AceHistoryDesk – It was created more than 40 years ago and inflamed the land rights debate in Australia. Red Over Black, a book and documentary released in the early 1980s, claimed the movement was a communist plot to erode Australia’s sovereignty.
Warning: This story contains references to racist and anti-Semitic language.
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Now, the film is being used as a clarion call by anti-Voice to Parliament campaigners in the referendum to be held on October 14.
ABC Investigations has tracked how the hour-long documentary was repurposed, revealing Australian white supremacists played a major role in its appropriation and dissemination………….The documentary has been circulated among groups promoting today’s rallies against the Voice around the country.
Leading far-right and conspiracy theory researcher Kaz Ross described it as a “deliberate infiltration strategy” of the anti-Voice campaign by sections of the far right.
‘Communism by the back door’
The ABC has analysed dozens of Telegram channels and Facebook groups showing mentions of Red Over Black — created by former Communist Party member turned right-wing activist Geoff McDonald — dating back to August last year.
During the first re-shares of his documentary, there was no mention of the Voice to Parliament.
But then on January 30, the anti-Semitic website XYZ — founded by white supremacist David Hiscox — linked McDonald’s work to the proposed Voice and described it as “communism by the back door”.
Two days later, a new telegram channel, Aboriginal Voice Exposed (AVE) was created. It would go on to become one of the most shared anti-Indigenous and anti-Voice to Parliament spaces on Telegram.
Its very first post was a link to McDonald’s documentary, which it claimed “exposes the Communist and New World Order agenda behind Aboriginal activism and the so-called Aboriginal Voice To Parliament”.
Five days later, the site shared the video again.
“Geoff McDonald is an ex-Communist who blows the whistle on the history behind the Aboriginal rights movement,” the post stated.
“And this extends through to the modern Constitutional Voice to Parliament in 2023 under the Albanese Government.”
The channel regularly posts anti-Indigenous and anti-Semitic content directly from the XYZ website and also neo-Nazi figure Blair Cottrell.
AVE’s posts were also shared by neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell, who earlier this year avoided jail for bashing a black Melbourne security guard.
Around this time, the Red Over Black documentary also began circulating in freedom and anti-lockdown groups, many of which have been promoting today’s unofficial anti-Voice rallies.
Dr Ross, who has been closely monitoring these channels, said AVE appeared to be collaborating with other anti-Semitic groups to push the case for a No vote.
She said the freedom groups initially did not have a position on the Voice, but that has since changed.
“They were quite influenced by those Aboriginal sovereign citizens in Canberra and they thought, ‘Well, this is good, right? This is giving Aboriginals a voice,'” she said.
“And then over time, they were really bombarded … new material started coming up through a number of hideously racist Telegram channels.”
Video creator unmasked
In late July, four months after it was first published in far-right channels, the Red Over Black documentary was adapted to specifically attack the Voice.
Key parts were incorporated into a new documentary which promised to expose “the secret communist plot” behind the Voice. It was posted by a mysterious YouTube channel called Blacklisted Research.
The new documentary contained false and racist claims about Jews and communists and was widely shared on social media.
A copy of the Blacklisted Research’s video was shared more than 4,400 times on Facebook.
Since it was posted on Facebook on July 23, it has been shared almost twice as many times as any post by the official Yes23 campaign. It has outperformed most official Vote No material, including that of senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and No-vote advocate Warren Mundine, and most of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s Facebook posts.
ABC Investigations has established the owner of Blacklisted Research is Queensland man Daniel Walker, who has an extensive history of sharing anti-Semitic materials.
In one video he posted last year on a neo-Nazi video-sharing platform, which the ABC has chosen not to name, Mr Walker included a photoshopped image of himself having a barbecue outside the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Mr Walker is then seen telling an Israeli man on Omegle — where participants are randomly matched for video chats — that he hated Jewish people.
ABC Investigations also identified Mr Walker as the administrator for the Blacklisted Research Telegram channel, where some of its subscribers discuss strategies on how to sell a No vote.
When ABC Investigations approached Mr Walker over Instagram he denied he had ever produced videos and blocked the ABC. He later posted about that interaction and other approaches made by the ABC on the Blacklisted Research Telegram channel.
He did not respond to further inquiries.
‘They don’t even know they’ve been manipulated’
The claim that the Voice is a Communist plot has become a clarion call for the anti-Voice campaigners, despite similar claims being debunked for decades.
In 1983 when McDonald published his fifth edition of the book Red Over Black, subsequent claims of Communist infiltration through First Nations organisations were rubbished.
Yawuru man Pat Dodson, then a land rights advocate before being elected as a Labor senator, rejected McDonald’s accusation of Indigenous collusion with communists.
The Communist Party doesn’t have influence at all,” Mr Dodson said.
“In fact, we’ve been quite vigilant about resisting any kind of overtures from the Communist Party to either allow them to participate in our meetings to present their ideological platforms, as we’ve been in regards to every other party.”
Today, communists in Australia are split on the Voice. The Australian Communist Party has directed its members to Vote No, while members of the Communist Party of Australia were seen last weekend walking in support of the Yes campaign,
Today’s rallies against the Voice were originally promoted as “freedom” protests, without an overt focus on the referendum.
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While Fair Australia, the official organiser of the Vote No campaign, has distanced itself from today’s protests, opposition to the Voice will be front and centre.
Among those encouraging people to attend are Australian neo-Nazis Joel Davis and Thomas Sewell, who in a live stream on Thursday night told their viewers to bring “provocative signs” and “make friends” at the rally.
Dr Ross said Australian white supremacists saw the referendum as an opportunity to build support for their base and grow their audience. The freedom movement, which is naturally opposed to the government, was also a fertile recruiting ground for them.
“I find it very distressing, actually, to see how the freedom movement has been manipulated and their biases used to create a convincing narrative to vote No,” she said.
“They may not even be aware they’ve been sharing anti-Semitic content. They don’t even know they’ve been manipulated.”Loading…
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