Kristallnacht – Lest We Forget

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The 9th and 10th November mark an anniversary of a dark event that needs to be remembered as it stands as a warning from history.

On the 9th November 1938 Kristallnacht began – An attack on Jewish homes, businesses and people by the Sturmabteilung or “SA”, who were Hitler’s “Brownshirts”. This attack was in response to the shooting and killing of Ernst vom Rath in Paris, a German embassy official, by a 17 year old Polish Jew called Herschel Grynszpan.

The Nazi leadership were in Munich at the time on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch. It was during this celebration that Joseph Goebbels announced to the gathering that the ‘World Jewry’ were involved in the assassination and that attacks against the Jews were not to be officially organised by the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party)  but if they were to “happen” then nothing should be done to stop them. As soon as this information was given and passed out to the districts through German held territory, riots ‘spontaneously’ occurred. It is recorded that many members of military and SA units put on civilian clothes and went to carry out the actions so that the attacks were seen as outraged public reaction.

This event is classified as a pogrom, which is an uprising aimed to persecute and/or eliminate a group, normally because of their ethnicity or religion. As most people are aware, Hitler was rabidly antisemetic and this was his first ‘official’ act against the Jews on this scale. It took place in Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia where German troops had been sent.

Members of the Sturmabteilung entered homes, hospitals and synagogues, demolishing them using pickaxes and sledgehammers. After causing as much damage as they could, they started fires to cause maximum devastation. Approximately 1000 synagogues were destroyed and more then 7000 Jewish businesses were wrecked or damaged to the point that they couldn’t open again.

In addition to the loss of buildings, many Jews themselves were killed. It was originally thought that 91 people were dead as a result of the attacks (as recorded at the time). However murder wasn’t the primary objective of what Hitler’s soldiers did over the course of the 2 days, instead they forced people to carry out humiliating acts and there are records of many rapes happening. Because of this, there were so many suicides that it’s thought that the toll on life could be in the hundreds. Fear, chaos and devastation were at the core of this act of hatred against Jewish citizens.

Part of the instruction handed out by Reinhard Heydrich as head of state police was that as many men as possible should be rounded up and arrested. 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, held in prisons and then transferred to concentration camps. At this time, Buchenwald, Dachau and Sachsenhausen camps were already running and they found themselves held there.

While most of the Jewish men were released from the concentration camps on the proviso that they leave Reich territory, many hundreds died before they had this opportunity.

Goering wasn’t happy following the break up of Jewish property as he felt that German insurance companies would have to foot the bill for repairs/compensation. So to stop this from happening, he brought in laws to remove Jews from the German economy. Further laws were then brought in which made it illegal for Jews to own property, made it illegal to hire Jews for work, required Jewish people to sell their businesses to “Ayrians” for a pittance and demanded the expulsion of Jewish children from schools.

Kristallnacht needs to stand as a lesson. When people say right wing policies are harmless, they need to remember how easy it is for things to be taken to ‘the next level’ and say NEVER AGAIN!

Halal Kitty is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate, and a regular contributor to the group’s activities on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Exhaustion of Opposing Donald Trump

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This is a personal post from the lady who represents the American branch of Resisting Hate.

(The article, not the meme.)

I have never been so involved in politics. Not when I was a lobbyist, not when I was a policy advisor to the Governor, not when I was on the Transition Team or any of the Task Forces working with the Department of Mental Health, TCCY, DCS to respond to crises that came about when they cut 400,000 off Medicaid, or misprinted the IDs for Medicare Part D creating mass chaos and confusion.

Once the “transition” was done (it was a 6 month contract) I trusted that policies would be implemented effectively and felt confident the Obama admin had everything under control.

Trump doesn’t talk about healthcare because he doesn’t bother to read the bills and if he does, he is either lying or lacks the intelligence to understand what they say.

So yeah, I’m back. And I’m mad as hell. I never felt we were in imminent danger before. So if you are tired of seeing my posts simply unfollow. I get paid per word to write and not once have I been accused of posting Fake News.

I’m exhausted, I’m tired and I’m fed up, but I’m not too tired to stop fighting.

Elyssa Durant

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK

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Who is Ann Coulter?

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Ann Coulter is an American public figure with a legal background who regularly represents far right political views in the American media. She is the author of several books including ‘In Trump we Trust’ (written when Coulter still supported Trump as the Republican Presidential candidate.)

Coulter is something of an extremist, outspoken on her favourite topics of immigration and Islam. In the aftermath of September 11 she made a public proposal that America should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert the population to Christianity.

Some of Coulter’s most infamous quotations including the extremely racist “Congress could pass a law tomorrow requiring that all aliens from Arabic countries leave… We should require passports to fly domestically. Passports can be forged, but they can also be checked with the home country in case of any suspicious-looking swarthy males ” can be found in this article. These quotations are not isolated examples of Coulter’s extremist hate views. A quick You Tube search finds hundreds of videos of her spouting her hate rhetoric and making provocative and inflammitory comments, deliberately intended to offend.

She has been given a vast amount of media attention and numerous platforms upon which to air her views. As the poster girl for ultra Conservative Republican ideals few individuals have received more attention.

However the tide has been changing for Coulter recently. For all her celebration of Trump’s presidency Coulter has become increasingly disenfranchised with the man she so enthusiastically endorsed and this has lost her support among the President’s far right fan base. She called Trump out for his failure to build his promised wall on the Mexican border, and publicly criticised him for changing his stance on immigration.  More recently Coulter clashed with Trump over the ‘Dreamers’ program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and published a tweet calling for the President to be impeached.

Before her views are examined Coulter cuts an impressive public figure. She is confident, smartly dressed, articulate and obviously someone who has read widely in her chosen field of interest. Unfortunately though, as soon as she opens her mouth (or her Twitter app), she is exposed as an individual notable not just for her bigotry but for her stupidity. This is a genuine tweet from Coulter’s personal Twitter account in reaction to Hurricane Harvey:

This closed minded world view was again illustrated on her Twitter account when she tweeted:

(Based on Coulter’s logic here Donald Trump, who had a German grandfather, would not even have been eligible to vote, let alone to stand for the Presidency…)

To best explain Ann Coulter to a UK audience I’d simply summarise her as a US version Katie Hopkins albeit with a bigger budget for hair. Her Twitter feed yields the same threats, rants, prejudices and hate that we have come to expect from Madame Hopkins. Let us hope that the American media tire of her vitriol and push this blowsy loudmouthed hater out of the public eye.

A selection of tweets that show Ann Coulter for what she is >

 


Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK

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Liberals, Progressives and Hate Speech

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The politics of the left are often referred to with the umbrella term ‘liberal’ which is an over simplified view of the left wing and which doesn’t allow for the schism between those who identify as Liberal and those who identify as Progressive.

Liberals are interested in upholding the rights of the individual and believe the role of the state should be limited in the extent to which it can intervene with the rights of individual citizens.

A Progressive is interested in forcing the hand of change and solving the inequities caused by public or private power structures. The lacuna between the Liberal v Progressive is sometimes described as bottom up v top down politics. Liberals believe change should evolve from the people, Progressives believe change should be orchestrated intentionally by state intervention or, in the case of the private sphere, the legal system or corporate decision makers.

Put even more simply the Liberal v Progressive split is similar to the Equality v Equities argument. A Liberal believes in the principles of fairness and equality (everyone gets the same) a Progressive believes in correcting inequities (everyone gets what they need which means some receive more than others).  My primary interest as a Progressive anti-hate activist is in addressing inequities that occur as a result of hate and hate speech. This is not a value argument, I am not saying that hate speech is wrong in itself, I am saying that when we allow hate speech to flourish it has significant and tangible consequences for both individuals and communities. This is not about setting moral standards, it is about reducing the potential for harm.

When discussing free speech it is important to be clear that Liberals are concerned with the contract between the state and the individual and not the relationship between individuals. This often causes confusion when the question of hate speech arises as the blocking of hate speech from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter is often wrongly deemed to be contravening the right to free speech. Blocking hate speech from a private platform is not censorship and only becomes a direct infringement of rights if it is driven by state led legislature applying to public (not private) places.  Therefore when Progressives like myself call for private companies to curb hate speech this is not infringing on civil liberties. Censorship would be the state saying an idea cannot be expressed. This is different to the prevention of an idea being circulated within a particular social sphere.

There are three primary tangible consequences for individuals and communities that arise from hate speech:

Hate speech leads to discrimination

When we allow hate speech that targets race, gender, orientation, health status and religion we are giving a platform to indoctrinate people against these groups. This results in individuals belonging to these groups being stigmatised which in turn leads to discrimination in the workplace and a reduction in opportunities for those individuals.

Hate speech leads to fear and violence

The link between hate speech and violence has been proposed numerous times. It has been argued that exposure to hate speech desensitises individuals to the idea of harming others by reducing the focus of their target to being less than human – much hate speech online is aimed directly at dehumanising communities. Our group have seen migrants called cockroaches, Muslims called savages and Jews told that they belong in ‘the ovens’. All three of these community groups have seen an increase in hate crime over the last 5 years.

The language of hate speech disenfranchises and demeans individuals and breaks down relations between communities which become strained and eventually result in verbal and physical clashes.

It is important to fully understand the wider implications of hate speech – this is not just about the feelings of an individual but about the growing isolation of whole community groups.

It is my view (a view shared by World Policy Institute fellow Susan Benesch) that wide spread hate speech paves the way for an increase in violence. When it becomes acceptable to abuse a person on one platform it is a precursor to abusing them physically.

Hate speech leads to an increase in suicide

Scientists at Syracuse University have investigated the link between hate speech and suicide and found there to be a correlation. Their research states Ethnic immigrant groups subjected to more negative ethnophaulisms, or hate speech, were more likely to commit suicide.  If hate speech has been proven to be a catalyst toward actual loss of life then this is perhaps the strongest argument that action to prevent it needs to be taken.

It is necessary to spell out the argument against hate speech this clearly as, too often, this debate is reduced to being argued from the perspective of a Liberal and gets dragged into the quagmire of the right to speak v the right not to be offended. The reason I oppose hate speech is not (as often so ineloquently put by the far right) that it hurts people’s ‘feelz’ but because hate speech leads to genuine social and economic inequities for individuals and communities. As a Progressive I strongly believe it is the role of both the state and of private corporations (think social media platforms) to play their part in resolving these inequities.

This is not about censorship and rights, this is about keeping the people of our country safe.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK

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What Exactly Do We Mean By “Far Right”

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The political terminology of left, right, extreme left, far right can be a minefield for anybody trying to make sense of their newspaper. Not only are the terms hard to pin down to a precise definition they are also used interchangeably and (often) wrongly, leading to widespread confusion.

In order to understand what we mean when we use the term “far right” we need to be clear where it sits on the political spectrum and how it relates to other political perspectives.

Broadly speaking left wing views are concerned with the principles of Socialism. This is the belief that the state should work for the good of the people and which encompasses the ideas of democracy, free health care, the welfare state and some level of redistribution of wealth.

Further left than Socialism is Marxism. Marxism seeks to put control of the economy into public rather than private hands. The idea being that instead of workers working for a private owner they work for a collective benefit that they can all share in. Culturally this further left position is concerned with the social responsibilities of the state to the individual and also of the individual to the state.

The extreme left would be Communism which draws heavily on Marxist theory but which propounds the idea of a society with no class boundaries where all citizens are equal with equal rights and opportunities.

Equally broadly speaking the right wing are concerned with the principles of Conservatism which is a belief in upholding traditional established values and institutions such as the monarchy and the church. Conservatism is built on the idea of a defined national identity and embraces a monocultural rather than a multicultural society. Political Conservatism is linked to the idea of Capitalism, the idea that the economy is strongest when based on competing factions, with wealth in the hands of the few used to employ the many.

Further right than Conservatism is Libertarianism. This places more emphasis on the individual’s rights than any obligation the individual has to community values. Libertarianism is concerned with freedom and has become intrinsically linked to the concept of free speech. In Libertarian economics both private ownership and private enterprise are encouraged.

The extreme right wing would be Political Fascism. Fascism can be defined by the autocracy of a leader or government, a strong nationalist agenda and a pro uniformity approach. Diversity is not encouraged within a Fascist ideology. The emphasis is on conforming to the unified goals of the state.

The far right of which Resisting Hate and other anti hate groups speak share certain key characteristics. The first is Nationalism. It is important to distinguish Nationalism from Patriotism. Patriotism being love of one’s country whereas Nationalism is the belief that one country and its people are superior to others. Patriotism can be found in both left and right wing politics. Nationalism is a right wing ideology.

The right have a strong sense of national and cultural identity which can be a positive thing but the far right take this further and perceive integration with other cultures as a threat to their sense of identity. In doing so they reject the concept of diversity and start to see those of different races or cultures as potential usurpers of their country and diluters of their cultural values. This can lead to unrest within communities and prejudice toward those not deemed to share the same racial or cultural background.

The far right appeal to a sense of elitism. This is closely linked to the idea of racial and cultural preservation but with emphasis on the fact that a ‘superior’ community is being eradicated. This can be seen in far right white supremacist groups who call for more breeding among white people to ensure their race survives the ‘threat’ of blood mixing with other ethnic groups . It is not hard to see how closely this elitism is linked to racism. It is equally not difficult to see how this idea of racial purity invites a parallel with the Nazi Germany obsession with the Aryan race.

The growth of the far right can be attributed to the focus on a sense of community. Using similar recruitment rhetoric to a street gang, far right leaders offer individuals a sense of belonging and pride. This can be a powerful tool, particularly among deprived areas with low employment which is often the demographic where far right activism is the most prevalent.

In keeping with the idea of a traditional and, to a certain extent, homogenous society the far right reject the liberal ideals of actualising the self and condemn individuals who do not conform to their preconceived ideas of how people should behave. This is where we encounter gender and sexuality prejudice which is often deemed by the far right as unnatural human behaviour. It is also where we encounter religious prejudice with the far right self identifying as defenders of the Christian faith and using the pretext of upholding Christian values as a way to cause conflict with other religions.

The primary tactic used in advancing a far right agenda is the sense of urgency in defending a nation or community against an external threat. We have seen this throughout history with the persecution of people of colour, homosexuals, Jews, Muslims and other minority groups. This was very clearly illustrated during the Brexit referendum with Nigel Farage’s infamous Breaking Point poster which sought to depict immigrants as invaders in order to unite and mobilise the far right against a common ‘enemy.’

As a defender of liberal values I am often challenged why my view of live and let live does not extend to the far right. I am asked why I can support those who differ to me in matters of faith, race and culture but not those who oppose my political views. The answer lies in the essence of what it is to be far right. It is to oppress, devalue and discriminate against others. This is the ethos I oppose. The paradox being that the one thing I will not tolerate is intolerance.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK

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Solving The Problem Of Terrorism

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If you clicked on this article hoping for a pithy Hopkinseqsue one liner that claims to solve the problem of terrorism in a soundbite then I am afraid you are out of luck. Terrorism in the modern age is more complex than a few buzz words can easily express. Activists, newspapers and politicians may try to sell the idea of a simple solution but the truth is that terrorism represents the evil in human nature and there is no simple solution to human nature.

We look for a solution because as human beings we are empathetic enough to want to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from harm. But we also look for a solution because we want to believe we have some power over this growing threat and that there is an answer out there that will help keep us safe.

The difficulty with constructing a defence to terrorism is that the enemy is not a tangible united force. It is a fragmented and dissipated threat that springs up in individuals inspired by extremist ideologies. These ideologies can be a perversion of a legitimate faith (think ISIS and Islam) or they can be a corruption of a political ideology (Think the right wing and White Supremacy). The problem is that the individuals who develop views extreme enough to manifest themselves in evil acts of terrorism are not indicative of the ideologies themselves. Therefore it is too simplistic to blame any ideology for the individuals who commit hate in its name and, as a consequence of this, it is extremely difficult to predict where the next act of terrorism will arise from.

We may not have the answer to stop terrorism yet but what we do have is a lot of failed suggestions as to how it should be dealt with. Nigel Farage was in favour of closing the country’s borders to migrants: “Frankly, if you open your door to uncontrolled immigration from Middle Eastern countries, you are inviting in terrorism.” Yet this solution holds no water as the majority of terrorist attacks on both UK and US soil have been from citizens of those countries and not immigrants. If our terrorists are home grown it would seem futile to try and resolve the problem of terrorism with tighter immigration laws.

Ex EDL leader Tommy Robinson wants to resolve the problem of terrorism by deporting Muslims “Deport all the Muslims who want Sharia law and the problem would be solved overnight.”

But terror is not a Muslim problem, terror is a hate problem. Thomas Mair who savagely murdered MP Jo Cox was not a Muslim, Joseph Christian who fatally stabbed two men on a train in America was not a Muslim. The likes of Robinson want you to believe the problem is as simple as blaming all Muslims because, if you do believe that, you will buy into the simplistic rhetoric of his solution. A solution that will cause divisions in society, break families and communities apart and will do nothing toward making our streets a safer place.

UKIP have offered an equally ludicrous solution to the problem of terrorism. Prior to failing to secure a single seat at the General Election Paul Nuttall, then leader of UKIP was suggesting that we consider internment and tagging.The echoes of fascism ring loudly in the memory as we recall with discomfort who last proposed such extreme measures and the evil that such methods of inhumanity resulted in.

The trouble is that there is no fail safe method for predicting who will commit an act of terrorism. We can rely on police and government intelligence to a certain extent but this is by no means fool proof. Listening to members of communities, friends and families who might be in a better position to identify a radicalised or extremist individual is also of some value but it is inevitable that some people will slip through the net. How many times have we witnessed an act of terrorist atrocity for those close to the terrorist to be genuinely shocked that someone they knew and were close to could be capable of performing such an act of evil? Predicting human behaviour is not an accurate science.

If we cannot predict who will commit an act of terrorism we cannot prevent them from doing it. We cannot imprison people simply because we believe they might commit a crime. The British legal system is founded on the principle of actus reus, namely that without a crime there can be no culpability. The right wing shout about Orwell’s 1984 and the perceived eroded rights of the people but imprisoning people for a crime they may commit… that really is Orwell’s thought crime. It just isn’t a solution.

The only way to eradicate terrorism from our society is to create an environment where hate cannot survive. Terrorism borne from any ideology is based upon the isolation and segregation of people from the mainstream (in the majority of cases young men). By integrating our societies and respecting the rights of others to hold political and religious views that differ to our own we kill off the noxious weeds of hate before they start to flourish. Those seeking to radicalise our young people will find it a good deal harder if, as a country, we are offering our young people a positive future based on respecting them and the contribution we want them to make to our society.

Some of preventing terrorism starts with politics. It starts with giving people the right economic conditions to believe they have a future. But it also starts with our attitudes, ridding ourselves of the preconceptions and prejudices that cause people to become isolated and easily picked off by those who would seek to turn their nihilism into hate.

Those of you call for deportation, vigilante violence and (in the case of some real idiots) genocide are playing right into the hands of ISIS and the like. You are creating the perfect conditions for hate. You bay for blood and howl at the moon for a solution to terrorism without realising that not only have you nothing to offer to make our country a safer place, you are actually part of the problem.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK

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David Coburn MEP

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David Coburn is a member of the far right political party UKIP. He holds the post UKIP Leader of Scotland and is an elected MEP.

Coburn has a chequered past in politics with little credibility for his xenophobic and bigoted views. Nicola Sturgeon commented after the Scottish leaders debate in 2015 “I think the only depressing thing tonight is the narrow-minded xenophobic attitude of David Coburn. It’s absolutely utterly disgusting. This is the guy who compared one of my colleagues to a convicted terrorist simply because he’s a Muslim.” She went on to say “He [Coburn] is a disgrace.”

During the same period Coburn was told by Jim Murphy, the head of Scottish Labour to “Stop demonising people.”

Coburn hit the headlines again in 2016 for referring to a selection of UKIP party members as “Total Tossers“.

Coburn is perhaps best known for likening Scottish National Party Justice secretary Humza Yousaf to notorious hate preacher Abu Hanza. This was allegedly a joke and referred to by Nigel Farage (then leader of UKIP) as a joke in poor taste but the humour gives a clear indication of Mr Coburn’s limited and divisive world view and the role he would play in politics should the electorate ever be daft enough to elect him.

Unfortuntely for Coburn the electorate in the 2017 General Election were anything but daft and he had an exceptionally low share of the vote at 1.2% when he stood for the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency. Surprisingly it was this lack of success that buoyed him up and led to him announcing he would be running for leadership of the UKIP party (after Paul Nuttall’s failure to secure even a single seat in Parliament the current leader was naturally obliged to accept his defeat and stand down).

Coburn explains his leadership bid in his own words:

(Though the bookies clearly do not have much faith as he is currently a 20/1 outsider for the position.)

Coburn has also recently hit the news for having links to far right extremist hate group Scottish Dawn made up of members from the hate group National Action which was proscribed under the 2000 Terrorism Act. These links are currently being investigated by several different media outlets and, if proven, will likely scupper the leadership bid before it even begins. We will be watching this one closely.

 

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