Since early last year the United States has seen rapid growth in many sectors of the radical right. There has been unprecedented expansion of anti-government militia groups, increased anti-immigrant rhetoric in the tea party movement, and deeply troubling proof of the relationship between anti-immigrant groups and white nationalists. With all this rage in our own backyard, it has been easy to forget that fighting fascism is truly a global effort. While the outcome may be disappointing, one effort stands out amongst all others.
Over the course of the last year and a half in Poland, the anti-racist organization ‘Nigdy Wiecej’ (translated as Never Again) has patiently attempted to convince the online auction website, Allegro.pl, to discontinue its sale of Nazi memorabilia, white power music, and racist propaganda. The website is Poland’s largest internet trader and similar in format to E-Bay.
This past month Never Again gathered forward-thinking artists such as painter Wilhel Sasnal, singer Renata Przemyk, and writer Pawel Huelle to make a unified plea to Allegro that bigotry had no place online. The Center for New Community, a U.S.-based civil rights organization, joined with these artists and activists in their letter writing campaign. Here is copy of its letter to Allegro:
Center for New Community, a U.S.-based civil rights organization, strongly condemns the sale of racist, xenophobic, and neo-fascist paraphernalia and music on the auction website Allegro.com. The sale of these items has been disguised in the ‘collector’s’ section of the website. While it is unclear why Allegro would make these items available for sale, we are clear on their alarming significance.
Symbols of hate, which include the Celtic cross, iron eagle, and ‘white pride’ logo, have historically been used as effective recruiting tools for organized white power groups. Some of these symbols are rooted in Germany’s National Socialist Movement and seek to glorify Adolf Hitler. Center for New Community strongly condemns the sale of fascist paraphernalia and music, and Allegro’s sale of these items serves as complicit promotion of white power.
The skinhead movement has a long history of violence directed at people of color; therefore, it is particularly disturbing to see music for sale on Allegro from the notorious white power skinhead bands Screwdriver and Konkwista 88. Lyrics from a Konkwista 88 song entitled “Save our Pride” are as follows:
“I remember winter twelve years ago when White youth fought against Mandela’s dogs. Eighty niggers stood against our own it’s happened in our town, it’s happened in our homes. Save our pride, fight to die, save our pride, till the end. The niggers never fought fair but they had no chance. We had the right on our side, the strength that was in our hearts. After twenty minutes, blood flooded the streets - they got to feel who rules this place, who rules this town.” (“Save our Pride” from the album “Break the Chains”, Konkwista 88, 2002)
Center for New Community supports the position of the Nigdy Więcej (Never Again) organization and other artists in Poland who have spoken out about this issue. By continuing to sell these items, Allegro has created a platform for hate and intolerance which discourages reasonable consumers from using its services.
We urge Allegro to prohibit the sale of white power music and paraphernalia. Only then can it create a safe environment for its customers and build a larger community that feels welcome to patron its website.
Unfortunately, despite the amazing efforts made by Never Again and many others, Allegro was unmoved by the letter writing campaign and protest. In a statement which is truly breathtaking in its ignorance, Allegro hides behind the letter of the law,
“In accordance with the provisions of the law, these articles do not incite racial hatred. People incite racial hatred. […] It is our policy not to interfere in the sale of objects on our website if not required to do so by law.”
Technically, one could say that Allegro is correct in its assertion that it is people who incite racial hatred; however, strangely enough, it is people who are selling the memorabilia on its website.
Oh…and the people who have allowed the people to sell Swastikas and Nazi junk?