The resurgence of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and intolerance in Europe indicates important political, economic, and social contradictions that are occurring throughout the continent. The international economic crisis, popular pressures and demographic movements, radical changes within Eastern countries, the slow and complicated process toward European unity, and the fear and insecurity for the future given unemployment and poverty, are all, among others, elements that the European Institutions have identified as factors that promote the reemergence of this social problem within of the countries of the Old World.
Along with these identified factors, a cultural and psycho-social environment is forming across broad sectors of the population. In this environment, uncompromising fanaticism based on the trivialization of violence in the leisure culture spreads through demonstrations of homophobia and exacerbated nationalism and facilitates the development of outbreaks of intolerance that fuel the wide range of attitudes and behaviors that depreciate, deny, and incite the violation of the application of Human Rights, making the possibility of democratic existence extremely difficult.
Looking back at recent European history, it remains clear that the intolerance that emanated as a threat in the late 90s is now, following the electoral results of France, Italy, Hungary, Holland, Germany, Austria, Finland, etc. a terrible reality.
In the nineties, alongside major European and global events and transformations, grave incidents such as murders, arson attacks, and new and growing social and political fascism developed in response to ethnic, religious, cultural, social, or national differences and verified the general advance of intolerance and racism.
In 1984, approximately ten years after the bloody attack in Bologna that marked the renaissance of extreme violence, the European Institutions began to devote much attention to the increasing racism and other demonstrations of intolerance and to the emergence of extreme right-wing and ultranationalist groups.
The extraordinary and valuable report by the Greek Democratic representative Dimitros Evrigenis revealed the social and ideological background and objectives of European racist and fascist groups, making the way for the European Institutions to take a common stance in 1986 with the Declaration against Racism and Xenophobia.
Several years later, in 1989, Glyn Ford, a British, socialist European representative and speaker for the Commission on Racism and Xenophobia, presented the European Parliament with an evaluation of the adherence of Member States to their commitments against discrimination and intolerance. The results were worrisome; the documents that had been passed earlier had been essentially forgotten, and foreigners from third world countries that were not members of the European Community became excluded from the united Europe. This explained the growth of intolerance, murders and hostility toward gypsies, homosexuals, beggars, and foreigners, as well as the burning down of Jewish synagogues, the desecration of gravesites, and other atrocities that accompanied the spectacular growth of the extreme right-wing, especially among young people, as it found an authentic juvenile breeding ground within the context of hooligans and extreme football fans. The report proposed numerous measures for prevention, protection, and integration of disadvantaged groups, most of which were ignored. Later, in 1993, Picoli, a European representative from Italy, created a new report that was not approved but that once again reminded, evaluated, warned, and called for urgent programs within school settings, the media, and again in the social integration of disadvantaged groups. This latter report included a resolution about the rise of racism, the proliferation of anti-Semitic and intolerant groups and movements, the advance of malicious revisionist theses about the Holocaust, the attacks against immigrants and refugees, and the grave danger that the democracy was facing. It also proposed the adoption of a directive by the European Council for the legislative harmonization about the topic.
In the European elections in June 1994, the alarm went off when almost 10 million Europeans voted for racist parties. In some areas, like Antwerp, racist votes surpassed 25 out of every 100 votes. In October of that same year, in the municipal elections in Belgium, the rate reached 30 out of 100 in some cities, with Vlams Block, a party with special prestige among youth, picking up the racist and ultranationalist votes. In Austria, in the general elections celebrated that same day, another right-wing extremist, Jorg Haider, the leader of FPOE ultra, received a voting rate of 23 out of 100 votes and gained the responsibility of the government in 1998.
Along with these chilling statistics, one must mention the presence of fascist ministries in the Italian government, the consistency of the contemporary Le Pen in France, the proliferation of neo-Nazi groups in the Germany, and the unification of extreme right-wing groups in Spain for various new projects. Furthermore, new extreme right-wing leaders emerge and create foundations within the young population and appeal to marginalized members of society using the economic recession to promote their own brand of nationalist xenophobia.
The successes of the extreme right-wing in European elections have systematically provided them with public funds and platforms to present their theses. The shadow of a lepenized Europe has advanced steadily and the central focus of these groups is immigration, which they claim is the basic cause of unemployment, increasing insecurity, and crime. The subject of the bloodless “Invasion of Europe” by foreigners, especially those from North Africa, has been crucial for the extreme right and its diffusion of racist nationalism, allowing them to easily scope out their enemy and create a scapegoat that they extend to include Jews, beggars, homosexuals, and senior citizens.
In 1999, the European observatory warned of the increase in racism and xenophobia, emphasizing the growth of racist crimes and informing that it had been trivialized within everyday life. Of particular concern is the linking of African immigrants to discourse about health risks, especially the accusation about the spreading of AIDS and their responsibility for crime and drug trafficking.
In Spain, the extremist groups with especial prestige among youth, middle class, and marginalized populations use, in addition to discourse about the invasion of foreigners, alarmism and the problem of corruption in order to demonstrate the necessity of ending democracy and defending Spanish nationalism against the rupture in Spanish unity by Basque and Catalonian nationalists. To these problematic groups one must add the growing esoteric and even destructive cults, some of which are openly neo-Nazi and which experts calculate have tens of thousands of followers, especially among youth and women between the ages of 30 and 40.
Diffusion by editors with racist and neo-Nazi ideas and discourses in the world of film, videogames, and role-playing, and the notorious presence of ultra groups in the majority of football fields within settings of exaltation and anonymity, configure the strategic map of hatred that, in current international circumstances, finds itself at a good moment for expansion.
We cannot conclude this review of intolerance without mentioning the major dramas and grave conflicts that have shaken European societies. One of these is the drama of Sarajevo. The magnitude of the genocide that was perpetrated since 1992 against the Bosnian population does not leave room for doubts: 140,000 dead (10,000 of them in Sarajevo), 151,000 wounded (50,000 en Sarajevo), 1,835,000 displaced, 156,000 detained in Serbian- Montenegrin concentration camps, 12,000 paralyzed or disabled (1,300 of them children), and approximately 40,000 women raped, according to a quote by Juan Goytisolo in his magnificent book Cuaderno de Sarajevo (Notebook from Sarajevo).
One of the key arguments for the war: ethnic cleansing.
But the drama of Sarajevo has not lacked company; it is accompanied by the drama of Rwanda, another ethnic war resulting in thousands of deaths, refugees, and displaced people, and also by the terror of a nuclear threat encouraged by the uncontrolled trafficking of plutonium and the existence of more than 5,400 Russian gangster and fascist groups within full metamorphosis and encompassed in the ultranationalist and fascist groups like that led by Zirinoksi. To these grave facts, one must add the explosion of fundamentalism, as well as the unprecedented violence against gypsies in Eastern Europe that demonstrated its intolerance against this group through legislative measures, as in the case with the Czech Republic, which left 100,000 gypsies within the country defenseless, stateless, and without rights. Or the brigades created in Hungary by militants in the Jobbik Nazi party, which want to kick the gypsies out of the North, while the rest of the Hungarian parties do not seem to be trying to stop them.
Intolerance reaches people with AIDS, who are considered lepers, and who now number 17 million people, with two-thirds of cases in Sub-Saharan Africa. This intolerance is demonstrated, for example, in the Russian Parliament´s passing by majority of a law that requires anti-AIDS certification for all foreigners who wish to enter the country. There also exists intolerance that reverts to the discourse of eugenics and fosters aggression against the disabled, the elderly, and homosexuals, in search of a racial purity proclaimed by neo-Nazi youth groups that still develop in Austria, Germany, Belgium and other European countries.
And the thing is that, INTOLERANCE threatens the world, and logically, it threatens Spain as well.