Tom Tilley and Triple J‘s Hack have been copping a little bit of heat overnight over their program last night for interviewing a known neo-Nazi and anti-Semite over the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia – the rally which precipitated the death of 32-year-old Heather Hayer.
For inscrutable reasons, the Hack team thought that the underrepresented angle on this sitation was the explicitly Nazi one – and, as such, Tilley spoke on air to alt-right agitator and rally organiser Eli Mosley about what went down in Charlottesville.
For the record, there’s no lack of clarity here as to Mosley’s ideology. He occupies the lower and more venal echelons of the alt-right, among those who obsess over Nazi aesthetics and alleged Jewish conspiracies. He has appeared on flagrantly anti-Semitic podcast The Daily Shoah, where he told hosts Mike Enoch and Jessie Dunstan that he frequently approaches conservatives at Trump rallies and tries to encourage them towards alt-right anti-Semitism.
Tilley spoke to Mosley, introducing him as “one of the organisers of the Unite the Right protest” and as someone who is “relatively known in alt-right circles in the US”.
Hack‘s style is both lauded and criticised for being strenuously non-partisan – where Tilly will do his best to merely mediate the discourse, allowing interviewees and participants to provide their side of the story. Where this particular approach collapses, however, is when you’re interviewing a literal Nazi.
Mosley denied that the rally was intended to incite violence:
EM: I think it’s unfortunate that there was any violence, however, our point of the rally was never to have any violence. We all came there to have a peaceful demonstration that was given to us by our permit and our First Amendment right, and due to the police and government’s incompetence and negligence essentially what had happened was we were forced into violence.
Mosley also outright suggested that James Fields – who is accused of driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring several more – was provoked, and that it was an act of self-defence. Tilley does little to counter that assertion, which doesn’t hold up to even the most basic scrutiny of the video.
TT: How do you feel about the fact that ultimately it was a young man – a 20-year-old – who was associated with the far right that has ended up driving a crowd into a car of people and killing one woman?
EM: From what we’ve seen so far, this kid is 18 or 20 years old, and he had a baseball bat was what it looks like in the video smashing the back of his car right before he speeds off.
TT: So you’re saying he was provoked to make that attack, that it wasn’t his intention to drive into those people and end up killing people?
EM: He was in that street crowded with all the Antifa, Black Lives Matter people and we’ve seen his car attacked. I understand a young kid like that panicking in that situation especially when two hours before that these AntiFa were essentially trying to kill people. We had people have their heads cracked open with hammers, I was beaten with a metal rod at one point.
Mosley also denied that he was a neo-Nazi or associated with the KKK, both assertions which don’t really hold up in the face of his extensive activity within the most racist corners of the online right.
TT: The right side of the protest has been labelled Nazi sympathisers, as we mentioned before there were people carrying fire-lit torches around which, from this point of view here in Australia looking at what’s going on, looks like a remnant of KKK-style activity. How can you explain that? Would you consider yourself Nazi sympathisers?
EM: I would say that all this KKK, Nazi sympathiser stuff, I just completely reject it. I just reject this idea completely. Anyone who’s pro-white in this country, or any country that’s historically white has been labelled KKK and Nazi no matter what we do, so I reject this label entirely.
Tilley then spoke to a caller who identified themselves as Herschel from Brisbane, who claimed to be a Jewish man arguing against Mosley’s perspective.
Everyone with even a passing literacy in far-right arguments immediately grokked onto the fact that it didn’t seem like ‘Hershel’ was a real person – he parroted many of the accusations that neo-Nazis lob at Jewish people, including the claim that multiculturalism is intended specifically to eradicate whiteness and white culture.
Here’s what ‘Herschel’ said:
Oh mate, I must tell you, it’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen in this whole alt-right coming out of the United States. They have a sort of false grievance where they think that with multiculturalism and diversity that that means it’s going to be the end of white people, or that’s what they talk about. But what I think that those white people need to understand is that is what is going to happen with multiculturalism: eventually they are going to dwindle into very small numbers. People say to me ‘Well, you’re Jewish, you’ve got Israel, you’ve got your own homeland.’ But you see Whites have never had the same kind of persecutions as the Jews: you can’t forget the six million. With this one I just think that everyone needs to accept that multiculturalism is going to happen and it will mean the end of whiteness, and I for one as Jewish person think that would be a great thing.
(‘The six million’ – used disparagingly in reference to the Holocaust – is a frequent ‘joke’ in online alt-right circles.)
Tilley, not clocking to the fact that ‘Herschel’ was most likely not real, proceeded to play devil’s advocate for the far-right, asking whether white people have “the right to stand up for their culture”. The resulting exchange is pretty clearly a huge troll.
TT: Do they have the right to stand up for their culture if they do feel that it is being pushed back?
H: No, I don’t think they do considering how bad they’ve been. You look at colonialism, you look at WWII, all of these were purely white things and white people should feel responsible for them. And I think that if the cost that they have to pay is them falling and obliterating themselves into nothingness then that’s the cost they’re going to have to pay.
TT: Wow, it’s quite an extreme point of view that white people should just let their culture waste away because of what’s happened generations before.
H: Well I’m sorry Mr Tilley but if you promote multiculturalism in any way that’s what you’re promoting. Multiculturalism is the end of white people and that’s why you have things like Unite the Right.
Many people on social media were particularly unhappy about this entire Hack exchange – which follows earlier appearances by Australian white supremacist Blair Cottrell on the program.
Hi I'm Tom Tilley and stay tuned to hear from literal nazis you're listening to triple jjjjjjjjjj
— Big Hum (@lonelydandruff) August 14, 2017
@TomTilley is that guy who wants to play devil's advocate for a moment but instead he's been doing it his entire career
— Kieran Gulvin (@Finkaven) August 14, 2017
Hang on Triple J interviewed a nazi? Back in the day when the world was good (the 1990s) that would be unthinkable.
— Grant Williamson (@ozjimbob) August 14, 2017
Australian alt-right and neo-Nazi posters were quick to churn out Tom Tilley memes – obviously in jest, but they’re also pretty clearly happy that they were able to get their viewpoint represented on Hack.
— Alt Right Australia (@altright1788) August 14, 2017
Lol at caller Hershel from Brisbane. I reckon he was a troll.
— PatrickWhiteStraya (@BlighWasRight) August 14, 2017
— FlaK-36 (@KriegCovfefe) August 14, 2017
— The Dingoes (@TheDingoes) August 14, 2017
Obviously the argument being made by those who think this kind of discourse is fine is that free speech and the stringently non-partisan charter of the national broadcaster means that all viewpoints ought to be represented – even, for some reason, Nazi ones.
On the one hand, “I want to kill you,” does not constitute a balanced response to “I want to be alive.” There’s a fundamental disconnect here which free speech discourse does not quite capture.
The other problem with this – when you end up interviewing literal Nazis – is that you not only mainstream that kind of belief, you also shift the window of acceptable discourse to include explicit white supremacy. Let’s be clear here: white nationalism isn’t a political belief that can be implemented without political repression, mass violence and genocide. You can’t peacefully pass the establishment of a white ethnostate through a national parliament.
Or, perhaps we can put it a little more succinctly via this tweet:
I dunno man I feel like we heard all the Nazi arguments 80 years ago, and then we executed them for their crimes
— Nathan Bernhardt (@jonbernhardt) August 12, 2017
You can listen to the episode of Hack here, if you feel so inclined.Image: ABC