When the media keep repeating that someone is beyond the pale, some people are bound to believe them. Recent events show that radicals will even try to kill people who have been demonized in this manner. Perhaps that is the goal behind the policy of demonization: to neutralize and remove the people’s democratically elected representatives.
Recently, we are being confronted with the bizarre phenomenon of defenders of Western freedoms, including Jews, being demonized as “Nazis,” while subsequently Nazi methods are used to eliminate them. The authorities, meanwhile, do not come to the aid of the victims since the latter are “Nazis.” On the contrary, sometimes the authorities even praise the aggressors for their vigilance and their “intolerance” in the fight against “Nazism.” The Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn fell victim to this, so has his successor Geert Wilders and the Vlaams Belang party in Belgium, as has the German civil movement “Pro,” and many others.
As people generally tend to believe the media and mainstream politicians, events in Europe show how easy it is for violent activists to gain general approval for their use of Nazi methods against enemies whom they first demonize as “Nazis,” “racists” or “far-right extremists” who are “beyond the pale.” In this context the word “Nazi” no longer has any real meaning, so that the term is now also used against Jews wearing kippas and against the state of Israel. Indeed, the Israeli flag has already been compared to the Nazi flag, the cross of David to the swastika, the methods of the IDF to those of the SS. This language serves a clear purpose, viz. to demonize Israel and justify the use of Nazi methods against it. Today, those who are branded as Nazis know that they are being singled out for annihiliation. Just as, 7 years ago, Mr. Fortuyn was annihilated in the Netherlands.
Pim Fortuyn predicted his own death. In the weeks preceding the May 2002 general elections in the Netherlands, polls indicated that the LPF, the newly established party of Mr. Fortuyn, was bound to win the elections, perhaps even to become the country’s largest party. Pim Fortuyn, a homosexual columnist and former university lecturer, had never stood for election before. His message that the Dutch should not allow their nation to be overrun by immigrants from what he called “a backward Muslim culture” appealed to the voters. The Dutch political and media establishment, however, branded him a dangerous and xenophobic far-right extremist, a racist, even a neo-Nazi.
In the Spring of 2002 a barrage of dirt and insults were heaped on Mr. Fortuyn by people and organizations who refused to debate with him. Wim Kok, the Socialist Dutch Prime Minister, accused Pim Fortuyn of ‘inciting hatred.” Matty Verkamman, a columnist of Trouw, a Christian newspaper, wrote that Mr. Fortuyn was “a man with the intelligence of Hitler and the charisma of Heinrich Himmler. I hope he gets AIDS as soon as possible.” Ad Melkert, the leader of the Dutch Socialists, compared Mr. Fortuyn to the anti-Semitic French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen. Iki Halberstadt-Freud, a psychotherapist, said in a newspaper interview that Mr. Fortuyn’s personality showed “psychopathic elements” and compared him to people “who advocate clubbing black people to death.” The Dutch Council of Churches, an organization of 17 Christian denominations, wrote in a pamplet that Rotterdam, Mr. Fortuyn’s hometown, was “not just the stronghold of Pim Fortuyn and his ilk, but also a city with a heart,” thereby implying that Mr. Fortuyn lacked a heart.
On May 6, 2002, Mr. Fortuyn was shot by Volkert van der Graaf, an animal rights activist who had believed the continuous stream of “warnings” in the media about how dangerous the politician was and felt he had to do something. During his trial, Mr. van der Graaf claimed that he had killed Mr. Fortuyn to stop him from exploiting Muslims as “scapegoats” and seeking political power by “targeting the weak.”
A few days before his assassination, Pim Fortuyn, inundated with threatening phone calls and letters, had accused his media critics of “demonizing” him and warned that some people might take their talk seriously and take the law into their own hands. “If something happens to me, then they [the people demonizing me] are co-responsible. They have created this climate. This has to stop,” he said. It did not stop…
Two weeks after the assassination, on May 21, 2002, HP/De Tijd, a Dutch weekly, published Mr. Fortuyn’s last column. He had written it following an incident in which Filip Dewinter, one of the leaders of the Belgian Vlaams Blok party, had been assaulted in a television studio in the Netherlands. As Filip Dewinter fled from the studio his car was smashed and destroyed with iron bars. The far-left activists who demolished the car conspicuously placed a book with a Nazi title on the back seat.
“Filip Dewinter of the Vlaams Blok was in the Netherlands,” Mr. Fortuyn wrote. “Well, he is not likely to forget the occasion. The Dutch public television network NOS had asked him to appear in an interview. He had hardly sat down when he was attacked. […] Mr. Dewinter had to flee for his life and was evacuated in a police vehicle. […] Then the camera zoomed in on his demolished BMW, focusing on the back seat of the car, on a book entitled ‘Rudolf Hess’s mother.’ I do not know that book, but it is clear what the NOS is trying to convey: this man is no good, he is a fascist!
“I have seldom seen such a cowardly act. A man is beset by many and the NOS, who should have been indignant and come to the defense of their guest, goes out of their way to show that the man is no good and hence is only getting what he deserves: that is what their pictures suggest.
“I cannot condone these activists. Outnumbering him, they abuse a man with the methods of fascists and nazis. They silenced Dewinter physically, threatened his person and damaged his property. […] In this country the police never takes note of violence perpetrated by the left, nor do the intelligence services, and these culprits, too, will never be caught. […]
“The judicial authorities are present with cameras at public hearings in every single hamlet in the Netherlands where an asylum centre is to be opened, in order to accuse anyone who is not careful how he speaks and persecute them for discrimination, but they are not there to prevent attacks on Filip Dewinter. So-called autonomists [a violent far-left group] whose names and addresses are known by the Volkskrant [a liberal Amsterdam newspaper], are allowed to distribute posters depicting me beside a portrait of Hitler. The authorities refuse to prosecute: they say this is something I just have to accept! I would like to know how they would react if I had not happened to be white, but simply nice and black!”
Mr. Fortuyn’s column highlights a remarkable procedure. People are demonized as Nazis, and subsequently Nazi methods are used to eliminate them. The authorities, meanwhile, do not come to the aid of the victims since the latter are “Nazis.” On the contrary, sometimes the authorities even praise the aggressors for their vigilance and their “intolerance” in the fight against “Nazism.”
The latter happened last September in the German city of Cologne. On September 20, 2008, 5,000 left-wing demonstrators – self-proclaimed “anti-fascists” – prevented a peaceful gathering on Heumarkt in downtown Cologne of adherents of Pro Koeln (Pro Cologne), a local conservative political party with five elected members on the Cologne city council. Pro Cologne is opposing the construction in the city of a giant mosque built by the Cologne branch of the department of religious affairs of Turkey, which reports directly to the Turkish Prime Minister.
Pro Cologne had invited democratically elected politicians from other European parties that oppose Islamization, to address the meeting. The German police prevented the foreign politicians from leaving Cologne airport while left-wing demonstrators violently prevented people from entering Heumarkt.
An eyewitness, who got beaten up by the “anti-fascists,” wrote on his blog:
“I was attacked by Antifa [“anti-fascist”] thugs as I tried to make my way to Heumarkt where we were slated to meet for our conference. My friend Michael Kucherov [a Jewish member of Pro Cologne] was beaten up yesterday. […] In both incidents, as we were being beaten up, they were yelling and screaming ‘Nazi’ which was quite odd. Michael dressed in a suit but I was wearing my kippa and quite easily identified as a Jew so you can understand how odd it seems to be beaten by Germans in the street and called Nazi when you are Jewish.”
Prior to the Pro Cologne gathering Fritz Schramma, the Christian-Democrat Lord Mayor of Cologne, had called on the people of his city to show their “intolerance” of his political adversaries in Pro Cologne, a democratically elected opposition party. After the “anti-fascist” thugs had violently prevented the gathering on Heumarkt from taking place, the Mayor congratulated them, saying that the events had been “a victory for the democratic forces in this city.”
The German and international media turned a blind eye to the violence and the Nazi methods of the so-called “anti-fascists,” implicitly approving their behavior by branding the Pro Cologne people as far-right thugs and the thugs as ordinary people resisting “Nazism.” The Times of London wrote on September 22, 2008: “A weekend gathering in Cologne of far-right European extremists ended in farce when the main rally was cancelled as the organisers fled for their own safety.” The Norwegian national news bureau (NTB), too, depicted the victims as “Nazi” extremists and the aggressors as the peace-loving citizens: “Students, families and businessmen went out to protest, carrying banners with the text ‘We are Cologne – get rid of the nazis’ and ‘Cologne is rebelling,’ when they gathered to protest the conference of the local right wing extremist group Pro Cologne. In his speech, the city mayor Fritz Schramma called Pro Cologne a group of arsonists and racists who are hiding behind the mask of being a civil rights movement.”
A recent victim of demonization in an almost literal sense is the English Anglican priest Patrick Sookhdeo. Mr. Sookhdeo is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity. In his book “Global Jihad” he claims that Islamic aggression is rooted in Islamic theology rather than in economic and political grievances such as the existence and behavior of Israel. Rather than engaging in a debate, Indigo Jo, a British Islamist and Muslim convert, branded Dr. Sookhdeo on his website as the “Sookhdevil,” which resulted in death threats against the Anglican priest. Apart from Melanie Phillips, most British journalists do not seem particularly upset about this disgraceful incident. They seem to accept it as a fact of life that Nazi methods are used against people who, like Dr. Sookhdeo, consort with “hard-line conservatives and pro-Israel right-wingers” or others who are demonized as “Nazi” devils.
It is particularly disturbing that even the Dutch do not seem to have learned their lesson. Following the recent visit to the United States of the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who appeals to many of the late Mr. Fortuyn’s voters and their concerns, Mr. Wilders’ party, the PVV, has become the largest party in the polls. In a graph depicting the PVV’s surge, the line representing the party is colored in brown – the color of Hitler’s NSDAP party, the color of the Nazi devils.
In Belgium, too, the media in charts and graphs consistently depict the Vlaams Belang party in brown. Two years ago, VB leader Frank Vanhecke protested against the Belgian public television company’s use of brown to represent his party, instead of the party’s own color, yellow. “While for all other parties their own chosen colors are used [orange for the Christian-Democrats, blue for the Liberals, red for the Socialists,…] we get brown. Brown! The reason is obvious,” Mr. Vanhecke protested. The Belgian media, however, insist on painting Mr. Vanhecke and his party brown. The latter are depicted as the brownshirts of our time, against whom, paradoxically, the methods of Herr Hitler’s brownshirts of yesteryear are deemed appropriate.