“I could just give up and slink away, but that’s not how you fight racism.” – 20 year veteran activist Peter Lord after being threatened by neo-Nazis in his Adelaide home in 1998.
Peter Lord’s “crime”? Being involved in the Celebrating Diversity Coalition and Campaign Against Racism, an anti-racism group. Lord of course, like many other normal Australians, would have assumed that being a public activist for a more tolerant and just society was a perfectly legitimate and praiseworthy activity. After all, the notion of a tolerant and just society is continually being pushed by politicians from the major parties, is a mandatory perspective in schools both public and private and is even upheld by the churches. However our knuckle-dragging “white nationalists” (note they never call themselves Nazis or neo-Nazis, but this is what they are) thought differently.
After a failed anti-asylum seeker rally in 2009 outside the Villawood Detention Centre by the Australian Protectionist Party (who prefer to call themselves “nationalists”, who are sort of the beige shirts of the neo-Nazis “white nationalists”), a blogger published photographs of and commentary on the demonstration and of the far larger counter-demonstration mounted by about 300 people from various progressive and refugee advocacy groups. The blogger was subjected to a campaign of vilification, threats and hate which extended from Facebook even into the Comments section of the Sydney Indymedia site, not a place you would think the far right would feel particularly welcome.
In 2010 an activist in the Newtown area came to the notice of certain elements calling themselves “white nationalists” (or in the case of the more squeamish, just beige “nationalists”). In return for his public activism he was subjected to a finger-pointing campaign on a nasty little “anti-antifa” website (now thankfully removed) run by various veterans of Volksfront, a disparate rag-tag group of the socially challenged.
Recently, another outspoken anti-racist, a productive and valuable member of his community, has had his home and family targeted. Among other abuses, his daughter was phoned in the middle of the night and abused by the caller, and dead animals have been sent to him through the mail.
Why was he targeted? It seems he exercised his right to “free speech” on Facebook to robustly criticise hate groups and their members. But wait, these neo-Nazis “white nationalists” won’t stand for that. In their alternate universe “free speech” is only to be used loudly and inaccurately to convey hate speech.
And in most cases it seems these morons don’t even need a particular reason. For example, the bile isn’t confined to non-whites, Muslims, Jews or immigrants. Slandering and threatening women and gays is also a neo-Nazi “white nationalist” speciality.
The list of crimes members of these neo-Nazi movements are responsible for include murder, the attempted assassination of a prominent member of the African National Congress living in exile in Australia, vandalism of synagogues, mosques and cemeteries, a fire-bomb attack on a Chinese restaurant in Fremantle, attacks on the homes and property of activists, death threats of various sorts and the continued vilification and harassment of of minorities. In addition many of them, to put it politely, are “known to police” and offences include domestic violence and assaults up to and including grievous bodily harm.
Stacks up fairly well against the Underbelly mob in the hoodlum stakes.
These “movements” have one thing in common – they will stalk their targets and use threats, intimidation and extortion to silence their victims.
If you are unclear as to what this means, take a look at the relevant legislation. If you do not live in NSW, be aware that other states have strikingly similar laws.
While you are at it, take a look at Section 249K of the Crimes Act (NSW) which talks about extortion.
The inspiration for the title of this piece actually came from Josana’s blog where she outlines the vicious campaign against the activist mentioned in the Extortion entry.
Josana manages to expose a whole colourful procession of bottom-feeders, all associated to a greater or lesser degree with these neo-Nazis self-styled “white nationalists”. Our next entry is going to have a closer look at some of these characters.
And with the events in Norway in mind, it is perhaps appropriate to read of the price paid by Swedish writer and activist Stieg Larsson and his family in his own tolerant, liberal, prosperous country .
As Expo grew, the neo-Nazis in Sweden targeted it,… both of them were placed on hit lists, and were in enough danger to barricade their apartment doors and arrange for special police protection. “Stieg would receive bullets in the mail, and once someone was waiting for him outside the entrance of the TT building [where he worked]. Warned in time, Stieg slipped out a back door,” Gabrielsson writes.
“Our answering machine was set permanently on ‘record’ to keep evidence of the threats we received,” she continues, “and they were always in the same vein: ‘Piece of shit, you Jew-fucker…Traitor, we’ll tear you apart…and we know where you live.'” At the sign of the slightest provocation on their apartment block police cars would descend on the street. The danger was undeniably real: Two journalists who once worked for Expo and were later employed by Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, wrote an expose of the neo-Nazi black metal music operations. One of them was seriously injured when his car was bombed. A labor union leader who revealed neo-Nazi names was shot dead.
These events, and what Larsson felt was the government’s failure to protect citizens, made their way into Larsson’s fiction, says Gabrielsson, for example via the murders of Dag Svensson and Mia Bergman in The Girl Who Played With Fire. “In fact, everything of this nature described in The Millennium Trilogy has happened at one time or another to a Swedish citizen, journalist, politician, public prosecutor, unionist, or policeman. Nothing was made up.”