The English Defence League (EDL), and their offshoots the Scottish Defence League(SDL) and the Welsh Defence League (WDL), have long been at pains to claim they are not “extremists” or “neo-Nazis”. To quote one backside-covering statement:
We will not associate with any individual or group that does not reject extremism. If any such group does decide to attend our demonstration, they will be swiftly removed. We want to make it clear to racists, neo-Nazis and any other extremists – you are not welcome.
All of which makes the behaviour of the SDL at an Edinburgh protest on Saturday rather awkward.
Here they are spotted by CrashBangWallace reader @Mr_Mark_Brown:
— Mark A Brown (@Mr_Mark_Brown) January 19, 2013
That placard they’re holding is the logo of the Golden Dawn, whose name they were also reportedly chanting. Golden Dawn are the Greek neo-nazi movement which alarmingly secured Parliamentary Seats during the country’s ongoing Euro crisis.
As you can see, the Golden Dawn logo the SDL waved on Saturday is absolutely in no way similar to the swastika – no sirree:
And the Golden Dawn definitely haven’t openly adopted the Nazi salute, one of their MPs definitely didn’t quote from classic anti-semitic fraud “The Protocols Of The Elders of Zion” in the Greek Parliament last year, while another Golden Dawn MP definitely doesn’t have a tattoo of the party’s logo alongside the slogan “SIEG HEIL” on his arm.
So by parading the Golden Dawn logo, and chanting their name, in Edinburgh this weekend the Scottish Defence Leage definitely aren’t neo-nazi. Got it?
The paper claims:
25 UK Independence Party members were handing out fliers when some apparently went crazy after being asked to leave a quiet boozer.
They allegedly began threatening bar staff and police had to be called.
I’m told, though, that what really happened in Skegness was rather different than the Mirror’s account.
Rather than “handing out fliers” at the Wetherspoon’s pub The Red Lion, the group had ordered drinks and food, sat down and started chatting to staff when they asked permission to put UKIP “save the pub” beermats on the bar. The manager understandably said it wasn’t his call and agreed to call his Area Manager to check.
In the meantime the group’s food was delivered – hardly something a pub would do for customers who were “going crazy” on a “night of shame”.
When the manager returned a few minutes later, he apologised and said he’d not only been told by his superior that the beermats couldn’t be handed out, but that the group couldn’t touch their food, would be given a full refund and would have to leave immediately.
All this suggests a wrong call by an overzealous manager in a regional office, a far cry from the Mirror’s portrayal of something just short of an EDL riot.
I can’t imagine Wetherspoon’s would stand by such an overreaction against UKIP members, either, for two reasons.
First, the company has a long and honourable history of euroscepticism – see here for a recent article by their Chairman Tim Martin about the “economic folly” of the Euro and the “incredibly stupid” “load of baloney” of the current Fiscal Union proposals. Wetherspoon’s isn’t a UKIP-supporting company, but it has a sensible eurosceptic head on its shoulders (unlike, it would seem, the Skegness Area Manager).
Second, Wetherspoon’s are in touch with their drinkers. They know perfectly well the fact that your average pub-goer is no great fan of the EU, and are therefore unlikely to have some kind of UKIP ban. As evidence, just look at the ale being served at the time of the incident by the Red Lion, the pub in Skegness at the heart of this non-story:
Rather says it all, doesn’t it?
Further to my post yesterday, Anders Breivik’s crimes have another relatively new feature – the way he interacted with the internet and social media first to propagandise for his views and then as part of the way to spread his message of terror.
Following the initial publication of his manifesto, the media (and presumably the police) have been quick to start tracking his history through his online presence. The Standard today reports new evidence of his interaction with the EDL through online forums, and it seems the trail is yet to be followed all the way.
Now that the EDL postings have revealed his online pseudonym as Sigurd Jorsalfare (after a crusading Viking king), it’s possible to follow his tracks even further. I’ve been hunting around to see whether he used it elsewhere and it seems that he may have. For example, no one seems to have so far drawn attention to this Twitter account under the same pseudonym (with the same variation of the spelling of Jorsalfare), or this article which it publicises – a piece posted only a couple of weeks ago on a site which Breivik used regularly which from its tone and topic may well be another of Breivik’s own tracts.
The impression that this is the first time these have been noticed is further reinforced by the fact that at the time of writing the Twitter account is still being followed by a Progress Party councillor, who presumably would have distanced himself had it come to his attention.
Advance warning – the below article does include a quote from Breivik’s self-justifying manifesto, though I purposely have not linked to it
I’ve thought long and hard about how best to write this post, because the issue is so sensitive and (sadly) some are keen to leap on any poorly phrased comment about the recent horrors in Norway for political ends. Hopefully it does justice to the point that I’m trying to communicate, because it’s a point I feel that those of us who support freedom and democracy cannot afford to miss, at the risk of severe consequences.
The media are already struggling to characterise Breivik’s motivations and the views that led him to commit the appalling atrocities in Norway, and some interpretations are bordering on a serious misinterpretation.
It’s not the media’s fault (despite Breivik publishing a lengthy manifesto to provide his own justification) – the problem lies in the fact that we’ve got a deeply embedded understanding of the idea of neo-Nazism, a term which is now only partially accurate for the extremist threat that we face.
Neo-Nazis do exist and are a serious problem – as you can see from this Nothing British report on British neo-Nazism, there’s an extensive subculture characterised by anti-semitism, skinhead culture, heavily tattooed thrash metal bands and coded references to Hitler (such as Combat 18, the group whose number derives from Adolf Hitler’s initials as the 1st and 8th letters of the alphabet). If you’re looking for a pop culture shorthand for this neo-Nazism, you can find it pretty well summarised in the superb film American History X.
But it’s difficult to map that culture and ideology to Anders Behring Breivik, either in his appearance and lifestyle or in his self-declared motivations. Because he was clearly opposed to immigration, many have reached for the term “neo-Nazi” to describe him in that tradition. But where is the skinhead? Where is the swastika tattoo? Where’s the Hitler worship or the antisemitism? For that matter, where is the knuckle-dragging incompetence that has previously and mercilessly confounded most neo-Nazi terror plots?
That these factors don’t appear to be there (in the evidence produced so far, at least) appears to be because he is drawn from a linked but different ideology. An ideology which is just as evil and just as (or possibly even more) threatening to our free democracy, and one that we must understand and recognise as distinct in its own right if we are to defeat. You can even spot indications of his different roots in the reaction of neo-Nazis to his views; the deeply unpleasant neo-Nazi forum Stormfront is alive with condemnations of him because, in the words of one poster:
it’s a big disappointment and serious grounds for suspicion that he didn’t name the jew [as his enemy]
And there we have the core of this relatively new ideology – Breivik may well be a racist but it is primarily hatred of Muslims that seems to have motivated him, in stark comparison to the neo-Nazis’ antisemitism. Take this extract from his manifesto, for example:
Whenever I discuss the Middle East issue with a national socialist he presents the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestine argument…I was unable to discuss this issue further after I was banned and kicked out by Stormfront
For this reason, Breivik and those like him tend to look down on Nazis and sneer at, rather than venerate, Hitler. After all, in their view Hitler had the wrong target; Breivik has reportedly written that Hitler should have helped to clear the Muslims from Jerusalem.
He’s not alone in that – the English Defence League, as I have written before, are Britain’s most recognisable example of a new evolution of extremism which is virulently anti-Muslim, often pro-Israel and has attempted to ally itself with Jews, Sikhs and gay people on the grounds that Shariah presents a common threat. It’s also true that in recent times the BNP have largely moved to focusing on Islam, though they are arguably motivated more by a strategic post-9/11 opportunism and new laws against racial hatred.
The point is that to characterise Breivik as a neo-Nazi in the recognisable, traditional mould is inaccurate and misleading in addressing the threat he and his ideology poses. Like many a neo-Nazi he is evidently a nut and is obviously attracted to violence as well as ludicrously pompous military imagery, as evidenced by his view that he’s a modern day Knight Templar, but it’s time we recognised this is a different school of extremism.
There is contact and sometimes overlap between neo-Nazism and whatever we want to call this new ideology – both are dangerous and evil, and it’s evident from Breivik’s own dabbling in neo-Nazi forums that the two sit very close to each other in various way.
We’re seeing calls in the UK for a strategy to address what you could loosely call White Power extremism. But one sole, catch-all strategy to fight both neo-Nazis who hate Jews and anti-Muslim “culture war” conspiracists will fail to defeat one or the other, or even both. We need a distinct strategy to combat each strand of thought.
If you’re a libertarian tax-cutter, you don’t normally expect the Observer to like you. Their role would normally be to argue against your beliefs and positions. Sometimes that might be done intellectually, or tactically, or just aggressively – that’s fine, this is a war of ideas.
Yesterday, though, they fell below even the usual grubby standards of politics – by trying to smear the TaxPayers’ Alliance by false association to the neo-nazi English Defence League. If it wasn’t so outrageous it would be amusing – they seem incapable of deciding whether the TPA are slippered, Daily Mail, fuddy-duddies or rioting racist football hooligans.
The actual story in there was interesting – that the anti-Islam nuts who have been trying to piggyback on the Tea Party movement in the States have been working with the EDL. That’s obviously newsworthy and is based in fact. Unfortunately that’s where the facts end.
Obviously, coming from a left-wing perspective the author of the article, Mark Townsend, was keen to put the boot in on the whole Tea Party movement.
Despite its overwhelmingly libertarian, constitutionalist and low-spending focus, he tried to suggest that the two anti-Muslim whackos in his story represented all Tea Partiers. This is lazy journalism, but it’s also lazy thinking – exposing the Left’s continuing disbelief that anyone can like low taxes without being a racist, and their inability to imagine a truly atomist organisation with no centralised leadership.
Having made that leap, he decided to take another – jamming the TPA into the story, too. With no justification at all he even mentioned the EDL and the TaxPayers’ Alliance in the same breath:
“[Alan] Lake, believed to be a principal bankroller of the EDL, which claims to be a peaceful, non-racist organisation, is understood to be keen on the possibility of setting up the UK equivalent of the Tea Party. At an event organised by the Taxpayers’ Allliance last month, US Tea Party organisers outlined how the movement emerged last year, partly in protest at the US bank bail-out.”
This is a scandalous jump too far. Evidently in the mindset of the Left “EDL, Tea Party, TaxPayers’ Alliance, Muslim-hating” all go together into one folder – but there is no basis for that suggestion whatsoever. Mark Townsend should answer the following questions:
Do you have any evidence that the EDL and the TPA have anything to do with each other?
Do you have any evidence of an EDL link to the TPA/Tea Party meetings held in London a month ago?
Do you have any evidence of any contact between the TPA and Pamela Geller or Nachum Shifren?
The answer to each question will be “No” – which is why this appalling smear should be withdrawn. In the meantime, I suggest all of you fight back by joining the TaxPayers’ Alliance for free here.