Greenpeace USA's Valentina Stackl assisted with editing and German translation for this article.
Over the last week, The Heartland Institute – an infamous climate denial think tank - has been rolled with not one, but two scandals.
HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman revealed that the Heartland Institute laid off more than half of its staff, who accuse Heartland leadership of financial mismanagement.
According to Heartland's recently-departed staff, Naomi Seibt was seen as a ticket out of Heartland's financial troubles. It is unclear if Heartland is okay with Seibt's history of marching with violent racists and promoting white ethnocentrism could end out being more trouble for Heartland than she is worth as a fresh new voice for climate deniers to rally around.
The 19-year old Seibt was coined the "Anti-Greta" by Heartland, which wants a puffed-up foil to Greta Thunberg. Thunberg, the 17-year old global sensation, has dedicated her life to broadcasting the increasing urgency of the climate crisis. Thunburg's statements are consistent with what scientists have attempted to warn us for decades, as she meticulously read reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Seibt simply rejects the warnings of scientists, choosing instead to broadcast her contrarian opinions on YouTube.
And that’s not where the differences between these two ends. We've pulled together a research brief on Seibt to help journalists and allies.
Naomi Seibt Marched with Neo-Nazis in 2018:
This photo was taken by Anti-Fascist activists in Münster, Germany, at a 2018 anti-abortion march that involved a contingency of Neo-Nazis, including Robert Malcoci of the Neo-Nazi Malcoci family. The "1,000 White Crosses" rally, or 1000 Kreuze Marsch, in German, was not organized by Neo-Nazis, but it included at least one bloc of people from such groups, as the photo above shows.
This March 4, 2020 post from the German website Münsterland rechtsaußen includes more information and references on the 1000 Kreuze Marsch:
"Alongside Seibt marched members of the ‘Identitarian Movement’ and the ‘Fraternity Franconia,’ a local far-right fraternity. Amongst them Robert Malcoci, a well-known neo-Nazi and activist of the ‘Identitarian Movement.’ [3,4] Following her participation in this fundamentalist rally, she posted a video about the ‘Pride Weeks’ where she addressed her concerns about homosexuality and the LGBTQI * community."
On February 28, 2020, Seibt denied attending any Neo-Nazi rallies, when questioned on camera by Jamie Corey at Documented--a watchdog group that I frequently collaborate with.
At #CPAC2020, I asked “Anti-Greta” @SeibtNaomi—who works for the climate denial, Mercer-funded @HeartlandInst—about anti-semitic comments that came to light in the @Guardian. Here’s what she said. pic.twitter.com/dNmUBDTpnJ
— Jamie Corey (@JamieMCorey) February 28, 2020
What struck me most about Seibt's reaction to the question was this indication that Seibt doesn't believe you can be "100% German" if you are Jewish or Muslim:
"I don't care if you're a Jew, or a Muslim, or 100% German."
Naomi Seibt's Anti-Semitic Comment After Yom Kippur Synagogue Shooting
Thanks in particular to a report for The Guardian by Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Emily Holden, U.S. press began catching on to Sebit's ties to white nationalists.
The article included a comment made by Seibt in an online video following a shooting at a Synagogue in Germany during Yom Kippur:
In a YouTube discussion last year that was highlighted in a report by the German broadcaster ZDF, Seibt discussed an attack on a synagogue in Halle that killed two people who were outside the temple, and said Jews were considered to be “at the top” of groups who were seen as being oppressed. “Ordinary Germans”, she said, were “at the bottom”. Muslims, she added, were somewhere in between.
The remarks were part of a video discussion that appears to have been deleted. They were seen by some experts as saying that Germans had less pity for “ordinary German” victims of crime than for Jews and Muslims. A portion of the discussion was included in a report by ZDF and is still available online.
A longer translation of this quote was reported by Jennifer Dhlouy for Bloomberg:
“The normal German consumer is at the bottom, so to speak. Then the Muslims come somewhere in between. And the Jew is at the top. That is the suppression characteristic,” she said in comments first reported by The Guardian.
Naomi Seibt Praise For Canadian White Nationalist
The Guardian article by Kirchgaessner and Holden included another concerning statement made by Seibt regarding a well known White Nationalist in Canada. The article was published the same day that Seibt spoke on a panel at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, hosted by the American Conservative Union.
In another YouTube interview describing her embrace of “views that were outside the mainstream”, Seibt referred to the Canadian alt-right internet activist Stefan Molyneux as an “inspiration”.
Molyneux has been described as an “alleged cult leader who amplifies scientific racism, eugenics and white supremacism” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism and white supremacy.
Business Insider reporter Anthony L. Fisher was at CPAC and asked Seibt about her praise for Molyneux:
During a Q&A session, Insider read Molyneux's following quote to Seibt: "I've always been skeptical of the ideas of white nationalism, of identitarianism and white identity. However, I am an empiricist, and I could not help but notice that I could have peaceful, free, easy, civilized, and safe discussions in what is essentially an all-white country."
Insider asked Seibt if she was aware of Molyneux's statement and, if so, still considered herself a fan of his.
"I am still a fan of Molyneux's, absolutely," Seibt replied.
Following this reporting, acknowledgement of Seibt's support for White Nationalism was picked up by the Washington Post, the New York Times, HuffPost, and global outlets like the UK Daily Mail and Yahoo! News Australia.
Naomi Seibt and the Ethnopluarlist "Identitarian Movement"
According to the March, 2020 post from Münsterland rechtsaußen:
All rhetorical whitewashing put aside, Seibt's concept of nationalism resembles the concept of "ethnopluralism" which is the main concept of the "Identitarian Movement", a far-right group from Europe. It is based on the racist conspiracy theory of the "great replacement" by the French far-right academic Renaud Camus. The far-right terrorists who carried out the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, and in Halle, Germany, partially based their manifestos on this racist, anti-Semitic and anti-feminist theory which is also popular amongst the politicians, members and supporters of the "Alternative for Germany" and other far-right movements in Germany. (Google translation)
Naomi Seibt, Karoline Seibt and the German AFD Party
The German Alternative for Germany political party, aka "Alternative für Deutschland" or AfD, is known for its scapegoating of Jews, Muslims, and refugees. The AfD's affiliates promote perspectives that many Germans say contributed to nationalist terrorist acts like the Halle Synagogue shooting in October, 2019.
Naomi Seibt and her mother, Karoline Seibt, both have deep ties to the AfD party. And as mentioned in the new HuffPost report,
Her [Naomi Seibt] mother, Karoline Seibt, is an attorney who works with Alternative für Deutschland, Germany’s far-right nationalist party with ties to neo-Nazis. In 2018, the mother was pictured partying with Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right former star columnist at Breitbart who, according to BuzzFeed News, pushed white nationalist ideology into mainstream U.S. politics.
The Guardian's David Smith was the first journalist in the U.S. to report on Seibt's connections to the AfD political party in Germany:
[Seibt] was pushed into the limelight by leading figures on the German far right and her mother, a lawyer, has represented politicians from the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in court.
Seibt had her first essay published by the “anti-Islamisation” blog Philosophia Perennis and was championed by Martin Sellner, leader of the Austrian Identitarian Movement, who has been denied entry to the UK and US because of his political activism.
A Facebook post by the AfD youth wing names Seibt as a member and she spoke at a recent AfD event, though she has denied membership of the party.
In May 2019 she posted her first video on YouTube, reading out verses submitted for a poetry slam competition organised by the AfD.
The March, 2020 post from Münsterland rechtsaußen mentions an AfD event featuring Seibt and another speaker who appeared to express pride for his parents' "achievements" during the Nazi Germany era: (see Google translation):
[Naomi Seibt] was invited as a speaker to the New Year's welcome event of the local branch of the far-right party "Alternative for Germany" in February 2020 . Rüdiger Lucassen, one of the speakers at the event stated that "we are proud of the achievements of our mothers and fathers and not ashamed of them".  Since Lucassen was born in 1951, his parents were part of the generation that enabled, supported and committed crimes during the reign of the Nazis in Germany.
No More Excuses to Ignore Neo-Nazi Ties
The confusion of Seibt's sudden entrance to the U.S. media market and the complications of translating material published in Germany are no longer an excuse.
Heartland rejoiced at the initial U.S. press coverage of Seibt. The group rejoiced over "fair" coverage in this Washington Post that debuted Seibt to U.S. audiences before a speech at CPAC two weekends ago. The article said nothing of Seibt's thinly-veiled support for White Nationalism.
Neither did Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, which hosted Seibt live on their program last week with no mention of her ties to Neo-Nazis and racist white nationalists. Instead, Morgan apologized to Seibt for slightly misrepresenting the particular aspects of climate science that she denies, which Heartland has used to continue promoting Seibt.
In the era of Putin and Trump, of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, of Charleston, South Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia, we have no more excuses to misunderstand this dynamic. Enough false equivalence has been published.
It's time for reporters and editors to carefully include evidence of Seibt's ties to Neo-Nazis when reporting, or not report on her at all.