The rise of hate

By Nicholas Burns | May 23, 2013


Earlier this month, neo-Nazi lawmaker Panagiotis Iliopoulos was ejected from Greece’s parliament while shouts of “Heil Hitler” were heard in the chamber, in a recent incident involving his far-right party.

In Athens, a popular far-right party condemns Jews as a source of the country’s misfortune and recycles the ancient lie depicting them as “Christ killers.” In Hungary, the prime minister fails to disassociate himself convincingly from an anti-Semitic and increasingly powerful fascist group. Scenes from Europe in the 1930s? No. Both examples, sadly, of European politics today.

The Greek organization is Golden Dawn, now the third most popular party in the birthplace of democracy. The Hungarian party is Jobbik, which is rising in influence. Nearly 70 years after the defeat of Hitler, Mussolini, and European fascism in the Second World War, hateful, right-wing ideology has returned in nearly every European country. While none of these parties is strong enough to win power, they are often violent and aggressive. And they are intolerant of immigrants, Jews, and other minority groups that don’t fit their twisted definition of what Greeks, Hungarians, and other Europeans should look like.

Golden Dawn has drawn worldwide attention for its crude bigotry, race-baiting, and use of the swastika and Nazi salute. Long an obscure cellar dweller in Greek politics, it has risen steadily in the polls as Greece’s economic crisis has worsened during the past three years. In the 2012 national elections, Golden Dawn surprised by winning 7 percent of the vote and 18 seats in the Greek Parliament. It is now at over over 11 percent in recent polls. Party legislators brawled with leftists in the Greek parliament last week. Earlier this month, another Golden Dawn leader tried to punch the mayor of Athens at a charity event and, in missing, hit a 12-year-old girl instead….

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