The return of the Nazis

2017 is going to go down as the year of a number of things but it will go down as the year the Nazis came back in force from America in events like Charlottesville to the ripples of Brexit. If you think I’m being hyperbolic have a read at this series of articles from journalist J.J Patrick about the rise of the Nazis. Its pretty worrying reading even if you have to admire the work behind the article.

That however is the tip of the iceberg. Buzzfeed this week published an amazing, not to mention scary article by Joseph Bernstein about how Milo Yiannopoulos, far-right site Breitbart, it’s editor Steve Bannon and an assorted group of Donald Trump  supporters, neo-Nazis, dregs from Gamergate and anyone willing to listen all united to form a movement that threatens the very idea of what a liberal democracy is in the 21st century. It’s an amazing read.

This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has paid attention over the last few years, especially to Yiannopoulos who has transformed himself from an annoying prick on BBC,s Daily Politics to far right rabble rouser.

When we’ve got the likes of Nigel Farage or Katie Hopkins still being treated as mainstream, or when the fascism seen in Catalonia is defended then at some point we’ve got to admit we’ve got a problem because the far right are looking to radicalise children.

We need to question everything, look at news sources and treat some people with the contempt they deserve because there’s a fight coming where we need to decide not just what sort of countries we all want to live in, but what sort of planet we live on because the Nazis are back, getting into power, or powerful positions and we’ve let it happen too easily.

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Fighting Nazis in the 21st century

In the US right now there’s a load of actual real Nazis meeting and marching in Charlottesville with actual real life armed militia marching with them. It is by any stretch of the imagination an ostentatious display by white supremacists that’s resulted in one anti-Nazi protester being killed so far. I say ‘so far’ because I’m astonished more people haven’t been killed.

Terms like ‘alt-right’ are essentially meaningless. They’re Nazis. Call them that. Groups like the National Vanguard are just Nazis and here’s where we have to stop agonising about how to deal with them. We don’t tolerate them. We fight them, and we don’t sit around like some of the ‘radical’ left agonising about whether violence is wrong or how much guilt we should have for the situaton getting here. We know Donald Trump encourages these people and has made it easier for them to grow in his short time so far as president and we know good people have died while the far-right grow and become empowered, and this is what we’ve got to remember: Trump has empowered them, just as Brexit & it’s cheerleaders like Nigel Farage have over here.

At this point people should read Umberto Eco’s essay titled Ur-Fascism, because we’re living in the age where it has finally become real again and not something of Eco’s childhood. What we’re seeing in the US and UK is Eco’s Ur-Fascism, and that scares me that we’ve let it get to a point where we need to fight not just a bunch of National Front arseholes, but vast swathes of the country who are turning to a form of fascism that is endorsed by those in power.

Back in the early 90’s the NF tried to make one last push to start the race war they were wanting. Groups like the Anti Nazi League stopped them because black, white, whatever race, religion, background united to fight them; often literally. I myself carry scars from those fights back in the days when I lived in Nottingham and we’d have to stand our ground against them. We beat them. Sadly the job now is harder and it won’t help if people aren’t prepared to perhaps get their hands a bit dirty because I look at pictures like the one below and think the young folk surrounded by actual armed Nazis are among the bravest people I’ve seen.

Those people standing in the middle of a crowd are amazing.That’s who we need to be in the days.months and years to come because sitting in Byres Road cafes worrying about the structrual problems of racism isn’t going to stop the prick with a Union Jack tattooed on his arm from beating up Asian shopkeepers. Let’s be blunt, we’re in a fight and the time for polite discussion is gone.

And the problem is the same over here in the UK. We know Neo Nazis pose a larger threat than Islamists because this is what the authorities tells us, but it barely gets reported outwith of the odd mention. If we don’t actually stop this by fighting the Nazis where we can, and making an argument for a multicultural, progressive society (and those on the left leaping on the Brexit bandwagon to get Labour into power aren’t helping one bit) we’re fucked. So lets take it back to basics, unite, argue, fight and win together and remember, punching Nazis is good for the soul.

Well done to France for rejecting fascism

Well done France. You did the right thing in rejecting Le Pen. There’s plenty of us in the UK and US looking at you jealously thinking ‘fuck, why didn’t more of us do that’, but still, you’ve done us all proud and carried on a proud French tradition of fighting Nazis.

Vive la France!

Should superhero comics be political?

A comic shop chain Coliseum Of Comics,  in America released this statement by their owner Phil Boyle the other day via Bleeding Cool in regards ‘political comics’.

Publishers, get your politics out of my stores!

We live in a climate of polarity, with people being violently opposed to issues and events. Note the word “violently” and then think about what you’re bringing to our stores.  With every new proclamation from either the White House or CNN we have a new round of vitriol coming from the opposing side. 

I’ve always told my staff that we are the safe zone from what’s outside our doors.  I’ve been touting this policy before safe spaces were a thing, not because we need to be protected but because we provide entertainment. To be crystal clear, we provide entertainment. We are not mouthpieces for any polarizing cause nor is our shelf space for rent to any organization, left, right, or center.  If you want to support fighting cancer or bullying, all good. No one is fighting for worse cancers or more bullying.  If you want to put Planned Parenthood or the NRA on my stands, you’re getting no traction in my stores.  We are not for sale and we’re not going to undermine our store’s tranquility for your cause-of-the-month.

Get your politics off my stands.  Get political figures off the covers.  Get poorly disguised villains out of your books.  Get back to telling stories that don’t remind people of the vitriol and bile being spewed from every direction; we have enough outlets for that. You’re not being clever.  You’re not being altruistic.  You’re costing me the carefully built atmosphere that has allowed me to sell your books over the last 3+ decades to people of all races, creeds, genders, and sexual orientation as well as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and no doubt a few anarchists as well.

Don’t screw that up.

It is frankly, a childish inane statement which is me being nice. The idea that the medium of comics is to purely ‘provide entertainment’ isn’t just restrictive on the medium itself, but it’s actively restricting your business by just having comics which meet your restricted world-view.

Now it is entirely down to Boyle as to what he sells as after all it is his business, but stripping politics from art, any sort of art, is just an attempt to sterilise art. From looking at his website, it is clear he’s focusing on superheroes and fantasy, which as said is fine, escapism is a glorious thing but you can’t live in a world of escapism and you can’t cut politics out of the superhero as the superhero’s origins are rooted in politics.

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Take Superman for example. In his early years he’d fight crooked landlords, corrupt politicians and generally act like a socialist working class hero fighting for the common man. Another example is Captain America who was designed as a propaganda tool to help fight the Nazis. The X-Men were a metaphor for any persecuted minority. Early Marvel comics in the early 1960’s pumped out anti-Communist propaganda so characters like Iron Man and The Hulk are rooted in politics. In the 1960’s Marvel and DC published comics which tried to deal with the issues of the time to draw people in and reflect the world they live in.

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In fact the drug awareness comics DC and Marvel did in the 1960’s were widely praised at the time, if however they seem somewhat clunky to a modern eye.

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Then there’s the link between costumed crime fighters and the Ku Klux Klan. Superheroes are inherently political; not to mention powerful, fantasy figures that can provide people with entertainment but underneath all that spandex is a seething mass of politics to be used by creators as they wish, and consumed by readers accordingly.

What Boyle seems to be doing is calling for his shops to be a ‘safe space‘. Now Boyle is quite clearly coming at this from an American right wing point of view, but the idea that someone can demand creators cut politics out of superhero comics is as said at the start of this; painfully childish. I’d wonder what the likes of Boyle would say if for example, Batman started cheering on Donald Trump and beating up Mexicans for a laugh, but the point is that superhero comics are just fine doing politics of any political slant.

The only thing that matters is whether the comic is good and it is perfectly possible to do a massively entertaining comic with a serious political slant. Not every comic has to be serious, but the fact we’re seeing cries for a genre of comics to be turned into mindless pap (well, beyond what they are right now) is just depressing but I suppose a sign of how fucked as a culture we seem to be when people demand a genre rooted in politics denies itself a chance to express itself beyond childish power fantasies for teenage boys.

The racist Brexit campaign exposed

The American comedian Jon Stewart once said that you should only call people acting like Nazis, Nazis. That it isn’t a word to throw around lightly and I agree, it isn’t which is why I never do it unless it is to point out that someone is being a a Nazi. After today, I think Nigel Farage is a fascist, a racist and with seriously Nazi tendencies. now, I always thought he was a racist, but I put him down as an opportunist. A sort of beige middle class English authoritatianism happy with imposing their ideas upon others or else, a form of fascism as it were, but not a Nazi.

Then today, he stands in front of this poster.

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As many have pointed out, this resembles Nazi propaganda so much, it could be lifted directly from what they did. I also don’t think as some have suggested, that this is an accident. UKIP know what they’re trying to do and say here and that’s to degrade immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees to less than human, almost like cattle to be shunted around and denigrated. Less than human. Once you’ve made them ‘lesser’ than us, it’s easier to treat them badly. It’s designed to whip up hate and fear and who knows where this may lead?

Yet, this afternoon we might have an idea. Labour MP Jo Cox has been shot in her constituency. Details are understandably patchy but it appears she was shot three times and possibly stabbed and is in a critical condition in hospital but coming out are reports the attacker cried out ”Britain First‘ as he attacked her. At the minute there’s just a long distance picture of the suspect and all campaigning in the EU Referendum has been suspended for the rest of the day. Britain First are desperately trying to ensure nothing ends up back at them, but their bullying, thuggish behaviour has consequences

It’s hard to imagine the mentality of the 52 year old suspect but if this was a far-right terrorist attack, then it’ll be hard not to imagine that the rhetoric of the likes of Farage and various psychopaths on social media didn’t in some way contribute to this. If it is then this changes utterly everything.

In the meantime, I hope Jo Cox pulls out of this. She’s one of the few decent Labour MP’s on their benches, but in the meantime its time to make a stand against the fascist rhetoric of Nigel Farage. I’m tired of letting him, or his cringing apologists have the last word, or attempt to get a moral high ground. As of now, call him and those like him what they are, xenophobic, racist and very probably harbouring tendencies a Nazi would be proud of.

EDITED TO ADD:

Jo Cox is dead due to her injuries. Murdered it seems by a racist terrorist. From now on I want Farage to be treated less like a jolly English eccentric but what he is; a racist demagogue that with groups like Britain First, encourages.

The fallout from this is enormous. Before that though all sympathies go to the family and friends of Jo Cox.