Trump's Nazis?

The European media’s twisted tactics in smearing a U.S. president.

We got accustomed to it during the presidential election campaign: headlines in major media reminding us that there actually still exists something called the KKK. On November 1, only a few days before Americans went to the polls, the Washington Post found it worthwhile to devote an entire story to the fact that the KKK’s official newspaper (who knew the KKK had an official newspaper?) had endorsed Donald Trump. After Trump won, the Independent, a major British daily, ran a report with the headline “Former KKK leader David Duke: 'We won it for Donald Trump.'” In January, the Huffington Post put up an article insisting that Trump's dad had links to the Klan. And in February the New Yorker published a long, probing piece in which Evan Osnos sought to find something fishy in the fact that Trump didn't denounce the KKK every ten minutes: “for months, as Donald Trump developed his political repertoire, he adopted an uncharacteristic reply for questions about fascism and the Ku Klux Klan: silence, or something close to it.” Aha! Gotcha! As if all this weren't enough, the A&E network has apparently been running Generation KKK, an eight-part documentary series in which viewers were given a look at the lives of KKK members and their families.

It's clear why the mainstream media are so fond of KKK stories. In a time when almost all the hate-driven violence is on the left, and when Islam poses a profound menace to American freedom and security, the KKK provides a handy diversion: Look, folks, the threat to our society is really on the right! Muslims aren't adherents of a lethal ideology – they're innocent objects of Klan hatred! Also, the KKK is great for guilt by association. To certain folks in New York and Los Angeles, pretty much all red-state families look alike, and the sight of a pathetic gaggle of losers on A&E waving swastika flags and wearing white hoods is enough to convince them that all of flyover country, from Pennsylvania coal country to the Central Valley, is one big Klan rally waiting to happen. And of course any time some KKK member expresses admiration for Trump, it offers a great opportunity to brand him and his entire administration as white supremacists.

Oh, by the way: guess how many KKK members there are, all together? In the whole United States? According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, somewhere between five and eight thousand. According to the Anti-Defamation League, about three thousand. In other words, 0.001% of the American population.

Cut to Europe. Here, Islam is a far greater presence, and a far more obvious peril, than it is yet in the U.S. Generally speaking, the European media have never cared to address this fact honestly. They prefer, like their American counterparts, to depict Muslims as victims and to demonize anyone who dares to criticize Islam or to support the likes of Nigel Farage or Geert Wilders. Or Trump. Consequently, just as the U.S. media love up play up the KKK, their European colleagues have found their own gold mine in the form of neo-Nazis.

Now, neo-Nazis are no joke. In some Eastern European countries, they're a major presence and deserve to be taken seriously. In most of Western Europe, however, they're an exceedingly marginal phenomenon. But how convenient they are! In 2011, when a nutcase named Anders Behring Breivik bombed a government building in Oslo, killing eight, then gunned down 69 people at a Labor Party youth camp, the left-wing Norwegian media (and establishment politicians) used the atrocity as an excuse to try to crush their opponents – especially critics of Islam – by branding them as Breivik's ideological confreres. That effort continues today all over Europe: the same mainstream reporters who systematically deep-six violent Muslim crime, stealth jihad, and creeping sharia go out of their way to find a real live white fascist somewhere to write about. They're more desperate to dig up real Nazis than Simon Wiesenthal.

Over the last several months, in what may be the impressive example yet of this brand of journalism, VG, Norway's largest daily, has produced “White Rage,” a series of 24 long articles about “Nazis, fascists, Muslim-haters, nationalists, and populists in 14 European countries.” Asked VG: “What motivates them? Why do they hate?” Note how VG, first, managed here to link Nazis, actual Nazis, with “Muslim-haters” (i.e., people who are legitimately worried about Islam), “nationalists” (i.e. patriots), and “populists” (i.e., pretty much anybody who dissents from PC views) and, second, smoothly posited that all these people are driven by hatred. 

In a country where reporters are famously lazy and investigative journalism is almost unheard of, VG sent its hacks all over the continent to interview people who could reasonably be portrayed as harbingers of a Fourth Reich. In Ukraine, it found a guy “who carved a swastika with a knife into a Muslim's forehead, then threw him down a well.” Other subjects: Russian white supremacist Inna Bunina; Pär Öberg of the Nordic Resistance Movement; Christos Pappas of the ultranationalist Greek party Golden Dawn; an octogenarian German Holocaust denier named Ursula Haverbeck; and Kjersti Margrethe Adelheid Gilje, a Norwegian fan of Breivik.

The series set out to shock, but was ultimately repetitious and dull: it was like going from cell to cell in a high-security prison, or from bed to bed in a psych ward, and listening to the inmates' ramblings. To be sure, a couple of the profiles were of people closer to the mainstream. One of them was Marine Le Pen's niece, Marion. Another piece, presented as an effort to understand “Islamophobia,” leaned heavily on the insights of “religion expert” Matthias Gardell, who called Donald Trump a “protofascist” and blamed anxiety about Islam on “websites like Breitbart News.” Another piece was an interview with another “expert,” Cas Mudde, who said that Europeans who want to limit immigration “haven't really been harmed by immigrants; they just feel that immigrants are a threat” even though “these feelings [don't] have a strong root in reality.” Yet another piece sought to besmirch Norwegian Minister of Migration and Integration Sylvi Listhaug – a champion of strict asylum, crime, and integration policies – by mentioning at the outset that she's admired by neo-Nazis.

That a major goal of the series was indeed to smear by association became crystal clear in the very last piece. After Trump won the presidential election, VG phoned around to several of the creepier characters it had interviewed for the earlier articles. They were all “jubilant” – as, VG informed us, were “nationalists, fascists, and right-wing populists around the world.”

“White Rage” was disgraceful, but true to formula: focus in on the very worst figures on the right, and present them as representative of everyone, on both sides of the Atlantic, who rejects socialism, the EU, and unlimited Muslim immigration. When, one wanted to ask, can we expect VG's 24-part series on European imams who cheer on ISIS, preach jihad, support forced marriage and honor killing, and encourage their followers to hate the infidel? For one thing, such a series would be a lot easier to put together than “White Rage”: VG's scribes could find a couple of dozen worthy profile subjects without ever leaving Oslo.