Note: This week’s conference in Budapest is specifically directed against what it calls “Fjordmen” — which means that this blog and others like it are in the crosshairs.
Funded by the Council of Europe, the conference will train and bankroll “watchdogs” to keep an eye on the likes of us. They are nothing less than the secular European version of the OIC’s “Islamophobia Observatory”.
I say: Let them watch!
They can’t watch us more intently than the elites of Norway have been doing for the past sixteen months. The klieg lights have been in my eyes for more than a year. I’m used to them.
Let them watch! Let them read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!
They will discover nothing more than the truth. It’s there for all to see.
Here’s what Dagbladet says:
The Europe of hatred
by Torgeir Larsen
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, (AP — Labour Party)
Social crisis, mass unemployment and young people without future prospects breed hatred and intolerance in Europe. And the symbolic face of the European hatred is Norwegian.
If there is something we owe the victims of July 22, then it has to be to stand up against extremism and the ideology of hatred in our very own Europe. This week we are doing just that in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. That’s where we and the Council of Europe greet researchers, online activists, organizations, the Department of Facebook of Europe, the European Broadcasting Union and many others. The theme is the fight against hate speech and intolerance in the public sphere, particularly on social media and on the web where Norwegian and European “Fjordmen” and organizations such as the Prophet’s Ummah spread their message.
Fifty European bloggers will also be there. They will receive training that will enable them to become “watchdogs” on the net, and monitor, report and oppose those that spread hatred, because the backdrop of contemporary Europe gives cause for concern.
Mass unemployment characterizes the continent. One out of every four Spaniards is unemployed, in Greece one in five are unemployed, and these two countries are followed by a large number of other European countries with unemployment rates between 10 and 20 percent. Several central and eastern European countries are also affected, but that crisis receives less attention because they are not part of the eurozone.
At the same time figures from OECD show that the wealth gap is increasing between generations and regions in Europe. The salary ratio in Europe is also falling, meaning that payment of wages relative to capital is on the decrease. This is especially noticeable for those at the lower end of the scale — young people trying to become established. It literally means bigger gaps between rich and poor and that those at the bottom are paying the highest price. The result is an increase in social pressure. The economic forecasts indicate that the crisis is here to stay and that we’re stuck with high unemployment rates. The prospect of real economic growth in the affected countries is nowhere to be seen, which means that we have only seen the beginning of the political consequences of the crisis.
Democracy is dependent on voters who feel represented by those they elect. Many feel resigned, faced with the current crisis. The belief in political solutions is fading virtually all over Europe, voter turnout has decreased, and studies carried out by the European Development Bank (EBRD) show a significant drop in trust and support for democratic institutions. Not surprisingly the effects are more noticeable in the newer European democracies. The combination of short democratic histories, social crisis and increasing wealth gaps give rise to anti-democratic forces. The pressure against minorities is increasing, the search for scapegoats intensifies and the European extreme-right movements have gained more influence.
Hungary is one such example. There the extreme right wing party Jobbik has received 20 percent of the overall vote. It is a nationalist and anti-Semitic party that, set against the Hungarian crisis, has managed to mobilize against the country’s large Roma population. We also remember the dread leading up to this summer’s European Soccer Championships in Poland and Ukraine where we feared that racists and neo-Nazis would win the battle for the soccer stands.
Another strong trait of today’s extreme-right movements in Europe is a strong anti-Muslim rhetoric. The French “Bloc Identitaire” has become known for serving “identity soup” containing pork to homeless people in France. This wing of the European extreme right has a long history in Europe — a history which Norway also is a part of. Faced with the necessary evaluation of the nation’s state of preparedness on July 22, 2011, we should not forget this — the political background to the tragedy.
It may be an uncomfortable realization, but we are certainly part of the history of the European extreme right. The term Quisling has for more than 70 years been a European and international expression. The symbolic face of the rise of the new extreme right in Europe of today is also Norwegian. Perform a quick Google search on the extreme right in Europe today and you’ll see why. Several of the texts that appear are illustrated with the face of the mass murderer of July 22. This requires that we commit ourselves, and we take that commitment very seriously.
Norway has made the fight against increasing intolerance and hatred in Europe to one of our main priorities on several different arenas. The Council of Europe is one of them. The Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) is another. The Foreign Ministry has also created a project for the protection of minorities which also includes continental Europe.
Furthermore, there are the EEA grants, Norway’s contribution to social and economic cohesion in the EU, a unique instrument at our disposal for the defense of tolerance, democracy and coexistence in Europe. In line with the democratic warning signs in some countries we have redirected our support towards civil society, to strengthen the legal protection of vulnerable groups and the integration of minorities. Separate funds have been established for NGOs in the Baltic countries and Central and Southern Europe. The main purpose of the funds is to report and document hatred and intolerance.
History never repeats itself. Yet we know how extremism rose in the vacuum that appeared when democracy faltered and the economy failed between the two world wars in the last century. In my opinion no one has described this more lucidly than the economic anthropologist Karl Polanyi in his book The Great Transformation from 1944. Here he shows how economic upheaval, extreme distribution problems and social fear produce opposing forces in the form of political extremism on the right and left, looking for scapegoats, populist “us-them” ideology, persecution of minorities and hatred.
July 22 showed us that democracy cannot be taken for granted — not today — and not even in Norway. The perpetrator has received his sentence, but the hatred lives on in a continent which is hit by mass unemployment, growing inequalities and social crisis. The fight against intolerance and extremism in Europe must be intensified. And that is a battle where Norway will lead the way, just as we are alongside the Council of Europe in Budapest this week.