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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

When Left is Right and right is wrong [from Varsity]

- By Rob Mindell, 15th June, 2010 -

"The English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism are two sides of the same wicked coin. But bizarrely, the latter are fast acquiring all the ugly traits of the former

You may have noticed, on building and on car, the sudden, sporadic appearance of English flags. You may also have noticed the presence of the Football World Cup. I needn’t tell you that these two phenomena are linked.

But I get the feeling that sales of England merchandise will be significantly lower this year; I get the feeling that, like me, many more people will consciously sense the glare of onlookers as they purchase their flag; I get the feeling that the underlying bigotry so falsely associated with nationalism has now become malignant. The simple reason for this is that the BNP and the English Defence League have tainted what it means to support one’s country.

Indeed, chanting ‘England ‘til I die’ has acquired such strong association with the marching mobs of the EDL that I would hardly be surprised if England supporters in South Africa, wary of being labelled triumphalist, nationalist, or worse, adopt the chant: ‘England ‘til it offends someone’. Should we be ashamed of having English pride? No, certainly not when football is concerned. But there is a stigma, and the stigma is beginning to stick.


The political far-left are quite happy with this settlement. During the past year we have seen demonstrations and counter-demonstrations of the EDL and Unite Against Fascism all across the country. I have little sympathy for either, but perhaps even less for Unite Against Fascism who have begun preaching fascistic values themselves.

By way of illustration, let’s imagine there are two groups demonstrating: one supposedly from the far-right, the other supposedly from the far-left. One group marches waving rainbow flags, the flags of different nationalities, attempting to make a conscious effort to highlight their own ethnic diversity. The other seeks to silence their right to free speech, to ban public demonstrations by their opponent group, and to bring about violent counter-protests causing a ‘breach of the peace’. You must now guess: which is Right, and which is Left?

Before you fall into my poorly laid trap, and before I am accused of being a ‘fascist’ – a label idly thrown around in general election leaflets by the student left – I would like to point out that there is little desirable about the English Defence League. Their methods are intimidating, they reach far beyond their stated ideology, and their racism is self-evident. Yet however wrong they may be, two wrongs – to use the appropriate cliché – do not make a right. Unite Against Fascism, in their methods, are in danger of fitting the fascist stereotype themselves. Their virulent dedication to silencing the bigots on the right is a foolish one. Their egg pelting of BNP leader Nick Griffin in the wake of his election to the European Parliament risked alienating that section of the electorate most misguided by, but also most sympathetic to, the BNP message, and undermining their own belief in open democracy.

Moreover, one must question what it is the UAF protestors are against. Their opposition is based upon the EDL’s dislike of extremist Islamism which EDL supporters view as a threat to national security. Alas, the majority of the EDL are unable to distinguish between Islam and militant Islamism and consequently often comment upon the entire religion with the sort of vitriol more readily aimed at the violent internal minority. So, by mutual misunderstanding, the UAF’s opposition to the English Defence League ideology becomes a support for extremist Islamism – a philosophy contrary to the beliefs of a free and liberal democracy.

Thus, without knowing it, the imposition of theocracy, of the totalitarian state, the suppression of free speech, in fact any type of freedom one can think of, have become common to their cause. Are these now the new set of western left-wing values? Perhaps not, but the UAF had better be careful."

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