Archive for Xenophobia/Islamophobia

Fake Aristotle Quote Opposing Human Rights for Immigrants

A xenophobic news aggregator called Western Voices World News reposted an article from the New York Post concerning New York City’s strongest-in-the-nation Human Rights Law. In September 2019 the city explicitly affirmed that the law protects New Yorkers from being harassed because of their accent, for speaking a language other than English, or from being called an “illegal alien” out of hate. Western Voices World News provided only two bits of commentary on the report: the xenophobic heading “Trusting your government and getting conquered by aliens are now one and the same” and a meme showing a bust of Aristotle with a quotation “Tolerance and Apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.” Pharos has documented and responded to hate groups using things Aristotle actually wrote in support of hatred, but Sententiae Antiquae and The Athenian Inspector have both shown that this quote appears nowhere in Aristotle’s work: racists, xenophobes, and nationalists just attach Aristotle’s name to it in order to give intellectual credibility to their hateful politics.

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Greco-Roman Antiquity in Camus’ “Great Replacement”

No fewer than three recent mass shooters have said they found inspiration in the French intellectual Renaud Camus’ theory of “the Great Replacement,” a xenophobic and racist claim that “European” or “white” culture is being “replaced” through immigration. Camus outlined this theory in a 2011 book entitled Le Grand Remplacement that he later rewrote and translated into English as You Will Not Replace Us! (2018), a title clearly intended to echo the chant of the white supremacists at the 2017 Charlottesville rallyPharos has reported on how this theory appears, often in connection with references to Greco-Roman antiquity, on various hate sites, and ancient historian Sarah Bond has traced the history of this theory, uncovering a long tradition of such thinking well before Camus published his work. But Greco-Roman antiquity is not just a touchstone for those who subscribe to Camus’ theory: his treatise itself takes its starting point from a reading of an ancient Greek philosophical text and is peppered throughout with references to antiquity in support of his claims.

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Islamophobic Site Finds Evidence of a “New Dark Ages” in the Fall of Rome

Gates of Vienna is a xenophobic and Islamophobic website that has been in existence since 2004. The anti-racist group Hope Note Hate calls it “one of the most influential counter-jihad sites in the world” and lists its founder, Edward S. May, as one of the “top 16 players on the international Islamophobia scene.” Most of the material on the site is devoted to demonstrating that immigration from Muslim countries poses an existential threat to “Christian Europe.” Among the many articles on this topic is a three-part series entitled “How Long Until the Dark Ages Return?” arguing that the arrival of refugees from Muslim-majority countries has brought Europe to “the brink of [a] New Dark Ages” that will be marked by the “total chaos and absolute anarchy” that “ruled” in Europe following the collapse of Roman state power. The example of Rome is held up as a warning to Europe, since “It’s interesting to see how that came to be the last time.”

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Militia Group Warns of the Roman “Path to Ruin”

In May 2019, Pennsylvania state representative Stephanie Borowicz drew criticism for posing for a photograph with a member of the militia group “American Guard” at a rally. Such reports of elected officials having ties to white supremacy or granting influence to members of hate groups seem to be increasingly common. When the report of Rep. Borowicz’s selfie came across our desk Pharos looked into American Guard and found not only hateful politics, but references to classical antiquity as well.

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Political party using antiquity to “Make Spain Great Again”

VOX is an anti-immigrant, Islamaphobic, homophobic, and misogynist political party in Spain that in 2019 won enough votes to elect twenty-four legislators to Spain’s Congress of Deputies. In a body of 350 seats this is not enough to enact a legislative agenda but they now have a voice and legitimacy that they had previously lacked. Like many far-right parties VOX’s rhetoric depends on a nostalgia for a supposedly more peaceful, more prosperous (and actually less equitable) past. Although VOX finds its inspiration primarily in Spain’s more recent, fascist, past, it also invokes the Greco-Roman world to legitimize its politics.

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Classical Shirts Mask Hate with Humor

“Culture Wars” is a store on the custom apparel website TeePublic.com that advertises itself as “designs in support of European culture and civilization.” Like another online apparel store that Pharos has documented, “Culture Wars” offers many shirts with classical images and themes that promote both coded and explicit racism, homophobia, and misogyny. But whereas the previously documented site promoted a violent and hyper-masculine vision of the classical past, “Culture Wars” takes the approach of attempting to mask much of its hatred with humor.

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“Warrior” apparel invokes antiquity for violent White Nationalism

Warrior XII” sells t-shirts and other apparel that “embrac[e] the warrior mindset and the essence of what it means to stand on the thin blue line, serve in our military, or simply be a patriotic American.” The “12” of “Warrior XII” is a slang term for police. Their designs include slogans such as “I’ll control my guns, you control your kids”; “If you can’t be safe, be deadly”; and “Die a Hero, or live long enough to become the villain.” Warrior XII also sells several shirts that invoke classical antiquity, including designs such as “Spartan Helmet,”  “American Spartan,” and “SPQR.” As Pharos has documented, both the Spartans and SPQR are favorite sources of inspiration for white nationalists, and on closer inspection what might at first seem to be nothing more than a line of shirts for gun enthusiasts turns out to be a platform for xenophobia and coded white supremacy.

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Militia group to provide “Spartan Training” against domestic “insurrections”

The “Oath Keepers” is an anti-government and anti-immigration militia group in the United States that attempts to convince police officers, members of the U.S. military, and veterans to oppose any government policy they regard as “unconstitutional.” Although they formally disavow racism and white nationalism, their members’ and leadership’s actions indicate otherwise: their anti-government philosophy is similar to that of the racist and anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus movement of the 1960s and their webpage frequently employs the anti-Semitic term “globalist” to describe individuals and groups they oppose. The group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, has praised an article arguing that Islam “parasitically feeds off the healthy non-Islamic societies around it.” In an August 21st, 2018 interview with Infowars, whose founder has been banned from most social media for hate speech, Rhodes announced a series of “Spartan Training Groups” that will defend against the “violent left’s” efforts to obtain “illegitimate power.” Labeling this program “Spartan” is an attempt to promote the political legitimacy and military sophistication of their paranoid, violent program.

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Stoic Philosophy masking Hate

Stoicschool.org is the website of an organization that promotes itself as “a civil society of people from all walks of life who share important values about the earth, social justice, and making a real difference in the world through people and science.” These values, they say, are derived from their adherence to ancient Stoic philosophy and the application of it in the modern world. It’s an appealing message, and one that may appear to put ancient Greco-Roman philosophy to good use, until you look a little deeper into the site and find that this lofty and progressive vision is meant to disguise and give intellectual credibility to a hateful and regressive message that has nothing to do with Stoicism.
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Xenophobic Op-Ed in Local Paper Reflects Hate Site’s Arguments

“Migrants Sank the Roman Empire. Now They’re Sinking Us” is the title of a recent op-ed in the Shreveport Times. The article claims that the Roman emperor’s decision to allow Goths seeking protection from the Huns to enter Roman territory in the 4th century CE caused the collapse of the Roman empire, and argues that immigration to the United States and Europe will similarly hasten “the suicide of the West.” Appearing as it does in the primary newspaper of a metropolitan area of half a million residents, this op-ed may seem to represent a mainstream view, but in fact parrots the views of a notorious hate site. Read More→

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