I shared a meme yesterday on my Facebook page, concerning a person I have long admired who paid the ultimate price for expressing her disent, commenting: “Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich (LMU) with her brother, Hans. As a result, she was executed by guillotine. BUT ISN’T IT IRONIC – Sophie is my hero and she died exactly a year ago BUT I won’t join people who twist what Sophie protested against”.
The group posting the meme was Unite Against Fascism (UAF). Having been happy to share the meme relating to the anniversary of the death of someone I admired, I was bothered to discover that in a forthcoming protest they were to arrange, amongst other things they will target Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, who in my opinion and despite the perceived dangers they pose when it comes to encouraging the rise of fascism in the USA and UK are better than certain liberal elements. I discussed my reasons in my recent article: “Exchanging democracy for dictatorship?”
According to Wikipedia: “UAF is an anti-fascist pressure group in the United Kingdom, with support from politicians of the three largest political parties in the House of Commons, including the former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and, when he was still alive, Labour politician Tony Benn. It describes itself as a national campaign with the aim of alerting British society to a perceived threat of fascism and the far right—in particular the British National Party (BNP)—gaining a foothold at local, national and European elections, arguing that “there is a real danger that the BNP could get a significant platform in elected institutions“. My regret is that they see the danger coming from the right and not the left. While Scholl protested Hitler’s Nazism, seen as archetypal extreme right wing Fascism, as much evil was perpetrated by the perceived left e.g. Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China. It seemed to me that UAF do a disservice by focusing on the “right” threat and neglecting the “left” who have proved to be just as fascist in the way to coerce and control, especially those whose views they disapprove.
I confess a certain fascination with a period of history that was once described in William Shirer’s famous book – “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. The one thing that particularly bothered me was how this could have been allowed to happen and what could and should have been done to prevent it. For that reason, I welcome groups who alert us of the dangers today, providing they don’t do so arising out of a distorted ideological agenda and recognize the threats may come from many directions. Realistically Scholl and her student friends (movingly depicted in this film freely available still on YouTube) could hardly have been expected to withstand the Nazi threat, while alerting others, but her noble attempts, along side the likes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoller must NOT be forgotten. As for us, we must not take for granted our liberty or the threats to it – whether it comes from the left or the right. I admit I am biased but I end with a meme of Reagan’s “prophesy” and the “anti fascist” group – Antifa, UAF does not mention, that fulfils it.