Far-right YouTuber Lauren Southern banned from the U.K. speaks at European Parliament, spreads narrative of white genocide in South Africa

On March 12, 2018, hard-right Canadian YouTuber Lauren Southern was refused entrance to the United Kingdom reportedly afte distributing flyers in Luton, U.K., stating “Allah is a gay God” and “Allah is trans” — which Southern called a “social experiment.” 

The U.K. Border Force denied Southern entrance, declaring her “not conducive to the public good.” 

Despite this, on March 14, Southern was invited to the European Parliament to discuss her ban from the U.K. Southern then met with far-right members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to discuss a familiar racist “alt-right” dog whistle — the murders of white farmers in South Africa, which is used as a shorthand for supposed white genocide. 

A popular blogger on the alt-right with over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 360,000 on Twitter, Southern has become a figurehead of the South African “white genocide” narrative, after traveling to the country to produce a documentary on the murders of white farmers in the country. With her help, the farm murders in South Africa are being recast as a story of interracial warfare to fuel the narrative of oppression of white nationalists and identitarians in the US and Europe. 

The 22-year-old blogger, who has authored a book called Barbarians: How the Baby Boomers, Immigration, and Islam Screwed My Generation, is also fiercely opposed to immigration, even joining a boat of European identitarians from the group Defend Europe in the summer of 2017 to stop refugee and NGO rescue boats from landing on European shores, leading to her ban from the fundraising platform Patreon. The crew instead infamously stumbled from one blunder to the next. An avowed anti-feminist, Southern has called Islam “dangerous to the West” and has mainstreamed many causes dear to the alt-right.

After Southern was banned, Gerolf Annemans of the far-right, Flemish, pro-secession party in Belgium Vlaams Belang, sent her a car to bring her to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament. She was introduced by MEP Janice Atkinson, another devotee of the white South African cause. Atkinson, who was expelled from the collapsing pro-Brexit United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) for financial fraud, is now the vice-chair of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, a coalition of far-right parties at the European Parliament.

In February, Atkinson already gave Southern’s vision of anti-white racism in South Africa a platform at Parliament by playing one of Southern’s videos on the murders of white farmers. Later that month she again took up the South African cause in a letter to Boris Johnson — the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the U.K. — calling on the British government to intervene in South Africa where, she claimed, “the hard left of the ANC [African National Congress] has been taking control.”

There has been a flurry of other far-right figures flocking to the topic of South Africa and recasting violent burglaries against white farmers (farm murders or “plaasmoorde”) as white genocide. 

In actuality, however, there is a lack of comprehensive data showing whether murders of farmers in the country are motivated by a desire to rob farmers (as declared by the South African Police Service) or by racial animus, in a country where stark economic and educational disparities still separate white and black populations. Despite white South Africans having significantly more access to wealth, healthcare and education than their black counterparts, the murders of white farmers in South Africa are used by white nationalist and identitarian circles as an example of white genocide, which feeds the idea of the victimization of white people so dear to white supremacists. This comes in the midst of debate over post-apartheid land redistribution in the country. 

After her speech at the Parliament, Southern spoke on the Europe of Nations and Freedom show, alongside a number of far-right voices at the European Parliament, including Atkinson, the British leader of UKIP at the European Parliament Gerard Batten, and the Flemish MEP for Vlaams Belang, Gerold Annemans, who had sent Southern the car to Strasbourg. The four discussed farm murders in South Africa, a cause Atkinson said she would raise with British farmers.

This is not Vlaams Belang’s first encounter with the American far-right: one of its leading members, Filip Dewinter spoke at the white nationalist conference American Renaissance in 2016. As for Southern, she spoke at the Vlaams Belang youth conference on March10.12 days later Belgium’s National Student Association and other far-right groups held a silent march against the genocide of white African farmers. Held in Gent, the march was attended by the Flemish nationalist youth group, Schild & Vrienden

After her visit to European Parliament, Southern was introduced to UKIP’s founder and Donald Trump ally, Nigel Farage, who despite being a key voice for pushing Britain toward exiting the E.U., is a member of the European Parliament for South East England. Farage also spoke up in Southern’s defense. He tweeted: “Anti-terrorism laws were used to ban @Lauren_Southern from the UK this week. We should be able to criticise religion in a free society.” He then interviewed Southern on his show.

Southern’s ban from the U.K. has made her a cause célèbre in European far-right circles, alongside Martin Sellner, the identitarian leader of anti-immigrant activist group Defend Europe and far-right YouTuber Britanny Pettibone. Both were also banned from the U.K. last month. Southern was notably interviewed by Stephen Lennon (known under the pseudonym Tommy Robinson) the founder of the far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and occasionally violent street movement the European Defense League. 

Southern has been growing increasingly close to the European anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements. This summer, she joined the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant European identitarian group headed by Sellner, Defend Europe, for a failed cruise on the Mediterranean sea. She has also recently adopted a favorite theme of the United Kingdom’s anti-Muslim movement, the idea of grooming gangs, that is of immigrants forming gangs that rape women and children. She produced a joint video on the topic with another far-right YouTuber, Britanny Pettibone, on March 22.

The farm murders narrative is merely another way to advance an agenda in favor of white nationalism and racial discrimination, even fueling nostalgia for racial apartheid. As Southern declared in an interview with alt-right Canadian media personality Stefan Molyneux:

“I know I’m not allowed to say it because of my complexion, but I’ll just quote what my black security guard outside my hotel told me, he literally told me [he] preferred living under apartheid.”

Photo credit Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.