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Student newspapers: no place for fascists

Last week the Leeds Student – an official paper of Leeds University Union – defied their union’s ‘no platform for fascists’ policy and published an interview with Nick Griffin, both in their print addition and online. The interview since also been published by Cardiff University’s SU paper.

In response to this appalling decision students from Leeds and across the country are uniting behind a campaign demanding that the paper revoke their decision and take the article down.

In the interview, Nick Griffin defends his links with the Ku Klux Klan. He alleges that civil partnerships will mean that “children will die over the next few years” because it undermines the institutional of heterosexual marriages. He also attempts to justify the BNP’s policy of “an all-white Britain” – a policy that can only be achieved through the ending of democracy and violently removing millions of Black people from Britain.

In justifying publication, the Leeds Student stated that the “paper is proud that we live in a democratic society, and that we can openly challenge and debate all manner of opinion and ideas.”

The BNP stands for the elimination of the democracy and all freedoms that the Leeds Student claims to support. We should always remember that the millions of people who died at the hands of the Nazis’ slaughter – in the gas chambers and the concentration camps – did not die because their debating skills or arguments were not powerful enough.

They died because once fascism had abused the democratic system to get its grip on power it soon closed down any freedoms to prevent any resistance. That is why we must never give a platform to fascists anywhere in the student movement.

And if there were any doubts that giving fascists a platform strengthens them rather than weakens them – gives them legitimacy rather than exposes them – Nick Griffin’s appearance of BBC Question Time in 2009 should dispel them all.

As a result of that appearance, the BNP received 3,000 membership requests – a 30% increase in their membership. Their website crashed from the enormous number of hits received during the programme.

In Britain the tide of racism is rising and fascists are continuing to threaten our diverse society. Mosques are being firebombed, the fascist EDL are marching in towns and cities and racist attacks are rising.

On our campuses we are also witnessing an alarming increase in racist and fascist activity: Nazi drinking games have been played by an Student Union Society at LSE, on a number of campuses Student Union representatives have been ‘Blacking up’ in union bars, and white supremacist literature has appeared on a campus in East London.

If the increase in fascist activity on our campuses is allowed to continue the result will be to strengthen and embolden fascists organisation whose goal is to seize power in order to violently attack Jewish, Muslim, Black, LGBT, women, disabled and other communities.

Allowing fascists a platform at Leeds University is particularly dangerous, given that it is one of the most diverse and multicultural campuses in the country.

This year some of those who murdered Black student Stephen Lawrence in a racist attack were finally brought to some justice. Stephen lived in Eltham and was murdered near the BNP headquarters in the local area.

Every year, at our national and liberation conferences, the National Union of Students reaffirms its commitment to fighting against fascism and racism on our campuses and in our society. We continue to stand by our firm belief that fascists have no place at any level of the student movement – from the NUS national executive to societies on campuses.

The student movement must continue to unite against fascism, in light of fascist organisations such as the BNP attempting to get a foothold on our campuses. Our strategy in the face of this danger is to politically isolate fascism through building the broadest possible alliance of all those threatened by it and opposed to it.

With European Parliamentary elections taking place in 18 months time, the student movement needs to align itself with all progressive forces in a massive, united campaign to boot fascists Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons out of their MEP seats in 2014.

Let’s start this campaign now by saying loud and clear: Nick Griffin is not welcome on our campuses, nor in our newspapers!

Aaron Kiely is black students’ officer of the NUS. You can add your name to the open letter demanding the paper takes down its interview with the BNP leader by emailing aaron.kiely@nus.org.uk

One Comment

  1. Gary Elsby says:

    Very good, but….

    As many will have already seen, on the BBC4 documentary into local Government (Stoke-on-Trent) 1/11/2012 9:00pm and each Thursday for the next few weeks..

    We see BNP Councillors standing up in Council defending care homes, parks, libraries etc from closure and we also see Labour Councillors voting en masse to close them.

    How are we to see who is closing what unless all politicians of any party are given the full oxygen of publicity?
    Who are you to judge whom or what I can see to form my considered opinions?
    What makes you so special?

    Why not look to the model of stoke-on-Trent that was heavily BNP bound and which also saw the local population near to arms against the Labour Party?
    How did Labour manage to wipe the BNP completely off the face of the earth?
    Have a look how it was done on tonight’s show.

    And then ask yourself why a nearv 500n members of the Labour Party have now walked out and the ‘opposition’ to the labour Council (10/11) was made up of expelled Labour leaders, deputies, mayors and chief whips (whom broke the whip).

    Take a bow organisational sub committee.

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