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Vladimir Putin’s Fifth Column in the West

Spencer's favorite leader, Vladimir Putin.

Spencer’s favorite leader, Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin’s fifth column in the West

DOUG SAUNDERS (Globe And Mail)

When Russian President Vladimir Putin uses military force to menace Ukraine’s democracy and seize chunks of its territory, when he uses authoritarian laws to crack down on homosexuals and minorities and imprison dissidents, there are those among us, including a record number of elected politicians, who cheer.

A generation ago, Moscow’s fans and enablers would have all been on the far left. Today, with the exception of a marginal group of leftists motivated by anti-Americanism, Mr. Putin’s cheerleaders are all conservatives – some in the United States and Canada, and a record number who have just come to power in Europe.

Last week’s European Parliament elections saw a record number of Putin-admiring and Putin-emulating parties elected to Brussels. Some of these parties are anti-European Union, some are anti-immigrant, some are outright racist and anti-Semitic. They don’t tend to get along with one another, but one thing that unites them is an outspoken admiration for Mr. Putin.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the suddenly powerful United Kingdom Independence Party,used a magazine interview during the campaign to praise the Russian President, calling him the world leader he most admires. “Compared with the kids who run foreign policy in this country, I’ve more respect for him than our lot,” he said at a public event.

In words widely reported in the Russian media, he added that the EU has “blood on its hands” for supporting the democracy movement in Ukraine. Rather than posing a threat to Europe, Mr. Farage said, Russia has fallen prey to Europe’s “activist, militarist and expansionist foreign policy.”

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front (which sent the lion’s share of French representatives to Brussels) is an even greater admirer. “I think he puts the interests of Russia and the Russian people first, so in this regard, I have the same amount of respect for him as for Ms. Merkel,” Ms. Le Pen said this week, adding that “a lot of things are said about Russia because for years it has been demonized on U.S. orders.” She, like her comrades across Europe, wants to end sanctions against Russia and restore “traditional, friendly” relations.

Geert Wilders, the mop-haired head of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, has blamed the conflict in eastern Ukraine not on Russia but on “shameless Europhiles with their dreams of empire.” Ukraine’s democracy movement and the pro-European government it elected last week, he said, are run by “National Socialists, Jew-haters and other anti-democrats.” (In fact, extreme-right and anti-Semitic parties attracted about 2 per cent of the vote in the recent Ukrainian election.)

In the minds of such politicians, Europe’s response to Moscow’s incursions hasn’t been slow and mild; it’s been excessive. “We have always been told the European Union stands for peace,” Mr. Wilders said. “Now, we know better – the EU stands for war-mongering.”

These Westerners aren’t backing Mr. Putin out of pure Russophilia. Rather, they admire his embrace of a Christian and mono-ethnic identity for greater Russia, and his aggressive action against what they see as their enemies: European diversity and open borders, and minority groups – especially homosexuals and Muslims. Like them, Mr. Putin embraces the old conspiracy holding that Muslims are secretly plotting to take over Europe, a key plank for these parties.

That’s why North American right-wing anti-immigration activists, generally affiliated with the Republican Party and the right fringe of Canada’s Conservatives, have rushed to back Mr. Putin and the European parties that admire him.

American anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer made a point of appearing on the Russia Today network (shortly after most of its American staff had quit and denounced it as a Kremlin propaganda outlet) to attack the United States and endorse Mr. Putin’s approach toward Muslim minorities. “Barack Obama is somebody who has been embarrassed on the world stage by Vladimir Putin more than once,” Mr. Spencer said.

And Ezra Levant, the right-wing pundit with Canada’s Sun Media,cheered France’s National Front, Britain’s UKIP and the other Putin-backing parties for their European election victories, praising their embrace of Putinist ideas: “The EU’s de facto abolition of borders … has let millions of migrants move from the poorer parts of the EU to the richer ones,” he explained, warning of “mass Islamic immigration that contains large elements refusing to accept Western, liberal values.”

Their victory is, he said, “a rejection of Obamaism, and a return to common sense, national conservatism. You could say it’s a bit of Stephen Harperism.”

To be fair, Mr. Harper has never endorsed such ideas. It is actually a bit of Vladimir Putinism.

Follow  on Twitter: @dougsaunders

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  • Ilisha
  • Nyc Guy

    He is one of many people that contribute to Spencer. He is not “paid” by one single person or one single group. I have donated to him in the past and I’m not affiliated with any organization!

  • Ilisha

    They’re motivated neither by religion nor financial need. Palestinians turn to violence because the world stands by watch while Israel, in violation of international law, gobbles up their land.

    I wish you had to live in Gaza for a few years. It’s often compared to an open air prison. I’d like to talk to you then.

  • Ilisha

    Robert Spencer is paid by David Horowitz.

  • Nyc Guy

    Umm…so you think people like Robert Spencer are paid to criticize islam and muslims? I don’t know what’s your definition of getting “paid” is but Spencer has mentioned many times that he receives donations via paypal in his website where, in most cases, money is donated by random users. That’s not to say all of his funding comes from paypal donations. He also challenged his critics by providing information of what kind of donation he receives, by whom and his tax documents. If anyone is being paid, it’s islamofascists who are paid by the saudis and other oil-rich gulf nations to spew their propaganda all over the world. I have very little doubt that this websites receives such donations as well. Now if I’m wrong, that’s fine too. There is also a possibility that this site is funded by randoms muslims and their leftist allies. As far as getting paid by others (such as Jews/Zionists as muslims like to claim) is concerned, well that’s just BS. I’m neither a Jew, nor a Christian nor from any other religion which means that, yes, I’m an atheist. If I had money, I’d fund 10 more Robert Spencers by donating heavily to them to help them create more awareness. That’s not because I’m a Jew or a Zionist, but simply because I want the sheeple (especially western leftists and so called liberals) of this world to see the reality of islam and move towards a peaceful world free of islamic terrorism, violence, child-marriage, misogyny, kaffir-hatred, bigotry etc. by exposing and defeating the enemy. As they say, you can’t defeat your enemy until you identify them. People like Spencer are helping to open the eyes of the sheeple. People like him deserve all the money/donation they receive. It’s nothing compared to the enormous amount risk he regularly has to take to even survive in this world full of muslim loons. Given the opportunity, it only takes one muslim loon to make him the next Theo Van Gogh.

  • Nyc Guy

    Gaza Lecturer: Suicide Bombers Motivated by Islamic Faith, Not Financial Need or Brainwashing
    Well, I at least have to applaud him for his “honesty” unlike the so-called moderate muslims and western leftists who laughably blame it on some other bull$hit in order to whitewash the reality. As evil as they are, I’d rather take honesty over Taqiyya any given day. LMFAO

  • Reynardine

    Trouble with new browser– testing.

  • jameyfan

    What a bunch of hypocrites! Shouldn’t Reilly and friends on Faux news call these Islamophobes “pinheads” or “unpatriotic” for supporting anti American Putin?? They seem to support anyone who’s anti Obama unless he or she is MUSLIM. The only thing these right wing extremists are consistent about is their hatred of Muslims! and yes there are liberal extremists who hate Muslims too but they’re a little more subtle.

  • jameyfan

    Excellent point Kataro! Sadly Putin’s approval ratings among Russians has gone up no thanks to our(US) intervention.

  • Omar_the_Egyptian


  • Tighe McCandless

    “This is what those who support the anti (gay, immigration, Islam, Jew…) want, no one to answer to, and in a democratic state, they want to legislate the voices of everyone else out of the conversation.”

    I’m glad that this was finally touched upon. This, more than any other reason, is why the likes of Wilders and Le Pen are tripping over themselves to praise Putin. It doesn’t matter if the state he’s helping to create is going to be a paranoid, hyper nationalistic, religiously bigoted mess in the future – what matters is that he’s the sort of leader they all wish they could be (well, aside from the fact that he’s ruling in the first place rather than having to be part of coalitions, if they get anywhere near power at all). He listens to no one other than himself – or his close circle of yes men – and fights the ‘right’ sort of people. If nothing else to them, it proves that popularly elected figures can rule as autocrats so long as there is the veneer of public approval.

    The tankie approval for Putin isn’t worrying because it’s unique (it’s not) – it’s worrying because it’s a cultural trend that has the very real chance in the future to swoop authoritarians into real positions of power.

  • Ahmed

    Wash it down with a bit of soap, then.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Couldn’t have said it any better.

  • Jekyll

    Peppermint is too sticky !

  • Reynardine

    Peppermint. Cleans your mouth out,you know.

  • Nur

    A lot of people seem to be ‘against their own best interests’ to support ideology, rather than principle and ideals. However, what is more true is that people like Robert Spencer could give a damn about principles and ideals, and their interest is their bank account at the expense of the dignity of someone else.

    Understand that people like Spencer are being paid to have an opinion. What they do with their mouth is no better than what some would do for money in the alley behind the trash cans. They are simply selling their mouth to the highest bidder.

    They will latch on to whoever is popular and spouts their views in order to ride the wave to fame and fortune. Putin, because he is the leader of a state, is just one more person they hatemongers hide behind, just as those who are funding Spencer hide behind them.

    Putin cares about Putin, and unlike democratic states, Putin doesn’t have to answer to anyone. This is what those who support the anti (gay, immigration, Islam, Jew…) want, no one to answer to, and in a democratic state, they want to legislate the voices of everyone else out of the conversation.

  • moraka

    Another lunatic who thinks he/she can magically alter the minds of loonwatch and its readers via sheer nonsense. Get some anti-psychotic medicine.

  • Ilisha

    I’ve never understood your hostility toward me. I’m not even the one who made the initial decision not to publish your comment, but you really dodnt engender a positive reply by referring to us as “thought police.”

    No one is policing your THOUGHTS in any case. Think whatever you want, but if you post it as a comment here, it will be subject to our discretion.

    It’s one thing to explain why you won’t give homosexuality a moral seal of approval, and another to suggest the very notion is so tainted, you can’t even put the words homosexual and Muslim in the same sentence. What does that even add to the discussion? It’s arguably substance- free alienation.

    In any case, I don’t appreciate your attitude toward me in particular and try t engage you as little as possible.

  • Reynardine


  • Ilisha

    The point of the article seems obvious to me. In your unpublished comment, you referenced a sentence that summarizes pretty well why this is relevant:

    ..These Westerners aren’t backing Mr. Putin out of pure Russophilia. Rather, they admire his embrace of a Christian and mono-ethnic identity for greater Russia, and his aggressive action against what they see as their enemies: European diversity and open borders, and minority groups – especially homosexuals and Muslims…

    As for your complaint about the “thought police,” we are not going to give you unlimited latitude to make derogatory comments about homosexuals. This is an ANTI-BIGOTRY site, Jekyll.

  • Reynardine

    I have lived longer than you: I have lived to see the deadly foes we fought at the very beginning of my life become better nations of human beings than we are, even as we plummet towards what they once were.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    What is so surprising about that?
    “Birds of a feather
    Flock together”
    United in inhumanity.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    I would not dismiss the Russian argumentation out of hand. Yet the support for annexation of parts of Ukraine is not as complete as they would have us believe, and also, the other Eastern Europeans do not want a rehash of the Soviet Empire.
    Of course it is the saddest thing that the USA no longer stnd for FDR’s Four Freedoms but only for the freedom of finance capitalism.
    Still sadder, the clerical-totalitarian tendency called Salafism.
    Humanity has, in my lifetime, taken a huge step backwards.

  • Reynardine

    The sorriest thing is that both you and the author of this article are right.

  • mindy1

    Sadly this has happend before-people embracing a wanna be tyrant because he hates those that others hate.

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