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The BNP and Neo-Nazis, The BNP and Islam

Edmund Standing’s recent report on The BNP and the Online Fascist Network has resulted in a debate over whether Standing has underplayed the BNP’s anti-Muslim rhetoric in his investigation of continuing links to neo-Nazism . Edmund’s view, expressed in a follow-up article, is that

The reality is that Griffin and co don’t really care about Islam. Griffin may be an odious figure, but he’s not a complete idiot, and he knows very well that Britain is not on the verge of turning into an Islamic State.

Following his strategy for making the BNP electable, Griffin has tried to steer the party towards populist issues, picking up on fears and resentment among the electorate in an attempt to use such issues as a Trojan horse for his underlying racist agenda. The truth is that the BNP hates Muslims because they are predominantly brown skinned. In ‘white nationalist’ ideology, everything ultimately boils down to an obsession with race.

Islamophobia Watch complains:

Trying to make sense of Standing’s argument, he seems to be saying that the BNP’s Islamophobia is a mere epiphenomenon of traditional colour-based racism and that anti-fascists should concentrate on resisting the latter. He writes: “The truth is that the BNP hates Muslims because they are predominantly brown skinned. In ‘white nationalist’ ideology, everything ultimately boils down to an obsession with race.”

It is of course true that the BNP’s hatred of Islam is inseparable from the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not white. But racist ideology is not based solely or even primarily on the physical characteristics of members of the victimised minority community. These days it is more often justified in cultural terms. When the BNP denounces Islam as “alien” to “Western values”, and rants on about the threat to European civilisation posed by a “barbaric desert religion”, this isn’t reducible to a hatred of Muslims because they are brown. The far right really does despise and fear Islamic beliefs and religious practices…If we accept Standing’s analysis, the BNP leadership doesn’t believe a word of this. Griffin is stupid and bigoted enough to embrace paranoid fascist fantasies about Jewish control of the media (see his 1997 pamphlet Who are the Mindbenders?) but apparently he’s too intelligent to imagine that the “liberal elite” are complicit in a plan to facilitate the Muslim takeover of Europe.

Sunny Hundal concurs, calling the report “a farce”. There is also some scepticism because the report has been published by the Centre for Social Cohesion; the CSC’s director Douglas Murray is part of the neoconservative anti-Islamic pundit circuit, speaking alongside the likes of Melanie Phillips and Robert Spencer (Murray also recently spoke at the Robertson faction of the Swinton Circle – which puts him in some dubious company).

However, it seems to me that this spat is unconstructive: we can’t know what’s going on inside Nick Griffin’s head beyond what he actually says or does, and whether or not the BNP’s attacks on Muslims are primarily opportunistic, Edmund does not suggest that they are not serious or should be ignored. His report has a different focus, because it has has a different purpose: we know that Griffin’s stated strategy has been to downplay his true views with palatable euphemisms, and the report contains useful new documentation of the extent to which the party is willing to tolerate and draw support from those who are proud to identify with the Nazis. I think Edmund could consider the BNP’s views on “culture” for people in living Britain when judging whether it all just “boils down” to race – Rumbold (in a thread here) notes that the party would hardly welcome white converts to Islam – but the report does not hinge on that point.

17 Responses

  1. I do think that Standing is right, in that Griffin is downplaying the anti-Islam stuff BUT I still think that anti-Islamic feeling is part of their fanbase so to speak, so Griffin may be underplaying it, as he has done numerous unsavoury parts of BNP policy but that doesn’t mean the far right doesn’t have an anti-Islamic agenda.

  2. I think there’s probably a difference between official BNP policy, and the individual views of BNP members.

    I guess some BNP members will hate Muslims, others will hate Jews, blacks, etc. for some it will be ultra-nationalism or even patriotism-gone-wrong. Some BNP members will be hard ideologues and others won’t.

    Nick Griffin’s political machinations would surely be enough to fill another report, and with that in mind, I think the most constructive thing that Standing’s critics could do would be to themselves spend hours researching the BNP’s attitudes towards Muslims and produce a report about the BNP’s tactical and political path.

    Standing’s research was informative and revealed a lot about the mindset of online BNP activists. He should be commended for it in my view.

  3. Agreed this spat is silly and the report has a different focus.

    Whatever you say, Standing’s work is detailed and informative.

    It is a shame that people don’t look at the quality of his research and think about the points that he makes. It is very easy to snipe, but harder to constructively engage with his points.

  4. I do like Standing’s work but I do think that it is odd when the Muslim community is the current and endless whipping boy by the far-right that it is so underplayed, even to use one of Standing’s own examples, the awful Britain Awake blog, the main focus of his ire is Muslims, the main focus of many of the far-rights ire is Muslims.

    Yes, they still hate Jews and anyone with skin darker than white but the current hobby horse is Islam, not helped by the current global attitudes towards Muslims.

  5. Yes, but assuming the very worst of motives for Edmund Standing is hardly the way to argue with his work, is it?

  6. I don’t see an assumption of the worst here, I see Richard’s usual fair approach to the matter at hand.

    And I’ll go on the record again, although I’ve said it over at Harry’s Place (A vile palce I only visit to read Edmund’s work) that I enjoy a great deal Mr. Standing’s work in his battles with the BNP.

  7. I was *not* talking about Richard’s points, rather those like Sunny, you and others who seemingly wish to impose your own agenda on Standing’s work.

  8. Forgive me, I presumed in a blog post about Standing’s work you were talking about that, I am.

    I also find it odd and amusing that you talk of imposing agendas, you make having an opinion and a free mind sound like a bad thing.

  9. Having an opinion is a great idea, but also is actually engaging with Standing’s points.

  10. Indeed but not blindly.

  11. Might I suggest that Standing critic’s actually try and produce the report they suggest that Standing should have produced in the first place?

    As it would be a worthwhile endeavour, a positive contribution to the debate and use up much of that wasted energy which is being spent carping about him.

    He has replied here, http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/08/05/double-standards-2/

  12. Might I suggest it’s only the Internet and some people are getting a wee bit carried away.

    Just a thought.

    One gets the sense that any constructive criticism is frowned upon, nevermind the fact that I won’t go over the Harry’s Place as it is a hell hole and the bleetings over there aren’t to my liking.

  13. Again, you misread me.

    I am all for constructive criticism, but not for arguing in bad faith when it comes to opposing the BNP, or petty criticisms which do not engage with Standing’s points.

  14. On a side note, the speed of your reply and the constant desire to defend HP seemingly at all costs, I remember you from the LC debate on one of the HP anti-semite smear jobs, it’s a wee bit odd and you’re making an argument out of nothing here but still, I’ll argue the toss as long as the Earth keeps revolving round the sun.

    I read your last comment, it shoud read “criticisms which do not aagree with Standing’s points.”

    You’re horribly wrong, Richard has done a sound job here at highlighting some concerns and you’d be best off not treating a well-reasoned and gentle post as a damning assault.

    You are protesting too much and I get the feeling that SOMETHING IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!!!!

  15. “I’ll argue the toss as long as the Earth keeps revolving round the sun.”

    I am sure you will, but you, Sunny and other critics of Edmund Standing’s work (Richard here, excepted) remind me of Brendan Behan’s comment:

    “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves”

    • He ripped off Voltaire:

      “Who,” said Candide, “was that ill-mannered hog, who spoke so disparagingly of the scene in the play that made me weep, and of the actors who gave me so much pleasure?” “It is a miserable creature,” replied the cleric, “who gets his living by running down all the new plays and all the new books. He hates those who meet with success, as eunuchs hate all who enjoy themselves. He is one of those literary serpents who nourish themselves on venom. He is a pamphleteer.”

    • Oh what a surprise you replied!

      No idea what you mean by your quote, clearly you’ve gone off the deep end, maybe best if you go away now before you start to look a wee bit obsessive.

      Bye!

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