King Sargon of Akkaad flourished in Sumeria between 2234 and 2279 BC. During his reign, he conquered Mesopotamia, parts of Syria, Anatolia and ‘Elam’, modern-day Western Iran. As well as being a considerable soldier and politician, he was a skilled polemicist and employed the arts of classical debate to silence his detractors.
That such a civilised king could have lived so long ago – humans were just learning to live in cities and accept the written law – is surprising to many today, who regard the ancients of the Middle East as barbarians and ourselves as civilised. Yet we live in a century where the law is not only increasingly powerless to protect free speech but is used to stamp it out.
King Sargon’s civility attracted the admiration of an Internet games programmer in Swindon called Carl Benjamin. A civility that contrasts with the rudeness, bullying and ignorance of the loudest and most powerful voice of our times, social media. On which an increasing number of bizarre ideologies are forced down peoples’ throats by means of bullying, intimidation and electronic mobbing. Carl Benjamin felt he could no longer keep silent.
Adopting Sargon of Akkad as the name of his website, he began a daily You-Tube talk called ‘This Week in Stupid’ on which he attacked radical feminists, speech fascists, cultural Marxists, the Alt Right, multiculturalists, no-borders fanatics, Islamophiliacs and that huge rag tag and bobtail of confused, ill-educated, deluded people who follow them. Sargon quotes their exact words back to these people in order to expose their logical absurdity – hence the title ‘This Week in Stupid’.
While the print media declines into nothingness, video politics is on the rise. Five years ago, Sargon had a few hundred viewers; now he has three million – mainly middle class, white, employed and male. Many of his followers say they were attracted to his site because it was the only place they felt had a voice in a society which has taken leave of its ideological senses. Such is the madness that in Canada if you address a man as ‘sir’ without first ascertaining what sex he thinks he is, and he complains, you are in danger of being convicted of a criminal offence. Crazy? Over the top? In Britain touching a woman’s shoulder can earn you a hefty fine, a criminal conviction, a place on the sexual register and, in consequence, a life of poverty and unemployment.
For years Sargon was just a voice behind a picture of King Sargon on his web site. Then in December 2017 he made his first physical appearance at the Conway Hall in London. All five hundred seats were filled, at £20 a head, with young, middle class, predominately white men and women. It was a good-humoured event, with Sargon, whom many had never seen before, living up to his warm, online personality.
The success of this meeting attracted the attention of ‘Antifa’, a violent group of left wing, mainly middle class, thugs dedicated to breaking up meetings they consider ‘fascist’. By ‘fascist’ they mean even the mildest of conservative opinions, however politely put, which are likely to be greeted by the smashing of glass and the entry of these screaming hooded figures. Jacob Rees Mogg was silenced during a TV debate by Antifa when its they broke in, occupied the stage and threatened violence toward the speakers. Sure enough, Sargon’s next meeting was broken up and a subsequent one he arranged in Bristol was cancelled when, following warnings by Antifa, his insurers pulled out.
Faced with the threat of never been able to hold unhindered meetings in public, on May 6th this year three thousand supporters of the right to assemble, among them many Sargon fans, gathered in Whitehall to celebrate ‘A Day of Freedom’. Antifa, intent on stopping them, began gathering nearby.
I passed Antifa as I walked up Whitehall to the meeting. Their speakers, mainly white and in their early twenties, were screaming through loud hailers what they would do if they got near the Day of Freedom demonstrators. The ground around them was littered with placards and leaflets accusing the freedom demonstrators of being Holocaust deniers, Nazis and demanding Britain borders be thrown open to all immigrants. Only one thing stopped them rushing the Day of Freedom demonstrators. They were ‘kettled’ by a ring of burly policemen.
At the Day for Freedom demonstration itself by the Cenotaph, and despite a temperature in the eighties, a crowd of three thousand listened quietly to a succession of speakers, some from America (who spoke from a giant screen) and some physically present. One of the speakers was Lauren Southern, the anti-Islamist Canadian journalist who was held in a cell in Calais on a British warrant on the grounds of her presence here being ‘not in the public interest’. While she was being held, ex-ISIS fighters were being allowed back into Britain with politicians calling for them not to be prosecuted.
Tommy Robinson, the ex-leader of the English Defence League, banned for life from Twitter (such bans were the focus of the rally), spoke live. Imprisoned twice, once for mortgage fraud and once for trying to enter the US with a borrowed passport, his has been a chequered and politically violent life. He said, ‘The people of this country have been silenced for twenty to thirty years with the tag of racists. They have managed to silence people so that they are too scared to speak up when they see things that are wrong.’ Mortgage fraud notwithstanding (I wonder how many people have been sent to prison for such a crime?) With a history of arrests, bans and jail, there is a strong whiff of persecution by the authorities of Tony Robinson.
Milo Yiannopoulos, who a year ago was prevented from speaking at UC Berkeley, on which occasion left-wing agitators overturned and burned cars and attacked him and his supporters, also spoke. Yiannopoulos is a favourite target of the thug left because he is gay and outspokenly right wing – the idea of a gay man being right wing is anathema.
Sargon also spoke in person. Freedom of speech, freedom of private thought and conscience, he said, is a plea to be left alone. Those who oppose free speech, be it Islam, the extreme left, or any other radical groups, will not leave you alone. They draw no distinction between the public and the private: ‘they want your private life, identity and very soul’. Unless you share their views, you will have no peace. ‘They do not come offering freedom, only a share in their servitude.’
After it was over the crowds began quietly to disperse. I walked back down Whitehall to the spot where Antifa had been shouting through loud hailers. They had already gone, leaving their litter behind. Later their thugs were reported to have attacked those of the Day of Freedom demonstrators, who, having left the meeting, had stopped off in local cafes and pubs. During one of these attacks a man received a head injury after being struck by a bicycle chain lock, allegedly wielded by an Antifa follower. The police confirmed an attack had taken place and that an ambulance was called.
The BBC does not report peaceful conservative events so there was nothing on their news that night or the following day. The Guardian made up for it the next day. Apparently, I had attended a British Nuremberg Rally foretelling the rise of a Nazi Britain. One of its columnists, without once mentioning Antifa and its violence, warned that the Day of Freedom was only a small part of a right-wing underground movement soon to burst upon our streets. I wondered if she had been in Whitehall or whether she lived in a cocoon of preconceived views in which an heroic left is forever battling with a mythical right.
She concluded, ‘Whatever the response to the weekend’s rally is, it can’t come soon enough.’
As Sargon said:
‘They will never leave you alone.’
This article was first published in this summer’s edition of The Salisbury Review