Ryan Dawson uses the internet to promote bigotry and Holocaust denial, but on RT, he’s a “geopolitical analyst”, “human rights activist” and “Asian affairs expert.”
In 2007, a man named Eric Hunt cornered Elie Wiesel in the elevator of San Francisco’s Argent Hotel, grabbed him and pulled him off the elevator into a hallway. Hunt there held Wiesel against his will while subjecting him to an extended harangue, demanding that Wiesel admit that the Holocaust was just a Zionist myth. After Wiesel cried out for help, Hunt fled, but was subsequently found by police and arrested. He was later convicted of false imprisonment as a felony hate-crime.
His attorney defended him in interviews after the trial, saying that Hunt wasn’t really a Holocaust denier or bigot, but at the time of the attack was merely suffering from a bipolar episode from which he had since recovered. Hunt served 19 months of a three-year sentence before being released early for good behavior.
One might have assumed that was the last the world would hear from Hunt — that he would get on the appropriate medication and disappear into obscurity — but that would have been wishful thinking. In fact, as the result of his videos, which have had tens of thousands of hits on YouTube and other sites (including Internet Archive), Hunt has achieved considerable notoriety within the world of Holocaust denial since his release. What does he say in his videos? The ADL reports that Hunt’s 2009 video The Jewish Gas Chamber Hoax “describes the Holocaust as ‘the greatest hoax of human history,’ (and) uses clips of Holocaust survivors’ testimonies from Steven Spielberg’s 1998 documentary The Last Days … portraying these testimonies as ‘fraudulent.’” The video claims that bodies shown in films and photos of concentration camps were killed by the Allies, and that “Zyklon B was actually used to save Jewish lives.” A 2010 video “Where’s Wiesel’s Tatoo?” charged that Elie Wiesel is lying about having survived the Holocaust.
Hunt recently resurfaced in an extensive interview on the podcast of one Ryan Dawson for a discussion of his new video, “The Treblinka Archaeology Hoax”. According to the ADL, in that video, Hunt calls the Holocaust a “hoax”, and “describes the death camps as ‘work camps’ where the Jews got what they deserved. Hunt states that the Jews in the camps ‘were living off interest rates, usury, etc. and if you read Mein Kampf, of course, basically Hitler said that they should be working. They shouldn’t be living off people they’re scamming.’”
The man behind the podcast promoting those videos, Ryan Dawson, has for over a decade used the internet to spread some pretty horrid ideas: ideas about Jews making up or exaggerating crimes committed by Nazi Germany, ideas about Israel carrying out the 9/11 attacks, even claims that the Jewish religion sanctions pedophilia, rape and ritual murder. Dawson has made clever use of the free publicity-generating possibilities provided by social media to promote some of the worst forms bigotry and conspiracy theories. On Facebook, he does this under the name “antizionist”. He’s “Anti-neocon,” “Super anti-neocon” or just “ANC” for his blog, web-forum and his podcast, the “ANC Report”. But it was on YouTube, where he just goes by Ry Dawson, that he reached his largest audience – that is until he was discovered by the Russian news agency RT.
RT has given Dawson a platform to reach a vastly larger audience and, in doing so, deceptively tried to burnish his image. They’ve interviewed Dawson on a number of different subjects, identifying him to their audience in different ways depending on the context. Dawson can be well-spoken, and is willing to clean up his act and omit references to overtly offensive material like Holocaust denial or blood libels. Most importantly, since he seems to devote much of his time to internet activism, he’s readily available to fit into RT’s schedule. When they need a talking head, they can call on him to put on a tie, connect via Skype to an RT studio, and be interviewed as an expert on whatever subject they want to discuss.
RT identified him as a journalist for an interview about the US role in Yemen in which he baselessly asserted that the US has an interest in exacerbating the conflict in Yemen (video here). They identified him as a political blogger and author for an interview about how western media overstates Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis “because Russia is a threat to the US’s hegemony” (video here). Dawson’s mispronunciation of “hegemony” makes this one especially absurd). He was “a peace campaigner and human rights activist” for an October, 2012 interview (video here). They identified him as an author and “analyst” to get his views about territorial disputes between China and Japan (video here). Dawson was a “journalist specializing in Asian affairs” when RT sought his opinions about North Korean threats against South Korea (video here). He was identified by RT as their “geopolitical analyst” when they sought his expertise about human rights abuses at Guantanamo (video here). On May 31, 2014, Dawson was a “political blogger and peace activist” when he told RT viewers that Japan was drumming up regional territorial conflicts involving China in order to boost their arms industry (video here). When they sought Dawson’s views on US raids on terrorist in Somalia (Dawson says the raids were motivated by Pres. Obama’s domestic political concerns), RT accurately described him as a writer for the website WhatReallyHappened.com, but they failed to identify that as a bigoted conspiracy theory website (video here).
Somehow, in all the many times they’ve presented Ryan Dawson as a purported expert on current events, RT has neglected to mention that he has devoted much of his life over the past several years to producing blog posts, books, interviews and videos, not to mention tweets and Facebook posts, questioning the Holocaust and promoting bigotry against Jews.
For example, in a recent two-hour edition of his podcast, he interviewed David Stein (aka “David Cole”), who achieved some notoriety in the 1994 for an interview on the Phil Donahue Show in which he identified himself as a Jew who believed the Holocaust didn’t happen (video here). In Stein’s appearance on Dawson’s podcast, the two laugh it up as they talk about how reports of Nazi executions of Jews in gas chambers are false. They clearly find the subject very funny.
In January of this year, Dawson did a friendly three hour interview with Michael Collins Piper, long-time assistant to notorious neo-Nazi publisher Willis Carto, and writer for Carto’s American Free Press and Barnes Report. In that interview, Piper and Dawson argue that Israel had John Kennedy assassinated after he tried to prevent Israel from developing nuclear weapons (video here). In that interview, Dawson refers to Oliver Stone’s film JFK as “the kosher version of events,” because it fails to blame Israel for the assassination. Dawson expounded on that conspiracy theory when he hosted the What Really Happened podcast in December, 2013.
Dawson is also the author of a number of self-published books available for sale on his website, including one called More than Taboo: Post War Propaganda of WWII. The ad for it reads as follows: “History is written by the winners. How much of the Holocaust was war time propaganda?” Those unwilling to send Dawson $25 will have to use their imagination concerning how Dawson answers that question. Dawson also maintains websites which serve as a sort of clearinghouse for those of similar beliefs, where people can find links to videos promoting conspiracy theories about international bankers, Holocaust denial videos (of course), and numerous requests for donations.
Dawson’s internet proselytizing for hate is amazingly extensive – far too extensive to detail in this forum. It amounts to what may be hundreds of hours of audio and video, much of it consisting of Dawson monotonously addressing a webcam with a Ron Paul for President sign in the background. To get a taste of what he says, look at this March 2013 video. His face covered by a Guy Fawkes mask, Dawson claims that the six million death toll for the Holocaust “comes from a religious prophecy; it has nothing to do with reality.” He calls the six million death toll and reports of gas chambers, “BS” and “Zionist propaganda,” and complains that the world exclusively focuses on the Jewish victims of World War II. In this May 2014 video, Dawson and his guest, Josh Blakeney (a 9/11 Truth activist and Canada correspondent for Iran’s state-run Press TV) , link “Holocaust skepticism” with 9/11 Truth and express outrage that anyone would regard them as conspiracy theories. Blakeney had a second interview with Dawson in May, this time to blame “Zionists” for the Ukraine crisis. (In Dawson’s defense, he doesn’t restrict himself to slanders against Jews. In a January, 2013 video, Dawson somehow turned from discussion of neocons, bankers and the Holocaust to discussion of Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, calling the father of one of the victims of the schoolhouse massacre “a dick (who) wants money for his dead kid”. )
I haven’t watched all of Ryan Dawson’s Holocaust-related YouTube videos. A search of his YouTube page yields a full page of results with a button reading “Load More” at the bottom. Life is too short for that, but readers with different priorities or different tastes can watch them. They were very easy for me to find, and, presumably, would have been easy for RT to find as well.
One approaches a blatant propaganda channel like RT with lowered expectations – it’s understood that they’re there not to report news but to promote a pro-Russian party line. But is it too much to ask that they do so without relying on the help of overtly bigoted and paranoid zealots whom they dress up as experts? Is it too much to ask that they not tell their audience that a hateful crank who minimizes and mocks the Holocaust and promotes grossly racist hoaxes like the blood libel is an expert on international affairs and a human rights advocate? Don’t they care that, in portraying him this way, they help legitimize Dawson’s hateful lies?
[By the way, RT is not alone in their reliance on the loathsome Ryan Dawson as a faux expert on politics and international relations. In 2010, the antiwar.com podcast, then hosted by Scott Horton, interviewed Dawson for a lengthy segment on his opinions about Richard Perle. (Online here. Spoiler alert: it turns out, Dawson doesn’t like Richard Perle and neither does Scott Horton.) Dawson returned the favor and hosted Scott Horton for a fawning interview in July 2012 during which the Assad regime was predictably described as being the victim of a neocon conspiracy. Dawson has also passed muster with Karen Kwiatkowski, a former US Air Force Lt. Colonel who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012 as a Ron Paul Republican. She was supportively interviewed by Dawson twice during her congressional campaign, in December, 2011 and in May, 2012. Dawson, reportedly at Kwiatkowski’s request, posted a video on YouTube for her during that campaign. Also during the 2012 campaign, Dawson gave supportive interviews to two other Ron Paul endorsed congressional candidates: Republican Jenny Worman and Libertarian Steve Collett. Kwiatkowski later came back for a talk with Dawson about US Syria policy in August, 2013. That discussion asked whether the Syrian civil war was part of an Israeli conspiracy to steal land from Syria.]