Passengers among them migrants and refugees, exit the German ferry terminal in Goteborg

A recent new that has shocked millions everywhere is one about a group of racist Swedes marching through a public area and beating up anyone who looked non-European. It’s so shocking to most because most people thought that Sweden was perfect and something as horrible as “racism” was something that never happened there. If anything, this resembled behaviour in the developing world. It’s the non-whites who do horrible things like gang rapes and gang killings. Such organised violence in a country was impossible, thought most, unless they were immigrants – preferably Arabs.

It was very convenient for many to forget that Hitler was European, the largest mass killings were executed by them, and while this rich part of the world does have an excellent social welfare system, the social psychology may not have changed much since the last episode of mass killing during WWII.

Civilised behaviour seems to work till there is a threat, and as soon as that occurs, this intolerance that at its extreme point killed millions of Jews and others all over Europe led by Germany springs up.  It’s rising now and the chances of a better scenario may be too much to wish for anytime soon.

Soon after WWII as the world leadership changed, the Western powers took great care to make the point that Hitler was an aberration and the rest of the West were nice good people. Yet even when this was on, Europe was practicing racism in its colonial outposts at an extreme level. Europe was always very good at double standards and no one is better at it that France, UK, and Belgium to name three. Now Sweden has joined the ranks.

France was impressing the world with its tri-colour songs of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity when it was establishing colonies all over the world. In Africa, French colonialism was at its most virulent and physical, cultural and political genocide took place. Sadly, many of our own have been great supporters of colonialism. It’s embarrassing to think that the great icons of Bengali and Indian enlightenment like Raja Rammohon Roy were uncritical supporters of colonialism in India and even hoped that the English would come and settle in India. He hoped to die in enlightened Europe and luckily for him, God listened to his prayers.

But even as World War II ended and the liberating army was about to enter Paris, the leader of France, Charles De Gaulle, demanded that all black soldiers who had actually liberated Paris – soldiers from Ivory Coast and other countries- should be removed from the victory parade. Only white people should be part of the victory march although WWII was supposed to be a victory against racist Nazism.

But even as the war ended, the brutality against the Algerians was perpetrated at an extreme level while the world was celebrating its great commitment to freedom. Similarly in Vietnam, they carried out extreme atrocities though they got kicked out by the Vietnamese, who of course later kicked out the Americans.

However, it’s the US which holds the top rank for institutionalised racism. The foundational history of the US is based on slavery so to expect otherwise would be foolish.  It’s manifested in many forms, this need to find enemies to justify its actions to try to command the world. Being American is interpreted almost as a race.  This is what the US did by inventing Saddam Hussain and his “Weapons of Mass Destruction” excuse which led to the war which has not only not gone away but taken on many new shapes and forms including the birth of the horrific IS.

Western policies have contributed to acute instability in the ME and most probably there will be no relief in several generations if ever.  It has forced unprecedented suffering on the Syrian people who have tried to escape the conflict by seeking refuge in the West. Initially, they were welcomed by the West and their guilty consciences, but things have swiftly changed as the cost of accepting refugees became obvious.

The West had thought that this was another feather in its “we are the best”-cap and that this was going to be holiday cheer. But it’s not and that’s why the racist reaction will get worse and worse. But no matter how many are thrown out, millions of immigrants have entered the West and peace will never be possible as they will become marginalised and then enter into conflict.

But the problems are within European countries themselves. As western media itself points out, systemic marginalising of immigrants are part of Europe’s social system and its impossible to change that. Economic opportunities can’t be provided to all given the present scenario where global growth is dominated by the emerging economies, not Europe. Equitable sharing of wealth can no longer be possible. This arrangement could work only if the marginalised immigrants accepted the status quo. Given the present, this will not happen as European unrest and terrorism activities show. That means conflict and violence with “terrorism” increasing in scope and velocity never seen before.

Europe can’t handle that and it has given rise to “Nazism”-like aggressive behaviour as it was when Germans felt left out and reacted against their perceived enemy, the Jews.  Sweden showed how deeply ingrained this mindset is in the European psyche.

The rise of extreme right parties have already been on for long and many centre parties are turning right. Though imponderable now, is the emergence of a Hitler type outfit impossible?  A US presidential candidate like Donald Trump would have been considered unthinkable two decades back but he could very well be the most important US politician after the President now.

Another Hitler is probably unlikely, but is it impossible?

Afsan Chowdhuryis a bdnews24.com columnist.