English Defense League holds anti-Islamization march and rally in Luton

(Update, Feb 8: this entry has opened up sharp disagreements over the EDL, with some commenters arguing that the EDL’s adoption of liberal rhetoric is a necessity if it is to survive and be effective, and others saying that it makes the EDL nothing more than liberals with a working class accent.)

There was a big EDL demonstration in Luton, England over the weekend, and Gates of Vienna has lots on it. The top EDL figures are dynamic, appealing speakers, standing up forcefully and eloquently against the Islamic takeover of their country. Here is Kevin Carroll. Here is Tommy Robinson. Also speaking was Elisabeth Sabaditch-Wolff, the Austrian activist who is on trial for hate speech. Wolff speaks English like an American.

The EDL explicitly disassociates itself from any concern about race. It also embraces England’s immigration-fueled diversity. It only opposes militant Islam. I can understand why they take this position. I don’t condemn them for taking it. But, as I see it, it’s an incoherent and ultimately unworkable position. The militant Muslims are in Britain because of Britain’s mass diverse immigration, and England finds itself incapable of opposing the militant Muslims because that would require acting against a “diverse” group. Diversity is both the problem, and the reason England is unable to do anything about the problem.

The EDL speakers say that England has a Christian culture and wants to keep it, but that non-Christians, brought to England via immigration, are welcome. But on that basis England won’t long continue having a Christian culture. When they speak this way, the EDL’ers sound like your standard American conservatives, caught unconsciously in the contradiction between the traditionalist belief in a particular culture, and the liberal belief in non-discriminatory openness to all law-abiding peoples of all cultures. If the nations of the West are to have a chance to survive, that contradiction must be faced and resolved, in favor of particularism.

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John McNeil writes:

Thank you for illuminating the EDL’s multicultural ideology. Gavin McInnes, a rather non-traditionalist writer over at Takimag, has praised the group for “defending the Rainbow.” That pretty much says all you need to know about the organization. I really grow tired of people who should know better yet continue to promote this organization as if truly has the English people interests at heart.

The EDL isn’t just misguided; it is flat out dangerous. For they exploit a legitimate concern (Islam in Britain) and channel that concern into support for the multicultural/multiethnic agenda. This parallels many mass movements that hijack legitimate causes and twist them to their own end. I firmly believe that we must not only refuse to support them, we must actively oppose them. We must not let them deceive the people of the West; Islam is not the sole problem, as you very well know. Resisting “radical Islam” will only put on a temporary band-aid on a disease that has been plaguing the West long before any Muslim radicals showed up in Europe.

LA replies:

I don’t agree with your position of dismissing the EDL. They are at the forefront of those confronting the Islamization of Britain. But the dilemma in which conservatives find themselves is that, in order to legitimize themselves in the fight against “militant Islam,” they feel they must approve of all other aspects of the Third-Worldization of the West. I think it’s a huge mistake to do that, and we should continue to argue against it. But I don’t think that it cancels out the good that the EDL is doing or that it shows that the EDL is “hijacking” a good cause for leftist purposes.

Thomas Fink writes:

I can also understand why the EDL takes this position (concerning diversity). And I don’t think you have to worry about it, like you have to do with American “conservatives.” The EDL people are not really into this multicultural ideology. They do what is appropriate right now. I found very interesting what kind of people have been standing around the speakers. Some of this people had a special (commanding) air around them. I was not expecting people like this there. The EDL seems to have made contact with real warriors. I think that there are in all diversity-embracing Western countries real warriors waiting for their time. They come mostly from the military. They are not traceable by the Internet. They will know when their time has come. And they can also live with the possibility that their time will never come.

Ron L. writes:

I think the readers here should cut the EDL some slack. They may be PC by choice or from fear. The left certainly believes it is a front. To function, the EDL must uphold multiculturalism or face not just condemnation, but legal consequences. The British National Party was forced to let nonwhites into the party. When the BNP allowed nonwhites in so long as they “declared support for the “continued creation, fostering, maintenance and existence” of an indigenous British race, and should support action towards “stemming and reversing” immigration,” the Equality and Human Rights Commission sued then again.

If the EDL were any less uxorious to the governing ideology of Britain, multiculturalism, they would face prison.

Paul Weston, a former BNP candidate for Parliament, writes:

The EDL is a protest movement rather than a political movement, and they are getting their protest into the mainstream media—even the BBC ‘s “Newsnight.”

They are unafraid, and many non-EDL people (i.e. the middle classes) who had previously been too scared to voice their opinion are now emboldened to do so. Most importantly, should a new political movement form in Britain, it is unlikely it would survive its first public meeting when one considers the violence utilised by the UAF and other “anti-fascist” organisations. An EDL presence on the other hand would deter those violent Communists from throttling a nascent political movement at birth.

The EDL are not perfectly in tune with the true connoisseurs of our appalling political situation such as Larry Auster, but they are more than an invaluable start and should be supported to the hilt. Britain’s politics will soon start to resemble the street politics of the Weimar Republic, where a political movement without streetfighters will be doomed to instant capitulation. Hence the monumental importance of the EDL.

John McNeil writes:

The EDL’s approval of the Third Worldization of Britain is more than a “huge mistake.” It’s handing a victory to the left on the issue that really matters. On our side, it should be considered treason. We can’t continue to allow the left to define what’s acceptable discourse. We must actively engage them, and promote our ideas, pushing the momentum in our direction. Our ideas will never penetrate the mainstream if we continue to treat them as though they are radioactive and need to be concealed with a PC coating. Ron L.’s account of the persecution of the BNP is accurate, but the BNP is still alive, and hasn’t recanted ethnonationalism, only agreeing to accept minority members who support British ethnonationalism. This is a huge victory; ethnonationalism itself isn’t illegal and legitimate path for a political party to pursue.

I can understand the argument that the EDL is only trying to pretend to be multiculturalists in order to survive in PC Britain, but there’s a way to do that without shooting your allies in the back. They can just simply say they aren’t racist and move on, instead they regularly smear the BNP as the real “Nazis.” The fact that they hammer the BNP and chant slogans like “Black and White: Unite” shows to me that they are truly committed to the multicultural cause. This isn’t just a smoke and mirrors operation. What makes things even worse is their distorting of the English identity. The English identity is still considered an ethnic term, in contrast to British which has a more civic one. And yet here comes the EDL, saying anyone can be “English,” and using the powerful symbol of Saint George’s Cross, which resonates strong with the native English people. With the EDL’s rebranding of “English,” Saint George’s Cross is no longer a symbol for the native people of England, it is now like the U.S. stars and stripes, a symbol of an idea, nothing more.

This isn’t a “mistake.” This is subversion, pure and simple.

[LA replies: I wasn’t aware that they had the slogan, “Black and White: Unite.” It’s one thing to leave aside race and say “Race doesn’t matter, what we care about is stopping Islamization,” and then simply not mention race any more. But the slogan “Black and White: Unite” pushes a specific race conscious agenda. Among other things, it implies that it’s not possible for the EDL to oppose Islamization legitimately unless they have lots of blacks join with them in their movement. Which means that if blacks don’t join, then the EDL is illegitimate. Also, it gets into the silly racial brotherhood thing of Promise Keepers back in the ’90s; it gets into Glenn Beck territory. And in any case the slogan is not going to attract any meaningful number of blacks into their cause; it just puts the EDL in the position of constantly having to prove how racially correct they are.]

Also to Mr. Paul Weston (you bill yourself as a UKIP candidate at Gates of Vienna, which I find curious), your words concern me. Street fighters? If street hooliganism is the EDL’s strategy, then it only illustrates the counter-jihadist psychology that I spoke about with Mr. Auster recently, in which opposition to Islam becomes so central that it overrides all other concerns, such as the preservation of English people. Mob violence and thuggish behavior (which the EDL seems to condone judging by pictures of their supporters wearing black, hooded garb and hardly looking any different from the UAF orcs) will only embarrass our cause. We must be responsible, and resort to weapons of the mind, rather than the fist. An intellectual movement is needed, for angry yobs trying to clash with black and brown Muslim radicals will only invoke images of brownshirts, blackshirts, and Oswald Mosley’s failed march through East End London. The BNP has learned from the failures of the National Front of the 1970s, when nationalists though street antics were a good idea. They don’t seek to whip up disillusioned and poor young men, they reach out to British people from all age groups and economic brackets, seeking to unite them with a positive British identity. I stand by my belief that this is the correct model to pursue. Let’s resist the Third Worldization of our civilization and the destruction of Western peoples with a positive, constructive approach. Let the Muslims and communists hold the monopoly on thuggery.

[LA replies: it’s a very odd combination. On one hand the EDL apparently dress like street warriors; on the other hand they spread this liberal message of making unity with blacks central to their mission. Some may think this is brilliant. I’m not so sure.]

February 8

Philip M. writes from England

Ron L. says: “If the EDL were any less uxorious to the governing ideology of Britain, multiculturalism, they would face prison.”

Well, would this be such a terrible thing? I know I would be proud to go to prison for my opposition to multiculturalism, and I would hope that my party would use it at every opportunity to demonstrate the totalitarian nature of our governing ideology. I know many in the BNP would feel the same way. Are these big tough “street-fighting” men so frightened of a little jail-time for a cause they claim is a matter of life and death for their people? Does anyone think we can get out of this situation without some of us suffering a little? Large numbers of people in Communist societies have been prepared to go to prison for their belief in freedom, and the right in the West laud them for it. Are we too important to suffer the same fate?

A few hundred EDL supporters going to prison for opposing multiculturalism would have a far more salutary and shocking effect on the British public than the current sight of wannabe football hooligans chanting “E, E, EDL!” at massed ranks of policemen.

When I saw the EDL on Newsnight their leaders’ message was incoherent. One moment they say they are anti-Islam, then they will say if pushed that they are not anti-Muslim or Islam, just against Islamic extremism. So they want “extremists” deported, Mosques preaching “extremism” closed down, blah, blah, blah. I don’t need to explain to you, Lawrence, the fundamental problem with this, that “extremist” Muslims can lie, and “moderate” Muslims can still produce six or seven “extremist” children, and 30 “extremist” grandchildren.

Boiled down, I can see little real difference between the EDL stance and the position now being articulated by Angela Merkel or David Cameron. It’s just the same old “Muslims must integrate” message on steroids, and in a working-class accent.

February 8

Pike Bishop writes from England:

Here are my own thoughts on the EDL, for what they are worth, in no particular order:

1) The EDL is not committed to some sort of brotherhood-of-man type multiracial activism. On the recent demo, said to have had up to 3,000 people on it (including me), I saw perhaps one or two mixed race people, one black kid, and two Sikhs. Everyone else was white. It is overwhelmingly white, and I assure you that no one there seemed that disturbed by it. The “Black and White Unite” stuff has always seemed a bit unfortunate to me too, but you must bear in mind what white people with shaved heads look like on the streets of the UK, and what otherwise well-intentioned folk will be likely to make of them if they don’t have some sort of explicitly non-racist message. They are throwing the opposition a curved ball, and it has worked. Even establishment figures such as Douglas Murray are now speaking reasonably favourably of the EDL. This is a major success. Remember that the EDL have been fiercely opposed by the government-funded, far more experienced UAF (United Against Fascism) and are now leaving them in the dust. I do think that key figures in the EDL perhaps make a bit more of the inclusion thing than one might hope for, but this is an understandable fault given the environment they operate within.

2) The comment about how the EDL should have the courage to go to jail for their beliefs is a strange one, given that they have shown far more physical and moral courage than anyone else in the country vis-a-vis Islam. Their leaders have been harassed by the police, forced to incur significant costs defending themselves from spurious charges, slandered as Nazis, physically attacked, and repeatedly threatened. Any keyboard warrior such as your correspondent above would do well to ask himself whether he has displayed similar bravery, and, if not, when he is planning on doing so.

3) It is not illegal to oppose “multiculturalism” in the UK. This part of the discussion is hopelessly confused. What appears to be illegal is for a political party (and undoubtedly for other entities as well) to bar people from membership on the grounds of ethnicity. One can oppose multiculturalism as the political ideology encouraging and accommodating cultural differences, lament the decreasing racial homogeneity of the UK, suggest that Third World immigration has been a disaster for the UK, or indulge in all three. Expressing opinions is not illegal; barring membership of political parties on grounds of race is, as stated above. One can disapprove of this too, but one should at least understand the difference.

4) It is true that Tommy Robinson goes back and forth between criticizing “militant” Islam and Islam itself. This is a presentational and conceptual problem whose size depends on whether or not one believes that “normal” Islam is itself militant. His appearance on Newsnight suggests to me that he considers unreformed Islam (which is to say, Islam) to be militant, so referring to militant Islam is a bit of a sleight of hand. I can assure you that, when there are no cameras, there is very little talk amongst the EDL of militant anything as being the problem. It is Islam, Islam, Islam. I agree that the current terms of reference are unsatisfactory, but when you bear in mind the astonishing failure of people such as Robert Spencer to come out against Islam per se, it is far from obvious that Tommy Robinson is the worst offender here. Spencer has too much of an understanding of Islam to be allowed off the hook over his prevarications. That is not true of Tommy.

5) On violence, the recent EDL demo was the first, I believe, in which the opposing demonstrators were kept away from the EDL. This resulted in the EDL demo being not only peaceful, but almost remarkably so. It was the first time I had been to one, and I must confess there was an atavistic part of me that was hoping that something would “kick off,” as we say over here. It didn’t. The EDL enjoys the best of both worlds here: it is disciplined enough, and its leadership is smart enough, to ensure that it creates no PR problems through yobbishness when not physically attacked, but it is also willing to engage in a bit of rough stuff when faced with aggressive Muslims and leftists. This is a strong combination. I do not think Paul Weston is advocating outright thuggery, though he can correct me if I am wrong.

In closing, let me remind you that the EDL basically consists of large numbers of angry, utterly non-PC white working class people out on the streets. To see them as the working-class equivalent of bleeding-heart liberals is so mistaken that I don’t see how anyone has managed to pull it off. This:

“The EDL isn’t just misguided; it is flat out dangerous. For they exploit a legitimate concern (Islam in Britain) and channel that concern into support for the multicultural/multiethnic agenda.”

is surreal. Is this person really suggesting that the EDL leadership’s chief concern is supporting the multicultural agenda and that Islam is a tool of convenience for them to do so? If not, can he clarify what he is saying?

John McNeil writes:

” Is this person really suggesting that the EDL leadership’s chief concern is supporting the multicultural agenda and that Islam is a tool of convenience for them to do so? If not, can he clarify what he is saying?”

Yes Mr. Pike Bishop, I am really saying that. As I’ve said before, the EDL does not have to voice any support for multiculturalism or multiracialism. Or take potshots at other legitimate anti-immigration forces like the BNP. Yes it is true that if you voice any opposition to the status quo, then you are in hot water, but look at the BNP: they are not banned despite remaining an ethnonationalist party. I was never saying that the EDL should bar nonwhite membership. I know that it is counterproductive and quite useless. What I am saying is that the EDL should not actively agitate for brotherhood-kumbaya politics. They can state they are not racist, they are simply trying to preserve the native people of England, and move on.

They don’t go with that approach. That’s the problem. In a time when the English people are slowly being replaced by foreigners both Muslim and non-Muslim, a voice for the native English people is sorely needed more than ever. The EDL refuses to be that voice. By kow-towing to the inclusionist line (which isn’t about party membership, but about the very identity of the English people), they are participating in the destruction of the English people. Radical Islam is far from being the sole problem; the looming death of the English people is the real problem. Radical Islam is only there to fill in the gap that the English will leave open if they don’t stabilize their birth rate and cease engaging in silly civic nationalist fantasies about propositional England. Radical Islam is the symptom, not the root.

I am willing to concede that I am being unfair in attributing a malicious intent on the part of the EDL, and I am retracting that aspect of my argument. One can be a civic nationalist and not have malicious intent in mind; many civic nationalists either don’t know or are not willing to accept the consequences of their beliefs. But the same can be said for leftists and neocons. The fact that there is no ill will on the part of their agenda, doesn’t change the fact that their agenda is wrong, and needs to be challenged.

The EDL is wrong for ignoring the ethnic aspect of this conflict, and for treating English identity as universal. They are wrong for crying about being called Nazis and then turning around and labeling the BNP as Nazis, when the BNP has been in this fight much longer, and (as Mr. Auster has demonstrated) has purged the party of neo-Nazis in a process going back many years. The EDL is wrong for just focusing on Islam, when traditionalists know that the West is facing a crisis greater than Islam4UK could ever pose. The EDL is wrong for encouraging street activism when such activities will only lead to violence, a calm and rational movement is needed. A constructive one too. Something that can help rebuild English identity and community. Street marches and protests will not accomplish that.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 07, 2011 11:01 AM | Send

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