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).

Although certainly debated at the time, the pre WW2 United Kingdom’s failure to invite German dictator Adolf Hitler on a state visit may arguably be construed as everything but a failure.

Please understand that I’m not trying to offend anyone. I’m not saying that the 43.9 percent who voted NSDAP in 1933 knew what to expect.

You may ask yourself how the German Nazi party managed to rise to autocratic power, in spite of democratic branches of government in place, following Adolf Hitler’s 5 March 1933 federal election victory.

Considering current events, my immediate answer would simply be:

Pay attention.

Those among us who’d side with US/UK/Russia against Germany 75 years ago, are probably likely to side with Germany against US/UK/Russia today.

In spite of the terrible U.S. news, bringing tidings of the erection of walls, today, 9 November 2016 also marks the 27th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin wall (1961–1989), cutting West Berlin off from the surrounding East Germany.

Ved Berlinmuren, 1. desember 1989. Fotograf: Lee Corkran/Wikimedia Commons
Crowds gathering along the Berlin Wall on 1 December 1989. Photographer: Lee Corkran/Wikimedia Commons

Top illustration: Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor, blogger’s own drawing.

P.S. I thought, since it’s completely unrelated to the happy 1989 events, that perhaps I shouldn’t even mention the 1938 Kristallnacht, although it indeed occured on the very same date. Seeing as I soon came to regret that decision, I thought it best to add this post scriptum, fully aware that I may unwittingly happen to ignore other crucial occasions, however unintentional. Therefore, and not intended as a belittlement, compared to 9 November 1989, as I’m convinced each and every incident is of no small consequense for those it may concern or afflict:

  • 694 – At the Seventeenth Council of Toledo, Egica, a king of the Visigoths of Hispania, accuses Jews of aiding Muslims, sentencing all Jews to slavery.
  • 1313 – Louis the Bavarian defeats his cousin Frederick I of Austria at the Battle of Gammelsdorf.
  • 1330 – At the Battle of Posada, Basarab I of Wallachia defeats the Hungarian army of Charles I Robert.
  • 1456 – Ulrich II, Count of Celje , last ruler of the County of Cilli, is assassinated in Belgrade.
  • 1520 – More than 50 people are sentenced and executed in the Stockholm Bloodbath
  • 1620 – Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sight land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
  • 1688 – Glorious Revolution: William of Orange captures Exeter.
  • 1697 – Pope Innocent XII founds the city of Cervia.
  • 1720 – The synagogue of Judah HeHasid is burned down by Arab creditors, leading to the expulsion of the Ashkenazim from Jerusalem.
  • 1729 – Spain, France and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Seville.
  • 1780 – American Revolutionary War: In the Battle of Fishdam Ford a force of British and Loyalist troops fail in a surprise attack against the South Carolina Patriot militia under Brigadier General Thomas Sumter.
  • 1791 – Foundation of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen.
  • 1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte leads the Coup of 18 Brumaire ending the Directory government, and becoming one of its three Consuls (Consulate Government).
  • 1851 – Kentucky marshals abduct abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.
  • 1857 – The Atlantic is founded in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1861 – The first documented football match in Canada is played at University College, Toronto.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Union General Ambrose Burnside assumes command of the Army of the Potomac, after George B. McClellan is removed.
  • 1867 – Tokugawa shogunate hands power back to the Emperor of Japan, starting the Meiji Restoration.
  • 1872 – The Great Boston Fire of 1872.
  • 1883 – The Royal Winnipeg Rifles of the Canadian Armed Forces (known then as the “90th Winnipeg Battalion of Rifles”) is founded.
  • 1887 – The United States receives rights to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • 1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is the first sitting President of the United States to make an official trip outside the country. He did so to inspect progress on the Panama Canal.
  • 1907 – The Cullinan Diamond is presented to King Edward VII on his birthday.
  • 1913 – The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, the most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, destroys 19 ships and kills more than 250 people.
  • 1914 – SMS Emden is sunk by HMAS Sydney in the Battle of Cocos.
  • 1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicates after the German Revolution, and Germany is proclaimed a Republic.
  • 1921 – The Italian National Fascist Party comes into existence.
  • 1923 – In Munich, Germany, police and government troops crush the Beer Hall Putsch in Bavaria. The failed coup is the work of the Nazis.
  • 1935 – The Congress of Industrial Organizations is founded in Atlantic City, New Jersey, by eight trade unions belonging to the American Federation of Labor.
  • 1937 – The Chinese Army withdraws from the Battle of Shanghai.
  • 1938 – The Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath dies from gunshot wounds by Herschel Grynszpan, an act which the Nazis used as an excuse to instigate the 1938 national pogrom, also known as Kristallnacht.
  • 1940 – Warsaw is awarded the Virtuti Militari.
  • 1953 – Cambodia gains independence from France.
  • 1960 – Robert McNamara is named president of Ford Motor Company, the first non-Ford to serve in that post. A month later, he resigned to join the administration of newly elected John F. Kennedy.
  • 1963 – At Miike coal mine, Miike, Japan, an explosion kills 458, and hospitalises 839 with carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • 1965 – Several U.S. states and parts of Canada are hit by a series of blackouts lasting up to 13 hours in the Northeast blackout of 1965.
  • 1965 – A Catholic Worker Movement member, Roger Allen LaPorte, protesting against the Vietnam War, sets himself on fire in front of the United Nations building.
  • 1967 – Apollo program: NASA launches the unmanned Apollo 4 test spacecraft atop the first Saturn V rocket from Cape Kennedy, Florida.
  • 1967 – The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine is published.
  • 1970 – Vietnam War: The Supreme Court of the United States votes 6–3 against hearing a case to allow Massachusetts to enforce its law granting residents the right to refuse military service in an undeclared war.
  • 1979 – Nuclear false alarm: The NORAD computers and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Fort Ritchie, Maryland detected purported massive Soviet nuclear strike. After reviewing the raw data from satellites and checking the early-warning radars, the alert is cancelled.
  • 1985 – Garry Kasparov, 22, of the Soviet Union becomes the youngest World Chess Champion by beating fellow Soviet Anatoly Karpov.
  • 1989 – Fall of the Berlin Wall. East Germany opens checkpoints in the Berlin Wall, allowing its citizens to travel to West Berlin.
  • 1993 – Stari Most, the “old bridge” in the Bosnian city of Mostar, built in 1566, collapses after several days of bombing by Croat forces during the Croat–Bosniak War.
  • 1994 – The chemical element darmstadtium is discovered.
  • 1998 – A US federal judge, in the largest civil settlement in United States history, orders 37 US brokerage houses to pay 1.03 billion United States dollars to cheated NASDAQ investors to compensate for price fixing.
  • 1998 – Capital punishment in the United Kingdom, already abolished for murder, is completely abolished for all remaining capital offences.
  • 2005 – The Venus Express mission of the European Space Agency is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
  • 2005 – Suicide bombers attacked three hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing at least 60 people.
  • 2007 – The German Bundestag passes the controversial data retention bill mandating storage of citizens’ telecommunications traffic data for six months without probable cause.
  • 2012 – A train carrying liquid fuel crashes and bursts into flames in northern Myanmar, killing 27 people and injuring 80 others.
  • 2012 – At least 27 people are killed and dozens are wounded in conflicts between inmates and guards at Welikada prison in Colombo.

Source: Wikipedia