Keeping An Eye On Neofascists And Anti-Muslim Sentiment

Slow blogging for me, but in the interim please do peruse HOPE not hate’s latest, Same old faces at anti-Islam demo. Not surprisingly, it was a day out for a sad mix of extremists and neo-Nazis, but let us not forget that is where anti-Muslim sentiment leads, to the extreme right.

“Jim Dowson’s Britain First had a rare public outing yesterday when they called for a demonstration outside of Parliament.

Despite Dowson now being the fundraiser for the rival “English Democrats”, he’s been all over the internet promoting Britain First as a patriotic, Christian alternative to both the EDL and the BNP.

One assumes Jim will not be happy this morning to hear that his group’s rare outing was hijacked by both the BNP and a host of other far-right extremists including members of the EDL and Eddie Stamton, a devout Hitler admirer and former C18 crank who burned the Saudi flag at the thirty strong demonstration. People also gave Nazi salutes for good measure.”

Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins’ Where now for the British far-right? is worth a read.

Over 40,000 Racist Incidents in England And Wales For 2011-12

Anyone familiar with the under currents in British society would know that racism is still a problem, but the latest figures the from Home Office are staggering.

There were over 40,000 reported racial instances last year, 2011-12.

Given the nature of these crimes it is very likely an underestimate. The real figures are probably higher, but whatever the final count, over 40,000 is a terrible indictment on British society.

I doubt the awful figures will spur any societal introspection, that would be uncharacteristically British, and as we’ve seen the question of race in Britain is often brushed under the carpet, or left to fester until it oozes out on its own.

This is an extract:

“There were 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2011/12.

Note that this figure relates to the five monitored strands of hate crime classifications used by the criminal justice system and is not a count of crime as more than one form of hate crime can be assigned to an offence. Indicative data suggest that less than five per cent of hate crime offences have more than one monitored strand assigned (this ranged between 1% and 7% of offences for the 17 forces whose data was reviewed).

Of the 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police:

  • 35,816 (82%) were race hate crimes;
  • 1,621 (4%) were religion hate crimes;
  • 4,252 (10%) were sexual orientation hate crimes;
  • 1,744 (4%) were disability hate crimes; and
  • 315 (1%) were transgender hate crimes.

Race hate crimes accounted for the majority of hate crimes in all forces. “

Who Is Sam Bacile?

The short answer is, he doesn’t exist.

He’s a pseudonym, a contrivance, a vehicle to stir up hatred, I have detailed it elsewhere, but the ADL does a much better job:

“The anti-Islam film that has sparked con­sid­er­able out­rage and vio­lence across the Mid­dle East and Islamic world appears to be a prod­uct of sev­eral Chris­t­ian anti-Muslim activists.


Although the false claim that the film Inno­cence of Mus­lims was the work of an “Israeli Jew” received wide­spread atten­tion in the U.S. and abroad, recent reports indi­cate that the film was cre­ated, pro­duced and pro­moted by indi­vid­u­als con­nected to a net­work of anti-Muslim organizations.

Nakoula Bas­se­ley Nakoula, a 55-year-old California-based Cop­tic Chris­t­ian, appears to be the one respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the impres­sion that the film was cre­ated and sup­ported by Jews. Accord­ing to Amer­i­can offi­cials in an inter­view with the Arabic-language tele­vi­sion sta­tion Al Hurra, Nakoula is the alleged pro­ducer and film­maker of the anti-Islam film. Nakoula ini­tially exposed his role to inter­na­tional media under the pseu­do­nym Sam Bacile, a fic­ti­tious indi­vid­ual that the Asso­ci­ated Press had ini­tially reported was “an Israeli film­maker based in Cal­i­for­nia.” In the inter­view with the AP, Nakoula, speak­ing under a pseu­do­nym, said the film cost $5 mil­lion to make “and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jew­ish donors.” These claims have since been dis­proved with the rev­e­la­tion that Sam Bacile does not exist.

Steve Klein is a California-based anti-Muslim Chris­t­ian activist and for­mer U.S. Marine who claims that he pro­vided con­sult­ing ser­vices for the pro­duc­tion of Inno­cence of Mus­lims. In a recent inter­view fol­low­ing the out­break of vio­lence in Cairo and Beng­hazi, Klein described the film as being designed to spark out­rage. In addi­tion to his alleged role in the film’s tech­ni­cal pro­duc­tion, Klein is founder and board mem­ber of Coura­geous Chris­tians United (CCU), an orga­ni­za­tion that protests out­side of mosques, abor­tion clin­ics and Mor­mon tem­ples. CCU issued a state­ment today denounc­ing the film and indi­cat­ing that Klein had been removed from the board. Many of the links on the group’s web­site redi­rect read­ers to sites designed to con­vince Mus­lims, Mor­mons or Jehovah’s Wit­nesses to con­vert to Chris­tian­ity. Klein is also the founder of Con­cerned Cit­i­zens for the First Amend­ment (CCFA), an anti-Muslim group whose pri­mary ini­tia­tive is to warn high school stu­dents that they are being brain­washed through courses and les­son on Islamic his­tory. He has spo­ken at con­fer­ences on the sub­ject of Islam at the Church at Kaweah, a mil­i­tant Chris­t­ian church base in California. “

Update 1: Spiegel follows up:

“After the protests began, sources leaked a phone number to the Associated Press news agency. When reporters dialed the number, a man answered who claimed to be Sam Bacile, the film’s director. “Islam is a cancer,” he said, adding that he was an Israeli Jew who wanted to spread the truth about Islam. Some 100 Jews had donated money to the project, he said, supposedly to the tune of $5 million. Anyone who says something like that is not only willing to accept a few deaths; he is, at least in the eyes of many Muslims, also getting the state of Israel involved.

But the journalists felt that there was something about his story that didn’t add up. They found the address that corresponds to the man’s cell phone number. The man who came to the door in a cul-de-sac in Cerritos near Los Angeles denied being Bacile. He said that he was only responsible for managing the film team’s logistics, and showed them his driver’s license, but covered his middle name with one of his fingers. The journalists were able to read Nakoula Nakoula — and the rest was research. They found out that Nakoula was convicted of federal bank fraud charges in 2010. He was given a 21-month prison sentence and ordered to pay $790,000 (€600,000) in restitution.

Now, the reporters knew that his real name was Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian from Egypt with US citizenship. According to police records, he maintains at least 14 aliases. “Basseley” sounds almost like “Bacile”. US investigators believe that Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and the director are one and the same person.

Update 2: Also, my previous posts Anti-Islam Film, The Truth Emerges and Anti-Islamic Film, Who, What and Where?

Anti-Islam Film, The Truth Emerges

As I previously commented, the background information to this tawdry and poorly produced anti-Islam film was questionable.

I was surprised that the Wall Street Journal took at face value the statements from the supposed producer.

We are meant to believe that he was “an Israeli-American” and the more laughable element that he had “100 Jewish donors”.

To me that didn’t ring true, and the details coming out from America confirmed that.

It is fairly obvious that one aim of this crude project, by anti-Muslim bigots, was to stoke up hatred towards Jews. Why else pretend to be an “an Israeli-American” and talk of “100 Jewish donors”?

ABC has more information:

“The controversial “Innocence of Muslims” was written, produced and directed by a convicted drug manufacturer and scam artist, who has told authorities he actually wrote the script in federal prison and began production two months after his June 2011 release from custody.

Authorities say Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, of Cerritos, California, admitted his role in the film, after seeking help from law enforcement in dealing with death threats he has received since the release of the film. Excerpts from the film led to outrage and violence in the Arab world.

Authorities told ABC News that Nakoula told them he and his son, Abanob Basseley, 21, were responsible for producing the movie which, he reportedly said, cost between $50,000 and $60,000 and was shot in a little over 12 days.

Authorities say he claimed the money for the movie came from his wife’s family in Egypt.”

Rob Eshman made the point, How Nakoula Basseley Nakoula aka ‘Sam Bacile” Libeled Jews.

This is Time’s who is who on that film.

Jeff Goldberg spotted these issues a few days ago.

I can’t disagree with Jeff’s summation:


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Anti-Islamic Film, Who, What and Where?

There has been considerable discussion and research into the controversial anti-Islamic film which apparently sparked riots.

The initial information looked questionable, but even Glenn Greenwald couldn’t see the obvious.

Why would the originator of the film claim to be an Israeli-American and say “”cost $5m to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors”.

Only Jewish donors? It doesn’t ring true, sounds like the sort of statement that a bigot might make.

Now Gawkers has more, It Makes Me Sick’: Actress in Muhammed Movie Says She Was Deceived, Had No Idea It Was About Islam:

“The story of the Muhammed movie which sparked deadly protests in Libya and Egypt gets weirder. The actors who appeared in it had no idea they were starring in anti-Islam propaganda which depicts Muhammed as a child molester and thug. They were deceived by the film’s director, believing they were appearing in a film about the life of a generic Egyptian 2,000 years ago.

Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress from Bakersfield, Calif., has a small role in the Muhammed movie as a woman whose young daughter is given to Muhammed to marry. But in a phone interview this afternoon, Garcia told us she had no idea she was participating in an offensive spoof on the life of Muhammed when she answered a casting call through an agency last summer and got the part.

The script she was given was titled simply Desert Warriors. “

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The GOP Convention And More Racism Round Up.

[Trigger warning, Assange related material.]

When the GOP Convention comes around there is almost the feeling that America has stepped back in time, not by the technology employed or the showmanship, but the underlying ideas.

Issues that many might think are uncontroversial provoke alarm and worry amongst the GOP, the Pew Research Quiz is just one indicator.

But a deeper whiff of bigotry and reaction clings to GOP events, as TPM reported:

“An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said “This is how we feed animals” before being removed from the convention, a network official confirmed to TPM. “

And more, Nativism 101:

“There were energetic shouts of “Aye!” and “Nay!” as a Puerto Rican party functionary—Zoraida Fonalledas, the chairwoman of the Committee on Permanent Organization—took her turn at the main-stage lectern. As she began speaking in her accented English, some in the crowd started shouting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

The chanting carried on for nearly a minute while most of the other delegates and the media stood by in stunned silence. The Puerto Rican correspondent turned to me and asked, “Is this happening?” I said I honestly didn’t know what was happening—it was astonishing to see all the brittle work of narrative construction that is a modern political convention suddenly crack before our eyes. None of us could quite believe what we were seeing: A sea of twentysomething bowties and cowboy hats morphing into frat bros apparently shrieking over (or at) a Latina. RNC chairman Reince Priebus quickly stepped up and asked for order and respect for the speaker, suggesting that, yeah, what we had just seen might well have been an ugly outburst of nativism.”

Meanwhile, for would-be GOPers, Ayn Rand and a discussion of her “philosophy”, which seems to have all of the depth and consistency of L.Ron. Hubbard’s Scientology, albeit without the UFOs.
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Faith Matters Report On The EDL

Faith Matters, an NGO which works to reduce extremism, intra-faith tensions and promotes interfaith dialogues, published an interesting report on the EDL in 2010.

Download the English Defence League: Challenging Our Country and Our Values of Social Inclusion, Fairness and Equality, [as a PDF].

Apparently, they will be releasing another report shortly.

Meanwhile, keep up with them by following Faith Matters and Tell MAMA on Twitter.

Pam Geller, Robert Spencer In The Company Of Neofascists

Matthew Goodwin has graciously provided the line up of assorted misfits, bigots and neo-fascists attending a “Global Counter Jihad” rally in Stockholm on 4th August 2012:

I doubt this is the first occasion Pam Geller and Robert Spencer have found themselves in the company of neofascists (Lennon, Carroll, etc) or that it will be their last.

It shows that once you start down the road to bigotry you will often end up in the company of some very unsavoury types, normally on or about the Far Right.

Update 1: Thanks to TellMama UK for pointing out this piece by SPLC:

“Speakers, according to Geller’s blog, will include some of Islamophobia’s most influential and vicious voices. In addition to herself, Geller lists Robert Spencer, a colleague and self-taught “expert” on Islam who is greatly admired by Anders Breivik, the Oslo terrorist who in July 2011 slaughtered 77 people he thought were enabling Muslim immigration into Norway; Steven Lennon and Kev Carrol of the EDL; Anders Gravers of SIOE; and a host of European and Australian Islamophobes whose names are less well-known in America. Noteworthy among them is Richard Abrahamsson (also known as Richard Abrams), a leader in the Swedish Defence League (SDL) who, according to Islamophobia Watch, has blogged about a plan to “reclaim the Swastika,” writing, “If you want US to respect OTHER cultures, you must also respect OUR culture and its symbols.”

Update 3: Richard Bartholomew is typically thorough:

Abrams’ website is for the most part macabre and disturbing: among weird occultic images we find statements such as “I will be remembered as the one who beheaded presidents in righteous wrath”. He is also a musician, sometimes using the fuller name “Richard Isak Abrams”. According to a blurb for his band on LastFM:

Iblis Industries (or 1blis 1ndustries) is a Swedish project created in 2005 by Richard Abrams (also in Sitra Ahra and Hypothermia.)

The music released so far consists of a variey of elements such as; Neoclassical, Downtempo, Black metal, Industrial and Noisestep.

The themes of Iblis Industries is mainly cultivated in a search for the divine embers.

Of course, a provocative interest in the grotesque and and the dark is par for the course with this kind of music, and it is unclear how far one can extrapolate from stage persona to political identification. However, for an organisation seeking wider credibility, the impression given by Abrams’ site is unattractive. And given the links between the self-described “Counter-Jihad Movement” and elements of the Christian Right, such an association is likely to be awkward.

” [My emphasis]

Having looked at Richard Abrams’ site I can confirm that he has serious hangups with the swastika.

Update 4: This is a bunch of EDL members and supporters who were very keen on the swastika so much so they had it tattooed on their chests, watch them giving the Nazi salute:

Anti-Muslim Violence Pictured Across The UK

Racism is on the rise in British, again, and TellMamaUK is a great initiative to help combat it.

The graphics below, which covers only a small period of time, shows the sad necessity of Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks):

Faith Matters explains more:

The majority of Muslims being physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith are women, according to interim results from the UK’s first ever ‘official’ anti-Muslim violence helpline.

Victims have included children as well as pensioners in their 80s. Even Baroness Warsi, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and socialite and journalist Jemima Khan, have been subject to online threats picked up and reported to the police by the TELL MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) campaign.

TELL MAMA, which was set up with Government backing at the end of February by interfaith organisation Faith Matters, has chronicled over 140 cases to date and led to the arrests and charging of three far-right English Defence League (EDL) sympathisers, with more cases and arrests likely in the coming months. Approximately 75% of the cases involve female victims, with far-right British National Party (BNP) or EDL sympathisers linked to one-third (33%) of all incidents.

The helpline records a disturbing picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbours and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives.

How Racism Takes Root

This is a very good piece in the Guardian by Joseph Harker:

“While our media continue to exclude minority voices in general, such lazy racial generalisations are likely to continue. Even the story of a single Asian man acting alone in a sex case made the headlines. As in Derby this month, countless similar cases involving white men go unreported.

We have been here before, of course: in the 1950s, West Indian men were labelled pimps, luring innocent young white girls into prostitution. By the 1970s and 80s they were vilified as muggers and looters. And two years ago, Channel 4 ran stories, again based on a tiny set of data, claiming there was an endemic culture of gang rape in black communities. The victims weren’t white, though, so media interest soon faded. It seems that these stories need to strike terror in the heart of white people for them to really take off.

What is also at play here is the inability of people, when learning about a different culture or race, to distinguish between the aberrations of a tiny minority within that group, and the normal behaviour of a significant section. Some examples are small in number but can be the tip of a much wider problem: eg, knife crime, which is literally the sharp end of a host of problems affecting black communities ranging from family breakdown, to poverty, to low school achievement and social exclusion. “

LoonWatch, How Not To Combat anti-Muslim bigotry

I have been asked for my view of LoonWatch and feel it might help to air these issues.

I think the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry is a real problems in Western societies. In Britain and Ireland, it is often a mutated form of racism which previously targeted Asians. Now it is used against those from North Africa, the Middle East, their descendants or those seen to have different customs.

Not sure if that descriptions does it full justice, but I imagine my more astute readers will see what I am getting at.

On Twitter

In the past I use to followed LoonWatch on Twitter.

Good Material

Anyway, I wanted to keep up with the extent of racism and bigotry towards Muslims and LoonWatch certainly covers it with vigour.

On their web site, LoonWatch, they publish some commendable articles and posts on anti-Muslim bigotry.

This one on Sweden’s Jews, Muslims Face Web Hate Rise: Study is a good example. As is this Dean Obeidallah: Sacha Cohen’s Movie a Minstrel Show.

Also, they have excellent material on cooperation between Jews and Muslims.

However

Less so their defence of Gunter Grass.

I could put that down to a matter of opinion and give them a pass, but I find their attitude towards anti-Jewish racism a bit unsatisfactory.

I could, without much trouble, find examples of their posts which have questionable language for antiracists to use. Often their comments boxes contain sneering and snide comments, either directly or indirectly aimed at Jews, Israelis or “Zionists”

Conspiracy Theories

I am sure that some of the smarter authors at LoonWatch would recognise that conspiracy theories are integral too many of the Far Rights’ attacks on Muslims. Further, that conspiracy theories are the key to a hardened forms of anti-Jewish racism, such as the Protocols, etc etc

Then to publish a piece which indulges in conspiracy theories and broadbrush demonisation of “Zionists” shows a clear lack of introspection and insight into the issues surrounding racism. Readers with access the Internet will be able to confirm that “Zionist” is a common Far Right euphemism for Jew.

Sensitivities

So there is a need for sensitivity in this area, and I find Loonwatch wanting in that respect.

Having said that, I think there is a dire need for web sites to combat anti-Muslim bigotry, but such sites need to be aware of certain sensitivities, not to cross certain lines, not to invoke, even by stealth, conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, I did enjoyed their cover of the awful Pam Geller and terrible Robert Spencer.

In short, there is a need for insight and that is what I find lacking at LoonWatch.

I wish them well in their work to combat anti-Muslim bigotry. I just wish they would think a bit more, reflect on what they are getting at, and not generalise as much. If they wish to combat racism they should avoid such practices, as that is what racists and bigots tend to do.

Perhaps they might want to tidy up their comments boxes too?

EDL In The News

The English Defence League are a pile of thick neofascist thugs, that should be plain enough to anyone with the intelligence to read a newspaper:

“MEMBERS of a race hate ‘mob’ have admitted taking part in a violent showdown with Asian rivals in an East Lancashire town.

Supporters of the English Defence League descended on Brierfield last July and were involved in a series of flashpoints with locals.

And 12, including a man previously convicted of causing a serious brain injury to a pubgoer, have now confessed to their roles in the public disorder.

Earlier that day an EDL ‘flash mob’ had also surrounded the Simonstone home of north-west Euro MP Sajjad Karim, with his wife and children trapped inside, police said.

The Conservative MEP said his family, wife Zahida and their two young children Bilal, and Rabia, were left terrified as the mob assembled outside.

Later a 25-strong contingent became involved in a series of incidents in the Colne Road area of Brierfield, police said.”

Dealing With Anti-Muslim Racism & More.

The advent of the MAMA project is most welcome.

Until now it has been hard to quantify the extent and level of racism which faces many Muslims in Britain. Years back when I tried to research the topic I found scattered information, incomplete police reporting and a serious lack of concrete information.

It is going to be a hard and depressing task, to correlate and document the level of racism faced by Muslims on a day-to-day basis in Britain, however, I hope that the MAMA project has the success that the Community Security trust does. Good luck to them.

James Bloodworth looks at a common British habit, When did looking down on others become the national pastime?

Report from Lhasa: February 18, 2012 makes difficult reading:

“Lhasa consists of approximately 1.2 million Chinese and approximately 200,000 Tibetans. The majority of these Tibetans live in an area which is now almost entirely enclosed by military compounds with walls between 10-16 feet; some with barbed wire. This isolation gives the impression of what the Warsaw Ghetto was like. Inside the “enclosed” area groups of armed soldiers, S.W.A.T. teams, and police patrol the streets 24 hours a day. Military drill songs can be heard throughout the day. S.W.A.T trucks and rows of 6 to 15 armored vehicles and tanks come through the area on a daily basis. Each vehicle has 3 to 4 soldiers at the opening turret, armed with assault rifles or machine guns aimed at the Tibetans.

All Tibetans must carry identification at all times. Tibetans residing in Lhasa are required to register with the police. There are approximately 134 new Police station checkpoints in Lhasa for random searches of pedestrians and vehicles. In addition to the military compounds in and around Lhasa, permanent military posts holding 1-10 armed soldiers have been established throughout the city. “

It could be just like Switzerland, that’s what Hirsh Goodman thinks.

Spiegel Online reminds us the Neo-Nazi Terrorist Threat Remains Real.

In local blog news, the Third Estate on How rich institutions, the big parties and the mass media have colonised the blogosphere.

Jeff Goldberg has a worrying piece, Iranian Scientist’s Wife Says Husband Sought Annihilation of Israel. The Fars News Agency has the original copy.

Norms of intervention.

Finally, Bradley Burston makes some excellent points:

“It’s Israel Apartheid Week 2012. Time for people who support Israel to tell the truth. Yes, the settlements are an obstacle to peace. Yes, the occupation, which exists to protect the settlements, is the opposite of democracy. Yes, the present government speaks of two states in theory alone.

In the democracy that was the United States in the year 1840, there were those who said that slavery was essential, irreversible, eternal, God’s will. And that people of color and women of all races should not, and therefore would not, be granted the freedoms and rights of full citizenship, that the only good Native American was a dead one.

And, at the same time, there were those who believed that democracy and equality would become law, however dreadful and protracted the process might be, and they were right.

It is 2012. America’s freedoms, its promises of opportunity and openness to immigrants and minorities, are still under attack, still being tested. The answer is not to dismantle America, but to strengthen its freedoms.

All Americans deserve democracy and self-determination. So do both of the native peoples of the Holy Land, Palestinians and Israelis alike. Just as in 1840 America, in this Holy Land there are people working on both sides, quietly, continually, toward that goal. Not freedom for one people at the expense of the other, but freedom and independence for both.

This is the lesson that BDS has yet to learn. And this is why BDS, and Israeli Apartheid Week, are failures. “

Heinz-Christian Strache

Austria’s Far Right, Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache plays the victim after his latest gaff:

“(Reuters) – The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party is taking a public relations beating after refusing to apologize for likening anti-fascist protesters to a Nazi mob and his supporters to Jews.

Heinz-Christian Strache’s comment that “We are the new Jews” to an undercover journalist at a Vienna ball that critics say draws right-wing extremists has caused uproar and triggered at least a temporary setback for his resurgent euroskeptic party. “

Surprisingly, at least 11% of Austrians thought this neofascist in a suit fit to be Austria’s Chancellor, but as the Guardian reminded us in 2008:

“The far-right triumph was greater than its breakthrough in 1999 when Haider’s Freedom party came second in a general election with 27% of the vote and entered government, sparking a crisis that saw Austria isolated internationally.

Strache, who has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the Holocaust, according to a court ruling, and who wants a new government ministry created to manage the deportation of immigrants, wound up his campaign at the weekend by calling Muslim women who wear the burqa “female ninjas” “

The Indy has more:

“The Viennese ball might have escaped with UNESCO’s rap on the knuckles, had it not been for an initially unreported anti-Semitic tirade delivered from Strache’s ballroom box to some 3,000 of his right wing guests last Friday, describing Austria’s far-right as the “New Jews”.

By yesterday it had become the focus of a blistering political row about everyday anti-Semitism and the disturbing, yet seemingly inexorable, rise of popular right-wing Austrian nationalism.

Referring to the protesters outside, Mr Strache told his audience they should not be prepared to have their “wonderful cultural party” ruined by protesters whom he described as “anti-democratic perpetrators of violence”. He then claimed the violence outside was like “Kristallnacht” – the 1938 Nazi pogrom that foreshadowed the Holocaust – and declared to his ball guests: “We are the new Jews!” Reports in the Austrian press subsequently revealed that Strache’s Freedom Party aide, Klaus Nittmann, had referred to the yellow star the Nazi regime forced Jews to wear and told ball guests: “Organisations behind the ball end up getting a Jewish Star pinned on them.”

And in what was seen by many as adding insult to injury, last Friday’s Vienna student ball just happened to fall on Holocaust remembrance day – the anniversary of the Soviet army’s liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. Eva Glawischnig, head of Austria’s Green Party, suggested that those who attended were effectively “dancing on the graves of Auschwitz”. The organisers chose to ignore the charge.

Austria’s Jewish community has since been sufficiently outraged and insulted to demand that state prosecutors investigate Strache. Austria’s ruling centrist People’s Party described his words as a “slap in the face for all victims of the Nazis’ criminal regime”. Strache’s Freedom Party dismissed the criticism as “artificial and ridiculous outrage”, while Strache himself said he did not intend to “play down the agony forced upon the Jews”.

Yet his outburst has raised more disturbing questions about his party, an organisation which is now Austria’s second political force. It made huge gains in recent Vienna city elections with a virulently Islamophobic campaign.”

So the spectre of fascism hasn’t really died, just changed into a sharper suit and plays the victim.

Slices Of World

Meant to post this a few days back, but forgot

There are plenty of things going on in the world, but we shouldn’t forget the dog whistles of racism that Jeff Goldberg finds in the race for the US Presidency:

“Dog-whistling — the use of coded, ambiguous language to appeal to the prejudices of certain subsets of voters — is one of the darkest political arts. In this race, Newt Gingrich is streets ahead of his nearest competitor in its use. In addition to his comments about black children working as janitors, he has repeatedly referred to Obama as the country’s “food-stamp president.”

The genius of dog-whistling is its deniability. It would be difficult for a figure such as Rush Limbaugh to run for public office, given his record of fairly straightforward race-baiting. (Limbaugh, who in the words of Harvard Law School’s Randall Kennedy is an “excellent entrepreneur of racial resentment,” has been on a tear lately. He has accused Obama — who he says “talks honky” around white people — and the first lady of abusing public funds as payback for the ill-treatment afforded their ancestors.)

But “food-stamp president” is just indirect enough that Gingrich is protected from detrimental blowback, at least during the largely white Republican primaries.

Kennedy, who studies the role of race in national elections, told me last week of a rule he uses to measure whether a candidate’s appeal to prejudice will succeed: If it takes more than two sentences for a critic to explain why a dog-whistle is a dog-whistle, the whistler wins. Gingrich seems to understand this, and so, despite criticism from blacks, has made the term “food-stamp president” a staple of his stump speeches.”

Elsewhere Celebrity Deathmatch: Who Has More Celebrity Endorsements? makes strange reading, Ron Paul is rather popular.

The ADL’s Center on Extremism and Research’s blog is worth a read, with a fine post entitled Racists and Bigots to Descend on CPAC Conference in Washington, DC

“The February 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual event that features a wide variety of speakers from conservative circles, will host a session on “the failure of multiculturalism” that will include racist Peter Brimelow as a speaker. “

It exposes Pamela Geller’s latest activities:

“The latest outgrowth of the trans-Atlantic cooperation between anti-Muslim activists was announced on January 17 by Pamela Geller, head of Stop Islamization of American (SIOA). Geller announced on her blog that SIOA, an organization that promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam, is joining forces with its sister organization in Denmark, Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), whose campaigns against Islam in Europe have influenced Geller’s campaigns in the U.S.”

Keith Kahn-Harris’s reviewed Gilad Atzmon’s recent book:

“The book is a peculiar mix of polemic, philosophising and personal narrative which creates a veneer of radicalism and up to date thinking. But, beneath it all, Atzmon is more conventional that he thinks he is. Ultimately, The Wandering Who? boils down to a number of hoary old anti-semitic tropes:

When Jews appear to be assimilating, they are really infiltrating and subverting.

When Jews identify themselves as Jews, they are primitive separatists.

Jews are obsessively concerned with attaining power and influence.

Jews are responsible for the hatred they attract.

The holocaust myth is simply a Jewish strategy to gain power through the world’s guilt. The Wandering Who? is an anti-Semitic book certainly, but is it a dangerous book? So ludicrous are his arguments and so pompous is his tone that it is tempting to dismiss Atzmon as a crank.

More genuinely disturbing is the fact that this book was published at all. Zero Books is a small company that has published some excellent quirky philosophy and intellectually rigorous criticism; they should have seen the book for what it was. (The book is endorsed by figures like Richard Falk, John Mearsheimer and Karl Sabbagh who, while strong critics of Israel and Zionism, should have heard alarm bells ringing when they saw the chapter entitled ‘Swindler’s List’). Ironically, it is precisely Atzmon’s Jewish background that gains him this platform, providing an alibi for his antisemitism.

Surely, that should be ‘their’ not ‘his’, not bad but too charitable toward Atzmon’s allies.

On a related theme, Germany’s old problem, neo-Nazi gangs into focus.

News International and phone hacking is unlikely to die down as the Police have been given access to Data Pool 3.

Belatedly the Guardian admits mistakes, probably printed on page 52, bottom column in small print.

How Afghanistan boys walked to Europe.

At the Debate Link, the tale of rigging the system so your opponents can’t get on the ballot.

Finally, this depressing piece from the JC, Fogel murderer’s family praises ‘hero’ killer.

Don’t Forget The English Defence League

Others have shown how the EDL is stuffed full of ex-British National Party members or odd ball neo-Nazis, but we shouldn’t forget how their members like violence.

EDLers like fantasizing about attacking ethnic minorities as their entries on Facebook show.

More recently, at least two of their followers were involved in a racial attack as the Sunderland Echo reports:

“TWO former English Defence League members are beginning year-long jail sentences after racist attacks at a mosque and two Asian-run businesses.

Steven James Vasey and Anthony Donald Smith launched their offensive after incidents at a war memorial in Luton on Armistice Day last November, where poppies were burnt by extreme Islamic groups.

On the eve of Muslim festival Eid, the masked men, along with an accomplice, climbed a fence at the Nasir mosque in Hartlepool.

The letters “EDL” and “NEI”, for the North East Infidels, were sprayed along with “no surrender” and images of poppies and the St George flag.

Prosecutor Chris Baker told Durham Crown Court that a taxi seen in the area at the time was similar to a vehicle spotted later in Potto Street in Shotton Colliery, where an upstairs window of the Milco store was smashed with a brick.

Similar graffiti to that left on the mosque was sprayed on the shop and the nearby Albert Guest House, which are both owned by an Asian businessman.

Mr Baker told Recorder William Lowe there was an irony that the store was selling poppies when the attack was carried out.

He said taxi driver Smith, 24, of Rydale Court, Trimdon, previously of Neptune Way, Easington Colliery, was arrested the next day.

Messages on his mobile showed planning with then-girlfriend Charlotte Christina Davies and Vasey and included claims they were going “Muzzy bashing” and were going to give the mosque a “makeover”. “