Spencer’s London Speaking Dates: Tues & Weds, Nov 15th & 16th

My German speaking tour went very well, and i’ll be in London for a couple talks next week:

Tuesday, November 15: London
The U.S. Radical Right in the Age of Trump
7-9 PM
London Activist Resource Center
62 Fieldgate St, E1 1Es

Wednesday, November 16: London
U.S. Left/Right Crossover Movements
1-2:30 PM
Birbeck University
School of Social Science, History and Philosophy
28 Russell Square
Dreyfus Room (Room 202)

The U.S. Radical Right in the Age of Trump
In the United States, the campaign of Donald Trump has been a huge catalyst for the radical right. Patriot movement paramilitaries publicly brandish weapons to force the privatization of public lands and intimidate Muslims and refugees. Rightists are attacking Black Lives Matter protests with firearms, and violence has skyrocketed at counter-protests against fascists. White Nationalism is having its biggest growth in decades, and now includes new faces: intellectuals, hipsters, prison gangs, and Third Positionists. How will Trump’s presidency affect the furthest reaches of the far right? How will U.S. antifascists respond?

U.S. Left/Right Crossover Movements
In the last decade, many new forms of left/right crossover movements have developed in the English-speaking world. This includes the spread of new forms of Third Positionism, Julius Evola’s influence, popular mobilizations against finance capital, conspiracy theories, doctrines of racial separatism on the Left and Right, the spread of anti-semitism, and the popularity of Sovereign Citizen pseudo-legal theories. In music, there has been a spread of Rock Against Communism, fascist neofolk, and black metal (NSBM) bands. What do these movments say about the Left and Right as distinct political forms, and how have traditional political actors responded to them?

“Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement”

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-12-13-36-pmI started working on this report two months before  the Malheur occupation – which threw quite a wrench in the thing. But now it’s finally finished. A joint project from Political Research Associates and the Rural Organizing Project, Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement explains the Patriot movement’s national structure and goals; shows its decades-old history in Oregon; looks in-depth at six Oregon counties where Patriot movement organizing is strongest today; explains why the rural Oregon economy is in bad shape; and offers concrete suggestions—including numerous examples from the last year—of how Oregonians have counter-organized against this movement.

Spencer Sunshine, with Jessica Campbell & Rural Organizing Project, Political Research Associates, Daniel HoSang, Steven Besa, and Chip Berlet, Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement (Somerville, MA: Political Research Associates & Rural Organizing Project, October 2016), 188 pages.

Available in PDF and HTML (free), and softcover ($15+postage).

Antisemite Christopher Bollyn & the Brooklyn Commons: A Guide to Links

[Last updated: December 17, 2016]

Here’s a link list for news articles and related resources about Far Right antisemite Christopher Bollyn’s appearance at the (formerly) “progressive” space Brooklyn Commons, and owner Melissa Ennen’s welcoming of the booking.

Ennen’s new career as a host for antisemites drew denunciations from a state senator, two city councilers, many of the tenants in the building, Jewish groups, and local Palestine Solidarity groups (both Jewish and not). International coverage included Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, and the International Business Times. Even the orthodox Jewish press chimed in.

Ennen has tripled down on the booking and, in the WBAI interview, said she would welcome David Duke to speak there.

A second protest at the end of September, during an open mic, resulted in the non-violent protestors being attacked with, among among things, a mic stand and had a hot cup of coffee thrown on them – caught on video.


Daniel Sieradski, “Brooklyn Commons hosting antisemitic truther Christopher Bollyn,” Jewschool, September 3, 2016.

Mitchell Plitnick, “Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorist Speaking At Progressive Sites in NYC and DC,” The Third Way, September 3, 2016, https://mitchellplitnick.com/2016/09/03/anti-semitic-conspiracy-theorist-speaking-at-progressive-sites-in-nyc-and-dc.

Mitchell Plitnick, “Busboys and Poets Cancels Christopher Bollyn Event!,”  September 4, 2016, The Third Way, https://mitchellplitnick.com/2016/09/04/busboys-and-poets-cancels-christopher-bollyn-event.

Spencer Sunshine, “Far Right Conspiracy Theorist Christopher Bollyn to Speak at the Brooklyn Commons,” September 5, 2016.

Mitchell Plitnick, “Shame On Brooklyn Commons as Another Venue Cancels Bollyn Appearance (UPDATED),” September 5, 2016, https://mitchellplitnick.com/2016/09/05/shame-on-brooklyn-commons-as-another-venue-cancels-bollyn-appearance.

Tiffany Owens, “Leftist Groups Protest Controversial Scheduled Speaker at Brooklyn Commons Café,” BK Reader, September 6, 2016.14212828_1753320481608604_5035881628464666787_n

Anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theorist to speak at NY venue for progressive groups,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, September 6, 2016.

Lauren Gill, “‘Raging anti-Semite’ 9-11 truther speaking in Boerum Hill tonight,” Brooklyn Paper,  September 7, 2016.

Gabriela Geselowitz, “Tonight: Protest an Anti-Semite,” Jewcy, September 7, 2016.

Naomi Dann, “The Jewish Left Needs To Call Out Real Anti-Semites Like Christopher Bollyn,” Forward, September 7, 2016.

Sam Kestenbaum, “Progressive Brooklyn Space Won’t Dump ‘Anti-Semitic 9/11 Conspiracy Nut’,” Forward, September 7, 2016.

David Schraub, “A Hip Leftist Hub is Hosting an Anti-Semite Today. Here’s What Progressives Must Learn From That,” Tablet, September 7, 2016, www.tabletmag.com/scroll/212755/a-hip-leftist-hub-is-hosting-an-anti-semite-today-heres-what-progressives-must-learn-from-that.

“Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorist Christopher Bollyn Speaks In Brooklyn,” September 7, 2016, Anti-Defamation League, http://blog.adl.org/anti-semitism/anti-semitic-conspiracy-theorist-christopher-bollyn-speaks-in-brooklyn.

“Anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracist set to speak to progressive Jewish groups,” September 7, 2016, Jerusalem Post, www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Anti-Semitic-911-conspiracist-set-to-speak-to-progressive-Jewish-groups-467101.

Mitchell Plitnick, “Brooklyn Commons Owner Responds, Doubles Down on Anti-Semitic Speaker,” September 7, 2016, The Third Way, https://mitchellplitnick.com/2016/09/07/brooklyn-commons-owner-responds-doubles-down-on-anti-semitic-speake.crxa18iwyaaxlxp

Daniel Sieradski, “How it went down at the Brooklyn Commons tonight,” September 7, 2016, https://storify.com/selfagency/how-it-went-down-at-the-brooklyn-commons-tonight

Lauren Gill, “The ‘truth’ hurts: Staff at 9-11 truther talk attack spitting protestor,” Brooklyn Paper, September 8, 2016.
[includes video of Brooklyn Commons employee, who is spit on and then attempts to attack a protestor]

Brendan O’Connor, “An Antisemitic 9/11 Truther Grows in Brooklyn,” Jezebel, September 8, 2016.

Sam Kestenbaum, “9/11 Anniversary Sparks New Wave of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories,” Forward, September 8, 2016.
(Also published in the International Business Times)

Bill Weinberg, “‘Progressive’ Brooklyn Commons hosts anti-Semite,” Countervortex, September 8, 2016.

Sam Kestenbaum, “9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Blames Terror Attack on ‘Zionist War Agenda’ in Brooklyn Speech,” Forward, September 8, 2016.

Marilyn Mayo, “That Time I Came Face to Face With an Anti-Semite in Brooklyn,” Forward,  September 8, 2016.

Joyce Chu, “Anti-Semitic Author Christoper Bollyn to Speak in Brooklyn,” JPUpdates, September 8, 2016, http://jpupdates.com/2016/09/08/anti-semitic-author-christoper-bollyn-to-speak-in-brooklyn

David Schraub, “On Listening to Us: A Follow Through on the Brooklyn Common,” The Debate Link, September 9, 2016, http://dsadevil.blogspot.com/2016/09/on-listening-to-us-follow-through-on.html

Debra Nussbaum Cohen, “9/11 Truther’s Controversial Speech at Hipster Brooklyn Bastion Draws Protesters, Police,” Haaretz, September 9, 2016.

Rob Bryan, “An Anti-Semitic Conpiracist Comes to Brooklyn, Sparking Outrage,” Alternet, September 9, 2016, www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/anti-semitic-conspiracist-comes-brooklyn-sparking-outrage
[Favorite line: when asked if 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, Bollyn said it was “not his area of expertise.”]

Jacob Siegel, “Jew-Hater Christopher Bollyn Brings 9/11 False Flag Act to the Brooklyn Commons,” Daily Beast, September 10, 2016, www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/10/jew-hater-christopher-bollyn-brings-9-11-false-flag-act-to-the-brooklyn-commons.html

Nathan J. Robinson, “Let the Kooks Speak,” Current Affairs, September 10, 2016, https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/09/let-the-kooks-speak

“Christopher Bollyn’s presentation for Friday, Sept.9th has been cancelled,” West-Park Press, September 13, 2016, http://west-parkpress.blogspot.com/2016/09/christopher-bollyns-presentation-for.html.
[from the UWS church who cancelled Bollyn’s other NYC talk]

“A Lesson Hopefully Learned,” Hamodia (Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry), September 11, 2016, http://hamodia.com/2016/09/11/lesson-hopefully-learned
[Even the conservative, Orthodox press chimes in]

“What do we do when a neo-Nazi speaks at a Left venue?,” Systemic Disorder, September 14, 2016, https://systemicdisorder.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/anti-semitism-and-the-left

Doug Chandler, “Progressives Reflect on Antisemitism in Their Midst,” Jewish Week (New York), September 21, 2016, www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/progressives-reflect-anti-semitism-their-midst

Sam Kestenbaum, “For Jewish Left, a Conflict in Brooklyn Exposes Bitter Split Over Anti-Semitism,” Forward, September 30, 2016, http://forward.com/news/351032/for-jewish-left-a-conflict-in-brooklyn-exposes-bitter-split-over-anti-semit.
[includes video of a WBAI advisory board member assaulting protestors]


New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton, “Rejecting Hate in Our Community,” BK Reader,  September 7, 2016, http://www.bkreader.com/2016/09/rejecting-hate-community/

New York City Counciler Brad Lander, Twitter, September 4, 2016. “Highly distressing to see @BrooklynCommons hosting anti-semitic conspiracy nut this week,” https://twitter.com/bradlander/status/772455049184305153

New York City Counciler Steve Levin said “I am alarmed that Mr. Bollyn’s outrageous, abhorrent, and libelous theories on 9–11 are being presented as somehow ‘progressive’ and I hope those in attendance challenge Mr. Bollyn forcefully.” See Brooklyn Paper article.


“Statement from Multiple Organizations on Christopher Bollyn Event at the Brooklyn Commons,” Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, September 4, 2016, https://thebrooklyninstitute.com/2016/09/04/statement-from-multiple-organizations-on-christopher-bollyn-event-at-the-brooklyn-commons.

Families United for Racial & Economic Equality (FUREE), September 5, 2016, www.facebook.com/FUREEous/posts/1449795611713553

Baffler Editor in Chief Chris Lehmann, Baffler, September 6, 2016, www.facebook.com/TheBafflerMagazine/posts/10153864009843597.

“Jewish Voice for Peace–NYC calls on Brooklyn Commons to Cancel Event with Antisemitic speaker,” Jewish Voice for Peace, September 6, 2016, https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/jewish-voice-peace-nyc-calls-brooklyn-commons-cancel-event-antisemitic-speaker.

“JFREJ Calls on Brooklyn Commons to Cancel Anti-Semitic Event,” September 6, 2016, JFREJ, http://jfrej.org/jfrej-calls-on-brooklyn-commons-to-cancel-anti-semitic-event.

“CUNY for Palestine Statement on Brooklyn Commons Hosting Anti-Semitic Speaker,” Academic Boycott of Israel at CUNY, September 6, 2016, https://cunyboycott.wordpress.com/statements.

If Not Now, “An Open Letter to The Brooklyn Commons: Cancel the event with Christopher Bollyn,” Medium, September 7, 2016, https://medium.com/ifnotnoworg/an-open-letter-to-the-brooklyn-commons-cancel-the-event-with-christopher-bollyn-bf68d021c81e.

Official BISR Statement on Bollyn Event / Brooklyn Common,” Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, September 8, 2016, https://thebrooklyninstitute.com/2016/09/08/official-bisr-statement-on-bollyn-event-brooklyn-commons.

BISR Executive Director Ajay Singh Chaudhary, “A letter from Ajay,” Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, September 8, 2016, https://thebrooklyninstitute.com/2016/09/08/a-letter-from-ajay.

“Demand the Brooklyn Commons Publicly Oppose Bigotry in All Forms,” ND, https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/demand-the-brooklyn-commons-publicly-oppose-bigotry-in-all-forms [INN petition]

Boycott call, “This Is Not Our Commons: Boycott the Brooklyn Commons!,” https://jewishantifascists.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/boycott-flyer-final.pdf14520500_1766450156962303_2034150042052535935_n


“Letter from Melissa regarding Christopher Bollyn talk,” dated September 7th, 2016 4:00 PM (actually appeared online earlier), https://web.archive.org/web/20160907011117/http://thecommonsbrooklyn.org/civicrm/event/info?id=13804&reset=1

ENNEN’S 9/11 TRUTH BACKGROUND: “[Westchester911truth] Press Advisory: 9/11 Truth Breakthrough Weekend in NYC,” September 6, 2006, http://two.pairlist.net/pipermail/westchester911truth/2006-September/000051.html



On  air at the radio station which is based in the same space that Melissa Ennen owns, she says: “If the KKK or David Duke or anybody came here and wanted to rent the space, I’d say fine, rent the space, see who you can persuade.” (around 23:00)

Brooklyn for Peace, “BFP Statement re Controversy About the Brooklyn Commons,” http://brooklynpeace.org/?p=5876
[undated] [note: Brooklyn for Peace sent a letter before the talk asking Melissa to cancel]

BFP initiated: “Statement in Support of Brooklyn Commons and Melissa Ennen
This statement, apparently initiated after tenants of the Brooklyn Commons were consulted before a boycott of the space was called, calls on people to support Ennen as she affirms that the Brooklyn Commons is open to use by the Far Right.

UNITARIAN CHURCH, HARTFORD, CT CANCELLATION: www.facebook.com/UnitarianSocietyOfHartford/posts/10154404372188617

BUSBOYS AND POETS CANCELLATION: https://twitter.com/busboysandpoets/status/772460846094049280

Rafael Shimunov, “So, You’re Hosting Christopher Bollyn?,” September 9, 2016, https://medium.com/@rafaelshimunov/so-youre-hosting-christopher-bollyn-9b0f39a415cd#.34vhblor1

JEWISH ANTIFASCIST ACTION, https://jewishantifascists.wordpress.com/

Corey Robin on refusing to speak at the Brooklyn Commons: http://coreyrobin.com/2016/10/15/why-i-wont-be-appearing-at-the-brooklyn-commons-on-wednesday/

full video (2+ hours)

(If you’d rather watch the video in segments)
9/11 and Our Political Crisis – Christopher Bollyn at The Brooklyn Commons Pt 1

Far Right Conspiracy Theorist Christopher Bollyn to Speak at the Brooklyn Commons

—“It seems like being a Jew is a lot like being a wolf,” Christopher Bollyn

The booking of Christopher Bollyn at the Brooklyn Commons seems to be only the latest bid by the antisemitic wing of the 9/11 Truth and conspiracy movement to find legitimacy in lefty circles. Bollyn, Ken O’Keefe, and others have been speaking at progressive spaces, libraries, and even religious congregations in the recent past with little opposition.

This needs to change.

Bollyn is a former staffer at a leading racist media project who claims that a “Jewish/Zionist” cabal controls the United States. While this is boilerplate Far Right nonsense, he is speaking on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at the Brooklyn Commons—a well-respected Left-wing movement space in central Brooklyn. While it takes some chutzpah to speak there, more worrisome has been the refusal of the space to cancel the event.

#Barnes ReviewBollyn worked for the Liberty Lobby from 2000 to 2006, which was run by Willis Carto, who for decades was one of the most important racists on the US Far Right. His media group included the Spotlight (now the American Free Press), a White nationalist newspaper (where Bollyn was a staffer), as well as the Barnes Review, the main periodical helping spread Holocaust Denial in the United States (where he was a contributing editor). Bollyn has also appeared on David Duke’s radio show, and has praised the racist paramilitary patrol, the Minutemen Project.

Bollyn made his name by promoting an openly antisemitic brand of 9/11 Truth conspiracies in which he makes boilerplate antisemitic claims. Many of these could be taken directly out of 1930s Nazi Party propaganda—that the US government is controlled by a cabal of Jews who force it to go to wars against its national interest. In case there is any lingering doubt, Bollyn is also happy to quote the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the forgery that is one of the main antisemitic texts that inspired the Nazis.

image via Jewschool

Thinking it was surely a mistake that such a person would be speaking at the Commons, I contacted them directly. Their booker, Melissa, said she was unaware of this person’s background and would get back to me. (As of press time — several days later — there has been no followup.) When asked to comment about Bollyn by other activists, the unidentified person running the Common’s twitter said, “I glanced at his site and nothing antisemitic jumped out at me.” But without even clicking on anything, the front page of Bollyn’s site is filled with lines like “9-11 is a massive Zionist Jewish crime,” and that NPR is run by a “cabal of Zionist Jews.” Bollyn’s website and other writings include such antisemitic gems like:

  • “Great nations, like the United States, France, and Germany, once had anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic political parties that acted to challenge the pernicious influence of secret Masonic and Jewish organizations.  Today we no longer have such political parties to counter these secret networks and find ourselves ruled by B’nai B’rith and Jewish Freemasons.”
  • “The ‘false flag’ ter­ror­ism of 9–11 is a mon­strous Jewish-Zionist crime of our time.  The true cul­prits of this heinous crime are clearly being pro­tected by a gang of like-minded Jew­ish Zion­ists in the high­est posi­tions of the U.S. government.”
  • “It seems like being a Jew is a lot like being a wolf.”
  • He openly cites the Protocols line that: “Not a single announcement will reach the public without our control.”
  • “I suspect that Arlen Specter is a high-level agent of the B’nai B’rith, the secret organization of Jewish Freemasons which I consider to be the real Elders of Zion.”

(Note: I won’t link to Far Right websites, but you can easily google up all this information.)

Anger about Bollyn’s appearance is growing in the absence of any action by the Brooklyn Commons staff. Many people have contacted the Commons to ask them to cancel the booking. (When DC bookstore Busboys and Poets was contacted about Bollyn’s talk there, they cancelled it within 24 hours.)

Members of several projects based at the Commons—the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, Jacobin, the Marxist Education Project, The Indypendent, FUREE, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, WBAI, and the Right to the City Alliance—have issued an open letter saying: “We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.”# protocols

Bollyn’s friends are also engaged in reactionary politics. For example, Nicholas DeVincenzo, the host of the New York event on Facebook, promotes David Duke videos, even tho he says he is skeptical of white separatism. Meanwhile, DeVincenzo’s friend, Rudy Dent, is slated to introduce Bollyn at the Commons. Dent, who is black, promotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on his facebook (which DeVincenzo approves of), as well as radical right-wing Sovereign Citizen theories.

This just goes to show how antisemitism is often the glue that holds unlikely political bedfellows together, and can create a bridge linking the Far Left and Radical Right.

The battle lines are drawn over demonizing narratives that promote oppression. People of any identity can promote narratives of antisemitism and white nationalism, and/or work with those who do. On one side are those who oppose promoting or working with them, and on the other are those who engage in demonization or who promote alliances with those who do. White, black, and other folks—including Jews—can be found on both sides of this line.

Similar to Bollyn, Ken O’Keefe has also been making the rounds of progressive circles. He began his career as a legitimate Palestine Solidarity activist but now propagates antisemitic conspiracy theories, including giving a talk praising Adolf Hitler.

I’m not sure what’s in the air right now, but whatever it is has given the antisemitic conspiracy theorists a push to try and find legitimacy for their views among the Left. Perhaps it’s the shot in the arm that Trump is giving to all forms of racism and bigotry—but nonetheless, it is clear that the response from the Left is severely lacking in regard to identifying and confronting antisemitism. There needs to be more education  about antisemitic narratives and tropes so that people can recognize and reject them. And  there should be an understanding about how antisemitism allows for cross-recruitment from, and fusion with, racists and fascists—as we are seeing with Bollyn’s attempts to woo progressives at the Commons.

388 Atlantic Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11217
(347) 987-4966

“It’s Time to Ring the Alarm About White Nationalism”

While the media has heavily covered Islamist terrorist activity and the recent deadly ambushes on police, it has largely overlooked increasingly brazen demonstrations and violence by the Far Right. In the last year, the level of violence has ramped up dramatically and is only now hitting its stride.

On July 7, Michael Strickland, a right-wing journalist who videotapes left-leaning protests and puts participants’ photos on the Internet, was arrested after waving a gun at a Portland Black Lives Matter rally. He claimed that he feared for his life – because someone allegedly shoved him while he was taping the peaceful demonstration.

After a late June confrontation with fascists who had secured a permit to rally at the California state courthouse, nine counter-protestors were hospitalized, with five of them stabbed. The fascists, operating under the banner of the Traditionalist Worker Party (but comprised mostly of members of the neo-Nazi Golden State Skinheads), fled after the clash with protestors. A loaded gun was left at the scene, which anti-fascists claimed neo-Nazis has dropped as they ran away.

Four months before, on February 28, three anti-racist activists were stabbed while confronting Ku Klux Klan members who were attempting to rally in Anaheim, California.

Patriot Movement paramilitaries took over an Oregon wildlife refuge for 41 days in January, their fourth armed encampment in two years.

And all of this has happened barely a year after 21-year-old White supremacist Dylann Roof attended a bible study session at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel AME Church, and then fatally shot nine Black worshippers.

This violence needs to serve as a wake-up call.

read the rest at Colorlines