Over the past two days, some of the internet's most influential right-wing personalities have been holding a get-together in the EU parliament in Brussels. Here's Katie Hopkins representing the Yellow Vests.
The event, called "Free speech in the age of censorship", is being hosted by the Europe of Nations and Freedom — a far-right group of members of the EU parliament — and its MEP Janice Atkinson.
The other host is "AltNewsMedia" — a UK-based news website that publishes hyperpartisan political stories.
Along with Hopkins and Canadian YouTubers Stefan Molyneux (above) and Lauren Southern, the speakers have included Australia's Imam Mohammad Tawhidi (below), Spectator columnist James Delingpole, and former UKIP leadership candidate Anne Marie Waters.
But photos from yesterday's session suggest not many people turned up, especially considering organisers described the lineup as featuring "high-profile EU leaders and influencers of the worldwide conservative right."
Putting the matter of attendance aside for a moment, the event's poster put up around the European parliament is worth a second look.
On the advertising, there's a stirring quote attributed to Voltaire: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."
One problem: It's not Voltaire.
In fact — as world-leading experts of French philosophy will tell you — not only is the quote regularly misattributed to Voltaire, it is most commonly associated with lines from a notable American neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier.
In 2017, Nicholas Cronk from the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford said the quote appeared to originate from a 1993 essay by white nationalist Kevin Alfred Strom (below right) titled "All America must know the terror is upon us."
Strom would later be convicted of possessing images of child pornography.
"And so we go on inventing Voltaire," Cronk wrote. "Another dictum that has recently gained wide currency on the web is this: 'To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.'
"Now regularly attributed to Voltaire, this saying seems to originate with something written in 1993 by Kevin Alfred Strom, an American neo-Nazi Holocaust denier, and not a man who obviously exudes Voltairean wit and irony.
"But once you become an authority, it seems, all sides have a claim on you."
The ENF aren't the first to be taken in by the quote. In 2015, conservative Australian senator Cory Bernardi tweeted and later deleted the line.
As the conference goes into a second day, BuzzFeed News approached conference organiser Janice Atkinson and the EU parliament for comment. "No matter what I say, you'll put your truth out there," she replied. "Good luck."
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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