Having the decision made for you

October 3rd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

There have been a couple of posts on this blog recently, debating the policy of No Platform with regard to the BNP.

I am of the mind that not to be involved in the debates in various arenas along side the BNP and to challenge them as and when their bullshit is being spouted is to miss an opportunity to challenge their propaganda at the time of its seeding in the mind of the listener, at the best time to challenge it.

This view is challenged by the opposing thought that to go along with any appearance of the fascists is to give them credibility, a respectability that they do not deserve.

The two ideas are both, I think, valid. The No Platform policy does have some history to back it up, against the National Front, but I just cannot get my head round leaving those fuckers to bleat on about how we are under an invasion that is ethnically cleansing the indigenous population with out challenging it at the time. it feels a little like letting them get away with it.

I confess, I do not know what to do. Do I carry on with my attitude of trying to refute them, or go for the No Platform policy.*

Until now.

(*I have never been in a position where this decision has actually affected anyone or anything directly, but you never know what’s gonna happen in the future)

What the policy of challenging the BNP needs, is not just someone opposing them in debates, which I am sure there are many people who could rip them to shreds, but chairmen of those debates and interviewers that are willing and able to challenge them and let the anti-fascists challenge them and follow up the BNPs’ responses with something more robust than is currently happening.

Until the people challenging the fascists in these arenas are able to go at them harder, and deeper in to the fascists answers to expose the real truths behind what is being offered as real by the BNP, then the BNP are not just being given a platform, but are able to turn it into a form of propaganda.

It’s not going to happen though, is it? Getting real scrutiny of the fascists in debates and interviews? When you have stuff like this interview and supposedly intelligent people fucking up so royally, it’s gonna be interesting to see how Jack Straw, David Dimbleby and whoever else is going to appear on Question Time handle Fat Nick and his lies, but I fear it is just going to show how the media and such are just not up to the job.

The decision is made for me. No Platform it is then.

No Platform – A response

September 24th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

I have been kindly invited to respond to a previous blog that argued the No Platform policy advocated by UAF is not the correct approach. Whilst I understand why many believe the way to stop the BNP is to share every platform with them, and enter into debates with them whenever they appear in the media arena, there are a number of difficulties with this tactic. I will try and make this response as short as possible.

Firstly, there is the question of historical evidence. If you are arguing that the BNP should be allowed to exist as a democratic political party, participate in elections, engage in debates alongside all the other political parties, and have their racist propaganda treated as a ‘view’, and that this is the best way to stop them, then the gaping hole in your argument is Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany. Hitler’s rise was through the democratic machinery of the state, starting out in a small extremist party, and ending up as a Fascist dictator. I need not spell out the details of the holocaust again, but the sheer scale of these horrific acts should serve as a warning to us all. The only thing that did work in the end was direct physical confrontation in the shape of one of the (if not the) bloodiest wars in human history. Democracy was no safeguard to these crimes, it enabled them. The BNP should not be given a platform. History shows us what can happen when Fascist parties are. By sharing a platform, you begin to create the legitimising conditions that can lead to the most extreme consequences imaginable.

But things are different now I hear you say. That would never happen here! Well, I imagine that the majority of the German population would never have thought that it could have happened there! If things are so different, why are we still having to deal with the threat of fascism and racism nearly 70 years on?

On the basis of evidence alone, the policy of sharing a platform and allowing Fascists to participate in democratic life must be discarded. If this was a scientific theory one was testing, it would be immediately negated, but there is a general reluctance to suggest that we should marginalise them and use direct action to prevent them being heard. This is Fascist itself isn’t it? People have a right to their own views?

The real issue at hand, and the one that places constraints on the choice of tactics that we should use, is the issue of free speech (I have argued previously on this blog site about this  –  please address it if you disagree). Allowing racist and Fascist parties to spout their propaganda, and defending it on the basis of freedom of speech is a complete misapplication of the notion of ‘freedom’ to ‘speech’.  If we were in favour of freedom of choice, or freedom of action, we would not expect these ‘freedoms’ to include choosing to murder someone, or the freedom to rape someone. We understand freedom as bounded by some form of basic moral framework, and expressed within a social context.

Why then do we think that when applied to speech ‘freedom’ means saying whatever we want? We would not apply it in the same way to other ‘freedoms’.  ‘Speech’ and ‘action’  are not isolated spheres. Saying whatever you want is not harmless, it does have consequences. Inciting and promoting racial hatred leads to physical acts of racial violence. Ask any victim of a racial crime, or the many people in this country that have to put up with racist abuse. Freedom of speech does not mean that you should have this right.

It is this misapplication that paralyses the current Government in allowing the party to exist, and also the many millions of opponents of the BNP who mistakenly believe that outlawing the party would somehow be anti-democratic. What actually happens is that a Fascist party, once in power, get’s rid of democracy and most freedoms.

Secondly, and following on from the point above, I also want to address the way that debate manifests itself, and to show the limited potential of engaging in debate with them. I watched the previously posted clip of the Nicky Campbell show. After 10 whole minutes of debate, I did not see the BNP being shown up hugely. There was the odd moment where Brons was not comfortable, and avoided the question, but this is behaviour we see from all politicians. The  Reverend also brought in the notion of free speech I have previously addressed, and quickly the topic became derailed and muddled. By even having him on the show, Bron’s racist hatred has been presented as a ‘view’, and has not been treated with the contempt it deserves.

And if you are in any doubt about how giving Fascists a platform will not help show them up, then watch this clip of Andrew Marr interviewing Nick Griffin:

How brilliant was Marr at showing Griffin up?

Griffin may be many things, but he is not stupid. He knows what he can and can’t say, has been carefully rebranding the BNP, and will anticipate many of the questions that come his way. If he were to appear on question time, any audience questions would be made available upfront, giving him time to prepare. Sitting him alongside the leading members of  the three main parties would confer status on him, without any guarantee that they would be able to show him up – we don’t trust them to do anything else right, so why this?

The only solution is to refuse to share a platform with them, and confronting them with direct action, whether that is trying to stop their festival of race hate, or standing up to the EDL in the streets of Birmingham or the Mosques of Luton.

To recap why:

  • Racism and Fascism is not a ‘view’ to be debated.
  • Sharing a platform legitimises these ‘views’.
  • There is a very limited potential for ‘showing up’ the BNP for what they are. Both mainstream TV programmes referred to above certainly do not show the BNP in a particularly bad light.
  • Allowing Fascist parties to participate in a democratic system was a contributing factor in creating the conditions in which Hitler rose to power.

We cannot risk making the same mistakes again.

There is much more that could be said on this matter, but there is hard evidence, from history and the present day, that shows the limitations of an approach to defeating the Fascists based on engaing them as a political opponent.

No Platform

September 6th, 2009 § 7 comments § permalink

No Platform is a political position that actively opposes allowing alleged fascists to express their views in public

It is a little controversial about whether a No Platform policy actually does anything at all. Everyone has their opinion. This one is mine.

I do not believe in the no platform policy. There are ocassions where direct action and not allowing the fascist to speak is justified but not to, say, go on a programme or be in a debate because the BNP is also appearing is handing the fascists a chance to spout their perverted logic unhindered.

I believe that the direct action, of the type the UAF use is excellent.

In a situation like that, where the fascists are giving a statement, not debating or discussing things with other parties or public, then shutting them down, stopping them speaking, closing off the stream of racist propaganda, is the only thing to do.

In that situation they have a preprepared statement, they have a plan, an expected sequence of events. They are not interested in justifying themselves, they are just trying to get the words out there into the open so they can enter peoples consciousness and start to propagate and put doubts in peoples mind so the hearer can fill in the gaps in the logic themselves.
Because the anti-fascists have to go against what is, in the mind, now considered fact, they have to go much further than just assert that Fat Nick and his gang are wrong. The anti-fascist has to prove that Fat Nick is wrong. With evidence. That takes much longer and is harder to do than just assert things and always puts you on the back foot.

In that situation it is imperative that the message the racists want to get out does not leave their lips. Once it is out there it is much harder to counter and so harassement, heckling, disruption is the weapon of choice.
You go to a statement with the intention of argueing it, you’re not gonna get anywhere. You might as well saw your own cock off with a rusty cheese-knife for all the good it will do.

As I say above, direct action is good in some situations, but what about when the bigots are invited, due to impartiality rules, on to a TV debate?

The thing is, whatever you do you have to think about how it looks otherwise you end up in the position the UAF are in now

[the] UAF finds itself in the unusual position of having to defend themselves for organising a protest against a party that the majority of people would probably accept are racist, and in general oppose.

With this in mind, you’ve got to be a bit careful about how direct action is used because you can make yourself out to be just as fascistic as the fascists.

In a debate environment, direct action doesn’t work.

Another option is to direct action is to go on the TV/radio programme, enter the university and debate them. But when you do, you have to remember you are not trying to change the mind of the racist, it usually takes something much more profound to make them come to their senses. When you enter a debate with these people, you are going to make them look stupid, you are going to pick holes in their logic, you are going to ask them awkward questions that they would rather not answer in case they make themselves look like the cunts they are…
Jonathon Bartley expresses it well here (go to 5:57)…

When shutting the message down is not appropriate it needs to be shown up then and there. It needs questions, unexpected questions asked of it. The people listening need to go away with any questions or gaps in their thoughts from the fascists message answered already with answers that show up the contradictions, fallacies and bigotry for exactly what it is. If their message is not challenged at the time, what’s gonna happen? Are most people gonna look up all the anti-fascist writing on the internet? Of course not. It needs countering at the time.

So now, in a debate situation you can either make yourself look like a cunt and make the fascists look the victim or you can make themselves look the cunts they are or you can do one other thing.

Adopt a No Platform policy and let the fuckers get on with it unhindered.

Question Time and the BNP

September 6th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

You might possibly have seen this in todays’ Times

THE BBC has provoked controversy by giving the British National party a platform for the first time on Question Time, its top current affairs programme.

This development, I think, is inevitable. Now that the BNP has gone and got itself a couple of elected representatives to a higher office than a local government position I don’t see how the BBC can refuse to have either Fat Nick or Andrew Brons it’s flagship political discussion programme without being accused of taking sides, of being political.

Forget what the BNP actually stands for for a minute and just compare them to UKIP in terms of their representation.

UKIP only has MEPs’. They do not have an elected representative in the House of Commons. UKIP appear on Question Time. The BNP only have MEPs’. They do not have anyone in the House, either. They will now appear on Question Time, but just like UKIP, only occassionally.

“They got across a threshold that has given them national representation and that fact will be reflected in the level of coverage they will be given,” said Ric Bailey, the BBC’s chief adviser on politics. “This is not a policy about the BNP. It’s a policy about impartiality.”

Whether we like it or not, the BBC cannot do ‘No Platform’.

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