If Hitler were alive today he would be delighted to see how fast and far Europe is progressing down his preferred path. I suspect he would have particularly liked the phrase “multiculturalism has failed”. It might remind him of the time he said “the leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category.” What better for a racist leader than to lump together everyone of every other cultural background as unacceptably abnormal?
Hitler now appears to be conquering even the countries that resisted him in his lifetime and I start to wonder if his failure was just due to impatience. Had he not rushed to militarily overrun Europe would his philosophy have crossed the borders unopposed as they are now? In 2016, when the Germans decided to republish Mein Kampf, they claimed that only a few academics and historians would want to read it. Sure enough, within months it had topped the non-fiction charts and over 85,000 eager “historians” paid £50 each for a copy. On Amazon Italy, of the many millions of fiction and non-fiction book titles for sale, there are just 81 more frequently bought books than Mein Kampf and it is the number 1 bestselling book of political ideology. On Amazon UK, there are only 444 more popular books, on Amazon France 2,429. In the USA it is topping Kindle e-book charts and being downloaded hundreds of thousands of times from the Internet Archive. Just in case any Italian historians were yet to acquire a copy they also gave them out with newspapers.
But then perhaps history has given Hitler too much credit for being the sole mastermind of white supremacist theory and there should be no surprise that the ordinary person wants to read up on his thinking. In fact, eugenics was just the intellectualisation of a white master race ideology commonly found among white people before Hitler. It didn’t hurt Sir Winston Churchill’s political career to be well known for referring to people of other skin colour as “savages” and saying the “Aryan stock is bound to triumph.” Leopold Amery, Churchill’s Secretary of State for India, said he didn’t see much difference between Churchill’s outlook and Hitler’s. Right up to 1937, 4 years after Hitler came to power Churchill is quoted as saying that white people were a “higher grade race” than people of other skin colour. Speaking in his defence, Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, says Churchill was just “a child of the Edwardian age and spoke the language of it.” In other words, it was standard white-think in those days. History bears this accusation out.
Of course, millions of enslaved Africans and the nearly wiped out indigenous populations of North America and Australia would testify to their treatment as sub-humans by more than a fringe element of Europeans; that it wasn’t merely a “native supremacy” of whites in their home countries but a supremacy of whites wherever they went. Some early English works on genetics were seized upon to justify the colonial ways. As they were the conquerors of all the coloured people of the colonised world, through technological and militarily superiority, they must surely have arrived there organically by superior breading. Therefore their position as masters over the coloured people was only right and proper; moral issues could be put aside, it was their genetic destiny to conquer the world and it would not be right to refuse that natural order.
The science and application of eugenics really took off in America at the turn of the 20th century. Pioneered in California, the government in that state and others legislated for and carried out tens of thousands of forced sterilisations, prevented mixed marriages and segregated on racial lines. A short study of American and European eugenics in the period between the World Wars states,
“It is important to appreciate that within the U.S. and European scientific communities these ideas were not fringe but widely held and taught in universities.”
Exporting their ideas back to Europe, the Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program including Josef Mengele’s work before he went to Auschwitz. After the war, waste not want not, the USA hired 1600 Nazi scientists to enable them to continue their work.
Rather than being a racist pioneer, Hitler was merely using other people’s work to get his way. He was a tactician, a student of psychology and a master of manipulative cunning. It started with fear-mongering that the Germans were the oppressed victims of an “international Jewish conspiracy”. This readied the population to have increased hatred and be defensive of “the other”. It was later on that he borrowed from the eugenics programs which widened the net to everyone else who was “not normal”, not conforming to the leaderships chosen definition of a good German. They were the white master race and it was up to the others to conform to them and bad luck for those who could not. So, along with Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Rome Gypsies, non-whites, the disabled and priests were persecuted or killed.
Most history books wash away the American history of eugenics and would have us believe that eugenics was a freak anomaly of Nazi imagining. They say the majority of nations stood firmly united against not just their military expansion but the Nazi philosophy. However, seasoned white supremacist Winston Churchill did not declare war with Germany to defend against white supremacy but because, if left un-checked, it was clear the impatiently expanding Nazi Empire was a threat to Britain. Most history books are even generous to the average 1940s German. They offer them the excuse that they were forced to kill or be killed. This is considered a myth by Harvard Professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen who claims the evidence shows average Germans were, by that point, in a state where they “considered the slaughter to be just” and needed very little encouragement.
Rather than Hitler having magical powers to brainwash an entire nation, the most probable scenario is he had merely encouraged what was already there and what is once again rising to the surface, the European Value of “conformity, or else…”. All European nations at the time had similar deep-seated racist and anti-Semitic beliefs but, since the Nazi’s extreme application of it had made it taboo, most have been in denial. Watching the revival of white supremacy back into the mainstream of every white majority nation over the last decade it now seems clear that it has merely been festering under the lumpy carpet where it had been swept. Not entirely out of sight, not cured, just loosely pinned down. The signs have been staring us in the face for long enough. Far-right whitesplainers like Douglas Murray have been crying out for years that racist beliefs are just “popular concerns“ and it is undemocratic to pretend that the xenophobia of the majority is “the inexplicable prejudice of a kooky fringe.” When football fans chant “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it!” he would encourage us to believe them.
“Be normal”, said the Dutch PM Mark Rutte last week. It seems such a bland statement. Everyone considers themselves “normal”. He said it 10 times in a short statement, but so what? Who could be against being normal? But then there are some people who cannot help being a bit different; by their place of birth, their skin colour or their religion they fall outside of the majority. They are normal humans, but not as Dutch, white or Christian as the people in power and the white majority who are defining what is normal. To non-white Muslims, being told “be normal or leave” is unquestionably an open threat; it is the modern eugenics war cry. “What will they do to us if we can’t leave?” they must surely be wondering. Now for Muslims, just as it was for Jews in the 1930s, the doors to America have been shut on popular, democratic, xenophobic grounds. It is a bitter irony which will not be lost on European, American and Australian Muslims that their now hostile countries, who were once colonisers of their homelands, are the ones who started and inflamed the conflicts in the countries Muslims have fled from and can’t go back to. But justice is yesterday’s false promise.
In his statement, Mr Rutte tries to cover himself against the allegation of racism by making one of the things that would mark out a foreigner as “abnormal” being to accuse a “Normal” Dutch person of being racist for considering foreigners abnormal. But, let us say we allow him that. The statement still had every mark of being a poorly considered, typical racist diatribe; it tarred all immigrants with the actions of a few individuals. The reader is clearly expected to believe that no “Normal” Dutch person would ever step outside of his rose-tinted vision of Dutch Normalcy. It mixed in actual antisocial and illegal behaviour with innocent and harmless cultural differences that any “Normal” person should ideally be able to live with. But we have to keep in mind we are not dealing with ideal people.
I am in no doubt that he is a genuine enough racist to have some credibility with the Far-right and it is of no comfort that, as is widely believed, the Dutch PM’s statement was “just a political play” designed to win back some support from Geert Wilder’s anti-Islam party, now leading in the polls with 33%. He clearly does not fear alienating his remaining 24% share of voters with this rhetoric but rather thinks that his previous lack of overt racism is what is losing him the election. It shows exactly what issue the election is being fought on and that the belief of the most politically knowledgeable people in the country is that only an overt racist has a chance of winning the popular vote. Sound familiar?
We should not unfairly single out the Dutch of course. More recently in Austria, after narrowly defeating the Far-right, the government sought to prove to the voting public that they were just as racist by banning Islamic face veils and warning those who persist with being abnormal that “Those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society”.
I cannot pretend to know nothing of what has given the hard core exponents of white supremacy the ammunition they needed to bring it back to the mainstream. I am half Dutch and spent many happy holidays there as a child in the now utopian looking 80s and have visited a few times as an adult, enough to notice some unfortunate changes. I know some of the issues that are complained of. The Nederlands is a small country, very densely populated and very orderly. Small towns are quiet, people are softly-spoken and bikes glide silently past neatly tended little gardens. There is a discernable “Dutchness” which makes anything not Dutch stand out.
As one blogger nicely describes, there is strong element of social policing in Holland. Neighbours might chase you down the road and yell at you for putting your rubbish out a few hours too early. Strangers will berate you for breaking tea drinking rules on trains. That the Dutch take a collective responsibility for making sure everyone behaves properly, following the written and unwritten rules.
It is easy to imagine there developing a common ill feeling of “these foreigners” who do not follow their rules, which moves into negative racist stereotyping where ignorance of the law is no excuse as they should have learned the law if they wanted to be there. A logical progression from this is that foreigners will start to consider being repeatedly berated about something or other that they could not have known (in the case of unwritten rules) as a sign that the Dutch are not very welcoming or friendly. Barriers would go up. People will stick to friends of their own backgrounds, if there are sufficient around.
About 10 years ago I walked through the centre of a small Dutch town and noticed there were groups of non-white youth loitering around benches. There was an unmistakable atmosphere of tension. They looked physically and metaphorically left out in the cold, miserable and isolated. Mr Rutte mentioned people hanging around in groups and, yes, some harassment probably occurs, but I doubt it is entirely unique to immigrants. We should consider this ḥadīth:
“Abū Saʿīd Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Beware of sitting in the roads.” They said, “O Messenger of Allāh, we have nowhere else to sit and talk.” The Prophet said, “If you insist, then give the road its right.” They said, “What is its right, O Messenger of Allāh?” The Prophet said, “Lower the gaze, refrain from harming others, return greetings of peace, enjoin good and forbid evil.”
It may not be haram, but we can consider why we should “beware sitting in the roads”. All people find something intimidating about groups of male youth and, in this case, it is also an unfortunately very visible and constant reminder to the Dutch that their once simple mono-cultural existence has ended. The twee world of Holland in the 80’s would have ended anyway, as the twee world everywhere has by globalisation and the cultural impact of technology and American media, but coinciding with immigration it has made them an emotional trigger. Immigrants are inevitably “not normal” in enough ways to enrage such a closed illiberal society and it is really no surprise that they want to change this situation.
It is not unexpected that a xenophobic people will have Islamophobia. Most non-Muslims know literally nothing about Islām. There are a lot of things about Islām that people who do not understand the reality of our creation still find hard to understand or accept even if it is explained to them at length. We have some ways of living and priorities that are different to non-Muslims. It is a fact that we put Islām above nationalism, Muslims to a degree above non-Muslims. And they do not understand the fine details of these issues at all. They do not know that it is not a threat to them and they do not know of the benefits of Islām. Muslim immigration to Europe coincided with a past time when people were trying their best not to be like white supremacists. Everyone felt they had to be liberal when, in fact, like most things, it is a bell curve distribution. At one end we have a minority of true colour-blind “people of the world” liberals, most people in the middle possessing racist sentiments who can be swayed one way or the other, and at the other end a minority of hard core white supremacists who are currently winning the PR battle.
The point is that there is a very straightforward equation here:
These people are xenophobes + we are different = we have a serious problem.
This problem will not be solved by merely trying to use their own idealistically liberal laws to tell them they cannot think like they do. It is legislation which some high minded post-Nazi people penned, based on a fantasy that only a tiny minority are prone to white supremacy. It caters to idealism not reflected in the wishes of the majority of people. Already they are voting in new law-makers in order to change those laws. We will be needing plan B very soon.
I cannot see any way in which a continued open border policy is going to do other than make an extreme Nazi-style solution more likely. The Dutch should certainly stop claiming to be liberal based on a few old pragmatic laws around regulating drugs and prostitution as they are certainly not liberal in most senses. They should admit they have a problem with sharing and that they are inflexible in their ways. They should close their borders, give immediate independence to Aruba and the other Caribbean countries they captured in their slave trading days and never step foot in anyone else’s country again. With time, if they learn patience, they might teach the immigrants that remain their crucial social etiquettes and if the immigrants followed Islamic manners closely the tensions would probably ease. As much as I would like to believe people can be as easy going on culture as I am, we have to face the reality that the majority of white people are just too psychologically incapable of accepting other ways of living around them and sudden changes in their cultural landscape can be extremely dangerous.
I believe we should be doing anthropological studies of common white reactions when faced with differences in their midst to understand just what is wrong with them. And research into the chronic selective blindness of their own double-standards. We need to delve deeper into the psychology of the people Muslims are accused of colonising through their immigration, even when that immigration was by invitation to work by the people that had colonised and started wars in the immigrants’ home countries. There is clearly something very wrong with a people with such a history exhibiting such an extreme superiority complex and paranoid defensiveness. Realistically, any solution would likely need on-going psychological therapy and in many peoples cases probably medication, which they have no idea they need and therefore will not submit to, but we cannot even begin to work around a problem if we do not understand it.
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2333, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2121