11 October 2010

U.S., U.K. Far Right Hook Up?

According to a story in The Guardian, The English Defence League, a far-right, anti-Muslim group, is joining forces with Tea Party figures in the U.S.A. The English are concerned that Tea Party-funding would find its way to the EDL, thereby facilitating "wider recruitment and activism." Because the EDL is often associated with violent activity, England's unease is understandable. But why is the Tea Party, or figures within the Tea Party, associating itself with this group? In the words on one human rights expert,
"As we move farther and farther away from the Tea Party origins, that were ostensibly around debt and bail-outs, social issues like Islamophobia are replacing that anger, that vigour. The idea that there is a war between Islam and the west is becoming commonplace."
Of course, as the economy improves and Americans begin to feel better, many won't grow less angry--they'll simply appoint a new cause for the anger. Paul Starobin's National Journal article on paranoia in politics in offers a fairly thorough examination of the phenomenon.

Update: In the article "Mainstreaming Hate" in Foreign Policy, Ferry Biedermann profiles Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is famously anti-Islam. Biedermann quotes an analyst who draws a link between Wilder and the Tea Party:
[Alfred] Pijpers says that Wilders has more in common with the Tea Party activists in the United States than with any old-style European right-wing party, because he can't really be classified as either right-wing or left-wing. His party has also embraced a left-wing populist defense of the Netherlands' besieged welfare system, and he scores points with his tough stance against crime, which he often links to immigrants.
Although the analyst's comparison ends at "he can't be classified as either right-wing or left-wing," the undefined cries of "I want my country back" imply an affinity to the ideas that Wilders gives voice to.

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