What the EDL tells us about hopelessness and fear in English communities


1:29 pm - June 27th 2013

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by Dan Taylor

Though the EDL claim to have cancelled (EDL site) their intentionally inflammatory march to Woolwich this Saturday, unofficially their website is still inviting its 35,000 members to descend on south east London for a ‘walk of honour‘.

The callousness and hypocrisy of the EDL in attempting to politically profit out of the random murder of Lee Rigby is chilling, though not surprising. It’s to the credit of the Army and the local borough that they’ve warned the EDL away from hanging about in the area.

But the real problem of the EDL is both increasing violence unfolding against peaceful Muslim communities and the lack of challenge to its anti-Muslim rhetoric by mainstream politicians.

In the fortnight following the Woolwich killing, hate crimes against Muslims in London soared eightfold according to Scotland Yard (a figure no doubt higher given the mistrust of police in Muslim communities). With online abuse, firebombings, grisly murders and physical violence increasing against British Muslims, particularly women, the problem of Islamophobic terrorism is something no one can remain complacent about.

Despite this, why has no major politician visited the burnt-down remains of the al-Rahma Islamic centre in Muswell Hill, or the Aisha mosque in Walsall bombed last Saturday? Why has no politician tackled the chilling rise of anti-Muslim violence?

Because to do so would be to introduce the causes of Islamophobia: hopelessness, poverty and fear in former-working class communities across England, and across Europe.

There is nothing special about the EDL. Like the BNP and NF before them, they are the latest manifestation of an ugly minority of violent racists with a warped understanding of English history. But examining the causes of their support leads to real problems, such as decades-long unemployment, housing shortages, hunger, benefits cuts, closing community services, alienation from mainstream politics, police racism and violence, and a wider culture of Islamophobic fear since the US/UK ‘War on Terror’.

The fear, anger and hopelessness of its lived experience is very real in many former-working class communities. It requires a ‘Britishness’ myth, despite being primarily an English problem. As with UKIP, perhaps the more acceptable and ‘common sense’ face of xenophobic nationalism, these right-wing parties and their media outlets offer an easy, us-and-them narrative for atomised and distressed individuals to believe in.

Common characteristics of EDL’s ‘soft racism’ include a generic fear of outsiders, fear of injury to home and family, especially young females, and loss of identity and culture, a fear which leads to hatred. Such messages are broadcast on a daily basis throughout the tabloid press.

As the philosopher Spinoza once asked, ‘why do men fight for their servitude as if for their salvation?’ With the poor bearing the real cost of austerity, another message of hope, opportunity and popular social democracy is needed. To put the words of the EDL leader to a better end, if we fail to tackle the real causes of racism we risk ‘sleep-walking into oblivion’.


Dan Taylor tweets from here, and blogs at Drowned and Saved

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Reader comments


Given the political nature of Lee Rigby’s murder, it’s only ‘random’ in so far as he was the soldier they happened to kill.

Its only what you’re doing Dan.

Mohammed Saleem’s murder took place 2 weeks before Lee Rigby was killed, why try and connect the events?

The callousness and hypocrisy of the EDL in attempting to politically profit out of the random murder of Lee Rigby is chilling.

The EDL produced a video warning of extremist preachers a couple of years before that attack and within that very video was one of the men who went on to commit the murder him self, what you have written above is beyond.

But the real problem of the EDL is both increasing violence unfolding against peaceful Muslim communities and the lack of challenge to its anti-Muslim rhetoric by mainstream politicians.

Actually that’s the result, created by the left, of not confronting the Small minority of Muslims who preach hate and call for damage to Britain’s culture.

There is nothing special about the EDL. Like the BNP and NF before them, they are the latest manifestation of an ugly minority of violent racists with a warped understanding of English history.

As the EDL has divisions of differing races and even a gay division within its ranks the claim that they are racist is false.

The fear, anger and hopelessness of its lived experience is very real in many former-working class communities.

This is very interesting, those who do not understand and are of course, looking into working class communities from the outside, put all the problems down to benefit cuts and inequality, they are of course outside of those communities and have never been exposed to the minority and social changes that caused the tensions the EDL were born out of in the first place, any such reasons are simply racism to them.

The left have indirectly created the EDL and whilst hate preachers are welcomed into the country, paid upwards of 25,000 a year in benefits and are protected, any one who speaks in a negative way of Islam is banned from the country, what ever this develops into is on your hands.

4. Shatterface

The callousness and hypocrisy of the EDL in attempting to politically profit out of the random murder of Lee Rigby

A ‘random murder’ in the sense that those who hacked him to death just happen to follow an ideology that thinks people like Lee Rigby deserve to be hacked to death: I mean, this could easily have been any random bloke hacked to pieces by other random blokes. Shit happens.

But the real problem of the EDL is both increasing violence unfolding against peaceful Muslim communities and the lack of challenge to its anti-Muslim rhetoric by mainstream politicians.

The real problem with the EDL is that a media obssession with a group of bell ends incapable of mounting an unruly bus queue have been magnified into the greatest threat to civilization since AIDS.

If the EDL didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent them: not merely an equal but oppostite mirror jihadism but an explanation and a justification of that jihadism.

Common characteristics of EDL’s ‘soft racism’ include a generic fear of outsiders, fear of injury to home and family, especially young females, and loss of identity and culture, a fear which leads to hatred. Such messages are broadcast on a daily basis throughout the tabloid press.

Gosh, who you could replace ‘EDL’ with in that sentence and come up with something more meaningful? A closed community fearful of outsiders, obssessed with family, especially young females, clinging to a cultural identity and, you know, occasionally randomly hacking random people to death?

Support for the EDL is so low that it tells us nothing about those things.

They are certainly (@3) convenient bogeymen for the left however.

6. Churm Rincewind

@ Shatterface (3): “A ‘random murder’ in the sense that those who hacked him to death just happen to follow an ideology that thinks people like Lee Rigby deserve to be hacked to death: I mean, this could easily have been any random bloke hacked to pieces by other random blokes.”

I’m not sure of your point here. Do you mean that Lee Rigby’s murder was a random event in the sense that the assailants were plainly bonkers and wedded to their own mad views about the world, in the same way that the Yorkshire Ripper was clear that his Christian views justified his actions, or do you mean that there’s a widespread and widely accepted ideology out there which promotes the murder of any passing British soldier?

“The callousness and hypocrisy of the EDL in attempting to politically profit out of the random murder of Lee Rigby is chilling, though not surprising.”

Perhaps. But it’s as nothing compared to the attempt by the UAF to present itself as the peacemaker in all this when its own vice chair is an Islamist who rejects democracy, supports Sharia law and threatens journalists, and it was one of its own supporters who actually murdered Lee Rigby.

‘The random murder…’.

‘Random?’ How? That is contemptibly dishonest.

8. Shatterface

I’m not sure of your point here. Do you mean that Lee Rigby’s murder was a random event in the sense that the assailants were plainly bonkers and wedded to their own mad views about the world, in the same way that the Yorkshire Ripper was clear that his Christian views justified his actions, or do you mean that there’s a widespread and widely accepted ideology out there which promotes the murder of any passing British soldier?

I can’t tell if you are taking the piss.

Crap they preach multiculturalism and they don’t have a fear of anti Britishness

10. John Reid

All said cjcj

11. Shatterface

‘Random?’ How? That is contemptibly dishonest.

I think Taylor genuinely can’t see the connection.

What’s the opposite of apophenia? Tthe delusion that meaningful patterns are absent despite them slapping you in the eyeballs?

Certainly some kind of disorder effecting the white matter of the brain.

12. Richard Carey

@ 5 with the silly name,

“the Yorkshire Ripper was clear that his Christian views justified his actions”

Obviously a dishonest and misleading statement. The Ripper pled not guilty to murder, based on diminished responsibility, claiming that voices in his head told him to kill prostitutes. This was rejected, and he was found guilty of murder.

If an EDL burned down a mosque would that be “random” or a manifestation of a fairly repellent ideology? Similarly decapitating a soldier and spouting on about Muslim brotherhood repeats an extremely common pattern.

do you mean that there’s a widespread and widely accepted ideology out there which promotes the murder of any passing British soldier?

There is exactly that, isn’t there? Weren’t the 7/7 bombers banging on how we were all guilty for living in a country whose government had invaded Muslim lands? Therefore, we deserved to be killed.

How is someone who hasn’t noticed the existence of this ideology able to hold down a job. Y’know – the one that murders girls in Pakistan for going to school; that attacks Christians in Egypt and Nigeria; that kills health workers trying to administer polio vaccines; that blows up synagogues in Argentina; that hangs gays and outlaws immodest dress codes in Iran; that is trying to outlaw displays of physical affection in Turkey; that flies planes into skyscrapers in New York and which preaches antisemitism everywhere. Have you really not noticed this ideology?

14. Charlieman

OP: “But examining the causes of their support leads to real problems, such as decades-long unemployment…”

Well stop examining them, then.

15. Shatterface

Is there evidence that the EDL are unemployed or is this just a baseless slur against those without jobs?

16. John Reid

14 another good point

17. So Much For Subtlety

The callousness and hypocrisy of the EDL in attempting to politically profit out of the random murder of Lee Rigby is chilling, though not surprising.

Not surprising at all. Given Obama has been doing it for months with the families of the Sandy Hook shooting.

It’s to the credit of the Army and the local borough that they’ve warned the EDL away from hanging about in the area.

I am not sure how that is to their credit given they do not have the power to tell people not to visit, or at least they should not have. Free country and all.

But the real problem of the EDL is both increasing violence unfolding against peaceful Muslim communities and the lack of challenge to its anti-Muslim rhetoric by mainstream politicians.

There is no increasing violence against peaceful Muslim communities and it is ironic, given the utter silence of the mainstream Muslim communities about Islamist terror, for anyone to be demanding mainstream politicians condemn the EDL’s rhetoric. How about LC publish a condemnation of mainstream Muslim clerics silence on terrorism?

In the fortnight following the Woolwich killing, hate crimes against Muslims in London soared eightfold according to Scotland Yard (a figure no doubt higher given the mistrust of police in Muslim communities).

Which is to say from nothing to next to nothing.

Despite this, why has no major politician visited the burnt-down remains of the al-Rahma Islamic centre in Muswell Hill, or the Aisha mosque in Walsall bombed last Saturday? Why has no politician tackled the chilling rise of anti-Muslim violence?

Because there has been no chilling rise in anti-Muslim violence – the Worsall Mosque does not seem to have been bombed for instance. What looks like some kids mucking about in a near-by alley is not a bomb attack.

We are still waiting to see them tackle the chilling rise of Islamist terrorism so you may be waiting a while. You know, the sort of terrorism that actually kills people.

11

The Yorkshire ripper is currently being held in Broadmoor High Secure hospital on the basis that he is criminally insane, there are those who believe that he also has a psychopathic personality disorder. The killing of Lee Rigby was politically motivated, it was not a random act although Lee Rigby was probably a random victim. To this extent, his killers should find themselves incarcerated in one of HMS prisons.

19. Dissident

Oooooooh-oooooooh eeeeeeeeh-eeeeeeeh tribalism on all sides. Gibber fancy words all you like, they are still deconstructed into consonant free sounds.

What am I saying there?

“To this extent, his killers should find themselves incarcerated in one of HMS prisons.”

Actually they deserve to be chopped up slowly in cold blood.

21. the a&e charge nurse

‘What colour is the sky in your world’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IrMGfawJY0

22. Raylan Givens

@19- a very Sharia position.

I’m not sure that the EDL tell us anything about ” the hopelessness and fear in English communities.” In fact the whole premise that such groups exist due to something special about the white working class is simply not true. There are racists at every level in society.

The left really does need to move on from romanticising about the proletariat. There are cultural issues and there is deprivation in some working class communities that need to be addressed but the Marxist baggage needs to be shed.

Socialism was a means to a fairer society in which more people would be able to live better lives. There must be other ways of achieving the same outcome. Fresh thinking and the dumping of a lot of traditional left-wing dogma is essential in the new climate. Libertarianism’s specious attraction will not be countered with old shibboleths and Labour managerialist authoritarianism!

22

Essentially agree with your comments but socialism has moved on and the emphasis now is on economic efficiency rather than an ideological notion of equality. Labour never achieved anything like a socialist state, if anything, the end result of the massive state was to produce a modern version of the ‘obligation of the nobility’.

Dissident at 19:

“Oooooooh-oooooooh eeeeeeeeh-eeeeeeeh tribalism on all sides. Gibber fancy words all you like, they are still deconstructed into consonant free sounds.

What am I saying there?”

a) I don’t know what you’re saying there.
b) At a guess, something like: “Everyone is Tribal. Except me. Am I smashing or what?”

26. TorquilMacneil

“Because to do so would be to introduce the causes of Islamophobia: hopelessness, poverty and fear in former-working class communities across England, and across Europe.”

Yes, that’s right, that’s why all working class communities across England and Europe are homophobic … er … hang on …

27. TorquilMacneil

ISLAMOPHOBIC .. d’oh!

I’ve just skimmed through the OP noting the things and claims it is encompassing, and thought that, yes, those things could be the start of an interesting discussion.
Where it can be had though I don’t know. Not on Liberal Conspiracy is all I know for sure.

Firstly though I’d just say that I don’t know if that attempt to discribe what part of the population the EDL come from is stictly accurate. They are the football hooligan demographic. A lot of them will be doing all right economically and jobs wise.

There is nothing special about the EDL. Like the BNP and NF before them, they are the latest manifestation of an ugly minority of violent racists with a warped understanding of English history.

They are not aliens, they are people working in ordinary working class jobs. Have you never spent any time with some scaffolders or brickies?

As much as you will like to try to bottle up and demonise the EDL, they are IMO just the inetivable lumpen reaction to things getting out of hand as far as multi culturalism is concerned. They are raging about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia having arrived in the UK.
Not Asian people of any religion or none coming to settle here, but the kind of culture that is the norm in Muslim countries taking hold here.
And that means mosques run by backward sects who are always trying to expand their reach and influence.

This is what the EDL people from Luton were reacting to.
Muslim resistance: The struggle within – video

If we started there, we might be more able to build up an idea about just what these EDL guy’s problem is. We know they’re thick and stupid often, and they they don’t like parts of town being predominately Salafi.

I know we should all just live and let live and that if immigrants to the UK and then second and third gennerations of their children want to live like that it’s none of our business. But that’s a liberal point of view and you can’t expect everyone to be liberals.

29. Dissident

@25 Jack c

No, everyone is tribal including me. Difference is, I’m aware of it, and try my best to not be so. Which is actually very, very hard to do…

30. John Reid

What 28 and 29 said

31. Churm Rincewind

@ Shatterface (8): By no means – my question was entirely genuine.

Let me try and put it another way. Lee Rigby’s killers have professed a particular ideology in justification for their actions, just as the Yorkshire Ripper did.

But I guess that most people would see the Yorkshire Ripper’s ideology, though professedly Christian, as outlying mainstream Christian theology and in that sense his murders were “random”.

Are you saying that Lee Rigby’s murderers fall into the same category?

Or are you saying that instead their ideology falls within mainstream Muslim opinion? I say Muslim because I think that’s what you mean. But you don’t actually say it so I may well be wrong.

Hence my question.

32. man on Clapham Omnibus

28. damon

A very brave attempt at reductionism but I am not so sure that that gets us very far . I believe there is a general ideology of ‘Britishness’ which relies on the kind of construct that not only the far right but also much of the tory party depends on for their political support. Whether you think the EDL is stupid is just a matter of opinion;I believe their view of the world is pretty much as disjointed as everyone else’s falling into what Gramsci catagorised as ‘common sense’. What ideological structures it does feed of off wonderfully dovetail into the neo liberal state and the ‘war on terror’ ,something which Bush desinated as a ‘crusade’ . The fact that this isnt a war on terror and merely a neo colonial attempt to control the middle eastern assets is by the by. Naturally the idea of ‘being threatened’ from abroad and suffering casualties both there and at home just heightens the fear of attack from muslim attackers. Its a perfect setting that can justify more expenditure on domestic and foreign espionage and defence. But the ideological resonance works both ways. Those representatives of the attacked,predominantly muslims, will themselves become attackers.
In all the above cases there is an ideology to back up the actions of the participants. IQ is never the issue.
Perhaps if Blair and his cronies never set this off in the first place none of this would be so complicated. As it happens we will have to watch how this plays out. One things for sure;those with a vested interest in security will only go from strength to strength.

33. Dissident

@32 Man on Clapham omnibus

What you wrote there is scarily accurate. What is most scary though?

Suppose we put it in the form of a proposition:

Being poor *causes* people to be racist and Islamophobic.

What do I mean by “causes”? To say that X causes Y could imply that X is necessary for Y, that is, that Y cannot happen without X having happened. Or it could imply that X is sufficient for Y, that is, that X cannot happen without Y happening.

Now, I think it’s obvious that such a reductive hypothesis doesn’t have a great deal of explanatory power. For one thing, it’s not obvious that all poor people are racist or Islamophobic. If that’s so, then what else is required?

(One might also attack this from the point of view of not being prejudiced against a particular group. I.e., it’s an illiberal argument: people from group X — poor people, Muslims, etc — have predetermined beliefs, dispositions, behaviours, and so on due to their membership of the group.)

It also falls down because it’s not clear that racism or Islamophobia is restricted to poor people. It looks like these ideas or patterns of behaviour can be found up and down the income distribution. Rich and middle class people can also be racist.

(What rich people don’t do is go on lager fuelled marches with their skinhead, football hooligan mates, or turn up on YouTube ranting about “Muslamic laws.” In other words, they don’t join the EDL.)

So poverty is neither sufficient nor necessary to explain racism or Islamophobia.

35. Man on Clapham Omnibus

34. vimothy

Isnt it just that sucessful people see their sucess as a product of their own effort whereas unsucessful people see themselves as victims of circumstances beyond their control.

In capitalism sucess generally is equated with wealth and especially the power that goes with it.

At the other end, the unsucessful are left attempting to make sense of their situation by seeking a ‘world view’ which equates with their experiences. To change their circumstance(or at least attempt to) involves matching their world view with the political choices available.The more extreme their circumstance perhaps the more extreme their pecieved solution.

People with more education and less desperation are, I would suggest, more able to decipher the ideological runes and perhaps less likely to join the political extremities.They may also enjoy a moderate stake in the status quo so for purely practical purposes less inclined to mess with it.

Rich people on the other dont not necessarily need to engage in ideological thinking because many of them enjoy optimal conditions for the aquisition of more wealth. For them the realpolitik is the manipulation of wealth and power which is why Nazis were so freely able to collaboirate with the jewish elite in WW2. Similarly for many British conservatives and the US with Muslim elites.For them its just good business without the messy issue of politics.

36. Man on Clapham Omnibus

errata

in WW2 should read prior to WW2

37. Derek Hattons Tailor

“white working class abandoned by political elite” shocker……..

When working class people wave the flag its racist and threatening, when middle class people do it, it’s patriotic and endearing. When working class people swear its threatening, when middle class people swear its eccentric. It is the class of the participants in the debate that is objected to, not their political views. The EDL are nothing more than a folk devil for metro-liberals.

Rich people don’t have a country in anything more than a notional sense, their lives are international and their thinking is international, they associate with other rich people. The middle classes gain their identity through education, career and social life. The working class traditionally gained identity from family and from work based institutions. Both have been severely weakened by globalization/neoliberalism, leaving, for some, the only source of identity as country. They lack the means to defend it, and hence have an extreme reaction to any perceived threat to it. The love in between the left and anyone except the white working class that’s been going on for the last 30 years only rubs their noses in it. And you’re surprised they are getting arsey.

38. Dissident

@ 35,6 AND 37

Both of you have a point. Ironically the same one, just expressed with different words! My take on what you both said is human beings who are either born with a silver spoon or acquire said spoon don’t give a toss. The scum that rise to the top are the ones that decide policy anyway.

Incidentally both of you, prove to me globalisation isn’t automatically a sociopath’s charter. Who get to the top – decent people who see fellow human beings as human beings, or self styled elites that see others as meat bags – in our civilisation that happens to be the ones that chant the rightwing doctrine – ie not in a human way. (Other ideologies do the same, as the problem isn’t within left or right ‘thought’)

Integrate that concept into both the past and present. Would you admire it, or see it as such if it was rightwing, while demonising the same if somehow left?either way, i find it hard to see what resulted in an elite as admirable. Btw that isn’t a pseudo scientific ‘economic’ argument. It is ‘behavioural’, on the basis of neuroscience etc.

39. Shatterface

This post was pretty twattish when it was written but subsequent events make it comically inept.


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