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Britain First: cynical Islamophobia on the telly

Britain FirstA documentary about Britain’s First virtual fascist group, Britain First? Why ever not. With UKIP commanding four million votes at the general election, the press stuffed with xenophobic bullshit as per, and the woman who would lead the Tories pitching herself as Nigel Farage’s successor, a little package shedding light on a tiny and utterly marginal fascist group isn’t likely to create much harm.

My bad. Of course, Britain First aren’t a fascist group. Nor are they racist. As deputy fuhrer Jayda Fransen put it in We Want Our Country Back, the final programme in BBC Three’s ‘Race’ season, BF welcome all British people regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and religion. So BF are fine with Sikhs and Hindus, for example, because they “properly integrate“. Muslims, however, are different. They “refuse to integrate“.

If that was the case, she muses, “there would be no predominantly Muslim areas.” With such a penetrating insight, I wonder what she would make of other migrant groups, such as Afro-Caribbeans, the Jews, the Irish, East Europeans, and the English abroad who so or have congregated in the same residential districts. It’s also pure coincidence that the target of their hate are overwhelmingly non-white as well.

And so the justification of Britain First‘s organisation is based on a stupidity so incomprehensible that it can only make sense if it was a cynical lie. And that’s the striking thing about the documentary. Much of what Fransen and her boss, former Nick Griffin lickspittle and BNP’er presser Paul Golding have to say is of the same piece. Are the pair of them as gormless and vacuous as they portray themselves, or does a cynicism suffuse their politics deeper than even the most soulless Westminster operators?

This documentary had a few exhibits. Driving around Luton picking fights with young Muslim guys for footage. Putting out leaflets making the – demonstrably false – claim that halal products are subject to zakat donations to jihadis. And, of course, over-inflating numbers on demonstrations. The crosses, the professed Christianity, the pretensions of non-violence, none of it rang true. These weren’t the actions of zealots blinded by a set of twisted ideas, but people using these ideas, preying on the committed and the befuddled, and basically poncing a living off their “movement“. Britain First is never likely to get anywhere, but for Fransen and Golding it beats working for a living. And they get to parade around like Z listers for those attracted to such things.

That doesn’t mean BF should be ignored. Their mobilisations – such as their upcoming demo in Burton-upon-Trent on the 17th of this month – should be faced down. Their pop up paper stalls challenged. Their Facebook idiocies attacked. It gives them attention, which ultimately the frightful führers need to keep the cash till a-chinging, but better that than complacency.


  1. David Pavett says:

    Their mobilisations – such as their upcoming demo in Burton-upon-Trent on the 17th of this month – should be faced down. Their pop up paper stalls challenged. Their Facebook idiocies attacked. It gives them attention, which ultimately the frightful führers need to keep the cash till a-chinging, but better that than complacency.

    Does this not need some argument and explanation?

    What is entailed in “facing down” demos or “challenging” paper stalls? What about distributing well-argued leaflets to refute their distortions, half-truths and lies in the vicinity of their demos and stalls? Would that be facing down or challenging enough? Or is what is meant physically preventing them from carrying out their activities? I think it is important to be clear.

  2. I am puzzled to see that leftists write so much about islamophobia but virtually nothing about Islam. One would expect people with a favourable opinion of islam to explain its virtues to the ignorant masses instead of merely disparaging its critics.

    1. David Pavett says:

      What makes you think that people on the left have a favourable view of Islam?

      Most (not all) leftwingers in my experience are non-believers and are not favourable to any religion. But they are also against unfair discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity. The point here is that being against anti-Semitism does not make one pro-Judaism, being against Islamophobia does not make one pro-Islam.

      Speaking for myself, but I guess that I am not untypical, I am a non-believer who thinks that all religions throw up barriers to clear thinking. They all require their adherents to embrace miraculous nonsense and the major religions at least all have a great deal that is unsavoury in their past and in their sacred texts – the great majority of believers know little of either. If they knew more most would experience a weakened attachment to their religion. I welcome the general decline of religious adherence in countries such as the UK.

      I particularly object to the use of religion as a form of community control. However, a critique of religion is one thing (and an important thing in my view) and hostility to groups based on their religion is quite another. Islamophobia is no more based on a critique of Islam than anti-Semitism is based on a critique of Judaism.

      Even though I welcome the decline of religion, I believe that hostility to people based on their religion or ethnicity (e.g. anti-Semitism and Islamophobia) is a great social evil and it is right and proper that people on the political left should combat such hostility.

      1. You say you are against “unfair” discrimination. So am I. But in order to determine whether aversion to Islam is unfair or not, you must know something about Islam. From the formal equality of religions before the law you cannot logically conclude that a particular religion is just as good (or as bad) as every other religion. Accordingly there is no way to resolve the issue except by examining the nature and history of Islam. Until you do that, you cannot say for sure whether discrimination against it is unfair or not.
        My conversations with leftists and believing Moslems have left me in no doubt that both groups of people are as a rule extremely ignorant about core aspects of Islam. I have no reason to suppose that you are an exception to this rule. Accordingly your opinion on Islam carries little weight.

  3. gerry says:

    I saw that doc, and Britain First is a laughable organisation, stunt-driven and silly….but it is not “islamophobic” to point out that political Islam ( and some Muslims say that Islam sees no division between religion and state) is a real, clear and present danger and threat to everything most of us on the Left or centre left hold dear: women’s equality, freedom of speech and expression, secular human rights values, gay/lesbian equality, the list is endless. Instead of Britain First and other hard right organisations, it should be the Left who is confronting political Islam, but the truth is that many – like Galloway, Corbyn, Stop the War, Unite Against Fascism, the NUS etc – are happily in open alliance with political Islamists of varying extremisms. It all will end in tears for the Left – just as it did in Iran in 1979.

  4. Bazza says:

    I agree with DP.
    But G, “are happily in open alliance with political Islamists of varying extremisms” evidence please.

    1. gerry says:

      Barry – I am viruently anti EU but would never share a platform with or formally ally with Golden Dawn or Jobbik or Britain First who are also very anti EU. Yet Galloway, Corbyn, Stop the War, UAF, NUS regularly share platforms with Islamic extremists both domestic and foreign – FOSIS the federation of student Islamic societies, even condemned as extremists by Nick Clegg!, are part of the NUS and are campaigning against Prevent together; Stop the War is formally supported by extremist groups MEND, Muslim Association of Britain, Islamic Forum of Europe and many other hardcore Islamist entities. UAF is allied with most of the same groups. Galloway and Corbyn share platforms with Hamas, Raed Salah, Abou Jahjah, ( Google them) , Middle East Monitoring Organisation, Islamic Human Rights Commission (!), all of whom have track records of vicious anti Semitism, extremism and open Islamism. And Galloway and Corbyn both have worked for Iranian media outlets or pro Putin Russian TV stations.

      None of this should be news to you – everything written here is a matter of public record. “Left” individuals and groups should not ally themselves with Islamists of any kind – that would be a morally consistent position. If they do ally with Islamists they are as bad as Blair and Bush and Putin, who are allied to twisted Islamic governments in Saudi, Qatar, Turkey or Iran!

      1. Bazza says:

        I am pro-EC because I am more ambitious for the Left in Europe – working together with brothers and sisters in the EC to kick Neo-Liberalism out and replacing it with a more democratic socialist Europe – then World!
        From a white working class background (brought up in a multi-ethnic area) I tend to be wary of who I work with- I am always wary too of the middle class (usually liberals) and Orwell made a good point many years ago about how often some of the ‘Left’ seem more interested in being ‘in with their crowd’ and being accepted by their peers.
        I speak what I believe and would only share a platform with democratic socialists but recognise that at times if you want peace you have to be in the same room as people whose ideas you fundamentally disagree with – so context is important.
        The problem when dealing with Islam is that the media and particularly the Right Wing seems to have an homogenous view of Muslims – they are all the same when of course there are Progressives, Moderates and Reactionaries (a tiny minority).
        I work with all BME groups and religious people and the non-religious and even Christians though some may say they represent Political Christianity.
        I am not religious but respect the choice of others but we only find out the truth (or don’t) when we all individually kick the bucket so we should focus on building a more egalitarian World, and with all those who identify as being on our side.
        Take Israel/Palestine as an example – Hamas in my view are Right Wing Reactionaries (who craftily got in with the poor) and Palestinians should kick them, out as Israeli’s should kick their Right Wing Government out!
        I support democratic socialist forces on both sides in their efforts to work out a way to share the land together.
        I guess socialism is my religion but perhaps as it was always meant to be; grassroots, bottom up, peaceful, democratic and drawing from evidence and life experience, plus driven by critical thinking.
        Peace, love and international solidarity!

  5. David Ellis says:

    I see Brtain First have a flyer of a blond female Russian pilot congratulating her on bombing ISIS and lauding her as a hero. She is of course a Brazilian model but like our neo-Stalinist chums they don’t let the truth get in the way of a good lie.

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