Feature

Austria: Where Nazi sympathies no longer shock

Expressions of racism and anti-Semitism that used to shock Austrians are now considered a routine part of public discourse, said<strong> Alexandra </strong>F&ouml;derl-Schmid in <em>Der Standard.</em>

Alexandra Föderl-SchmidDer Standard

How did fascism become acceptable in Austria? asked Alexandra Föderl-Schmid. Over the past few years, the far right has become part of the mainstream. Expressions of racism and anti-Semitism that used to shock Austrians are now considered a routine part of public discourse.

“Taboos are increasingly broken and nothing is shameful any longer.” The soccer stadium chant “Nazis out!”—a chant aimed at skinhead fans all over Europe—is drowned out by the response “Out of jail!” Our politics is being poisoned, too. A deputy parliament speaker recently defended an assistant who bought neo-Nazi apparel. Anti-Islam slogans have sprung up on campaign posters in local races. These days, the scapegoat for fascists isn’t Judaism but Islam. That was made explicit by graffiti recently sprayed on the side of the former concentration camp at Mauthausen, which said: “What the Jew was to our fathers, the Muslim is to us.”

Worst of all, support for far-right parties is growing fastest among the young. Our “culture of turning a blind eye” could ensure that the slogan “Never again” becomes the chilling “Over and over again.”

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