Last week the people of Walthamstow, somewhere i've never been, stood against the knuckle draggers of the EDL. They made a stand against fascism and in particular the confused, media manipulated, ideology of a group of idiots and thugs who lack not just the intelligence buyt more importantly the will to stand up and think for themselves. Unfortunately this happened.
Understand this: I have no sympathy for the EDL and their shady leader 'tommy robinson' (which isn't his real name either, it's Stephen Yaxley Lennon). I am not going to waste my breath excoriating his ignorance and the antics of those that idolise this clown. Their actions are worthy of the same criticism as the moron that threw a brick that could have killed someone. There is no excuse for this.
Of course I must caveat that by saying I do not know who threw that brick; I am open to believing it could have come from someone that had nothing to do with the UAF, it could have come from a Muslim just as it could have come from a non-Muslim. It could even have come from an agent provocateur - I've heard too many stories about such behaviour to regard the existence of such people as political myths.
However there is no excuse for stooping to the same level as the sort of neanderthal scum that behave like this. That's what the EDL are capable of, we don't need to become them to fight them. I get that the left has a serious disadvantage in this day and age, after decades of capitalist right wing propaganda and divide and rule. But if we play their game their way, we give them all the ammunition they will ever need. That, in my view, is a price worth paying. Maybe, as a white non Muslim person, that's easy for me to say; I can only speak for myself.
What will happen is this: the EDL will call the protesters, tarring the whole community with the same brush (they aren't smart enough to do any less), apologists for terrorism and 'islamists' (whatever that actually means). The attitude of the right towards the Muslim community is typically fascist (and I am no fan of any organised religion, by the way).
In the post 9-11 climate it has constantly demanded that it police itself. The right always demands that moderate members of the Muslim community do the job of rooting out the radical elements. This is a dangerously alluring argument but ti's pure divide and rule; it's the same argument that's used to justify confidential phone lines to shop people that might be committing benefit fraud. It's the same that informs people attacking their disabled neighbours. And of course the right doesn't believe there are moderate Muslims precisely because, in their eyes, the Muslim community doesn't police itself.
Of course there are radical elements in any and all communities: the EDL is proof of that. Consequently the brick throwing could be easily explained if not completely justified. But if the left is going to allow such spectacular own goals then it opens itself to that kind of fascist criticism and that cannot be allowed.
Don't get me wrong; don't ever make the mistake of thinking I'm not hardline when it comes to revolutionary politics in this country. We need a sea change in just about every aspect of society; we need better attitudes toward everyone. We have got to move away from the politics of envy, scarcity, fear, division and competition, and toward a society where people do not judge each other, do not seek to set people against each other and where there is abundance and compassion. Those are values I find at odds with throwing bricks at cretins.
Don't also make the mistake of thinking me naive. I don't claim to be a scholar of any kind of political thinker or expert. I have never read Marx. I know what I know from my own reading and experience and from there I make my stand. I am intrinsically aligned to the left because I find the politics of the right to be fundamentally flawed and destructive: exactly the qualities I list above. I also understand that getting rid of those qualities will be difficult precisely ebcause the left is at a disadvantage thanks mainly to the power of the media and the politics of the forces that dominate and control it. But we cannot resort to street thuggery, we really can't. That's the purview of the EDL and groups like them, and they alone are more than enough.