Oslo, shortly after the explosion.

Whether he knows it or not, Breivik is a member of Al-Queda. It is with those words that The Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman chose to write his first words related to the Oslo attacks. Two acts of terrorism of extreme violence carried out without a slightest warning in a country mostly known for soccer teams and a stern refusal to be a part of the Euro zone. Wherever Europe chose to hide its best, brightest and quietest – Scandinavia – the curtain has now been pulled to reveal that the darkest stains of the Old Continent have spread to the parts we believed were kept out of the miserable stench of racism emerging out of the upmost western shores. The 2008 crisis did nothing to help a rise in extreme right fringes represented within France’s Sarkozian government, Britain’s Tories flirting with the BNP and Austria’s early 00’s dance with Jörg Haider. Regardless of the position, terrorism is terrorism: it is the refusal to adhere to the rule of law, a complete disregard for human life, and a basic, if at all, knowledge of what constitutes civil society. What is shocking the world as of today is not the scope of the attack, its suddenness, or its unusual location. It is the fact that Anders Behring Breivik was a white-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed 32 years old who couldn’t find another way to “spark a revolution” he believed to be necessary to rid the world of “the threat of Islamism”. Primitive fear of the other and outstanding political violence: Europe is facing its own failure to integrate, mix, and roll in with multiculturalism. The ghosts of the wars of the 20th century are passing by, sending a very chilly breeze. Antonio Fernandez gives us his insight on Europe’s old trends of xenophobia and the hypocrisy in national narratives.

“the flow of minute-by-minute particular details of the massacre provided by mainstream media cannot and should not prevent us from asking larger questions about Nazism as a European phenomenon, deeply rooted in the mind-set of European national narratives”

On Friday, July 22nd, Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian man with extreme right ideas, allegedly a member of Swedish Nazi forum, killed at least 93 children in the island of Utoya. It is the worst attack suffered by Norway since the Second World War and has been described in the media as Norway’s Oklahoma moment. Behring’s outspoken hatred of Muslims, Marxists and multiculturalism, his call for a defence of what he perceives as a “decadent” Europe put him in line with the extremist ideas of the resurgent neo-Nazi movement in Europe. It is deeply worrying to observe how almost 70 years after the Nazis’ war on Europe and fascism, countries such as Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy and Spain, to name only a few, have seen the ideas of xenophobic, populist and demagogical political parties taking seats in their national parliaments. What should raise our concern, however, is the disproportionate and indiscriminate nature of the brutal twin attacks, which clearly mark a transition from street knife crime to what could be seen as a more violent and sophisticated form of terrorism in Europe. The question that runs through my head is probably similar to that of many: why? Obviously, the flow of minute-by-minute particular details of the massacre provided by mainstream media cannot and should not prevent us from asking larger questions about Nazism as a European phenomenon, deeply rooted in the mind-set of European national narratives and its devastating consequences. My intention with this article is to briefly navigate to the core of racism in Europe and offer a broader historical and philosophical perspective about the ramifications of power in the right to kill the other, which lies at the heart of European totalitarianism. Nazism should never occur in Europe again but the resurgence of organised racism forces us to wonder whether Europe has really learned its historical lessons. It is only by confronting the discomforting and uncomfortable truth of Europe’s colonial past that we may be able to fight terror – intellectually and physically – in all its forms, whatever traits the terrorists uphold and whatever the nature of terror inflicted.

Anders Behring Breivik

“In Agamben’s words, the state of exception is that space where one who has been accused of committing a crime, within the legal system, loses the ability to use his voice and represent themselves- the individual can not only be deprived of their citizenship, but also of any form of agency over their own life”.

Anders Behring Breivik travelled to the island of Utoya dressed as a policeman after having left explosives in a governmental building. With chilling coldness, Breivik arrogated himself the right to end the life of 93 young boys and girls, members of the Socialist youths. They were not given the chance to speak, to say a word in their defence as, in Breivik’s mind, they represented everything that he stood against: multiculturalism, empathising with Muslims, and the perversion of Europe’s cultural purity. The island became a form of a state of exception and the young boys and girls became homo sacer, to use the terminology employed by philosopher Giorgio Agamben. In Agamben’s words, the state of exception is that space where one who has been accused of committing a crime, within the legal system, loses the ability to use his voice and represent themselves- the individual can not only be deprived of their citizenship, but also of any form of agency over their own life. Agamben identifies the state of exception with the power of decision over life. On the island of Utoya, Breivik turned the congregated into homo sacer, that is, human beings outside the reach of law by virtue of the state of exception, where no law applies. But, in Breivik’s own words, the end justified the means – he recognised the brutality of the massacre yet claimed it was necessary. A sort of instrumental rationality seemed to underpin the goal of his actions.

Racism in Europe emerged in the age of colonial exploration, when the European merchant class went overseas in quest for raw material and new markets. Thanks to technological improvement and the rule of Enlightnement, Europe moved beyond the Middle Ages and entered  Renaissance as the descriptor and scriptor of the world, the beacon of civilisation, the civilising centre of the world to which the other peoples in the world should naturally tend. Soon, Indigenous populations were rendered primitive and backward or as having a civilizational deficit, in front of Europe’s perceived technological superiority. Different life styles and worldviews that did not conform to the standards of agricultural productivity and technological efficiency that had allowed Europe to overcome the medieval age were deprived of their legitimacy to exist by using violence dressed as liberal legality. The discourse of modernity justified colonial genocide in Australia, Africa and South America: the “end” of economic growth justified plundering and dispossession and soon the machinery of death began to emerge in slave plantations. Entire populations of human beings were dehumanised and excluded from the rule of law and, as Michel Foucault argues in The Will to Knowledge, the first volume of The History of Sexuality, racism became a technology by which the right to death was exercised by judicial agents that arrogated themselves the right to define law and, at the same time, to arbitrarily exclude the “other” from the rule of law.

candlelight vigil in Oslo

In the 19th century, racism was institutionalised within nation-states, that ascribed European peoples with essentialised ethnic, linguistic, geographical and historical features, as if cultures were isolated and bounded entities. The construction of the non-European “other” (e.g. the Arab, the Hindu) as irrational, passion-led was a necessary step in the civilising process of killing and colonial expropriation: the perception of the “other” as a threat or dangerous mysterious entity enabled their dehumanisation and justified the massive taking away of lives. Again, the appropriation of the natural resources of other peoples in foreign lands (the irrational) had to be rationalised. As I mentioned before, it is the European nation-state that creates and defines law and lawlessness in order to remove any obstacle on the road to economic growth. This is a far-right ideology, the same ideology endorsed by Breivik: as Ibrahim Hewitt argues, “the notion of Europe’s and Europeans’ racial superiority – giving cultural credibility to the far-right – gave rise to the slave trade and the scramble for Africa leading to untold atrocities against “the Other”; ditto in the Middle and Far East”.  Seen from this perspective, the rhetorical stance of Breivik’ anti-Muslim view is nothing new under the sun. As we have seen, the idea that Europe is being “occupied” or “conquered” by hordes of “barbarous” Muslims is well rooted in the European consciousness; and far from disappearing, it can be found in more recent literature such as Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, where the cultural features of a community of almost 100 million people is reduced to a number of stereotypes.

“The pursuing of geopolitical interests across the world by European nations (and non-European as well) requires the implementation of spaces excluded from the rule of law, as in the West Bank and Gaza, where human beings converted into homines sacri can be routinely and massively killed”.

The “rationalised” irrational logics of the slave plantation, the Bantustans in South Africa, the Nazi concentration camps and the present day prison state of Gaza or Guantanamo, the wall in the West Bank and in the US Mexican border or the fence in the North African city of Melilla are physical metaphors of the mental barriers of many Western countries. The economic system that governs our lives requires the constant fabrication of states of exception, in cultural and physical space. The pursuing of geopolitical interests across the world by European nations (and non-European as well) requires the implementation of spaces excluded from the rule of law, as in the West Bank and Gaza, where human beings converted into homines sacri can be routinely and massively killed with the legitimation of Israeli law and probably, with the legitimization of theories like Huntington’s.

Are Breivik and fellow extremists aware of the absurdity of their claims? How can they not possibly see or at least have a hint that migratory movements in this globalised world are the consequence of military conflict, hunger, poverty mainly caused by neoliberalism, which is a perpetuation of the very same capitalist economic system that has generated the same dynamics of irrationality (the serial, industrial calculation of death and human exploitation) in the name of economic efficiency? Why is it that racism and the luring appeal of “the motherland” remained alive and well, taking hold of more more European ideological mindsets? We educate our children to be efficient and successful in the same kind of society and economic system in which the (extreme) right wing has felt most comfortable. I do not know of any school where the colonial period of European history is honestly taught from the standpoint of its victims. Rather, education in European schools is mostly Eurocentric and multiculturalist, which has been conceived as the mere unarticulated juxtaposition of cultural atomistic entities, without contributing to erase the walls of otherness between European and non-European citizens. Ignorance breeds hatred and only this can help us understand the barbarous irrationality of Anders’ actions. It is hard to believe that, 75 years after the Holocaust, ignorance and racial stereotyping is still fomented and legitimated by the media, shaping the opinion of a significant segment of the European population who uncritically accept barbarity and irrationality as a normal and acceptable discourse. As long as we are trapped in the vicious circle of instrumental rationality that places efficiency and economic benefits above moral and ethical principles, we are prone to repeat the same mistakes and we will never understand why an individual can decide on its own the killing of other human beings. Like George Bush’s government decided unilaterally the massive killings of Iraqis for geostrategic, instrumental reasons, just like the International Monetary Fund pack of privatisation measures sparked the seed of nationalist, ethnic hatred in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s for the instrumental purpose of extending neoliberalism in the region.

Finally, I must admit that recalling Angela Merkel and James Cameron’s words certifying the death of multiculturalism a couple of months ago, using a nationalist rhetoric that is not far at all from one of the points in Breivik’s extremist agenda, supports my claim that still in the 21th century, politicians have not learned anything about our most recent past. The discourse of the nation as an homogeneous entity (an idea that is not supported by facts) continues to generate and perpetuate the very same irrational mental barriers that have driven Europe to its darkest times. As I write this article and read the news, what I find is a disheartening display of evidence that something is very wrong in our European societies: the English Defence League blames the Norwegian government for the attacks, most media headlines and governments have claimed, without a single fact, that the attacks were caused by Islamist militias, the perpetrator is not a defined as a terrorist but just a lunatic killer, avoiding any reference to its Christian supremacist views, defying all logics….isn’t all this irrational and barbaric, yet it’s part of our everyday life? Perhaps in Europe the fine line between rationality and irrationality is not clear as rationalising the irrational is deeply engrained in our history. As long as long Europe looks itself in the mirror and confronts the origins and consequences of its own actions, barbarity and irrationality will continue to undermine the prospect of a better and more just society for everyone.

 

 

Antonio Cuadrado-Fernandez is an independent researcher who obtained his PhD in postcolonial literature in the School of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he has taught literary theory, Ecopoetry and Catalan language. His research focuses on the relationship between art and biodiversity, cultural politics, philosophy of mind and cultural/human geography. He also loves progressive rock, growing vegetables and all kinds of coffee. He is a freelance translator, Spanish and Catalan Tutor and enjoys volunteering for the U3A group teaching Spanish to elderly people in Norwich.

Antonio has already contributed to the OISC project writing about the Spanish uprisings.

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We have seen our fair share of stupidity, racism, misogyny and homophobia the last three years. It seems the election of a young black man in the White House unleashed a series of right-wing radical group therapies. From Sarah Palin’s hand notes being “a poor man’s teleprompter“, to Sen. Al Franken having the hardest time making the Senate understand that raping women is actually not okay, everything peaked when Utah criminalized miscarriage – and criminalized women, by extension, no longer being victims of abuse or medical recklessness, but just of their own existence and the fact it is conditioned by creating and caring for fetuses. That was bad. That was really bad.

Trent Franks: a little confused.

It is so bad, in fact, that some Senators are starting to miss the good ol’ days, fondly remembering a productive, efficient, proficient past, when everyone lived happily as separate but equal, when women were tending to their duties without whining like overeducated feminists, when those who were not white and rich would simply know their place and tip their stray hats to whomever would come strollin’ on by. Trent Franks is one of them; and it is with the confidence of the man who knows he’s digging himself a watery grave that he stated that “black people were better off under slavery”. If you think I am paraphrasing, or adding my own personal bias, I hereby swear that I am only directly quoting from this interview (starting around 6’20”).

Here is the full quote, for the YouTubophobiacs:

In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. [sic] And now we look back on it and we say “How brave were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can’t believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible.” And we’re right, we’re right. We should look back on that with criticism. [re-sic] It is a crushing mark on America’s soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?

This is not how one celebrates the achievements of Martin Luther King, Senator. Not knowing the duration of slavery? That was the first thing that tipped me off. I grew extremely uncomfortable as he then recalled the “bravery” of slaves and the “criticism” (sic) that must be thrown at the advocates of slavery. You know, in case there are elected members of Congress besides Senator Franks that still think slavery was the best thing that happened to the United States. It is indeed a very sad day when one realises an elected official is incapable of making the difference between institutional racism and the psychological, social and economic ramifications behind abortion in a given fringe of the population. After Rick Warren comparing abortion to the Holocaust, we now have Franks comparing it to another human disaster. The need to improve the American educational system is increasing every time one Republican senator speaks publicly. Do something.

Franks is not done, though. He emphasizes his point by stating it was not a temporary lapse of judgement. It is always better to highlight your stupidity by claiming it is actually intelligent and that your interlocutor can simply not decipher your thought process. Franks tells the bemused reporter,

“[S]ometimes we get angry and say things that we shouldn’t say, and I apologize…[for saying things] that are intemperate. But I don’t want to hide from the truth.”

Let’s not. ThinkProgress mentions that Franks’ comments are similar to that new (and slightly frightening) ad campaign targeting “urban black areas” and reading “black children are an endangered species”.  If this is the way Senator Franks is trying to emulate his spokesperson, Michael Steele, and win over the black vote, I call a fail.

Extensive coverage of police violence during the Democratic National Convention shocked and psychologically tasered the liberal American population who believes in civil rights and the necessity for a state to promote a trustworthy, reliable, and respectful police force on which the citizens can lean in times of inorderly conduit and criminal violence. Democratic societies have been failing one after the other to prove their population they knew how to control internal security issues, make the difference between political trouble and peaceful protests, anarchy and political activism… as well as not making any difference between any citizen, whether the bias is racial, religious, or political. The irony lying within the same countries’ foreign policy being based on exporting their own so-called democratic system is not lost on the victims of police violence. If the Grant case was easy for you to stomach, let’s turn to Paris where the question of national identity, that has been plaguing the nation of Voltaire ever since the independance of Algeria, is now reaching new heights of violence.

Last Wednesday – November 18th – Algeria wins over Egypt in a football match many French citizens of Algerian descent wish to commemorate. Anyss Arbib, a twenty-two year old student at the well-connected, internationally renowned National Institute of Political Science, decides to join the party on the Champs-Elysees in the capital, from his suburb in which most of the population is of northern african origin. North Paris, and specifically the 93rd regional district – Seine Saint Denis – has only gained a reputation through repeated violence, riots, and organized crime. Luckily for Arbib, who is himself entering the preparation for the National School of Governance, France is a soccer country, in which it is widely accepted to honk, scream, yell, and wave flags at whichever country has managed to shoot a ball inside a net.

Anyss Arbib has two major flaws going against him: he is coming from the aforementioned district, and is of Arab descent. Regardless of his qualities as a student, his deep and humble knowledge of the law, his ambition to become part of a government someday, and his writing abilities, Anyss Arbib, born a French citizen on French territory, is suddenly forced to question his own identity. Once the Champs-Elysees are invaded by a group of violent rioters, Arbib and his friends decide to leave and come back home, not willing to be assimilated to people whose behaviour they have always disapproved of. Back on the freeway, they suddenly encounter the police forces, stopping cars at random, dragging their drivers out on the road and beating them severely in front of terrified families and young people. Insults flow from members of the police: “get the fuck out, you dirty Arab”; “what the fuck are you looking at”, to a witness screaming that someone is going to die, before being teargassed by the same polician. Anyss Arbib tries to keep his composure.

Anyss Arbib here on the left with Richard Descoings, director of the National Institute of Political Science

“I have been nothing but polite”, he tells the policeman pushing him against his car. “There is no reason to behave so aggressively.” “Shut the fuck up”, replies the policeman. “I know my rights, I am a political science student”, Arbib calmly replies. “Well fuck political science!” is the reply he gets before being teargassed at close range, and losing consciousness. He comes to still on the freeway to watch a father of several children being dragged out of his seat and beaten up by batons. His friend has also been teargassed and is partially blind. “Go away, you Arab” says a policeman. “I’m French”, Arnyss replies. Was it at that precise moment he realised he wasn’t? A friend later told him, “Ivy League or not, you’ll always be an Arab, even with a French ID.”

When Nicolas Sarkozy introduced his best friend Brice Hortefeux at the head of a new yet controversial Ministry Of National Identity and Immigration, he knew he was just throwing more fuel into a already burning pan. Immigrants – often from the Maghreb, issued from France’s former colonies – are confined into suburbs and withdraw into a dangerous tendancy to communautarism and religious defiance to France’s secular system. With a crumbling education system and a government exacerbating violent opposition through cheap provocation, the 2006 riots so heavily documented worldwide were just one detail of a much bigger picture. France, unable to deal with its colonial past and fully integrate the sons and daughters of those who rebuilt the country after World War II, is now facing religious integrism clashing with other communities of faith, a growing illiteracy rate, decaying women’s rights in the face of integrism, and civil unstability. President Sarkozy was elected on agenda based on tough control and “zero tolerance”. In return, the difference between the upper middle class and the lower working class has grown to a deep, incrossable manhole, and national identity is nothing short of tacky patriotism sprinkled with daydreams of a glorious past that looks nothing like the contemporary bleak, dull reality.

Anyss Arbib is lucky; educated, smart, righteous, and well-guided, his story reached the frontpage of a national newspaper (Libération, November 24); complaints reach the inspection of the police forces, the IJSS; his outcry, firstly published on his Facebook page, touched national consciousness. But for the hundreds of thousands with no access to a network of media consultants or the knowledge of the complex administrative legal process, the mass of those left behind, no recourse is possible and ghettoism is the only answer.

In a word, Arbib is not just seeking accountability. He’s also searching for himself, tied between two worlds – one he barely knows, but is forced to reach out to for support; and one he thought he was a legitimate part of, but rejecting him on the basis of difference. France has never been a homogenuous melting pot of faiths and ethnicities. Under the pretext of assimilation, France just pushed every identity under the rug of the shining Republic. The Commission overseeing and evaluating police forces (CNDS)  will be dismantled by the end of the year despite increasing number of registered complaints  -19 in 2001, 152 in 2008 and 158 for the first three months of 2009). Now what’s a Republican to do?

After a winter and a spring marked by the rise of racism and gay-bashing, six months in a so-called post-racial world where instinctive and primal social conservatism is threatening to tear down the thin fabric of national cohesion, the House of Representatives passed a Hate Crime Bill, systematically vetoed under the Bush Administration, yet now a reality.

A hate crime is an attack – verbal or physical, assault – sexual or physical – or even murder based on the victim’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or mental/physical disability. A hate crime is exactly what it is: it is a crime, a severe threat and violation of one’s integrity, based on pure, unabashed hatred for what is different. Until today, a hate crime was not recognized as such in the United States, unlike most western countries; a specific intent on the defendant’s part could only contribute to a tougher sentence, but did not constitute a separate crime in itself.  If the law has to mirror the society in which it is developed in order to provide a more efficient protection, then there is no doubt the United States desperately needed the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Because hate crimes are dividing a nation and respond to different stimulus than a ‘regular’ crime, and because it is often symptomatic or a deeper social issue, Obama urged the House of Representatives to sign the bill into law. “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance”, he said. But as it often appears to be the case in the recent american political rhethoric, the question of equality seems to raise a serious concern for inequality on the part of opposing Republicans, who firmly convinced themselves that giving people rights would take theirs away. As if Proposition 8 was not enough to prove that civil rights still have a long way to march in the nation of Freedom, a handful of elected officials raised their concern: Lamar Smith, on the Representative Judicial Committee, believes the Hate Crime bill undermines the very core concept of US Justice. “Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — ‘equal justice for all.'”

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

In an argument that seems to defy all logic, “”Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime.” Following that logic, creating a longer and tougher sentence for acts of pedophilia would make adults lesser than children, teachers lesser than students, and male lesser than women under the law. Following that logic, affirmative action would make white people lesser than black, hispanic, or asian people. Strangely enough, we have already heard that before, and it certainly feels as if whenever one part of the population finally accesses to what is duly and properly theirs to be reckoned with, the privileged pundits are jumping to their feet in an attempt to defend oligarchy.

Former presidential candidate John McCain, a seemingly permanent Washington DC resident and unsuccessful in the race to political credibility, objected to the Hate Crimes Bill on FoxNews.  According to McCain, the Hate Crimes Bill is stealing the spotlight of the Defense Budget discussion, a topic very close to his heart, the belligerent watchdog believes that bipartisanship, that Obama claimed to have owned during votes on the health care reform, is nowhere to be found and will not support another attempt to promote civil rights. Well, no one ever said that the Defense Budget was not worth a national debate, Mr. McCain. No one even believes that cookie-cutter clean cut bipartisan ship really exists, Mr. McCain. No one would ever deny the possibility of discussion among the Representatives of the people, Mr. McCain, and I do believe it took place before the vote. But here is the thing. Young Americans have been dying at the hands of other Americans, Mr. McCain. How long are we going to discuss this for?

Much ink and spit were spilled about the historical election that took place on November 4, 2008. It wasn’t just about the landslide that surrounded the Democratic Party’s victory, the biggest in decade, it wasn’t the celebration of a Bush era finally coming to an end. Barack Obama is black, forcing the United States to face its history with slavery. In truth, Barack Obama is half-black, and that noticeable half seems enough to proclaim the end of racism. One symbolic measure and all is healed forever: a new reconciliation technique, or the burial of centuries of segregation?

Nothing like a stark reminder to set the score. In case anyone thought that racism was dead and that Equality trampled the pathetic ghosts of division and white supremacy whilst riding the streets of New York on a glistening unicorns, Philadelphia is coming to the rescue by walking all over our beautiful new, post-race Utopia by throwing a 1950s theme party. Not the kind of bouffed-up hair and checkered shirts: the kind where black people are not invited. Allison Kilkenny reports that a Philadelphia-based private swim club has taken upon itself to kick out over sixty children from its pools, the reason being that they had apparently spent too much time in the sun. In the words of John Duesler, president of said club, “there was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion… and the atmosphere of the club”.  Translation: if seen from the sky, the club would have looked like a melting pot of different races, instead of a homogenous white human sheet that would refract sunlight. John Duesler would have none of that.

The Valley Swim Club – let’s give names in case you want to know who you’re going to write an angry letter to – was kind enough to tell the black children, who had managed to come up with the inexplicable price of $1900 to use said pool, that the club “does not allow minorities” and that they were to “exit the pool immediately”. As a result of said black children goofing around in chlorine water like their civil and constitutional rights are supposed to allow them to, all the other little white kids, perfectly raised by their white parents in white schools with white teachers reading white books, all stormed off the pool, in the manner of an offended SS officer who just realised his right hand came in contact with that of a Jew. Such distinct and spontaneous behaviour coming from children is extremely suspicious when children are generally non-discriminative until they are told to be.

Obviously, one would expect that The Valley Swim Club would now be at the heart of a horrible Pennsylvania State Court controversy regarding their politics of segregation. Let it be known that in 2009, this is perfectly legal, and that John Duesler’s white supremacist pool is far from being the only one in the country. Kilkenny highlights that although some private clubs have been sued in the past for discrimination, their privacy – and the fact that their inner sanctum rules are therefore not part of public records – it is complex to stress the exact number of white-only private clubs, the secrecy surrounding enrollment policies being as thick as a toxic cloud.  This said, all-white golf tournaments do take place every year and are only spoken of when famous politicians participate in those shenanigans. From Bill Clinton to lawmaker Tom DeLay, The Valley Swim Club’s only mistake was to be a little more upfront about their policies than some other clubs claiming that “no black people have applied”.

Regardless of the pathetic excuses that The Valley Swim Club is attempting to put forward as some sort of exoneration for their obsolete and segregationist rules, discrimination against colored people or gay people needs to be highlighted and emphasized when it becomes so institutionalized. Telling children to not mix with other children because they are different is one horrid educative method. Having staff removing said children from the pool because of the same difference as it would allegedly cause other club members some distress is just as disgusting and backwards. Wear white cloth robes and burn crosses in your backyard if you believe it, but under no circumstances must a club, allowing other members and accepting outsiders under the paiement of a royal fee only to kick them out is the same principle than making them sit at the back of the bus. Money is no different regardless of the color of the hand it is coming from. Children’s innocence, however, is priceless.

From Allison Kilkenny’s Twitter, “Just received information that the law firm of Mildenberg and Stalbaum is filing a class action lawsuit against The Valley Club”.  Let’s hope that the price of progression and equality will finally reason John Duesler and his small-brained ways.

When Tracy Jordan told Tina Fey, on NBC Comedy 30Rock, to “stop patronizing [him] with [her] celtic slang, we have a Black President now”, he probably hadn’t read about the plague attacking several universities all across the southern parts of the country in the recent weeks.  A movement called “Youth for Western Civilization”, strangely echoing white supremacist rhethoric, has been assailling and targeting political science majors, mostly in the University of North Carolina.

Once again, extremism and racism are challenging the utmost and absolute freedom of speech on which the country has been based on. Civil liberties are questioned when the message is definitely making most students uncomfortable. Jesse Jones, a freshman at Vanderbilt, recognizes every civil organization’s right to express their own views in a public fashion, while admitting to feeling threatened by the group itself.“But their fascist-like logo, their name echoing ‘Hitler Youth,’ and Tom Tancredo’s call of ‘this is your country — take it back’ all quite frankly scare me,” Jones wrote in an e-mail to FOXNews.com.

The YWC’s website is attacking the very ideals that make a college experience necessary to one’s educational and personal development in political and social areas. Their website is claiming “pride in Western heritage” and preaches attack on “leftists” on what they call “poisonous and bigoted campuses”.  Jesse Jones wasn’t too far off in comparing them to the Hitler Youth. “A great part of college is definitely meeting people of different backgrounds, but a multicultural ideology teaches that we should appreciate things just because they’re different from our culture with no regards to the quality of the culture and that all cultures are inherently equal. I absolutely disagree”, says Trevor Williams, President of the YWC’s Vanderbilt chapter.

Education is no longer the only weapon to fight ignorance and bigotry. Without the proper tools to interpret what is handed out in terms of ideology and experience, the venom of racism will continue to spread in the very places we thought were safe from such cheap thinking.  If college is all about the wonders of personal discoveries and the pursuit of individual happiness, the luxury of ready-to-be-absorbed knowledge and the access to a possibly fruitful future, then Williams and his cohorts are dead wrong in their approach. Targeting “socialists” in the name of a Western ideology that not even Samuel Huntington would have dared labeling as “superior” proves that they are probably failing Anthropology 101. It’s alright, this is what summer classes are for.

UNC’s graduate student Tyler Oakley told Fox News that he does believe “western” is a veiled term for “white”, and that freedom of speech does not necessarily encompass hate speech (the ACLU had written about the rise of hate speech in colleges ever since 1994). The YWC is not yet classified as a hate group, but is already under suspicion for its rhethoric borderlining on white supremacy. The group’s honorary chairman, former Colorado Congressman Tim Tancredo, has already been opposing a state bill on college funding for illegal immigrants. When some students protested his appearance by claiming “no one is illegal”,  tensions emerged and the arrest of a UNC student, Elizabeth Koch, ended up on the YWC’s YouTube account.  A righteous attitude, pseudo-legit claims at political endorsement and the use of “multiculturalism” as a threat to national evolution amidst a serious economic crisis? History does repeat itself.

Other groups, like the Providence chapter at the University of Rhode Island, are using the world’s oldest excuse, unfair discrimination, against the refusal to be officially recognized as a campus group. Tim Dionisopoulos, who probably even forgot where his last name came from, believes that his Provost is scared “because the group stands for what it believes in”. What we are all waiting for is a thorough and sincere definition of what this “standing up” implies – as we will not sit here waiting for lynch battles and other random assaults in dorm rooms to wake up against the YWC. College students attending institutions in which the YWC has a presence,  be it official or not, must become organized and fight for what America has been funded on. Multiculturalism is the precise ideology that created this nation, and if the YWC members have yet to read between the lines of their Heidegger books, some political science students are fortunately a little more ahead in their apprehension of the world. Poisonous bigotry might try to disguise itself under the pretense of advanced knowledge and critical thinking, but ignorance and narrow-mindedness bear the same stench, regardless of the clothes in which it is covering itself.

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Who is to blame? Has Barack Obama’s ascension threatened the white privilege’s tradition? Is the crisis ruining some private assets across the globe? Has the Madoff story broken down the ideal of financial immunity? Or is our youth simply running amok for fear of a blacked-out, pointless and overcast future? It is too late now to make the uneducated responsible for racism and ignorance. Colleges are places of learning. The YWC is given opportunities to change their ideals with every single class they attend to, with every book at their disposal. The fight has been displaced and now taking center stage in the very places we thought would save us from this serious downfall into the darkest pits of human history. Shall Europe conjure up the ghosts of 1930 through Tom Tancredo’s motto at the top of the YWC’s logo (“This is our culture — fight for it. This is our flag — pick it up. This is our country — take it back”) and we will find ourselves in familiar, yet deeply uncomfortable shoes. Our generation has been taught of fascism and nazism through books, through movies, and, sometimes, through the distant and painful eye of our grandparents. This is a fight they thought we’d never have to take. This is a belief that our educated selves should be able to avoid.

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On a personal note: I have been alerted to this story by a student of the American University of Paris, a sister to the American University in Delaware, where the YWC has a chapter. AUP, like its other fraternal institutions across the globe, is firmly planted into an international background being taught in the American system. Its political science is department is thorough, outstanding, and relentless in its teaching. Because we have been raised and taught to believe in the transforming power of multiculturalism, we feel deeply for the rise and spread of the YWC and strongly support every student in Vanderbilt, Elon, UNC, Rhode Island, Bentley, Connecticut-Storrs to stand up against this attack on american values, on education, on knowledge, and most of all, on humanity. If there is one thing international relations students know, is that nations are not isolated islands relying on the single workforce of their land-born citizens.  We are hoping this article will be a wake-up call.

November 4th, 2008: Yes We Did. The “change we can believe in” is finally here, it’s arrived, it’s been democratically implemented, and it will take effect on January 20th. All over the nation, and all over the world, we rejoiced, we saluted the end of a white pseudo-meritocracy that had driven the economy and social statu quo into a wall. Barack Obama represented a fresh, young, and black new face away from the same old decrepit ones sitting on Capitol Hill. It was a bit idealistic, if not downright utopian, to believe that Barack Obama’s election would change everything. It is certainly not going to sign the end of racism, it won’t fix the economy within a matter of weeks, and it failed at bringing equality regardless of your sexual orientation. Social issues are still dividing the country, despite the new Democrat-elect spreading a renewed socialism in his weekly address. I want to believe that Barack Obama has the necessary cards in hands to really change what needs to be in complete overhaul. One thing’s for sure, though – it’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be painful. Just ask Kaylon Johnson.

Kaylon is the man in this picture. Kaylon Johnson works and lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, as  an appreciated and efficient IT guy in the local Obama office. However, quoting the LA for Obama blog, “On Saturday night at a gas station in Shreveport, he was accosted by two white males who were yelling racial slurs, incensed by the Obama bumper stickers on Kaylon’s car and the Obama t-shirt Kaylon was wearing. He waved them off, but when he came out of the gas station, they jumped on him. Kaylon was badly beaten and has sustained several head injuries. He will have surgery on Friday to repair a broken eye socket, broken nose, and torn tear duct.”

This is what you get, in 2008 America, for expressing your opinion. This is what you look like, in 2008 America, for Driving While Black and dangerously supporting a black politician – who happens to have been elected by the majority to lead the country for the next four years. This is what is really scary – Johnson was not even supporting a marginalized extremist politician whose views could have been offensive to a major part of the american population (say, Sarah Palin before August 2008 for instance). Johnson was just showing his support for the President-Elect. He wasn’t doing it aggressively. He had a bumper sticker on his car, which seems to justify being violently brutalized and disfigured. I personally have no recollection of ever repeatedly punching the owner of a “Honk if you love Jesus!” sticker. I didn’t even tailgate them; I didn’t even made any rude gesture as I drove past them. I respected their point of view, mind you, as impossible and rare as it may sound, this sticker did not offend me in the slightest. Kaylon Johnson, however, was beaten up for behaving like a free man. A free black man.

It was indeed a very strong statement the American population made on November 4 when they collectively decided to put their trust into Barack Hussein Obama, Senator of Illinois, during these incredibly hard times. Despite the humiliating and degrading smear campaign orchestrated by the hard core of the GOP, calling him a terrorist and mocking his middle name, the majority of the population saw through this disgusting cover-up and decided competency mattered more than the color of one’s skin. But what does it mean when even supporting the president, supporting the majority, supporting a nationally and internationally-approved political vision is not enough to fit in?  If those two shitheads wanted to place the blame of Barack Obama’s election onto Johnson’s head, because he was black and because he was so openly supporting his leader, so be it – but a huge chunk of Obama’s electorate happens to be white, or hispanic, or latino, or asian. Obama’s electorate is as diverse as he wanted it to be. Obama’s electorate goes from Joe The Plumber to young graduates, from Irish-Americans to Native Americans, from first-voters to old ladies pushing to their hundreds. The only real beautiful thing to learn from this election is the way Obama managed to rally such a heterogenuous base, to mend fences and cross bridges. It’s impossible to stigmatize one category of the population for this.

Kaylon Johnson was badly hurt because he was less ignorant than his attackers. Kaylon Johnson was beaten up because he exercized his constitutional rights.  Joe Strummer was right. “You have the right to free speech … unless you’re dumb enough to actually try it.”

I wish I could say Louisiana and its backwards ways is to blame for what happened to Kaylon Johnson, but this is far from being an isolated case. Barack Obama may have succeeded where everyone thought he’d fail, but it also woke up the primal, irrational hatred that had been sleeping off inside some people who thought they had reached a social statu quo – coexistence through segregation. Now they feel threatened by a black leader, it’s time to re-assess the status of fundamental freedoms: what are they and who really possess them? If you’re scared to look at the score, you should be.

You can email Kaylon at obamashreveport@gmail.com to show support. Also consult the KSLA News report with a Kaylon interview, and the CNN iReport by Jasmine Whitehorn. All thanks to roastchicken on ontd_political.