Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Jacob Rees-Mogg wants you to know what he is watching

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On Sunday Jacob Rees-Mogg tweeted a frame from a YouTube video of a speech by the far-right German politician Alice Weidel.

He added the message:
The AfD leader asks "Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?"
Writing on the London Review of Books blog, Rachel Malik has grasped the significance of what Rees-Mogg did:
The MP for North East Somerset has made something of a cult of his eccentricity and if he wants to spend his Sundays watching Bundestag debates on YouTube, I’ve no desire to stop him. 
But the link he supplies in his tweet is not to the Bundestag’s official YouTube channel. It is to a channel made up of speeches, party political broadcasts and ads from far-right European parties, translated into English with approving headings (‘BBC Blackwashing British History’, ‘Brilliant 3 minute speech by Marion Le Pen’, ‘No Country for Straight White Men’, ‘Powerful video about Italy’s demographic and identity crisis’, and a lot of speeches from the AfD). 
It’s clear from the comments below the video that Weidel is a popular and familiar figure for the channel’s British viewers: ‘We need her in Britain’; ‘What a fantastic speech. Thatcherian. We need someone like this’; ‘Thank you Dr Weidel, a true friend to Britain. Hope you’re not too late to help us.’ 
The channel is clearly a ‘safe space’ for the far right; there are very few dissenting voices. Rees-Mogg’s tweet does two lots of work. First, it is guaranteed to anger and provoke anyone concerned about the rise of the far right in British politics. Second, Rees-Mogg is talking to the people who watch far-right YouTube channels. He isn’t telling them what to watch; they know that already. He’s telling them he’s watching it too.

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