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I ask Alexander and Shane to discuss the curious case of Andy Ngo — right-wing provocateur, so-called “independent journalist,” former Quillette editor, and grifter. Ngo is best known for using his prominent social media platform to promote and spin provocative right-wing media narratives, demonstrated in his coverage of street clashes between antifascists and far-right groups over the past several years — most notoriously in Portland, Oregon. His promotion of the concocted narrative that antifascists activists (antifa) are anti-free speech and even terroristic (#antifaterrorists), has had real consequence in the lives and safety of journalists and activists, including Alexander and Shane. (http://bit.ly/2koyQHe) While Ngo is discussed in this episode at some length, Shane and Alexander contextualize the rise of right-wing media figures like Ngo within the wider media environment. Capitalist and centrist liberal values, as embodied by the most prominent media outlets in the country, often consistently fail to provide proper context to a wide range of events, which in turn leaves room for a sort of “fascist creep” to take place in way these events are discussed and presented to the wider public. Without proper investigative research, prominent media outlets fail to do their part in connecting the dots in the rise of white supremacist violence, whether that be in their coverage of the frequency of racially motivated mass shootings in the United States and abroad, the increasingly visible street violence between antifascists and far-right groups, and rising far right populism in nations around the world. There is real danger here in the concocted narratives spun by figures like Ngo: without proper vetting by mainstream journalists in their coverage of these events, disingenuous media personalities with far-right tendencies like Ngo are given a pass and even legitimized, giving space for misinformation surrounding antifascist activism to spread. Alexander and Shane discuss this, and much more, in this episode.
Alexander Reid Ross teaches geography at Portland State University, and is the author of ‘Against the Fascist Creep. ‘His work has appeared in Truthout, ThinkProgress, The Ecologist and the Cambridge University Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security.
Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker who regularly reports on far-right movements in the US, as well as anti-fascist resistance, workers rights, and class struggle. He is the author of ‘Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It’ from AK Press, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Jacobin, Truthout, and Commune Magazine.
- Learn more about Alexander’s work: https://alexanderreidross.net
- Support Shane’s work: https://www.patreon.com/shaneburley
- Read ‘I was the target of alt-right death threats across the internet — here’s what happened next’: http://bit.ly/2koyQHe
- The song featured in this episode is “Marilyn Set Me Free” by Casino Versus Japan from the album Hitori + Kaiso (1998–2001).