It’s been viewed 390,000 times, scored 5,145 shares on Facebook, and has inspired a bruising trail of 862 comments, many calling openly for violence.
And it has almost nothing to do with what most of those people believe it does.
A video depicting a group of Polish football hooligans beating up Mexican sailors is currently going viral after being shared by an Australian far-right group on Facebook, who mistakenly said it showed the Poles beating up Muslims.
The Australian Settler Rebellion, a page associated with far-right bloggers Shermon Burgess and Neil Erikson, shared the video on Wednesday, with a huge response. Their post carried the following caption:
The video shows the Polish men swarming onto to the beach and attacking another group of men.
In response to the post, followers of the Australian Settler Rebellion page went ballistic.
“Good lads beat the filthy grubs to death,” one wrote.
“Muslims only attack when there is a group of them, it is good to see them getting what they deserve from these Polish patriots,” said another.
“Stamp their heads into the sand dirty Muslim cunts,” yet another commented.
“Shit hot beat the crap outa them just for wearing a towel on there stupid heads lololol.”
“Bout time everyone takes a stand an ends this Muslim bullshit.”
They continue in much the same fashion. In the hundreds of responses, people recommend the video to their friends, congratulate the Polish men – who some confuse for Australians – and call for more such violence.
It’s terrifying, and all the more so when you consider how little it took to engender this reaction. Truth, or even the semblance of it, was not a precondition.
The video does not, in fact, appear to show any Muslims. Instead it records a 2013 incident in which Polish football hooligans set upon Mexican navy cadets, taking time off near the town of Gdynia. A quick google search reveals it was covered by a number of major media outlets.
The Polish hooligans did claim there had been an assault on a woman, but reports from the time said a Polish prosecutor contradicted them, and that it was the football fans who were to blame for the violence. The incident led to a minor diplomatic row between the two countries – as an attack on military personnel is wont to do.
In the caustic thread below the video, people would occasionally point out the actual context of the images. They were ignored, though some expressed outrage and anger… that there were Mexican immigrants in Poland.
The same video has previously circulated on other far-right blogs in the US, who enjoy seeing violence against Mexicans apparently as much as the Australian far-right enjoy it against Muslims. In a further irony, it’s Poles who are currently been subject to anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK. One fascist’s patriot is another’s sworn enemy, it seems.
The admins of the page had not taken the video or their caption down at the time of writing, despite having responded to comments pointing out the Mexican connection.
Not the first time a viral image or video enflaming Islamophobia has been less than thoroughly fact checked. Unlikely the last.
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