Please Stop Citing Neo-Nazis

I've largely been offline this last week due to some computer issues. I actually could have gotten online if I had been willing to jump through some hoops to get one machine hooked up to the internet, but after a few days of not paying attention to blogs, I realized a break could be kind of nice. This was particularly true since my computer problems wound up causing me to lose a 6,000 word document that was going to be a first draft of a new eBook, which was rather upsetting.

But the problem with taking a break is now I have a backlog of material I want to get finished. I have a couple posts to get finished following up on things I've written in recent posts, as well as a couple posts on some topics which came up during my break. For instance, did you know when a prison guard beats an inmate to death, that counts as a police officer killing a civilian? Did you know if a prisoner commits suicide while in police custody, that will be counted as a person the police killed?

Yeah, it's weird. I'll have more on that in a few posts though. For now, I just wanted to get something out of the way. There's been some discussion of anti-Muslim bigotry and related issues on this site over the last couple months, and I have been quite critical of people for expressing that bigotry. I'm not going to go into the details of all that. I just need to make a simple request of my readers: Please stop citing Neo-Nazis. It would make the world a better place.

The impetus for this request is a comment I saw when I logged into this site today which said:

Cologne’s own city council has declared downtown Cologne as a “no-go area for women”.

This was in continuation of a discussion across more than one page where I mocked and derided people for saying there are "no-go zones" where Sharia law is the law of the land, and other such nonsense. These claims were never backed up with anything resembling evidence, and no such areas were ever listed to be verified, yet a number of people continued to insist they exist. The lack of any evidence, reason or rationale for believing in the existence of these zones just didn't seem to matter to some people. It seemed anything, no matter how slight, would be leapt upon and heralded as proof of what is, quite frankly, an idiotic belief which stems largely from bigotry.

And that's what we have here. This user didn't offer any evidence for his claim. While he claimed a city council made an admission, he didn't quote them. He didn't provide a link to their announcement. In fact, he didn't provide anything at all. His comment was, on a substantative level, useless.

Still, it's trivially easy to find articles making the same claim he made. For instance, this article says things like:

the city’s own council has admitted the town centre is now a ‘no-go area’ for women, while protesters angered by authorities’ alleged inaction held demonstrations last night.

But it doesn't quote the city council admitting anything. It doesn't provide a link to an announcement from the city council. Like the user who commented here, it makes a claim while managing to do absolutely nothing to support it.

It's likely the user saw an article like this or heard about one through some means or another, but anyone who was actually interested in the truth would have to notice the glaring lack of substance. That an article claims a city council announced something doesn't make it true. One needs to at least see what the city council actually said. Which in this case is... nothing.

Yes, nothing. Literally nothing. The Cologne city council hasn't had a meeting since the events which sparked the current controversy. It isn't scheduled to have another meeting until February. It couldn't have made the admission this article claims it has made. It, and the user who repeated the claim we can find in it, is simply full of ****.

The trick is one member of the city council happened to write an open letter in which she labeled certain areas no-go zones for women. A single council member, acting unofficially, obviously cannot be said to give an admission for the city council. The articles and individuals misrepresenting this one council member's personal actions as being the entire council's actions are wildly exaggerating things.

But it gets worse. It turns out that one council member who wrote this open letter, Judith Wolter, is a member of the Neo-Nazi political group, the Bürgerbewegung pro Köln.

Okay, they're not actually Neo-Nazis. They're strongly nationalistic and authoritarian while supporting discrimination and basically just being racists. That's close enough for me. When a group of a people call for a basically dictatorial government to institutionalize discrimination because their people are inherently better the rest, I don't know what actually distinguishes them from Neo-Nazis.

And it doesn't really matter. The point is Judith Wolter is a member of this group. Call them Neo-Nazis or whatever else; they are not people who can be relied upon for a reasonable viewpoint of racial relations. And yet, a letter by one of their members is the entire basis for this idea the Cologne city council has announced the downtown portion of its city is a no-go zone for females.

That's horrifying. There are thousands and thousands of people who undoubtedly believe the Cologne city council truly announced this, all because a member of a racist group wrote a letter and that got spun by people who wanted to twist it to suit their preferred narrative.

Which is why I think, as a rule, people should agree to just not cite Neo-Nazis and the like. I think it'd make the world a better place.

8 comments

  1. Brandon,

    A suggestion: would you consider foregoing loaded labels like Neo-Nazi and instead use descriptive terms like "authoritarian" or "nationalistic" -- with some evidence or documentation, of course? The problem with labels, both favorable and unfavorable, is that they introduce ambiguity and attempt to bias the reader, perhaps unintentionally but in fact. Admittedly labels are convenient. That doesn't outweigh their flaws IMO, unless the objective is to be polemical like Mark Steyn. I don't think that's the case with this blog.

  2. Gary, I agree with your general point, but this group is not simply authoritarian or nationalistic. It is straight up racist and calling for institutionalized discrimination. The reason I said I don't know what difference there is between this group and Neo-Nazis is because, quite frankly, I don't know what the actual difference is.

    Part of the problem is Neo-Nazism actually covers a spectrum of views, without a clear line between what counts and what doesn't. People often think of skinheads and Swastikas when they hear "Neo-Nazi," but those aren't required. Many, if not most, Neo-Nazi groups don't use either. That means the only real way to determine if a person or group qualifies for the label is to examine specific beliefs/statements and compare them to tenets of Nazism to see how much overlap there is then make a somewhat arbitrary decision as to whether or not there is enough overlap to apply the label.

    That's why I was willing to use the label in this situation. I wasn't using a label which has some clear and obvious meaning that obviously wasn't accurate. I suspect if one did the necessary examinations and weighings, they'd find the group doesn't truly merit the label "Neo-Nazi," but it's not obvious at a glance by any means. Many people exposed to this group's messages will likely have the instinctive reaction, "Neo-Nazis!" That's what I was trying to convey. I was also trying to make it clear if a person looked further into the matter, they might realize the group isn't actually a Neo-Nazi group, but rather, is a (ultra?)authoritarian far right racist organization which calls for institutionalized discrimination.

    I don't know how clear I made that, but while I used the label "Neo-Nazi," my hope was I'd convey the ambiguity with which I was using the word. Because quite frankly, I got sick when I had to look into the details of the exact nature of bigotry expressed by the two Bible Believers groups I had conflated in the earlier post which led to this exchange, and I really don't want to have to look into the specific of more hate groups so I can work out exactly which groups they espouse what sorts of bigotry towards.

  3. Weird, that was my comment that quoted it, but as I read your item, I was thinking,"Brandon's misquoted me, it wasn't the city council but the mayor."
    Looks like I saw one thing and then pulled the quote from elsewhere. Wasn't the mayor though.

    Nazis are Communists who wanted to co-opt businesses to serve their purposes rather than eviscerate them.
    The qualities you prescribe
    They’re strongly nationalistic and authoritarian while supporting discrimination and basically just being racists.
    applies to NeoNazis, but also to lots of others. Russia, India, Japan immigration policies are nationalistic and supporting discrimination and basically just being racists.

  4. MikeN, while I would be willing to discuss the details of just what qualifies as Neo Nazism, could we perhaps first resolve the issue that isn't one of semantics? I think it would be helpful if before worrying about whether or not a law banning the Nazi party could actually prevent a Neo Nazi from serving on a city council, it might be helpful to reach an agreement on the fact the Cologne city council didn't declare parts of its city to be no-go zones for women like you claimed it did.

    For the record, the mayor of Cologne hasn't made this declaration either. Whatever one may feel about situations or people and their actions, I would like to think we can all agree on simple things like who said what.

  5. Glad we got that resolved.

    On the Neo Nazi issue, Neo-Nazism may embrace Nazi tenets, but it doesn't require the adoption of Nazi symbology or other things like that which are covered by the German ban on Nazism. The ban doesn't even prohibit the Nazi ideology, merely Nazi symbology, literature and the like. It'd pretty much be impossible to ban a political ideology, and it'd certainly be impossible to ban one on the basis it was similar to another... so your argument is way off.

    As for your claim that the governments of Russia, India and Japan use nationalistic and racist immigration policies, I don't know anything about that so I can't really comment on it. What I can say is this group's racism call for discrimination is not limited to immigration issues, with them calling for separate legal statuses for people of different groups, with the groups they dislike having fewer legal rights and protections. That is what I was referring to, and it's rather different than what you describe.

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