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Fascists using Lord of the Rings to promote nationalist cause.

Byline: Sophie Blakemore

Fascists have hijacked Tolk-ien's Lord of the Rings as prop-aganda to further their cause. As the second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers, comes out on general release today, a Midland academic has expressed concerns that neo-Nazi groups are interpreting the Birmingham author's epic for their own ends. One Internet website urges 'every white nationalist' to watch the films, which it claims promote white supremacy over ethnic minorities living in the West.

Dr Stephen Shapiro, an English expert at the University of Warwick, said the adoption of the literary masterpiece by far right groups was worrying.

Tolkien lovers also expressed horror that the books were being used to promote extremism.

Chris Crawshaw, chairman of The Tolkien Society, urged people not to interpret the trilogy in a far right context.

'I am quite shocked and very saddened that The Lord of the Rings is being used by far right groups in this way.

'Tolkien himself would be horrified if he knew this was happening and I know some of his family, and they also would be appalled.

'There is not a grain of truth in their interpretation and I would ask people to read it for what it is - a very good story,' she said.

Dr Shapiro said he could understand why Tolkien's works had been adopted by the far right but he called for loyal fans to confront the extremists' views.

'The books came out in the 1950s coinciding with the start of immigration into Britain and neo-Nazis are interpreting them in that way.

'It is very worrying that fascist groups are using The Lord of the Rings like this and are trying to infiltrate popular culture.

'This should be openly confronted and if readers of Tolkien feel that this is wrong and the books are not racist, I encourage them to challenge these groups,' he said. Dr Shapiro said the trilogy of Middle Earth mythology represented anxieties about immigration.

'Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings because he believed England's original culture and mythology was destroyed by the Norman invasion, and thought his story-cycle would recreate the world of pre-invasion Britain.

'For today's film fans, this older racial anxiety fuses with a current fear and hatred of Islam that supports a crusading war in the Middle East.'

He added that the books should not be used to incite racial hatred but to look at the modern state of race relations in the UK and further afield.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 18, 2002
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