Against Jihadism and neo-Nazism

18 Aug 2017 by Mark Gardner

Two Jihadist terrorist attacks in Spain, and a far Right demonstration and terrorist attack in the USA, give shocking proof of the main forces threatening our physical safety, emotional well-being and democratic freedoms.

These Jihadist and neo-Nazi movements are both trying to spark a war. On the one hand between Muslims and non-Muslims, and on the other, between Whites and non-Whites. Each must be utterly and equally opposed, both by political leaders and civil society. Of course, policies to tackle them must be intelligent and nuanced, but the ideologies and their supporters must be explicitly and absolutely condemned.

Any democratically elected politician who is somehow favoured by anti-democratic forces has a special responsibility to speak out, or society (including the haters and those targeted by them) will quickly draw their own conclusions.

It should go without saying that there is no comparison between totalitarians and those who oppose them. Nevertheless, it needs saying, because President Trump has failed to make the distinction. Furthermore, too many acts of Jihadist violence are diminished by those who rush to cite political helplessness, poverty and social exclusion: whereas acts by neo-Nazis receive no such muddying of morality.

The Jihadist van ramming attack in Barcelona tried to kill, maim and terrify anybody of any religion, ethnicity or background who happened to be on Las Ramblas.

Six days earlier, many hundreds of far Right demonstrators had gathered in Charlottesville, supposedly against the removal of a statue, but actually to show that an internet and social media facilitated movement can be a real physical force: from which its supporters should draw strength and comfort, whilst its opponents should be frightened and cowed.

The far Right demonstrators were strongly opposed by anti-fascists, one of whom was murdered (and many more were injured), when a car was deliberately driven at high speed into the counter-protest. A powerful Vice News documentary (see here) shows how utterly fundamental Jew-hatred was for many on the far Right demonstration, with neo-Nazis voicing levels of antisemitism that would be ludicrous parodies, were they not so appallingly real.

Worse still, this being America, some of these neo-Nazis were fully armed with assault rifles, pistols and knives. A deeply moving article (see here) by the president of Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Charlottesville tells what he saw and felt, including when armed neo-Nazis in combat fatigues stood opposite the synagogue during its Shabbat morning service, when demonstrators chanted “sieg heil” at the building: and when non-Jews, passersby, neighbours and strangers, offered to help stand guard or asked if they could enter and join the service.

The physical display of anti-fascist opposition to the far Right and the emotional support from members of the general public to the synagogue, show two of the responses that society requires against hatred. Here in Britain, we have seen similar humane responses from ordinary, decent people in Manchester and London for those needing support and shelter in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, regardless of who perpetrated them. Sadly, the organised forces of left wing opposition seem pickier in what they do and do not properly act against.

Meanwhile, in America, the far Right clearly takes strength and comfort from President Trump. This means that he has an added responsibility to speak as strongly as possible against them, which he chooses not to do. The situation is fast resembling a powder keg, with Jews, other minorities and law enforcement at risk from extreme violence. The shock waves of this will also impact in Europe and the UK, where our own neo-Nazis will take perverse inspiration from what they see elsewhere, just as Jihadists do when they see the violence of their overseas counterparts, martyrs and heroes.

[Image credit: Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via Reuters]

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