Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The Sad Fate of Swedish Skinheads

In my Swedish research for yesterday's post, I came across this paragraph from P.J. O'Rourke (Eat the Rich):

"There are a few Swedish skinheads, who sometimes gather in numbers of about a hundred at the statue of King Carl XII in Stockholm's Kungstradgarden. They are regularly beaten up by about a thousand anti-fascist activists who then break store windows to protest the skinhead outrage."

I bring this up not to continue beating up on the poor Swedes, but to note that cultural inclinations stay in tact thousands of miles away and a hundred years removed. Minnesota, as some of you may know, has a large Scandinavian-American population. Having suffered many years in grad school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I witnessed a story very similar to the one PJ recounts from his visit to Sweden.

I think it was my second or third year of grad school when a white supremacist skinhead by the name of Tom David, an undergrad, decided to start a White Student Union. For at least a year and a half, the Minnesota Daily, the school's rag, featured stories related to Mr. David and the anti-Davidians... uh, sorry, that rings too close to the whole Waco thing ... let's call them the anti-fascists, consistent with O'Rourke.

Although the coverage of the Daily and the reaction of the anti-fascists was decidedly alarmist, if there is one thing every liberal campus needs, it's the prospect of a significant white supremacist movement in its midst. Nothing energizes the extreme left quite so much as the threat of a Nazi (at least a white one, as opposed to an Arab one). And the presence of one that walks right into town, as opposed to hiding in a rural militia 200 miles from his nearest neighbor, is a downright boon to those right thinking individuals who think themselves quite morally distinguished by their opposition to skinheads. No doubt the Women's Studies Department and the African-American Studies Department saw significant increases to their funding, on the premise that the "education" provided by such deparatments was necessary to combat the impending Nazi menace on campus. Which is at least somewhat odd, since white women were not a priori excluded from joining Tom David's group. In any event, there is probably two chaired professorships within these departments that should be named the Tom David Professor of blah blah blah.

How bad was the White Student Union? Tom David stood about 5'3", and probably weighed no more than 115 pounds. But what of his followers? Here, I should note that after having applied to be a registered student group (in order to get a share of student fees that go to student-based organizations), the White Student Union was rejected due to lack of significant membership. It seems that a student group must have at least three members to be so recognized, and Mr. David had only one other friend. Two white supremacists on a campus of 30,000 students, but given the hysteria, you would have thought that Coffman Union (the student center) was about to become America's Reichstag.

In any event, one day on campus there were flyers put up in the stealth of night announcing the date, time (evening), and place (outside Coffman Union) for a rally of those who support the White Student Union. The obligatory counter-rally rally was then advertised widely, setting the stage for Minnesota's very own version of 100 skinheads being pummeled by a thousand anti-fascist activists. Except this is Minnesota, which has fewer Swedes than Sweden, and therefore the numbers were smaller.

About 100 anti-fascists gathered outside Coffman Union spoiling for a fight. They ate their vegatarian meals to energize themselves for peaceful non-violent protest, but of course once the blood started pumping in their veins and their heart rates rose, all adherence to the pascifist ethic passed through their system as quick as their tofu salads. Waiting patiently to take on the fascist menace, they were no doubt deeply disappointed to find that there didn't seem to be anybody who supported the White Student Union.

At about the time they were about to give up, some poor unsuspecting white guy, with his girlfriend, came strolling over a foot bridge that spans from the main quad of the campus, over Washington Ave., and onto the grounds of Coffman Union. He had the misfortune of wearing black leather and a short haircut, and was immediately labeled by the mob as a skinhead. It must have pained some of the professors who taught the students in the mob to see their students judging a person by their looks, and not valuing the diversity that such people bring to the campus environment. But, in any event, the mob moved toward the token skinhead, and proceeded to beat him silly.

Now here is where the Daily earned its shining moment in the sun, basking in the glory of what every journalist seeks - self-sacrifice in order to preserve the freedom of the press. It seems that there were Daily reporters there, cameras in hand, vigorously taking pictures of the melee. When the misunderstood skinhead pressed charges against his compassionate debators, the police sought evidence that would allow them to identify said assailants. Ergo, the police sought to obtain the Daily's photos, which the Daily chose not to publish, and the lonely fight of the Daily's student editor to preserve the first ammendment was on! This was pure heaven for the Daily - they even got take on the Pigs! like their parents did in the Sixtees. If there is one thing better than covering the news, it is being the news!

Of course the argument put forward by the Daily, though I am sketchy on the details, was something like if people knew the presence of the paper at a rally might later incriminate them, they might not be inclined to engage in criminal activity. And a rally with no criminal activity doesn't sell a whole lot of papers. Of course, had the skinhead managed to get a good lick in one of his attackers, the Daily would have raced it into print, and cooperated full-scale with the police. This would only be consistent with the moral pecking order that characterizes the left: prosecuting and/or persecuting skinheads is a higher moral priority than freedom of the press, which is a higher moral priority than prosecuting anti-fascists.

So you see, you can take the Swede out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the Swede.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. I think the real criminal in many matters is the leadership behind media organizations, lawyers, and the paranoid watchdog groups. They're the only ones who benefit and feed off of conflict and often try to foster and create conflict where none exists. If the terrorists had only targeted such organizations as the mainstream media, lawyers, and paranoid watchdog groups, then Americans probably wouldn't have been nearly as pissed off.

6:59 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Sign up for my Notify List and get email when I update!

powered by