August 15, 2019

RIGHT FROM WRONG: A GUIDE TO THE NEW EUROPEAN POLITICS. Branding all conservatives ‘far right’ is both wrong and dangerous:

A few months ago British MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was criticized for having shared a speech given in the Bundestag by a politician from the Alternative for Germany party (AfD). The Labour MP David Lammy has also compared the European Research Group of Tory MPs to the Nazis. Given an opportunity to withdraw that comment he declined, insisting that the comparison ‘wasn’t strong enough’. Perhaps Lammy can provide evidence that Jacob Rees-Mogg has killed more than six million Jews?

Such terms are naturally thrown around by people who like to grandstand. But beneath them lies a well of confusion which urgently needs addressing. Terms such as ‘fascist’, ‘far right’ and ‘white supremacist’ are serious. Such sinister forces certainly exist, both in Britain and on the continent. But in recent years — especially since the Brexit and Trump votes — there has been an acceleration in claimed sightings and a blurring of the definitions. This is wrong not just because it means that perfectly decent people are maligned, but also because distinctly dangerous groups are confused with harmless ones.

The fog began to descend earlier this decade. Campaign groups which used to oppose neo-Nazis realized that there weren’t sufficient Nazis to justify their business models. They decided that, henceforth, attacking parties such as Ukip should also come under their anti-fascist remit. Soon anybody who opposed supranational institutions or sought to restrict immigration found themselves labelled as beyond the pale. It meant that the views of the majority of the public — in Britain and elsewhere — effectively became defined as far right.

In recent years this terminological mission-creep has morphed from being annoying to being disturbing. For if everybody is a fascist, then nobody is. And anyone who knows the scene across Europe will understand that we may well have need of these terms.

As David Frum tweeted last year regarding the left hurling the F-bomb* at the Trump administration, “If liberals insist that enforcing borders is a job only fascists will do, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t.” And American voters on the right have gotten used to be called fascists at election time for over 70 years. (By those wishing to impose socialism on a national scale, curiously enough.)

* Not to be confused with the other Italian-inspired F-bomb that turns Chris Cuomo into Warner Brothers’ cartoon Tasmanian devil.

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