory is something that greatly worries Guardianistas – because the facts are so hard to refute. If kids are becoming drawn to that kind of stuff, perhaps the Guardian should be trying to ask why and empathise. Could it be that multiculturalism is doing great damage to kids’ mental health?