Rise of the Right, Human Rights in USA & Europe

Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 BBC
Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 – BBC

From Trump and Pence to Marine Le Pen, the so-called “alt Right”, UKIP and Brexit, there has been a seeming lurch to the right in European and western politics with reactionary policies called for including Burka bans, immigration repatriation, attempts to overturn abortion rights and bathroom laws, and a trans rush in America to get gender markers and names changed before January, and fears of what may come. (Discussion 6 December 2016, Norwich Library)

LGBT Rights reversal by Right Wing?

Is this an irrational fear? India, Russia and Uganda, have already shown that LGBT gains can be reversed. Every single member of Trump’s cabinet opposes LGBT rights (Pink News) Who are the people around the president-elect (BBC)

Trump’s “message of resentment, anger and fear turned out enough of those voters for him to move past Clinton in key Midwest states and win an electoral college victory. From that, Trump will almost surely take the lesson that he doesn’t need to reach out to anybody; he can win by appealing only to his rabid base.” – Washington Post

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Tom Price, one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of abortion, as health and human services secretary has drawn immediate condemnation from reproductive rights and public health groups.

The city of San Francisco has passed a resolution vowing to resist any backslide on LGBT rights under the Trump administration.

Europe: Austria, Italy, France, Sweden…

Europe Left and Right - New Stateman
Europe Left and Right – New Stateman

On Sunday, Austria’s Norbert Hofer was nearly the first far-right head of state in western Europe since WWII.  In the end, a re-run of the election in which a previous vote was tied with a narrow 30,000 challenged majority actually resulted in a 53/47% victory for the Green-Independent candidate.

“Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”. The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.” – Guardian

Interestingly, Austria saw the centre-Right and centre-Left candidates lose in the first round, instead seeing a polarisation of the vote around far-Right and independent-Green. Is the future of politics? A rejection of establishment, traditional parties including liberal-centrist in favour of a new politics, the so-called rise of populism. These new ‘extremist’ parties favour nationalism over immigration and may blur the lines of Left and Right, cutting across and drawing support from the whole political spectrum, as UKIP has done in the UK. They are anti-status quo and have recently seen the “sad death of liberal Britain“.

Right Turn Only Road SignSlovakia has seen its far Right party gain its first seats in 2016, with 8% of the vote and 14 seats. Interestingly, Left and Right parties opposed immigration. Immigration and asylum has been championed by Liberal-Greens across Europe but increasingly opposed by the Left and Right during times of austerity.

Sweden’s Democrats have seen a significant rise in support 2006-14 and are characterised by anti-immigration and anti-indigenous, pro-heterosexual nuclear family ideals. Same-sex adoption is opposed with forcible married heterosexual adoption if children of LGBT parents are orphaned.

Reports have shown that a majority of far and new Right supporters are working and lower-middle class men, often less educated and economically insecure, with traditional heterosexual masculinities feeling threatened by the diversification of national culture by Islam, immigration and LGBT minorities.

A re-developing divide is also that of rural versus urban, with diverse cities integrating their differences whilst rural populations become entrenched around their traditional populations.

“Economic anxieties [only] go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose” – Intelligence Squared

Left and Right parties in Europe 2015
Left and Right parties in Europe 2015 – New Statesman

Across 39 European countries and English-speaking Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – right-wing parties are in power in 30 of the 43 countries, 4 more than before the 2008 financial crash when anti-capitalist feeling should have been on the rise. Is Europe swinging to the right?

Alt Left

And then there’s the Alt-Left – “a subset of liberals in America who think differently than the regressive left. We tend to be pro-free speech / anti-safe-space, anti-Islam, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, anti-SJW, and a plethora of other things.”

Revolutionary Communism

The Left’s advocacy of LGBT rights “has a long and mixed history“. Early 20th Century Communism, it should be remembered, was a part of its pre-millennial milieu. That said, Russian Communism undid the laws of the Tsarist regime, and early German Communism and Socialism advocated for gay rights whilst the Nazi National Socialist party oppressed them. Stalin, re-introduced criminal charges for gay men. Obscuring clear analysis is the fact that for some, homosexuality was considered a pervasive practice of the aristocratic classes and not that of the working man.

Some have pointed out that Left and Right do not naturally fall into good or bad, liberal or oppressive, camps. For instance, this graphic is narrow and simplistice in its presentation of the political spectrum:

The Political Spectrum
The Political Spectrum – Woody.Typepad

Some on the Left have wistfully remembered the health and education policies and stand against the US and Apartheid of Fidel Castro. Yet, Castro, also, had issues with LGBT people, their country being decades behind others in giving LGBT rights, before then they could end up in hard labour camps, exiled or killed. Castro proclaimed homosexuality incompatible with revolution and looked only to “real men”.

A phrase that has resurfaced with the football abuse scandal and darts player MBE, Eric Bristow taunting victims as not “real men”, who would stand up to their abusers.

‘White Power Barbie’ v Hillary Clinton

Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton
Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton

America’s Democrat Left put all their hope in Hillary Clinton and women in general to save the US from a Trump victory, yet 52% of white women voted for him. One female Republican, Tomi Lahren, has been called the “White Power Barbie” and has millions of views, supporting the Right.

The Tyranny of the Majority v Minority

What are the fears of minorities, women, LGBT, etc with regard to the Right and is it fair to selectively remember history and ignore the far Left’s similarly anti-minority views? Or to assume that women are more open-minded or liberal-left than men?

How do we vote when party manifestos cut across multiple issues, rights and policies, is there a hierarchy of rights when no one party espouses them all? What can we do to protect, mitigate and stand up for minorities during more repressive times, if that is what is to come. Are LGBT, among other, rights culturally interpreted and either victors or victims depending upon whether their status is seen as a class, religious or political correctness issue, rather than one of human rights?

Contrary to expectations, and ‘no-platforming’/’safe space’ politics extremist groups able to participate in mainstream debate tended to move away from extremism over time, or to eventually lose support, e.g., the BNP in the UK.


Free Speech, Fair Speech, Safe Speech, Hate Speech?

Where does Freedom of Expression end, Welfare & Safety Begin?

Criticism Quote by VoltaireFrom politics to history, sex, gender, sexuality, race, disability and more, the subject of free speech continues to raise its banner and is countered by calls for safe spaces and freedom from hate speech. Is espousing hate, bigotry, religious or ideological beliefs, however extreme, ever palatable on the basis of freedom of expression? Or, should all speech be fair speech? Does freedom of speech come with a social responsibility not to hurt or harm? Do trigger and content warnings do more harm than good? Harm, that is, to exposure to all points of view and further education. Or, should education be a safe space, away from exposure to harmful points of view? Should comedy be an exception? Should extreme opinions be given airtime, so long as they are balanced with a variety of opposing views? Who defines extreme? What happens when repressive regimes occupy the role of policing speech and define freedom fighters as enemies of the state, atheists and agnostics as apostates worthy of execution, or women as required to be silent and absent from political life? Is safe speech a luxury of a free society – or the sign of one? Is freedom of speech the holy grail of a repressed one and the sign of an enlightened one? Julie Bindel says that:

“censorship is becoming the new normal?” – Julie Bindel

Stephen Fry tells sex abuse victims to ‘grow up’

Fry subsequently apologised but waded in with oversized feet to this issue prompting social media outrage.

Anorexia assertion apology

Joan Bakewell had to issue an apology after linking anorexia among young people with narcissism. Bakewell said she was “alarmed” by the amount of young people suffering from anorexia, “which arises presumably because they are preoccupied with being beautiful and healthy and thin”. She said: “No one has anorexia in societies where there is not enough food. They do not have anorexia in the camps in Syria. I think it’s possible anorexia could be about narcissism.” After mental health and eating disorders charities criticised Bakewell’s “unhelpful” comments, the Baroness tweeted to say that she was “deeply sorry” for any offence caused.

Can you ever joke about rape?

There’s a passage in Sara Pascoe’s new book, Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body, in which she debates whether rape can ever be joked about. While at a comedy festival in Melbourne last year, the 34- year-old comedienne witnessed the furore that erupted after a fellow stand-up made a joke about rape. An audience member lay down beneath a table in protest, and when social media caught on, an international debate was sparked about whether rape jokes should be banned. Pascoe doesn’t make her own view clear in the book, but in the meeting room of her publishers’ Bloomsbury headquarters she’s upfront on this and every issue.

“I don’t think there are any subjects you can’t joke about because human beings are forgiving of subject matter when we find things funny. That said there are definitely things I would never be able to make sound funny.” – Sara Pascoe

NUS Free Speech v Safe Speech protests

Hate Speech is not Free SpeechMarch saw a counter protest in retaliation to the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s protest with supporting organisations outside the NUS Headquarters which cited three basic principles:

  1. Freedom of speech should not include giving platforms to discrimination on university campuses.
  2. It should never justify the bullying of others.
  3. It should never support the discrimination and persecution of others.

Open Letter on Peter Tatchell, Censorship, and Criticism

University Censorship

Truth Quote by George OrwellUniversities are challenged to be a safe haven from censorship, a sanctuary of free speech and tolerance, rather than a health and welfare safe space from tough or sensitive debate, argues Peter Tatchell, Julie Bindel, Germaine Greer, Mary Beard, Rod Liddle and others. Should no-platforming be banned or practised?

“We are in danger of making censorship the standard response to anything that offends, argues Julie Bindel. Recent attempts to ban Donald Trump and pick-up artist Roosh V from the UK would have achieved nothing politically constructive, she says. Movements like civil rights and feminism made progress because they were able to hold people to account.”

Student responses showed solidarity with Fran Cowling, the NUS LGBT+ Officer who refused to share a platform with Peter Tatchell.

An Open Letter to Peter Tatchell Regarding Fran Cowling, Power, and Public shaming.

An article in the Independent challenges the free-speechers, that they might be the oversensitive ‘special snowflakes’:

“We are witnessing an attack on free speech, we are told. The right of activists and thinkers to express their convictions openly is being curtailed by an oversensitive mob – “special snowflakes”, to be exact.” – Independent

Out-argue bad ideas Quote by Barack Obama

Celebrity Gagging Order/Superinjunction

Mouth Gagging OrderShould someone’s private sex life be public news? Particularly when the Internet is impossible to police making localised injunctions farcical when compared to the power of globalised googling? More interesting was the disinterest shown once the celebrity couple were revealed to be husband and husband, not husband and wife, prompting gagged newspapers to switch to partner rather than wife terminology, and to be less worried about a straight celebrity threesome scoop.

Verbal Hate Crimes

Freedom of Speech and Hurt FeelingsIs psychological injury from freedom to criticise one’s sexual or gender identity from bigotry, phobia or religious condemnation, any less important than physical injury? Do differences of opinion on homosexuality, women, trans etc, based upon ideology or faith, grant free opportunity to judge and challenge, on freedom of expression grounds?


China has banned depictions of gay people on television as well as those portraying adultery, showing cleavage and more as content that “exaggerates dark side of society”

Freedom of Speech and Expression Amnesty International