*Update: Since this story was published, Nathan Smith resigned from his job as the chief editor of New Zealand Initiative, with the think tank describing his views as “abhorrent”

In posts on his personal blog, New Zealand Initiative chief editor Nathan Smith attacks Muslims and Jews and espouses incel ideology, Marc Daalder reports

The chief editor of the prominent New Zealand Initiative think tank runs a far-right blog on the side, where he bashes Muslims, says Jews invite anti-Semitism on themselves and falsely claims that the death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic has been artificially inflated.

Nathan Smith, a former journalist who now works for the free-market think tank, has run the Likebulb blog since 2007. On it, he espouses beliefs rooted in opposition to what he variously labels Jews, progressives and Muslims. He says the media controls people’s thoughts and authors lengthy posts tying together “Muslim rape gangs” and incel ideology.

In a post from April 2018, Smith outright says he “just [doesn’t] like Arabs or Africans”. In the same post, he goes on to discuss the Telford child sexual exploitation ring. His issue with the events in Telford are not that girls were sexually assaulted but that society prevents him from engaging in the same behaviour.

“Muslim men aren’t playing by Western rules. They have circumvented the ritualised game of sex to secure the valuable objects (white women). But if following the rules is for losers, I am confronted with the reality only of my inadequacy to play the game correctly. It’s not the breaking of rules in Telford that angers me, it is the fact of the rules that frustrates me,” he wrote.

In other posts, he echoes offensive stereotypes about Jews and Muslims, calling them “subversive” and “suicide bombers”, respectively. 

“While not all Jews encourage immoral behaviour (from a Christian perspective), most people who do tend to be Jewish. Same with influential positions in the West. Not all Jews are in those spots, but nearly all those spots are filled by Jews,” he wrote in an April 2020 article on “history’s oldest (Jewish) question” – parroting a Nazi phrase.

Not long after Newsroom published this story, the New Zealand Initiative announced Smith had resigned after being immediately put on leave. 

Executive director Oliver Hartwich said the organisation had no knowledge of Smith’s ideology, describing it as “abhorrent” and promising an independent investigation to see if any of the think tank’s material had been compromised. 

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Smith has openly doubted the veracity of Covid-19 death tolls. In October, he wrote that “most Covid deaths are a relabelling trick”. In November, he said hospitals inflated the death count because they would receive more targeted Covid-19 funding – a false claim based on a misinterpretation of comments from a Minnesota state senator.

Also in October, Smith argued that Sweden chose not to lock down because Muslim migrants wouldn’t follow the rules if it had.

In the piece on the “(Jewish) question”, he alleges that Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism, echoing a white supremacist trope which asks why Jews were expelled from so many countries in medieval times. The implication is that they deserved it – something Smith says outright.

“The answer to why Jews keep being kicked out of Christian countries is Jewish behaviour. Any time anti-scapegoat laws are overturned, society becomes enslaved by Jews. You think Christians were hard taskmasters? Read the Merchant of Venice to see how the Jews rule with the scapegoat mechanism.”

Much of Smith’s writing discusses the idea that peaceful societies are built on a “scapegoat mechanism”, where one group can be blamed for everything that goes wrong. He says Jews frequently make use of this mechanism and that Jesus’ sacrifice was an attempt to show the scapegoat approach is “evil”.

Those who agreed with Jesus found another path towards peace – one rooted in “differentiation, grace and mercy”. Those who didn’t are called Jews, though Smith says a wide range of other ethnic, religious and political groups today have the same philosophy.

For example, in a post written two weeks after the March 15 terror attack, Smith concludes that forgiving the terrorist is the ultimate salve for Christchurch. This is unlikely, however, because “I have never heard a Muslim or a progressive forgive”.

“The magical effect of the scapegoat might have been exposed by Jesus’ death on the cross, but its lure over humans remains. Jesus’ project was to counter this structure of power, which is why both progressives and Muslims want to destroy any legacy of his anti-sacrifice message,” he wrote.

Smith’s worldview appears to be based in a sense of victimisation. He says progressives, Jews and Muslims have the same scapegoat: “White men”. In the article about Telford, he complains about his difficulties picking up women and says his “value as a man” is rooted in his ability to do so without cheating at “the sex game”.

Smith used to write for the National Business Review before moving to the New Zealand Initiative to serve as their chief editor. At one stage, Smith’s bio at NBR referenced the Likebulb blog.

New Zealand Initiative’s Hartwich and chief economist Eric Crampton author columns for Newsroom and Smith has been involved in the editing process for those pieces.

Hartwich earlier told Newsroom he and Crampton were unaware of the blog before Newsroom raised the issue with them and that Smith was now on paid leave pending an investigation. Hartwich added that he was now seeking legal advice.

“We are investigating the allegations with Nathan,” he said.

“As for the statements you quote, we abhor them. Such views are diametrically opposed to our views at the Initiative.”

Smith did not respond to a request for comment from Newsroom.

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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