Send in the clowns

When P.G. Woodhouse created the immortal character Sir Roderick Spode, seventh earl of Sidecup, and head of the Black Shorts, he probably never realized that real life extremism is far more bizarre than what the late author’s imagination was able to come up with. The English Defence Leagues choice of Norwegian bed fellows has yet again proven this.

On 9 April, the anniversary of Nazi Germanys attack on Norway during the Second World War, the Norwegian Defence League attempt to stage a demonstration in central Oslo ended up as a complete fiasco, leaving TV-seers all over the country with their mouths wide open in astonished ridicule.

The head of the NDL, Lena Andreassen – who is formerly connected with the now defunct, violent Bootboys group in Oslo – was unable to explain what the demonstration was about and seemed, behind dark glasses, obviously intoxicated. She also told the nation that she did not know much about Islam, but that she intended to contact imams and mosques in Oslo to find out of “how it works”. She was, however, opposed to Sharia laws. Frantically wetting her lips while wildly nodding hear head, Andreassen claimed that she also feared that their demonstration would be attacked by both extreme right-wingers and leftists.

Probably nobody found Andreassen and her friends worthy of an attack, as only nine other people showed up to show their support of Andreassens cause and listen to her more than averagely confused speech. To one of them the show must have been more than embarrassing; Darren Marsh, AKA Darren Lee from the English Defence League had come all the way from Britain to show his support to their Norwegian comrades in arms. Being part of a public demonstration outnumbered one to five by journalists, one to 50 by cops and one to hundred by anti-racists, must have been very humiliating, especially since Andreassen has been the NDL-leader of choice by the EDL.

The NDL became, before it even was properly launched, a battleground for in-fighting of the extreme right in Norway. The EDL, probably without knowing much about the endless and various conflicts of the extremist scene in Norway sided with one of the factions and chose Håvar Krane, by other racist activists described as an Internet clown, to become NDLs interim leader. Krane was soon succeeded by Lena Andreassen, adding heavily to the clownish impression.

After the demonstration in April, anti-racist activists have been applauding Lena Andreassens heading of the NDL towards the abyss, while people of the extreme right has been launching the conspiracy theory that Andreassen is an agent of the Police Security Service.  Several activists on the extreme right have withdrawn their support of the NDL and urged others to support the SIAN (Stop Islamization of Norway) instead. The SIAN is another rabid anti-Muslim group, demanding that Norway stop all immigration from Muslim countries, and has within its ranks several Roderick Spode characters, being the guarantees that neither this group will ever become a mass movement.

Finally the EDL had it with Lena Andreassen and four days after the attempted demonstration they posted a message on the NDL Facebook group:

«This is a message from Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League. After careful consideration and a lengthy investigation by our support group we have decided that we have no alternative but to declare a show of no-confidence in the current leadership and administration of the Norwegian Defence League.

We will no longer affiliate with, or support this version of the NDL. This decision was not taken lightly and we do acknowledge the efforts of the NDL to bring the problem of Islamism/Islamists to Norway’s attention but we feel that due to recent events we can no longer maintain our affiliation. This matter is now closed with the EDL. This decision is final. Thank you.»

After this Andreassen and her friends disappeared as administrators of the NDL Facebook group, leaving the helm to Ronny Alte. Alte who is a former member of the now defunct biker club Badboys in Tønsberg, was last seen when he was kicked out from the NDL by Andreassen and her cohorts.  With Alte back in position one can also expect the return of his motley crew of followers: football hooligans, old Nazi activists and exiled Russian Nazis of the Slavic Union. It is not highly probable that these people will be able to raise the NDL from the ashes Andreassen has laid it in.

The chances that the NDL will become a political power in Norway are abysmal. With no economic crisis, very low unemployment, no overtly militant islamists and, compared to most European countries, highly functioning municipal services, youth clubs and local police. Those being against immigration and Islam already have their frustrations soothed by voting for the populist Progress Party. There is simply no room for a ragbag army of right wing street fighters.

Lena Andreassens career as NDL fuhrer was short lived