Image Credits: Photo: AP.
Can you still call something a conspiracy theory if it’s printed in the New York Times as straight news? When respectable reporters investigate how Russia goes about promoting fascism in the West, they come up with things that sound like they’d be a decent fit for Glenn Beck or Alex Jones, provided only that the culprits were on the left.
The central target of these manipulations from abroad — and the chief instrument of the Swedish nationalists’ success — is the country’s increasingly popular, and virulently anti-immigrant, digital echo chamber.
A New York Times examination of its content, personnel and traffic patterns illustrates how foreign state and nonstate actors have helped to give viral momentum to a clutch of Swedish far-right web sites.
Russian and Western entities that traffic in disinformation, including an Islamaphobic think tank whose former chairman is now Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, have been crucial linkers to the Swedish sites, helping to spread their message to susceptible Swedes.
At least six Swedish sites have received financial backing through advertising revenue from a Russian- and Ukrainian-owned auto-parts business based in Berlin, whose online sales network oddly contains buried digital links to a range of far-right and other socially divisive content.
Writers and editors for the Swedish sites have been befriended by the Kremlin. And in one strange Rube Goldbergian chain of events, a frequent German contributor to one Swedish site has been implicated in the financing of a bombing in Ukraine, in a suspected Russian false-flag operation.
It’s still hard to believe that Russia, a country which has based its positive self-image so strongly on their heroic and victorious battle against the Nazis, has decided to do everything it can to revitalize white nationalist principles in Europe and America. But that’s the direction Vladimir Putin has taken the country, and he’s so far succeeded in installing sympathizers in the most powerful positions in Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The effort in Sweden is being duplicated in most other European countries.
He has captured the White House and is presently in the process of remolding the Republican Party in his image.
Yet, people like me who have been warning about this since 2015 are not taken as seriously as we should be. This is as serious as a heart attack.