Today is a state holiday in Portugal: Dia do Trabalhador, meaning Day of the Worker…or Labor Day. It’s observed by many other nations in Europe as well, and honors the ideals of social justice and the national contributions of the working class — a vanishing breed in these days of ever-increasing income inequality.
Several years of austerity and its attendant suffering has led to an alarming rise in nationalism and extreme right-wing parties across the continent, not just in the nations so grievously harmed by austerity, but also in the wealthier nations now feeling threatened by emigrants who are desperately searching for work.
Sweden is one of the latter, and it’s from there that a friend sent this dispatch:
First of May is a public holiday in Sweden, and traditionally used for demonstrations about social justice. The working class and the leftist parties have long claimed it as their own holiday.
But now there are closet Nazis in our government, and their representatives are demonstrating too — as well as those from other, even more Nazi right wing parties like Svenskarnas Parti (“The Swedes’ Party”). Swedish law says that as long as a request for a permit has been handed in and approved on time, everyone has a right to hold demonstrations (even if the mere existence of these demonstrations could be considered hate speech). And the police are pretty much required to approve all timely requests, lest the denied party accuse them of discrimination. So we’re stuck with them.
This year, though, the parish of the small city Jönköping has taken matters into its own hands, by having church bells ring out a danger warning from a church a few hundred meters from the square where the Svenskarnas Parti was demonstrating.
This signal hasn’t been used since World War II. Pretty strong stuff.
You can hear the bells here.