Ever since the infamous riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalists and supremacists could be counted on to support Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
James Fields, who mowed down a crowd of anti-fascist protesters with his car, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, posted on his Facebook page a picture of Assad in full military uniform with the word “undefeated” inscribed underneath, while three men who participated in the rally praised Assad’s use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons against his own people.
“Israel (with American approval) is, of course, attacking the civilized, European societies–the people who *should* rule in the region,” tweeted white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, praising the Assad family even after Syria again used nerve gas against its own citizens, murdering at least 42 adults and children, while injuring hundreds more.
Perversely, it makes sense that white supremacists support Assad because of his hostility toward the Jewish state. But classifying him as a white European? At first glance, it seems strange that white supremacists would view Assad, an Arab Alawite, as one of their own. But it is not unprecedented.
In Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, history professor Jeffrey Herf highlights how Nazi officials took great pains to reassure Arab diplomats that Nazi ideology and policy were directed against Jews and not toward non-Jewish Semites. Nazis responded to questions from the Egyptians by saying that the Nuremberg racial laws did not apply to them, while the German Foreign Ministry reassured the Iranian embassy in Berlin of the racial kinship between Germans and Iranians.
“Nazism viewed Arabs and Muslims as different but, in clear contrast to the racial hierarchy presented in Mein Kampf, not as racially inferior,” writes Prof. Herf.
Considered by many to be the father of Palestinian nationalism, Haj Amin al-Husseini fled to Germany in 1941 in an attempt to persuade Adolf Hitler and his Nazi leadership to extend their anti-Jewish program to the Arab world. Al-Husseini was tasked by Hitler to recruit 20,000 Bosnian Muslim volunteers for the SS, who participated in the killing of Jews in Croatia and Hungary. Hitler declared that Al-Husseini — and Bosnian Muslims, by extension — were to be considered “pure Aryans.”
Obviously, Hitler’s genocidal hatred for Jews overrode genetics or any sense of intellectual consistency. Which is why white nationalists and white supremacists today have no trouble supporting Assad as a “civilized leader” after torturing and murdering his own people.
It also explains how white supremacist and former KKK grand wizard David Duke can praise Assad for “protecting” Syria’s Christians, when in reality hundreds of innocent Christians have been tortured to death in Assad’s jails or shot by his thugs. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Assad regime is responsible for the destruction of over 60% of all churches destroyed during the Syrian Civil War.
Those “barrel bombs” glorified by the Charlottesville protestors are responsible for the deaths of countless Christians in the past six years.
The truth is that white supremacists fervently support Assad because of his hatred for Israel and his determination to annihilate his enemies or anyone he deems inferior by any means necessary. Because of this maniacal hatred that supersedes all logic or reason, white supremacists and nationalists have found in Assad a kindred spirit.
Bradley Martin is a Senior Fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center and Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.