Sunday, November 11, 2007


The Numbers Tell a Heartening Story

Good guy serial commenter, Prague Twin, turned me on to the fact that the never eradicated anti-Semitism in Europe had raised its particularly ugly head in Prague late last week when neo-Nazis (skinheads) decided to celebrate Kristallnacht by marching in Prague's Jewish Quarter. I wondered how many marchers there were (I decided that a thousand or more was decidedly bad news). Then I read this story about the 'march' and my heart sank with my misreading of this opening sentence:

Brandishing yellow stars and red flags, more than a 1,000 people rallied in Prague's old Jewish quarter Saturday to block a far-right march on the anniversary of a notorious Nazi-era pogrom against Jews.

A thousand? Oh no, but wait, they were blocking the march. Oh, that's OK then. I read on:

Prague's mayor Pavel Bem said police had managed to keep apart most of the 400 neo-Nazis and about a 1,000 anarchists counter-demonstrators from entering the city's old quarter.

400? That's all? Screw them then, they couldn't even get to half of the numbers of people opposing them. In a population of millions, there can certainly be 400 oddball losers without their existence being any comment on the society in general.

But, curiouser and curiouser, I read on. Let me state here that I, in my ignorance, accept the political branding of the skins as ultra right wing. I personally think more anarcho-know nothing, but perhaps that's just me. I'm lost, however, when the counter protesters are labeled 'anarchists', especially when the mayor, to his credit, joins them; is he an anarchist too? But back to my point.

The MND [skinheads] march, officially to protest the Czech military presence in Iraq, was banned after a series of court judgements, but the neo-Nazis nevertheless maintained their call for a demonstration.

What? The Czech military presence in Iraq is something the skinheads are against? They don't want Europeans killing Muslims? Really? I need to learn more about European skinheads.

Anyway, in Prague, the counter-protestors outnumbered the neo-Nazis two and a half to one. The citizens of the Czech Republic appear to have their priorities in order. Things seem not quite as bad as I once thought.


Skinheads are made up of all different types accross the political spectrum. There are all different genres of skinheads, far right, far left, and apolitical.
O.K. just to clear up a couple of points.

Bem is not an anarchist. In fact, it is usually the anarchists who get beaten up the most by the cops. It is the cops who have to protect the (outnumbered as you point out) skinheads.

The skinheads that got beat up took their beating from the anarchists, who got arrested.

But in the past, the skinheads had a legal right to march, so the police walk in front of them and beat down any anarchists in the way.

The reason they applied to protest the war was only a pretext. They couldn't say what they were REALLY celebrating, that would be illegal (in fact, giving the flat-palm-down 'heil Hitler' hand sign is illegal, you see them do what looks like a 'black power' as a substitute, which brings a smile to my face). So they use the war as a pretext for a demonstration, and of course, the city has to say 'yes'.

But then they got them on a technicality: they had announced the march internationally before they were granted a permit.

So this time, for the first time, the police could basically harass them. They found weapons on them, even a (gasp!) gun.

I saw a good clip of about 6 anarchists beating the crap out of one of them. The last anarchist that was still beating the guy up got arrested. The other 5 fled.

It was much different than the usual deal. Wait until they do their next legal march. It will be ugly.
Oh, I just read the article and I found this beauty...

where public protests are rare and neo-Nazi rallies have never drawn much emotion.

Yeah, lately. I saw them shut down the freeway and thousands marched in both directions. Then they met in the center and had a big brawl. It used to be quite entertaining actually. It always ended with the anarchist breaking the McDonalds windows.
Thanks for the explanations, Pete and Mike. The last time the 'white power' types met in Denver was 2002. The most recent gathering was in Portland just a week ago. Before that it was near Atlanta. There are websites but they don't seem very active. Left wing skinheads. I have to talk to them.
"Left wing skinheads. I have to talk to them."

They like ska and Reggae. Check out the wonderful band, "Rancid".
I know Rancid. Thanks for the opening directions, Pete.
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