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It's getting harder to identify the neo-Nazis; no longer content to shave their heads and wear white bootlaces (much to the relief of skinheads into the scene for the music), they now have their own street-casual sportswear brand, Thor Steinar, which looks like any other streetwear, only with a few more Nordic symbols and (allegedly) the odd hint at Nazi sympathies:
Many of the symbols are straightforward. On one Thor Steinar T-shirt, the word kontaktfreudig is splashed across red splotches that look like spatters of blood. The word could be translated as "outgoing," or more literally, "happy to make contact." The display on Rosa-Luxemburg Street includes clothing with common symbols like an eagle for German pride, or "18" and "88" for "Adolf Hitler" and "Heil Hitler" -- numbers freighted with meaning because of the position of the initials in the alphabet.The Thor Steinar brand (some of whose earlier designs have been banned for looking too runic and warlike) denies deliberately appealing to neo-Nazis, though some regard these denials with scepticism. Still, it's not clear how long they can cash in on the crypto-Nazi demographic, now that the company has been bought by a Dubai-based Arab investor. On the other hand, the Nazis of today aren't necessarily all that discerning:
"They are getting harder to spot," she said, taking a picture out of a folder showing far-right and far-left activists facing off at a march. Both groups wore Che Guevara T-shirts and checked scarves -- long a leftist symbol of solidarity with Palestinians. But the far right co-opted both symbols, she explained, just as neo-Nazis have taken to wearing all black, which used to be an anarchist fashion statement.
Guevara may be the strangest appropriation of all. Neo-Nazis wear his image but don't hesitate to beat up people who look different -- including Latin Americans.Perhaps next they'll adopt Robert Mugabe as a political icon; after all, he's thuggish enough, and is one of the few political leaders in recent times to have proudly equated himself to Hitler. The whole "white-supremacy" angle could prove to be a stumbling block though.
Two Oxford University sociologists look at the question of why graduates in science, engineering and medicine are overrepresented in terrorist and extremist groups:
However, contrary to popular speculation, it's not technical skills that make engineers attractive recruits to radical groups. Rather, the authors pose the hypothesis that "engineers have a 'mindset' that makes them a particularly good match for Islamism," which becomes explosive when fused by the repression and vigorous radicalization triggered by the social conditions they endured in Islamic countries.
Whether American, Canadian or Islamic, they pointed out that a disproportionate share of engineers seem to have a mindset that makes them open to the quintessential right-wing features of "monism" (why argue where there is one best solution) and by "simplism" (if only people were rational, remedies would be simple).
Galloway has said that ‘the disappearance of the Soviet Union was the biggest catastrophe of my life.’ To Saddam Hussein, he said, ‘I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem!’ We know that Galloway signed a petition demanding the release of Saddam’s number-two Tariq Aziz, with whom Galloway once danced in a North African nightclub. The Iraqi ‘resistance’, jihadis who kill civilians, socialists and aid workers, is ‘defending all the Arabs, and they are defending all the people of the world from American hegemony.’ When trade unionists broke down in tears at their recollections of torture under Ba’athists, Galloway sneered that their visible emotion was ‘a party trick’. He called Iraqi trade union leader Abdullah Muhsin an ‘Iraqi Quisling’. He said of the Syrian dictator that ‘Syria is lucky to have Bashar al-Assad as her President.’ We know that he described Hamas as a ‘Palestinian national resistance movement, analogous to the organisations fighting for freedom in Kashmir,’ and said at a London antiwar rally that ‘I AM HERE to glorify the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah, and I AM HERE to glorify the resistance leader, Hassan Nasrallah.’ He has also said that ‘in poor third world countries like Pakistan, politics is too important to be left to petty squabbling politicians… only the armed forces can really be counted on to hold such a country together.’
Galloway’s Respect party was an alliance between the SWP and conservative Muslims. To keep its new friends on board, the party threw out its commitments to secularism, female equality and gay rights, which SWP leader Lindsey German dismissed as a ‘shibboleth.’ That is Galloway’s legacy, if nothing else: he has brought the communalism of the BNP into left-wing politics, and brought religious reaction into left-wing politics.
In what could be a blow to the cause of international xenophobes' solidarity, the far-right bloc in the EU parliament looks set to collapse after five Romanian nationalist MPs threatened to quit over remarks by Italian member Alessandra Mussolini. Ms. Mussolini (the grand-daughter of the Fascist leader) described the Romanian people as "habitual law-breakers", and perhaps more damagingly, claimed to see little difference between them and the Roma (Gypsies), a group which the Romanian nationalist group despise. Oops!
American Christianity may have fallen behind fundamentalist Islam in the fanaticism stakes, but it's now making an effort to catch up. Witness the Jesus Camps, America's own madrassas, which serve to indoctrinate 9-10-year-olds in a severe form of fundamentalist Christianity, linked to all manner of conservative ideologies, from veneration of George W. Bush to denial of global warming:
Right wing political agendas and slogans are mixed with born again rituals that end with most of the kids in tears. Tears of release and joy, they would claim -- the children are not physically abused. The kids are around 9 or 10 years old, recruited from various churches, and are pliant willing receptacles. They are instructed that evolution is being forced upon us by evil Godless secular humanists, that abortion must be stopped at all costs, that we must form an "army" to defeat the Godless influences, that we must band together to insure that the right judges and politicians get into the courts and office and that global warming is a lie. (This last one is a puzzle -- how did accepting the evidence for climate change and global warming become anti-Jesus? Did someone simply conflate all corporate agendas with Jesus and God and these folks accept that? Would Jesus drive an SUV? Is every conclusion responsible scientists make now suspect?)
at one point Pastor Fischer instructs the little ones that they should be willing to die for Christ, and the little ones obediently agree. She may even use the word martyr, which has a shocking echo in the Middle East. I can see future suicide bombers for Jesus -- the next step will be learning to fly planes into buildings. Of course, the grownups would say, "Oh no, we're not like them" -- but they admit that the principal difference is simply that "We're right."
In another scene a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, with his trademark smirking smile, is brought out and the children are urged to identify -- many of the little ones come forward and reverently touch his cardboard hands.
A Palestinian man blew himself up in self-defence in a restaurant in Tel Aviv, according to a spokesman of the Palestinian Hamas government. The bombing was not organised by Hamas, though defended by them as "self-defence", to near-universal condemnation. Which suggests that they've given up on trying to convince the West that they're reasonable people.
A day after several animal-rights militants were arrested for stealing the corpse of the grandmother of a guinea-pig farmer, others have firebombed an Oxford University sports centre and attempted to assault a GlaxoSmithKline employee, and then issued a chilling communique:
It said: "We are stronger than you, we have more resolve than you and we never give up.
"If we have to destroy every bit of property you own we will, in order to stop you inflicting your profit-driven cruelties on defenceless creatures.
"You cannot stop us, we are free to attack you at will, whenever and wherever we choose."Looks like, in addition to Al-Qaeda, we now have Animal-Qaeda to worry about.
It has been confirmed that the tube bombings were carried out by British-born suicide bombers. This is something pretty much everyone was hoping not to hear: for one, it is next to impossible to defend against suicide bombers (the admonitions to look out for unaccompanied bags are, of course, useless; meanwhile, some claim that the body-scanning machines to be installed on the Tube at massive expense will only provide suicide bombers with long queues to blow themselves up near). In Israel, they have metal detectors and explosive detectors everywhere (you can't enter a reasonable-sized public space without being scanned), and that doesn't seem to have stemmed the tide of carnage. And guess what: we're all Israelis now.
The fact that the bombers were British-born, showed no sign of association with Islamist extremists, and were known, among other things, to good-naturedly play cricket at a local club in Leeds is even more chilling. It can't be good for relations between Britain's Islamic communities and the rest of the country; already, those neo-Nazi hatemongers, the British National Party, have been making hay from the tragedy.
Problem for him is, that he has not sworn the oath in the House of Commons. He will not be back in London until after the Queen's Speech, which is the deadline when all MPs have to have affirmed or taken the oath.
Unless the Speaker lets him off, if he sets foot on the floor of the House when he gets back, he will be fined £500, and his Bethnal Green and Bow seat would be automatically vacated.
Though didn't Gerry Adams also refuse to take the oath, and manage to retain his seat (not to mention his Westminster office and parliamentary perks), merely forfeiting the right to enter Parliament? In any case, it looks like the voters of Bethnal Green won't get much in the way of democratic representation.
According to this Graun article, George Galloway may not have won his seat (which, after all, he picked up by a slender margin) without the help of gangs of enforcers intimidating the opposition:
Others in the room had voted for the Liberal Democrats. None had cast their vote for Galloway. Rowan Livingstone, who decided to go Green, explained, 'They came to our door and when my flatmate said she would not be voting Respect they shouted at her and called her ignorant.'
Elsewhere in Bethnal Green, student Benjamin Virgo, 34, explained what had happened to him on Tuesday night. 'On the way out to the corner shop to buy milk and bread I passed a couple of young guys. After I'd crossed the road they threw a bottle at me. They became more aggressive, so I reached for my mobile and started to call the police. They followed me into the shop and announced to the other customers and staff that I was a racist. Then, fists in my face, they ordered me to stop my call, reminded me that they knew where I lived and threatened to burn my house down. The police never came. George Galloway is now my MP.'
Panzerfaust Records, one of the largest record companies in the neo-Nazi "white power" music scene, appears to have gone out of business after one of the owners accused the other of being half-Hispanic:
As a result, and Pierpont's refusal to take a DNA test, Calvert wrote last month that he would quit the company and so would its webmaster. The center reports that influential hate groups Hammerskin Nation and Volksfront also denounced Pierpont.
The Free Your Mind site said that any business done with Pierpont should be considered "an act of treason."
The extreme-right-wing religious-values parties seem to be sprouting like mushrooms in Australia; now John Abbott, founder of extremist neo-fascist "men's rights" group the Blackshirts (who dress in balaclavas and paramilitary uniforms and harrass divorced women as part of a "crusade" to defend marriage and the family) plans to start one. Abbott's exact policy platform is as yet unknown, though he has in the past advocated abolishing divorce and making adultery punishable by death, and keeps talking about "crusades" for "Christian values".
I went to a Film Festival screening today, seeing Skinhead Attitude, a documentary about the history of the skinhead movement. It outlined the origins of skinhead in the UK ska scene, the spread of it among sharp young working-class people who were in it for the music, the hijacking of the skinhead thing by the neo-Nazis (starting with Skrewdriver and going on to UK terrorist group Combat 18 and some rather scary American Nazis who probably have never heard of ska in their suburban compounds in Texas), the corresponding rise of the anti-racist skinhead movement (SHARP and such), and the increasing marginalisation from both sides of the "authentic" skinheads who are just in it for the music and the culture. The documentary, in French and English (with alternating subtitles), consisted of interviews with various people (old-school skinheads, band members, and some racists and anti-racists as well), footage of gigs, gatherings, incidents and of locations (a riot at a concert in Krakow, the killing of two anti-racists by neo-Nazis in Nevada, London from a train window, and so on). I found it rather interesting.
Before this, there was a short film; a photoessay on the French 1970s rocker/biker/neo-Nazi subcultures, with a narration over the top by the photographer, a young Jewish man who was a rocker and ended up hanging around with neo-Nazis and taking photos.
A look behind the scene of Aryanfest, a neo-Nazi/white-supremacist love-in held recently in Arizona, and attended by 300 people, from skinheads to family groups, from the former Saddam Hussein supporter who wants to nuke Washington to the mixed-up Mexican neo-Nazi who got unceremoniously kicked out:
The atmosphere inside Aryanfest was that of a Renaissance Fair gone over to the dark side, with "Heils" in place of "Huzzahs." Costumed attendees wore Iron Cross medallions and black bomber jackets emblazoned with swastika patches instead of studded leather armor and princess dresses. A Nazi memorabilia dealer hawked SS patches and framed photographs of Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Rudolph Hess in the parking lot. Next to the stage was a picnic pagoda, serving as the Aryanfest day-care center, where little white children in skinhead clothes colored in white power coloring books. Directly next door to the pagoda was a tattoo booth, where the incessant high-pitched buzz of a tattoo gun sounded from behind a blue tarp curtain. Beside the Panzerfaust merchandise stand was the Women for Aryan Unity booth, which sold child-rearing guides and White Nationalist Baby magazines, including one containing a simplified biography of Hitler suitable for bedtime stories: "He was a lifelong lover of animals and children . . . He is invincible and victory shall one day be his."
The police were happy that white-separatist group Volksfront's prediction of 1,000 people attending did not come true. But Browning said with a wry smile, "That's still a good-sized crowd. Come on, 300-plus racists in one place without a fight?"
In related news, a 36-year-old Oregon woman was arrested after having painted swastikas on an abandoned gas station. Her rationale: "I just wanted to show my heritage". She was also found in possession of methamphetamines. (via rotten.com)
Someone receives an empty Mac G5 case (no further explanation provided) and builds a PC in it as a prank/conversation piece. Then he writes it up, spinning it as a way of turning an unwanted G5 into a Windows PC. Consequently he gets death threats from Mac zealots across the net.
"I hope your PC blows up and leaves your miserable face disfigured forever," read one. "You will surely burn in hell for an eternity for this one." Another said Andy should be hung by his testicles and set on fire. "Turning a perfectly good dual G5 into a crappy PC was the ticket that got you to hell," wrote another, citing the common eternal damnation theme. "And if you were in front of me I'd pop a corn-born Teflon bullet from my Glock in your fucking face."
Proof that there's a vocal minority of Mac users who are utterly batshit insane.
U.S. uncovers chemical weapon stockpile, in Texas, in the hands of a creepy white-supremacist type. The investigation is ongoing, there may be other co-conspirators across the U.S.; the matter was deemed sufficiently serious to make the President's daily briefing. (via DPH)
Who says different people can't live in harmony? In a heartwarming display of what is possible, Neo-Nazis and Jewish extremists have put their differences aside, teaming up to produce anti-Arab hate sites. Perhaps that's the secret to reconciliation and peaceful coexistence: finding someone both parties despise even more. (via The Fix)
Rifts are emerging in the anti-war movement in the US (yes, there is one), with some activists (from moderates to anarchists) claiming that anti-war umbrella group is a Communist front. ANSWER stand accused of being a front for doctrinaire Marxist groups, supporting the governments of Iraq and North Korea, having backed Slobodan Milosevic and having defended the Chinese government's Tienanmen Square crackdown as recently as 2000.
"Basically, ANSWER is dominated by the IAC, which is largely a front for the Workers World Party, a Marxist-Leninist group that has been around since the 1950s," said Stephen Zunes, chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. "They are very effective at organizing because they are hierarchical. The main problem that I have with them personally is they have been very reluctant to acknowledge the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Sounds much like the S11/No Logo movement, which became little more than a brand name for the Democratic Socialist Party (the "cops of the protest movement") and Socialist Alliance, and indeed the local Indymedia site (which is apparently controlled by Resistance or someone and censors posts inconsistent with Marxist principles, or so some anarchists have claimed). Then again, who would you expect to organise mass movements: the anarchists?
"They are uncritical of anybody that the United States and NATO oppose, from Milosevic to Saddam Hussein," said David Walls, a sociology professor at Sonoma State University. "That's the weakness of their position. They won't acknowledge that there is something despicable about Saddam's regime and violations of human rights; they think it's too much of a concession to the imperialists. But it leaves them without a lot of credibility themselves."
A timely reminder that no one side has a monopoly on stupidity.
A piece in the Age about the Blackshirts, the militant "men's group" who want adultery to be punishable by death and seek to achieve this by intimidating women who left their husbands, and their founder, former fixture of the rock'n'roll scene John Abbott.
He now lives with his parents, attends church and plans Blackshirts' campaigns. He quotes the Bible, laments the loss of his children, but defends his decision not to see them. They will be reunited in heaven, he says. "The whole family will be reinstated. That's what heaven's about; there there's no pain."
The Blackshirts could be said to be the extreme wing of the reactionary wave washing through Australian culture, that started with One Nation and went on to the Howard government and its bring-back-the-Menzies-era paternalism. If they get sufficiently big and threatening, we could see the government co-opt some of their less insane policies (such as abolishing no-fault divorce laws, or "reforming" the family court system).
This is what happens when street theatre goes bad: Radical-leftist fruitloop Andrew McCrae decided to protest police brutality, corporate irresponsibility and "police-state tactics", so he did the most logical thing, and shot and killed a police officer as he was refuelling his car in California. Prior to doing this, he registered himself as a corporation, giving himself immunity from prosecution, or at least turning the inevitable trial into a dramatisation of corporate excesses. Ooh, clever move, that. Afterwards, he posted a rant on IndyMedia, confessing to the murder and justifying it as a political statement. Soon afterwards, the police cornered him at a hotel, from which he tried to deliver a "Declaration of Renewed Independence" to a journalist.
Not surprisingly, the authorities (and indeed a lot of the posters on IndyMedia) are being pigheadedly literal-minded and refusing to view this as just a piece of street theatre.
Another (somewhat more detailed) article, this time in the Grauniad, about the Blackshirts, the adamantly non-racist, neo-fascist, extreme "men's movement". This time it goes beyond the scary uniforms and the this-is-not-a-swastika logos and actually gets these gents' opinions (which are, as one might expect, somewhat unhinged): (via Feorag)
The Blackshirts say that their only intention is to promote the sanctity of marriage, and they believe that to achieve this aim adultery should be punishable by death. Furthermore, they warn that if the law does not change they may resort to dragging adulterers from their homes and lynching them.
One Blackshirt, who gave his name only as Dominic, admitted that he had been refused custody of his daughter because of an unfavourable psychological report, but put the result down to bias in court.
Gee, I wonder why...
(It reminds me of the guy in the Bourke St. Mall with the signs about how The Simpsons and rock lyrics are full of Masonic codewords, who claimed that the Freemasons were trying to destroy him because he got in fights with the sons of Masons when he was a boy, and now whenever he gets a job, they deliberately set it up so that he gets in a fight and is dismissed.)
Mr Abbott claims that a fifth of Blackshirts are female and that a women's arm of the organisation is about to be established. But there were no women at yesterday's demonstration. "They do more the administrative work," he explained.
I'll bet they do...
People love a bigot (an ongoing saga): France's far-right demagogue Jean-Marie Le Pen has survived the first round of the Presidential election, beating the Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin, once considered a favourite. While it is very unlikely that Le Pen will become President, this result has sent shockwaves through France and triggered spontaneous protests.
Creepy link of the day: The White Supremacist guide to dating, or how to be the psychopath women can't resist and win over the Eva Braun of your dreams (attributed to one "Elizabeth Bennett", who I think is named after a Jane Austen character; go figure):
Many people have pondered and scratched their heads, wondering what the connection is between sex and violence. The answer is, sex IS violence and women want to have sex with a violent man... The fact is, women experience sex as a delicious form of violence. What is more violent than losing control of your body for nine months, swelling up like a tick? I know it's hard for you to understand (because you aren't a faggot who wants to be dominated) but if you don't understand how women feel about sex -- the mixture of pleasure and pain, fear and excitement, melting in a haze of pleasure and degradation -- then you can't be a good lover.
(You know, parts of this read like a neo-Nazi version of Ayn Rand, or perhaps Houseplants of Gor...) (via NtK, bOING bOING)
Proof that terrorist whackos come from all stripes: The FBI has arrested the chairman of the Jewish Defence League, the militant Jewish nationalist group founded by the late Meir Kahane, over plans to blow up a mosque in Los Angeles and the office of a congressman of Arab descent. According to an informant, the attacks were planned as a "wake-up call" for Arabs. (Presumably Arabs being kicked off flights for their suspicious names and skin colour and randomly assaulted by all-American rednecks (along with turban-wearing Sikhs) wasn't enough of a wake-up call.)
America's own home-grown Hezbollah, the Army of God, has been capitalising on the anthrax scare, by mailing white powder to Planned Parenthood offices. It'll be interesting to see whether the Bush administration (which is virulently anti-abortion) devotes much in the way of resources to tracking down the perpetrators or just shrug it off as "you reap what you sow".
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