Panorama: Neofascism In The Ukraine.

This evening’s BBC Panorama programme investigated neofascism and football in the Ukraine and it was horrific to watch.

The blurb states:

“With just days to go before the kick-off of the Euro 2012 championships, Panorama reveals shocking new evidence of racist violence and anti-semitism at the heart of Polish and Ukrainian football and asks whether tournament organiser UEFA should have chosen both nations to host the prestigious event.

Reporter Chris Rogers witnesses a group of Asian fans being attacked on the terraces of a Ukrainian premier league match and hears anti-Semitic chanting at games in Poland. And with exclusive access to a far right group in Ukraine which recruits and trains football hooligans to attack foreigners, Panorama asks: how safe will travelling football teams and their supporters be at this summer’s European festival of football? “

It is available on the BBC Iplayer and will be rebroadcast on Thu 31 May 2012, 04:30 – BBC News Channel, Fri 1 Jun 2012, 01:35 – BBC One and Sun 3 Jun 2012, 20:30 – BBC News Channel.

Also see the HOPE not hate blog.

Greece, Holocaust Denial & Nikolaos Mihaloliakos

The leader of the Greek neo-Nazis has come out as a Holocaust denier.

Yahoo News reports on Nikolaos Mihaloliakos’s malevolent views:

“ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s government and Jewish community on Monday condemned the leader of a far-right party for saying there were no gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps.

Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, whose Golden Dawn party became potential kingmakers after an inconclusive election on May 6, also challenged the view that six million Jews were killed in World War Two.

“There were no ovens, this is a lie … there were no gas chambers either,” Mihaloliakos said on Sunday in an interview on the private Mega television station.

Golden Dawn, whose members give Nazi-style salutes, took nearly 7 percent of the vote in a surge for fringe parties opposed to austerity policies under Greece’s international bailout deal.

Mihaloliakos said the number of six million Jewish victims was an “exaggeration” and that “many people from different nations” died in German concentration camps, just like many Japanese died in U.S. camps.”

I suppose if we were being cynical we shouldn’t be surprised that a neo-Nazi denies the Holocaust? Or that he uses an interview to air his foul opinions.

That’s what they do.

However, this instance confirms one of the many reasons why Holocaust denial must be fought.

Not only does it defame the memory of those killed by the Nazis, but it also seeks to diminish the Nazi’s crimes and in doing so rehabilitate National Socialism as an ideology.

That is why we must all be vigilant, to stop such views entering the mainstream,

Any concession to Holocaust denial, Holocaust deniers or Holocaust revisionists is toxic.

Any organisation or individual that tolerates, excuses or obfuscates on these issues is really a friend of Nikolaos Mihaloliakos.

Remember that next time you see him or his supporters giving a Nazi salute.

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. “

16,375 Far Right Crimes.

Not pleasant, but essential reading:

“In the three months since the news broke, there has been ample evidence to suggest Germany’s far right has been celebrating rather than condemning the killing spree.

At a fascist march in Munich in January, demonstrators blasted the Pink Panther theme tune from loudspeakers, a reference to bizarre videos featuring the cartoon character which the group produced.

Just a few weeks after two core members of the group were found dead in a camper van after an apparent double suicide, football supporters in Zwickau, the eastern town where the NSU members had been living under false identities, chanted “Terrorzelle Zwickau – ole, ole, ole”. A footballer from FSV Zwickau was fined after responding to shouts of “Sieg!” from the crowd during the same match with “Heil!”.

By the German government’s latest estimate, from 2010, there are 9,500 rightwing extremists in Germany who are “ready to commit violence”. That year, 16,375 “rightwing-motivated” crimes were recorded.

The perpetrators are not as easy to spot as they were in the late 1990s, when Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, two of the key NSU trio, were photographed at neo-Nazi marches with shaved heads, wearing bomber jackets and boots with white shoelaces, their trousers held up with red, black and white braces.

But German neo-Nazis are not always so circumspect. Well-publicised internet “hitlists” target leftwing politicians, pubs and social projects. There have been at least 182 murders motivated by rightwing extremism since German reunification in 1990, according to the Antonio Amadeu foundation pressure group. The government put the figure at just 47 in December, though some states are now increasing their own numbers after going back through their files.

Among the general population, intolerance is on the increase. A long-term study by the sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer in 2011 showed that every second German believes too many foreigners live in Germany, and 53% would have a problem moving into an area where lots of Muslims lived, an increase of 6% from 2004.

Against this backdrop of tacit racism it is no wonder that detectives appear not to have bothered to investigate rightwing extremism as a possible motive for the 10 killings, according to Katina Schubert, an expert in race relations from the leftwing Die Linke party.

“It’s clear the police and intelligence agencies were racist to the core,” she claimed. “They assumed right from the start that the eight Turks and one Greek man were killed by members of their own immigrant communities. The police briefed that these men were embroiled in drug smuggling plots or other crimes.”

Until the group was uncovered in November, the killings were known in Germany as the “doner murders”, which incorrectly gave the impression all the dead men were kebab sellers, reinforcing the stereotype that that’s what Turks in Germany do.

In Berlin on Thursday, Merkel apologised to the families of those killed. “For years, some relatives themselves unfairly faced suspicion that is particularly oppressive,” said the chancellor. “I ask for forgiveness for that.”

The police in Germany are “blind in the right eye”, say critics. “A 17-year-old in Nuremberg, where I live, was almost beaten to death by a neo-Nazi and the police didn’t take it at all seriously,” said Idil, a 19-year-old student attending an anti-Nazi counter-march in Dresden earlier this month. The boy, a Kurdish friend of hers, was left for dead in April 2010 after remarking on a Thor Steinar accessory carried by his attacker’s girlfriend. “

(H/T:Kirklees Unity)

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.

Meanwhile In Austria

We should never forget that those ideas and sentiments that lead to mass murder during WW2 are still very much with us:

“VIENNA (AP) — Austrians gathered in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis condemned plans to hold a ball of extreme rightists later in the day Friday, saying the event’s timing transformed it into a macabre dance on Holocaust victims’ graves.

Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrated each year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Ball organizers insisted the fact that their event coincided this year with the 67th anniversary of the death camp’s demise was coincidental and denied suggestions that those attending were extremists.

But opponents vehemently criticized both the day chosen to hold the WKR ball and the political views of those attending it, suggesting it regularly attracts elements from the neo-Nazi fringe. The ball is to be held in Vienna’s ornate Hofburg palace, less than a minute’s walk away from the memorial event.

The dispute reflects both the distance Austria has come in acknowledging its role in Nazi atrocities and stubborn rightist sentiment among some here, who see themselves as Germans and Germans as the superior race — a common regional building block of anti-Semitism.

Some of the most bitter comments came from the crowd that converged on Vienna’s Heldenplatz, or Heroes’ Square, to lay wreaths for the victims of the Holocaust.

“You, who will dance and celebrate here; we remind you of the murder of two-thirds of Europe’s Jews,” proclaimed death camp survivor Rudolf Gelbard. Insisting that Nazi atrocities must never be forgotten, Greens’ Party head Eva Glawischnig declared, “It is all the greater perfidy that there will be dancing today on the graves of Auschwitz.” “

David Irving and Christopher Hitchens

I wouldn’t normally speak ill of the dead, but there is such a palaver going on and an almost unseemly desire for the early beatification of Christopher Hitchens that I think it is better to get a warts and all picture of him.

In an earlier post, I pointed out that whilst he was a significant and prolific writer he did have a few blind spots.

I am not concerned with his indulgences, rather why he chose to defend David Irving.

I imagined that his supporters will, no doubt, say it was because of freedom of speech and how he was an absolutist. That is a plausible answer, except it doesn’t address the issue of the facts.

1. Christopher Hitchens, initially, downplayed David Irving’s views.

2. Hitchens misrepresented Irving’s work to put a nicer spin on it.

3. Hitchens even gave Irving “one last chance” in the wake of the Irving v. Lipstadt trial after 2000.

If Christopher Hitchens was quite as smart, as his latter-day supporters suggest, then this is unconscionable.

I think the problem with Hitchens was that he “inherited” some strange views from his time with the International Socialists, but couldn’t bring himself to admit it.

These views could pop out when he turned to the subject of Jews and might explain why he cosied up to David Irving, even wining and dining him.

It’s very difficult to think of someone as the archetypal antifascist when they don’t understand Austria’s antifascist laws, the residual problems of fascism in Austria and why they enforce such laws.

It is a pity that Hitchens couldn’t deal with those difficult arguments and chose a rather simplistic “freedom of speech” defence, not his finest hour.

Had Hitchens had the character and judgement that we are told he possessed then he would have dealt with the stronger counter- arguments and the importance of keeping neo-Nazism in check, but instead he chose the easy path, the well trodden path.

Noam Chomsky utilised similar arguments in his defence of Robert Faurisson, they were as equally myopic and unsatisfactory.

Professor Lipstadt has dealt with many of these spurious arguments advanced in defence of such neofascists:

“Many years ago, German historian Theodor Mommsen warned that reason alone isn’t enough to keep people from believing falsehoods. If this were the case, then racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of prejudice would find no home. In despair Mommsen wrote, “You are mistaken if you believe that anything at all could be achieved by reason. In years past I thought so myself and kept protesting against the monstrous infamy that is anti-Semitism. But it is useless, completely useless.”

To expect reason, rational dialogue, and discourse to constitute the sole barriers against the pernicious attempts to deny the Holocaust is to ignore one of the ultimate lessons of the event itself. There was no rational basis underlying the Nazi atrocities. There was, however, the appeal of anti-Semitism. Mythical thinking and the force of the irrational have a strange and compelling allure. Intellectuals are hardly immune from irrational, mystical thinking. Some do so in the name of “free speech,” free inquiry,” or “intellectual freedom.”

It is this commitment to free inquiry and the power of mythical thinking that explains, at least in part, how revisionists have attracted leading figures and institutions. Noam Chomsky is probably the best known among them. Chomsky wrote the introduction to a book by French revisionist Robert Faurisson. In it Chomsky argued that scholars’ ideas cannot be censored no matter how distasteful they may be. Though Alfred Kazin was right on target when he recently described Chomsky as a “dupe of intellectual pride so overweening that he is incapable of making distinctions between totalitarian and democratic societies, between oppressors and victims,” Chomsky’s argument shocked many people, including those who thought they were inured to Chomsky’s antics.

Chomsky’s example shows why the dangers of free inquiry should be taken seriously. Even the supposed protectors of reasoned dialogue can fall for the convoluted notion that all arguments are equally legitimate. Those who argue that the deniers must be given a fair hearing fail to recognize that the deniers’ quest is not a search for truth. Rather they are motivated by racism, extremism, and virulent anti-Semitism. ”

57 Racists And John Tyndall.

If any reminder was needed on what type of people inhabit the fringes in the BNP then Hope not hate has it:

“Fifty seven hard line racists gathered in Preston last weekend to commemorate the life of John Tyndall, the Nazi uniform wearing founder of the British National Party.

It was the sixth time that a collection of Nazis and Anti-Semites no longer welcomed or favoured in Nick Griffin’s new version of the party, have gathered to remember their mentor.

Tyndall was the eloquent writer of such immortal lines as “the Jew is like a maggot feeding off the corpse of the write race”. He died in 2005 while facing charges of behaviour likely to incite racial hatred, surprisingly. “

Channel 4 on the British National Party

I had forgotten that Channel 4 had produced a fine documentary on the BNP in 2002.

It is still relevant, Young, Nazi and Proud, isn’t available on their site at the moment, but can be found across the web, including here.

Mark Collett was a chairman of the Young BNP and Director of Publicity for the BNP, so he was not on the fringes of the party rather at its very heart.

Searchlight had a good piece on Collett and the BNP:

“The man tipped to become the next leader of the British National Party has admitted he is a nazi sympathiser and is inspired by images of German nazis “sieg heiling” in the streets.

Mark Collett, leader of the Young BNP and a member of the party’s ruling Advisory Council, made the admission to Channel Four last month. In a revealing documentary, he boasted of his support for Hitler’s Germany, said he would prefer to live in 1930s Germany than in many cities of northern England today and declared that he could not understand why people should find images of German soldiers giving nazi salutes upsetting.”

In the BNP, he’s not alone.