When extremism changes our view of normalcy

Most people weren’t surprised by yesterday’s Alternative für Deutschland landslide election, perhaps because we long since allowed extreme views in our own governing bodies, to such an extent that their views increasingly become our own, seen as the standard to which we’re all held.

Seen in light of this, Americans supporting a proto-fascist’s U.S. presidency, or Norwegians, securing another four years of xenophobic rule, should of course not be surprised by a German 12.6 percent AfD support. We should, however, be surprised that extreme views no longer surprise us. Maybe because “they” are now “us”.

The German election received significant news coverage yesterday, as it should, regardless the outcome – granted with some attention to the extremist advance, although few bothered to raise an eyebrow (which is my real concern here).

The term “white shirts” is about to establish itself as descriptive of the white-shirt-clad neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, whose marching no longer affects or concerns us, lulled into the impression that it’s all as it should be, rendering even authorities on extremism fairly indifferent to their success.

Why?

Perhaps because said Nazis do not define themselves Nazi, and after all, we have to take their word for it, no?

No.

In any event yesterday’s extremism is seen as today’s state of normalcy, and it should scare the living daylight out of us. Unfortunately, brought to a state of indifference, it does not. Furthermore and off the top of my head, I can think of only two groups rejecting the Nazi term used on modern-day Nazis: The moderate voices advocating dialogue over condemnation – and the Nazis themselves.

As mentioned in this blog on many an occasion, we often ask ourselves how the interwar Germans could possibly allow Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

Really? I mean, really?

Photo: White shirts marching in Sweden (and increasingly, hardly noticeable, in our very own streets).

Terrorism is here to stay – as it always was

The so-called war on terror is, as we all know, aimed at the final eradication of terrorism altogether – at wiping global terrorists off the face of the earth.

Although I share the dream, it should be pointed out that it remains a dream, with no roots in reality whatsoever.

Granted there’s a lot to be done, in terms of reducing risk of terrorist attacks, but mind you, the terrorists will persist – in the shape of revolutionaries (RAF or the Brigate Rosse), separatist groups (ETA or the IRA), pseudo-religious groups (ISIL or the Ilaga) and white supremacists (KKK and lone wolves, such as Anders Behring Breivik).

Barnemorderen Anders Behring Breivik under rettsaken i Telemark fengsel, Skien, 15. mars 2016. Bloggers data-assisterte illustrasjon (Waterlogue).
Child killer/mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik during trial in the Telemark prison, Skien, 15 March 2016. Blogger’s Waterlogue-based watercolour.
Hell, even Israel’s former PM Menachem Begin used to be considered a terrorist by the British mandatory government in Palestine – and rightfully so.

Whereas today, terrorism appears synonymous to Islam, and the other way around. Well, as already pointed out, it isn’t. Furthermore, for as long as people find a cause worth fighting for, with their lives, if need be – there will be terrorism, rendering the so-called war on terror utterly futile, I’m sorry to say.

Let’s just do what we can in terms of damage control, and in order to minimise recruitment, agreed?

Top illustration: An ISIL terrorist in front of the Stade de France. Bloggers own drawing, dated last summer, superimposed on stolen photograph (the football is stolen, too, except for the burning fuse).

Sorry about that. Just a spur of the moment thing.

Je suis Jarlie
C’est moi!

From what I understand the outcome of the Dutch election remains too close to call, so here’s hoping Geert Wilder’s won’t come out victorious.

A decade or two ago, however, for a far-right party to win even eight or ten percent of the votes would be outrageous. In today’s extreme society not so much.

Makes you sad, doesn’t it?

There’s no such thing as “healthy nationalism”

You will, I hope, agree that we live in dangerous times threatening to throw international politics and diplomacy off-balance – and an America already in apparent disarray.

Amid American and European nationalist advances Norway’s PM Erna Solberg yesterday made a case for what she labelled a “positive” and “healthy” brand of nationalism.

To clarify, then, Ms. Solberg, nationalism never brought about a “positive” or “healthy” development. Attributing positive values to an otherwise utterly negative ideology will contribute to nothing else than a continued legitimisation of nationalism – and all that it entails.

Nothing good ever came out of it.

We eagerly await a retraction.

P.S. I have noticed, upon sharing this blog post in social media, that some confuse nationalism and patriotism, and have to admit that while in everyday life nationalism indeed does include moderate expressions of homeland affection, in politics it never does. With a blog post focused on the political aspects of nationalism, there really isn’t much room for confusion, though.

Photo: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives). Photographer: Tomas Moss – http://www.icu.no.

Trump travel ban: French far-right leader Le Pen applauds – CNN.com

(CNN) — The leader of France’s far-right Front National party, Marine Le Pen, has applauded US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban and said a backlash to the measure was in “bad faith.”

Trump signed an executive order Friday barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days and suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days. The order also indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee program.

The leader of France’s far-right Front National party, Marine Le Pen, has applauded US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban and said a backlash to the measure was in “bad faith.”

Source: Trump travel ban: French far-right leader Le Pen applauds – CNN.com

Clearly we live in a day and age in which granting far-right extremists access to a global audience is considered a given.

Peace usually comes at a price

Although I’ve been expecting Donald J. Trump’s victory since long before his nomination, I took no pleasure in being right. Truth be told I’ve been a rather sombre sight ever since.

Two days on, however, my fears have subsided day by day, as I’ve gradually come to realise that America’s counterpart, Russia, too, has been lead by a totalitarian regime for the better of two decades, displaying sporadic bouts of fascistoid features, quickly accompanied by radical forces in a growing number of European countries, receiving a boost of confidence with last Tuesday’s American election – not to mention last summer’s British fit of madness:

Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen og Vladimir Putin. Bloggers montasje.
Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin. Blogger’s montage.

With far-right movements on the rise in several European countries, a similar development on the American side of the Atlantic really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Even my own country, one-time moderate and oh so humane Norway, sports a government made up by ministers warning against an ongoing Islamisation (according to them), while closing our borders for refugees in need.

With fascistoid leaders in our two superpowers you might expect a heightened level of threat, but as we know bosom buddies Putin and Trump have both declared their mutual admiration, paving way for improved understanding and, ultimately,  a lasting peace between Russia and the west.

Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s passage, from his poem I choose April, inevitably springs to mind:

[…] however peace is not the best

but that one something wants

(very loosely translated)

I’m sure you’re beginning to wonder where I’m going with this, but consider this:

How certain are we that peace on earth is preferable over freedom for all? Of course you may argue that if anything, Donald J. Trump is a champion of individual freedom. For the well-to-do, mind you, but what about the rest of us?

Are we prepared to sacrifice all consideration for the less fortunate, to close our borders and build walls, to silently accept the promotion of oligarchs and corrupt politicians, all for the sake of Trump and Putin’s bromance, however peacekeeping it may be?

Truth be told I’m leaning toward the Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson persuasion here, rather than accepting a society resembling the imagined outcome of a Nazi German victory.

Peaceful? Perhaps. But depraved of everything even remotely similar to freedom and democracy.

Of course I could be wrong. Donald Trump may be the soul of decency, democracy and humanitarian values, for all I know, but if he is to be taken at face value, which I think he should, he is, much like his Russian counterpart, everything but that.

Britain's Prime Minister Neville with his "Peace for [not in] our time" letter at the Heston aerodrome on 30 September 1938.
Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with his “Peace for [not in] our time” letter at the Heston aerodrome on 30 September 1938.
We’ve seen peace chosen over confrontation before, which brings me back to the blog post’s headline, although even that didn’t bring about peace, as our immediate ancestors soon came to learn.

We’d be fools to follow Chamberlain’s example, accepting Hitler’s … nay, Putin and Trump’s dubious reigns, but democracy being what it is, I’m afraid we’re left with no option but to wait out the upcoming presidential term – provided Trump’s idea of democracy isn’t too much like Putin’s.

It is, of course, early days, and only time will tell if I am in fact right, but I wouldn’t be very surprised if I am.

Will he deport illegal aliens? Will he erect a wall on the Mexican border (and charge the Mexicans for it)? Will he prosecute and imprison Hillary Clinton? Will he reject Muslims arriving in the U.S.? Will he wage a trade war on China?

Let’s just silently observe the charade as it unfolds, in the hope that Americans and Europeans alike have come to their senses by the respective countries’ next elections, because let’s not be too cocky:

Although our leaders may not be the pussy-grabbing kind, with rape accusations looming over them, they and the U.S. president-elect may have more in common than we like to admit, deserving closer scrutiny.

As such this week’s American election may well serve as a wake-up call for us all.

Man, do I feel sanctimonious today, but I mean every word. Peace does come at a price. I’m just more than a little curious as to whether or not we’re prepared to pay this one.

Top illustration: America’s president-elect Donald Trump and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Blogger’s own drawing.

Ain’t seen nothing yet

Yesterday’s post, titled Clash of civilisations in full bloom, was no foreboding of times to come, but a confirmation that it’s here, and has been for quite a few years.

Granted today’s wars do not play out the way they used to, but rather as hybrid wars, proxy wars and jolly old terrorism, known since the days of the IRA, PLO, and the RAF, not to be confused with the Royal Air Force. Which is probably why we have such problems identifying them as such. After all our image of a war has been cemented over the centuries, as nations have met on the battlefield, fighting it out until a winner emerged.

Today, as I just mentioned, not so.

On one side there’s the extremists demanding every infidel’s life. On the other there’s the extremists waging war on practically every living Muslim, and on the third there’s the madman trying to reinstate the Russian empire, in a pseudo Soviet shape, sans the Communism (albeit with all the trimmings).

Wedged in between these parties (and then some, I grant you that) you find the rest of us – the ones that have to pay the price, either because we happen to step outside, somewhere in the western world, if we are liberal and/or secular Muslims, lumped in with the crazy bunch, or citizens of a country neighbouring Russia.

Or, as we’ve just witnessed, inclined to love whom ever we want.

Fear and loathing. An old drawing of mine.
Fear and loathing. An old drawing of mine.
Attacks on civilians, both in Europe, America and in Muslim countries, carried out by all parties, seem to have reached a level at which people find themselves more or less barricaded, out of fear for moving around, or to go on vacation where they want. The latter exemplified by luxury facilities in popular holiday destinations sold at record low prices during peak season.

Needless to say it is all bound to escalate, as Putin (a prominent homophobic himself), Trump and the so-called Islamic State grow in strength, and the bigots of the world multiply, inspired by said forces’ actions and statements. And you know how it is, in all camps: An attack calls for retaliations. Retaliations, too, call for retaliations, and the merry-go-round is just about where we’re at.

In short, I’m afraid, we ain’t seen nothing yet, even if the Orlando incident may be altogether unrelated to organised terrorism.

Having said that, the perpetrator did pledge allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, in turn claiming full responsibility. It remains a mystery to me how the international community has squandered every opportunity to wipe the terrorist organisation off the face of the earth.

Top illustration: A drawing I made just after the attack on Copenhagen café “Krudttønden”, hosting a meeting with Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks, February 2015.