Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 8:16 AM

Actually, Neo-Nazis in Sweden Have Nothing on Neo-Nazis Across Europe

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Much is being made about the historic gains a neo-Nazi party made in Sweden’s national elections on Sunday.

The far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats who rose from the white supremacist and neo-Nazi fringe, saw their share of the vote rise from 12.9 percent in 2014 to 17.6 [which] represents the largest gain by any party in the Riksdag. …

Both [Prime Minister Stefan] Lofven’s Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party bloc, as well as the opposition center-right Alliance won around 40 percent, well short of the required majority. …

The speaker of parliament is expected to consult party leaders and ask the one most likely to succeed to then form a government.

(Deutsche Welle, September 10, 2018)

Mind you, the Sweden Democrats did not perform nearly as well as feared or hyped. But they will play kingmakers when efforts get underway to form a government. No doubt this in itself is troubling enough.

After all, it’s arguable that these neo-Nazis are to Sweden today what the Nazis were to Germany in September 1930, when it won 18.3 percent in the Reichstag. In fact, the way the Sweden Democrats scapegoated migrants to make electoral gains is eerily similar to the way the Nazis scapegoated Jews to do the same.

Except that, notwithstanding Italy’s Fascists, the Nazis were a glaring exception back then; the Sweden Democrats are not today. Because, when it comes to scapegoating migrants across Europe, the Sweden Democrats are mere bit players.

For example, their neo-Nazi cohorts have made even greater electoral gains recently in places like Switzerland (29%), Austria (26%), and Denmark (21%). And, apropos of Italy’s neo-fascists, far-right parties scapegoated migrants so successfully earlier this year, they won enough votes among that country’s notoriously factionalized electorate to form a coalition government.

Some [nationalist and far-right] parties have taken office, others have become the main opposition voice, and even those yet to gain a political foothold have forced centrist leaders to adapt.

[T]his can be seen as a backlash against the political establishment in the wake of the financial and migrant crises.

(BBC, September 10, 2018)

In other words, just as Nazis in Germany exploited specious links between fallout from the 1929 Great Depression and Jews in their midst, neo-Nazis across Europe are exploiting specious links between fallout from the 2008 financial crisis and migrants in their midst.

In fact, neo-Nazis in Hungary (20.2%) have forced that country’s (already) right-wing leader to even further, far-right extremes, so much so that his fellow EU leaders are taking the unprecedented step of censuring him for eroding democratic norms.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban confronts his critics Tuesday in the European Parliament on the eve of a vote to censure his right-wing populist government. …

Budapest argues that its anti-migrant measures and defence of sovereign rights are in tune with the mood of European voters — who will elect a new parliament in Strasbourg next May. …

Addressing the parliament ahead of Orban, Greek leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said: ‘Pro-European forces have a duty to stand side by side [to] not let Europe slide back to the past.’

(Agence France-Presse, September 11, 2018)

Incidentally, this EU censure procedure could take months. Moreover, any punishment the EU metes out will probably fall far short of stripping Orban’s Hungary of its coveted voting rights. This, despite widespread support for Tsipras’s clarion call to stand against rank populism masquerading as domestic policy.

More to the point, though, Hungary has nothing on trailblazing Switzerland. For here is how I presaged the scapegoating afoot over a decade ago in “Think America’s Immigration Plan Is Racist and Unjust? Consider Switzerland’s,” September 13, 2007.

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Last week, Europeans were alarmed by a report in a leading UK newspaper, The Independent, on Switzerland’s draconian immigration laws. The letter and spirit of these laws are so patently racist and unjust that reporter Paul Vallely was compelled to pose this rhetorical question:

Has Switzerland become Europe’s heart of darkness?

Vallely reports that neo-fascism in this erstwhile ‘haven of peace and neutrality’ is becoming as prevalent amongst Swiss politicians as it is amongst Swiss skinheads. …

Vallely is wrong, however, to suggest that this Swiss strain of the anti-immigration virus is a new phenomenon in Europe, which threatens to infect the rest of the continent. After all, over two years ago, I documented the draconian immigration laws nearly every other European country was implementing to block perceived dangers posed by the swarm of migrants crossing their borders. I did so in “The Plague of Haitian Migrants in the Caribbean,” March 31, 2005.

Accordingly, Switzerland is not becoming Europe’s heart of darkness so much as it is beginning to manifest the dark heart that other European countries, including England, have been exhibiting in their dealings with immigrants for years. …

That said, there’s no denying Switzerland’s assumption of the vanguard role in descending a new (anti-immigrant) iron curtain across Europe. But it behooves Hitler’s reformed bankers to consider the international ramifications of now becoming his political heirs.

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Therefore, with all due respect to the alarm neo-Nazis are causing in Sweden, the alarm they are causing in many other European countries is far more troubling.

Many historians have played out the counterfactual history in which, instead of appeasing Adolf Hitler, EU leaders stand up to him. But I stand with Tsipras in calling on politicians to stand up to wannabe Hitlers like Viktor Orban (and even Donald Trump). Only this will preclude any possibility of historians playing out a similar counterfactual history about our times.

In the meantime, nobody expects any European country to start putting African migrants in concentration camps, let alone gas chambers. Never mind that EU leaders are floating plans to concentrate repatriated migrants in processing centers somewhere in Africa, which could end up looking like Nazi concentration camps.

Except that African leaders have developed a continental case of nimbyism. This is why it will be interesting to see how the world reacts when some EU countries begin herding migrants in trains (or on ships) to transport anywhere outside their respective boarders. This spectre comes to mind:

The transport of a 3,000-ton load of normal garbage became a tale of a toxic cargo set loose upon the open seas. For five months, news helicopters recorded the barge’s every move, as it was turned away by scared government officials in six states and three countries. ‘The Barge to No Where.’

(The New York Times, May 6, 2013)

That said, I hasten to clarify that Jews who were scapegoated back then were German/European natives, whereas migrants by definition are not. I crystallized the import of this difference as follows:

I just hope the damning irony is not lost on any proud African that, 50 years after decolonization, hundreds of Africans (men, women, and children) are risking their lives, practically every day, to subjugate themselves to the paternal mercies of their former colonial masters in Europe.

(“African Migrants Turning Mediterranean Sea into Vast Cemetery,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 12, 2015)

To be fair, some Europeans are welcoming them with open arms. Indeed, pictures abound of bikini-clad Spanish girls flirting with seafaring African migrants today the way Caribbean women might have flirted with seafaring Spanish explorers in the 15th century.

Ha!

Related commentaries:
Switzerland immigration
African migrants
Plague of Haitian migrants

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