by Roddy Keenan for the Saker Blog
As a teacher of history, the topic of Nazi Germany is always one which generates numerous questions from students. How were the Nazis able to convince the public to vote for them? How did they convince the people to go along with their fascist agenda and barbaric policies? How was the Holocaust allowed to take place?
Despite discussing the role of propaganda and censorship, as well as the fear of opposing the Nazi regime, one still finds students often somewhat bemused. Moreover, many invariably argue that nowadays, due to social media, the Internet, and other methods of communication, the evils of Nazism could never succeed in flourishing again.
However, that is about to change. One only has to look at the manner in which the Azov Battalion, a fully-fledged Ukrainian Nazi militia, with significant influence, has been whitewashed in the space of ten weeks. Whereas prior to February 24th 2022, they were recognised as a neo-Nazi battalion, these fascists are now being portrayed as valiant defenders of an oppressed people, fighting bravely against insurmountable odds.
In the past, we have become only too well aware of the role played by the media and big tech in propagandising and manufacturing consent. Whether it’s the mainstream media parroting establishment talking points, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube censoring dissenting views, or Paypal denying media outlets access to their own accounts apparently due to their political stances, Western disinformation full-spectrum dominance appears to be at its zenith.
Yet, the perennial Western purveyors of fake news, such as The New York Times, CNN and the BBC, declare themselves to be gatekeepers of truth, integrity and morality. And this, despite their lies which facilitated the slaughter and deaths of over a million men, women and children, in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
But still it goes on, right up to the present. From the Ghost of Kiev to Snake Island, the Collective Western media has acted as stenographers for the Western and Ukrainian regimes. The examples are too numerous to mention, but the media coverage of the air strike at a railway station in Kramatorsk provided a striking example of the overt and cynical propaganda role the western media has played throughout this conflict.
The missile strikes that killed over fifty people and injured more than one hundred were initially widely reported, with images on front pages across the Western media. However, within forty-eight hours the story had disappeared and barely received a mention. This was due to an Italian news team identifying one of the missiles as being of the type used by Ukrainian forces. The narrative of Ukrainians killing civilians obviously didn’t fit into the propaganda of the Collective West, and consequently, the dead and injured found instant irrelevance.
Now the Western media has turned its malevolent myth-making to the Nazi Azov battalion in the Ukraine. An overtly Nazi formation, descended from the Fascist Banderites of World War 2, it is now being staunchly defended by the Collective West.
Interestingly, it had been previously accepted that the Azov were a far-right, Nazi militia, and indeed, their presence and influence was widely viewed as a dark force within the Ukraine. It’s fascist rituals and regalia, worship of the fascist Stepan Bandera, and its adherence to Nazi ideology, left nobody in any doubt that these were committed fascists, and they were commonly described as neo-Nazis in numerous Western media outlets.
However, since February 24th there has been a stunning shift.
Now, the fact that the Azov battalion is a Nazi organisation is glossed over. The BBC, a propaganda arm of the British State, ran a nine-minute puff piece, arguing, almost pleading, that the Azov fighters were not fascists, but simply a battalion integrated into the Ukrainian army. Meanwhile, MSNBC interviewed Azov Nazis teaching elderly women how to use weapons, and newspapers from the Financial Times to the New York Times are now portraying the Azov as brave defenders of the Ukraine.
An obvious aim of this shameless media operation is to delegitimise the Russian claims of denazification, by arguing that there is no Nazi problem in the Ukraine. Even on the rare occasion that the media refers to the ideology of the Azov units, and indeed, the presence of other fascist and far-right groups such as C14, Right Sector and Svoboda, it claims they have minimal impact on the politics of the Ukraine, pointing to their weak electoral performances. What they fail to point out, is that the mainstream’ parties are implementing policies that the fascists support. Moreover, the notion that parliamentary representation is a metric of influence is absurd when one looks at the likes of Al Qaeda and Isis.
In fact, a leader of the fascist group C14, Yevhen Karas, described the 2014 Maidan coup as a ‘victory of nationalist ideas’. He went on to assert that without the influence of fascist groups, Maidan would have been nothing but a ‘gay parade’.
But this is now an inconvenient truth for the Collective West. Consequently, Azov and their fellow travellers are no longer Nazis or fascists. Instead, they are merely ‘misunderstood patriots’.
Of course, this is nothing new. When it comes to hypocrisy, the Collective West has it in spades. Whether it’s supporting the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, ISIS and AL Nusra in Syria, or the fascists in Ukraine, the Collective West has shown itself to be devoid of any morality when it comes to serving their own interests.
Now, just as Isis and Al Nusra are ‘moderate rebels’, the fascists of Azov are well-meaning nationalist warriors.
So, according to our so-called liberal democracies, even though there might be bad Nazis, there are also good fascists, whose adherence to Nazism is just an ideological quirk. Obviously, those who are on our side are the good Nazis. And it’s the Collective West that always gets to decide who is who.
But one thing is now evident – the blatant manner in which Nazism has been made palatable due to an unrelenting, systematic propaganda campaign, will answer those questions posed by students regarding how German Nazis were able to attain power in 1933 and to subsequently pursue the policies that they did.
‘Scratch a liberal and a fascist bleeds’, I was once told many years ago.
The events of the past months have proven just how accurate that old adage is.
Originally from Ireland, Roddy Keenan is a teacher and freelance reporter based in the UK. Roddy specialises in international politics and is the author of US Presidential Elections 1968-2008: a narrative history of the race for the White House’.