Douglas Murray, Spectator, September 8, 2017
Four years ago, I pointed out here that today’s anti-fascists appeared to be getting rather fascistic. The occasion for that observation then was a group of ‘anti-fascists’ surrounding a man in Scotland and screaming at him to go back to where he came from. For some reason that action was deemed ‘anti-fascist’ rather than ‘fascist’ because the target was Nigel Farage and the mob proclaimed themselves to be ‘anti-fascists.’ To which one might add that North Korea is officially titled ‘The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’.
Anyway, I pointed out back in 2013 that the left appeared to be priming itself to extend their definitions of ‘fascism’ because they hope to be able to win a political battle and recognise that attacking everyone they disagree with as ‘fascist’ might bring some short-term political gain. Though, as I also warned at the time, one long-term effect of all this might be that the public decides that if everybody is a fascist then nobody is. A conclusion that could have its own unpleasant consequences.
I rake up this piece of not very ancient history because of events in Holland. I was in the country last month and whilst there did a couple of interviews with the Dutch media. In one of them (whose publication seems to have been inexplicably delayed), I mentioned how struck I was that the head of the Forum for Democracy party, Thierry Baudet, appeared to be receiving what one might call the ‘Pim Fortuyn treatment’ from the country’s media. Readers will remember that as the libertarian Marxist Fortuyn was transforming the political landscape of his country, fifteen years ago, the Dutch political and media class decided to throw everything they had at preventing him from reaching power. They called him a racist and a fascist and a Nazi and the new Hitler and all that sort of thing and eventually a left-wing environmentalist decided Fortuyn must be all these things, and who wouldn’t kill Hitler if they could travel back in a time machine? So Volkert van der Graaf got a gun and shot Fortuyn repeatedly in the head, spending just over a decade in prison for this murder. He was released in 2014 and today, still only in his forties, apparently lives a happy life in the centre of the country whose future he changed so completely.
Anyhow, as I said to my interviewer last month, if I were in the Dutch media I would be rather careful about who I called a ‘fascist’ and a ‘Hitler’ just because I saw them as a threat to my political worldview. But the Dutch media appear not to have learned their lesson and have been gearing up to demonise yet another person in the manner that worked so well for them in the case of Fortuyn. Sure enough, yesterday morning the Amsterdam house of Thierry Baudet – who I mentioned in that interview – was attacked by a radical left-wing, anti-fascist movement who defaced the building and pushed a mixture of vomit and faeces through the door. They also published the address online, knowing that this would mean Baudet would have to move and that the house could be attacked again. These are familiar tactics of ‘antifa’ as they are often chummily called. Personally, I would like to think that if my own political arguments brought me to the stage of pushing faeces through someone’s letter box I might pause and wonder whether I was completely certain that my life and politics were on the right track. The people who do such things are fanatics, willing to do absolutely anything that furthers their political goals. But the media that does target-selection for them should, it seems to me, get some of the blame as well.
Political intolerance is once again becoming normal in European politics. Of course political violence and extremism can come from almost any political direction. But only the actions of self-described ‘anti-fascists’ continue to be treated with a kind of leniency if not approval by large swathes of the media and political establishment in Europe. Until that changes, and chunks of the ‘anti-fascist’ left are recognised for what they truly are, then all of this will get a lot worse.