Media And Neo-Nazism

An interesting question popped up after I published Tuesday’s post on Neo-Nazis: did media report fairly on the incident at the Faculty of Philosophy. Fact of the matter is that media did not report both sides of the story. But the real question is, are there really two sides to this story? Why were the Boneheads not welcome members of the public at the roundtable discussion and why exactly should they not be allowed to express their views if we are to call ourselves a free society. And – last but not least – isn’t intolerance against them just proving their point, that they are just like the rest of us?

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Ignoring this won’t make it go away (source)

To answer that, we should remind ourselves of the oft-forgot role of gatekeepers media are playing. Namely, that in the final analysis it is the media who shape the public opinion and provide a general sense of what is socially acceptable and what is not. Having said that, it should be noted that there are (in the words of Commandant Lassard) many many many instances where media fail miserably at this role.

We must also re-examine the functioning of a democracy. Specifically, a post-WWII European liberal democracy (as a political phenomenon, not as a political persuasion). Pengovsky likes to compare a democracy to a playing ground full of kids and only a couple of toys to fight over. Most kids will struggle to win the toys for themselves, others won’t play the game at all, other still will only sit in the corner and whine. But for as long as they will all remain within the playing ground (democracy) it is more or less OK. Sure, you can enforce stricter rules of the game, but that’s beside the point. The problem is, when a kid or a group of kids leaves the playing ground and – in order to win the toys (power) – starts throwing rocks at those within the playing ground. That kind of behaviour is not acceptable.

Turning to European democracies, it goes without saying that one of their basic postulates are anti-fascism and anti-nazism. These two ideologies brought so much suffering upon this continent that there is a general consensus established that both of them are inherently bad and completely unacceptable. Indeed, they are the very opposite of what post-WWII Europe, capitalist and socialist alike, stood and fought for.

Neo-nazism and its various offshots go against this fundamental consensus and therefore can not be regarded as legitimate paticipants in any discourse. Allowing them to participate would mean going against the very basics of a modern society. Some say that – ideologies aside – what happened at the Facutly of Philosophy was that a group of individuals was prevented from expressing their views and banned from the event in what was an act of intolerance and an attack on their freedom of speech. Had all things been equal, that would have been correct. However, things are not equal. The banned group has a clear superiority agenda and its appearance at the roundtable was a clear attempt at gaining legitimacy in what is technically known as “mainstream discourse”. In short, they wanted to be recognised as equal partners in a debate.

And that cannot be allowed. Even more: while one must always question what is right and what is wrong (if for nothing else, to reaffirm one’s set of values), one must also always look at the context (the bigger picture, if you will) of what is being said and done. And this is where media come in. While they often fail in that role, media are by definition equipped to put events in context and look at the bigger picture. With this power, which must be executed with great care and surgical precision, media decide what is a legitimate and acceptable position and what is not. Often this is not an easy or clear-cut task and that is why media seek and report “the other side of the story”.

But in this case seeking the other side of the story would mean giving neo-Nazis legitimacy they do not deserve and must not have. Because – as Uroš said in comments two days ago – making neo-Nazis part of the mainstream discourse means making other xenophobic political players perfectly acceptable.

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

12 thoughts on “Media And Neo-Nazism”

  1. How about a (media) report from Germany? 🙂

    As we all know, the media here are dealing with neonazis in quite active ways and reporting about their misdeeds a lot. Apart from punks and other left (“occupational”) protestants, many neonazi events will draw many members of public who then protest against them in large numbers.

    Die ZEIT even has a special online topic slot, reserved for useful information about nazis (especially important are questions of borderline nazism, when people claim things you may or may not consider too racist etc.) But these articles are only for those wanting information, those who know they need information.

    Most people don’t. They’ll wave away many a thing – actually, I am not any different in some cases. Maybe I told you about my driving instructor, who was telling me stories about Turks, which I found were bad and wasn’t angry at him for being angry at them, mostly because I despise religious bigotism/fanatism so much.

    OK, so media should do its work, consistently and in many ways. And I think you are right when you say some views have been agreed upon in Europe and they are no-go. I am sure WWII still has so much influence upon our lives we shouldn’t yield the few useful lessons at all.

    Neonazis are quite adaptable, though. So mainstream media won’t paint a favourable picture of them? Doesn’t matter, they’ll use blogs to defame newspapers and spread their word. The attraction of the illicit can be quite big, especially for younger people.
    Their publishing businesses and their products have been verboten? Doesn’t matter, they’ll copy CDs and sell them in school yards, with success.

    Of course their illegal activities are much talked about in mainstream media, it is just that from some point on, the State of Law and its executors are quite inefficient and make seemingly feeble or useless attempts at dealing with this stuff. Like smuggling informants into nazi groups, only to find out it is impossible to persecute the “baldheads” because of that (forgotten the exact background, but the story went along these lines)…

    Anyway, in my opinion being an Alien starts with common people treating you like an interesting exotic object and correcting your language even though it was correct in the first place or you conveyed your meaning despite a mistake or two. A level I don’t worry about, to be honest. I am also sure I needn’t clearly communicate the fact I am contributing to the fiscal well-being of the state and not living of it and not stealing jobs because my job is suitable for Slovenes only and so on… These things go below my line of resentment. Some basic prejudices against foreigners are OK. But not nazis.

  2. You can’t really stop nazis from being nazis. You can just try to be one step ahead of them and prevent them from doing to much damage. For Slovenia I’d say just take it seriously to start with, before they start gay-bashing, going after graves of people with wrong the surname and such things.

  3. @”Neo-Nazism and its various off shots go against this fundamental consensus and therefore can not be regarded as legitimate participants in any discourse.”
    This describes what PM Pahor doesn’t understand. He was giving in the NATO referendum case full legitimacy to people who don’t deserve it.
    What I see as a problem is on the other hand who and on what criteria can exclude somebody from democracy. It can easily happen that that person itself doesn’t deserve to be treated in a democratic manner. Yes, and because of that media have to play an important role in this process!

  4. You people.. I am sorry to flaunt the American view, but Europeans have no idea what freedom means. Including freedom of expression. In good ol’ USofA a Jewish lawyer has defended the right of Neonazis to organize a march through Skokie, Illinios, while in Slovenia a round table discussion on Nazism is organized and the subjects of the discussion are not allowed to participate? Jeebus.

  5. Crni, oj crni moj…

    gledaj ovo i se čudi:

    “Del okrogle mize so poslušali, čeprav so jih preostali udeleženci pozvali, naj jo zapustijo, saj na fakulteti ni prostora za nestrpnost in fašizem. Ko so uvideli, da se dogodek tudi snema, jih je večina odšla, eden od njih pa je želel fizično obračunati z enim od udeležencev okrogle mize, pri čemer se je ta izmaknil, tako da je dobil “zgolj” udarec po roki, ki mu je iz roke izbil fotoaparat.

    Na policiji so potrdili, da zbirajo obvestila o dogodku, tako v povezavi s kršenjem reda in miru kot kaznivim dejanjem poškodovanja tuje stvari. Kot so dejali, za zdaj še ne morejo uradno trditi, kaj je bil motiv napada oziroma, ali je bil napad rasno oziroma nacionalistično motiviran.”

    Tako je to bilo. O pravicah lahko začnemo bluziti takrat, ko se vsi udeleženci držijo pravil obnašanja.

    V tvoji čudoviti deželi Ameriki bi pridivjali specialci in prebutali te boneheade, da bi se kadilo iz njihovih riti, preden bi lahko rekli F od freedom of speech.

    Če hočeš govoriti dandanes lahko govoriš samo pod posebnimi predpisanimi pogoji. Tako pač je. Neformalno pa lahko tebe pošljem tudi v arshloch tukaj i nikome ništa a?
    Če pa zberem grupo mladih močnih fantov in se začnem nad študenti zdirati ali nad krepostnimi babicami, pa bo koj kaj narobe se mi zdi.

    Mediji so krivi za obuditev okostnjakov v omarah. Če bi na okroglo mizo o relativni fiziki prišli lomastiti kvantni fiziki bi bilo to smešno. Če pa pridejo naciji, potem pa je horror.
    Horror mora biti v vseh primerih. Tudi intelektualna elita se lahko tako sovraži med seboj, da je to pa čisto zares prav neokusno.
    Horror showi so v čisto vseh porah te agresivne humane vrste. Tudi jaz sem tukaj prav zdaj agresiven. In kdo mi lahko garantira, da jutri ne bom na nekem drugem bolj ključnem mestu? Jebiga. Vsak naj vrže kamen vase in ne v grešnika, hihi.

    Sicer to mnenje nobenega problema ne rešuje, zato ker meni niti na misel ne pride, da bi probleme takega tipa reševal.
    Kako že pravijo najpametnejši (morda?)? Distanca?
    Vedno in povsod pa tudi ne more biti distance, a ne?
    “Daj Bog, da bi spreminjal tisto kar lahko in, da bi opustil tisto česar ne morem in modrost, da bi znal ločiti med tem,” pravi Marcus Aurelius.

    LP, Arbi ali Ejrbi (po Ameriško)

  6. Arbiter, kaj se je zgodilo me v bistvu ne zanima. Kaj bi bilo, ce bi bilo, se manj. Gre za to, da se tukaj na blogu pogovarja o tem, da je treba neonacistom prepreciti moznost sodelovanja. Citiram:

    “In short, they wanted to be recognised [sic] as equal partners in a debate.

    And that cannot be allowed.”

  7. Crni, dejstvo, da v Ameriki (!) lahko počnejo marsikaj, še ne pomeni,da se vsi moramo strinjati s tem.

    Dovoliti sovražni govor in verbalno kršenje človekovih pravic (osnove nacističnega diskurza!) je daleč od ohranjanja žlahtne demokracije, sploh v državah, kjer še živijo ljudje s tetovažami iz koncentracijskih taborišč.

    Demokracija menda ja ne pomeni, da je treba dovoliti vsako sranje in policija vskoči šele, ko kdo koga ubije/telesno napade.

  8. Nisem rekel, da se morate strinjati. Vsekakor pa mi je taksno stalisce tuje in bizarno za nekoga, ki se ima za demokrata.

    Nikakor nisem nikjer zagovarjal nasilja, pa tudi stalisca neonacistov ne. Ampak okrogla miza, kao diskusija, kjer nasprotna stvar ni dobrodosla? Smijurlija.

    Potem pa tukaj na blogu z obilico zapletenih argumentov lahko preberemo v kratkem, da je nekaterim pac treba prepreciti, da govorijo. Kdo je ta univerzalni arbiter, ki doloca komu je potrebno nadeti nagobcnik? Nekdo, ki si je “Arbiter universalis” vzel za nadimek? 🙂

  9. Jaz bi tudi iz stanovanja vrgel gosta, ki bi me zmerjal.
    Nisem bil tam in lahko naredimo tretjo svetovno vojno iz tega. Lahko tudi rečem, da so intelektualci preobčutljivi in ne prenesejo, če jih nekdo pošlje v rit in jim pokaže tetoviran biceps. Nihče to ne prenaša najbolje se mi zdi.

    Mase ne morejo prav dobro reflektirati poročil medijev in moje mnenje je, da so mediji bolj škodljivi, kot koristni. Sprožajo debate, kot so te. Ljudje niso prisotni in potem začnejo cveteti cvetače v glavah in se razraščajo v nedobre smeri.

    LP, Arbi

  10. This describes what PM Pahor doesn’t understand. He was giving in the NATO referendum case full legitimacy to people who don’t deserve it.
    What I see as a problem is on the other hand who and on what criteria can exclude somebody from democracy.

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