The vacuum in European policy directed at dealing with the refugee crisis is too big to go unexploited by far-right forces. Even the most persistent ostriches cannot but have noticed this on Sunday, when rallies were held by clearly fascist groups against migrants and refugees across Europe. United by their dream of Fortress Europe and applauding the decision of various states to close themselves off behind walls and fences, Europe’s racists spread their abhorrent propaganda in a number of cities in 14 countries.
The rallies in Dresden (birthplace of the Islamophobic Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, PEGIDA), Calais and Montpellier, Graz, Prague, Amsterdam, Warsaw and Birmingham, to name but a few, united the thus-far fragmented voices and actions of hate, the traces of which are evident in many European countries: in attacks on refugee camps, assaults on dark-skinned people on the street and in subway systems, and especially in the stigmatization of migrants and refugees by forcing them to wear special bracelets or the funneling of fabricated stories through social media – all meant to legitimize this new “crusade.”
The Hungarian camerawoman who tripped up a refugee running for freedom while he was holding his child is probably not only not suffering pangs of guilt, but is proud of her action. She was a pioneer and now she has hundreds of new followers.
If the leaders of Europe and the rulers in Brussels believe that Sunday’s rallies represented the peak of reaction and will be followed by a dip in intolerance against refugees, they will be adding to an already long list of mistakes. Essentially, they will also be allowing the fascist preachers of xenelasia to set the tone of Europe’s response to the crisis.
In Greece too, we would be woefully mistaken to believe that the racism being preached by PEGIDA and the like is not resonating with some part of the public. The myth that Greeks are not racist is a populist lie that was entirely discredited some time ago. There may not have been a major rally in Greece in Sunday, but there have been a string of protests in areas where so-called hot spots are being constructed. At Schisto, near Piraeus, it was not just the spirit of ultranationalist Golden Dawn that was present, it was there also in body as eight party lawmakers attended, apparently to sing the national anthem.
Here’s the thing, though, Golden Dawners are not against foreigners in general: Just a week ago, they invited a group of like-minded German folk to Athens and the little Hitlers went up to the Acropolis and took photographs with the war flag of the Third Reich flying beside the ancient citadel.
Their hosts were not annoyed: That’s the kind of patriots they are.