September 17, 2009

We should be exposing and ridiculing the BNP, not banning it

Much fuss has been made about whether we should ban the British National Party from appearing on Question Time and the Trades Union Congress now wants to bar anyone who is a member of the party from working in the public sector.

The party is undoubtedly racist, homophobic and sexist but the TUC's proposal is deeply disturbing. Firstly it suggests that anyone holding undesirable or unpleasant views should be denied access to the right to work. Most of us don't particularly want to work next to someone who thinks some people should be "sent home" but almost as damaging to democracy is the idea of censuring unpopular or unpleasant political views.

Secondly, instead of challenging these views head-on, it means we push them (and their advocates) out of sight. It smacks of "If we close our eyes, it'll go away." It also suggests we don't have enough conviction in our own views, as if these are not strong enough to stand up against hate.

Let's look at some of the weirder views held by the party: legal director Lee Barnes has a particular hatred of flat-chested women and describes those with dwarfism as "pitiful products of the flaws in nature".

Or what about the disgusting views of Nick Eriksen, the BNP candidate who said women would be more upset if their handbag was stolen then if they were raped. This charming specimen added that some women were "like gongs. They need to be struck regularly". Another example is the party's bizarre grasp of British history, something any A-level history student should be able to dismantle quite easily.

All these examples show that letting them have their say is the way forward. Let the BNP speak, sprout nonsense, tie itself up in semantic knots. To shy away from rubbishing such confused, unpleasant and sometimes downright mad sentiments is ridiculous and even cowardly. You can't stop people from voting in a certain way, but you can at least give extremist parties such as this ample rope to hang themselves and expose their views for what they really are.

People often say that it is useless to attempt to engage the party in rational debate but this is a strange way of thinking. Of course general opinion on issues such as immigration varies, but most of us do not want "voluntary repatriation" of people with dark skin or any other of the party's hateful policies and have quite enough arguments to throw back. In fact, many of these policies are so irrational, a brief gust of logical debate should blow them away.

Mainstream politicians need to stop creating a legend of fear around the BNP. It's unnecessary. This is not a powerful party by any means. It is facing a costly court battle over its membership policies, a fight which has the potential to close it down. In addition, it is unlikely to be hiring the best political minds in the business, due to the stigma of association and the issue of money.

Get rid of 'no platform' and forget trying to sack BNP members. Hell, let them sit next to David Dimbleby if needs be. Instead of pretending they're not there and allowing them a kind of perverse matyrdom, seek them out, challenge them and drown out their voices in a sea of reasoned, logical debate.

Pink News

35 comments:

Jamie The Antifascist said...

Good post, when exposed they're toothless and embarassed, when they're banned, they can cry & whinge to the media

Anonymous said...

Here we go again. The BNP are not just people with unpleasant views. They are people who instigate and commit racist violence.

Anonymous said...

No platform is not closing our eyes. It means taking the BNP very seriously.

Anonymous said...

We stand up against hate by preventing it from being expressed, not by debating with it.

Anonymous said...

Try having reasoned, logical debate with someone who feels confident to attack racial minorities because he has seen Griffin accepted as just another politician by the makers of Question Time.

Anonymous said...

You are totally wrong. The BNP cannot be debated with as lying is a valid political strategy for them. How can you have an honest debate with a liar? On top of that they are actively trying to build a street army while we 'debate' with them. Once their real motive (i.e. control of the streets) is a reality, they wont need to debate with us. If we drive them underground then so be it - they belong in the sewers with the NF.

Anonymous said...

Challenge them? We do that every time they try to march!

Anonymous said...

It is not a powerful party but it makes racism respectable and instigates violence.

Anonymous said...

Stop creating a legend of fear? We certainly should fear the BNP's influence. It leads to murder.

Sim-O said...

No Platform means you are missing opportunities to prove them wrong, challenge their views directly, to stop the message getting into peoples heads and seeding without being challenged.

Abandoning No Platform doesn't mean giving the fuckers a platform, it means being there when they have one and showing them to be fools, without giving them a victims flag to wave.

The BNP cannot be debated with as lying is a valid political strategy for them. How can you have an honest debate with a liar?

You're not debating them. You are showing to whoever's listening the inconsistencies and the lies.

On top of that they are actively trying to build a street army while we 'debate' with them. Once their real motive (i.e. control of the streets) is a reality, they wont need to debate with us. If we drive them underground then so be it

and what do you think the UAF and the like are doing? They're getting people mobilised against the BNP.

If we drive them underground they will be more dangerous.

Challenge them? We do that every time they try to march! - why only challenge them when we march? Why not challenge them in the debating chambers and on the TV too?


Anyway, my opinion in full is here.

Anonymous said...

Logical debate with people who are blinded by prejudice over differences of skin colour? I once conversed with a Polish man who "knew" (he didn't think or believe, he "knew") that all black people are inferior. His certainty was frightening and immovable.

Anonymous said...

Every UAF and Hope not Hate wlection leaflet exposes Nazi lies.

Anonymous said...

Debating with someone involves quoting and replying to what they do say, not misquoting and replying to what they do not say. This article misrepresents supporters of "No Platform".

Anonymous said...

We prove them wrong every time we distribute anti-fascist leaflets and display anti-fascist posters. By mobilising a majority to do this, we isolate the bigots and make them feel unwelcome which is what they try to do to minorities.

Anonymous said...

No Platform is not closing our eyes but seeing very clearly that hatred is not an idea that should be treated just like any other idea that some agree with and others don't.

Anonymous said...

We have to have conviction in our own views to take up the hard argument for No Platform.

Anonymous said...

Hard core Nazis are not more dangerous underground. They are only dangerous when they are respectablised and allowed to gain wider support.

Anonymous said...

No Platform would mean that, if Griffin did appear on QT, then no one else would share the platform, there would be a massive demonstration outside and an occupation of the studio, as happened to an NF election meeting years ago. This would not be missing an opportunity to challenge him. On the contrary, it would be refusing to respectablise him.

Anonymous said...

Sim-O continues to regard Naziism as a set of foolish ideas, not as a physical threat.

Anonymous said...

I applaud Lancaster Unity for publishing this article so that No Platformers could reply to it.

Anonymous said...

Sim-O says that "UAF and the like" are getting people mobilised against the BNP. Shouldn't we?

Anonymous said...

We challenge them not only when they march but at every opportunity but debating is not challenging. It is treating them as if the difference between them and us were no bigger than the difference between any two parties that accept the same democratic process.

Anonymous said...

We prevent the growth of fascism not by debating with the BNP but by campaigning among the anti-fascist majority.

Anonymous said...

At the BNP Red, White and Blue Festival, we had more than twice as many people protesting outside as they had inside. That's the way to isolate and demoralise them. We need to do the same at the BNP Annual Conference in Blackpool this November.

Anonymous said...

Underground Nazis have been with us since Hitler and are not dangerous. Nazis confident enough to go public are very dangerous. Look at Hitler.

Anonymous said...

Nazis crying and whinging to the media don't gain support. Nazis allowed to have their say and get away with respectablising racism do get support.

Anonymous said...

Do people who are predisposed to scapegoat foreigners notice or care if the BNP ties itself up in "semantic knots"?

Anonymous said...

The people who advocate No Platform are also those who confront the BNP whenever it appears in public. Thus, the word "cowardly" is completely inappropriate.

Sim-O said...

I understand Nazism is more than 'a set of foolish ideas'.

When Griffin and his cohorts are giving a press statement on College Green they're not left alone to get on with it, to say what they like. When they hold a 'family friendly festival' that is nothing of the sort they are not left alone to have their sick fun.
Why have a policy of No Platform and leave them alone unhindered in that regard but not in all others?

We prove them wrong every time we distribute anti-fascist leaflets and display anti-fascist posters.

Yes, that is true. So why not prove them wrong even more times and do the verbal equivalent?

/aside/ it would make life hell of a lot easier if everyone didn't go by 'anonymous'

Anonymous said...

It is a pity that more UAF supporters have not replied to this post.

Anonymous said...

We don't need to give the BNP a platform in order to gain an opportunity to prove them wrong. Our campaign material proves them wrong anyway without giving them the respectability of a public platform.

Anonymous said...

Hitler said that the only thing that could have stopped his movement would have been if the enemy from the beginning had realised its true nature and had smashed it with the utmost ruthlessness.

Anonymous said...

Showing them to be fools makes no difference to people who just want to hear a politician telling them they are right to be racially prejudiced.

Anonymous said...

Showing whoever's listening the inconsistencies and lies? Bigots don't listen. They just applaud what they want to hear and ignore or shout down the rest.

Anonymous said...

No Platform means demonstrating outside wherever they speak and, preferably also, occupying the venue where they were going to speak so that they can't speak. That is not leaving them unhindered.
Anonymity is the quick easy option when commenting in a context where ideas matter, not identities, but, for the record, my name is Paul and I live in Lancaster near Ketlan.