Nazis are on the move in Europe. This is not ancient history. Just a few days ago approximately 1,500 Latvians paid tribute to soldiers who fought in Nazi Germany's Waffen SS divisions. The counter-protest held that day was small in comparison.
While some may discount marches and hate speech on the internet, evidence suggests that this fomenting of hate may be the cause of violent action. Just yesterday, a gunman riding a scooter opened fire on a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse. Now three children and a teacher are dead. This follows shootings of North Africans by a man on a scooter last week.
France is of particular concern. Marine Le Pen (the head of the National Front in France) is growing in the polls. She has over 80,000 supporters on Facebook. While the major news outlets in Europe and America are choosing to focus on the success of social media (e.g. the KONY 2012 video that calls attention to Uganda), the nationalist parties sweeping across Europe are using the same technology but operating under the radar.
In Germany, where the Nazis began, a recent survey revealed 21% of young Germans have never heard of the concentration camp Auschwitz, or the millions who died there.
In an era of growing ecological awareness, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and expanding rights for gay marriage, what is driving this counter-movement of hate? It is what always drives hatred... fear. Europe has been in economic crisis, and seeing an influx of immigrants who are "taking our jobs", we shouldn't be surprised that people might turn to ideologies of fear and hatred.
We ought not be surprised that there are politicians who will use scape-goating of Jews or Muslims in their quest for power. We see it in Iran, we saw it in Serbia. But as George Clooney said, "Let's make these people as famous as I am." Let's shine a light on what is going on so that we can create an alternative.
Sure, we could worry about our own problems and remain silent while Heinz-Christian Strache (the leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria), and the Swiss politician Oskar Freysinger build popularity. During the holocaust the Nazis chose the Jews because they were a convenient target. Today the extreme right chooses to attack Islam while pretending to defend sexual equality, feminism, and freedom of expression. Even in America, we see Rick Santorum is getting huge support for his homophobia.
But there is cause for hope. The greatest hero in confronting this anti-Semitic, homophobic, Muslim fearing movement, is in my opinion, John Stewart of the Daily Show. His weapon is not to fight the Hate Movement with Hate. He uses humor. These movements feed on alienation, and the anger of others. If we laugh at them, show that they are outdated, foolish, and counterproductive, the youth will turn away. And without the youth, they have no power.
That's why I started this blog. I see the anti-fascist movement blogs, and their online petitions, are way too long, complicated, and historical. Instead, those of us who want to shine a light on these right-wing (and Islamic) extremists, need to use the tools of social media. Let's take a cue from KONY 2012, and the Arab spring. In Egypt, just one man started a Facebook page ... now there are 200,000+ fans. He helped ignite democratic movements all across the Middle East not by saying "I hate dictators". Instead he said, "We are all Khaled Said" (Khaled Said was tortured to death at the hands of two Egyptian police officers). We don't have to respond with fear. Instead, we can send the same type of positive messages used by KONY 2012, and the Arab Spring, to engage the youth in Europe who might be considering joining these hateful movements.
We say, "Yes, we understand your economic fears. We get that you feel ignored. But hate is not the solution. Love always wins out over hate."
We can say it simply and remember to end our tweets with RT ("please retweet") and use the hashtag #love. We can drive traffic to videos that embrace this message of Peace Love, Unity and Respect (#PLUR). We can get artists to donate their music and editors to use MTV style cutting to spread the word. These are ways to use social media that the fascists, neo-nazis, and right wing extremists (and Islamic extremists), cannot use because their message is hate. Love stirs the soul and social media/YouTube thrives on the soul being stirred.
So, my response to these hate mongers? My message (in 140 character limit of Twitter) is simple:
Feels nice 2 smile; share kindness. Love feels good! Hate feels bad! Every child knows it & you can remember too. #love #PLUR please retweet
Follow Jordan Schachter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Paradox_TV