There has been much talk of Tommy Robinson (AKA Stephen Lennon) leaving the EDL. Some believe it is just a put on, whilst others believe his “conversion” is genuine. My own view is that it is merely a rebranding of British neofascism, which has constantly tried to gain ground in the wider world by dumping its unsavoury elements.
This approach has been a constant since the 1950s and Tyndall running around in Nazi gear.
It is conceivable there maybe the odd occasion when an active hardcore racist or neofascist gives up their prior beliefs, and that is to be welcomed. However, when that happens there is normally a severe break with the past. A severing of old ties and clear breakage with former repulsive opinions.
I notice that has not occurred with Lennon. But rather than express my own skepticism I think many others do it better.
“There is a pattern of behaviour here. Robinson is doing what leaders of far-right movements have always done and continue to do. Like shyster businessmen, they set up one firm that serves their goals, then declare it insolvent and set up another one with a different name – each time creaming the profit of press coverage and a small shift of the political landscape.
This is exactly the modus operandi of such factions. From the British Union of Fascists to the British People’s party, the Action party, the National Front, the Flag Group, the New National Front, the BNP and the EDL, the far-right throbs and expands, blooms, then folds into itself and subdivides like an amorphous but sentient blob from a 1950s B movie. It reinvents itself constantly until it finds the marketable packaging, charismatic personnel, economic conditions and public mood within which it can thrive. In the process it creates new and unusual vacant spaces in our political consciousness that existing or newly formed parties scramble to fill. The entire manoeuvre is designed to inexorably drag the Overton window to the right, making the intolerable, accepted and the intolerant, acceptable.”
The One Law for All campaign is run by seasoned political activists. That makes their inability to comprehend the question of amicability to neofascists, EDL supporters/sympathizers all the harder to understand.
Reminds me of the old adage “When in a hole, stop digging.”.
I will comment on it later on but in the interim I have taken the liberty of reposting Anne Marie Waters’ statement on the issue, lest it vanish:
“Anne Marie Waters October 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm:
Ok, before I start, I speak on my own behalf, not Maryam’s, or One Law for All, but I simply cannot let this go on without speaking out.
First of all, Pat Condell. Pat Condell is not a racist – he has been very clear on numerous occasions that his issue is with religion, not race. I second that. There are disturbing rape statistics in Scandinavia. This report from Norway discusses it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWWrpv-pbuc The girl interviewed tell us that her rapist told her that he could do whatever he liked to her because his religion says so. You will probably now call the Norwegian police racist, but I doubt that they are. The police woman in question was right that attitudes to women are relevant and we’ve got to have the courage to discuss them. These attitudes stem from religion, not race. BobFromBrockley you wrote: “It’s the language that is racist, not whatever factual basis may or may not exist for his claims”. So you’re unconcerned about the facts? Telling the truth is racist? I’m afraid not. What is racist though is raping Norwegian women because they are Norwegian. Raping “Aussie pigs” because they’re Aussies, is also racist http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/13/1026185124700.html
At no point did Condell blame this on race, but on religion. And perhaps he’s got some reason to given the words of the rapists themselves. The idea that women are to blame for rape is not some lunatic fringe, but state policy in many Islamic states. Sorry if that is inconvenient but the truth often is. You are no doubt going to focus on who did the reporting of these words, and ignore the words, but that is something I can never do. Even the Daily Mail doesn’t get away with fabricating facts.
To suggest (and nobody is) that all Muslim men view women in this way is absurd and grossly offensive, but it is just as absurd to suggest that religious and cultural norms which imprison women for being rape victims has no impact whatsoever on the views of some of these men – especially when they believe that this comes from God. This cannot carry on. We owe it to the victims to be honest about this. And before you say it, no decent person is going to blame all Muslims, or all “immigrants”.. only people such as yourselves lump people in to groups like this. Most people don’t. But the motive matters and it must be addressed.
You might think facing the truth is “stirring up hatred” but I rather think it might be the rapes that are doing that. If the truth hurts, it is the truth that must change, not the fact that people are telling it.
Please try to understand the damage that this causes. Shouting racist at people for recognising reality is the reason that there are 1000s of girls in this country having their genitals butchered every year, are forced in to “marriages”, forced out of school and imprisoned in their homes. Police and social workers are terrified because people like you shout racist at them at every given opportunity – whether what they say is true or not. This is obscene and those who do it need to have a serious look at themselves.
In summary: standing back and doing nothing to protect young girls and women because of their skin colour – that is racism.
You have also demeaned the word racist and made it so that it is no longer taken as seriously as it should, and the result will inevitably be that people who suffer because of their colour of their skin will be ignored. You are having the opposite effect and leaving people to suffer – because of their skin colour, while calling everyone else racists.
SarahAB – I agree with you “there are different shades of opinion amongst EDL supporters”. Yes there are. I don’t like the EDL, I have never supported them and I wish they didn’t exist – but they do, and do you know why? Because people shouted “racist” at everyone who had a legitimate concern about Islam and drove everyone away – creating racial tension, doing nothing to solve anything and instead making it immeasurably worse. Government, police, social workers all ignored it – because they would be called racists if they did anything. This causes the problems you now complain of – this is why the EDL exists.
As for QueenLareefer, who the hell is anyone to tell her she’s a racist? Do you know her? I didn’t know she was EDL but I would have to get to know her before I make judgements on her – to understand what her reasons are. She’s an individual and deserves to be treated like one. The EDL has seriously nasty people in it yes, but many people turn to it because they feel they’ve got nowhere else to go. Where is she to turn to express herself? To the left? What if she loves her country as she clearly does? That makes her a racist to many on the left, especially if that country happens to be England. She will automatically be dismissed. No political party will entertain anyone who expresses a dislike of Islam and what if she doesn’t subscribe to left-wing beliefs? I know that some of you believe anyone who isn’t left-wing is a racist, but that is your problem. I happen to love this country too, as do many black and Asian Brits – what category do you put them in? What is your view on the nasty elements of the UAF? An organisation which has an avowed Islamist as its vice chair? (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100140248/ken-livingstones-anti-fascist-group-appoints-fascist-as-vice-chair/) Do you condemn the UAF just as loudly? I didn’t think so.
People often feel they have nowhere to go when they dislike Islam, as they perfectly entitled to do. I don’t agree with every word Queen Lareefer says, but amazingly, as an adult, I can still respect her right to express herself without smearing her as a racist. She clearly has issues with Islam: she and I have that in common. I retweeted her today (and you can ‘presume’ all you like about what tweets of hers I saw or didn’t) because I support the view that we should move on and all anti-Islamists reject actual racists and work with Quilliam and others to defeat the real threat of Islamism. Serious kudos are due to Quilliam for this. We’ve got to stop alienating and pushing everyone away, we’ve got to identify racism for what it is – it’s about race, not religion. Opposition to Islamism is not some exclusive club and who the hell do people think they are to think they get to dictate who is or isn’t a racist?
I find if I make a mistake it is good to apologise, but there is a need to do it sincerely. Conversely, I find amongst most politicos, the university educated and with many men: a serious reluctance to ever admit they are wrong. No matter the overwhelming evidence.
One example is the MPs expenses scandal. Even at the very end, these rich, well-educated and privileged individuals could not admit they were wrong, openly. It was abundantly clear to everyone outside of Westminster that there had been serious wrongdoings on MPs expenses. To the bitter end some MPs would not say “Sorry, we did wrong.”
In fact, Ms Waters seems to be digging her heels in, but I don’t wish this to be an acrimonious dispute.
I just want nonracists to ostracised neofascists, neo-Nazis, their friends, their allies, their water carriers and PR teams. To shun them, completely.
Surely, that is not too much to ask?
Notwithstanding how I outlined my disagreement on Storify, Ms Waters seems intent on misunderstanding my points. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of condensing a few tweets which described the issue as I see it (I fixed some typos):
“We’re often told by “anti-Islamists”/secularists/atheists that they have nothing inherently against Muslims, yet this doesn’t always stack up. If said individuals have nothing intrinsically against Muslims, then they shouldn’t be found exchanging pleasantries with racists/neofascists. This is a fairly simple point, & it applies widely that nonracists should not, cohabitate, aid or otherwise normalise racists/neofascists.
But we can see how the spokesperson of the One Law for All campaign is exceedingly friendly with EDL sympathisers/supporters. You might not unreasonably expect that nonracists should avoid any friendly contact with neofascists or their allies, based on the above. Because otherwise we may assume that they share similar views, in this case a loathing for Muslims, to varying degrees.
That point applies broadly, if we look at “anti-Zionists” we would hope not to find them anywhere near antisemitic material, but we do. We should hope that those who express strong views in relationship to Muslims or Jews, do not associated anyway with neofascists or neo-Nazis. Nevertheless, there is evidence that “anti-Zionists” have distributed antisemitic links over time, this is only one example.
Equally, supposed “secularists”, such as @AMDWaters are on very good terms with a few EDL supporters/sympathisers.
I would personally prefer if that were not the case, but the evidence in their timelines, is proof enough, look yourself: @AMDWaters@freegazaorg “
I hope the One Law for All Campaign make a serious effort to understand these points. These ideas are not complex for those committed to antiracism, or anyone literate.
I don’t mind a polemic. But to be oblivious of racism in Britain, not to understand the nature of the English Defence League and to reflectively defend Richard Dawkins is not rational, even for the Rationalist Association.
Daniel Trilling’s moderate piece on how we need to get beyond Richard Dawkins has set the cat among the pigeons and brought out some rather irrational rationalists.
Update 1: A reminder of what a self-confess Dawkins fan said:
“Because Dawkins has gone from criticising the religion itself to criticising Muslims, as a vast bloc. They’re not individuals with names, they’re “these Muslims” or “some Muslim or other”, undifferentiated, without personhood. They haven’t managed to get very many Nobel prizes, presumably because they’re stupid, or brainwashed into zombiehood by their religion.
Yes, it’s only a “fact”, but in different contexts, the same fact can have different meanings. For instance, would Dawkins have tweeted another fact, which is that Trinity also has twice as many Nobel prizes as all black people put together? It’s just as true, but presumably he doesn’t believe that it’s because black people aren’t as clever. Yet he is willing to make the equivalent inference about Muslims, without further evidence.“[My emphasis.]
Update 2: I was probably a bit harsh, not all at the Rationalist Association are purblind to racism.
“Whatever the debates over terminology, it seems clear that there is a serious problem with anti-Muslim prejudice in Britain and, indeed, beyond. “All across Europe we have seen right-wing extremists moving more and more to using attacks on Islam as a way of using fear to win people to their cause,” says Sam Tarry, a campaign organiser at the anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate. Of the extremist groups tracked by Tarry and his colleagues the most high-profile in recent years has been the English Defence League, which emerged in the aftermath of a protest in 2009 against homecoming troops in Luton by the extremists of Islam4UK, the now-proscribed group led by Anjem Choudary. Drawing on pre-existing networks of right-wing extremists and football hooligans, the EDL positioned itself specifically in opposition to what it called “militant Islam” and organised street demonstrations in towns with large Muslim populations, drawing attendances of up to 2,000 by the spring of last year.
While EDL leaders maintain that their concern is with Islamic extremism, Tarry says their marches target a far broader section of society. “They’ve actually hardened their position over the last two years,” he explains. “Now they are pretty much saying they are against Islam itself as a religion, that it’s evil, that it’s incompatible with the West, and this feeds into a whole other set of arguments that they make about the general Islamification of Britain.” Hope Not Hate estimate that the demonstrations, which have frequently descended into violence, have cost the taxpayer as much as £25 million in policing and have caused serious damage to community relations. “I was there in Leicester [in October 2010] when they managed to break through police lines,” says Tarry. “Around 500 managed to rampage through the city centre and attack a halal fast food restaurant, smashing windows and storming it. In terms of victimising a particular community in this way, we haven’t really seen this kind of behaviour since the days of the National Front.” “
Just started using Storify as a quick and easy platform for relaying exchanges on Twitter. It is not too bad, when it works. Storify seems to have an issue on Chromium with “This webpage has a redirect loop”. Hope it is a teething problem. Nevertheless, these particular stories may enlighten readers:
The highlighted Anonymous accounts and their allies would probably claim that they are merely “anti-Zionists”, which could be true but they also have a strong line in disseminating antisemitism.
Whilst I do not believe that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, it is not coincidental that rantings involving antisemitic themes are found in proximity to anti-Zionism. Nor is it mere chance that many strident “anti-Islamists” around the periphery of English Defence League are found to have a connection to the British Far Right or worse.
Equally, when looking at the background to Richard Dawkins’ foolish mistake of re-tweeting from one EDL sympathiser, there were parallels between fanatical “anti-Zionists” and maniac “anti-Islamists”.
Both of these creeds as exercised by these extremists are, almost, inoculated against spotting racism.
Whereas “anti-Islamists” of this order rarely perceive any racism towards Muslims, their compatriots within the sphere of anti-Zionism find it incredibly hard, next to impossible, to spot modern antisemitism.
My research found that “anti-Islamists” had a catalogue of standard arguments which bore a striking similarity to those found on the Far Right. Naturally, few of these themes stood up to any serious scrutiny and had the stench of refried racism from the 1970s.
Studying the crossover on Twitter (an imperfect but readily available sampling) not all obsessive “anti-Islamists” were from the Right of the political spectrum. However, it became very apparent that those not imbued with Hard or Far Right thinking could not spot an EDL sympathiser amongst them, if their life depended on it.
Which is very troubling.
Elsewhere, mainstream anti-Zionists have yet to address with any intellectual competency the question of periodic outburst of antisemitism amongst supposed “anti-Zionists”. Greta Berlin’s eruption of racism was hardly coincidental and only one example.
In short, neither of these political trends can adequately explain the presence and persistence of hardened racism in their midst.
Bringing us back neatly to Professor Richard Dawkins. Predictably he went from general antagonistic statements against Islam to swift digs at Muslims in general. A past supporter of Dawkins, Tom Chivers at the Torygraph takes him to task:
“Treating all Muslims as featureless representatives of their religion (as Dawkins does when saying things like “Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? How has UCL come to this: cowardly capitulation to Muslims? Tried to segregate sexes in debate between @LKrauss1 and some Muslim or other”) is – well, it may not be directly racist, but it’s certainly not the sort of thing Martin Luther King would admire. The content of their character, and all that.
Because Dawkins has gone from criticising the religion itself to criticising Muslims, as a vast bloc. ” [My emphasis.]
The Guardian provides two reflective articles on Professor Dawkins’ unhealthy discharges:
” “Islam isn’t a race,” is the “I’m not racist, but. . .” of the Atheist movement, a tedious excuse for lazy thinking that is true enough to be banal while simultaneously wrong in any meaningful, real-world sense.
Yes, congratulations, you can read a dictionary. Well done.
But it’s possible for a statement to be both true and wrong. “Homeopathy worked for me” is one example (as is its inverse): it may genuinely make people feel better, emotionally or through the placebo effect; but it doesn’t work in any medical sense.”[My emphasis.]
Final thoughts, people need to decide seriously if they are against certain particular forms of racism and rather lazy or ambivalent on the rest?
Do you oppose racism towards Muslims? Do you apply the same standards when Jews are the target of racism? Etc
Are you universally opposed to racism or just selectively?
If the latter, then you are not really an antiracist/nonracist. Whatever else, that is not the company to keep.
“A final point. The United States may boast almost as many Nobel Prize winners as the rest of the world put together, but it is also home to millions of diehard creationists. What has Richard Dawkins to say about that?”
Update 2: Professor Dawkins has replied without the restrictions of Twitter and 140 characters. Yet predictably, Professor Dawkins’ arguments do not engage with any intelligent criticism of his previous stupidity:
Twitter’s 140 character limit always presents a tough challenge, but I tried to rise to it. Nobel Prizes are a pretty widely quoted, if not ideal, barometer of excellence in science.
I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population. However, I decided against tweeting that comparison because it might seem unduly provocative (many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews) and I sought a more neutral comparison as more suitable to the potentially inflammable medium of Twitter.
It is a remarkable fact that one Cambridge college, Trinity, has 32 Nobel Prizes to its credit. That’s three times as many as the entire Muslim world even if you count Peace Prizes, six times as many if you don’t. I dramatised the poverty of Muslim scientific achievement, and the contrast with their achievements in earlier centuries, in the following brief tweet: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” [My emphasis.]
Why pick on Muslims? You could arbitrarily pick on plenty of categories of people that have achieved far less than Trinity College, Cambridge
Again, fair point. Somebody mentioned redheads (neither he nor I have figures on redheaded scientific achievement but we get the point). I myself tweeted that Trinity Cambridge has more Nobel Prizes than any single country in the world except the USA, Britain (tautologically), Germany and France. You could well think there was something gratuitous in my picking on Muslims, were it not for the ubiquity of the two positive boasts with which I began. Redheads (and the other hypothetical categories we might mention) don’t boast of their large populations and don’t boast of their prowess in science.”
“Even some of his admirers were disgusted, as Tom Chivers published a blog on the Telegraph titled, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging as a fan.” He makes the point that Dawkins has strayed from providing critiques of religious beliefs and practices grounded in logic to blindly attacking faiths as monolithic groups, manipulating facts to further an agenda.
Lingering prejudice in Britain can bring out the worst in people. Such attitudes are not confined to thugs in the EDL or the BNP, rather are often found on the periphery of the Hard Right, spoken in polite tones and impeccable English.
More importantly, there is denial about racism towards ethnic minorities in Britain. Denial of the facts.
“…Gilligan to put out an article without him getting called out for a mixture of falsehood and misrepresentation. This is probably because falsehood and misrepresentation is exactly what he indulges in. And today he has been at it again, twisting the available facts to fit the Telegraph’s narrative, that the “Islamophobia Industry” is getting above itself.”[My emphasis.]
In all of these articles the conclusions were long decided upon, even before writing and the supposed evidence was shoehorned into place, each according to the authors’ particular bias.
It is all the more annoying when these slanted pieces are used as good coin.
They should know better than use singular and questionable sources.
If the National Secular Society are truly interested in the welfare of Muslims and ethnic minorities in Britain then they should contact the groups monitoring prejudice against them, Tell MAMA.
Picking a single source, that has a clear bias against an antiracist organisation, was a sign of poor judgement by the National Secular Society. They should know better.
I would recommend that the National Secular Society and secularists read the [PDF] report: Anti-Muslim Hate Crime and the Far Right By Professor Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler and Dr Matthew Feldman.
“Furthermore, the flippant manner in which anti-Muslim prejudice is discarded, does a disservice to victims such as this woman, or this one. What is the worst element of all of these discussions, is that the victim’s voice is drowned out by figures, numbers and statistics. It would do the National Secular Society a world of good, if they simply took a few minutes out to listen to the stories of these Muslim women. For Amina, she is starting to put her life together against after 14 months of anguish. For Jamilah, the scars will never heal.”
That is Douglas Murray umming and ahing when asked about supporting the EDL. His inability to criticise the Far Right thugs in the EDL indicates something deeply troubling about his sentiments.
In that wider context, I was exceedingly disappointed to see this week that the Jewish Chronicle ran an article by this Hard Right commentator. I was even more disturbed to see that they allowed Murray to attack an anti-racist campaign, Tell MAMA. I am at a loss as to understand why such an editorial error took place and why the JC would publish such scurrilous nonsense.
Murray On The English Defence League
I had hoped that, whoever commissioned Murray, would know the questionable nature of his views, particularly concerning the English Defence League. It cannot have been beyond the JC to research Murray’s slippery outlook. In the above video, Murray is all over the place, rather than give a straight answer we hear “just don’t know…it is complex…benefit of the doubt… take enormous care…”. Douglas Murray is unable or unwilling to come out unequivocally against the neofascists in the EDL.
Murray could not answer, in any satisfactory way, the simple question “Should we support the EDL?”
I find that exceedingly troubling, as should anyone opposed to racism and neofascism. More importantly, the JC must answer the question, do they share Murray’s ambiguity towards the EDL? Or was this just an editorial oversight?
But, if the JC’s editorial staff are as ill-informed about the nature of the English Defence League as Murray clearly is, then this video of EDL supporters should help clear up the matter.
“The Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) group, led by Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, has issued its first annual report on anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Tell MAMA’s findings include the following:
• 632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported March 2012-March 2013
• Muslim women are the victims in 58% of all incidents
• Victims range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• 75% of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)
CST is proud to have helped Tell MAMA to establish and professionalise itself. BBC News carries a good summary of the report. This includes CST’s public support:
CST is glad that our work countering anti-Semitism has helped Tell Mama provide the Muslim community with a proper mechanism for reporting and understanding anti-Muslim hate crimes.
It has taken CST nearly 30 years of focus and professionalism to get to where we are today, so what Tell Mama has achieved in just one year is very impressive.
We wish Tell Mama every success for the future; and if our joint co-operation helps break down barriers between British Muslims and Jews, then all the better.”[My emphasis.]
I do hope that the JC editorial staff reflect on their mistake of allowing Douglas Murray to soil the Jewish Chronicle and do not repeat this grave error, ever. We should have learnt the lessons of the 1930s. The JC should be promoting antiracist campaigns, not using pundits with an axe to grind to attack them. The JC must understand the dire need of combating racism faced by all ethnic minorities.
Next time, I would hope that the JC would be wise enough to ask the CST about Tell MAMA, and not those on the political fringes of the Hard Right.
PS: I am getting some abusive and aggressive comments from Far Righters in the moderation queue. New readers should make an effort to read, digest and familiarise themselves with the comments policy on this blog.
“In recent weeks, a Muslim group called Tell Mama has come in for severe and unfair criticism. Modelled on CST, Tell Mama has been assisted by it in setting up to monitor anti-Muslim sentiment. The group was subjected to a ferocious and unfounded assault by the Sunday Telegraph who accused it of “scaremongering” and artificially inflating the level of hostility directed towards Muslims following Rigby’s murder.
Tell Mama is new and, though gauche in many respects, it is badly needed. It was established by Fiyaz Mughal, who led the “Muslims Against antisemitism” campaign. Unlike most Muslim groups, Tell Mama also records intra-Muslim sectarian attacks. More importantly, it replaces the Muslim Safety Forum, an extremist group dominated by Islamists who support Hamas.
It is undeserving of the insidious claims levelled against it. British Jews already know the outstanding contribution CST makes to their community and will recognise the growing need for Muslims to have a similar organisation. This is why CST has offered Tell Mama extensive support.”
“Finally, there is, of course, Douglas Murray, “Britain’s only neoconservative”, who has often failed to distinguish Islam from Islamism. In just one speech, for example, Murray referred to the “violence, intimidation and thuggery of Islam” and “the problem of Islam”. Like Steyn, Murray has also represented Muslims as a collective threat, referring ominously to the “demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities”. He concluded that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” – a phrase that could easily be interpreted as a call for the collective punishment of Muslims.”
“t’s a symptom of the febrile atmosphere around Islam, this ridiculous furore over a timeless spiritual occurrence across the Muslim world. But it obviously has a much more serious and troubling context. In late June a home-made bomb was found at a mosque in Walsall, from which 150 people were evacuated. Police are also investigating arson attacks a few weeks earlier on an Islamic centre in north London and a mosque in Grimsby, which was targeted with petrol bombs as worshippers prayed inside. Last Sunday a suspicious package was destroyed at a mosque in Liverpool, and a Muslim cemetery in Newport, south Wales was desecrated with swastikas. And last Wednesday saw the spraying of yet more Nazi symbols on a mosque in Redditch, Worcestershire.
These are just a few of more than a dozen recent racist attacks on mosques. And that’s before we get to the death threats, taunts and spitting; the forced hijab removing; and the depositing of pig heads outside Muslim homes. Such incidents are believed to be widely under-reported – although the monitoring group Tell Mama UK says there were 212 hate incidents in the week following Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich
And yet, rather than recognise how alarming and frightening this vicious spike in anti-Muslim attacks truly is, sections of the British media have been engaged in trying to underplay it. When Tell Mama UK reported this rise in attacks after Woolwich, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail both pushed out reports suggesting fakery.”
Update 13: Douglas Murray’s fans extend across the Atlantic, the ill named American Thinker comes to his aid in a rambling piece:
“Like so many other people, I found Mehdi Hasan’s arrogant and smug words repulsive. (Hasan is arrogant and smug most of the time. What do you expect from a public schoolboy?) But they didn’t repulse me half as much as his later claims that all his critics took his words ‘out of context’! Ah! That old Muslim chestnut — out of context. You know, as in all the negative and violent passages in the Koran always being cited ‘out of context’. That’s strange. Have you noticed that the positive Koranic passages (of which there are few) are always quoted in context? To be accurate, Muslims never mention the ‘necessary context’ required for any citation of the positive passages.”
My guess is that American Thinker has some, er, issues with Muslims in general and is probably soft on the EDL.
Update 14: Knock me down with a feather!
Pam Geller writes for the American Thinker and uses it to drum up support for the EDL.
“The war for freedom of speech in Australia and the U.K. was discussed by Debbie Robinson, President of Q Society in Australia; Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the English Defense League (EDL); and George Igler of the Discourse Institute in the U.K. It was astonishing to listen to both Robinson and Carroll share how their small town in England is one of many communities where Muslims have been moving in over the last twenty years; the Muslims have grown so large in numbers and influence that both the police and the Brits are intimidated, and many have left.
They made the argument that Americans should not fall for the idea that this can’t possibly happen in the U.S. with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and religion. This is what the British people also thought, Britain being the home of the Magna Carta. How wrong they were.
Mr. Carroll dramatically held up two British newspapers with headlines that are testimony to the degree of Muslim influence the English are living under today and the loss of their individual freedoms. They read: NO RIGHT TO WEAR A CROSS AT WORK and SPEAK UP FOR CHRISTIANTY PM TELLS ARCHBISHOP, both front-page stories in the U.K.’s Daily Express.
These brave gents refuse to leave their homes in spite of the fact that their country is now in the second stage of Islamic transformation.” [My emphasis.]
But it is hardly surprising that right-wing conservatives are found in the company of neofascists, or that they defend them. The pity is that the American Thinker deliberately omitted the criminal convictions and background of the EDL leaders.
In each case, agendas were hoisted up and waved around. The far simpler answer that these individuals were troubled or possibly psychotic didn’t even come into it.
But the Woolwich murder was just one chance these political opportunists could not resist exploiting. Their own detachment from humanity means that the usual suspects can’t see anything objectivity, except as a opportunity to misuse, gaining publicity for their own largely irrelevant and sordid ideas.
In many respects, the usual suspects in Britain are similar to the National Rifle Association.
Not that they like guns, but they too have no insight or introspection so they bring out the same answers, no matter the questions.
Wait until the next atrocity occurs and the usual suspects will do the same, trot out their agendas looking for nails. It is small wonder that, after decades, they are political failures buried in the ramshackled ideologies of the 20th century.
It is time for less hammers looking for nails and a greater grasp of human psychology, even the psychotic side.
Update 1: I am in good company. Jonathan Freedland puts a similar but considerably better argued point:
“Yet when the killer’s cause is the matter of western intervention in Muslim countries, it seems some left voices find their previous fastidiousness has deserted them. Cue a BBC interview with Ken Livingstone, who spoke so powerfully after the 7 July bombings in London. Now, he linked Woolwich to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Enter the Stop the War coalition, whose statement on Woolwich similarly made the connection with “western foreign policy in the Middle East and south Asia”, ending with the declaration that events had proved their position “absolutely right”.
Be in no doubt, Livingstone and the anti-war movement would be appalled if their arguments were played back to them in reverse. Imagine what they would say to the claim that Breivik’s terror vindicated the old rivers-of-blood warnings, predicting that decades of multiculturalism would end in disaster, and now it was time to change course. Consider their reaction if the right had seized on the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999, casting it as the inevitable result of a liberalisation of gay rights that was bound to radicalise a certain young male demographic and that therefore a policy shift was in order.
Of course they’d have rejected such logic utterly. But if it’s wrong for the right to seek vindication in acts of brutal violence, then it’s surely wrong for the left to do the same. Nor is it any good for the latter to say, “we’re not justifying, we’re simply explaining”: the right said the same about Breivik. Nor can they claim theirs is no more than a cold, analytical judgment, merely forecasting rather than endorsing the logical consequences of a current course of action. Their opponents could and did say the same about multiculturalism after Breivik. “
Update 3: Ken Livingstone has his say. Regrettably, he does not appreciate that some ex-politicians are better remaining silent or people might remember why he lost the voters’ confidence in the first place.
“What has happened is murder, plain and simple. Perhaps if we called it that it would be easier to solve and resolve, whereas if we call it terrorism we give the criminals a glamour and purpose they do not deserve.
Call them killers if they are proven to have killed, and deny them the right to cloak their brutality and lack of reason in a faith, a bad war or the innocents who have died as a result of things their victim had no control over.
I find it more terrifying that anyone thinks we should be scared of these people.
Killings like this don’t win any arguments or converts. If you feel you have to machete someone to death, you’ve already lost whatever point you were trying to make.
What scares me is that some people will exploit the actions of the criminally-deluded for their own ends.“
Update 6: Over a week on, Howard Jacobson nails the Culpability Browns of the world and where their thinking takes us:
“I say to listen, not necessarily to trust. In any circumstances it’s unwise to believe what people say about their motives. If Sophocles, Shakespeare and Freud didn’t teach us that, they didn’t teach us anything. And even to talk of “motives” is crude when it comes to the unseen and often unguessed-at impulses that drive us. But the reasons people give for why they act as they do at least paint a picture of what they think is inside their heads, if nowhere else, and that tells us something. It tells us who they’ve been listening to, for example, and what they’ve been reading. It sheds light on the culture of those we call terrorists – see how careful I’m being – if not their psychology. That it cannot be taken to reflect an impersonal or verifiable truth – any more than it is verifiably true that our rivals are monsters and our lovers paragons – needs no protesting.
Cometh the atrocity, cometh Culpability Brown. Does he wait like a spider suspended in the darkness, the opportunity to blame you and me again, reader, the reward for his infinitely banal persistence? Out into the light he crawls, anyway, in the immediate aftermath of every killing, to agree the crime is terrible, unspeakable, yes, but – ah, the callousness of that “but” – we had it coming.
In what other context, these days, do we allow people to tell us we have it coming? This one goes about with her handbag open, that one with his wallet protruding like a free gift from the back pocket of his jeans, complains the poor pickpocket. “I was provoked, your honour.” How the girls in their short summer dresses, flirty, drunken, free with their kisses, arouse the hapless rapist. “Aren’t they, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in every meaning of the phrase, asking for it?”
This is not an argument against precaution. Though no provocation justifies a rape, it’s still sensible, given who we know is out there, to be on our guard. A sad reflection on the times, though one that has no bearing on the heinousness of the crime of rape itself.”
“It’s that the people I retweet – the vast majority of which appear to be teenagers – genuinely don’t understand whether they’re being racist. It’s a generation that never had to grow up during the times of Jim Crow, civil rights marches or apartheid, and has never been confronted by the institutional racism that older generations saw on a daily basis. As a result, many teens seem to think racism simply means active hatred of another race, and not the apparent prejudices and stereotypes displayed by the people I retweet. “
Speaking of prejudice, the BBC’s has not helped itself over the years, when it comes to the Jewish community, according to a recent poll:
“36% – The proportion of Jews who believe BBC news coverage is “heavily” biased against Israel, according to the report
14% – The number who say that the corporation reporting is “balanced” “
The full report is here, Jews and the News: News consumption habits and opinions of Jews in Britain. Some 79% of those sampled replied they felt the BBC is biased against Israel. That is a lot, for one community to perceive the BBC’s way of reporting the news.
Update 1: A reminder of Richard Dawkins’ stupid words from 2007:
“”When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous, I am told – religious Jews anyway – than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”
Such views are common on the Far and Extreme Right. This essay explains the antecedents of such beliefs, What are “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”? I do wish that Professor Dawkins would educate himself on these issues and not assume he knows everything.
Update 2: Any Richard Dawkins’ supporters who can not see the possible racist connotations here should examine the evidence and come to some reasoned conclusion.
Finally, try and work out why neo-Nazis would proffer such views?
Update 3: Apparently, UKIP banned extremists from its ranks, good first start but did not seem to inform its lay officials, Stand for Peace explains:
“Evidence has emerged that a senior UKIP figure, the Chairman of UKIP Hillingdon, Cliff Dixon has links to the English Defence League (EDL), a far-Right group with a long history of attacking Muslims.
Dixon, formerly involved with the English Democrats party, boasted on his blog, in 2011, that he has ”joined my friends from March for England to tag along on the EDL Tower Hamlets demonstration.”
Colin Cortbus, a Stand for Peace fellow, notes: “If Mr Dixon thinks extremists should get off our streets, perhaps he should lead by example.”
Mr Dixon’s blog also records his attendance at a number of nationalist marches, mainly through the relatively small ‘March for England’ group. One event was co-organised by the British Patriots Society, which is described by anti-extremism campaign Hope not Hate as “a tiny splinter of the English Defence League”.
One photo shows Dixon posing with EDL leader Kevin Carol and other EDL and BNP figures.”
Q:Can any of my readers suggest why UKIPers might be found associating with the neofascists in the English Defence League? Continue reading →
“Whether culturism is a genuinely new strain of ideological thinking or a cynical euphemism for race remains unclear. However, Britain’s far right have long understood that openly racial language serves to alienate much of their core demographic. Hence, it is no surprise that an ideology that replaces racial preservation with cultural preservation may well be seen as an easier sell. Whether the language of culturism becomes more widely disseminated among Britain’s far right, or whether it proves to be an ideological cul-de-sac, is yet to be seen.
However, as the BFP scramble to jettison their far-right image in advance of their electoral endeavors, the language of culturism could perhaps prove useful in their pursuit of respectability and the ‘silent majority’. Further to this, the EDL’s leader, Tommy Robinson, yesterday resigned as deputy leader of the BFP. The motivation behind his surprise departure remains unclear, but it is possible that with several impending court cases Robinson is attempting to detoxify the BFP/EDL link and put distance between his criminal reputation and Kevin Carrolls attempt to become a Police and Crime Commissioner. Following his surprise departure from the BFP Robinson has indicated that he intends to develop the English Defence League as an independent political party, possibly targeting the 2014 European elections. Where this leaves the fledgling alliance between the BFP and the EDL remains unclear but the consensual belief that the BFP was now the political wing of the EDL is likely no longer the case. “
Slow blogging for me, but in the interim please do peruse HOPE not hate’s latest, Same old faces at anti-Islam demo. Not surprisingly, it was a day out for a sad mix of extremists and neo-Nazis, but let us not forget that is where anti-Muslim sentiment leads, to the extreme right.
“Jim Dowson’s Britain First had a rare public outing yesterday when they called for a demonstration outside of Parliament.
Despite Dowson now being the fundraiser for the rival “English Democrats”, he’s been all over the internet promoting Britain First as a patriotic, Christian alternative to both the EDL and the BNP.
One assumes Jim will not be happy this morning to hear that his group’s rare outing was hijacked by both the BNP and a host of other far-right extremists including members of the EDL and Eddie Stamton, a devout Hitler admirer and former C18 crank who burned the Saudi flag at the thirty strong demonstration. People also gave Nazi salutes for good measure.”
“Speakers, according to Geller’s blog, will include some of Islamophobia’s most influential and vicious voices. In addition to herself, Geller lists Robert Spencer, a colleague and self-taught “expert” on Islam who is greatly admired by Anders Breivik, the Oslo terrorist who in July 2011 slaughtered 77 people he thought were enabling Muslim immigration into Norway; Steven Lennon and Kev Carrol of the EDL; Anders Gravers of SIOE; and a host of European and Australian Islamophobes whose names are less well-known in America. Noteworthy among them is Richard Abrahamsson (also known as Richard Abrams), a leader in the Swedish Defence League (SDL) who, according to Islamophobia Watch, has blogged about a plan to “reclaim the Swastika,” writing, “If you want US to respect OTHER cultures, you must also respect OUR culture and its symbols.”
Abrams’ website is for the most part macabre and disturbing: among weird occultic images we find statements such as “I will be remembered as the one who beheaded presidents in righteous wrath”. He is also a musician, sometimes using the fuller name “Richard Isak Abrams”. According to a blurb for his band on LastFM:
Iblis Industries (or 1blis 1ndustries) is a Swedish project created in 2005 by Richard Abrams (also in Sitra Ahra and Hypothermia.)
The music released so far consists of a variey of elements such as; Neoclassical, Downtempo, Black metal, Industrial and Noisestep.
The themes of Iblis Industries is mainly cultivated in a search for the divine embers.
Of course, a provocative interest in the grotesque and and the dark is par for the course with this kind of music, and it is unclear how far one can extrapolate from stage persona to political identification. However, for an organisation seeking wider credibility, the impression given by Abrams’ site is unattractive. And given the links between the self-described “Counter-Jihad Movement” and elements of the Christian Right, such an association is likely to be awkward.
” [My emphasis]
Having looked at Richard Abrams’ site I can confirm that he has serious hangups with the swastika.
Update 4: This is a bunch of EDL members and supporters who were very keen on the swastika so much so they had it tattooed on their chests, watch them giving the Nazi salute:
The majority of Muslims being physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith are women, according to interim results from the UK’s first ever ‘official’ anti-Muslim violence helpline.
Victims have included children as well as pensioners in their 80s. Even Baroness Warsi, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and socialite and journalist Jemima Khan, have been subject to online threats picked up and reported to the police by the TELL MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) campaign.
TELL MAMA, which was set up with Government backing at the end of February by interfaith organisation Faith Matters, has chronicled over 140 cases to date and led to the arrests and charging of three far-right English Defence League (EDL) sympathisers, with more cases and arrests likely in the coming months. Approximately 75% of the cases involve female victims, with far-right British National Party (BNP) or EDL sympathisers linked to one-third (33%) of all incidents.
The helpline records a disturbing picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbours and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives.
I had hoped to do many more individual posts, particularly on the issue of a minutes silence at the 2012 Olympic games in memory of the athletes that were murdered in Munich 1972, but instead I present another round-up of news and events.
“They sought to resurrect a lost and ancient tradition, at the centre of which was the high ideal known as the Olympic truce.
The official Olympic website traces this back to Greece in the 9th century BCE, when three rival kings agreed to halt hostilities while the Games were under way: “During the Truce period, the athletes… could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries.”
Today’s International Olympic Committee still proclaims that goal, insisting that it is committed to “protecting” all athletes as well as “searching for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world”.
Forty years ago, the Olympic truce was violated in direct and brutal fashion. At the Munich Games of 1972, 11 athletes discovered they could not, after all, travel in “total safety” and that they would not, after all, be protected.
For Jews again to be killed on German soil was almost too much to bear.
The 11 were members of the team representing Israel. In their quarters in the Olympic village, they were seized by eight Palestinian gunmen disguised as athletes, taken as hostages, and finally killed in a botched rescue effort at a nearby airport. “
Personally, I would have preferred if Freedland had written it for the Guardian directly, but Jennifer Lipman does that and you can imagine what the comments boxes are full of? Disdain and barely concealed contempt for Jews and Israelis.
“Hama Echo pointed me in a direction of a couple of picture of Manaf Tlass which may indicate that this defection is more about saving his own skin than any ideological differences with the Assad regime. In August 2011 the French anti-fascist website Reflex posted an article about members of the far right in France, including Frédéric Chatillon, founding a new website, InfoSyrie, to correct what they stated was the gross misrepresentation of facts by the Western media in the pay of the US and Israel.
The article goes on to describe links between the far right in France and the Alawite and Assad regime members in Syria, and describes a visit arranged by Chatillon for his associates, that include Thierry Meyssan, chairman of the Voltaire Network; Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a anti-Semitic political activist; essayist Alain Soral; Ahmed Moualek, president of La Banlieue S’exprime (LBS); and Marc George to Lebanon, via a 5 day stop over in Syria.
This stop over in Syria is reportedly largely financed by the Tlass family, including hotels, sightseeing and drivers for their far right friends, including this meeting with Manaf Tlass (and other family members) pictured second from the left. “
There’s another antisemitic attack in France (and I don’t expect BBC News or the Guardian to cover it in any significant way) but events in France are extremely worrying:
“A French Jewish teenager, who attends the Toulouse school where Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah shot dead three children in March, has suffered a violent anti-Semitic attack on a train, French media reports said on Thursday.
The attack on Wednesday took place on a train travelling between Toulouse, which is in the south-west, and the city of Lyon in the south-east, Le Figaro newspaper reported, quoting an interior ministry statement.
“A teenager aged 17 wearing a distinctive religious symbol, who attends Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, was taken to task and insulted by two individuals,” the ministry was quoted as saying.
He was then attacked near the toilets “by the same two individuals, who beat him up,” the statement said, adding that the attack ended when a fellow passenger and train conductors intervened. “
“A group of pastors in Alabama says that they are not racist even though only “white Christians” were invited to their three-day conference, which will include a cross burning and be attended by Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members.
Residents in Guin, Alabama became outraged earlier this week after they noticed flyers posted around the town that read, “Annual Pastors Conference All White Christians Invited.” The groups Christian Identity Ministries and the Church of God’s Chosen told WIAT that they just didn’t have the “facilities” to accommodate non-whites.
“We’re seldom ever have been invited to black Muslim events and we never have been invited to NAACP events and we never have been invited to join Jewish synagogues events and stuff,” Christian Identity Ministries Pastor William J. Collier explained.
“It has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of racism or hate or anything like that,” he added. “And anybody who would brand it as that would be a racist and a hater themselves, you know.” “
Finally, if you didn’t know about Higgs Boson then this might help:
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when another religious leader comes out with hate speech against Gays, but it is really part of an old 17th century mentality.
I wonder if Pastor Charles L. Worley dreams of burning witches too? The Long Island Press has more:
“A North Carolina pastor outraged by President Obama’s recent support for same-sex marriage stirred up controversy with an sermon on May 13 in which he suggested gays and lesbians be penned in and made to die off.
“The bible’s against it, God’s against it, I’m against it, and if you’ve got any sense you’re against it,” the pastor, who is identified in the video caption as Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church, told his congregation.
He then enlightened his listeners on how he would opt to get rid of gays and lesbians.
“Build a great, big, large fence, 150 or 100 mile long, put all the lesbians in there,” he said. “Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die.”
“They can’t reproduce,” he said. Of course, straight couples have gay and lesbian children all the time, so the pastor’s idea wouldn’t really kill off all the gays and lesbians, if he somehow managed to build such a concentration camp.
The pastor added that he won’t be voting for Obama, and described him as “a baby killer and a homosexual lover.” “