The BNP fires up the youth leader’s clown car. Again.

Posted on February 22, 2013

It can’t be easy trying to make the BNP look youthful and relevant. After all, Gangnam Style isn’t rapped in English, the Harlem Shake comes from a nation almost entirely made up of immigrants and even though One Direction’s name implies they might advocate a totalitarian focus on national unity, in reality they are so anti-Aryan they’re currently engaged in publicly murdering Blondie.

This is presumably the reason Griffin’s barmy outfit always come full-circle to the same idea: organise a media interview with whichever fresh-faced youth leader is the most latest to do the solo in “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”.

And so it has come to pass. The latest, err, Great White Hope is Jack Buckby – who, judging from his photo, has finally brought hipsters and political loons together in their shared love of lapel pin-badges. The chosen publication is Vice magazine, who have picked up several fascinating features in the last few weeks.

As usual, the interview starts off with hair-splitting. He’s not a fascist, or a racist, he’s a “culturist”:

In essence, culturism is the opposite of multi-culturalism. So it believes that diversity can only exist with culturism, because multi-culturalism doesn’t promote diversity, it brings too many cultures together and creates a world where every country is the same.

Ok. So “culturism” believes in diversity but opposes diversity when it means, you know, a diverse range of people being in the same place?

Diversity is ensuring that all national identities are preserved so that there’s a diverse range of cultures across the world, rather than them being pushed into borders.

Ah, right. So “culturism” is in fact true diversity because they’re talking about cultures being extremely diverse – in a geographical way. A wide range of people in the literal sense of their being wide, open ranges between them.

And what are the indicators of which culture someone is from? The food, music or God they prefer? The clothes they wear? The passport they hold, or the cricket team they support?

I grew up in an area that I think is about 97.8 percent white; it’s quite a British area.

Oh.

Currently there’s this idea that the BNP is racist, as I’m sure you know. I don’t believe that.

Where have people got such a silly idea from?

I just believe that every country should be populated predominantly by its own people. I do believe in the racial aspect of that.

Aaaaand the wheels have fallen off the clown car, just as the audience knew they would.

Indeed, as Tim Stanley points out poor Jack has even posted a video of himself online about “culturism” being a “spin” rebranding of the same, old ideology. Outing yourself as a fascist who is pretending otherwise is quite impressively stupid.

There’s a cringe-comedy element every time the BNP puts a youth leader in front of a journalist. I doubt they’d appreciate the comparison, but it’s like Meet The Fokkers (with fewer jews in the cast, for obvious reasons). It doesn’t matter how long they walk the tightrope of distinguish racism from disliking people of other races, it doesn’t matter how many times they manage to recite whatever new name they’ve come up with for their position, eventually the inevitable prat-fall occurs.

It’s as though the urge to tell everyone just how dapper armbands look and espouse the economic benefits of remilitarising the Rhineland is just too great to resist.

In fact, that’s almost exactly what one of Jack Buckby’s ill-fated predecessors did in a memorable interview a few years back. In 2002, Mark Collett was Nick Griffin’s chosen mini-me, and explained at length to Channel 4 why the BNP aren’t racist, before helpfully explaining that:

National Socialism was the best solution for the German people in the 1930s. I honestly can’t understand how a man who’s seen the inner city hell of Britain today can’t look back on that era [Hitler's Germany] with a certain nostalgia and think yeah, those people marching through the streets and all those happy people out in the streets, you know, saluting and everything, was a bad thing. Honestly now, would you prefer your kid growing up in Oldham and Burnley or 1930s Germany? It would be better for your child to grow up there.

Ooh and the boots were so shiny, weren’t they?

Scottish Defence League parade neo-nazi iconography

Posted on January 21, 2013

The English Defence League (EDL), and their offshoots the Scottish Defence League(SDL) and the Welsh Defence League (WDL), have long been at pains to claim they are not “extremists” or “neo-Nazis”. To quote one backside-covering statement:

We will not associate with any individual or group that does not reject extremism. If any such group does decide to attend our demonstration, they will be swiftly removed. We want to make it clear to racists, neo-Nazis and any other extremists – you are not welcome.

All of which makes the behaviour of the SDL at an Edinburgh protest on Saturday rather awkward.

Here they are spotted by CrashBangWallace reader @Mr_Mark_Brown:

That placard they’re holding is the logo of the Golden Dawn, whose name they were also reportedly chanting. Golden Dawn are the Greek neo-nazi movement which alarmingly secured Parliamentary Seats during the country’s ongoing Euro crisis.

As you can see, the Golden Dawn logo the SDL waved on Saturday is absolutely in no way similar to the swastika – no sirree:

Golden Dawn Logo

And the Golden Dawn definitely haven’t openly adopted the Nazi salute, one of their MPs definitely didn’t quote from classic anti-semitic fraud  “The Protocols Of The Elders of Zion” in the Greek Parliament last year,  while another Golden Dawn MP definitely doesn’t have a tattoo of the party’s logo alongside the slogan “SIEG HEIL” on his arm.

So by parading the Golden Dawn logo, and chanting their name, in Edinburgh this weekend the Scottish Defence Leage definitely aren’t neo-nazi. Got it?

EU Nobel Peace Prize nomination in pictures

Posted on October 12, 2012

When Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, comedy songrwiter Tom Lehrer declared that satire had become obsolete. Today we learn that the Peace Prize has been given to the European Union –  accordingly, satire has now been dragged out of her retirement home and beaten by riot police.

In case you were wondering why the EU could possibly be given the Nobel Peace Prize, here is a short, pictorial summary of the peace Brussels has brought to Greece and Spain in the last 18 months:

Mehdi Hasan airbrushes the Stasi from history

Posted on June 21, 2012

To say the new edition of the New Statesman gives Angela Merkel both barrels would be an understatement. At the hands of Mehdi Hasan, the outgoing Political Editor, the German Chancellor gets the full Rasputin treatment – poisoned, shot, beaten and then thrown into a freezing river to ensure the job is done.

The cover splash describes her as “Europe’s most dangerous leader”, while inside the magazine Hasan’s article is headlined with the claim that her “mania for austerity is destroying Europe”. The piece itself takes the verbal assault even further, arguing that Merkel’s refusal to support a Keynesian solution to the sovereign debt and Eurozone crisis “has brought the continent, and perhaps the world, to the edge of a second Great Depression”.

Strong stuff, but not necessarily a surprise – I doubt I will ever be surprised to learn that Mehdi and I don’t always agree on economics.

(The one element of their coverage that I sympathise with is their portrayal of her as the Terminator – though while this is intended to imply she’s destroying everything, I prefer to interpret it as saying she has been sent by the children of the future to stop 2012’s politicians running up crippling debts that they will have to pay off.)

But he then goes further, shifting from hyperbole to the downright ridiculous.

“Merkel is the most dangerous German leader since Hitler.”

Yes, let’s read that again: The. Most. Dangerous. German. Leader. Since. Hitler.

To Hasan’s credit, he does acknowledge the risk of fulfilling Godwin’s Law (“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”) up front.

But that’s not what bothers me – it’s the historical ignorance, wilful or otherwise, involved in making such a claim.

Let’s consider the proposition: who were the other German leaders since Hitler?

To be charitable, we’ll start by assuming he really meant “The most dangerous German leader since the Nazis”, given that Hitler’s two immediate successors were Josef Goebbels and Admiral Donitz, who even Mehdi must surely recognise were pretty dangerous. I guess “since Hitler” simply sounds catchier.

And after Donitz? Well, there were the Chancellors of West Germany – Adenauer, Erhard, Kiesinger, Brandt and Schmidt – all a rather inoffensive bunch overall.

Then there was Helmut Kohl, who oversaw the reunification of East and West Germany.

He was followed by Gerhard Schröder, not a dangerous man per se (though if the New Statesman thinks Merkel is dangerous for her attempts to solve the Euro crisis, surely some blame should be allotted to the man who led Germany into the Euro in the first place?).

If we accept Mehdi’s core belief that austerity in the face of a sovereign debt crisis is dangerous, then perhaps Merkel is indeed the most radical of that list. But that list is only half the story.

Somewhere along the way he seems to have forgotten (or ignored, or absolved?) the leaders of the entire other half of Germany between 1949 and 1990. That is to say, the GDR, commonly known as East Germany.

Those men – Erich Honecker, Walter Ulbricht, Egon Krenz and plenty of others in the confused hierarchy of single-party East Germany – were truly dangerous.

Under their authoritarian regime, the Stasi spied on East Germans on a scale and with a rigour that even the Gestapo never reached, with some estimating that they gathered over 1 billion pages of information on a population of 16 million people. Thousands were tortured, murdered, kidnapped, beaten and even allegedly irradiated to induce cancer for the simple “crime” of not supporting the regime.

They attempted to run a prison state, constructing the Berlin Wall and killing those who tried to flee to freedom.

If domestic terror and oppression isn’t enough to qualify them as more “dangerous” than Angela Merkel, perhaps the run-down of their international activity might bolster the case. Among their crimes abroad you can count: setting up Idi Amin’s secret police, funding neo-Nazis in West Germany, providing supplies and a safe haven to Carlos the Jackal, and sponsoring the murder and bombing campaign of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group. There are plenty more crimes where those came from, too.

So it seems Mehdi’s charge against Merkel is just plain wrong.

This isn’t a flippant point, it matters that these crimes are remembered, rather than brushed aside for the convenience of bringing a shocking-sounding charge against someone the New Statesman disagrees with on economic policy.

To fight Breivik’s views, we need to understand this new, distinct extremism

Posted on July 25, 2011

Advance warning – the below article does include a quote from Breivik’s self-justifying manifesto, though I purposely have not linked to it

I’ve thought long and hard about how best to write this post, because the issue is so sensitive and (sadly) some are keen to leap on any poorly phrased comment about the recent horrors in Norway for political ends. Hopefully it does justice to the point that I’m trying to communicate, because it’s a point I feel that those of us who support freedom and democracy cannot afford to miss, at the risk of severe consequences.

The media are already struggling to characterise Breivik’s motivations and the views that led him to commit the appalling atrocities in Norway, and some interpretations are bordering on a serious misinterpretation.

It’s not the media’s fault (despite Breivik publishing a lengthy manifesto to provide his own justification) – the problem lies in the fact that we’ve got a deeply embedded understanding of the idea of neo-Nazism, a term which is now only partially accurate for the extremist threat that we face.

Neo-Nazis do exist and are a serious problem – as you can see from this Nothing British report on British neo-Nazism, there’s an extensive subculture characterised by anti-semitism, skinhead culture, heavily tattooed thrash metal bands and coded references to Hitler (such as Combat 18, the group whose number derives from Adolf Hitler’s initials as the 1st and 8th letters of the alphabet). If you’re looking for a pop culture shorthand for this neo-Nazism, you can find it pretty well summarised in the superb film American History X.

But it’s difficult to map that culture and ideology to Anders Behring Breivik, either in his appearance and lifestyle or in his self-declared motivations. Because he was clearly opposed to immigration, many have reached for the term “neo-Nazi” to describe him in that tradition. But where is the skinhead? Where is the swastika tattoo? Where’s the Hitler worship or the antisemitism? For that matter, where is the knuckle-dragging incompetence that has previously and mercilessly confounded most neo-Nazi terror plots?

That these factors don’t appear to be there (in the evidence produced so far, at least) appears to be because he is drawn from a linked but different ideology. An ideology which is just as evil and just as (or possibly even more) threatening to our free democracy, and one that we must understand and recognise as distinct in its own right if we are to defeat. You can even spot indications of his different roots in the reaction of neo-Nazis to his views; the deeply unpleasant neo-Nazi forum Stormfront is alive with condemnations of him because, in the words of one poster:

it’s a big disappointment and serious grounds for suspicion that he didn’t name the jew [as his enemy]

And there we have the core of this relatively new ideology – Breivik may well be a racist but it is primarily hatred of Muslims that seems to have motivated him, in stark comparison to the neo-Nazis’ antisemitism. Take this extract from his manifesto, for example:

Whenever I discuss the Middle East issue with a national socialist he presents the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestine argument…I was unable to discuss this issue further after I was banned and kicked out by Stormfront

For this reason, Breivik and those like him tend to look down on Nazis and sneer at, rather than venerate, Hitler. After all, in their view Hitler had the wrong target; Breivik has reportedly written that Hitler should have helped to clear the Muslims from Jerusalem.

He’s not alone in that – the English Defence League, as I have written before, are Britain’s most recognisable example of a new evolution of extremism which is virulently anti-Muslim, often pro-Israel and has attempted to ally itself with Jews, Sikhs and gay people on the grounds that Shariah presents a common threat. It’s also true that in recent times the BNP have largely moved to focusing on Islam, though they are arguably motivated more by a strategic post-9/11 opportunism and new laws against racial hatred.

The point is that to characterise Breivik as a neo-Nazi in the recognisable, traditional mould is inaccurate and misleading in addressing the threat he and his ideology poses. Like many a neo-Nazi he is evidently a nut and is obviously attracted to violence as well as ludicrously pompous military imagery, as evidenced by his view that he’s a modern day Knight Templar, but it’s time we recognised this is a different school of extremism.

There is contact and sometimes overlap between neo-Nazism and whatever we want to call this new ideology – both are dangerous and evil, and it’s evident from Breivik’s own dabbling in neo-Nazi forums that the two sit very close to each other in various way.

We’re seeing calls in the UK for a strategy to address what you could loosely call White Power extremism. But one sole, catch-all strategy to fight both neo-Nazis who hate Jews and anti-Muslim “culture war” conspiracists will fail to defeat one or the other, or even both. We need a distinct strategy to combat each strand of thought.