The perceptive and courageous Melanie Phillips here discusses a phenomenon that Hugh and I have discussed at Jihad Watch several times over the years: that the mainstream parties in Europe are either mute or complicit in the face of the threat of the Islamization of the continent, and have thus left the anti-jihad resistance to be in some cases championed by Europe's most noxious elements: neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, and white supremacists.
Phillips also points out that the situation is further complicated by the fact that the mainstream media and the governing elites brand anyone who opposes Islamic supremacism and the Islamization of Europe as a neo-Nazi. This makes it extremely difficult for Americans to determine just who is a real neofascist and who isn't, and thus whom should be supported and whom should be opposed. Some commentators absurdly complicate matters further by branding those who doubt that a particular group is actually neofascist as neofascists themselves.
And in fact, her Spectator article is itself a case in point. The accompanying photo, which I have placed above, is of Hans-Christian Strache, the Austrian politician whose party Phillips here states is "neo-Nazi." It seems that this picture was chosen to accompany Phillips' article because in it Strache is making the Nazi salute. But is he? It looks more to me as if he is gesturing to make a point -- his hand is not held stiffly the way it is in the actual Nazi salute.
But maybe I just don't know enough about Nazi salutes. There is also apparently another picture in which Strache seems to be making a "three-fingered Nazi salute" -- an animal I have not previously encountered. But in any case, the claim that Strache is a neo-Nazi doesn't rest only on these disputed gestures. According to the article to which Phillips links, some of Strache's supporters are "jackbooted skinheads." This in itself doesn't prove that Strache himself is a neo-Nazi -- anyone can attract unwanted supporters (cf. Hamas' endorsement of Obama). But there is more:
1. Video exists of Strache in fatigues. The Guardian says: "He has been filmed in forests, carrying arms and wearing paramilitary fatigues in the company of banned German neo-Nazis." He says, however, that he was playing a game.
2. The Guardian also says: "He was photographed apparently giving a three-fingered neo-Nazi salute - though he says he was ordering three beers."
3. Again according to The Guardian, "when he sued the Vienna news weekly Profil for defamation, the court ruled that Strache could fairly be said to display 'an affinity to national-socialist thinking.'" But he maintains: "I was never a neo-Nazi, and never will be" -- and the court's ruling could be an example of Phillips' observation that anyone who opposes the Islamization of Europe is branded a neo-Nazi.
4. Perhaps most damning of all: according to the TimesOnline, "police film his public appearances because supporters of Mr Strache have, in the past, made the Hitler salute or displayed Nazi insignia, which is illegal in Austria - under a law that Mr Strache is seeking to ban."
He is trying to ban a law against displaying Nazi insignia, and some of his followers make the Hitler salute -- that seems open and shut. As for the followers making the Hitler salute, he could be a Nazi and attract Nazi followers -- or, alternatively, he could be attracting followers he doesn't want and doesn't approve of. As for Strache's attempts to get the ban on Nazi insignia overturned, Trend News says this: "He has called for the repeal of an Austrian law banning National Socialist activities. 'A democracy must be able to deal with moronic and crazy ideas,' Strache argued last week." So he is framing this as a freedom of speech issue -- and indeed, when I support the right of the Revolutionary Communist Party or the Council on American-Islamic Relations to spew their propaganda in the U.S., that doesn't make me a Revolutionary Communist or a CAIR op. It makes me a believer in free speech.
So we have the prospect of a man accused of being a neo-Nazi saying that National Socialism is "moronic and crazy" and denying that he ever was or ever will be a neo-Nazi. Of course, maybe he is lying -- he wouldn't be the first or the last politician to lie about his true sentiments -- and maybe his explanations of this evidence are flimsy rationalizations. I don't know where Strache really stands. But the old Nazis were never coy or deceptive about their taste for totalitarianism and hatred for Jews, and while actual neo-Nazis have every reason to be deceptive about their true affinities in today's Europe, when the elites brand everyone who opposes unrestricted Muslim immigration as a neo-Nazi, even in the face of the demographic jihad, the situation becomes extremely muddled.
Real neo-Nazis in Europe and everywhere else should be always and everywhere opposed by all decent people. The devilish difficulty is in figuring out who the real neo-Nazis actually are, and who are anti-jihadists who are being falsely accused.
"The distant sound of breaking glass," by Melanie Phillips in The Spectator, September 29:
We should all be shuddering at the news from Austria where neo-Nazi parties, including the Freedom Party led by Hans-Christian Strache (pictured) have emerged as the biggest parliamentary block. It’s awful not just because it’s Austria, that cradle of Nazism which shows yet again that its terrible past remains its present. It’s because the implications are much wider for the whole of Europe – and are unlikely to be recognised before the danger spirals into the unspeakable.
A small correction: Hitler was born in Austria, but Austria was not the cradle of Nazism. Nazism was born in Germany -- which is not to deny that many, if not most, Austrians ultimately became enthusiastic about it.
These parties campaigned on an anti EU integration and anti-Muslim platform. Their success is due to the enormous feeling among the people of Europe against, on the one hand, the destruction of their powers of self-government and their assimilation into the undemocratic Euro superstate, and on the other the threat to western culture from Islamist conquest. On both of these seismic issues, the leaders of the democracies are either burying their heads in the sand or are actively bringing them into being. With no democratic party addressing these concerns and instead demonising legitimate nationalist feeling as ‘racist’, xenophobic’ or ‘Islamophobic’, people are turning to parties which truly are racist, anti-foreigner, anti-Muslim, anti-Jew and sometimes, indeed, neo-Nazi, but which are exploiting this political vacuum just as all such parties have always exploited other vacuums in leadership.
This presents a nightmarish prospect in which, if the democratic parties of Europe continue to demonise legitimate aspirations to maintain national cultures against undemocratic and anti-democratic forces, more and more people will be drawn to these parties – see the sophisticated pitch by and increasing support for the BNP in Britain, and social disorder will rise.[...]
The awful thing is that, as the far-right advances and social disorder increases – as it will -- muddled liberals and malign leftists will blame these political and social calamities on ‘the far right’. As a result, the steady encroachment of Islamism will proceed apace -- and anyone who objects will also be demonised as ‘the far right’. The rise of the neo-Nazis will thus turn the defence of democracy toxic. There is therefore a danger that the only people who will be fighting the Islamic fascists and in defence of the nation against the supranational supremacists will be the fascists....
UPDATE: Jihad Watch reader Maryatexitzero has posted below a link to a Jerusalem Post article that says that Strache "has aligned his party with the Iranian regime and vehemently opposes sanctions designed to force a suspension of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program." As I noted in a follow-up comment below, this not only constitutes good grounds to consider him a neo-Nazi indeed, but is a solid reason in and of itself to oppose him. Thank you, Mary.