Rebranding British Neofascism And The EDL

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.
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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.

Alex Andreou’s Don’t be fooled by Tommy Robinson’s political sleight-of-hand is superb:

“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.”

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The One Law for All Campaign Does Not Even Understand The Question

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

You might also be interested in the young rapist who escaped punishment here in Britain because he believed women “to be no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground”. He claimed he was taught this by Islam. Note please, he said this. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2268395/Adil-Rashid-Paedophile-claimed-Muslim-upbringing-meant-didnt-know-illegal-sex-girl-13.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?

As for paranoia which someone has thrown at me recently because of my website. 85 sharia tribunals and counting? Paranoia? Imams caught on camera marrying little girls. Paranoia? You might want to check out Undercover Mosque http://vimeo.com/19598947 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xr1al0_undercover-mosque-the-return_webcam Or are the cameras racist too?

Now I know you are inevitably going to call me a racist for all this, do your best. I really am past caring.

You can continue to focus on who follows who on twitter, and I will continue to focus on little girls and women being raped and mutilated. You have your priorities, I have mine.

[Editor’s note: I apologise to reader for the linkage to the appalling Daily Mail, etc but I wanted to give Ms. Waters the opportunity to fully air her views.]

Lack of Commonsense At One Law for All Campaign

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.
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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.”

That seems to be the problem with the One Law for All campaign, or least their spokesperson Anne Marie Waters.

Despite being reassured by their leader that they will reply early next week I have yet to see even the slightest mea culpa.

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?
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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.

Norman Tebbit, Making Excuses for The EDL

Norman Tebbit’s claim to fame is a stupid comment concerning a bicycle. That was over 30 years ago and time has not improved Tebbit’s judgement.

Whilst most professional political commentators and academics would fairly and squarely place the English Defence League in the Far Right slot, Tebbit disagrees.

Normally, I would not even trouble to argue with a Tory, a waste of time.

Still, Tebbit might want to view this clip and explain away the convergence of neo-Nazis and the English Defence League.

Tell MAMA puts a solid case, Are the EDL a Far Right Group asks Lord Tebbit – on Many Occasions.

Update 1: EDL Review is a very useful resource. It is a site which exposes the thugs and criminals in the English Defence League.

Douglas Murray, The English Defence League And The Jewish Chronicle

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.

We should not forget the violent criminality connected to English Defence League members and supporters. Or their recent threats to Andrew Neil.

The CST and Tell MAMA

This is the Community Security Trust commenting on Tell MAMA‘s first annual report:

“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.]

Murray’s Corrosive Views

Marko Attila Hoare provides a fair summary of Murray’s dubious political connections and attitudes. Murray was deemed even too toxic and Right Wing for the Conservative Party, Paul Goodman: Why the Conservative frontbench broke off relations with Douglas Murray – and what happened afterwards.

Lessons Of The Past

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.

Update 1: Jessica Elgot reminds us, Women Targeted In Anti-Muslim Attacks, More Than Half By Far Right Groups.

Update 2: Last year Matthew Goodwin pointed out, Far Right Violence: More Needs to be Done.

Update 3: Shiraz Maher puts many fine arguments:

“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.”

Update 4: In 2009 James Brandon provided background to Murray’s mindset:

“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.”

Update 5: Matthew Feldman hit the nail on the head, Centre-right columnists are legitimising the EDL.

Update 6: This is helpful in understanding the data, FAQ’s to the Teesside University Report Launch on TELL MAMA Data.

Update 7: This 1997 PDF summary from the Runnymede Trust is useful, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. See the closed and open views of Islam, which is exceedingly relevant in this instance.

Update 8: This scholarly report is a fine antidote to the Hard Right’s dismissal of anti-Muslim racism, Anti-Muslim Hate Crime & the Far Right by Prof. Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler & Dr Matthew Feldman.

Update 9: A handy Google map detailing recent attacks on mosques.

Update 10: This week, BBC Question Time has chosen Murray as one of their panelists. Expect the usual torrent from him.

Update 11: Rachel Shabi makes many strong arguments:

“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 12: Mehdi Hasan takes on a petty Spectator contributor: Douglas Murray, the EDL, Dodgy Videos and Me.

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.

Elsewhere, that dreary rag does a PR exercise for the English Defence League:

“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.

Hope not hate reminds us The BNP past of the EDL leader.