Bawer: Heirs to Fortuyn

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Bruce Bawer has an excellent essay at City Journal on Europe’s tilt to the right; not the extreme right represented by Vlaams Belang and the BNP, but the “respectable right” — the Heirs to Fortuyn.

Some Spaniards have lurched rightward toward the national-Catholic, proto-fascist ideology of Franco’s time and become increasingly vocal within the conservative Partido Popular. Consequently, says Golmar, “moderates in Spain are trapped between a far-left administration and their cronies and the revival of the extreme right disguised in conservative and even libertarian clothing.” While America struggles to move beyond the antagonisms of the 1960s, then, Spain has entered an ideological battlefield reminiscent of the years preceding its civil war of the late thirties. There seems little room for those who loathe both the neo-Marxists and the neoreactionaries.

The situation in Spain is a reminder that not all “right turns” are created equal. If the Danes have affirmed individual liberty, human rights, sexual equality, the rule of law, and freedom of speech and religion, some Western Europeans have reacted to the mindless multiculturalism of their socialist leaders by embracing alternatives that seem uncomfortably close to fascism. Consider Austria’s recently deceased Jörg Haider, who belittled the Holocaust, honored Waffen-SS veterans, and found things to praise about Nazism. In 2000, his Freedom Party became part of a coalition government, leading the rest of the EU to isolate Austria diplomatically for a time, and last September, his new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, won 11 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections. Or take Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has called the Holocaust “a detail in the history of World War II” and advocated the forced quarantining of people who test HIV-positive—and whose far-right National Front came out on top in the first round of voting for the French presidency in 2002. The British National Party (BNP), which has a whites-only membership policy and has flatly denied the Holocaust, won more than 5 percent of the vote in London’s last mayoral election. Then there’s Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), formerly Vlaams Bloc, whose leaders have a regrettable tendency to be caught on film singing Nazi songs and buying Nazi books. In 2007, it won five out of 40 seats in the Belgian Senate.

For establishment politicians, journalists, and academics, these parties serve an exceedingly useful purpose: their existence makes it easy to tar any nonsocialist party with the fascist brush—labeling it racist and xenophobic, equating its leaders with the likes of Le Pen and Haider, and stigmatizing its supporters. No party in Europe has been subjected to more unfair attacks than Norway’s Progress Party, whose extraordinary electoral successes have outraged that country’s socialist elite. Like other parties on what we may call Europe’s respectable right, the Progress Party has expressly distanced itself from parties like the National Front and Vlaams Belang. Yet despite these disavowals, American media have routinely echoed the leftist establishment’s unjust calumnies.

And when “anti-jihad” bloggers make alliances with these extremists, they play right into the media’s hands.

Speaking of those “anti-jihad” bloggers, see the very next LGF article.

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