Dad defends youngest candidate over Hitler memes

 

He's the youngest candidate contesting this month's federal and the latest busted posting inappropriate memes referencing Hitler to Facebook.

But Andrew Marks' dad Robert, who is also running as a United Australia Party candidate, said it's just how "teenagers communicated".

Marks junior, 18, is contesting the seat of Bennelong, while his father, who helped Clive Palmer set up the party, is running for the seat of Robertson.

The memes, which have been condemned by the Jewish community, included a photograph of a crowd "dabbing" (an arm-raising hip-hop dance move) with a separate zoomed-in picture of a man within the group appearing to be giving a Nazi salute.

The posts come after both major parties were forced to stand aside candidates following inflammatory social media posts.

United Australia Party candidate Andrew Marks
United Australia Party candidate Andrew Marks

 

Andrew’s father and United Australia Party candidate Robert Marks
Andrew’s father and United Australia Party candidate Robert Marks


Andrew Marks, who is studying accounting and communications at university, also shared a cartoon character using a time machine to visit a figure resembling Hitler.

While Andrew Marks did not return calls by The Sunday Telegraph, his father Robert explained the memes as a way young people communicated.

Mr Marks, who said both his grandfathers had "fought against the Nazis", challenged anyone to suggest the family were anti-Semitic.

"The memes are from a WWII Facebook history page that my son signed up to. It may be substandard to us but this is how the kids communicate these days," he said.

"We are absolutely anti-Nazi. My son was 15 when he posted those memes. He is now 18.

"If this is all anyone can come up (with), it's pretty petty. My son is at uni, not sure if he'll get a job, and having to pay a HECS debt. The kids are all depressed. I said: 'You got to get political active. You got to join the bastards', so the kid's out there having a go."

A meme featuring Adolf Hitler posted by Andrew Marks.
A meme featuring Adolf Hitler posted by Andrew Marks.

 

Another post on Andrew Marks’ Facebook page.
Another post on Andrew Marks’ Facebook page.

Alex Ryvchin, who is the co-chair executive officer at the executive council of the Australian Jewry, said "humour" memes such as those posted by Andrew Marks were deeply damaging.

"Leaving aside the immense harm to the Jewish community, it desensitises people to what the holocaust really was," Mr Ryvchin said.

"It reduces it to a punchline, and that just can't be allowed to happen."

The memes are among a number of provocative posts made by other UAP candidates, which also include calls for Indians to be banned from calling Australia, for Africans and Muslims to be blocked from entering Australia and a petition for Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to be "deported to an Islamic State".

Along with the Hitler memes, the younger Marks also shared a meme referencing mass school shootings.

"Everyone wishes that they were your friend when you bring these to school!" it stated, with the image depicting a bag of McDonalds, chips and a semiautomatic rifle.

Another UAP candidate, North Sydney's Peter Vagg, said he stood by his posts, which included one about stopping African gangs and Muslim extremists from immigrating to Australia, a ban on the burqa and for Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to be "deported to an Islamic country".

United Australia Party’s North Sydney candidate Peter Vagg. Picture: Julian Andrews
United Australia Party’s North Sydney candidate Peter Vagg. Picture: Julian Andrews

 

A post on Peter Vagg’s Facebook page featuring Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
A post on Peter Vagg’s Facebook page featuring Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Mr Vagg, whose profile states he worked in China "for 15 years" in the clothing sector, also shared a post calling on Facebook users to "repost " if they agreed Indian call centres should be banned from contacting Australians.

"I have already complained about Indians calling on different telephone numbers at all hours on behalf of companies, wanting you to sign up to Energy Australia or something," he said.

"And Sarah Hanson-Young is a goose, an absolute clown.

"Let's make Australia great again."

Mr Vagg also shared posts calling for Muslim refugees "caught molesting women or children" to be deported with their families, and a ban on school excursions to mosques even though he acknowledged not knowing if they actually occurred.

"If they are, they should be stopped," he said.

 

A post that appeared on Peter Vagg’s Facebook page.
A post that appeared on Peter Vagg’s Facebook page.

Scott Feeney, the candidate for Greenway, posted a photograph of American comedian Bill Cosby after his sentencing for sexual assault before adding the caption: "Holy crap, Morgan Freeman just got sent to prison."

Mr Feeney, who was in the navy, said the post was an inside joke among officers that when someone died the wrong photo was put up.

"It's an inside navy thing," he said.

"I am definitely not a racist."

Ms Hanson Young declared the posts as "abhorrent".

"The vast majority of Australians do not support these extreme views," she said.

"Politics should be a contest of ideas not of who can be the biggest racist.

"None of us are served by these harmful views being given a platform."