When today’s upswing of fascism and neo-Nazism is discussed, referring to Nazi Germany is a certain taboo and a sidetracking cliché. It is taboo because in the eyes of so many it is never legitimate to compare anything with the Third Reich and the Holocaust. A pitiful offspring of that mindset is the anti-Deutsche arm of Germany’s radical leftist and anarchist movement, which in a fit of collective bad conscience supports the bloody Israeli state. It is a sidetracking cliché because by always looking back at these particular worst-of-all horror events, one can unconsciously ignore or deny the seriousness of what’s happening today.
A couple of neo-Nazis showed up in a recent mass-protest against the government and parliament, waving their swastika and sun cross flags. Since then, surprisingly little discussion about the matter has taken place, and that has been sidetracked by people belittling the actual threat of fascism as completely lacking context.
This seems to be based on Iceland’s isolation. Believe it or not, in these times of globalisation and international relations there seems to be a silent agreement about knowing as little as possible about what is happening in the rest of the world. This agreement crystallises in mainstream media coverage, where the appearance of actual world news analysis is an exception from an extremely narrow frame of news content. Even an entire newspaper is now being published shamelessly without any international context.
One does not have to go far away to witness how serious today’s upswing of fascism is. It manifests itself in two ways. Firstly, in what most people would call extreme cases. In Greece, neo-Nazis and police have for years worked side by side against immigrants and refugees. Seeing a group of Nazis stepping out of police vans, gathering for anti-immigration demos, is not uncommon. In a recent conflict about the cutting of the Khimki-forest close to Moscow, Russia, a neo-Nazi group was hired to guard the construction area and fight with its opponents.
In second place it is seen in democracy. The Tea Party in the US is a quite non-radical group of super-nationalistic Republicans, but under the surface it is a breeding-ground for NS88 and other Nazi groups, e.g. known for establishing their own “border patrol” by the Mexican Border. In Europe, racist political parties are receiving ever-increased support. Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in Holland, the Sweden Democrats with their neo-Nazi past and support, and Pea Kjærsgaard’s Danish People’s Party are few examples. Let us also remember Angela Merkel’s recent announcement about the death of multi-cultural societies.
After examining such random examples, it would be purely naive to claim that the threat of extreme nationalism is not to be found in Iceland. Very few people dress up in brown shirts with iron crosses but relatively many “normal Icelanders” share the neo-Nazi’s nationalism and xenophobia. This is best seen in the discourse about EU—and by the way, I am not pro-EU—where a big part of the opposition is built on xenophobic, nation-pride exclamations. There is a deep-rooted nationalism in the whole party-political spectrum and though the racist Liberal party vanished into thin air, its members did not. They joined the Independence Party or Blood and Honour, depending on emphasis.
The problem is ignorance. The ones who condemn neo-Nazis but at the same time wave Icelandic flags on all occasions, feel unity when hearing the national anthem, participate in campaigns like InDefence’s “Icelanders do not look like terrorists!”, talk about Viking-blood and old Icelandic values, and see nothing wrong with Iceland’s refugee policy don’t seem to realise that they themselves are the ground for neo-Nazi existence. Extremes can only come about, sustain and expand if they have a solid base to grow on.