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Carl Benjamin (born 1979), better known by his online alias Sargon of Akkad, is a British political commentator, YouTuber, and UK Independence Party (UKIP) candidate for the European Parliament's South West England constituency in the 2019 election. Benjamin grew to prominence through the Gamergate controversy. Since Gamergate, he has covered topics ranging from anti-feminism, alt-right politics, Brexit, identity politics, and political correctness in a polemic manner.
Benjamin's YouTube channel first drew attention during the Gamergate controversy in 2014. According to Inside Higher Ed, his videos on the topic advanced a conspiracy theory in which he argued that members of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) were actively plotting to influence video game development, saying that DiGRA "became co-opted by feminists to become a think tank by which gender ideologues can disseminate their ideology to the gaming press and ultimately to gamers."
In June 2015, YouTube took down one of Benjamin's videos when it received a copyright claim from The Guardian. Benjamin contested the claim against the video which used substantial portions of The Guardian's video. The Guardian said it was offering "advice on how to engage with Guardian content without breaching copyright." The video was restored later the same day. One Los Angeles Times columnist wrote of the incident calling it "alarming to see copyright law used to stifle debate in the public square."
At VidCon 2017, Anita Sarkeesian appeared on a panel discussing online harassment directed towards women. A group of YouTubers who had frequently criticised Sarkeesian in the past, including Benjamin, filled one-half of the first three rows of the audience and filmed Sarkeesian as part of a targeted harassment campaign against her. Sarkeesian singled out Benjamin as a serial harasser of hers, calling him a "garbage human." VidCon founder Hank Green issued a statement that the group's actions were clear "intimidating behaviour" and apologised for the situation "which resulted in [Sarkeesian] being subjected to a hostile environment that she had not signed up for." Benjamin later said he was not present with the intention of harassing Sarkeesian, stating he would like to know how she "would like to be approached." Patreon also investigated the claims of harassment, but determined that although they considered his actions "distasteful," Benjamin had not violated their code of conduct.
In March 2018, North London Antifa protesters broke into a scheduled discussion between Benjamin and Yaron Brook by King's College's Libertarian Society at the school. Masked protestors attacked security guards, set off smoke bombs, broke windows and allegedly attacked other attendees. The event organisers called the police, cancelled the event and evacuated the building. The organiser reported that two security guards were hospitalised.
Patreon banned Benjamin in December 2018, when he was earning over US$12,000 a month. According to Patreon, Benjamin violated the site's rules on hate speech by using "racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual." A number of users, including Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and Dave Rubin left the platform following the ban of Benjamin. Harris stated that he did not "share the politics of the banned members," but objected to what he described as "political bias" on Patreon. As part of their explanation for why they dropped Benjamin, Patreon published a transcript of a YouTube video in which Benjamin stated that members of the alt-right were "acting like white niggers" because "[e]xactly how you describe black people acting is the impression I get dealing with the Alt-Right." He added that "White people are meant to be polite and respectful to one another." In response, Benjamin has said that his targets were not black or homosexual, and he claimed that the word "nigger" is not as offensive in Britain as it is in the United States.
In response to Labour Party politician Jess Phillips' statement that rape threats are commonplace for her, Benjamin said in May 2016 that "I wouldn't even rape you" in a YouTube video and repeated this on Twitter. Benjamin declined to apologise for the comment.
In June 2018, Benjamin joined UKIP, along with other social media activists Mark Meechan and Paul Joseph Watson. The trio's membership has been described by political analysts as part of a shift to the far-right in the UKIP under Gerard Batten's leadership. In the European Parliament's 2019 elections in the United Kingdom, Benjamin was second on UKIP's list for the South West England constituency.
At a UKIP press conference announcing his candidacy for the 2019 European Parliament elections, Benjamin once again refused to retract his comments about Philips, and said that she is a "giant bitch" and that she had been "laughing about male suicide." It was unclear what Benjamin's comments referred to; Phillips had not mocked male suicide and believes it to be a serious issue. The Chairman of the Swindon branch of the UKIP called for Benjamin to be deselected, which was rejected by Batten.
Benjamin is a prominent anti-feminist. He identifies as a centrist, and a classical liberal. Vox has described him as anti-progressive and Nieman Journalism Lab, Mic, and Vice have described him as "right-wing". He is a critic of identity politics. Benjamin has opposed online feminist movements such as the British group Reclaim the Internet which he called "social communism." Following the 2014 Isla Vista killings, Benjamin said that social justice feminism was a "disease of the modern age" that had disenfranchised and radicalised young men causing a rise in the number of mass murders.
The Daily Dot described the targets of Benjamin's criticism such as Black Lives Matter, feminism, Islam, and the overall notion of straight, white male privilege as the same as those of the alt-right. They cited a video by Benjamin titled "An Honest Look at the Alt Right" that "[a]lthough [Benjamin] criticizes the alt-right for collectivist and authoritarian thinking, he argues that they’re reacting to a comparable amount of racism from the left." Newsweek has reported that he has "links" to the alt-right and Salon has described him as an "alt-right sympathiser" whereas Business Insider has said that he "opposes" the alt-right. Benjamin has denied ties to the alt-right.
In May 2018, Benjamin was a speaker at a right-wing "Day of Freedom" rally in support of Tommy Robinson after Robinson was banned from Twitter for hate speech. While on a panel in New York City in 2018, he said: "Jewish people, unfortunately for them, have got to drop the identity politics. I'm sorry about the Holocaust but I don't give a s***. I'm sorry."
In a November 2016 opinion piece, Vice criticized Benjamin for what they characterized as a "sense of purist thinking and a logic-before-all attitude" that ignores the complexity of topics related to race and gender, likening him to Paul Joseph Watson, a writer for InfoWars. Vice and PC Magazine have described him as a conspiracy theorist. Breitbart News editor James Delingpole has described him as a "leftist libertarian" and a more "erudite and polite" version of Watson, saying Benjamin targets "identity politics, Social Justice Warriors, and third-wave feminism."
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