Back to previous post: Peeling the onion

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Sometimes Violence Is the Answer

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

June 26, 2009

Time makes strange bedfellows of us all
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:43 PM * 143 comments

Via Arthur Hlavaty, I see that a British appeals court has ruled that a London Orthodox Jewish school that gave admissions priority to Jewish students is engaging in a forbidden “test of ethnicity” if it uses the traditional Orthodox definition of Jewishness — matrilineal descent. (The school has a PDF FAQ about the decision.)

But that’s not what prompted me to post. What got me typing was, while searching for more details, discovering this angry editorial criticizing the decision — from the British National Party, aka the British Fascists, who have apparently been courting the Jewish vote, perhaps inspired by Pat Buchanan’s famous success with Jewish voters in Florida. Welcome to the 21st century.

Comments on Time makes strange bedfellows of us all:
#1 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 01:19 AM:

**blink**

Say what? Wow.

#2 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:46 AM:

The BNP (or as I call them, The Inbred Party) has another interest as well: they currently accept white members only(*), and have been told they will soon be challenged by State prosecutors if they don't stop discriminating.

* from their statute:

Membership of the BNP is strictly defined within the terms of, and our members also self define themselves within, the legal ambit of a defined ‘racial group’ this being ‘Indigenous Caucasian’[..]
The indigenous British ethnic groups deriving from the class of ‘Indigenous Caucasian’ consist of members of:
  1. The Anglo-Saxon Folk Community;
  2. The Celtic Scottish Folk Community;
  3. The Scots-Northern Irish Folk Community;
  4. The Celtic Welsh Folk Community;
  5. The Celtic Irish Folk Community;
  6. The Celtic Cornish Folk Community;
  7. The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Folk Community;
  8. The Celtic-Norse Folk Community;
  9. The Anglo-Saxon-Norse Folk Community;
  10. The Anglo-Saxon-Indigenous European Folk Community;
  11. Members of these ethnic groups who reside either within or outside Europe but ethnically derive from them.

#3 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:53 AM:

Oh-dear-oh-dear... I didn't realize that they were so, so thoroughly... How many were actually elected?

#4 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:38 AM:

*BOOM!*

Head espoldy.

#5 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:38 AM:

Hmmmm ... not sure it's really all that much of an appeal. It's still pretty clear that they are talking about those of 'native' British descent. For values of 'native'.

#6 ::: Farah ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:47 AM:

You need to keep in mind here that under UK law, Jews are protected under the race relations act. Muslims and Christians aren't. Also, the laws on relgious schools which are mostly funded by the state (as this one is) go back to compromises made in 1944. They allow a school to give priority to those of faith, but there have been many rulings in the past few years that Church schools cannot ask for proof compliance with school doctrines.

Furthermore, if you read the response, you'll see that the community is practicing the uttermost hypocrisy in declaring that this undermines the admissions policy of admitting someone on faith grounds, when they are excluding on racial grounds, and claiming they will now have to impose a faith test.

A lot of this is intra-denominational nastiness. "I didn't do the conversion so it doesn't count" is what it boils down to.

I take this particular case very personally because something very similar happened to some cousins of mine. My grandmother's oldest brother married a Catholic convert (*huge* family scandal, because it only became public that he was already married, when his parents piled the pressure on him *to* marry). His children were brought up Jewish, attended an Orthodox synagogue every day of their childhood,. Then, when my cousin was 13, the new rabbi refused to conduct the barmitzvah on the grounds that the conversion was not valid because he hadn't done it.

The fall out in the family went well into the next thirty years.

#7 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:58 AM:

janetl@3: 2. Plus several local councillors.

#8 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:12 AM:

To clarify, two Members of the European Parliament are from the BNP, including the Man Himself Nick Griffin (yes, since you ask, it is a comment on how pathetic his party is that the head of the party is standing as an MEP, generally a haven for eighth- or ninth-stringers at best). They have also successfully infected a few local councils, one county council, and the Greater London Assembly. They haven't reached the UK Parliament yet, and god knows we'll be taking to the streets when they do.

And I don't predict them much electoral success with British Jews, not while we have all these lovely videos of Griffin denying the Holocaust.

#9 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:45 AM:

A friend of mine has gotten himself onto an internal BNP email list so he can snoop on what they're up to. (He's a gay rights activist: you can probably figure out what the BNP think of that sort of thing without me telling you ...)

Apparently they have flame wars in which the word "fascist" is used as a term of abuse. Without irony.

#10 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 07:42 AM:

I seem to remember hearing that some members of the National Front (a predecessor of the BNP) had converted to Islam so they could attack Jews. Could have been urban myth I suppose, but if true, I wonder what became of them.

#11 ::: arwel ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 07:57 AM:

Unfortunately they got 2 people elected to the European Parliament three weeks ago, and for my sins the odious Nick Griffin is now one of my 8 MEPs. Personally, I voted Green as the least-bad of a not particularly inspiring choice, and if they'd got only 5000 more votes then they'd have won that seat, and not Griffin. Come to that, the vote was sufficiently close that if UKIP had got 1000 more votes, they'd have won that seat in addition to the other one they won in this region - even though I don't agree with them, at least they're better than Griffin.

#12 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:19 AM:

Their other MEP is Andrew Brons, who was previously chairman of the National Front and a prominent member of other Neo-Nazi groups.

#13 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:51 AM:

Charlie: Apparently they have flame wars in which the word "fascist" is used as a term of abuse. Without irony.

To be fair, AIUI the BNP was formed from a split with the National Front because their founders felt the latter was too fascist. They tend to distance themselves from the strongly-authoritarian nature of fascism, and concentrate on only the nationalistic sides of it. Fascist parties typically concentrate power in an individual, whereas the BNP to the best of my knowledge participates in some reasonably democratic practices within itself to allow its members to govern the party. I think, to a Nationalist, "Fascist" means "someone more Authoritarian than I am."


As to why the BNP is supporting the Jewish school here, I don't think gathering the Jewish vote is anything to do with it: it's just that the school is facing almost exactly the same issue as the BNP is currently looking at, an inquiry into racist practices in its selection process for new members, as Giacomo @2 pointed out. The BNP can't be seen to be hypocritical, so if the freedom to choose their members that they want also means Jewish schools should be free to discriminate against the non-ethnically-Jewish, then they are quite willing to make public statements to that effect.

#14 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 09:22 AM:

You take money from the state to operate your school,
you operate the school under the guidelines the state says

#15 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 09:56 AM:

Craig R: It might be of interest to you to learn that of the state-supported secondary schools in Scotland, roughly 40% are run by the Catholic church -- to their own educational agenda (albeit in line with the national curriculum).

#16 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Charlie at 15, I didn't know that. (No reason why I should, I don't live in Scotland.) But the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, reading the sentence -- after all, handing the schools over to the Catholic Church worked out so well in Ireland...

#17 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Jules @13, and it could be partly about hoping to get some votes from hard right types who are Melanie Phillips fans or close to that.

#18 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 12:38 PM:

The BNP is the party that recently sent out an all-members bulletin to say "whatever you do, DON'T BLOG" because so many of its members tended to go online and either:

1) deny the Holocaust
2) say or do embarrassing things regarding Hitler
3) rake up horrible internal arguments
4) be semi-literate at best (no, seriously, "poor command of English" was in the e-mail)

or some combination of those options.

Their past Leader, John Tyndall, who died recently, operated a mail-order business specialising in lederhosen, leather, and generally things that half-swagger, half-straddle along the line between "outrageous leather queen" and "wearing uniform for political purposes contrary to the Public Order Act 1936", a zone Tyndall spent his life navigating with varying degrees of success.

What a bunch.

#19 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 01:03 PM:

The "folk community" things above made me blink -- for a moment I was worried that all of my beloved "deedle, deedle, this way, deedle deedle that way" friends were being maligned as fascists!

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 01:25 PM:

Lizzy L @16:
handing the schools over to the Catholic Church worked out so well in Ireland...

Actually, the practical upshot of this is quite the reverse: Catholic schools are subject to the same supervision as state schools. They are doctrinally Catholic*, but are not generally run by religious orders†.

My husband's brief teaching career was in a Catholic school. He, despite being very much not a Catholic§, noted no real differences from the non-denominational state school in which he did one of his internships.

No, the weird place, the different place, was the posh private school where he did his other placement. But that's a whole 'nother story.

-----
* This impacts Religious Education (though children still must be taught about other faiths), and the requirements for daily worship. But, as Charlie says, they must still teach and test the National Curriculum, so the bulk of the instruction is standard.
† This means that the institutional and cultural problems within these orders—the tendency for the religious to protect each other rather than the kids, bluntly—do not arise‡.
§ Long story
‡ Which is not to say that any situation is abuse-proof, of course.

#21 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 01:40 PM:
The "folk community" things above made me blink...

For 'folk' read Volk, perhaps.

#22 ::: miriam ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:09 PM:

In Delaware, at least, some of the children who attend the local Jewish day school are not Jewish. One of my friends has a granddaughter who attends. So far, no-one has died from this.

#23 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:20 PM:

"The "folk community" things above made me blink..."

And don't think that prospective members can blithely skip the rigorous musical requirements. Singing, guitar work, song parodies and strange dances are all tested. And the goose step is *not* counted as a dance.

#24 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:36 PM:

I see the Picts are not welcome, unless they want to call themselves "Anglo-Saxon Indigenous European Folk".

I also note that the BNP has grave doubts about the Norman Conquest. I suppose you have to draw the line somewhere, and 1066 is at least a date pretty much everyone in Britain knows...

#25 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:40 PM:

Which brings us back to Morris Dancing, of course.

#26 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:42 PM:

"The "folk community" things above made me blink..."

The skip stepping and goose stepping communities haven't always been that distant. Especially before WWII there was a lot of ... interesting ideology feeding into the revival of folk traditions, including some extreme nationalism.

I don't know the literature that well, but I know that Steve Corrsin has done a lot of research on the sword dancing side of this.

#27 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Someone with standing* should found the Bardic Nonsense Party, membership of which is restricted to members of:

1. The Star Trek Filk Community
2. The Oh God Anything But Old Trek Filk Community
3. The Babylon 5 Filk Community
4. The Firefly Filk Community
5. (help me out here, guys)

-----
* with a theremin†, I guess, though sitting with a guitar may be defensible instead.
† Stands with a Theremin...wasn't she in Dances With Wulfenbach?

#29 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:29 PM:

Miriam @22, we had non-Jews at the Jewish private school I attended as a child. It's pretty common for religious grade schools to have a few students sent there by parents outside the faith who just dislike the available public schools. (Note for UK readers: I'm using "public schools" in the American sense; you'd call them "state schools".)

"Dying" has nothing to do with it, or with the controversy I linked to. I'm at a loss for why you brought it up.

#30 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:44 PM:

For fictional take on a Catholic Scottish school in a (mostly) working class neighborhood read A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil by Christopher Brookmyre. The portrait of the school is from decades ago.

#31 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:46 PM:

Incidentally, one of the things that always weirds me out on visiting the USA is the profusion of national flags everywhere.

Over here in the UK, during the 1970s the National Front made a nearly-successful attempt to steal the Union flag (that's the British one, not the confederate one flown during the slaveowner's rebellion) as a symbol; wearing a union jack t-shirt or armband or having one in a house window was a common identifying trait of racist neo-nazi thugs.

And thirty years later we end up with news reports like this as fallout.

#32 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Incidentally? Brookmyre is God. Even if I don't agree with his choice of football team. OK?

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Charlie @ 31
It didn't used to be flags everywhere. I understand that before the 1960s, sports events didn't begin with flags and the national anthem. It's like putting 'in G-d we trust' on money: it was all to show we were different from (and better than) those other guys over there.

#34 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Charlie @31, that news report explains it: It's saltire-based flags that signify racist or nationalist jack-bootery. Over here, in the US, the standard American flag is fine, but the old Confederate "Dixie" flag -- which is saltire-based -- is widely recognized as a banner of racism.

#35 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Avram @34:

Please tell me you were kidding there.

#36 ::: Ellen Asher ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:48 PM:

PJ @ 33
I think the national anthem has always been sung at sports events -- baseball, anyway, where I'm pretty sure I remember it from when my Dad took me in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Flags were probably there, too, but I wouldn't have noticed them -- they were just part of the decor.

The real proliferation of flags -- on buses and windows and baby carriages and whatall -- took place after 9/11.

#37 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:55 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 32: Incidentally? Brookmyre is God.

Yes!

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:11 PM:

#27 Abi 5. (help me out here, guys)

I'd say the Battlestar Galactica Filk Community.

#39 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:18 PM:

Charlie #31: yeah, it's quite depressing that I get an unpleasant twinge if I see a publicly displayed Union flag. It shouldn't be a symbol of nationalism and racism - but that is one of its meanings.

#40 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:19 PM:

According to this article, the anthem started to be sung during the World Series in 1918, was sung on special days in the baseball season from then till WWII, when it started being sung before every game. The other major sports weren't important till after WWII, so they picked it up from baseball.

#41 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Abi @35, which part? (Also, did you read the article Charlie linked to?)

#42 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:25 PM:

Avram: you're misreading it; the Saltire is nothing to do with the Confederate battle flag -- it predates it by several centuries and is, inter alia, the Scottish national flag. The BNP/NF/fascists don't use it because, not to put too fine a point on it, they're the folks who sing the verse of the national anthem about "rebellious Scots to crush" (when they sing it at all).

#43 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:25 PM:

Anyway, this supports my theory that a nation which doesn't feel embattled doesn't feel the need to talk up its own greatness to itself. Make of that what you will.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:32 PM:

Charlie, a saltire is a heraldic charge; that X shape. "The Saltire" may be the name given to the Scottish national flag, but the word 'saltire' has a more general use. Note Avram's lack of capital S in his post.

The Confederate Battle Flag's most prominent charge is, in fact, a saltire. Avram's joke is that anything with a saltire is racist. A fylfot, now, he'd have a better case, especially a fylfot per saltire.

Gules, on a plate a fylfot per saltire sable is RIGHT OUT.

#45 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:34 PM:

(#15) Charlie -- I take a very USA-centric view of the matter of state funding for educational institutions.

If you accept direct monies expect state direction of all aspects.

In the Interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I went to a grammar school (grades 1-8) and high school (grades 9-12) that were run by the Catholic church. And which received no direct monies from the government.

And my wife is a graduate from Wellesley College, which also accepts no government monies, and is able to keep themselves restricted as a women-only college.

The acceptance of state monies by religious institutions leads to state-sponsored religions, and states that are unduly influenced by those religious institutions, to the detriment of those who are different believers or non-believers.

I, personally, would have found it very troubling if my religious-run school were to be accepting direct government subsidy.

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:41 PM:

Chris, I ran into that information while reading Charles Einstein's Willie's Time, which is about baseball mostly in the 50s and 60s, with a hefty dose of modern US history, especially civil rights history, thrown in. (Officially, the book is about Willie Mays and his career, but it's a lot broader than that, and worth reading.)

#47 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:44 PM:

As to (ab)use of flags, there is a German men's clothing firm that has a Norwegian theme, with Norwegian personal names and names of towns, and, of course, our flag. The problem was that since any historical Nazi symbols are banned in Germany, those that lean that way are always searching for other symbols to use in their stead. The firm is alleged to have been started by people sympathetic to that movement, and - regardless of that being true or not (I do not know) - was embraced by individuals belonging to that movement. Needless to say, the Norwegian government wasn't that happy about this, and went to the German courts (don't know what kind of case they had, though). I do not know what recent developments, if any, there might have been.

On the lighter side, one thing that amuses me and my friends is that, although we Norwegians may be said to be flag-wavers too, we do not use the flag in exactly the same way as Americans do. For instance, Norwegian government offices do not have a display flag behind the desk, nor do we commonly have a flag behind the bar in a cafe or pub. So when we see that in a film or TV episode stated to take place in Norway, we have a bit of fun at that (of course, I realise that this is also a kind of TV and film shorthand for "We are not in the US anymore, but in Norway").

#48 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Well, we already have a state-sponsored religion in the UK, that ship sailed a long time ago.

I don't believe religious schools should get government money, or be allowed to discriminate, secular lefty that I am. There was a minor controversy a while back over a government-funded school in the UK teaching young-earth creationism, which is exactly the sort of shit I thought we were above in Europe...

#49 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:49 PM:

As to attitudes towards Jews, someone I know who has studied the post-WWII far right, once told me that there has been a major disagreement between those who cling to the original theories about the Jews, and those who have developed a sort of "we were a bit wrong about the Jews, after all, they are white too" attitude. Not that either wing is nicer than the other, of course.

#50 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:49 PM:

Xopher @ 44: A heraldic nitpick: "per [X]" describes a field division, "[X]wise" describes an orientation. The objectionable charge would be a fylfot saltirewise sable.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:53 PM:

Oh, damn, you're right, Joel. Thanks.

#52 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:13 PM:

Avram @41:
Of course I read the article. Although the fuss has settled on the Saltire, I note that the guy in question also had Scotland's other flag (a lion rampant) and a tartan seat cover. Personally, I think he should have just taken to wearing a kilt or a Nessie costume and have done with.

I'm just hoping you're not taking this fairly contentious assertion that the Scottish flag is as much a symbol for racism as the Confederate one seriously. I'm fond of Scotland, and am planning to get a Saltire to hang in front of my house in the Netherlands on Scottish holidays. It's not racist.

#53 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:15 PM:

Craig R.: Just to underscore how different the UK is -- despite speaking what is notionally described as the same language -- you might want to know that schools are required by law to hold acts of collective worship "of a primarily Christian nature". In a country where >60% of the population are atheists. (And the law in question is widely flouted by headteachers -- especially in largely non-Christian catchment areas.)

One thing I have observed, close-up and personal: compulsory religious education in schools generates atheists like you wouldn't believe.

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Charlie @53:
compulsory religious education in schools generates atheists like you wouldn't believe.

Nor they, apparently.

#55 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:23 PM:

Charlie @42, this is one of those upper-case/lower-case things, like an anti-monarchist saying he's republican and getting taken for a member of the US Republican Party. I see Xopher (@44) beat me to spelling out the rest of it.

#56 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:39 PM:

Abi @52: Personally, I think he should have just taken to wearing a kilt or a Nessie costume and have done with.

Or a kilt with a Nessie copiece! (I'm afraid to Google. It must already exist somewhere.)

Xopher's already explained my joke for me.

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 06:48 PM:

Avram @56:
Or a kilt with a Nessie copiece!

Now, laddie, if he's a true Scotsman, he'll be wearing nae codpiece at all.

(A google on "Nessie Sporran" yielded nothing useful. You may yet have a new career in front of you, if you dare.)

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 07:20 PM:

abi 57: Now, laddie, if he's a true Scotsman, he'll be wearing nae codpiece at all.

Is that a "No True Scotsman" argument?

#59 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:03 PM:

Charlie @31:

Just a minor point, but "Union flag" in the context of the slaveholders' rebellion would refer to the flag of the United States, i.e., the Stars and Stripes, not any confederate flag. [I suspect this of being a brief mental/typing glitch, not actual confusion on your part.]

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:20 PM:

One of the more, shall we say, interesting effects of recent migration to the UK from eastern Europe (the "Polish plumber" phenomenon) has been the expression of anti-immigrant feeling by the children of recent immigrants. I was amused to see black, Asian (that's Asian Indian to Americans) and mixed race Brits) reported as expressing pro-BNP sentiments, and so was my colleague from Ealing whose parents migrated to London from Sierra Leone.

I'd like to see how many non-white voters cast (or admit to casting) votes for not just the BNP but the English Democrats at both the last local government and Euro-elections. I have a feeling it would be a small, but non-trivial number.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Fragano, I've heard immigrants here expressing anti-immigrant sentiments. It's hard on the brain.

#62 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:50 PM:

Charlie @31: so, the Union flag as a T-shirt or armband denoted skinhead/racist fucknuttery, but when worn as boxer shorts remained the province of drummers who aspired to Keith Moon's reputation?

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:54 PM:

PJ Evans #61: The idea of non-white people voting for a racist organization that is opposed to their being in the country is, let's say, mind-boggling.

#64 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 09:02 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 63:

My American sister, who lives in England, has picked up an anti-immigrant attitude from her English boyfriend. Lunacy all round there, I think.

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 09:51 PM:

KeithS #64: Consider that in the United States, one of the leading spokesmen for the racist anti-immigrant right is a British immigrant, Peter Brimelow.

#66 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 10:23 PM:

KeithS - My American sister, who lives in England, has picked up an anti-immigrant attitude from her English boyfriend.

Wow. That's post-stupidarity grade stupid.

#67 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 11:00 PM:

Rikibeth @62, replying to Charlie @31, asked: so, the Union flag as a T-shirt or armband denoted skinhead/racist fucknuttery, but when worn as boxer shorts remained the province of drummers who aspired to Keith Moon's reputation?

Now I'm confused. So when Rose Tyler wore a Union Jack t-shirt (for the go-back-to-the-Blitz-and-meet-Captain-Jack ep ... there, I hope that's not spoilery), it was intended to be read as RACIST? Or not. Now i'm confused. I thought it was the kind of shirt one can buy in Excessively Touristy Areas, and might wear post-ironically.

#68 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Charlie (# 53) --

I *did* say mine was a USA-centric view...

I would be very unhappy with a forced worship interval. Another USA-centric thing, and I am happy that we don't have an official national religion here on this side of the pond (no matter what some of our eliminationist whackos may want to claim).

A state religion, be it Islam, Jewish, christian or atheist, is too effective a tool for government manipulation of the population, through indoctrination, fear (of one's own neighbors) and direct intimidation by law.

#69 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 01:48 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 65:

What's his schtick? "Dear me, isn't it awful that a foreigner like me can come to your wonderful country and be paid stacks of money, when an American could do the job just as well? The people who pay me all this money promise that if you vote for them they'll come down hard on all of the foreigners like me taking your jobs."

Josh Jasper @ 66: Wow. That's post-stupidarity grade stupid.

Every time I read this I laugh. Thank you.

Elliott Mason @ 67:

The only people I remember seeing who wore Union Jack clothing are Rose on Dr. Who, and one or another of the Spice Girls. This is not meant as a racist sentiment, just a bit of nationalistic pride. It is a bit of a class signifier, as displays like that can be considered a touch tacky.

#70 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 02:34 AM:

The Nation Front and other racist associations with Union Flag clothing come from a long time ago. 1970s, somebody said upthread. It was somewhat mocked by Tim Brooke-Taylor in The Goodies. The Spice Girls are more likely an inspiration for Rose, and they might have been drawing their ideas from the Sixties.

What makes the Nazis unusual was that they fixated on their own flag, not on any national flag.

#71 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 02:34 AM:

The Nation Front and other racist associations with Union Flag clothing come from a long time ago. 1970s, somebody said upthread. It was somewhat mocked by Tim Brooke-Taylor in The Goodies. The Spice Girls are more likely an inspiration for Rose, and they might have been drawing their ideas from the Sixties.

What makes the Nazis unusual was that they fixated on their own flag, not on any national flag.

#72 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 03:55 AM:

Of course, if the BNP is indeed forced to take non-white members, there is an interesting possibility there, as outlined yesterday by The Now Show: all of us en masse take up a membership, vote the racist bastards that now rule the party out, and rename it to something more creative, like the Britishfilkers Natch Party (as in, people in a room drinking and making merry).

#73 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 04:22 AM:

Anna #72: hmm, somebody nicked the BNP's membership lists a little while back, so we should be able to see how many people we'd need to get a majority...

Unfortunately joining the BNP can have serious consequences. At my university we forced out a member of one of the student union committees who was on the aforementioned list, and I believe a police officer was sacked for the same reason.

#74 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 04:32 AM:

abi @27, 5. The Zombie Filk Community?

#75 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 04:35 AM:

How about the National Furries, free schisms included.

#76 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 05:46 AM:

Is now the time to mention the Hitler/Downfall/BNP mashup video on youtube?

(No link provided because fscking Youtube has flagged it as adult content or something and requires a sign-up with altogether too much personal identifying information for my taste. If you have a youtube account, just go there and search for "hitler downfall bnp" -- it's the first item you'll find.)

#77 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 06:07 AM:

They've flagged that as adult? Ok, I'm a bit pissed now. I had almost forgotten that Youtube is one of those places that allow users to flag stuff as inappropriate. Doesn't that have the potential to become Youtubefail? (Not this particular video, but the general policy of letting ordinary users flag stuff as inappropriate.)

(One link for the video Charlie mentions is www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUNUuqlG1a0 , btw.)

#78 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 06:49 AM:

Union Flags (and Royal Air Force iconography, roundels, zoom flashes and the like) were also an important style trope of Mod.

Interestingly, today, the extreme right seems to prefer the St George's Cross, which is English rather than British. The connotations are much less diverse and much more unambiguously bigoted.

However they also like to flirt with Ulster Loyalists, who consider themselves British (but also Irish) and display the Union Flag at every opportunity and on any possible surface. Which is bizarre for the BNP - there is no St. Patrick's saltire in an English flag after all.

#79 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 07:25 AM:

PJ Evans #61:

"I've heard immigrants here expressing anti-immigrant sentiments. It's hard on the brain."

There's a saying: "The last one to come in closes the door"...

#80 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 08:42 AM:

'A state religion, be it Islam, Jewish, christian or atheist, is too effective a tool for government manipulation of the population, through indoctrination, fear (of one's own neighbors) and direct intimidation by law.'

I'm with you in principle, but...let's just say that if I wanted to manipulate the British population, I wouldn't choose the Church of England as the medium to do it through.

Worth mentioning that in some places, state control of religion has been seen as a way of keeping a lid on religious extremism. I think that's true of the early days of the Churcvh of England, and its also, I think, true of Turkey in the present day. So that's one reason for atheists to be in favour of it.

#81 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 08:44 AM:

@77. That was funny! (And it segues into the documentary Mein Kampf. Which is not.)

#82 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 09:34 AM:

I remember that a lot of Swedes found this guy a rather unlikely character - with jokes such as "In Sweden, even the ultra right wing is integrated", etc.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 09:51 AM:

KeithS #69: Brimelow's schtick is that America is fundamentally a European (read Anglo-Saxon) culture that is in danger of being overwhelmed by non-Western peoples who do not understand the greatness of the Western tradition. These people are outbreeding the alarmingly fragile whites and, if non-white immigration and interracial marriage are not stopped, the white race is in danger of a kind of soft genocide. People like myself are part of the threat.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 10:00 AM:

One thing I want to make clear about non-white BNP voters. When I was a boy in south London, the kind of idiot who is a BNP supporter today, and who backed Colin Jordan and the National Front back then, would paint "N*GG*RS GO HOME" or "W*GS GO HOME" on walls and railways bridges. Annoyed the hell out of me as a kid, since I immigrated from Kensington.

Forty years later, young black, Asian, and mixed-race Brits in multi-culti Britain want to raise the drawbridge against immigrants without seeing the bloody irony.

#85 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 10:22 AM:

P.J.Evans #33: it was all to show we were different from (and better than) those other guys over there.

Which is funny, because "over there" in the GDR, they were required to be a lot more enthusiastic about flags than in any place in the West I visited before 1989. (Never went to the US until the 90s.)

Per Chr. J #47: The firm is alleged to have been started by people sympathetic to that movement, and - regardless of that being true or not (I do not know) - was embraced by individuals belonging to that movement.

If that is what I think it is, it's about the name of the company, and what you'll see of its name on a shirt when you wear an open jacket over it. Apart from that company, Norway and things Norwegian (except for death metal and whale hunting) have no problems with reputation in Germany that I know of.

Recent developments regarding that company: None, if I go by events next town over. The landlord and the other shops on the street are still trying to evict the guy selling that stuff, for damaging the reputation of the neighborhood, bringing down property values, and being an embarrasment.

#86 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 10:33 AM:

Dave Bell #71: What makes the Nazis unusual was that they fixated on their own flag, not on any national flag.

That's what happens when a movement has its own designers.

#87 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Is it reasonable to stop being surprised when immigrants are opposed to newer immigrants?

Afaik, most people have group identification which are much more important to them than general principles.

Also, being mistreated generally doesn't give people wider sympathies. It would be nice if it worked that way (you might get some interesting oscillations if being mistreated was the only thing that made people kinder), but it just doesn't.

#88 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 11:05 AM:
A state religion, be it Islam, Jewish, christian or atheist, is too effective a tool for government manipulation of the population

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

The Anglican Church's primary raison d'etre, post-Elizabethan-settlement was to provide a state religion so all-inclusive that people would stop killing each other over it, no matter who got access to the throne in future: so the Church's rituals are something like Protestantism in Catholic clothes, or perhaps vice versa. (In the early days there was also a desire to have everyone in England be members of the same Church, but after Cromwell it became plain that this was impractical.)

For a long time dangerously nutty fringe groups like, um, Catholics and Jews were officially discriminated against, but that stopped some time back, probably because it seemed un-Anglican to hold such strong opinions. The Church now is so ecumenical that they don't seem to mind if, e.g. some of their priests consider themselves to be Jewish.

Instrument of state oppression? The Anglican Church? Don't make me laugh. (Its predecessors, now, oh boy yes. But it's a *reaction* to state oppression, or more specifically people of faith X saying 'finally one of our lot is on the throne' and setting out to massacre everyone who doesn't believe as they do.)

Fragano, et al: the most extreme anti-immigrant (and anti-Semite) I've ever met was a well-off Jewish immigrant to England (immigrated from Germany in the 1980s). 'Raise the drawbridge' describes people like that permanently. They don't really hate and fear group X: they hate and fear *competition from people like themselves*.

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Per #82: I recall reading about that case. It is truly fascinating.

#90 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:08 PM:

"If that is what I think it is, it's about the name of the company, and what you'll see of its name on a shirt when you wear an open jacket over it."

Okay, I'm dying of curiosity here. Can someone post the name ROT-13'd or something?

#91 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:31 PM:

The Gube Fgrvane clothing brand used a logo which was close to a fylfot saltirewise. That link is to the Wikipedia article, which has a small image of the logo, supposed to be based on two runes.

Visually, it is an "I" superimposed on a left/right mirrored "N".

#92 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:44 PM:

Adding to my previous message, a Wikipedia article on the German law banning Nazi symbols includes pictures, and that clothing company logo is a 90-degree rotation of the wolfsangel, an old German heraldic charge adopted as a Nazi badge.

#93 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 01:01 PM:

HelenS @90: I think there's a number of things going on here - the clothing company Thor Steinar originally had a logo based on two runes. Designs using runes like this are often used by neo-nazis, being all 'Nordic' and 'Aryan' &c. After protest, the company (which denied any neo-nazi connotations) changed its logo to a Norwegian flag.

I assume that inge is referring to in #85 is Helly Hansen, which uses the Norwegian flag on some of its clothing. As far as I can tell, any association of this brand with neo-nazis is incidental, due to the aforementioned 'Nordic' fixation. The company was founded in Norway in the 19th century, but the fact that it uses a 'HH' logotype as its trademark no doubt provides a frisson of something-or-other to the unpleasantly-inclined.

#94 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 01:34 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #83: Brimelow's schtick is that America is fundamentally a European (read Anglo-Saxon) culture that is in danger of being overwhelmed by non-Western peoples ... These people are outbreeding the alarmingly fragile whites and, if non-white immigration and interracial marriage are not stopped, the white race is in danger of a kind of soft genocide.

Of course, he has a prior example to point to... namely, the near-extermination of the Native Americans upon the arrival of the Europeans (and Britons)! Never mind all the other factors involved with that (superior weapons, aggressive religions, et pluribus alia) -- he knows that "we" slaughtered the people who were here before us, and he can't imagine that new arrivals would want anything different.

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 02:15 PM:

David Harmon #94: You see Mexicans and other non-white peoples (all Mexicans are non-white according to Brimelow) don't believe in freedom. Plus opposition to racism is preventing white people from exercising their freedom of association (now, where have we heard this before?). All this is very bad, and will destroy the United States. Plus (according to one speech he gave), the US is in danger of going the way of Britain, where Nick Griffin got slapped on the wrist.

#96 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 02:54 PM:

Jakob #93: "Thor Steinar" is not Norwegian, and I was wrong in my guess -- this must be the one Per was talking about. New logo has a saltire... Regarding Norway sueing the company, the courts are playing hot potato with it.

I was mixing it up with another name, but the story about everyone and their dog trying to get rid of that darned story is accurate. Sorry for the confusion about names.

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 03:31 PM:

inge @96:
New logo has a saltire...

I guess Avram did call it, then.

#98 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 04:26 PM:

Fragano, et al: the most extreme anti-immigrant (and anti-Semite) I've ever met was a well-off Jewish immigrant to England (immigrated from Germany in the 1980s). 'Raise the drawbridge' describes people like that permanently. They don't really hate and fear group X: they hate and fear *competition from people like themselves*.

You're assuming his "themselves" is "immigrant." Five'll get you a bajillion that if you asked the guy, he'd say his "themselves" is "well-off."

#99 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 05:24 PM:

inge @ 96:

Yes, it was that brand I was thinking of.

In fact, I didn't know that Helly Hansen had had trouble in Germany, but I can see that an HH logo might pose problems in that market.

#100 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 09:07 PM:

(88 - Nix) & (#80 praisegod barebones)

The Anglican church right now is very all-inclusive (not as much as the UU church, but pretty loose for most part) ('though I was raised a Papist I attend American Episcopal Church these days)

{soapbox}
Even though the US does not have a state religion, the default bias is toward christian of some stripe, and the militant evangelicals are trying to cram *their* interpretation of The Way Things Should Be on everybody else. Including reinstating criminal penalties for *being* LGBT. Some are pushing to get commerce shut down on Sundays (again) while moving to penalize adherents to those religions that have a different Sabbath Day by refusing to recognize the legitimacy of a non-Sunday day of worship. They also want to allow discrimination in hiring based on religion,including barring (currently) Muslims from civil government jobs, and from the military. Many of these same people would relegate women in society to their "proper place" in society as well.

Thank you, but I don't want *any* religious authority embedded into the secular power web. The examples of what can (and has) gone wrong is embedded plainly in the historical record.

The use of a state religion to be a check on bigotry and radicalism is just a "band-aid," which ignores the underlying issues of ignorance and intolerance. Somewhat like the repressive communist regime in Yugoslavia was able to keep sectarian and neo-nationalist activity down, and as soon as Tito died the federation started to slide into chaos, because the underlying issues were never addressed.
{/soapbox}

#101 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 09:23 PM:

all: the discussion of anti-immigrant immigrants is reminding me of Tenn's "The Masculinist Revolt", in which a woman runs on the platform of being the \last/ woman to run for POTUS. (I still haven't figured out what he was thinking when he wrote this and am not sure he was either -- he may just have been fed up with doctrinists of any stripe.)

Alex@78: Aren't the Ulster "loyalists" mostly Scots-descended (hence the religious divide)? If so, a flag not honoring a saint who was there before they were makes a twisted sort of sense.

#102 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 01:48 AM:

Official UK discrimination against sinister Papists survives in some places. One living Royal was removed from the line of succession upon marriage to a RC.

Post WWII European and more recent Lebanese and (South-East) Asian immigrant/refugees to Australia, or their descendants, have been heard to express anti-refugee or Moslem immigrant sentiments, especially 'facilitated' by the former Howard Liberal government and their supporters. Sometimes they are expressed through physical actions (as in).

#103 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 02:57 AM:

Inge @85 -- If that is what I think it is, it's about the name of the company, and what you'll see of its name on a shirt when you wear an open jacket over it.

Another company that fits this descriptions is YbAFQNyr, although they have tried to counter unwelcome interest.

#104 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 07:58 AM:

Craig: The use of a state religion to be a check on bigotry and radicalism is just a "band-aid," which ignores the underlying issues of ignorance and intolerance.

State religion happens when the state wants to control religion. It needs to be inclusive enough not to destablise the state through religious factionalism, and needs a mechanism to tolerate other denominations well enough to avoid civil war. Several hundred years of those policies, and you get 60% atheists.

In Europe, protestantism as state religion made the governments safe(r) from catholic coups and cut the pope out of the country's policy decisions. The mostly catholic states had more trouble with sovereignity.

Theocracy, OTOH, happens when religion controls the state, and does not much care about majorities or civil wars. Fundamentalism wants a theocracy, not a state religion.

However, I feel that the time for state religion is past. For several reasons I don't think you could get people to get along with "Cuius regio, eius religio" these days.

#105 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 08:40 AM:

Exactly how religious the UK is varies a lot depending on what question is asked.

If citizens are asked to tick a box next to which religion you are, with one of them being "no religion" and also a write-in box for less common ones, as on census forms, 71% of people are Christians according to the last census in 2001. But if you ask people specifically if they believe in "a God", less than 40% of the country does. 33% of people described themselves as "religious" (so we have lots of Christians who aren't religious), and of those who did describe themselves as religious, 50% "do not practice religion very much, if at all". And in only 17% of Britons is religion "one of the most significant factors in their lives". Church attendance on Sunday was 7.5% in 1999. (source for all this).

I think this presents a great snapshot of institutional inertia. A solid majority of the country is not religious in any significant sense. But various trappings of religion have hung around. Charlie above mentioned compulsory daily service in state schools (daily assembly in my state primary school frequently had a Christian theme, although Hindu stories were told quite often). Catholics are technically still forbidden from being Prime Minister (one of the first things Tony Blair did on leaving office was make his conversion official). For that matter, Bishops of the Church of England have an automatic seat in the upper house of our legislature! We are institutionally one of the more religious countries in Europe, and demographically one of the least. It's very odd.

#106 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 09:40 AM:

...if anyone wants to stir up the blood of the British they can pass on a fact I discovered recently. The current Big Brother house is built on the site of the bit of Elstree studio where they shot The Dambusters. Bloody Dutch, they come over 'ere with their programme formats...

#107 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Sean @105: as far as I know, there is no technical or legal impediment for a non-Anglican to become Prime Minister. (S)he would only be barred from advising the Queen on matters of faith, which would probably also mean that (s)he couldn't appoint people to official roles in the Church of England. There are a few positions which, albeit officially chosen by the Queen, are in practice appointed "through" (i.e. by) the Prime Minister, and obviously these couldn't be appointed by someone not belonging to the CoE. The issue would be easily solved by the appointment of a "dedicated" Anglican minister, I guess.

That's old-school British pragmatism for you: the problem simply didn't came up before, so nobody bothered to write a law for it.

#108 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Oh, and to Jules @ 13: "whereas the BNP to the best of my knowledge participates in some reasonably democratic practices within itself to allow its members to govern the party"

Nope. I've read the statute: the head-honcho is the ultimate authority on *everything* and can overrule any decision taken from any assembly/council. You can take the nazi out of the fuhrer, but...

#109 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 10:55 AM:

107: there have already been non-Anglican PMs: Gordon Brown is a Presbyterian (son of a minister, indeed) as was Ramsay MacDonald, and I'm sure there have been others - all of whom will have appointed people to bishoprics without too much trouble.

But I don't think there have been any non-Protestant Prime Ministers (Disraeli, though of Jewish ancestry, was an Anglican by faith). And Catholics specifically may or may not still be barred from recommending people to bishoprics, as you suggest.

#110 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 11:34 AM:

Giacomo, thanks for the correction. According to WikiAnswers, it's specifically that "no Roman Catholic or Jew may advise the sovereign on ecclesiastical matters", which explains why Brown hasn't had any trouble.

#111 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Speaking of the devil, here's some topical news just to prove that the USA doesn't have a monopoly on right-wing domestic terrorists.

#112 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 04:14 PM:

That news article refers to "weedkiller", Charles, and I can make a pretty good guess what they're talking about: an oxydising agent sold as a weedkiller by garden centres. Mix with water, geve the ground a good soaking, and nothing grows.

But be careful about using an arc-welder in the vicinity.

I've had the components for some forty tonnes of explosive on the farm.

It's a little frightening how many things there are which are openly available, yet illegal if the Police don't like you.

#113 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 06:15 PM:

Potassium chlorate (or similar) and any heavy oil will do. Or ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

Dave, there are a couple of thousand (or more) books in the room next door to the one I'm sitting in. I'm absolutely certain that a good prosecutor working for the CPS could build a "material likely to be of use to terrorists" case against me on the basis of something in there. (Like, say, "Ignition: a history of liquid rocket fuels" by John D. Clarke?)

#114 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 09:38 PM:

What stood out to me in that news article was that he was also carrying the explosive weedkiller and the other "component parts" with him on the train. I know that when I go out to use weedkiller in my horticulture business, I don't typically carry the other items I'd need to make a bomb with me to the job site.

#115 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 11:58 PM:

Echoing David Wald at #26, there's a significant element of the UK and European neofolk musical community that at the very least has fetishized fascist imagery, and at least sometimes the ideology as well. Some of them (like Death in June and Boyd Rice) seem to thrive on the are-they-or-aren't-they controversy and theatrics more than anything else, but there are certainly lots of neofolk musicians and fans who are open about embracing dreadful social philosophies wrapped up in cultural or national pride. (One of the few places I've seen someone use the word "miscegenation" seriously in the last few years was on a neofolk-related mailing list.) Weirdly, some of these same guys are also completely accepting of homosexuality - think of the SS-officer-as-sex-object thing going on with William Hurt in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and you'll about have the picture of it.

A few years ago, Tony Wakeford, who fronts Sol Invictus and a couple of other neofolk projects, published a statement online disclosing his former membership in the National Front and his disavowal of, and regret for, that period of his life. It's short and to the point, but I find it very moving - particularly his mention of all the people close to him who would be hurt if the fantasies of nationalists were to become a reality.

#116 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:27 AM:

Per Chr. J. @ #82:

Rumour has it that said chap was fond of going on the pull in pubs, trying to pick up women with a racist attitude, using the "I am black, but I know I'm inferior, so I've made sure I'm sterilised" line. Well, at least one female I know claims he tried it on her.

Makes, if nothing else, for more of a *boggle*.

#117 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:09 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy, I experienced probably a similar mental double-take upon realizing that the skinhead types in the modern American white supremacist (there's an oxymoron for ya) movement strongly embrace either satanism or some odd form of fantasized paganism. Their forebears claimed the Ku Klux Klan was a wholly Christian movement. Guess you could have called them Khristians.

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:41 PM:

LMB MacAlister: According to the old Klan Klonstitution (yes, that's what it was called, or perhaps, klalled), every klavern had a chaplain, called a Kludd. I kid (or klidd) you not. The Klan, as it existed from its founding in Atlanta in 1915, all the way down to its fragmentation after World War II, was an explicitly Protestant organisation. It's been only in these more, ahem, degenerate days, when there's been somethine of a shortage of upstanding white supremacists that they've let in Catholics, neo-Pagans and others.

Chambers's history of the Klan includes the tale of one Klavern in Indiana back in the 1920s which heard a rumour that the Pope was coming into town by train from Chicago (what the Pope was doing in Chicago, and why he would bother to visit some small town in Indiana is unclear). So the boys put on their robes and hoods and went down to the station to organise a necktie partie in honour of the Italian clerical gentleman. A travelling salesman from Chicago had a hard time proving that he was not said Italian priest.

#119 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 10:29 PM:

LMB, the paganism is a big element of European neofolk as well, what with the runes and the true love knots and "The Odin Hour" and whatnot. I get the impression that a lot of National Front types see Christianity as an unwelcomely pacifistic, and possibly Semitic, affront to the true ways of their heritage. Which in its way is more internal consistency than you usually get from those guys.

I wonder if the American manifestation of that is the result of influence from European racist groups, which have apparently had connections to paganism for a while now. I recall reading a German interview some years ago with Andria Degens of Pantaleimon where the interviewer said that in Germany identifying as pagan was usually thought to be an indicator of neo-Nazi sympathies, much more so than in the US or Britain.

#120 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 11:26 PM:

Whenever the topic of the Klan comes up I think of the description someone gave of the branch that Harry Truman stood up to early in his career--he'd looked into joining them when they first moved into Independence thinking that they were something like the Masons, but rapidly changed his mind (and the possible attempt by one of them to kidnap Margaret later didn't help). Can't remember if it was Truman or the biographer, but they said "that bunch were 200% Americans. They didn't just hate Blacks, Jews, and Catholics: they hated everybody."

#121 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:03 AM:

Long-time readers of rec.arts.sf.fandom might remember this comment about Italian neo-fascist "hobbit camps" by Anna Feruglio Dal Dan in 2001.

She listed elements that fascists find attractive in heroic fantasy: "the prevalence of mythos over history, the extollment of 'heroism' and the intrinsic, ancestral charisma of authority figures, the recovery of a traditional wisdom that, in their horror for any kind of advancement of learning, they recognize as the only possible kind of knowledge [...] shining heroic figures inbued with intrinsic auhtority residing in their blood or their military might or spiritual greatness, heeding the forgotten wisdom of the Ancients, redeem a world fallen into decadence, bringing it back to the noble values of ancient Tradition."

If you google for "italian 'hobbit camps'", you'll get some useful-looking links, some of them to Stormfront.org, the white nationalist and neo-Nazi website which I'm reluctant to link to directly.

#122 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:03 AM:

Honestly, Dan @ #119 & others, I've seen considerably more satanism and general nihilism among American skinheads than any sort of paganism. A couple or three cool tattoos of Pagan symbols don't make a system of spiritual beliefs. And the construction of even a faulty value system built on a pre-Christian set of beliefs is way beyond the hate-based ideological slavery I see in the man I know who claim membership in these proto-Aryan groups.

Maybe it's because of the melting-pot nature of Western culture as a whole, so that only a small percentage of natural-born citizens these days can claim even 50% regional purity (of DNA coming from a specific small region of Europe), but for the most part the only things these guys over here share is white skin and hate. And their leaders, while they share the kinship of xenophobia, are mostly tinfoil-hat folks who got their ideas from various illbegotten books and from hate-speech radio commentators. So, if some guy with an Irish surname, and Irish-English-French-German-Italian lineage (maybe with a little American Indian mixed in?), is claimage homage to a set of half-imagined Norse religio-ethnic beliefs because "it's Aryan, man, and we have to fight the good fight to keep the out of OUR HOMELAND!!!!!" . . . well, you'll excuse me if I have trouble taking it seriously.

But I have to say I'm a bit impressed that some of the Western European groups have actually thought about the history involved, as well as the ramifications of earlier abuses to kin. (Not that that has anything much to do with the increasing globalization of the economy and civilization as a whole.)

Fragano, the county where I live has a couple of very well-established, very progressive social service organizations that were started and supported by the Klan back in the day (the Teens and Twenties, though the financial support sometimes lasted for decades), to help the widows and orphans, etc. Some klaverns were well-known in their home areas for confronting wife-beaters and chronic gamblers, trying to work with drunks to get them sober and back into their families, and even intervening in family situations where there was physical and sexual child abuse. Of course, around here they felt they had the latitude to do those things because Jim Crow laws and attitudes were keeping the Negroes in line.

Back then, there were lots more people who could rightly claim "pure" northern European bloodlines. Although they rejected the Irish, French (except in Louisiana), and German Papists, there were other organizations who took those racists in. I understand there was considerable pro-Nazi support in several parts of Texas that were settled by Germans and were still insular German communities at the time of WWII, at least until they started bombing England and sinking American ships and subs. And when we were attacked first by Japan, well, America's enemies became all Americans' enemies.

#123 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:12 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @118, I think I've already said it a while ago, but I still find it kind of funny (in a morbid way) that at the time, that organisation was the most violent part of one of the two main powers in the Democratic Party, while the other one consisted of the often heavily Catholic-influenced city machines.

LMB MacAlister @117, more like there's a fair amount of overlap between the wh1te power types and neopagans. Some of said power types see themselves as Christians. It's a bit weird how, when you construct links along the lines of "subculture A overlaps with subculture B, subculture B overlaps with subculture C, subculture C overlaps...", you can often get from one side of a deep enmity to the other in very few steps. Back when (about ten to fifteen years ago) I dabbled in conspiracy theories a bit, I found that extremely confusing.

LMB MacAlister @122 (second half), so?

#124 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:14 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @ 119, I recall reading a German interview some years ago with Andria Degens of Pantaleimon where the interviewer said that in Germany identifying as pagan was usually thought to be an indicator of neo-Nazi sympathies, much more so than in the US or Britain.

Yep.

#125 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 05:02 AM:

I'm waiting for one of these groups to start supporting Ahmadinejad, because they've finally worked out that "Aryan" and "Iran" are basically the same word.

#126 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 05:22 AM:

No need to wait, ajay, as far as I know, they (or at least the ones who didn't try to backpedal on antisemitism) have been doing that ever since he first gained notority.

#127 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:49 AM:

Asatru (the worship of the Aesir, or Norse gods) is, I'm told by I-don't-remember-whom, the second-most-common conversion religion in America's prisons, the first being Islam.

I suspect that this has more to do with racial tensions than with a sincere devotion to the Norse gods, and that the version of Asatru practiced in prisons would generally appall MY Asatru friends, but I have no evidence to support either speculation.

#128 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:53 AM:

Most of the Asatru I know are appalled by the racist version of "Norse" "paganism"*. I do know one guy who was rather puzzled by the concept that anyone not of NW European descent would want to worship the Norse gods, but it didn't really bother him. He eventually just shrugged and decided it was no skin off his nose.

* Two sets of quote marks because both words are being misused by the racist types.

#129 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Raphael @ #123: That was just to say that perhaps members of the Klan and the few other white sup. groups in the early part of the Twentieth Century had more claim to so-called racial purity--they certainly don't today. Any claim of Germanic superiority in the US in the middle of that century would've put the claimant in serious trouble.

Carrie @ #128: Objectively, that's no more odd than a person of NW European descent wanting to embrace Buddhism. It's just that we tend to view different religions in different lights.

#130 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:44 PM:

ajay #125: The last shah of Iran had "Light of the Aryans" as one of his titles.

#131 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:54 PM:

LMB MacAlister: As I recall that's one of the arguments that was used on him. I'm not sure why the disparity happens--maybe it has something to do with Buddhism being widespread?

#132 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:35 PM:

LMB MacAlister @129, Carrie S. @131, there is a common idea in pagan and polytheistic religions that every place and every culture has its own gods (or other supernatural beings), and that people usually worship their ancestors', or their area's, gods, and that this is a way for people to connect with their traditions or homes. That is one reason why there's some amount of overlap between neopagans and various ultranationalist movements. From that perspective, the better fitting comparision would be with someone embracing Hinduism rather than Buddhism.

#133 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Xopher:

I wonder how much of the continued spread of white supremacist ideas happens in prisons. My understanding is that racial tensions are very high in most prisons, and it seems like that's the perfect environment in which to breed really nasty racial ideologies.

#134 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 07:10 PM:

I can assure albatross and others that a good deal of the ideology does get spread in prisons and secure youth detention facilities (state schools, reform schools, whatever your state calls them). One other thing that spreads fast in those places is the idea that it's okay to hate others simply because of race. Most of the guys who become skinhead types are basically outsiders, though rather than being nerds, they're outcasts because of extreme family dysfunction, poverty, and/or learning disabilities. A mind-set of racial hatred is pretty simple as philosophies go, and the organizations usually have older male "role models" to help teach--and often those are some of the first non-abusive or disapproving older men who've ever taken an interest in them.

I suspect the main reason for the disparity between the religious fervor of the earlier white sup. movement and the satanic leanings of its modern counterpart lies in the fact that the modern one arose not from the Klan, but from the outlaw biker groups that began after World War II. Also, this mostly explains the difference between the Pagan and Neo-Pagan leanings of the groups in Europe and the more Satanic leanings of the American groups. To most Protestant Americans, particularly those with lower educational levels, equate Paganism with Satanism. When a White Aryan Brother gets a tattoo of a Pagan god, it's not because he's studied any sort of pantheon, but because it's viewed as anti-Christian and it looks cool.

#135 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:05 PM:

inge@104: In Europe, protestantism as state religion made the governments safe(r) from catholic coups and cut the pope out of the country's policy decisions. The mostly catholic states had more trouble with sovereignity.

I think you're going overboard here. I've read that Verdi became a political atheist because he felt Roman Catholicism had deliberately kept the Italian peninsula fragmented -- but mostly-Lutheran Germany was also divided well into modern times, while the earlier fragmentation of France (until the end of the Hundred Years' War) reflected mundane power struggles that a quick read (background for Henry V) suggests RC was not strongly involved with.

Charlie@111: interesting that he was focused on attacking non-British; what I've seen in the U.S. is more random violence against Others and more planned violence against the state (cf Oklahoma).

Fragano@118 The Klan, as it existed from its founding in Atlanta in 1915
uh, which Klan? Regardless of whether it was actually founded by a Civil War general, the name was in use over a generation before that.

all: it's hardly surprising that modern thugs embrace the Wotan/Donner/Froh/Tir line; I've seen many descriptions of Nazi Germany involving a sort of Wagnerian polytheism. (No, I won't vouch for their accuracy; we're talking about people who seem to pick up whatever is shiny rather than looking in detail.)

#136 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:33 PM:

CHip #135: we're talking about people who seem to pick up whatever is shiny rather than looking in detail.

IIRC, that pretty much sums up the Third Reich's propagandistic use of religion.

#137 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:33 PM:

CHip #135: The original Klan was suppressed during Reconstruction. The Klan as we know it today was recreated as a result of the popularity of the film Birth of a Nation in 1915.

#138 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 12:31 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @137: The Klan as we know it today was recreated as a result of the popularity of the film Birth of a Nation in 1915.

Ah, so we can blame it on the Hollywood liberals.

#139 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Chip#135: Germany was already divided, and in some issues you still see the lines between Catholic and Lutheran federal states to this day. Bavaria, most Catholic of the federal states, had most problems with democracy, and was an example of the state following the church up into my lifetime.

But the cases I was mostly thinking of were France and Spain. From what I read, in France the state got into a tug-of-war about the country with the church in the 19th century (don't know about the 20th), and (I'm doing this from memory of things read, so if someone if more familiar with the matter, please correct me) in Spain the church was consistently in bed with whomever would give them special privileges. I have heard some people from Spain saying that one wouldn't put it past the church to support another coup, but of course I might know a lot of tinfoil hat types.

Sorry for being vague, maybe someone knows more?

#140 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 07:07 PM:

inge @ 139

Yes, anti-clericalism has certainly played its part in French, Spanish and Italian politics, and Germany has of course had its Kulturkampf.

Anticlericalism and official secularism in predominantly Roman Catholic countries is one of the things that at first is a bit bewildering to people (like me) who've grown up in a predominantly Protestant country, since the people who work against religious influence in the public area here are often freethinkers and/or anti-religious, while anticlericals could be mainly just anti-church, without strong opinions on the religious teachings of the church (of course, sometimes, especially in Spain, they had both).

#141 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 11:23 AM:

Giacomo@108 wrote:

"Oh, and to Jules @ 13: "whereas the BNP to the best of my knowledge participates in some reasonably democratic practices within itself to allow its members to govern the party" - Nope. I've read the statute: the head-honcho is the ultimate authority on *everything* and can overrule any decision taken from any assembly/council. You can take the nazi out of the fuhrer, but..."

Its worse than that I think. IIRC he legally owns the property of the party.

I don't think the current BNP was founded (or rather refounded) by "anti-fascists" escaping from the old National Front. The usual story about the split is that they were distancing themselves from the NF leader Martin Webster who was openly gay. One of the splitters was John Tyndall, a disgusting old Nazi from way back. I am pretty sure they weren't in the slightest soft on Jews. They may also have wanted to distance themselves in public from the para-military thuggery of the NF, in order to try to reposition the new party for elections.

Griffin and Brons did *not* leave the NF back then, they stayed in and got involved in its weird internal faction battles The two biggest factions were the so-called "National Front Flag Group" who were pretty straight-down-the line authoritarian militarists who fancied themselves like the 1920s Brownshirts or the Romanian Iron Guard, and the "Political Soldier Movement" who thought of themselves as pure spiritual warriors dedicated to the cause of racial advancement through struggle, and flirted with Colonel Gadaffi and the Nation of Islam as well as (allegedly) conducting strange religious rites on hilltops.

In the late 1990s Griffin and Brons and a few others left the NF and took over the BNP, supposedly in a palace coup to get rid of Tyndall and his friends ("supposedly" because there is some doubt as to how much there was a takeover & how much it was pre-arranged). After that the rules were changed to make it effectively impossible for anyone else to take the party off Griffin.

In a sense the BNP is a fake party, a front. In fact a double fake. First there is a layer of misdirection between the party and its voters. Obviously most people who vote for it are not fascists in any real sense, just racists and nationalists. In fact many of its members probably aren't ideologically fascist. But the party's directions and policies clearly are - if you look at its manifestos they are stuffed with far-right dog-whistles (which some of the nice people who read this website might mishear - they aren't meant for you) They are in a sense what the Trots used to call "transitional demands". They don't intend to ever get their policies passed into law - they are set up to fail and in doing so appeal to potential recruits. Which is one reason their elected councillors never do any work - they don't want to get elected to manage the city, they want to get elected to give them a platform to speak from. And why challenging them on their policies rarely does any good because all you do is draw attention to them which helps them get their message across to potential recruits. BNP policies aren't meant to get 50.1% of the people to vote for them. They are meant to get 0.1% of the people to join them. Winning 99.9% of the argument does no good.

And yes, there is debate within the BNP about what sort of far-right party they are. There are anti-semites and there are others who look on Jews as white. There are some who claim to be traditional Christians, more who are atheists, and increasing numbers of neo-pagans. Some of them have very genuine green beliefs. But the combination of extreme authoritarianism with nationalism constructed as a form of racism and kinship (the old family = race = nation lie) clearly puts them in the fascist & white supremacist camp. Some of them are willing to put up with Jews in Britain, I've never heard of one who accepted blacks here.

BUT even that is a sort of blind. There is a second layer of misdirection between the members and the core leadership. There is no real debate, or no effective debate in the BNP, because it is all run from the centre. And the people who founded the party and those who l run the centre are, or at least were once, not ordinary fascists but genuine Nazis. By "Nazi" I mean the sort of people who wore black leather uniforms and conducted occult rites to shrines to Hitler. (Their old friend and later long-term rival Colin Jordan actually took his marriage vows on a copy of Men Kampf) Maybe they grew out of that sometime in the last thirty years. But that is where they are from. I strongly suspect that any apparent pulling back from anti-Semitism is just a trick. Actually that's about the shape of British racist politics. As a large oversimplification the old guard theorists hate Jews and to some extent they hate Christianity as well, which from their point of view is just a perversion of Judaism that glorifies weakness. But the don't mind gays and they quite like pagans and they at least respect Islam because they think it is tough. But the footsloggers and cannon fodder out on the council estates pay no attention to religion, other than to hate Muslims, and they fear and despise both blacks and and gays.

#142 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 01:44 PM:

#137 & 138 -- An excellent historical run down on the Klan's founding and its later revitalization via Birth of A Nation and Woodrow Wilson is included in the forthcoming The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans (August, 2009).

Yes, this work is written by The Spouse! It's a brilliant work, fully equal, and even, in some ways, surpassing his The History of New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (Jan. 2008, which was awarded the 2009 Best History of the Year prize by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and named the Favorite Book to Sell of 2009 by the Gulf Coast Independent Booksellers Association.

Why, yes, I helped! Ha! :)

Love, C.

#143 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 01:45 PM:

After reading up on vdare, I've been thinking about Racism 2.0 or what I currently think of as JAW Racists. In the old days, racists of different groups were prejudiced against each other, and they were divided regionally--in the west, things were worst for Mexican-Americans and Indians, in the south-east, for blacks, etc. But now Jewish, Asian, and White Racists are banding together. I can't decide if that's simply the evolution of a stupid idea, or if, as their individual strength dies, the last racists are being forced to work together.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.