Seismic Shifts in Vienna
by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
Quaint, quiet, The Sound of Music… many tourists associate these terms with Austria. In terms of the international Counterjihad “quaint, quiet, and safe” may once have been the case, but no longer. The clash of civilizations is currently fought in the battlefields at the gates of Vienna with no King Jan Sobieski in sight.
Regular readers here at Gates of Vienna may be aware that the city of Vienna is preparing for its local council elections due to be held on October 10, 2010. The political parties have been preparing for this face-off at the polls for more than a year, some more successfully than others. With the Greens busy dining at each other’s flanks and the Conservative parties busy with… well, themselves and finding some direction or course of action, the race is set for the hugely popular Socialist mayor, Michael Häupl, and the leader of the controversial Freedom Party (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache, to face off in the upcoming ballot call. For months it was clear to the interested resident that the main topic of contention would be immigration, integration or the lack thereof, as well as Islam. With the election only weeks away, the heat has been rising steadily.
FPÖ’s first round of billboards has caused the expected uproar among the so-called politicians, pundits, and some members of the populace. The billboards themselves are of the usual FPÖ quality; the content is debatable, but it most certainly achieved its intended goal: the entire nation discussing the pros and cons of immigration and integration, but also the expected “Nazi-jargon, fascistic content, and racism.”
What is the content? Why the uproar? The makers of the slogan used a very well-known concept, namely “Wiener Blut” (Vienna Blood), which is incidentally also the title of an equally well-known and loved operetta by Johann Strauss Jr. The term “Wiener Blut” depicts the mix of Viennese blood dating back into the late 19th century, where Vienna became the melting pot of cultures after the immigration of countless people from the “member countries” of the Habsburg Empire. Keep in mind, though, that these immigrants hailed from the same cultural background, i.e. they brought with them the Judeo-Christian traditions, and thus had little or no problems with integration.
Picking up on this very positive theme, Strache then rhymed this on the poster:
“Mehr Mut für unser Wiener Blut — zuviel Fremdes tut niemandem gut!”
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“More courage for our Viennese blood [meaning heritage] — [there is] too much of that which is foreign!”
As this is a slogan — I repeat, a slogan — of course the message is shortened. The drawback to this is that it leaves the door wide open for “misinterpretations”. Thus the result was the expected Green scream: “NAZI JARGON!!!” In addition, newspaper commentators are asking themselves whether all that which is foreign can be considered bad: “Viennese blood that must remain pure?”
When asked by reporters to clarify, Herbert Kickl, FPÖ campaign manager, explained that the slogan is neither racist nor xenophobic, but describes the Viennese traditions. He will not accept any contortion of the intended message. The daily tabloid ÖSTERREICH informed its readers about the upcoming brutality of the Vienna elections (no link available) on August 21, 2010: “The Duel of hate against immigrants is starting. Experts warn of brutal and harsh campaigns. Mayor Häupl calls Strache a loser and a shady character; experts believe the reason for these words is that Häupl does not want to get into discussions about immigrants, but rather put down Strache and denounce him as a Nazi.” Strache, in turn, accuses the SPÖ of being an “Islamist party”, referring to the 36 Muslims on SPÖ’s list of candidates for the Vienna parliament.
It bears mentioning that the well-known Iranian-born cabaret artist Michael Niavarani saw the necessity to immediately launch a Facebook campaign against FPÖ. He writes, “My Viennese blood for all those who find the FPÖ posters unbearable: Join us on Wednesday, August 25 to donate blood. Our Motto: My blood for foreigners.” Today, SPÖ did just that: two of its Muslim members of the city council, the infamous Omar Al-Rawi and Nurten Yilmaz, publicly donated blood to protest against the hate campaign by FPÖ. Tomorrow, the Facebook group will follow…
Christian Zeitz, member of the board at the Wiener Akademikerbund has the following to say about the controversy (with thanks to JLH for the translation):
Foreigners and Wiener Blut — What Is Good for You
The real danger is the mainstream politicians
Here we go again. The Strache posters “Mehr Mut für unser Wiener Blut (More Courage for our Viennese Blood [Heritage]) have released the expected wave of “outrage.” The ritual drawing on of Hitler mustaches and other democratic decorating of the FPÖ posters are back in style. The Facebook group “Down with the Posters” is evidence of the “openness and tolerance” demanded by the parallel group. And the politicians of the MSP (mainstream parties) are outdoing one another in their excited gargling of the whole Nazi-Bludgeon repertory.
“Too much alien does no one any good.” Who would deny such a self-evident banality among normal people? There is hardly any place where it does not apply. In the USA, France, or Turkey, the speaker of such a pale dictum would be seen as lacking in patriotism. But Austria is different. The Green, Ellison, diagnoses “the worst kind of Nazi jargon.” SP secretary Deutsch offers the original nuance of “scandalous Blood-and-Soil Language” and discovers “contempt for human beings” as well as “racist incitement.” VP politician of the random, Christine Marek — a little late but unwilling to be left behind, sputters something about “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”
With the (feigned?) outrage and regular handing down of Nazi nonsense, the MSP are preventing even the most modest approach to the subject of “Immigration — Foreigners — Integration.” The responsible parties in the administration have not even managed an objective work-up of the base data. Even worse, none of the parties has given a qualified answer to a single one of the relevant questions: Who is to be allowed to come to Austria, and who not? What problems are solved by immigration and which ones are caused by it? What is the net economic effect of immigration? Who enjoys the benefits and who bears the costs? How is it established that Austrians are prepared to share their prosperity, while certain problems are allegedly solved by doing that and others arise?
The following are established facts: The unemployment percentage among foreigners and persons with an “immigration background” has for 25 years been higher than that of natives. There is an alarming level of criminality among foreigners that is not merely “felt.” The application to Islam of the religious laws and other compulsory norms has been rejected by politics, while the parallel societies continue to grow in Vienna’s wards. People in the areas of school, health care and in the work force are suffering from a lack of integration and this misery is not relieved by the substitute religion of “political correctness.”
To be sure: “Once more,” (for the sake of brevity) completely separate subjects are being mixed together here and therefore possibly “prejudices being awakened” which are likely to encourage “lumped-together resentments.” But the political parties have had years and control of ministerial budgets in the millions as well as other resources — in their own good time and distant from any campaign uproar — to produce studies, to clearly designate truths, methods of action and their consequences, and finally to produce comprehensive concepts and lay them before the public. No “right extremist” or “populist” was stopping them. The fact is, there is not one single idea of the kind. And therefore, no MSP politician can be trusted an inch when he maunders about the “necessity of immigration” and “integration policy” or soothingly implores “adherence to the house rules.”
While the uncontrolled growth in immigration continues every day and the resulting problems are accepted as quasi-natural phenomena, the mainstream politicians are systematically and unremittingly obstructing any objective debate through thought control and exclusion via Nazi trash talk. Ellensohn, Deutsch, Marek and their parties are the true danger. Propelled by cowardice, incompetence and the hidden directives of their clients’ egoistical special interests, they have brought our social and security systems to the limits of their capacity and contributed to the erosion of everyday cultural life. In the final analysis, they are the ones who are responsible for the multivalent “hostility to foreigners.”
So long as democracy and the needs of people — whether natives, foreigners or any people who need our help — are being kicked around like this, so-called “populists” have every right to polemics and provocations. The politicians long ago completely estranged themselves from the populace and its real life. In this sense too, too much alien does no good.
— Christian Zeitz
Now, all of this may appear very depressing. However, the situation changed dramatically with an interview given by Anas Schakfeh, the president of the Islamic Faith Community in Austria. This will be the topic of Part 2 of this essay.