The Politics of Demonization

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.

Fallacious # 5

@ Kapitein Andre

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.  Many of them deserve serious consideration.

Concerning point III, I fundamentally disagree. I do not "conflate neutrality with complicity", and I do not think of having a "conflict of interest" with assorted liberals, socialists, etc.... Rather, I think that I have a different perception of the common interest with those assorted liberals, socialists etc...than they do.  These types of conflict are not based on conflicting interests, but on different opinions about the common interest.

In any case, it is useful for Americans (and others) occasionally to see how a typical European 'realist' (like yourself)  thinks about the world.  Behind a facade of morality (and I am not talking about you, but about European governments in general), what counts is self-interest.  Now, self-interest should count for everyone. But, it can not be divorced from morality.  When people refuse to recognise the existence of evil, they have absolved themselves of having to make moral choices.  Hence, the reach or claim for "neutrality".....       

Every concrete situation should be judged on its own merits. So, I am not dismissing "neutrality" out of hand.  There may be times when neutrality could be the right course to follow, at least temporarily.  It truly depends on the alternatives in play.  But, neutrality is often based on a short-term perception of "self-interest", not on a lasting one.  'Old' Belgians should be able to recognise that, for they should still be able to remember what official neutrality (in the inter-war period) 'gave' them or led to.    

Of course, nations just like individuals can go through life (and history) claiming 'neutrality' between good and evil.  That is and always has been the easier option.  But, historically, that has not been the 'American way', although individual Americans and their governments have made tremendous mistakes along the way.  And the world is much the better for it, whether it can recognise that or not.   

@marcfrans part deux

I.  Mr Landen is preaching to the wrong congregation.  The DDR was in the main a continuation of the Deutsches Reich, albeit with a Marxist-Leninist façade in recognizance of the new bipolar order and in deference to the Red Army.  Yet, the DDR's Berlin Wall was as notorious as the Atlantic Wall, the NVA goose stepped and was entirely offensive (unlike the Soviet Armed Forces), its StaSi had the same reputation as the GeStaPa, and the SED exceeded the CPSU in totalitarianism.  All of these policies were, of course, to combat fascism and national socialism.  Basically, Marxist-Leninists and Maoists have resorted to strategies and tactics identical to their ideological enemies to defeat them.  Mr Landen is thus "exposing" a bitter irony some decades old.  National Socialism and the NSDAP have been the excuse for innumerable hard and soft human rights abuses for over sixty years.


II.  Again, the issue of Palestinian responsibility for their current state is neither unique nor new.  De-colonization proved that peoples would rather live worse but according to their own self-determination (i.e. tyranny), than live better under the rule of a European power that provided infrastructure, economic development, education, access to global markets, etc.  The end of White-rule in Rhodesia and South Africa, and the subsequent abuses of Whites, their businesses and their property drove the point home.


III.  You conflate neutrality with complicity and even overt support.  As far as Jews in general are concerned, I and them have conflicts of interest, not unlike your conflicts of interest with assorted liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists and Muslims.


IV.  Democracy requires a degree of individualism that Arab cultures have yet to manifest.  Pre-Islamic Arab cultures were feudal and tribal.  Indeed, those Muslim governments that are allies of the West are not democratic, but hark back to the time before Muhammad.  Kemal and Hussein transitioned their respective countries to republicanism on the foundations of monarchic/aristocratic predecessors; Nasser built on the legacy of British rule; Pahlavi was a monarch.  From authoritarianism to democracy is more probable than Islamist to democratic.


V.  Israel can only hope that the Palestinians tire of the fight.

Fallacious # 4

@ Kapitein Andre

1) Indeed, there is very little that could be considered "unique" to the National Socialists.  Man's inhumanity to man is not a recent phenomenon, but is as old as man himself.  I repeat that Mr Landen was exposing supreme irony by pointing to the charge of "nazis" that is commonly hurled at defenders of Western freedoms nowadays.  In that specific context, his reference to "nazi methods" being used to silence them, is very reasonable and understandable.  If you would prefer the expression "nazi-LIKE methods", that would be fine with me.  While you are anti-American, I am not anti-German, but I am anti-nazi.

2)  Your comparisons WERE patently absurd.  And the fact that you would even dare to use the words of a "jewish head of ANC security" is the height of irresponsibility.  Marxist perverse selfhaters are not reliable sources when it comes to establishing  facts-on-the-ground anywhere.   What is next? Are you going to cite 'Baghdad Bob' to assert that the Americans were nowhere to be seen in the vicinity of Baghdad airport?  It is ludicrous to blame Israel for the "conditions of Palestinians" rather than the Palestinians themselves and/or their own and other Arab leaders.  And, if you were not so obsessed with 'ethnicities', but rather more focused on human values and democratic principles, you would be able to recognise that the conditions of Arabs in Israel proper are significantly better than those of Arabs anywhere in the Arab world.  The fact that most Arabs can not recognise this themselves is indicative of cultural characteristics that are the root cause of Arab 'conditions' anywhere.  

3)  Au contraire, you are consumed with hatred for Israel and jews in general. It is one of the most persistant characteristics of your writings on this blog.  And your statement about "white rule" confirms again that you are a 'nazi-like' racist.  I have no illusions about what non-white rule WOULD have been like in the American South in the past, and what non-white rule today IS like in South Africa, but that does not mean that one should not "take issue" with your examples of white rule.

4)  The only thing that can "bring peace" to the Holy Land is democratisation of Arab culture, which means that genuine peace is impossible today.  The nazi-like 'peace of the grave' that is so characteristic of much of the Arab world is not a genuine peace. It is a peace based on intolerance and on 'the rule of (some) men' as opposed to the (impartial) 'rule of law'.   

Indeed, the survival of Israel's democratic polity is something that people like you do not consider their own "problem". How short-sighted of you, and how you misread the source of Arab fury (which is resentment)! The Israelis are smart enough to know that, which means that they know that they have to focus on their defense capabilities, and should not listen to western traitors of democracy.  

An ' Adamsesque' Guide to the Holy Land ?

"We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem" - Douglas Adams.


Ah, but is it? And would it be? Consider the following quote from Adams' wikipedia bio:


Adams worked as a bodyguard in the mid 1970s. He was employed by a (Qatar) Arab family which had  made its fortune in oil. He had anecdotes about the job: one story related that the family ordered one of everything from a hotel menu, tried all the dishes, and sent out for HAMBURGERS!!!


(See also: 'A World Without Israel' by Joseph Joffe).



Adams worked as a bodyguard...


I.  I take exception to the charge of "Nazi methods".  It is difficult to determine which "methods" were unique to the National Socialists.


II.  My comparisons were not absurd.  In fact, the Jewish-South African former head of the ANC's security and intelligence group remarked after visiting Israel, that conditions for the Palestinians were worse than for the Blacks in South Africa.


III.  I have no hatred towards Israel; criticism is just that, not hatred or even dislike.  Nor do I take particular issue with White-rule in the American South or in the aforementioned African countries.


IV.  Jewish-rule is what fans that flames of intifada.  Are you truly convinced that more funds and more advanced weapon systems will bring peace to the Holy Land?  In the main, the international community - read the West - allowed the Jews to establish a Jewish state.  That Israelis cannot fully relax without fear of gunshots, rockets or bombings is not my problem. 

Fallacious # 3

@ S Atkinson

1) I am afraid that many readers will not realise that you are (probably) using the word "bully" in an archaic (positive) sense, not in a modern (negative) sense.

2) While I agree with you that President Lincoln's aims were laudable ones, I think that we should recognise that their achievement DID require a temporary "occupation" of the American South.  However, I am not hung up on that particular word, and it is insignificant compared to the much broader point I was trying to convey to the Kapitein.

3) Nobody is perfect.  If you blame the JDL for being too 'soft', while the Kapitein thinks they are too powerful (in terms of influencing Western opinion), perhaps they are not doing too badly?


I have just one continuing sentiment for you: Bully! [archaic]

I stand corrected on the your point vis a vis "occupation". I understand fully, your intent, and your own understnding as to meaning.

As to the success of the Jewish supporters in America, (I not being Jewish), they appear to tread cautiously on beds of liberal coals placed in their paths. This is not only unfortunate, but is very unbecoming for a nation based on freedoms inalienable principles.

Fallacious "fallacious hyperbole"

It is true that references to nazis tend to be hyperbolic, but they are not necessarily "fallacious".  The Kapitein is wrong, and Mr Landen is right.  Some defenders of Western freedoms ARE being demonized as "nazis", and "nazi methods" ARE being used to silence them.  Mr Landen was NOT "exposing a fallacy", rather he was exposing or highlighting a supreme irony. 

The Kapitein's dislike or hatred for Israel is beyond 'repair' or redemption, which leads him to make absurd comparisons.   In fact, virtually every land or region of this world has known or experienced "military defeat and occupation" of one kind or another in the past.  The strange thing is that Israel is one of the few places on this earth which STILL TODAY faces that prospect of another military threat and occupation.  And it is western appeasers or Israel-haters, like the kapitein, who help to keep that prospect alive.   


Bully! To you for continuing to expose even more fallaciousness, and the perpetuating of "modern myths".

The American south, post 1865, was militarily defeated, yes, but it was not occupied in the military sense of the word, far from it. President Lincoln's goal, obviously, was to preserve the Union, not to divide and occupy. In this, he succeeded famously.

As to Israel, I have a serious problem with the American JDC, or JDL, in that they are not forceful enough in explaining the right of Israel to not only survive in a region of the world where mere survival is a daily staple, but standing in complete defense of Israel's right to exist, utilizing all means possible. That would of course, include any military option available to effect a survival strategy so anathema to some people in this world.

Fallacious Hyperbole

Excepting historical references, "Nazi" is invariably used out of context.  Referring to Israel or Conservatives as "Nazis" is as hyperbolic as calling opposition to Israeli policies, Geert Wilders, the Vlaams Belang or Pro-Koeln "Nazi methods".  Mr Landen has fallen victim to the same fallacy that he is exposing.


I will re-iterate that Israel bears resemblance to Rhodesia, South Africa and the Southern United States.  The African countries endured all manner of cultural, economic and political pressure before conceding.  The American South was coerced for over a century by the northern states and the federal government; indeed, it was militarily defeated and occupied.  Israel, in contrast, receives quite the opposite treatment.

Epiphenomina, Oozing Through The Portals

The outgrowth of events following demonizations of those simply opposed to a particular government point of view, is, shall we say. alarming?

Continental governance is so tied down with social problems in it's midst, that real governance, the business of doing the people's business, is left far, far behind. What passes for legitimate business is merely the invasion of the governmental copyrights of other, lesser nation states.

This then, is called true governance, but is really an Islamic wolf, garbed in the sheep skin of the petulant reformers. Would it be fair to assert that nothing of any real intrinsic value comes from the hallowed halls of the continent's "Fortress Republica", a blaring band of mischief makers garbed in the jurisprudential robes of minor actors?

Mister Landen's comments are either apropos, or appropriately naive in futuristic terms. What in God's name is going on here?