I think of one organisation in particular that claims to speak for British Muslims and has for a number of years now been issuing 'advice' to the Government on how to tackle Islamic extremism. It condemns Islamist terrorism but at the same time produces documents demanding vast changes to the way society is run, whether than be in education, employment, or the public sphere in general, while routinely denouncing anyone who dares to question its agenda as 'Islamophobic' and 'racist'.
I think of a group that deliberately fosters a sense of Muslim self-pity and a victim mentality (just as the BNP deliberately fosters white self-pity) at the same time as showing its own very flawed commitment to social cohesion through, for example, boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day.
The disgraceful slandering of anyone who dares criticise Islamist politics, or even specific aspects of Islamic doctrine as 'Islamophobic' and 'racist' is all too common, not just among Muslim activists but also among large segments of the so-called 'left', as is the manipulation of the discourse of anti-racism in an attempt to further an Islamist agenda.
Such false accusations of bigotry and racism have been thrown at perfectly decent and anti-racist individuals, and have the potential to ruin their lives and careers. When the 'race card' or in this case the 'religion card' is played too often, people start to get fed up. There is a real danger that people are starting to feel 'well, they're going to call me racist anyway so I might as well vote for the BNP'. And it's not just with the issue of Islam that this is happening.
There seems to be a consensus view among many who are known as 'Guardianistas' that patriotic sentiment and concerns about immigration and social change are intrinsically founded upon racist sentiment. People who express national pride are at best sniffed at with an arrogant and superior contempt and at worst are automatically assumed to be mindless, unenlightened bigots. As Graeme Archer put it in his excellent article on 'Creating the BNP':
you decide to make people feel guilty about symbols of national unity: only racists fly the flag, that sort of thing; you write long, hand-wringing articles in the press about ‘reclaiming’ the flag, which never quite spell out that which is obvious from your tone: that you have an instinctive disdain for the working-class, with their unthinking loyalty to country. Those flags! Flying from council-house windows! You never reflect on what would have happened to Britain in the mid-20th century were this not the case.The supreme irony of this attitude is that in a clear example of condescending racism, these same white liberals are happy to support communalism among Britain's ethnic minorities and to glory in uncritically promoting and embracing separatist and supremacist attitudes from minority communities that they would denounce in white Britons. Such people are rightly described as being 'wracked by guilt and contempt for their own intellectual heritage', and the liberal Muslim author Tarek Fatah's experiences of Canadian society are equally true of our own:
[T]here is a tremendous amount of white guilt. The intelligentsia in this country in a selfish way tries to assuage this guilt. It caters to the most idiosyncratic behaviour of the immigrant and practices the racism of lower expectations. It sets standards of behaviour for our community, but when dealing with immigrants and especially the Muslim community, it does not expect them to live by the same standards.
This is a very real problem, one of a large number that need addressing if the BNP are to be sent packing, as they rightly should be. The deligitimisation of patriotism, the claims that reasonable concerns about immigration and its effects are 'racist', and the uncritical celebration of any culture and group bar that of the white British majority are all helping to feed into the rise of the BNP.
If mainstream politicians and opinion makers are serious about combatting the BNP, an organisation that remains ideologically racist and which is founded on neo-Nazi principles, they need to start addressing the concerns that have led to a significant number of people seeing it as 'speaking for them'. The Labour Party should particularly take note, given that 59% of BNP voters feel that Labour 'used to care about the concerns of people like me but doesn’t nowadays'. In tandem with this, anti-racists must continue to expose the true nature of the BNP, which is, as my recent report for the Centre for Social Cohesion shows, that it remains a party dedicated to racism and apartheid policies, and a party with numerous ties to neo-Nazism.
You can read the first part of the series here