July 2011, Week 4


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Thu, 28 Jul 2011 23:01:44 -0400
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Real Threat to European Democracy is Not Multiculturalism
and Islamic Militancy. It's Racism. Europe's Homegrown
Terrorists and Nazis (two posts)

1. Europe's Homegrown Terrorists (Gary Younge on The Nation)

2. Anders Breivik, Stieg Larsson, and the Men with the Nazi
Tattoos (James Ridgeway in MotherJones.com)


Europe's Homegrown Terrorists

by Gary Younge

The Nation
July 25, 2011


Two weeks after the fatal terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005,
in London, and one day after another failed attack, a
student, Jean Charles de Menezes, was in the London
Underground when plainclothes police officers gave chase and
shot him seven times in the head.

Initial eyewitness reports said he was wearing a
suspiciously large puffa jacket on a hot day and had vaulted
the barriers and run when asked to stop. Anthony Larkin, who
was on the train, said he saw "this guy who appeared to have
a bomb belt and wires coming out." Mark Whitby, who was also
at the station, thought he saw a Pakistani terrorist being
chased and gunned down by plainclothes policemen. Less than
a month later, Whitby said, "I now believe that I could have
been looking at the surveillance officer" being thrown out
of the way as Menezes was being killed.

The Pakistani turned out to be a Brazilian. Security cameras
showed he was wearing a light denim jacket and clearly in no
rush as he picked up a free paper and swiped his metrocard.

"The way we see things is affected by what we know and what
we believe," wrote John Berger in Ways of Seeing. "The
relation between what we see and what we know is never

When some Western commentators see a terrorist attack they
are apparently far more comfortable with what they believe
than what they know.

So it was on Friday when news emerged of the appalling
attacks in Norway that have left an estimated seventy-six
dead and a nation traumatized. Rupert Murdoch's Sun in
Britain (the bestselling daily newspaper) ran with the
headline "Al Qaeda massacre: Norway's 9/11." The Weekly
Standard insisted: "We don't know if al Qaeda was directly
responsible for today's events, but in all likelihood the
attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra." Jennifer
Rubin at the Washington Post then claimed: "This is a
sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to
wage a war against jihadists."

In just a few hours an entire conceptual framework had been
erected - though hardly from scratch - to discuss the
problem of Muslims in particular and non-white immigration
in Europe in general and the existential threat these
problems pose to civilization as we know it.

Then came the fact that the terrorist was actually a white,
Christian extremist and a neo-Nazi, Anders Breivik, raging
against Islam and multiculturalism. Unlike Muslims in the
wake of Islamist attacks, Christians weren't called upon to
insist upon their moderation. No one argued that white
people had to get with the Enlightenment project. But the
bombings - and the presumptions about who was responsible -
suggest that the true threat to European democracy is not
Islam or Muslims but, once again, fascism and racists.

The belief that Muslims must have been involved chimes
easily with a distorted, hysterical understanding of the
demographic, religious and racial dynamics that have been
present in Europe for well over a generation, variants of
which are also at work in the United States today.

The general framing goes like this. Europe is being overrun
by Muslims and other non-white immigrants, who are
outbreeding non-Muslims at a terrifying rate. Unwilling to
integrate culturally and unable to compete intellectually,
Muslim populations have become hotbeds of terrorist sympathy
and activity. Their presence threatens not only security but
the liberal consensus regarding women's rights and gay
rights that Western Europe has so painstakingly established;
and overall, this state of affairs represents a fracturing
of society that is losing its common values. This has been
allowed to happen in the name of not offending specific
ethnic groups, otherwise known as multiculturalism.

One could spend all day ripping these arguments to shreds,
but for now let's just deal with the facts.

There have been predictions that the Muslim population of
Europe will almost double by 2015 (Oner Taspiner, the
Brookings Institution); double by 2020 (Don Melvin, the
Associated Press); and be 20 percent of the continent by
2050 (Esther Pan, Council on Foreign Relations). Republican
presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Sarah Posner of
Religion Dispatches: "The number I heard is every 32 years
the population, the European population of Europe will be
reduced by 50 percent. That's how bad their birthrates are.
This is in many respects a dying continent from the
standpoint of European-Europeans."

This is nonsense. The projections are way off. While Muslims
in Europe do have higher birthrates than non-Muslims, their
birthrates are falling. A Pew Forum study, published in
January 2011, forecast an increase of Muslims in European
population from 6 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2030.

The Norwegian terrorist Breivik feared a Muslim takeover.
But Muslims make up 3 percent of Norway. Black Americans
have a greater presence in Alaska.

But even if these predictions were true, so what? There's
nothing to say Europe has to remain Christian or majority-

Nor do immigrants struggle to integrate. In Britain, Asian
Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus all marry outside of their own
groups at the same rates as whites. For most ethnic
minorities in Britain, roughly half or more of their friends
are white. Only 20 percent of those born in Britain have
friends only from their own group. According to a Pew
Research Center survey, the principal concerns of Muslims in
France, Germany and Spain are unemployment and Islamic

In most of Europe the official politics of multiculturalism
that the likes of Breivik and more mainstream politicians
rail against - a liberal, state-led policy of encouraging
and supporting cultural difference at the expense of
national cohesion - is an absolute fiction. Last year German
chancellor Angela Merkel claimed the "multikulti" experiment
had failed. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David
Cameron said the same thing. The truth is that neither
country ever tried such an experiment. "We never had a
policy of multiculturalism," explains Mekonnen Mesghena,
head of migration and intercultural management at the
Heinrich B"ll Foundation. "We had a policy of denial: denial
of immigration and of diversity. Now it's like we are waking
up from a long trance."

The real object of their ire is the existence of "other" -
meaning non-white - cultures and races in Europe: the fact
of "other" cultures, not the promotion of them. The single
greatest obstacle to integration in most of Europe is not
Islam or multiculturalism but racism and the economic and
academic disadvantage that comes with it.

And, finally, Muslims are nowhere near the greatest
terrorist threat. According to Europol, between 2006 and
2008 only .4 percent of terrorist plots (including attempts
and fully executed attacks) in Europe were from Islamists.
The lion's share (85 percent) were related to separatism.
That doesn't mean there isn't a problem. But it's not on the
scale or of the nature that those first out of the gate on
Friday claimed it was. Put bluntly, if you have to assume
anything when a bomb goes off in Europe, think region, not

But there are some in Europe who are struggling to cope with
the changes taking place - who are failing to integrate into
changing societies and who harbor deep-seated resentments
against their fellow citizens. That is a sizeable and
growing section of the white population so alienated that it
has once again made fascism a mainstream ideology on the

In Germany the bestselling book since the Second World War
by former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin blames
inbreeding among Turks and Kurds for "congenital
disabilities" and argues that immigrants from the Middle
East are a "genetic minus" for the country. "But the subject
is usually hushed up," he wrote. "Perish the thought that
genetic factors could be partially responsible for the
failure of parts of the Turkish populations in the German
school system."

A poll published in the national magazine Focus in September
2010 showed 31 percent of respondents agreeing that Germany
is "becoming dumber" because of immigrants; 62 percent said
Sarrazin's comments were "justified." In Austria, Belgium,
Denmark, France and Italy, hard-right nationalist and anti-
immigrant parties regularly receive more than 10 percent of
the vote. In Finland it is 19 percent; in Norway it is 22
percent; in Switzerland, 29 percent. In Italy and Austria
they have been in government; in Switzerland, where the
anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party is the largest party,
they still are.

Breivik was from a particularly vile strain of that trend.
But he did not come from nowhere. And the anxieties that
produced him are growing. Fascists prey on economic
deprivation and uncertainty, democratic deficits cause by
European Union membership and issues of sovereignty related
to globalization. Far right forces in Greece, for example,
are currently enjoying a vigorous revival. When scapegoats
are needed they provide them. When solutions are demanded
they are scarce.

[Gary Younge, the Alfred Knobler Journalism Fellow at The
Nation Institute, is the New York correspondent for the
Guardian and the author of No Place Like Home: A Black
Briton's Journey Through the Deep South (Mississippi) and
Stranger in a Strange Land: Travels in the Disunited States
(New Press). He is also a contributor to The Notion.
Who Are We-And Should it Matter in the 21st Century? by Gary
Younge is published by Nation Books.]


Anders Breivik, Stieg Larsson, and the Men with the Nazi

Everyone read Stieg Larsson's books, but few heeded
his warnings on the Scandinavian far right.

By James Ridgeway

July 26, 2011


Stieg Larsson is the best-known novelist of the past decade,
his Millennium Trilogy read by tens of millions of people
worldwide. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two
successors are beloved for their thrilling plots and
compelling title character. But Larsson also embedded in his
novels the abiding cause of his life: his crusade against
the far-right movements that he saw as the scourge of
Scandinavia and a threat to modern European society. Yet
this part of his message never quite got through. Instead,
the world stood in shock this weekend as Norway fell victim
to precisely the kind of extremist violence Larsson had
warned about.

The trilogy that has been met with such an enthusiastic but
curiously apolitical response was written by a consummately
political man: Raised by a grandfather who had been
imprisoned during World War II for his anti-Nazi views,
Larsson was in his youth a member of the Communist Workers
Party and editor, for a time, of the Swedish Trotskyist
journal Fjarde Internationalen. He later became the
Scandinavian correspondent of Searchlight, the British anti-
fascist and anti-racist magazine, and in 1995, amid an
uptick in neo-Nazi violence in Sweden, he founded its
Swedish equivalent, Expo - the model for the Millennium
magazine featured in his trilogy. In the US, both Expo and
Searchlight have maintained ties with another group that
tracks the far right, the Institute for Research and
Education on Human Rights. As an expert on the neo-Nazi
movements, Larsson was once invited to lecture on the
subject at Scotland Yard.

As Expo grew, the neo-Nazis in Sweden targeted it,
threatening Larsson (who died in 2004) and his partner of 30
years, Eva Gabrielsson. According to Gabrielsson's book,
"There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson
and Me, both of them were placed on hit lists and were in
enough danger to barricade their apartment doors and arrange
for special police protection. "Stieg would receive bullets
in the mail, and once someone was waiting for him outside
the entrance of the TT building [where he worked]. Warned in
time, Stieg slipped out a back door," Gabrielsson writes.

"Our answering machine was set permanently on 'record' to
keep evidence of the threats we received," she continues,
"and they were always in the same vein: 'Piece of shit, you
Jew-fucker...Traitor, we'll tear you apart...and we know
where you live.'" At the sign of the slightest provocation
on their apartment block, police cars would descend on the
street. The danger was undeniably real: Two journalists who
once worked for Expo and were later employed by Aftonbladet,
one of Sweden's largest newspapers, wrote an expose of the
neo-Nazi black-metal music operations. One of them was
seriously injured when his car was bombed. A labor union
leader who revealed neo-Nazi names was shot dead.

These events, and what Larsson felt was the government's
failure to protect citizens, made their way into Larsson's
fiction, says Gabrielsson, for example via the murders of
Dag Svensson and Mia Bergman in The Girl Who Played With
Fire: "In fact, everything of this nature described in The
Millennium Trilogy has happened at one time or another to a
Swedish citizen, journalist, politician, public prosecutor,
unionist, or policeman. Nothing was made up."

Up until recently, Sweden has had Scandinavia's most well
defined neo-fascist movement, with the Norwegian movement
comparatively small and scattered. However, far-right
splinter factions are in touch with one another across
Europe and even with their counterparts in the United
States. Larsson and Devin Burghart, of the Institute for
Research and Education on Human Rights, were coauthors of a
2001 Searchlight article that laid out ties between the
National Alliance, an American neo-Nazi group, and the
"black metal" scene in Norway. At the time the Alliance was
led by the since-deceased William Pierce, the leading guru
of the American racist far right and the author of the The
Turner Diaries, which has been called the bible of domestic
terrorism. Pierce had set up a cultural conduit for the neo-
Nazi movement by taking over Resistance Records, a white-
power record company in the United States, along with a
Norwegian company called Cymophane.

In the wake of this weekend's attacks in Oslo, it was Expo
that once again was at the forefront, exposing what is so
far suspect Anders Behring Breivik's most direct link to the
contemporary neo-Nazi scene in Scandinavia. In his manifesto
and on the website where he regularly posted, Breivik
portrays himself as a conservative Christian and heir to the
Knights Templar crusaders. At the same time, Breivik's
ideology was reportedly influenced by the anti-Muslim, anti-
immigrant, racist Norwegian Defence League and its
inspiration, the English Defense League. He also appears
sympathetic to the established racist line of the British
National Party and National Front. And he has been a member
of the anti-immigration Progress Party, the second-largest
political party in Norway.

Expo revealed that since 2009 Breivik has also been part of
the forum Nordisk (Nordic), whose 22,000 members, according
to Expo (in a translation provided by Searchlight), range
"from high-ranking members of the Sweden Democrats, a
nationalist party with seats in the Swedish parliament, to
leading members of the Nazi movement and to unhinged
psychopaths. What unites the whole lot is a hatred of
immigration and immigrants." A favorite topic was The Turner

Despite the tireless work of Larsson and his successors at
Expo, Norway seem to have put relatively little stock in the
threat of homegrown extremists. In its annual threat
assessment, published at the beginning of the year, the
Norwegian security service reportedly said that "far-right
and far-left extremist communities will not pose a serious
threat to Norwegian society in 2011."

Writing in the Guardian, Matthew Goodwin, an expert on
British fascist movements, argues that "until now, European
democracies and their security services had focused almost
exclusively on the threat from al=Qaida-inspired terrorism.
Rightwing extremist groups and their more violent affiliates
were dismissed as disorganised, fragmented and irrelevant
movement." The Norway attacks, he says, might "prove to be a
watershed moment in terms of how we approach far-right
followers, groups and their ideology." If so, European
governments will at last be heeding Stieg Larsson's warning.

[James Ridgeway is a senior correspondent at Mother Jones.]



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