“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

CiF Watch on the English Defence League.

with 7 comments

Adam Levick at CiF Watch has written a good piece on the English Defence League.

I am cross posting it below, On the English Defence League (the “enemy of my enemy” is sometimes still just my enemy) by Adam Levick.

I know many people might be tempted by the English Defence League due to their opposition to radical Islam but, in reality, their venom is actually directed against Muslims, as a group – and they often engage in rhetoric suggesting that all Muslims are Jihadists. As such, EDL, it should be clear, is not an anti-totalitarian movement, but rather, a racist one.

Radical Islam, there should be no doubt, represents the biggest threat to the progressive values I cherish – values such as individual liberty, tolerance, religious pluralism, democracy, a free press, gender equality, and gay rights. Further, I view the fight against this radical, anti-Semitic, millenarianistic movement – diffuse though it is (that is, it’s not represented by any one single state actor) – as the moral test of our generation.

More broadly, its tragic that there hasn’t developed a broad-based mainstream coalition to fight radical Islam across the globe – one which unites the anti-totalitarian elements within both the left and the right.

While it is, perhaps, understandable that many see the English Defence League (EDL) as political allies in the fight against Jihadism in Europe, all of the available evidence demonstrates that EDL (grass-roots supporters as well as many within its leadership) is far too compromised by affiliations with neo-Nazis, and other radical racist movements, for principled anti-Islamists to make an allegiance with them.

It is simply a fact that some EDL organizers are proven Neo-Nazis


Wayne Baldwin, member of the EDL’s Birmingham Division


In the video clip in this Modernity post you will see Luke Pippen, EDL’s Welsh Division organizer, in front of a house with his friends, tattooed skinheads giving the Nazi salute.

At an EDL protest in Birmingham fascists and right-wing extremists were clearly visible, some happily giving Nazi salutes. They included Chris Renton, a BNP supporter from Weston-super-Mare, who runs their website.

One face seen at most EDL events is Alan Spence from Newcastle upon Tyne. Spence is pretty much now the EDL organizer in Newcastle. Spence, who is a BNP gold member and has only recently deleted swastikas and Combat 18 images from his Facebook page, has appeared in photographs with both his spiritual leaders, Nick Griffin and Chris Robinson.

Davy Cooling, a fully fledged British National Party (BNP) member, is now a key activist in the EDL Luton “division”. This is demonstrated by his status as administrator of the Luton division’s Facebook group. Cooling still shows interest in the party, as shown by his posting on the Facebook site of the BNP’s 2009 Red, White and Blue Festival, which said: “I may attend, it will be my first one – what’s the score?”

It has been revealed that the leader of the English Defence League is a former BNP member who has served 12 months’ imprisonment for assaulting an off-duty police officer. Self-proclaimed EDL leader Tommy Robinson is really Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, from Bedford.


EDL leader "Tommy Robinson"


Kevin Carroll is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the EDL. It was revealed in a BBC documentary, Young, British and Angry, that he had signed the nomination papers in the 2007 Luton council elections for Robert Sherratt, a BNP candidate and activist in the Nazi November 9th Society.

BNP, it should be noted, is allied, in the European Parliament, with the nationalist Hungarian party, Jobbik, whose leaders advance an often openly anti-Semitic agenda. In a newsletter published by a group calling itself “The trade union of Hungarian police officers prepared for action,” the following was printed. “Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.” The editor of the union, Judit Szima, was, at the time, a Jobbik candidate in the upcoming election for the European Union parliament. Szima “didn’t see anything wrong with the content of the article.”

While I’m sure there are plenty of non-racists among the membership of EDL, as well, its clear the group’s leadership is irreparably compromised by racist and extremist allegiances – enough to make me question the motivations of any genuine anti-racist opponents of radical Islam who are flirting with the organization.

Further, there have been some Jews tempted by EDL’s alleged support for Israel, and opposition to anti-Semitism – and EDL has set up a recruitment effort aimed at Jews. In response, many have argued, quite persuasively, that such “support” merely represents a cynical attempt by EDL to gain respectability. And, that, ultimately, such support will vanish once the services of their Jewish allies are no longer required. In such a scenario, it is feared, given EDL’s background and fascist affiliations, it certainly isn’t far-fetched to see them pivot from anti-Islam agitation to anti-Semitism.

As Modernity has pointed out:

“Why [would] neo-Nazis suddenly take a liking to Israelis, and Jews. The problem being is that, neo-Nazis don’t like Jews, and in particular Israel as it is seen as the centre of Jewish power. That is something that all neo-Nazis fear the most. A central theme to Nazism is the notion that Jews control and manipulate events around the world from a central location, in this case Israel. [Warning: illustrative links to original Nazi propaganda, nasty racist material.] It is hardly credible that entrenched neo-Nazis would suddenly wake up one-day and decide “Yes, we like Israelis.” It seems incongruous, and ever so improbable.”

As Jon Benjamin, UK Board of Deputies chief executive, said:

“The EDL’s supposed ‘support’ for Israel is empty and duplicitous. It is built on a foundation of…hatred which we reject entirely.”

The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a tempting but dangerous road to go down. Whether or not the EDL decides to turn on its Jewish/Zionist supporters is not really the main point. What’s at stake is more than our safety. Its our integrity.

Written by modernityblog

11/10/2010 at 22:18

7 Responses

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  1. ‘Adam Levick at CIF watch has written a good piece on the EDL’.
    He’s written a piece that anyyone of sound mind already knows about.And he is wasting his time posting it on CIF watch, no one posting there(apart from one or two posters) seem overly bothered or ready to admit that The EDL ARE a right wing racist organisation. What is shocking, truly SHOCKING are the comments that follow any article posted on CIFwatch regarding the EDL, the overwhelming majority of comments appear to be scarily supportive(if not actual members of the EDL),and those who are not actually in favour of them, are not actually AGAINST them and appear to trying to understand a right wing bunch of racist scumbags on a very very dangerous level.


    11/10/2010 at 23:37

  2. Even though you might argue that Adam Levick is stating the obvious, there are many people who would disagree with him.

    There are many people who haven’t thought about the EDL seriously.

    There are many people do haven’t, despite access to the Internet, researched the EDL and noticed their links to extreme right wingers, so it is good if it changes one person’s mind.

    I would agree, the comments in that post are appalling, but surely it shows that irrational people support the EDL, bigots support the EDL, irrespective of the evidence, or that post?


    11/10/2010 at 23:48

  3. The majority of posters on CIFwatch seem to disagree or dismiss any article that attempts to portray the racist reality of the EDL. And I disagree that people posting on that thread do not have access to the internet. I dont buy that.And I do not mean the comments that are obviously from EDL members or supporters, I refer to people who post on CIFwatch reguarly,who definately have internet access and yet appear to remain sympathetic towards the EDL, I find it simply shocking.


    12/10/2010 at 00:09

  4. smtx01, slight misunderstanding.

    I wrote despite having access to the Internet, that means they have it and they are ignorant, which is worse.

    I think many of those posters emulate their own “foes” at CiF…..


    12/10/2010 at 00:15

  5. MB I still disagree, the regular posters on CIFwatch are not stupid or ignorant.They appear to be quite coherant and articulate.So what is the reason for their ‘understanding’, of the EDL?.
    And by the way someone does not need to have internet access to be clued about whats going on in the world. I am enjoying your blog and would like to say well done for all you and others have done in highlighting the right wing racist nature of the EDL.


    12/10/2010 at 00:28

  6. Sorry, but you are not reading what I’m writing.

    My point is that someone has to be fairly thick and frankly stupid to have access to the Internet and still be ignorant about the EDL.

    If people lived in a cave or a hole in the ground and didn’t know about who the EDL are, that would be one thing, but to have access to the Internet and not know much about them, is far, far worse.

    That’s why the comments at CW show an inability by many posters to process information, think rationally and draw a logical conclusion from the available evidence on the EDL, the videos, the pictures, the associations with neo-Nazis and BNP, etc etc

    If someone can’t pull that together in their head then they are hardly going to be amenable to reasoned arguments.

    All the evidence is there, but if people wish to ignore it, then there’s not much you can do, but assume that they don’t have the capacity to understand the issues.


    12/10/2010 at 00:38

  7. I am reading what you are writing but i still disagree, I think the regulars who post there understand very well, and the fact of the matter seems to be that they are simply in agreement with them, thats all i can think of. no one can be that thick, how can any one fail to see the edl for what they are and for the obvious danger and bigotry they represent.


    12/10/2010 at 00:46

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