Don Pelayo in New Zealand
In Utoya and in Christchurch, both Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant share a common vision with spanish extreme right as described by basque historian and political activist Jonathan Martínez.
Some days ago I had the chance to watch "Utoya. 22th of july" an movie by Erik Poppe which narrates the shootings that happened in Norway on the summer of 2011. First, it was an explosion against various buildings of the labour government in Oslo. Eight persons were killed. Then, a shooting massacre in an island of Tyrifjorden lake against a youth camp of the Labour Party. Sixty nine persons died. Poppe's movie recreates the slaughter of Utøya in one single subjective sequence shooting of 82 minutes. The camera´s job is impeccable. The script is perverse but does neither fall into morbidity nor in sentimentalism. The respect to the memory of the victims is in any case scrupulous. Before letting us with our heart in our throat, the director offers us a context on the attacks: "the guilty person is a 32 year old right wing extremist norvegian".
The same day of the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik had published a manifesto in which he called to war "Europe's native peoples" against the "islamic invasion" and against "Western Europe's marxist and multiculturalists cultural elites". Amongst other things, Breivik expressed regret on the fragmentation within the Spanish extreme right and invites her to take political and military control. It's a shame, he says, that Spain has renounced to its' past of reconquest and he reproaches Zapatero(TN: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, better known for his second family name was the socialist president of government in Spain from 2004 until 2011) for succumbing to the massive immigration and to muslims. On the following days of the assaults, a good part of the press attributed Breivik's behaviour to a kind of mental disturbance and tiptoed around his ideological motivation. That same media discalified him as a "solitary wolf" and helped little to understand the ferment of islamophobic extremism that was about to flourish in the parliaments of european countries.
Last friday, a 28 year old australian called Brenton Tarrant shooted and killed 41 persons in the Al Noor mosque of New Zealand´s city of Christchurch. Little after, an other shooting was recorded against the neighbouring mosque in Linwood and** seven people died. Tarrant, who broadcasted the massacre using a camera stuck to his helmet, had published a manifesto in which he asserted to count with Anders Breivik blessings. Tarrant says that the white man is combatting the foreign invader. That a clima of panic amongst muslims has to be encouraged**. Donald Trump and Marine Lepen are a nationalist reference in the defence of white identity against islamic immigration. Tarrant declares himself, afterwards, a proud fascist. A racist that is encouraging the ethnic war to avoid "the white genocide".
Brenton Tarrant has demostrated an astounding capacity to transform an ideological slaughter into a performance with a wide media repercusion. Between the most picturesque details of New Zealand´s attack we should mention without any doubt, the decoration of the murderer's weapon. In the images spread by the press we can see a rifle crowded with notes in white colour, names and dates with a deep symbolic charge. We can see the name of David Soslan, Georgia's consort king who combatted Muslims in the XII and XIII centuries. We can see Marco Antonio Bragadini, Venecian official who combatted the Ottomans in the XVI century. We can see Luca Traini, the Italian fascist of the Northern League (TN: extreme right and secessionist party of the North of Italy) who shot against six african immigrants in 2017. We can see the Russian-Turkish battle of Kagul in 1770. We can see the number 14 in honour of the supremacist slogan coined by Ku Klux Klan member David Lane. In Tarrant's weapon there are more than 40 mentions of tha kind.
Amongst the more or less confused roster of remote officials and enigmatic mottos, it is possible to recognise some more familiar allusions for the Spanish public. In the rifle of Tarrant, it appears, for example, the name of Josué Estebánez, the nazi army man who killed antifascist Carlos Palomino in the metro of Madrid in 2007. Estebánez, who was heading for a racist demonstration of "Democracia Nacional", grabbed his pocket knife as soon as he saw a group of youngsters with the intention of "aggressing anyone of them with no less of a pretext than their confronted thought divergence". This is stated, at least, in the court sentence that condemned him to 26 years in prison for the murder with the aggravating of ideological hate. The day of the judgement, the cameras of TVE recorded the images of a hooded young girl who was throwing leaflets and was shouting "Josué Freedom" while the police was taking away the relatives of the victim. This young girl was called Melisa but we still didn't know that some years later she would become the leader of the nazi collective Hogar Social Madrid.
In the rifle of Tarrant it can also be read a number which does not need much effort to relate with the battle of Lepanto: 1571. Nine days before the attack in New Zealand, the spoke person of VOX(TN:Extreme right spanish political party created by former conservative polititians from the PP), Javier Ortega Smith(TN: General Secretary of VOX) had claimed in the European Parliament the repercussion of this strife in our days. "Without the battle of Lepanto, ladies in this room would wear a burka". Also Santi Abascal(TN: President of VOX) appeals once and again to the memory of Lepanto and he does not lose the chance to celebrate the victory. "!Lepanto!" #EspañaEsGrandeOtraVez" (TN: #SpainIsGreatAgain), wrote the ultra leader when the Spanish football team imposed itself to the Turkish selection during the 2016 Eurocup. History books show us the naval confrontation of Lepanto as a decisive victory of the Holy Catholic League against the Ottoman Empire. In an interested reinterpretation of the facts, the Spanish extreme right claims a cristian, imperial and legendary past that should be imposed once and again by strength over the Muslim enemy.
Yet there is a third invocation in the New Zealand's weapon which has to do with the mythological imaginary of Spanish nationalism. In one of the chargers of the rifle it can be read "Pelayu", the name of the asturian monarch to which the reactionary right wing assigns the beginning of the "Reconquista"(TN:The reconquista is the process in which the christian nothern kingdoms expell or convert by force muslim inhabitants of the iberian peninsula). It was a lot of time since we were not listenning to such a dusty concept in Spanish politics, but VOX recovered it during the elections to the last Andalousian elections. In an electoral video, Santi Abascal was emulating Don Pelayo and was calling to the reconquest of Spain. A month later, Pablo Casado (TN: leader of Spanish center right Popular Party) was calling a press conference at the "Hotel Reconquista" in Oviedo (Asturias) in order to show off for the new governemnt of Andalousia popularly known as the "Trifachito" (TN: in reference of the coalition between conservative right Popular Party, ultraliberal right Ciudadanos and extreme right VOX parties). This time, says Casado, we will make the "Reconquista" the opposite way: from Andalousia until Asturias. The right wing claims Don Pelayo as the seed of the christian Spain, punnisher of the mors in the battle of Covadonga. Precisely in Covadonga, Santi Abascal presented in 2015 his VOX candidacy to the Spanish Parliament and he used his speech to ask for the closing of mosques. "If in Covadonga we had had the banner holders against the war we would be now all looking to Mecca and with burka", said then Abascal.
The rethoric of the new worldwide extreme right traces a line towards the mythologies of the past which allows him to legitimate their hate speech and endow it with historical gloss. The phenomenom is not new. In september 2004, some months after the attacks of March 11 in Madrid, José María Aznar (TN:Spanish conservative president of government from 1996 until 2004) explained at Georgetown University that "Spain´s problem with Al Qaeda" would not have started in Iraq but in the VIII century" when "Spain, recently, invaded by the mors, rejected to convert itself in to another piece of the islamic world". Aznar is not Ander Breivik. Aznar is not Brenton Tarrant. But behind his claims to the glory of civilisatory christianism, there is a devastating panorama of two hundred thousand dead iraqui civilians in the context of a butcher´s war in the name of oil. Santi Abascal is not José María Aznar, but behind his militaristic floritures and his "new age" historicism there is a claim that demands here and now for the expulsion of 52.000 immigrants who are working in Andalousia. Ortega-Smith is neither Don Pelayo nor Ferdinand the Catholic (TN:King of Aragon, who, by marrying Isabel of Castilla founded a unified kingdom under catholic rule that later would become the kingdom of Spain), but behind his medievalist epic there is a a hate message against the humanitarian solidarity while in the Mediterraneum 18.000 people have died drowned the last 5 years.
Some days ago I could see "Utoya. 22th of july", the movie by Erik Poppe about the slaughter of Anders Breivik in Norway. This last friday, we had to our provision on the net the real movie, without script, without actors of the slaughter of Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand. There is another daily movie, pertinacious and silent, that is being reproduced without scruples in all of our TV sets. Is the movie of these ultra politicians that call, in times of top audience, for Don Pelayo, the Catholic Kings, Navas de Tolosa (TN: Battle against the Moors in 1212) or the Flanders Thirds (TN: military unit operating in Flanders then under spanish rule) with the only proposal to dress their intolerance with historical prestige. The same media that minimized Breivik and Tarrant´s ideological drive are drooling with the ultra slogans of VOX, Casado and the Hogar Social Madrid. They spread it everywhere and then they ask themselves how come they won elections or how is it possible that a poor lunatic has killed 49 "infidels" at a remote island. Keep on normalising supermacism. Keep on believing that the battles of the "Reconquista" are just just a funny folclorical wink and not an ideological construct full of imperial nostalgy and ethnic hate. Then will come the crocodile tears. Then some will be pulling their hair with their hands.
TRANSLATION BY: Juan Etxenike "xare"