Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rapper takes on Right

Seb Agnetti/Universal Music Switzerland - “I just felt there had to be some reaction,” the rapper Stress said of his political songs.

Switzerland’s leading rapper, Stress, has come out with a new album, “Kings, Pawns and Bishops.” After provoking a minor scandal a few years ago with a song whose title had an expletive before the name of Christoph Blocher, the leader of the ultranationalist Swiss People’s Party, the country’s most popular party, Stress dishes out some more of the same this time.

In person a cordial 30-year-old immigrant from Estonia (born Andres Andrekson), Stress was raised by his mother in Lausanne and is married to a former Miss Switzerland. After college, he worked at Procter & Gamble on the Swiss Mr. Clean account. His last album went double platinum here, which for a nation of 7.6 million, culturally split among German, French and Italian speakers, meant sales topped 85,000.

Christoph Blocher with “The Woodcutter” by the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, at his office in Bern, Switzerland, in 2006.

Mr. Blocher, a chemicals tycoon, himself descended from Swabian immigrants from Germany (not that he makes a point of it), was until the end of 2007 the country’s justice minister. Now 68, he rose to political power as leader of the Swiss People’s Party: demonizing immigrants (in a country whose population is 20 percent foreigners, mostly Western Europeans), bashing the European Union, trumpeting privatization, lowering taxes and advocating traditional values.

Ah, yes, traditional values. Know them well; Republicans in the US trumpet them.

The program resonated with big money and rural voters. The Swiss People’s Party won 29 percent in the last election, the highest percentage of any party, and about as high as any far-right party in Western Europe has won.

Big money and rural: the ones who have and don't want others to have, and the xenophobic.

“We call it the Americanization of Swiss politics,” explained Pascal Sciarini, who runs the political science department at the University of Geneva. “Crime has remained the same in recent years, but Blocher and his allies cultivate a sense of insecurity by running a permanent political campaign, particularly against immigrants, and this resonates with Swiss people who fear change and find comfort in traditional 19th-century values.”

How apt: Americanization. Done that way here: cultivate insecurity, attack immigrants, rant and rave that "they" are disrupting traditional family values, harken back to the age of Reagan, and base the law on how it was supposed to have been 200 years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment