Two far-right activists were detained and deported when they attempted to enter the United Kingdom this weekend, triggering outrage among right-wing media personalities in the U.S. and Europe.
On Friday, far-right YouTube vlogger Brittany Pettibone and her boyfriend, Austrian “Identitarian” activist Martin Sellner, were detained by United Kingdom border police for three days, after which they were deported back to Austria. Pettibone frequently affiliates with right-wing extremists and has earned a spot in the hearts and minds of alt-right activists by flirting with white nationalism, such as the idea that it’s “our fault” if white people become a minority race. She also used to co-host a podcast with the explicitly alt-right personality Tara McCarthy.
Documents provided to Pettibone explain that immigration authorities denied her entry because she intended to work with Tommy Robinson, an anti-Muslim activist employed by Rebel Media, and was carrying “leaflets with scenarios regarding possible violence” at a speech Sellner was scheduled to give.
In a live stream reaction to the news, far-right YouTube talker and activist Lauren Southern described Pettibone and Sellner’s detention as “straight-up political profiling.” Southern was denied entry into the United Kingdom days later after she admitted distributing “racist material” in London earlier this year. Southern also bragged that she had lied to a security agent.
Last year, Pettibone and Southern joined white nationalist activists who chartered a boat and shot flares at a ship belonging to a humanitarian group trying to rescue refugees and migrants traveling across the Mediterranean Sea, often traveling on dangerous rafts and ships. Pettibone, Southern and Sellner had also raised funds for the effort under the banner of “Defend Europe” by peddling a right-wing conspiracy theory that nonprofits in Europe are working with human traffickers to pump Islamic migrants into Europe as part of an effort to destroy Western culture.
Fascinating that the U.K. Border Force allows so many illegals to slip through the cracks, but it’s suddenly the most competent Border Force in the world when it comes to banning two female conservative independent journalists and an Identitarian activist. pic.twitter.com/JLM9OHOgjP
— Brittany Pettibone (@BrittPettibone) March 12, 2018
After they were released from detention, Sellner and Pettibone sat down for an interview with Robinson that focused on their experience with immigration agents. Pettibone described her experience being detained and rejected at the border on ideological grounds—which happens to be the exact process she insists all potential immigrants should face—as “embarrassing.”
“I walked through the main part of the airport, you know where everyone is getting their luggage and stuff, and everyone looked at me like ‘You’re some kind of criminal.’ It was embarrassing. I just started laughing,” Pettibone told Robinson.
“I think it’s very telling that the U.K. is opening its borders for all kinds of people, letting radical Islam grow within its borders, but it’s shutting its borders down for dissenting opinions,” Sellner added. “That’s very telling, a very revealing thing.”
Despite the fact that many right-wing activists, particularly those who currently call themselves “New Right,” have made efforts to sever their affiliations with the white nationalist movement in the United States, they swarmed to express their outrage on behalf of Pettibone and Sellner, using the story to reinforce their long-standing narrative that conservatives are being systemically discriminated against and need to band together to survive.
Mike Cernovich, a former “Pizzagate” truther turned self-appointed leader of a political movement he calls “New Right,” criticized social media pundits who took to live streams to discuss Pettibone and Sellner’s detention rather than using their energy to call federal officials. He, of course, began live streaming his own video shortly afterward (which has since been deleted from Periscope). Cernovich claimed that the incident was proof the U.K. “has become a police state” and said the United States “must cut off all diplomatic relationships with them”:
The UK has become a police state, and the U.S. must cut off all diplomatic relationships with them.
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 10, 2018
Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump pundit and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist, claimed that the United Kingdom was willing to deport Southern before it deported alleged “massive peodphile [sic] gangs”:
Let that sink in
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) March 12, 2018
Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large for the conspiracy outlet Infowars, said that “questions in Parliament need to be asked about this”:
So are we now to assume that the UK has a kind of reverse Muslim ban?
Anyone critical of the belief system of Islam (which is not a race) is now barred from entering the country?
Questions in Parliament need to be asked about this. Truly shocking. pic.twitter.com/cUzKgdRowK
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) March 12, 2018
Far-right talker Stefan Molyneux, who sees the “white genocide” myth play out in every movie he watches, remarked that “the UK finally got some border controls,” just not against the group he dislikes:
I guess after Brexit, the UK finally got some border controls – just over amiable conservatives, not anyone else like say jihadis.
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) March 12, 2018
Conspiracy theorist “journalist” Laura Loomer felt the need to chime in that she would not be flying to the U.K. “to join the sisterhood of traveling detainees”:
Safe and sound in the United States! Will not be traveling to the UK to join the sisterhood of traveling detainees.#AmericaFirst
— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) March 12, 2018
Peter Imanuelsen, a bigoted conspiracy theorist who uses the moniker “PeterSweden” online, reacted by claiming that it’s clear that “conservatives aren’t welcome anymore” in the United Kingdom, adding “gulags next”:
The UK has made it very clear that Conservatives aren’t welcome anymore.
In fact, they are jailing them.
Starting to remind of Soviet.
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) March 12, 2018
Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller wrote on her blog that Pettibone and Sellner’s immigration rejection was similar to her own ban from the U.K. and that it was further proof that “Britain is slipping quickly into sharia authoritarianism”:
[Sellner] and Pettibone were banned because his speaking supposedly “could cause violence and disrupt community cohesion.” That’s just what they said about my appearance in Britain as well. But they didn’t mean that I would be inciting violence, as I have never called for or approved of any violent actions. What they meant was that if I entered the country, Muslims might riot. By threatening violence, Muslims control the public discourse in the UK today, and decide who can enter the country and speak and who cannot. And they do this with eager help from the May government, which is putting its short-sighted desire for votes above the long-term health and safety of the nation as a whole.
This latest ban is yet another indication that Britain is slipping quickly into sharia authoritarianism. With a Prime Minister like Theresa May, is it any wonder that the UK is doomed?