Tag Archives: English Defence League

PROFITING FROM THE POPPY – THE HYPOCRISY OF THE FAR RIGHT

This is from EDL News and I thought I’d repost it here. The far-right is using the Poppy Appeal in a shameless attempt to boost its credibility and its numbers.

This year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is even more poignant this year as we mark the centenary of the “Great War”. The appeal was first launched to assist those returning from those brutal World War One battlefields and has remained to serve as a vital reminder of the sacrifices made. Crucially it raises funds to support wounded and disabled service men and women, bereaved families, young veterans adjusting to life back on Civvy Street and their elderly compatriots who may need assistance with age-related life issues.

The poppy is the powerful and evocative symbol that lies at the heart of the campaign. Witness the extraordinary – and extraordinarily moving – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.

Quite rightly the Royal British Legion seeks to protect the integrity of the poppy because of what it stands for, its symbolism and importance as the visual identifier of its most important fundraising initiative. Sadly every year Britain’s far right denigrate the poppy and what it stands by appropriating it to promote their ugly and divisive politics, not least by spreading lies, through falsehoods, scare stories.

Each year they also seek to profit financially from the poppy, either individually or for their organisation. Take as an example an outfit called Patriot Wear UK, brainchild of David Roocroft, co-founder with wife Sara of the notorious foaming far right group, the British Patriots Society which was also linked to former Manchester-based EDL big cheese, Steve Simmons (to whom its original website domain is still registered). Patriot Wear was caught out this week ripping off the poppy and Lest We Forget, the line from Kipling’s Recessional poem which is so strongly associated with the appeal.

You can read the rest by clicking on this link.

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The Top Four Weasel Words Used By Racists

Michael Howard’s “Are you thinking what we’re thinking” backfired.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen the statement “I hate it when people use the word ‘racist’ to shut people up” or something like it when racists are challenged on their abhorrent views.  I often see statements like this on the comments threads on Telegraph blogs or Huffington Post. The funny thing is, the ones who use that statement will often say something really racist in the next sentence.

Racists don’t like to be called racists. That’s understandable. It’s a pretty horrible word but then racists are pretty horrible people; there is really nothing nice about them. Scratch a racist and you’ll likely find a sexist, an anti-Semite and a bully underneath.

Then there are those who use weasel words to claim they aren’t racists but actually succeed in achieving the opposite of what they’d intended to do.

Here is my Top Four.

  1. “What’s wrong with loving my own people”?
  2. “I’m not a racist, I’m an ethno-nationalist”
  3. “I’m concerned about immigration, that doesn’t make me a racist”
  4. “Anti-racism = anti-white”

The first one attempts to refute the charge of racism but fails to work, because when the phrase “my own people” is used it refers to a specific ethnic group. It also implies that the speaker loves every person who shares their pigmentation regardless of never having met them and regardless of their ideologies. The speaker fools no one but him/herself.

The second one uses the compound word “ethno-nationalist” to claim that the speaker isn’t racist but some kind of nationalist. But the construction of this compound informs the reader or the listener, that only one ethnic group can have citizenship bestowed upon them – in other words, the ethnic group of the speaker.

The third phrase is fairly common and was used by Michael Howard when he was leader of the Tory party (“Are you thinking what we’re thinking”?). The trouble with this innocuous looking phrase is that it is used to deflect attention away from some pretty unsavoury notions. More often than not the phrase will be accompanied by revealing remarks like “swamped” or will make a reference to hygiene or contamination.

The fourth phrase is a favourite of Telegraph commenter, “danoconnor” and has been adopted by others. There are two things about this phrase that interest me. First, there’s the insistence that anti-racism campaigners hate white people or that anti-racist efforts are directed against whites. No, we hate white people who are racist. There’s a big difference.  Second, it suggests a well-developed sense of victimhood on the part of the speaker who will also make the claim that most violent crime is committed by blacks on whites.

Perhaps the worst excuse that I’ve heard is “racism is natural”. Yes, someone actually said that on Telegraph blogs. He then proceeded to compare the entire country to an enormous village where they’re suspicious of strangers and lynch them upon sight. “Us simple folks don’t take kindly to yo metropolitan Fancy Dan ways ’round here, fella. Now git yo ass outta here or git it lynched”.

If you’re the sort of person who uses racist language and insists that certain ethnic groups leave the country, then you’re a racist. If you think Enoch Powell was “right”, then you’re a racist.  If you think that by saying “Islam isn’t a race, it’s a religion” lets you off the hook, then you’re most likely a racist.  There’s an old saying that can be applied in all cases: “If the cap fits”.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Anti-Ziganism, racism, sexism, Society & culture

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 50)

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they'll just go away.

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they’ll just go away.

After Charles Moore’s high praise for Kennite’s faultless piece of investigative journalism (sarcasm) and his own muddled analysis of the EDL in yesterday’s Telegraph, we get this from Gilligoon.

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects.

“Last weekend”? We’ll come back to that later. So what’s got your goat, Andy?

That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But none of the people laying flowers and being jeered bore any kind of EDL insignia and none of the wreaths had any kind of card or message from the group.

Oh, really? Why do I get the feeling this article is going to tread the by now familiar path of a classic Kennite smear job?

Neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence.

Gilligoon loves to keep us in suspense. Finally, he tells us:

All the aggro, Mr Brett said — he called it the “hate” — came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). UAF’s response was to start an online petition saying that merely by criticising them Mr Brett had proved himself an EDL patsy, “not a fit representative for Oxford’s wonderful and multi-ethnic community”, and must resign immediately.

Yeah, I agree with the protesters. In fact, after doing some digging, I’ve discovered that these quotes came from a two week old story that was carried by The Oxford Mail on June 2. Here’s an excerpt:

Oxford City Councilmember Mr Brett said the protesters “jeered” at people and “floral tributes were squashed and badly damaged”.

There was “no sign” of EDL banners, clothing or “behaviour” he said, adding: “What I saw was a loud and unruly bunch who were showing hate towards what seemed to me to be a peaceful and lawful act of remembrance.”

He said on his blog: “If I do see any hate activity from any group in Oxford I will challenge it rigorously but the only hate I saw today was from the protesters.”

However, the local branch of UAF deny this.

Unite Against Fascism branch treasurer Tracy Walsh said it feared the EDL would use the event as a “smokescreen for their anti-Islamic views”.

Adding she did not see anyone damage the flowers, she said: “We were very mindful of the fact that it was a war memorial.”

Brett, who had signed up to attend an EDL rally on Facebook,  has also faced calls to resign. There’s no mention of this from Gilligoon.

OUAF has created an online petition calling for Mr Brett to stand down. Twitter users have also criticised Mr Brett for attending the event.

Green party councillor for University Parks Sam Coates called for an immediate apology.

Ian McKendrick, spokesman for OUAF, said Mr Brett’s remarks were “divisive and unhelpful”.

He said: “There was no chanting, no trouble, and it was a peaceful protest.”

Of course, that didn’t convince Kennite, who instead tells us:

UAF, 10 years old this year, is one of Britain’s most prominent anti-fascist organisations. It has received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the biggest trade unions, and support from dozens of mainstream politicians. Its vice-chairmen include Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Hugh Lanning, the deputy general secretary of the PCS civil service union.

This is Kennite’s way of having a quick dig at the trade unions. Here he says:

Of course, few causes can be more deserving than resistance to the EDL and British National Party. But the uncomfortable truth about UAF is that it contains more than a trace of fascism itself. It specialises, as seen in Oxford, in organising counter-demonstrations to any activity, or anticipated activity, by the far Right.

Hang on, UAF “contains more than a trace of fascism”? He’s repeating the same spiel as the EDL and UKIP here. If he’d been alive in the 1930s, would he have said the same thing about the anti-fascists who chased Mosley’s British Union of Fascists from Cable Street?  What we see in this kind of statement is an attempt to revise history to suit the narrative of the far-right. I would even go as far to say that Gilligan is actually providing a service to the EDL, in spite of his apparent distaste for their activities (in 2010 an EDL member was prosecuted for possessing indecent images of children; the BNP is no better).

Unfortunately, UAF’s counter-demonstrations often seem to cause as much, if not more, trouble than those by the EDL and BNP.

Again, I would refer Kennite to Battle of Cable Street and the events of the 1970s when the National Front were confronted by anti-fascists on Britain’s streets. The overwhelming discourse that’s being advanced by Gilligoon is “the EDL is bad but don’t challenge them. They’re just misunderstood. Ignore them and they’ll go away”. Predictably enough, Kennite proposes no alternatives.  Instead he says:

And there are ineffective ways. The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. As with the “anti-Islamophobia” monitoring group Tell Mama, which has lost its government funding after overhyping the nature of anti-Muslim hostility, there is a sense that the racists and their opponents need each other.

For someone who supposedly has a degree in history from Cambridge University, Kennite is remarkably ignorant of this country’s recent past. Cable street, Kennite, Cable Street. He also gets another opportunity to repeat what he said in last week’s article about Tell Mama. Lazy.

He closes with this:

The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

Wrong. Fascists must be confronted and challenged wherever they are. Kennite prefers to gives the EDL and others a free pass. He accepts UKIP’s and the EDL’s anti-intellectual view that anti-fascists are ‘fascist’ because they challenge them. Never in my life have I encountered such twisted logic.

I’ll leave you and Kennite with Edmund Burke’s well-worn dictum.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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Charles Moore: the EDL is misunderstood

Most, if not all Tories, are out of touch; on another planet and only capable of listening to the voices in their heads. This is something they have in common with Blairites, who are really nothing less than Tory entryists who infiltrated the Labour Party. Charles Moore, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Telegraph and is, more recently, Thatcher’s official biographer sums this up more than most.

At Nowhere Towers we know how some of the Telegraph’s bloggers routinely play to an audience of fascists, racists and sexists.  Kennite is one, Tobes is another. So it comes as no surprise that Charles Moore, who is not the sharpest tool in the box nor the most original hack in the Barclay Brothers stable, rides in on Gilligan’s coat-tails with this article.  The title is hysterical and screams:

Woolwich outrage: we are too weak to face up to the extremism in our midst

A sense of victimhood oozes from every letter and punctuation mark. It also suggests emasculation; the poisoning of our precious fluids. Have a look at the opening paragraph:

It is less than a month since Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, yet already the incident feels half-forgotten. In terms of the legal process, all is well. Two men have been charged. There will be a trial. No doubt justice will be done. But I have a sense that the horror felt at the crime is slipping away.

Is horror something that we all want to feel every minute, every hour of the day? No. It is evident that Moore’s completely lost touch with the real world. He grudgingly admits that ” justice will be done” but then begins to paint a nightmarish picture of his own mind that even Heironymus Bosch would have envied. For in the next paragraph, he says:

The media, notably the BBC, quickly changed the subject. After a day or two focusing on the crime itself, the reports switched to anxiety about the “Islamophobic backlash”. According to Tell Mamma, an organisation paid large sums by the Government to monitor anti-Muslim acts, “the horrendous events in Woolwich brought it [Islamophobia] to the fore”. Tell Mamma spoke of a “cycle of violence” against Muslims.

Well, it’s true. In the aftermath of Lee Rigby’s murder, the number of attacks against Muslims and anyone who was ‘of Muslim appearance’ actually increased. If Moore doesn’t want to believe that, then perhaps he’d like to have word with the Met? He claims that monitoring groups like Tell Mama are using the tragedy to pursue a political agenda…unlike the EDL or the BNP? Get real, Charlie.

Yet the only serious violence was against a British soldier, who was dead.

Oh really? What about the elderly Pakistani man who was stabbed to death in a racist attack on the streets of Birmingham weeks before?  But it’s the next part of the paragraph that’s really Dagenham (two stops past Barking).

In The Sunday Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan brilliantly exposed the Tell Mamma statistics – most of them referred merely to nasty remarks on the web rather than actual attacks, many were not verified, no reported attack had required medical attention, and so on.

Ah, but Charlie, if I were to threaten to carry out violent acts against your wretched and pitiful body on the Internet, you would be perfectly entitled to refer the matter to the cops as I know you would.

A trap is set here, inviting those of us who reject such statements, to defend the EDL. I do not. While not, in its stated ideology, a racist organisation like the BNP, the EDL has an air of menace. It must feel particularly unpleasant for Muslims when its supporters hit the streets. But the EDL is merely reactive. It does not – officially at least – support violence.

The EDL is what? Yes, here Moore claims that the EDL “doesn’t support violence”. Laughable isn’t it?

It is the instinctive reaction of elements of an indigenous working class which rightly perceives itself marginalised by authority, whereas Muslim groups are subsidised and excused by it. Four days ago, six Muslim men were sentenced at the Old Bailey for a plot to blow up an EDL rally. The news was received quietly, though it was a horrifying enterprise. No one spoke of “white-phobia”. Imagine the hugely greater coverage if the story had been the other way round.

Here Moore panders to the bigots he knows will be attracted to his ill-informed rubbish. It would appear that Moore, like Kennite, has also taken issue with the word “Islamophobia”.  Similarly, Torygraph hacks also have a problem with the word “homophobia”. Tell you what, Charlie, if the word offends you that much, The Cat will use the phrases “anti-Muslim attacks” and “anti-gay attacks” instead. That way you and your chums won’t get your knickers in a twist over semantics. Is it a deal? But there’s still an element of fear to both kinds of bigotry. Deny it all you like.

All journalists experience this disparity. If we attack the EDL for being racist, fascist and pro-violence, we can do so with impunity, although we are not being strictly accurate. If we make similar remarks about Islamist organisations, we will be accused of being racist ourselves. “Human rights” will be thrown at us.

“Human rights”? Yeah, God damn those human rights. That reminds me of a passage from Gil Scott-Heron’s excellent rap poem B-Movie.

Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights…it’s all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

We can’t have that. Human rights get in the way of making massive profits… just like it did in the 19th century, which is where Moore, Kennite and Hon. Tobes long to be.

Moore lays it on rather thickly here:

Much more important – from the point of view of the general public – you frequently find that Muslim groups like Tell Mamma get taxpayers’ money (though, in its case, this is now coming to an end). You discover that leading figures of respectable officialdom share conference platforms with dubious groups. You learn that Muslim charities with blatantly political aims and Islamist links have been let off lightly by the Charity Commission. And you notice that many bigwigs in Muslim groups are decorated with public honours. Fiyaz Mughal, for example, who runs Tell Mamma, has an OBE. Obviously it would be half-laughable, half-disgusting, if activists of the EDL were indulged in this way; yet they are, in fact, less extreme than some of those Muslims who are.

Here he uses the ad reductio absurdum argument that it’s “your money” that pays for Tell Mama. Remember, these people want to abolish the Equality and Human Rights Commission for the same spurious reasons. You often hear these people get defensive and scream “I’m not a racist”, then in the next sentence they’ll try to rationalize their bigotry by using plausible-sounding economic language taken from the lexicon of Murray Rothbard or Ron Paul to justify segregation and continued racism.

To show us what a weasel he is, Moore closes with this cloying paragraph in which he invokes the name of Nelson Mandela for effect.

This weekend, Nelson Mandela is gravely ill. When he was a boy, his teacher – whose name was Wellington – replaced his African first name with that of a British hero: he called him Nelson. It stuck. Anti-imperialist though he is, Mandela was educated with a profound respect for the British culture of parliamentary democracy. It became, in many respects, his model for a multiracial South Africa. It arose from good beliefs inculcated early in life. In our own country today, almost the opposite happens. In our state schools, in mosques, on the internet, in university gatherings, many young people are taught to detest the freedom in which they live. Just as surely as good teaching, bad teaching has its power. We refuse even to face it, let alone to stop it.

Yet, when Moore was editor of The Spectator The Dictator, he did not call for sanctions against South Africa. Indeed, like all right-wing journals of the period, The Dictator supported the perpetuation of apartheid. But let’s not forget the embarrassing episode in 2003 when Moore’s Telegraph had alleged that George Galloway had received a substantial sum of money from Saddam Hussein that had been creamed off the Oil for Food programme. Even Tony Blair believed the lies… well, what did you expect? Galloway, a serial litigant, sued the paper successfully for libel and the Telegraph was ordered to pay £150,000 in damages.

As I said  earlier, Moore’s article rides on the coat-tails of Kennite’s article but he also manages to kick one of his favourite hobby horses in the process: the BBC. This is from The Guardian (2 October 2003):

Moore has, in recent weeks, adopted an extreme anti-BBC stance, launching Beebwatch to note down incidents of leftwing bias noted by his readers (and himself) in the corporation’s broadcasts. It began with the Kelly affair and coincides with Black’s loathing of the organisation. Why did the line change, I ask. At the beginning the paper took a very neutral line, then suddenly it became rabidly anti-BBC. “We got it slightly wrong at the beginning. We were right, and we maintain the view, that the Kelly affair reflects very badly on the government. But I think for about a week we missed how all this was going to be used, which is to discredit the whole war, and once we’d twigged that, we hardened the line.”

Kennite, who was sacked from the BBC was soon hired by the Telegraph to write hatchet-jobs. I’m telling you, these people stick together like shit to a blanket.

UPDATE 15/6/13 @ 1546

Title changed.

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Filed under BBC, Ideologies, Islamophobia, Journalism, Media, racism, Racism, Sexism, Society & culture, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 49)

The recent murder of Lee Rigby and the spate of anti-Muslim attacks in the wake of the Woolwich tragedy has brought all manner of racists onto the Internet.  Therefore it was only inevitable that Kennite would join them and chip in with a poorly-researched piece of investigative journalism.

Yesterday, Kennite penned this article for the Telegraph. He opens his poison pen letter by telling us:

A controversial project claiming to measure anti-Muslim attacks will not have its government grant renewed after police and civil servants raised concerns about its methods.

Oh? Why is that?

Oddly enough, Kennite doesn’t think to give us an answer, instead he piles on the schadenfreude.

However, The Sunday Telegraph has now learned that even before Woolwich, the communities minister, the Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, called Mr Mughal to a meeting and said that Tell Mama’s grant would not be renewed.

The organisation has received a total of £375,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) since last year.

Yeah? I’m still none the wiser.

Tell Mama and Mr Mughal did not mention, however, that 57 per cent of the 212 reports referred to activity that took place only online, mainly offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook, or that a further 16 per cent of the 212 reports had not been verified. Not all the online abuse even originated in Britain.

Is that so? Yet if other (non-Muslim) groups or individuals had been attacked online, that would be okay? I’m thinking here of Lord McAlpine, whose name was traduced on Twitter and who successfully sued for libel. I’m also thinking of those people who threaten others with violence on the Internet. Usually the police are supposed to act in such situations, yet here is Kennite actually laughing off online threats of violence. Let’s read on:

“Mr Mughal was giving data on attacks to DCLG which wasn’t stacking up when it was cross-referenced with other reports by Acpo [the Association of Chief Police Officers],” said one source closely involved in counter-extremism.

“He was questioned by DCLG civil servants and lost his temper. He was subsequently called in by Don Foster and told that he would receive no more money.”

I think I’d lose my temper too.

Further down the article, we find this:

In mid-May, before Woolwich, one Jewish activist, Ambrosine Chetrit, received a threatening letter from solicitors after she tweeted that “Tell Mama are sitting on Twitter on the EDL hashtag, threatening anyone and everyone whose comments they do not like about Islam”.

“Ambrosine Chetrit”? Anyone would think she was just an innocent Jewish activist. It turns out that she’s actually a supporter of the English Defence League (EDL). For a supposedly shit-hot investigative journalist, Kennite ignores one of the golden rules of his trade: check your facts.

Here’s a link

Chetrit tweet

Now before Kennite starts mouthing off about this woman being Jewish, I think we should remember that some Italian Jews supported Mussolini’s fascists. Indeed, the Zionist Revisionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky openly admired Mussolini. But what kind of “activist” is Chetrit/Shitrit? It isn’t clear. Her Twitter profile tells us that she’s a,

Jewish mum, Israeli daughter, zionist, anipal, Likud violinist, voice over, music biz (1986-2004) , making Aliyah 2013

A “Likud” violinist? What’s that? Are they any different to any other violinist or do they just play songs that are pleasing only to a Likudnik’s ears?  Her tweets have, erm, been “protected” too. What’s she got to hide, I wonder?

Kennite also cites Atma Singh, whom he describes as “a former race adviser to the then Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone”. That’s the same Ken Livingstone, whom Gilligan spent the better part of 8 years smearing by the way. Apparently Mr Singh and Ms Chetrit/Shitrit had received letters from Tell Mama that threatened them with legal action. So who sent these letters?

The letters were written by Farooq Bajwa, a solicitor who has acted for The letters were written by Farooq Bajwa, a solicitor who has acted for a number of Islamists and Islamist sympathisers, including the Palestinian radical leader Raed Salah and the Respect MP George Galloway., including the Palestinian radical leader Raed Salah and the Respect MP George Galloway.

Notice how Kennite casually tells us that Farooq Bajwa is a “solicitor” who has worked for ” a number of Islamists and Islamist sympathisers”. Remember, in Gilligan’s mind, anyone who complains about attacks against Muslims is an “Islamist sympathiser”.

In the last couple of weeks,  attacks against Muslims have escalated. Last week, a Somali cultural centre in Muswell Hill was set ablaze. The attackers left the letters “EDL” daubed on the wall. An Islamic boarding school was attacked in Chislehurst a couple of days ago. The Metropolitan Police have said that anti-Muslim attacks have increased from one a day to eight a day and have stepped up patrols around Islamic sites. Yet all Kennite can do is make fun and play to his gallery of bigots and halfwits. By laughing such things off, he gives succour to EDL and BNP thugs and encourages further attacks. Let’s face it, the EDL and the BNP are indiscriminate and will attack anyone who they think looks like a Muslim. In other words, anyone with brown or black skin will become a target. Are you happy with that, Kennite?

To be honest, Gillie’s story is an obfuscatory mess. On the one hand, he crows with delight about Tell Mama being denied funding and, on the other, he cites an EDL sympathiser.

For a man who claims to “hate” racism, Kennite tends to use phrases like “the white establishment”. If that isn’t an allusion to deeply held prejudices, then I’m Winston Churchill, who really was a racist.

UPDATE: 10/6/13 @ 1503

Shitrit’s Tweets are no longer protected but she has removed the offending remarks. Typical.

She’s posted these instead

Ambrosine שטרית@MrsShitrit 53m

I am not a 1.a nazi 2. edl 3.BNP 4 zionnazi 5.jewnazi 6.a thief 7.s zioncriminial – >I am a Jew who advocates for Israel sick of stalkers.

And

Ambrosine שטרית@MrsShitrit 50m

I am also a Jewish mother who advocates for Israel on twitter. When I receive harrassment, and anti-Semitic tweets that is a crime.

And

Ambrosine שטרית@MrsShitrit 46m

I forgot to say I am a proud zionist. << OR IS THAT A CRIME NOW?

Hysterical. It looks like someone’s rattled her cage. I wonder who? I also wonder if she’s familiar with Pamela Geller? Call me suspicious, but I don’t think this woman is Jewish either.

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Of Muslim appearance…

What does “of Muslim appearance” mean? The BBC’s Nick Robinson thought he knew when he told us that the Woolwich attackers were of “Muslim appearance”. Apparently, this is what “Whitehall sources” had told him. This was also before Lee Rigby’s murderers’ details had been verified (the name of the victim had also to be verified). That’s what I’d call “irresponsible journalism”.

In 2007, Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by officers from SO15, the Met’s anti-terrorism branch while boarding a train at Stockwell station.  The cops were under the misapprehension that de Menezes was “of Muslim appearance”. They based their judgement solely on the fact that he had tanned skin.

In the aftermath of the shooting of Jean Charles, I was afraid to go on the Tube. Why? Because someone could have mistaken me for a Muslim ‘terrorist’. I carry a rucksack. I have dark skin. For some people, that’s enough.

So what is a Muslim supposed to look like?

Here’s a picture of a Muslim.

21583.3 Meltdown A5 3.indd

This is Richard Thompson, formerly of Fairport Convention. He’s a Sufi. He’s also a bloody good guitarist.

The word “Muslim” for the racist thugs of the English Defence League is shorthand for “someone who has dark skin”.

2750621FB107_commiesOn the left is comedian Dave Chappelle. He’s a Muslim too. He’s very funny.

Remind me again, what is a Muslim supposed to look like?

Do you have to catch them at Friday prayers to identify them?

Even then, you’d have a hard time because, you see, they come in all different shapes, sizes and colours.

This is probably the world’s most famous Muslim. He’s Muhammad Ali (right). He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.

When he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, there were people who refused to call him by his newly adopted name.

Just for balance, here’s a female Muslim.

Riz Lateef

This is Riz Lateef, she  anchors BBC London’s evening news.

Still think you know what a Muslim looks like?

Here’s Marmaduke Pickthall, he translated the Qu’ran into English. His skin is the same colour as that of the EDL thugs who hate Muslims.

Marmaduke Pickthall

Here’s another. This is Jeffrey Lang, he’s a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Kansas.

Jeffrey Lang

So what does “Of Muslim appearance” mean? Nothing. Nothing at all.

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The Belfast flag riots

Courtesy UK MSN News

Courtesy UK MSN News

Call me a cynic but I never thought the Good Friday Agreement was worth a warm bucket of spit.  For years I would tell anyone who would listen that the entire process was superficial and that the real issues had not been dealt with but had, instead, been swept aside so that Blair could claim his spurious place in history as the man who brought “peace” to Northern Ireland. His address to the cameras at Stormont perfectly summed up his superficiality…and his conceit.

“A day like today is not a day for soundbites, really. But I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders. I really do.”

Blair never seemed interested in the long-running sectarian tensions that have characterized Northern Ireland’s political landscape for the best part of 50 years. Once the ink was dry on the document, power-sharing at Stormont and the renaming of the Royal Ulster Constabulary seemed to be the only items on the agenda. In fact, an inordinate amount of time was spent trying to find a neutral-sounding name for the much-hated (by Republicans at least) RUC. In the end they settled on the Police Service of Northern Ireland – a real mouthful.

And the sectarianism? It was allowed to fester.

What strikes me most about Loyalists is their overweening sense of entitlement. The slightest move towards any kind of change is met by violence from them. Indeed, we can trace this back to the Ulster Covenant in 1912 and the formation of the original Ulster Volunteers (UVF) by Edward Carson (it is his statue that stands on the approach to Stormont) and his pal, James Craig, who bought guns from Imperial Germany (that’s something Loyalists don’t like to talk about). The same people who joined the UVF would later find themselves fighting the Germans in WWI. Loyalists see no irony or contradiction there.

The Ulster Volunteers were the first Loyalist paramilitary group to be organized in the North and it could be argued that Carson and Craig had ruthlessly exploited Protestant fears of Home Rule for their own ends. It is ironic, at any rate, that the Home Rule movement was led and orchestrated by Protestants like Isaac Butt and later Charles Stewart Parnell. Loyalists conveniently ignore that.

Loyalists will tell you that their “culture” is bound up with the Union flag and that the flying of the flag over Belfast City Hall is a matter of life or death to them. But if their culture hinges on a piece of cloth, then that isn’t much of a culture. Beyond the flag, all they have are pipe and drum bands and Orangeism. Curiously enough, Carson was no admirer of Orangeism and famously described the Orange Order’s speeches as “the unrolling of a mummy. All old bones and rotten rags”. Carson was born in Dublin, by the way.

If you think the arguments of the Loyalists sound eerily similar to those of the far right on the so-called British mainland, then you would be right. Loyalists and the British far-right have long enjoyed close ties. In fact, the EDL have made contact with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). They have in common, the traits of thuggishness, victimhood, obsessive paranoia and a blind hatred of anything that vaguely resembles compromise. The fact that the Union Flag isn’t flown 365 days a year over town halls in England, Wales and Scotland cuts no ice with these people. They want their “fleg” (sic) to fly over Belfast City Hall all year round.

This article claims that the BNP are using the “protests” as a recruiting sergeant.

The BNP, led by MEP Nick Griffin, has yet to crack the political hustings in Northern Ireland despite at one time setting up a base in Dundonald, east Belfast to promote its political views and raise election funds.

Now loyalist sources said the BNP are trying to muscle in on Northern Ireland’s political scene in an effort to recruit new candidates and new voters.

And sources said they believed that Nick Griffin will come to Belfast in the New Year to seek the views of loyalists in supporting his party.

“The BNP are sitting in England looking at the political unrest in Northern Ireland and thinking to themselves this is our opportunity to get in there and establish a firm base,” said a loyalist source.

With this kind of ignorance dominating Loyalist discourse, it’s hard to see how anyone can get them to see sense. The sad truth is that the Protestant working class is ill-served by Loyalism and those who lead the various Loyalist gangs. They would do well to abandon the dead-end of Loyalism and seek rapprochement with their Catholic working class neighbours to form a society based on more than flags and the poisonous rhetoric of tattooed hard men.

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