explainer

With one TV interview Blair Cottrell caused widespread outrage in Australia, here's why.

You may have heard the name Blair Cottrell before. He’s appeared on television several times over the past few years as a self-styled social commentator, his face framed with the label: “right-wing activist”.

But frankly the term seems more than a little generous.

After all, this is a man who has expressed his admiration for Adolf Hitler; who has been vocal about his derision of women, as well as Islamic and Jewish people; who has argued multiculturalism will lead to to “rape, terrorism, racially-motivated murders, rampant crime, maybe even a full-blown genocide”; and (because of all that and more) whose very presence on Sky News on Sunday sparked such widespread outrage that the network was forced to apologise and scrub any footage of it from their online platforms.

Cottrell appeared on Sky for an interview conducted by network host and former Northern Territory chief minister, Adam Giles, in which Cottrell railed against “foreign ideologies” in Australian society, bemoaned the “lack of national pride” and proposed immigration be limited to white South African farmers.

Criticism of the segment was swift and widespread, and notably even came from within Sky’s own ranks. Reporter Laura Jayes and the channel’s political editor David Speers both expressed their opposition via Twitter:

Their boss, SkyNews news director Greg Byrnes, ultimately agreed.

“It was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia,” he tweeted late Sunday night. “His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms.”

ADVERTISEMENT

So who is Blair Cottrell?

Since 2015, the carpenter and former bodybuilder has been the leader of the United Patriot’s Front – a more extreme offshoot of anti-Islamic protest group, Reclaim Australia.

Cottrell has several convictions to his name, and was even sentenced to four months in prison in 2012 for a violent attack on an ex-girlfriend’s new partner. According to Herald Sun, the Victorian detailed the incident in a crime-prevention video produced by Port Phillip Prison in 2013.

“I started damaging his house, throwing things at it, through the windows, and I made a couple of Molotov cocktails and lit his garage up with those,”  he reportedly said in the clip.

“I had this little tomahawk that I put it inside my jacket and in the middle of the night, at one and two o’clock in the morning, I would go out the front of his house and hover around.”

Herald Sun reported that he was found guilty of 13 charges including stalking and recklessly causing serious injury.

In more recent years he’s added hate speech to his rap sheet.

What makes him so dangerous?

He wants every school kid to be issued Hitler’s manifesto.

Though Cottrell has distanced himself from accusations that he is a neo-Nazi, in 2015 Fairfax discovered evidence of him expressing support for Adolf Hitler.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Cottrell commented the following statement on a Facebook post featuring a picture of the dictator: “There should be a picture of this man in every classroom and every school, and his book should be issued to every student annually.”

He has openly claimed to being violent toward women.

The outlet also unearthed comments he wrote on a YouTube video in February 2015, in which appeared to admit to being violent toward women.

“Women have manipulated me using sex and emotion; demoralization [sic] and I have manipulated them using violence and terror,” he wrote, according to a screenshot published by the paper.

“We use what we have got to get what we want.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Cottrell leading a 2016 protest. Image: Getty.

He has expressed blatant anti-Semitism.

While he thinks modern women are "corrupt", he conceded in a July 2014 Facebook post that they're "not inherently evil". That adjective he reserves for Jewish people; "Jews are the parasites," he wrote, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, "women are just one of their hosts."

According to the paper he also wrote that, "The Jews are as small physically as they are degenerate in character ... Enjoy your bullying of the lesser nation of Palestine while you can, because the white races are coming for you."

He staged a mock beheading to protest the building of a mosque.

This was the stunt that saw Cottrell removed from Facebook, and he and his co-accused, Christopher Shortis and Neil Erikson, become the first people charged under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.

In an effort to protest the building of a mosque in the Victorian town of Bendigo, Cottrell filmed Shortis and Erikson behead a mannequin outside local council chambers in 2015.

In footage shared to Cottrell's Facebook page, he said, “We’re just going to give you a bit of a taste of our religious culture,”  before the pair shouted “Allahu akbar” ('God is great' in Arabic) and used a toy sword to 'sever' the mannequin's red-paint covered head.

The trio were ultimately found guilty of inciting serious contempt of Muslims and each fined $2000.

It's a badge Cottrell isn't prepared to wear; he will be fighting the conviction in the High Court later this year and has appealed for public donations to fund his case.

And judging by the comments on his twitter appeal, people are actually chipping in. Because believe it or not, he has appeal; and that is where the danger lies.

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???