During an extensive undercover investigation of the far right by openly gay Swedish antifascist activist, white nationalists bragged about their connections with the White House and said their movement would end with “concentration camps and expulsion and war.”
Patrik Hermansson, 25, spent a year pretending he was writing a masters thesis about the suppression of right-wing free speech. Working undercover for British advocacy group Hope Not Hate, his investigation took him from Sweden to London to Washington D.C. and finally Charlottesville.
“I presented myself as a political refugee from the left-wing dictatorship of Sweden,” Hermansson told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “I talked about no-go-zones. That Sweden was collapsing under mass immigration. Many fascists worship Viking-Sweden, the idea of clean white race and a pure, original masculinity.”
One of Hermansson’s most interesting encounters during his time undercover was with Jason Reza Jorjani, an academic who until recently sat on the board of directors of AltRight.com, a website designed to foster cooperation between different white nationalist groups. (Prominent neo-Nazi Richard Spencer serves as its American Editor.) Jorjani is of Iranian-American descent and describes himself as a “long-time student of the glorious history of the Aryan nation of Iran”.
Hermansson met with Jorjani at an Irish bar in midtown Manhattan in June, where the two talked about a future in which Europe embraces fascism. “It’s going to end with the expulsion of the majority of migrants including citizens, who are of Muslim descent, generally” Jorjani said. “That’s how it’s going to end. It’s going to end with concentration camps and expulsion and war. At the cost of a few hundred million people.”
“We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great,” he continued. “And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader.”
Jorjani went on to brag that he had had “contacts” with the Trump administration and that he was the “link man” with the White House via Steve Bannon, who at that point was still serving as Trump’s chief strategist. “We had connections in the Trump administration,” Jorjani bragged. “We were going to get things done.”
Jorjani’s claims of contacts with the White House appear to be somewhat exaggerated. When approached by the New York Times about his White House “connections” Jorjani cagily clarified that he only meant he’d been “in touch” with people who had a direct line to Trump.
Jorjani has also now left AltRight.com – despite his name still being on the website’s masthead – to focus on bringing about the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
But the fact remains that these white nationalist groups, once thought to be fringe internet movements, had managed to draw close to the inner circle of the Trump administration. (Bannon publicly bragged that his website, Breitbart.com, was the “platform for the alt right,” a euphemism for white nationalists.) The president’s hesitancy to condemn the white nationalist movement in the wake of Charlottesville also points to the continued threat.
“Fascism is the largest threat to the society I want to live in,” Hermansson said. “And fascism is growing, which is dangerous. It’s not just racist, it wants to break down every element of democracy.”