Here’s a follow-up piece by Modernity Blog to his (satirical) guest post last week about the European Defence League (EDL), entitled “Imagine you’re a British neofascist”. Any essay relating to EDL seems to provoke quite a bit of passion, and the reaction to Modernity’s post was no exception. However, I think it’s a valuable conversation to have, and so am publishing Modernity’s latest piece in the spirit of open debate and free inquiry about this very contentious issue. We welcome your comments.
This is a cross-post from Modernity Blog
My reason for writing the post, Imagine you’re a British neofascist, was to convey the political absurdity of the Guardian’s original photograph.
The implied meaning of the photo was to connect the EDL with Israel, and so in turn to Jews.
It was to imply, in a not too subtle fashion, that Jews could be EDL thugs too, that was the message coming from the Guardian.
This was not the first time that I have run across this (implied) argument and when you consider the politics and history behind it then it doesn’t bear much scrutiny.
However, let us step back and be clear that the EDL leadership are made up of neo-Nazis and their allies.
We know this from circumstantial evidence, video footage, the publication of EDL events on neo-Nazi bulletin boards and above all from the statements of the one-time founder of the EDL, Paul Ray.
Ray admits that neo-Nazis took over the EDL in a video clip, here.
But perhaps we should consider some of the underlying issues and see what comes out.
In this form of arguing by innuendo, what we are meant to believe is that the neo-Nazis and their close associates, who actually run the EDL and decide policy, have suddenly taken a liking to Israelis, and by inference Jews.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Clearly, an alternative line of reasoning is possible, that the neofascists within the EDL are lying about their motives.
It is a simpler and much more straightforward answer because otherwise we have to explain away why neo-Nazis would suddenly take a liking to Israelis, and Jews.
The problem being is that, neo-Nazis don’t like Jews, and in particular Israel as it is seen as the centre of Jewish power. That is something that all neo-Nazis fear the most. A central theme to Nazism is the notion that Jews control and manipulate events around the world from a central location, in this case Israel. [Warning: illustrative links to original Nazi propaganda, nasty racist material.]
It is hardly credible that entrenched neo-Nazis would suddenly wake up one-day and decide “Yes, we like Israelis.”
It seems incongruous, and ever so improbable.
Why people would advance these arguments in one way shape or form I can’t say, they are nonsensical because you have to assume a multiplicity of tenuous assumptions, that just don’t hang together naturally.
For example, firstly, you have to assume that neo-Nazis are honest about their motives. Secondly, that you can take their word as truthful. Thirdly, that they are sincere in their beliefs. Fourthly, that they have changed completely, to now liking Israelis and Jews.
Which is all rather ludicrous and contrary to the evidence.
Possibly the reason that this argument, by innuendo, is pushed is that those people advancing it are completely ill-informed about the nature of the EDL?
Or conceivably they know next to nothing of politics or history? Perhaps they haven’t thought about the issues? Maybe they are prisoners of their own prejudices, they want to believe the worst and so do.
I can’t say one way or the other but what disturbs me is that seemingly highly educated individuals would erroneously jumped to the conclusion that neo-Nazis have suddenly grown a love for all things Israeli, and Jews in particular.
It doesn’t make sense.
Surely, following Occam’s razor, the simpler answer is probably the correct one? And in the case of the EDL that means they are merely putting on a front and lying.
Of course, if you’re going to seriously argue the EDL really like Israelis and Jews then it is incumbent on you to provide some concrete evidence other than a flag.
Also you would have to explain how neo-Nazis have come to this conclusion and why. Above all, you would have to explain how neo-Nazis have dropped their all-consuming hatred of Jews and are now to be taken seriously.
It’s not too surprising that those most keen to advance these arguments are often themselves fierce critics of Israel, but to argue that the neo-Nazis in the EDL leadership should be taken at face value is naive at best.
Some gullible types might be taken in, but that doesn’t change the historical evidence nor the fact that the EDL leadership are neo-Nazis and their allies.
Again, so anyone trying to advance this argument would:
1) have to explain why the EDL leadership are not neo-Nazis
2) need to argue why those neo-Nazis are sincere and should be taken at their word
3) detail precisely why the EDL had taken this position, etc etc
I favour the simplest answer that the neo-Nazis in the EDL are lying and using this as a ploy to wrong foot their opponents.
Seriously, why should we believe the EDL?
What compelling reason is there that we should suspend our natural scepticism of political activists? If we would take the words of mainstream politicians with a pinch of salt, then surely the EDL’s and their assorted neo-Nazis’ deserve more than a handful?
Ultimately, the EDL are not what they say they are, and anyone semi-serious on these issues shouldn’t be fooled by them, and certainly not Guardian journalists.