The Charlottesville Attacker Loved Assad, but the Far Left Have Embraced the Syrian Tyrant, Too

Published August 15th, 2017 - 11:31 GMT
Syria's Assad: Anti-imperialist hero and alt-right idol. (AFP/File)
Syria's Assad: Anti-imperialist hero and alt-right idol. (AFP/File)

On Sunday, twenty year old James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters during a day of far-right rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. One woman was killed, and many more were injured in what many quickly called a terror attack (although he was charged with—among other things—second degree murder).

While the media on both sides went crazy for the story, throwing blame about and peddling conspiracy theories, another piece of information about the attacker emerged: he was, like many on the far-right, a fan of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Liberals on Twitter, especially those within the Middle East who oppose Assad, clung to this piece of information, offering it as proof that the far-right and evil tyrants form some sort of global conspiracy of hate and oppression.

Well, they probably do.

But included in that basket of true deplorables is the far-left, who fiercely defend Assad and his anti-Western, anti-imperialist, anti-Israel foreign policy and his leftist politics.

Both sides love the tyrant for different reasons, and both peddle conspiracy theories about what is going on in Syria at the moment.

Some European right wingers support Assad for religious reasons. The orthodox church is big in Europe, and Syria’s Christian population is orthodox-heavy and protected by his regime.

Nazis support Assad for his anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. Assad’s fierce rhetoric targeting Israel is something the anti-Semites on the far-right can get behind, and given that a lot of anti-Israel propaganda in the Arab world conflates Jews with Zionists, this is hardly surprising.

The Islamophobic alt-right support Assad for his supposed “secularism”. Asma al-Assad does not wear a hijab, nor does Bashar walk around in traditional Islamic clothing. When Islamophobes see the Syrian ruler and his family, they see “Westernization”, something they are far more likely to support than the groups of bearded rebels who yell “Allahu Akbar” after firing each bullet.

The far-right smear social media with pro-Assad propaganda, claiming that Obama—a Muslim—supported terrorists in order to get rid of Assad—a secularist—as a part of some global Islamo-imperialist conspiracy.

Ridiculous, sure, but that doesn’t stop it being believed.

But what is conveniently forgotten by Western liberals who dislike Assad and berate the far-right for supporting him is that he also enjoys a lot of support from the hard-left.

A Huffington Post article from April of this year highlighted some of the reasons why those on the left and right both support Assad, but ended by arguing that it was of course more serious of an issue on the right. Surprise! HuffPo is liberal and the pope is catholic.

Simply searching through social is enough to show anyone that support for the brutal tyrant is also prevalent among the far-left.

They admire his anti-Imperialism and anti-Western hegemony. Assad defends his country against Western interference and routinely calls out Western powers (well, not Russia, but they don’t count do they?) for getting involved in the affairs of Arab nations. The firebrand Scotsman George Galloway once called Assad’s government “the last castle of Arab dignity”.

He is anti-Israel. Much like the moderate-left, the hard-left are not exactly the biggest fans of Israel. This makes Assad quite a hero to those who can ignore (or explain away) his war crimes against his own people. While the moderate-left can’t support him due to his violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, they may agree with him on Israel. Conversely, the moderate-right can’t support him because they do support Israel, but they probably don’t mind him cracking down on all of those bearded rebels.

The tug of war between the left and right in the West actually loops back and meets at the far ends on many issues. Assad and the civil war in Syria is one of them. In the wake of the Charlottesville attack, liberal media was quick to point out the far-right’s support a brutal dictator.

A cheap shot, just like those memes showing Trump’s father as a Klan sympathiser.

The truth is, Assad and his brutal regime are supported on the political fringes in the West for a variety of reasons, and neither side of the left/right divide is willing to admit that they have something quite so major in common.


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