Europe's racist far right is not on the rise. It’s always been there.
For how long does Europe’s racist right need to “rise” before it is acknowledged that Europe is racist and this is not the by product of recent social discontent?
Across Europe, the media narrative goes more or less like this: 9/11 happened and that brought out a wave of Islamophobia that was used by manipulative politicians to further their careers. In turn, the austerity measures that followed the financial crisis of 2011 exacerbated the anti immigrant sentiment leading to a rise of racist rhetoric in “the common people”.
Bullshit. All of it.
What these media narratives tend to do is obfuscate the reality of ingrained, unaddressed racism across the continent. The never acknowledged and redressed centuries of colonial interventions; the legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the wealth that it created and/or transferred to the continent; the historically more recent corporate interventions in the Global South that deplete local resources at the expense of European wealth. All of these and more have created a culture of European racial superiority and sense of entitlement over the “Other” which, in contemporary terms, reached its peak in WW2. The underlying sentiments never really went away.
Now, with a combination of Brexit political analysis and a number of elections coming up in the next year across Europe, media repeats this like it is a novel idea: the racist far right is on the rise. A cursory look at recent history proves that this nonsense is a vapid and empty repetition of what has been said for at least 20 years. Take a look at my haphazard archive:
1997 Dutch Newspaper Trouw: Professor Fortuyn against Islamization
In 1997, before he launched his political career, Pim Fortuyn, who was later on murdered by an extreme left animal rights activist, released a pamphlet against “the Islamization of our culture”. This pamphlet marked the beginning of his political career.
1998 BBC covering German Elections: The rise of the extreme right
From the article
“One far-right party, the Republicans, assert that “unrelenting mass immigration has brought criminal foreigners into Germany”.[…]
The heart of his campaign was the crude demand that jobs should be taken away from foreigners and given to Germans.
In Saxony-Anhalt, nearly one-third of all voters under the age of 30 supported the DVU.
In the country as a whole, opinion polls show some 10% of voters sympathise with far-right groups.
1998 Again, the BBC on Anti-foreigner campaigning in Bavaria
1998 Independent UK Far-right harks on violence to win votes. A scathing analysis of the troubling rise of the BNP (does this sound familiar?!)
1998 BBC wonders in an alarming tone! France: a haven of intolerance?
(Now that we have established that these ideas were mainstream way before 9/11, for the sake of brevity, let’s skip a few years)
2003 The Guardian: Bardot’s right-wing rant shocks France. France is shocked! Totally shocked! because nobody has said things like this before! Bring me the fainting couch, sil vous plait!
From the article: No prize for guessing which French politician Ms Bardot most admires: Jean-Marie le Pen, the leader of the far right National Front. To BB, he is “faithful to his ideas through thick and thin”.
2006 Spiegel is shocked! Holland’s New Greeting for Immigrants ‘If it Ain’t Dutch, It Ain’t Much’.
2007 Christopher Hitchens writes at Slate: Le Pen rises again. Four years after Bardot’s public support, shocking! Le Pen rises again! Queue the inevitable, totally new question: how can this happen?!
The supposed “rise” of Le Pen was about the father of current presidential candidate French Marine Le Pen. The father was notorious for his Holocaust Denial ideas and violent rhetoric against non whites.
2009 The Daily Mail is on the case! (glass houses + stones, etc come to mind) The far right is on the march again: the rise of Fascism in Austria
2009 The Guardian uncovers an uncomfortable truth! Anti-immigrant and Europhobic — far right parties ride populist wave
2010 OMG how did this happen?! Far-right Geert Wilders looks like next Dutch PM
2011 Spiegel warns! Marine Le Pen (daughter) polling ahead of Sarkozy
2011 Spiegel is worried! They write: Geert Wilders wants to ban the Koran, impose a tax on headscarves and calculate the cost of immigration. As an aside, in July this year, Spiegel published an interview with him where he repeated this exact same ideas.
2011 Telegraph expresses concern! Swiss far-right party on course for record-breaking election win 2011
2012 Finally! Thank god that CNN is on it! They rise the alarm: Is the far right gaining ground in Europe?
So no, Europe’s racist right is not on the rise. This is European culture expressing itself publicly. The problem is that this same culture has collectively agreed that it holds anti racist and inclusive values even when decades of documented politics prove otherwise. This? This is the status quo.