Donald Trump may be the headline right now, but the type of right-wing nationalism he's tapped into is not constrained solely to America. We've already witnessed Brexit in the United Kingdom, and a string of upcoming elections in other European countries this year could further move the entire western world away from the internationalism that has defined it since the end of World War II. The worrisome goal of that ever-growing right across the Atlantic? A movement to dissolve the European Union.
Of course, we've seen how creative communities here have responded to Trump's election. There were the slogan tees and political statements at New York Fashion Week, the immediate Instagram musings of visual artists, and the many shows of resistance at Hollywood awards show.
It comes as little surprise, then, that those in European art and fashion are now flexing their creative muscles in protest.
Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers, the co-founders of Netherlands-based fashion magazines Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman, have started their own campaign to protect the EU, ahead of the Dutch elections on March 15.
They've created a collection of posters, available in four languages, which are modeled after similar pro-EU posters made by the artist Wolfgang Tillmans during the Brexit campaign.
"With this campaign we want to tackle the illusions which the enemies of the EU promote and propagate," wrote Bennekom and Joonkers in a statement. "Cooperation amongst the citizens of all EU member states is the key to our future peace and prosperity. We believe in the common ground between our countries."
The Dutch election, scheduled for March 15th, will see incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte face off against a host of challengers, but Geert Wilders, a far-right politician who has caused controversy not just in the Netherlands but internationally (he was once banned from entering the UK) for his controversial opinions about Islam and for stirring up fears about immigration, is currently neck-and -eck with Rutte in the polls. Leaving the European Union is, of course, a core tenant of Wilders's campaign, and that of his 11-year-old political party the Party for Freedom. (Incidentally, just this past December, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination for leading an anti-Moroccan chant at a rally.)
The posters also make mention of Marine Le Pen, the French politician currently leading the polls for her country's Presidential election in April. She inherited leadership of the formerly fringe far-right populist party National Front from her father, and is running on a platform that criticizes the EU and is rife with anti-Immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric as well.
It should be obvious that these elections are not just about the fate of the European Union, but whether Europe will once again find its politics besieged by ethnic pride and fear of outsiders.
Though, Bennekom and Jonkers clarify that the campaign has no political aim other than merely keeping the European Union in tact.
"Vote for whatever party, but don’t vote down the EU," they wrote. "Now is the time to raise awareness and to protect what has protected us, and our values, for so long."
"The EU is not a faceless machine but the representation of 508 million people. While surely there are still many things to be improved, the core belief in this institution has secured the longest period of inter-European peace and cooperation in history. A democratic conversation between 28 member states is tedious—but it ensures a steady dialog, a constant weighing of the many different demands involved in making each single decision. These processes foster safety and stability, and allow us to call a whole continent something which would otherwise be much smaller: home."
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