Gastbeitrag: Opportunities of the extremes.

In the last few weeks and months I’ve seen small and big events that
prove times are tough and and shifting towards a scarier period. There
are new conservative movements parading on the streets, random gay
bashing in plain daylight and brutal killings that only feed yet more
madness. But it’s also these times that offer a chance to come to our
senses.

I’d like to start with Pegida, the Dresden movement claiming to
represent the patriotic Europeans against the islamification of the
West. Up to 18000 people including whole families and even gays
rallied the streets to remind the rest of Germany that Islam is a
threat to their German way of life. In the surface they may only be
concerned citizens afraid of a religion and asylum seekers but we only
need to scratch it a little bit to find out that these are extremely
frustrated people on the look out for scapegoats. Saxonia, Dresden’s
state has one of the highest unemployment rates in Germany and was
once referred to as the Valley of the Clueless for not being able to
receive West German TV stations; and this combination, is naturally a
hot bed for right-wing groups. Just like it happened around 80 years
ago, they start with religion and move on to any other ‘undesirable’
minorities; homosexuals included. But this open antagonism is only
part of a wider increase in mindless freedom of expression; everyone
wants to have a voice and feels their opinions are valid even if they
are harmful, and these are expressed both verbally and physically.
This is not only happening in small cities and towns or isolated
communities; this is happening in Berlin, London, Paris; in 2015.
Friends of mine and I are constantly being gay bashed in public, even
on the streets of Kreuzberg. More recently my London friend Matthew
and his boyfriend talked back to yobs who mocked their hair colour,
only to be brutally attacked to the point of ending up in hospital.
And in Paris the murder of cartoonists by disturbed so-called
islamists has also lead to Mosques being set on fire and further
intolerance among ordinary people.

The rise of extremism is not limited to the extreme right, left, or
religious groups; it’s becoming part of a society increasingly
embittered by the political class, the lingering financial crisis,
capitalism, socialism. However, I think this could also work as the
great catalyst for reflexion, to rethink the meaning of community (if
there was ever one), for people to get together and to bring back the
solidarity that’s been diminishing since the first gay right
movements. Just because gay marriage and other rights are slowly being
yielded doesn’t mean we’ll get to keep them forever; laws change back
and forth. I constantly hear stories of opportunism, exploitation,
backstabbing and bitchy jealousy among LGTB people. Two good examples
are the Wanna Play? performance art experiment consisting of exposing
private Grindr chats, whereby from the outset it was clear that there
was a prevailing lack of concern, respect and empathy towards the
community that was being challenged. Many of the parts involved,
artist included, were in it for self promotion, bastardising the
already weak bonds and trust within the “community”. And the
JesuisCharlie movement serve as a good example exposing many facets of
our current take on community – superficial, blind, and binary.
Superficial because changing a profile picture on facebook doesn’t
equate real and active support or change. Blind because people haven’t
taken the time to think that because we want to condemn the killing of
racist cartoonists we don’t have to condone their poor work. And
binary because it encourages people to take sides: love one, hate the
other.

We need to put ourselves and lives into perspective. These latest
happenings are a good reminder that we’re not as free or as equal as
we thought we were and in this wave of extremism if we’re at least
aware of who we should really be against, we’re already half way
there.

//

Illustration: C. Guitian

Will Furtado is a journalist and writer based in Berlin. While working on his first novel he also writes for queer magazine Siegessäule and is the co-editor of ÜBERGANG.

Comment (1)

  1. Lame St. Lame

    OMG, this Gastbeitrag looks like someone ate a whole thesaurus of the English language, and then gushingly and as if by accident spewed it, in a grim moment of dyspepsia, on an innocent sheet of paper.

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