In the wake of publication of the BNP's membership list, Tim Lezard reports on the anger over the far right party's bid to promote 'white history month'
Teaching unions have attacked BNP plans to promote White History Month in schools, colleges and universities across England.
As the party reels from the leaking of its membership list, its youth and student wings have launched an alternative to Black History Month, saying: “This is our month, where we can be proud to be white and express it openly.” The campaign aims to counter 'white guilt trips in the national curriculum' by teaching children the 'truth' about slavery, colonialism and imperialism.
Matthew Collins from anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, said: “This odious campaign reveals the BNP’s true colours. Their views on history have always been selective – [BNP leader] Nick Griffin has denied the Holocaust ever happened. They also conveniently neglect to mention their own history, which is ridden with racism, fascism and violence.”
The BNP claims to have sent out thousands of leaflets to teaching establishments and to have emailed headteachers, university deans, student groups, campus groups, scouts and guide groups.
“The world would be a very different place if it wasn’t for the British Empire,” according to the literature.
“The only way the government can get British people to allow themselves to be dispossessed in their own homeland is to make them ashamed of themselves and their history. Never be embarrassed of the Empire or ashamed of it, no matter what your teachers say. Be proud of it. It was a time of great improvement and advancement in the world and it was all thanks to the British.”
As part of the month, the BNP is promoting 'The March of the Titans - a history of the white race', a tome that glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and praises Adolf Hitler for backing an anti-smoking drive, discouraging alcohol abuse and outlawing vivisection, whilst admitting "he will always be associated with an outburst of anti-Jewish sentiment".
The book then attempts to justify the Holocaust by saying: "No-one would question that the Jews, like everyone else in the Second World War, suffered great misfortune and were in particular subjected to unprecedented persecution and harassment on racial grounds. International Jewry had however publicly and openly declared war on Nazi Germany and the Nazis therefore regarded Jews as a hostile combatant group of special significance."
The campaign was condemned by University and College Union (UCU) General Secretary Sally Hunt, who said: "The BNP has no interest in the freedoms that UCU or the majority of people in this country believe in. The academic community is one that is built on diversity and tolerance. The BNP has no interest in sharing those values and preaches only hate and fear.”
The NUT’s Acting General Secretary Christine Blower, said: “The BNP's latest publication, like all of its literature, has no place in the school curriculum. A key purpose of education is to promote respect and equal opportunities. These values are in direct contradiction to BNP policies.”
The Guiding Association of Great Britain also condemned the initiative. A spokeswoman said: “One of the core values of Girlguiding UK is promoting equality and diversity and throughout our membership we build a respect and understanding of a range of cultures."