A Breitbart contributor has been revealed to be an administrator of a secret Facebook group where users regularly post virulently racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic content, as well as support for far-right groups.
Jack Hadfield, a third-year politics student at the University of Warwick in the U.K., has written more than 150 articles for Breitbart News, mainly focusing on technology. But in his spare time he runs the Facebook group Young Right Society (YRS), which has over 200 members and bills itself as “a place for those who are on the Right…to discuss politics, philosophy, and general Right-wing stuff with as little censorship or government intervention as possible.”
While a portion of YRS includes more moderate right-wingers, the British anti-fascism charity Hope Not Hate has discovered that it also serves as a platform for those who advocate fascism and white supremacy. One post for instance described Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was murdered by a far-right terrorist last year, as a “virtue-signaling, more-progressive-than-thou cunt.” Other members posted support of National Action, which in 2016 became the first neo-Nazi group to be put on the British Government’s List of proscribed terrorist organizations. One user on YRS posted a prison letter from National Action member Lawrence Burns, who was jailed for four years in 2017 for inciting racial hatred.
Several members of YRS are prominent figures among the U.K.’s far-right political movements. They include Colin Robertson, a Scottish white supremacist behind the popular YouTube channel “Millennial Woes,” and Jamie Ross McKenzie, chair of the youth wing of the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). One of the group’s moderators, Michael Brooks, has been pictured alongside Prime Minister Theresa May and Nigel Farage, while also advocating for white supremacy on YRS. Brooks wrote that the idea of a “white identitarian paramilitary organization known as the ‘white shirts’ sounds kinda cool,” and also stated that he was “14 and 88” – numbers which have special significance for white supremacists.
As one of YRS’ four administrators, Jack Hadfield had the power to moderate some of the more guttural content on YRS and allow the self-described moderates to be the primary voice of the group. Instead he permitted racist, fascist and anti-Semitic posts to flourish.
“My intention in running the group was to create a free and open place for all right of center opinions and ideologies to be discussed. I consider myself on the moderate right, but I strongly believe that all ideas, including those of the so-called ‘alt-right’ must be debated,” Hadfield said in a statement. “This smear campaign run by Hope not Hate is just another example of the left attempting to shut down free discussion, a worrying insight into the future of so-called “liberals” in this country.”
Hadfield maintained that he “refuted alt-right arguments in favor of ethnic nationalism on numerous occasions.” When asked by ThinkProgress whether he thought it was appropriate to allow posts supportive of far-right groups, Hadfield responded, “I thought a lot of posts were inappropriate. That doesn’t mean I’m going to ban them. That’s what free speech is.”
Hadfield’s position as a contributing writer to Breitbart is no surprise, despite his role in YRS and refusal to go to his university’s classes on sexual consent. While Steve Bannon may have disavowed white supremacy on 60 Minutes, an October investigation by Buzzfeed News showed that Breitbart actively allowed white supremacist visions to flourish on its website – all bankrolled by billionaire right-wing hedge-fund manager, Robert Mercer.
However, Hope Not Hate’s expose provides another example of how far-right activists are increasingly organized and connected across borders. For example, YRS is alleged to have organized several offline meetings in London, Belfast and Manchester, and attended survival camps. Members of YRS were also filmed at a bonfire in Belfast where Canadian far-right provocateur Lauren Southern was also present. Michael Brooks also posted support for Richard Spencer’s torchlit marches through Charlottesville. Together this shows how, as the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD) said last month, the internet has allowed far-right groups to overcome geographical differences and expand their influence.