Guest Post: Is the EDL Racist?
At an empirical level I think most of us would agree that the basis of EDL support comes from a section of the population that is typically underpriveliged, having little aspiration. During times of economic recession their disfranchisement can manifest itself as racism, i.e Mosely’s black shirts, NF, BNP...
That is quite different to claiming the organisation itself is founded on racist principles. If it was and publicly so, it would be a proscribed organisation. As a result, even if all the racist people from the BNP and NF joined the EDL, the EDL itself would not be "racist". Therefore, how does the layman deduce that the EDL, is infact racist?
In order to answer this question I decided to assess both sides of the dichotomy. I arranged to interview the leader of the EDL in Luton, Stephen Lennon AKA Tommy Robinson, as well as the Chair of United Against Fascism (UAF), Vince Charles. Although I was told by the EDL press office that ‘Tommy’ would call me to arrange an interview, he apparently decided not to. I made it clear I wanted to offer him an opportunity to respond to comments and opinions.
I met with Vince anyway. Vince is a British born Irishman living in Luton and stated that he believes that Lennon’s motivation is fundamentally racist. He claims to have been racially abused by Lennon and called a ‘Paddy C***’
Vince noticed, as did I that Lennon referred to the ‘gay community’ several times in the recent documentary ‘Proud and Prejudiced’ and thus implied he has support from the gay community. In turn, this could be viewed as a deliberate ploy to suggest that Muslims were the only objectionable element in Luton society and tacitly implying that the EDL has support from the ‘gay community.’ However, Vince told me that Lennon had abused a colleague by calling him a ‘queer c***’
None of this is evidence of racism though. However, this is the same pattern that the EDL & Steven Lennon ploys upon with other parts of the British community, such as the Sikh and Hindu community. I pointed out that there are black/mixed race men and of course, the infamous Sikh guy in the EDL. Lennon’s insistence that he is not racist is evidenced by virtue of him being ‘godparent’ to a black child. (Card carrying member of the NAZI Party, the philospher Martin Heidegger, had an affair with Jewish author of the ‘Banality of Evil, the trial of Eichmann’, Hannah Arendt- He still didn’t offer her protection from persecution).
I met Lennon and his solicitor at a meeting in February last year regarding the purchase of a disused hall by the Shia community. The arguments offered by the ‘concerned citizens’ were nothing to do with a need for housing (as they initially claimed for the basis of their objection), it was just because they were racist. I laughed out loud on occasion at the stupidity of their points.
The EDL solicitor made tenuous links between the community leaders and Ayatollah Khameni. Then Lennon started a diatribe about Muslims having a higher incidence of diabetes than white people; not only has this nothing to do with a community centre (not a Mosque) being funded by the Shia, but it shows that his motivation has nothing to do with belief and everything to do with race hate.
The EDL makes out it is not racist because Lennon’s solicitor makes sure of that. Are its supporters and leadership racists? Is the funding from racists? Yes. If the EDL was the champion of human rights and critic of fundamentalism that it claims to be, I would join. However, I have known Stephen Lennon’s like for three generations. Hate and ignorance is the same in any guise. Only the target changes. So whatever the duck calls itself, if it waddles and quacks, it’s probably a duck.