‘The Intercept’ Tries To Conflate Opposition To US Syria Intervention With Neo-Nazism

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readSep 9, 2017

Just as the tide turns in Syria and even the most virulently pro-establishment voices are forced to concede that the regime change they’ve been pushing for has failed, The Intercept has published a shockingly awful article titled “Why White Nationalists Love Bashar al-Assad”.

Nowhere in this insipid piece does the author once refer to any of the unforgivable evils that the west has inflicted upon Syria, its relentless anti-Assad propaganda campaign or its foundational role in fanning the flames of war and arming known terrorist factions against the Syrian government. Instead, The Intercept’s newly-recruited Mariam Elba opts to refer to Syria’s only legitimate government as “the primary perpetrators of escalating Syria’s civil war”. The Intercept’s editors even initially allowed through the absurd and since-corrected claim that Assad is primarily responsible for “millions” of deaths, when even the most ridiculous establishment propagandists are aware that the total death toll in the Syrian conflict is around half a million.

Instead of even once acknowledging the role of US and NATO interventionism in perpetuating the Syrian conflict, Elba instead focuses exclusively on how evil the Assad “regime” is, on how much white nationalists “love” the Syrian leader, and on Assad’s arguably grossly mistranslated use of the single word “homogenized”.

The article is essentially one long Gish gallop of individually weak and mostly unrelated bits of information such as the fact that a white nationalist known as “Baked Alaska” was once seen wearing a pro-Assad t-shirt, the fact that an SS officer might possibly have advised Bashar’s father on torture tactics in the 1950s and allegedly died in Damascus, and the fact that part of a recent speech about the war given by Assad can possibly be translated as “We lost many of our youth and infrastructure, but we gained a healthier and more homogenous society.”

The latter claim is especially bizarre because Elba doesn’t even attempt to argue that Assad would have been using the term “homogenized” in the same way a white supremacist would use it, instead saying that Assad meant “a society free of any kind of political dissent” rather than an ethnically homogenous society. Leaving aside the fact that Elba is making a completely baseless speculation about a nation that has been under attack from terrorist forces for many years, it is truly jaw-dropping that The Intercept would permit the publication of an article which makes such a lazy, loose association so pivotal to its argument. The mental gymnastics necessary to carry one possible translation of a statement in Arabic all the way over to an association with the fringe American support for a white ethnostate while openly acknowledging that they aren’t even using the same idea is staggering.

Elba also makes use of arguments from The Daily Beast’s Alex Rowell, including a link to an article which contains such unsubstantiated establishment vitriol as “the Syrian regime plasters its führer’s face on every public square and building and murders civilians with poison gas” and “Why do fascists like the Assad regime? The simplest answer is that the Assad regime is a fascist regime. The brownshirts know a brother-in-arms when they see one.”

The article attempts to spin the alt-right’s support for Assad as something that is happening in a vacuum, having nothing at all to do with US interventionism. In reality, most white nationalists oppose the western interventionist agenda in Syria because of the “nationalist” part of their label, not the “white” part. Civic nationalists feel the same about Syrian interventionism as ethno-nationalists do, because they place primacy of the nation-state above what the Infowars crowd views as a globalist agenda of world domination by the plutocratic owners of multinational corporations and banks. Their philosophy necessarily means honoring Syria’s sovereignty as a nation-state, since they don’t view it as hostile to America’s sovereignty as a nation-state.

I’m writing against this article because I know its sentiment will be used as a weapon against people like me who speak out against western interventionism in Syria. The propaganda campaign against the Syrian government has failed, and it’s getting desperate, and now because of arguments like this which arise from that desperation it’s only a matter of time before people who contradict the establishment Syria narrative start getting shouted down as Nazi sympathizers.

What’s going on with The Intercept? Why is it suddenly hiring these blatantly pro-establishment war propagandists? Has it gone full WaPo now? This is coming just two weeks after it ran a piece full of smears on WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange, which up until today was the cherry on the top of an increasingly pro-establishment sundae.

Does this pivot have something to do with The Intercept’s founder, eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar? This wouldn’t be anything new for Omidyar, who is already working toward developing artificial intelligence software to serve as an arbiter of truth in news media, and who reportedly had some extremely shady involvement with the 2014 coup in Ukraine (which was ironically spearheaded by neo-fascists).

In 2013 another extremely powerful billionaire, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, purchased the Washington Post for $250 million. He didn’t do this because his acute business sense told him that newspapers were about to make a lucrative resurgence, he did it because he knew that the power establishment he was building his empire upon requires a robust propaganda mouthpiece to maintain and advance. Is Omidyar doing the same? Sure as hell looks like it.

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