The cover photo of this article is Holocaust denier graffiti in the middle of Copenhagen, Denmark. Spotted and photographed by my friend Roxy on October 8, 2017.
Denmark is banning burkas. I came here for the first time in 2011 as a college student eager to learn about socialism in practice, see what was going so well here. Turns out it didn’t take long to find out that the asylum system was shit (only gotten monumentally worse) and racism rampant. But it was France we talked about when we wanted to point to real extreme islamophobia. That’s where they banned religious symbols, clearly targeting Muslims.
This is one of those moments where I feel very motivated to write about horrifying Danish politics in English.
It isn’t entirely accurate to say that Denmark is banning burkas. They’re banning ‘masks’/’facial covering’. Santa Claus beards are exempt. THIS IS NOT A DRILL - THAT IS AN ACTUAL POLITICAL DECISION. It is already illegal to force women to wear a burka or niqab. During the parliamentary discussion the pro-ban people kept circling back to the argument that women shouldn’t be forced to cover up. Well, yes, you already made a law about that. Nobody should be forced to wear anything- oh wait now you’re forcing a group of women to wear something they don’t want to.
Very few women actually wear a burka or niqab in Denmark. According to viden.dk the ban will impact between 100 and 200 women. Let’s be clear - this is a symbolic move pandering to racists across the country who feel their national identity is so delicate that a bit of cloth on the face could topple the whole thing. Let’s say a woman is still being forced to cover in Denmark. This ban will succeed in punishing her for that rather than anyone responsible for her being coerced into something against her will. And for all the other women choosing to cover because this is how they want to practice their religion or move in this world - or for whatever other reason they please - who knows what this ban will mean. Will they just stay home? Go out and face fines? Or change the way they dress out of fear of repercussions?
Meanwhile - yesterday a friend of mine posted a photo of a central, prominent bridge in Copenhagen where someone had spray painted ‘Holocaust is a lie’ - in English. Still after five years living in Denmark the level of anti-semitism in Europe continues to surprise me.
Over in Seattle where I come from the neo-Nazi movement is making significant strides. A piece from the local paper, The Stranger, describes one man’s experience going undercover and attending one of the meetings of the ‘alt-right’, neo-nazi inner circle. He names streets and even restaurants familiar to me. He talks about a room swarming with tech bros who have descended upon and gentrified Seattle. They have an explicit internal code of hiring each other in their companies and working against the hiring of people who aren’t white. They call it the ‘secret agent’ plan. It’s racism served up nice and social - they even grab a bite of Italian after the meet up. These neo-nazis are upper middle class guys who are running Seattle.
Apparently it is now easier to pull the big crowds of neo-nazis in Seattle than New York City despite the fact that there are 8 million more people in NYC.
I can’t do justice to the intensive undercover reporting that went into these pieces - please read:
About Seattle specifically:
Neo-nazi in London and Seattle strongly featured:
It feels neccesary to try to record some of this. To draw connections between the rising tides of facism and racism and all other hatreds happening all over the world - with white supremacy dominating in Europe and white-dominated settler societies like the US.