One of the more troublesome aspects of social media allowing virtually anybody to appoint themselves to the role of independent journalist, is that unscrupulous propaganda merchants will eagerly take advantage of this unregulated space for the purpose of circulating lies and thereby furthering their own nefarious agendas. And without a virtually limitless capacity for research it’s sometimes hard to know whether the reports you’re reading at any given time are accurate and trustworthy.
However, a helpful clue that what you’re reading at any moment is likely propagandistic nonsense of the highest order with little or no relationship to reality, is if it’s written or circulated by this drooping bollock of a man:
David Vance is a prolific conservative agitator and one of the absolute worst offenders in the competitive arena of witless right-wing disinformation. He founded the website A Tangled Web, which has been plagued by accusations of hate speech, and also runs a similarly ludicrous platform named Alt News Media which he suggests is an antidote the “lies and partisan hackery” of the “mainstream legacy media”.
Ironic then that Vance trades in lies and partisan hackery with gusto and is no stranger to appearances on “mainstream legacy media” where he is often treated as a serious commentator. He’s appeared on several BBC One programs to opine on subjects like welfare reform and the British Empire, he’s featured in multiple debates on Sky News, he’s contributed to TalkRadio, and is virtually a permanent fixture on the Russian propaganda network RT UK.
Yet on New Year’s Eve 2019, Vance ended another sketchy year by posting an unfeasibly poorly written article, from an incredibly dubious looking website, entitled Swedish Child Beaten by Muslim Immigrant for Having Blue Eyes. Accompanying the article was an image of a weeping blue-eyed child with severe facial wounds.
“Blue eyes are haram?” asked Vance rhetorically in his tweet accompanying the article.
Thankfully, several intrepid Twitter users with far less reach than Vance, but far more of a sense of diligence and responsibility, quickly informed him that the story he was circulating was grossly exaggerated and that the accompanying photo was not of a 12 year old Swedish boy beaten up by a Muslim, but of a Welsh girl who’d had her face mauled by a Rottweiler.
“The accompanying photo is irrelevant” moaned Vance, feigning obliviousness as to why it might seem dishonest to circulate a story about a 15 year old giving someone a solitary slap and heavily implying that it’d caused injuries comparable with a 4 year old having her head frenziedly munched by a 130lb guard dog.
Vance further complained that his unsolicited and unwelcome fact-checkers were a “baying mob” who’d not refuted the actual substance of the story – this despite them providing multiple links demonstrating that the story was largely garbage, that it baselessly claimed that the perpetrator was a Muslim, and that it had been doing the rounds since at least 2013. I’d imagine most reasonable people might consider this a pretty thorough refutation. Vance on the other hand must have missed these responses since the tweet is still present on his Twitter timeline and has over seven thousand retweets.
This is no isolated incident. Vance’s raison d’etre appears to be hunting around the internet for video clips of people less pale than himself committing acts of violence, and then posting them to his Twitter feed invariably accompanied by some pithy comment bemoaning “diversity” or sarcastically applauding the “cultural enrichment” provided by the acceptance of such people into Western societies by the “open boarder globalists”.
These clips are ostensibly presented by Vance as reasonable criticism of the destructiveness of unimpeded immigration or of the worrying rise of gang related crime. His commentary is not to be taken as a conflation of black culture with gang culture, we are told.
Both of these narratives, however, fail for two pretty substantial reasons.
Firstly, his claim to not attribute gang violence to black culture is simply contradicted by his output. What, for example, would be the “savage culture” he is referring to in this tweet, which he claims has been “imported” into this country?
And what’s the “culture” he’s referring to here? Gang culture? There is no evidence in either of these cases that the perpetrator was a gang member or that these assaults were incidents of gang violence.
In fact, as per usual, there’s no contextual information of any kind provided to explain the motives of these attackers or to elucidate what led to the assaults. The backgrounds and nationalities of the perpetrators in the clips and stories he posts are likewise rarely identified. And so in the absence of this information, the only identifiable trait that these people have which could in any way be relevant to terms like “diversity” and “cultural enrichment”, is skin colour.
Secondly, he uses anti-immigrant language about cases where it’s exceedingly unlikely that immigration is a factor at all let alone a causal one, such as when he sarcastically described a black-on-white knife-point robbery as (cultural) “enrichment” despite it taking place in South Africa, a country where those of migrant heritage are the white minority and where the offenders are statistically likely to have been indigenous to the region.
Moreover, his compulsion to fill his Twitter timeline with images illustrating the prevalence of violent crime and anti-social behaviour, rarely extends to highlighting such incidents if the perpetrators are white. Free Tommy supporters assaulting journalists over a cause that Vance himself supported, for example, got nary a mention except a brief complaint that the media had the temerity to report on it.
On one of the rare occasions that Vance has posted a video of a white person assaulting someone, it was of a drunken fight in Ireland in which two black men actually prevented further violence and tended to the white victim. Yet his accompanying comment was a lamentation about how Ireland is no longer recognisably Irish – a stock statement which he uses to make anti-immigration points like the one below in which he bemoans the demographic death of Blackpool on the basis that people other than the town’s 95.5% white population occasionally use the pleasure beach.
None of this constitutes a reasonable voicing of apprehensions about the importation of illiberal beliefs and practices into liberal democracies, nor is it commentary on the prevalence and nature of gang violence. It is thoughtless generalisation and group-blame made on the basis of skin colour and religion.
His penchant for spreading misinformation is not limited to racial and religious bigotry however. For example, Vance has also posted a revoltingly callous and thoroughly debunked pro-Assad conspiracy theory accusing the BBC’s investigative documentary series Panorama of staging a chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Nor is his indifference towards truth and accuracy absolute. You’re likely to be swiftly corrected by Vance, for example, if you mistake him as “Irish” on account of him being born and raised in Northern Ireland and rocking an accent that makes Gerry Adams sound like Jacob Rees Mogg. Unfortunately though, he doesn’t extend this courtesy to others and is just as quick to trivialise or erase the Britishness of people with South Asian or African heritage who he knows were born in this country by incessantly referring to them first and foremost by the nationalities of their parents or ancestry.
And if these not-properly-British people have the downright impertinence to notice that racism still exists in the U.K, well they can sod off back to Africa according to Vance whose dazzling intellect is second only to his appreciation of irony.
If Vance’s behaviour on Twitter is reflective of him as a person, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be, he is a desperately unserious rabble rouser who is at best indifferent towards promoting irresponsible falsehoods, and at worst actually proud and defiant about recklessly misleading and inciting his audience. This would be contemptible enough with the mildest most placid of followings, yet a substantial number of David Vance’s fans unsurprisingly appear to be rampant racists of the sort that you’d expect to find spending their Saturday afternoons throwing bananas at black footballers or reminiscing with dewy-eyed melancholy about the days when you could call the west-Indian guy next-door “Sambo” without being accurately identified as a hateful cretin.
Consider these examples of the kind of repugnant responses Vance’s race-baiting output regularly attracts – of course with no objections or denouncements from Vance himself – and then consider that Vance has taken it upon himself to relentlessly feed these abhorrent morons poisonous misinformation which plays to all of their most destructive beliefs and biases.
Not content with arousing racists, Vance also amply caters for those who consider world-beating hypocrisy a desirable character trait. He shares more than one of the illiberal positions that he attributes to conservative Muslim immigrants (support for capital punishment, religious opposition to LGBT equality) and his cheap point-scoring rhetoric is often indistinguishable from that of the Islamist apologists he berates.
He’ll insist, for example, that “Christian terrorism” is a misnomer and attempt to support such denial with reference to Bible passages ostensibly denouncing violence. Yet when Quran verses are similarly wheeled out to defend Islam from the actions of jihadists he’s less enthused. He’ll falsely accuse the media of prejudicially ignoring Islamic terror attacks due to the identities of the perpetrators whilst his mirror images in the world of Islam apology do likewise, except attributing it to a bias against the identities of the Muslim victims. He’ll whine about the police not misapplying the label “terrorist” to black knife crime, whilst his opposites claim it as a prejudice in favour of the white man.
He’ll dismiss the ideological imperatives of white supremacist terrorists by claiming that they’re not real right-wing extremists, and in doing so commit the very same No True Scotsman fallacy that regressive obfuscators regularly employ to deny that Islamic terrorists are “real Muslims”.
His supposed commitment to free speech is also an obvious grift. He unceasingly describes left-wingers as “snowflakes” if they dare to complain about things like the president of the United States using overtly racist language, and he rightfully complains about the police wasting time and resources by investigating people over hateful jokes. Yet the minute he hears a joke he’s personally offended by, he’ll demand that the comedian be sacked and prosecuted for it.
In his most oblivious and execrable act of hypocrisy, he berated Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party for anti-Semitism, all the while using his substantial platform to promote and endorse full-throated Holocaust deniers on at least three separate occasions, and reacting with silent indifference when challenged on it. Perhaps Vance shares Corbyn’s unfortunate knack of inadvertently championing reprehensible bigots and bitterly regrets doing so. But if that’s the case you’d never know it, as he apparently considers it admirable to refuse to acknowledge mistakes or apologise for them.
One of the incidents Vance presumably sees no need to back down or apologise for, is urging his fans to support “independent journalist” Simon Harris whose work he described as “informed” and preferable to that of the BBC. Harris is an unequivocal anti-Semite who openly confesses to not accepting “the official story on the Holocaust”.
Similarly, Shazia Hobbs is a “counter-jihad activist” come anti-Semitic loon who posts Holocaust denial material, expresses her appreciation for other Holocaust deniers, and whose closest associates include neo-Nazi Mark Collett. Since her banning from Twitter, she took to writing articles for Tommy Robinson’s website TR News until the nature of her beliefs were noticed by Robinson’s team and all ties with her were immediately severed.
Despite, or maybe because of, the perniciousness of Ms Hobbs’ beliefs and rhetoric, Vance took it upon himself to step in and host her appalling article on “the Jews” on his Alt News Media site.
Still, publishing anti-Semitic tripe is at least one thing Vance seems to maintain consistency in when considering that the following post appeared on Vance’s website to mark Holocaust Memorial Day last year.
Another egregious character that Vance has chosen to promote and endorse is Dionne Miller, a content producer likewise booted out of the Tommy Robinson movement over the toxicity of her views. Miller makes crackpot Bitchute videos under the moniker Secret Sources and also has some rather questionable beliefs about the Holocaust – namely that it didn’t happen.
“Pay attention to this lady” says Vance. Sage advice.
David Vance is an infantile and unprincipled troll trafficking in the most base and populist rhetoric to make dishonest propaganda points for the benefit of racists. He shows no interest in truth, accuracy, sincerity, moral consistency, or even engaging in the “honest conversations” he claims to have an interest in inspiring. I’d suggest anyone prone to circulating any of his more tepid output considers carefully whether they really want to promote someone so highly irresponsible and unapologetically dedicated to dishonesty.
Vance’s lacklustre excuse for publishing incompetently written anti-Semitic drivel by a Holocaust denying author, was a supposed self-imposed commitment to providing “free voices” a platform whether he agrees with them or not. I previously wrote to Vance challenging this unlikely claim and suggesting that if his pledge was indeed genuine, that he should feel free to publish a previous article of mine in which I outlined several lies he propagated in defence of Tommy Robinson. Unsurprisingly he failed to respond.
I of course extend the same invitation to Mr Vance regarding this article.
Correction 07/01/20: A previous version of this blog post stated that Shazia Hobbs plagiarised writing in one of her pieces for TR News. The article an associate and I identified to contain plagiarism was actually written after her expulsion from TR News and was instead published on David Vance’s website. I regret the error and have updated this article accordingly.