Monday, May 23, 2016

Post US Election: Where Not To Move To in Europe?

So maybe you're thinkin'...." hmmm... given America's steady slippery rightward slide of the last several decades, the crowning glory of which is this year's US election, maybe old reliable Liberal Europe is the place to be."...   Ahhh .. not so much.  Scroll down to this map of "political tendencies" reflected in the most recent Euro elections.  Hmmm.. Spain. Portugal. Italy. Greece ... those states looking a bit more kindhearted, non?  Of course their respective experiences with fascism were different than those of the rest of Europe, the lingering memory more recent.

Here's the interesting bit about the New Right Wingers in Austria, and everywhere for that matter:  their candidates claim that being able to make statements and voice opinions that are "no longer taboo" (according to the BBC) is – Hurray! – striking a blow for Freedom of Speech! How Trumpish!  That this supposed "Free Speech" is but a Dog Whistle of bigotry and racism appealing to voters angry about societal changes and pressures they don't understand or accept their part in creating gets little press or analysis.  What does it say about Western democratic society that expressions promoting violence, hate, resentment, inequality, ignorance and blind fear of The Other, and blatantly anti-Christian sentiments are no longer taboo?   These are the opinions voters claim their candidates have "freed" them to voice.  And a media greedy for clicks and profits, too cowardly to actually analyze why the public finds all this so sensational, provides them with no end of platforms from which to blow that Dog Whistle til the hounds of fascism are all safely home at last.

How is this emblematic of civilized society?  Some say Rome fell in part because it lost its sense of identity, what it originally stood for, that its government became a sham, a mere showcase for ideals it no longer put into practice. An anti-Republic of haves and have-nots.   If  those who fail to study history are bound to repeat it, is anyone still cracking the books? Apparently not the media, not in Austria.  Nor in the US as Trump supporter numbers aren't far behind the Austrians.

The Dean of Boys in my old high school, Mister Drulis, was a massive presence. Looming over the hallways, his job to ensure each student was where he was supposed to be. And laggards beware.  Though we mocked him mercilessly, his voice got you moving in a hurry, always the same embarrassing question, and after all these years his voice and that question seem to echo more and more often in my head:

 "What are we doing here, People?"

Feel the Bern.

Rise of nationalism in Europe graphic

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