[Now part of a series on Fallible Heroes]
The recent and undeniably stupid Tommy Robinson walked into jail. And this has given cover to many people that wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Perhaps made uncomfortable by his ‘activist journalism’, as he’s moved away from street protest himself, this last installment has proved too much of a temptation.
So, Nick Cohen jumped aboard.
Tommy Robinson and the rise of the new extremists
This is a thinly disguised hit piece on Robinson. Though disguised as general commentary on ‘extremism’ politics, that talks about the funding of political enterprises, it also throws in a few other individuals, but only in passing, for good measure, to keep up the tone so that it looks less like a hit piece with one target. He mentions Katie Hopkins, for example. But, Robinson gets more paragraphs than anyone else.
Why is Robinson lumped in with extremists? What has been extreme, exactly, about his activism? If you think he has, could you be explicit.
He created a street protest movement, the EDL, which he says himself was beleaguered because it attracted the unsavoury elements. Some of Robinson’s and the EDL’s reported thuggish behaviour was actually throwing those elements out. You’ll also note that in another context, when AntiFa are on the scene there’s often violence, and ‘arrests’ are reported – though what fails to be reported is that it’s usually AntiFa doing the attacking and sustaining most arrests. No matter. Blame Robinson.
So, other than a street protest movement, what extremism?
I don’t think Labour is considered an extreme party even though it has attracted left wing extremists all along, and arguably has them running the show now – but all very mainstream.
It doesn’t take Nick long to get down to trolling the uneducated masses. There’s the usually snobbish hat tip to the working class ‘beer hall’. But I suppose the ‘Doc Martens’ is very much a reference to the Reggae loving skinheads against fascism, isn’t it? Oh, well, may be not. Football thugs? Yes, that must be it.
On the point of football, what’s not covered here is the Football Lads Alliance. Look on Twitter and they are clearly labelled in the same light as Robinson often is: fascists, Nazis, racists. The FLA t might well appear on Nick’s radar when it has smeared so sufficiently to let Nick write a piece on it without seeming to be too obviously anti-working class. British football has undergone a transformation since its skinhead ‘bovver boot’ days. It’s now a family affair, supporting local communities, with female directors and women’s teams becoming stars alongside their male first team counterparts. Watch any FLA march and you’ll see people of all ethnicities, and, gosh, some females. And banners representing elements of supporters of many clubs – it’s serious business if you can unite football ‘thugs’. It turns out their message is pretty much the same as Tommy Robinson’s – it’s just that Tommy Robinson has been louder, and he’s been saying it longer.
Robinson has some issues, there’s no doubt. But, his actual criminality is, when you examine it, far more mundane than many other street activist groups, such as AntiFa, that not only get a pass from the press (if they can keep the violence below the radar) but are actually endorsed as Nazi-punchers. Robinson’s criminality emerges from his over exuberant stupidity more than any criminal intent, and also gets a good helping from conveniently unrelated charges being filed, and even thrown out of court. And what he genuinely does do that is criminal doesn’t remotely compare to the criminality that he protests, both terrorism and grooming gangs.
Yet more people on the ‘progressive left’ hate Robinson with a passion they seem unable to muster for the child killers and child rapists. They’ll happily scream about Robinson, but would be much happier if they could sweep the bomb bits, body parts and broken childhoods under the carpet.
To call (or, as in Nicks piece, to sneakily imply, with sufficient deniability) Robinson an extremist is extremely dishonest.
When Julia Ebner misrepresented Robinson in this way, though a little more explicitly, with less deniability, she did it in the Guardian, but while she worked out of the offices of Quilliam. Haras Rafiq felt it necessary to go on Newsnight with Robinson and actually deny that he, or Quilliam, endorsed what Ebner had written. Ebner didn’t last long after that. She still manages to do what Nick has done here: write a piece ostensibly on extremist politics, but name dropping Robinson with sufficient frequency, alongside the names of actual extremists, that the inference is near impossible to not to fall for. Throw ‘alt-right’ in a few times, without actually saying Robinson is alt-right, and that will be enough to get retweets* of the article by those that will do the job more explicitly. And, when writing these articles, conveniently avoid an explicit meaning of the term alt-right – because Robinson is obviously not alt-right, since in terms of racism Robinson is as polar opposite of Richard Spencer as Nick Cohen is. But, the ‘racist’ smears will follow on nicely just by making sure ‘Tommy Robinson’ and ‘alt-right’ appear in the same article that avoids saying the former IS NOT the latter.
*Money making click bait that helps Nick’s income? Odd, that Nick, a paid journalist, homes in on Robinson’s earning capacity, as if earning a living from a cause one is passionate about is less moral than other moralising journalism. That’s how the world works.
Oh, and apparently, Robinson has been raised to the grand position of ‘politician’ or is it lowered – you can never tell with politicians. Anyway, this seems absurd:
Most conservatives steered well clear of Tommy Robinson, even though he was one of the few politicians who can speak well to the racist strain in white working class British culture.
“can speak well to”? Well, if joining with people of various ethnicities, targeting one specific political judicial religious ideology, and being particularly clear that his real targets are Islamists, terrorists and grooming gangs, amounts to racism, then surely criticising the Indian Caste system or FGM is racist too. Yes, I know that some ‘progressive’ numpties think it is, but that’s besides the point. Pointing an accusing finger at the abusers and terrorists that currently over-represent in some (non-Monolithic) ‘communities’ is not racism.
In this context, you should note, though it’s often ignored, that Tommy Robinson targets the genuinely ‘Islamophobic’ politicians, police and press. You know, the ones that have such an irrational fear of Islam they will look the other way as abuse goes on, as Andrew Norfolk did, until he snapped out of his ‘progressive’ mindset and came to his senses.
“racist strain in white working class British culture” – Too easy, Nick. You know full well that for so many, this means ALL working class people. I hear this from people that are, or were working class too, but managed to get a reasonable education, leave their council estates for the suburbs, and now look down on the scum they left behind. The very people that jump down your throat, if, in talking about ISIS, you don’t qualify it with NOT ALL MUSLIMS.
What about the title of the article? “Tommy Robinson and the rise of the new extremists”
Well, it doesn’t actually call Robinson an extremist. And we often see article authors using the get out of jail card, “Well, I didn’t write the headline.”
Many working class people, that lack the sophisticated education enjoyed by many that look down on them, are far more ‘straight talking’ – which obviously means not being as capable of being judicious with their smears as the more literary journalists that thinly disguise their contempt for the likes of Robinson.
For other topics of public concern, what would be called ‘people power’, is extremism when engaging in the thoroughly decent thing of taking a dislike to Islam. Why do religions get such unholy passes to promote such barbaric ideas, and then get away with claiming to be a religion of peace?
It’s typical that the credibility of a call to ‘people power’ very much depends on who is doing the calling. Jeremy Corbyn manages to appear interested in the people, while looking down on the actual people that have no voice. He’s become the leader of the Labour party on the back of his ‘say nothing, commit to nothing‘ skills in this regard (“I abhor all bombing”).
But I’m afraid there’s somebody else shouting now, making the very claims about police and political corruption that allowed grooming gangs to operate in plain sight. Maggie Oliver investigated and brought to justice just a small number of the Rochdale grooming gang members. Her success has given her a voice (and funnily enough, a means of earning a living from her valuable experiences). What’s Maggie Oliver calling for now?
Tommy Robinson was doing people power when ‘Islamophobia’ (the fear of criticising Islam or Muslims) was well established by Blair’s multiculturalist funding of self declared Muslim representative organisations.
Now, Maggie Oliver is saying what Robinson has been saying:
Remember, Islam is a very conservative political judicial religious ideology. The judicial part is Sharia, that so many Muslims turn to for justice. The politics is written into all religions that make social prescriptions and proscriptions, but it’s even more explicit in Islam, which is anti-secular and has an explicit goal of Islamic domination written into it.
Many traditional liberals like Nick have already commented on how the Left’s alliance with Islamism is characteristic of actual extremes having common goals – rub out the sensible voices in the middle and deal with the final battle of what looks like interchangeable good and evil later.
I won’t bother asking for examples of Robinson’s racism. They never materialise. Some very credible examples would have appeared by now were there any truth in the charge. That failed narrative has moved on.
The ‘far-right’, ‘alt-right’ and ‘extremist’ charges are much easier to make and not support, when you don’t even have to back them up. They are charges that are vague enough that they are far easier to deny you made them.
So, what extremes does Robinson represent? Well, you could actually make the effort to ask him.
To write a piece about extremism, and include Tommy Robinson, who Nick has sort of defended in other contexts, and the only difference then and now is his latest arrest, … well, that seems like outright dishonesty.
Sure, Nick thought Robinson didn’t help himself. But an extremist? Like, comparable to say an Islamic extremist? Seriously? Has Tommy Robinson EVER called for the harming or ANYONE?
If we take Anjem Choudary, who approves of death for apostasy, as the low bar of extremism, and ISIS as the high bar, compared to which even Hitler wins only because of numbers, then ‘extremist’ is already pretty wide. Even then, based on death for apostasy alone, that’s a lot of Muslims you’re calling extremists.
How about AntiFa? Sure. They are extremists. They shut down people they disagree with. Violently. That’s pretty extreme. Has Robinson EVER recommended that?
No. Nick’s piece is pure bullshit, when you look at in that context.
It’s funny, because I’m pretty sure Nick has lamented the tendency for the Left to call everyone Nazis, fascists, and other things they are not. What happened?
I suppose otherwise rational people can go off the rails sometimes.