Tuesday 28 May 2013

In Defence of the Indefensible?

The website of the English Defence League is an ugly sight. The graphics are decidedly Nazi-like, with the red cross of St. George looking disturbingly like the Iron-cross. 
For an outfit that claims to be fighting religiously-inspired intolerance, including but not limited to: the denigration and oppression of women, the molestation of young children, the committing of so-called honour killings, homophobia, anti-Semitism” you’d probably  think they’d make an effort to sanitise their symbols and liberate their logo.

Unsurprisingly, from their inception, the EDL have been written off as racists, and a mere mention of them and their leader Tommy Robinson still causes most of us to recoil in horror. The image is, like it or not, synonymous with racism. But is it just an image? 

Bandying about certain idioms and phrases over and over again becomes reflexive. It disposes of all the bother of reconsidering the meaning or relevance. Racist? Hooligan? Where is the evidence?

On yesterday’s channel 4 news, Sarah Smith announced with palpable glee that the charity Help For Heroes has refused to accept at least £3,000 raised by Tommy Robinson, although it has been said, somewhat unconvincingly, that this is because the EDL is technically classified as a political organisation, from which, on principle, it is HfH’s policy to refuse donations.

Just as the media promotes celebrities and turns fashionable causes into cults, the predominantly left-wing media seems to collaborate in collective vilification of whatever it dislikes. Its mighty influence is likely to be wielded destructively and irresponsibly, in the manner of babes and infants waving around a powerful weapon they’ve been handed by mistake.

As Islam is slowly transforming itself in the eyes of the general public from the religion of peace to the religion of beheading, the EDL is trying to erase its bad-boy image and re-establish a fresh one, of non-violent activism motivated by old-fashioned national pride, as opposed to the racist antisemitic image inextricably associated with the National Front and the BNP.  “New EDL”, one might want to rename it.
They see themselves as  the only organised body actively doing what politicians should be, but are not doing, namely trying to reverse the transformation of Britain from its former tolerant, freedom-loving civilised self into a terrorised, ghettoised, fearful, uncivilized carbon copy of what Tommy R calls a third world shithole. 

The youtube interview with Tommy Robinson is repetitive and over-long, but his sincerity is fairly convincing. I wonder if anyone can demolish Tommy Robinson’s argument with reasoned counter-arguments? His shortcomings are mainly confined to his vocabulary, and it’s hard to fault his logic. 

His references to the state of our prisons was prescient, considering today’s news  about what happened on Sunday. (Note the missing information in the BBC report.) I happen to know a former prison chaplain (Christian) who was hounded out of his job by physical and psychological bullying, which came from Muslim clerics, Imams and inmates.

Of course, there is the fundamental disagreement between those who insist it’s only extremists that are bad for Britain, a view championed by the BBC and the government, and those who believe Islam is wholly incompatible with British Judeo Christian values.   
Even the most moderate Muslims are inclined to “believe that the British government should not support Israel, should not oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions, and should not ban foreign hate preachers or "some groups" From a below the line comment on Harry’s Place in respect of: “fully integrated Muslims[....]  "pillar of society, respected businessman, and member of the Conservative Party,"

["He is] the very model of a modern Muslim moderate" - before we all break out into the Pirates of Penzance - [....] "Until you look below the surface.” 

Various polls state that a majority of muslims, including moderate Muslims, favour Sharia. We know that most Muslims oppose “our foreign policy”, which itself is a typical example of a mantra rendered meaningless by repetition, but bandied about willy-nilly, unchallenged, both by Muslims and people who spend their time “understanding” Muslims. 

What does it mean?  “Westerners, get out of Muslim Lands” perhaps? But, since Muslims must be permitted to languish where and when they please throughout the entire Western world, that concept hardly seems justifiable; not to mention the statistically unequal number of casualties caused by Western armies ‘killing Muslims” in comparison to the numbers killed in the ever-present cataclysmic Muslim-on-Muslim aggression and barbarity that is and always has been enacted wherever there are Muslims. After all, who is it that always uses the 'disproportionate' argument whenever Israel is involved? Not I.

Remember Jeremy Paxman’s car-crash interview with ‘Tommy Robinson’ following Anders Breivik’s horrific killing spree? At the time the left-wing media was so relieved to find that Breivik was from ‘the far right’ rather than the Jihadi community that they basked in the warm glow of collective schadenfreude for months. Every conceivable avenue was scoured for morsels of evidence linking ‘right-wing’ writers and bloggers with terrorism, and digging up new ways of connecting them with incitement. 

The EDL was dragged through as many hoops as the media could manufacture. Paxman assumed ‘Tommy Robinson’ was a brainless thug, some yobbo football hooligan, a pushover who could be verbally demolished with the trademark Paxo insouciance. The Newsnight researchers also thought they needn’t trouble themselves with bothersome fact-checking because the conclusion was forgone even before Paxman took the trouble to work up a sneer. Woe betide complacent television legends who rely on tittle-tattle, innuendo and sloppy research. Try as he might, Paxman failed to demolish Tommy R; on the contrary, it was the TV legend, not the hooligan, that was satisfyingly trounced.

 Now the EDL are galvanizing their followers, while doing their best to harness them and point them away from hooliganism and loutish behaviour. They’re demonstrating with their physical presence, en masse, the only way they know how. In view of the apathy with which we are “sleepwalking” towards seismic societal change by stealth, we should condemn the only group that seems willing to visibly put their heads above the parapet and do something about it with considerable caution.


  1. Great post, Sue.

    The way certain people (including many a BBC reporter and presenter) portray them as being as bad as the Islamist bombers and decapitators - and whose who condone their murderous actions and intentions - reveals a real moral blind spot on their part, I think.

    The EDL may go about things in the wrong way and they certainly do behave thuggishly at times and, yes, and some of their members do seem to hold views more often associated with the vile BNP, but it really is very hard - as you say - to disagree with most of what 'Tommy Robinson' had to say in that video, or to doubt his sincerity. He sounded like a real person, rather than the type of person who comments for a living on the BBC.

    I see the Channel 4 vid doesn't allow comments. Is that normal on Channel 4 videos? Or is it like the comments fields at the 'Telegraph'?

    1. Thanks for the comment Craig. It’s so nice to get a comment.

      I don’t know about the Channel 4 vid comments policy. I just got the link in from a b.t.l. comment @B-BBC. (Don’t blame me I only laid the table said the waiter. )

      The thing I will say about the lack of comments is that I miss the cut’n’thrust of debate. We took responses for granted over at B-BBC, and y’donno what you’ve gat till it’s gan.

      There are some brilliant blogs out there with nil reaction, yet the authors keep motivated.

      It’s easy to forget that other people read this blog. They definitely do. I don’t know who I’m talking to now, apart from you Craig. (I’ve noticed that Craig often addresses a mysterious “you”, so he might have someone in mind.) I don’t have anyone in mind.
      The sort of person I’d like to address is willing to give due consideration to arguments they disagree with. Is that a big ask?

  2. Hi Deborah here - I do visit here from time to time and miss you both on bBBC - but that site does give me the opportunity with the 'Open Thread' to comment on any bias I see.

    1. Yes, I see your point. An Open Thread wouldn’t work here. ;-)
      Craig and I got out of synch with the zeitgeist over at B-BBC.

      Never mind, Alan has tackled this, and every other topic under the sun, as only he knows how, i.e. by including everything but the kitchen sink.

      The clip with Dr. Matthew Goodwin and Sarah Montague, which I’d almost forgotten till I clicked on Alan’s link, was a pretty good example of where the BBC goes wrong.

      I must just mention that although Sara Montague does indeed use the word ‘pollute’, Alan’s quote excluded “and effectively on both sides” which misrepresents what she said.

      I do think it’s valid to contrast the BBC’s contemptuous treatment of Tommy R. with the fawning obsequiousness with which it treats the likes of Tariq Ramadan and Asghar Bukhari.


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