ModernityBlog

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

Unite Against Fascism, Islamophobia And Antisemitism

with 14 comments

There is a problem in Britain and parts of Europe, that problem is anti-Muslim bigotry.

Most of it seems to be a refocused form of existing xenophobia and racism, that are common to many European countries, including Britain, on the weakest.

The levels of social deprivation and poverty faced by many Asians in Britain is well-known and documented, but more so in areas where there is a predominantly Muslim mix. They are often treated like second class citizens. Bigots and neofascists like picking on who they see as weak or vulnerable, that’s why they pick on Muslims for the moment. Their targets have changes over the decades, other ethnic minorities, but the bigot’s and neo-fascist’s basic methods haven’t, stir up hatred.

Modern day neo-fascist in the English Defence League want to use anti-Muslim bigotry to ferment racial hatred in Britain, to start riots and conflict, as the EDL’s recent actions show

This type of bigotry however it masks itself should be combated, from the violent racism of the EDL to the casual anti-Muslim joke. It is wrong and socially cancerous to society and individuals.

So I welcomed the recent Unite Against Fascism initiative against Islamophobia and other forms of racism.

Others might have their reservations concerning the UAF, as a SWP front, but I think if they are going to combat racism that I am prepared to pass over, momentarily, the SWP’s previous mistakes, whilst they do good work.

Astute readers will notice that the original letter from the UAF includes a passage deploring the rise of antisemitism as well, which is to be welcomed:

“We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned by the rise in fascism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and racism. The English Defence League has organised events across the country, stirring up hatred, Islamophobia and racism – running riot in some cases and provoking violent attacks on Muslim, black and Asian communities and on Mosques and Mandirs (Hindu temples)
…”

Imagine, however, my surprise when I read an email on the 6th November’s event and saw something missing.

Yes, that’s right, opposition to antisemitism had somehow been dropped from the event’s main propaganda. There’s a small bit is on a flyer and a previous email, but all of the Facebook links leave it out.

I assumed it was a simple slipup, so I looked on the Facebook page of the UAF.

Nothing mentioning *specifically* opposition to antisemitism, as the letter had.

Nothing.

So I asked a question or 2+ in their comments boxes, but didn’t receive terribly illuminating replies.

In fact, the UAF replies were tetchy, defensive and avoided dealing with my questions, directly. I suppose the UAFers didn’t know what was going on, but couldn’t exactly admit it.

Now I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt in this instance, but I think that the UAF should employ better proof readers and make sure that they don’t forget about opposition to antisemitism in all of their documentation.

The UAF need to spell out their opposition to antisemitism on Facebook and in their links, clearly, and not make it appear as an afterthought.

Update 1: Please let me remind any of my new readers to absorb my comments policy, in particular the bit:

“So if you are hung up about the existence of Jews, Muslims, the Roma, immigrants, “foreigners”, the French, the Irish, etc and feel the need to express your petty hatreds and xenophobia, do it elsewhere. “

Update 2: For UAFers and anyone else interested in combating antisemitism and racism then the CST’s yearly Antisemitic Discourse in Britain is vital reading.

The CST has much more, and here’s a PDF copy.

Update 3: Lancaster Unity has a good dissection of the xenophobia and hate mongering found amongst the worst tabloids in Britain over the last week or so.

14 Responses

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  1. I do see your point – I think I see what the others on that thread were getting at too. Would I be right in thinking that you wouldn’t have minded if antisemitism hadn’t been identified initially in the first place? That is – it’s the act of deletion rather than non-inclusion which concerns you? There is a particular reason for identifying Islamophobia separately as it (as some people never tire of reminding us) is not the same as racism though it has some clear affinities with racism- whereas antisemitism is a form of racism? I was surprised to see the reference to Hope Not Hate nitpicking and not doing anything in one comment – I joined in their phone campaign at election time and thought they seemed pretty effective and active.

    Sarah AB

    07/11/2010 at 13:32

  2. “Would I be right in thinking that you wouldn’t have minded if antisemitism hadn’t been identified initially in the first place? That is – it’s the act of deletion rather than non-inclusion which concerns you?”

    Sarah, very good point.

    In such a case, not sure, I probably would have asked why are UAF leaving it out in total, but it would have had the merit of consistency.

    I would have settled for a “Oh, I see your point, probably a minor mistake on our part, we’ll fix it next time”, but you are rarely, if ever, going to get such honesty from politicos.

    As for the HopeNotHate reference that was a coded snide comment which the SWP use, I ignored it as a bit of irrelevence, which didn’t engage with any of my points.

    I would have dropped it if they had replied with a bit of candour or consistency, which isn’t asking for too much from the UAF given what they are trying to achieve (which is to involve people in antiracism and widen the appeal of those ideas)

    modernity

    07/11/2010 at 14:31

  3. […] Unite Against Fascism Islamophobia and Antisemitism. From ModernityBlog. […]

  4. If only the UAF actually did anything to combat fascism.

    I went on both campaigns in B&D and UAF just sat around bitching about HNH. I see UAF are now saying that they fought Barking and HNH just did Dagenham. What absolute liars theses people are.

    The reason they do not mention Antisemitism in their literature is also sadly, quite obvious. They have become a vile waste of time and money. They claimed 5000 were on their march yesterday, they’d be lucky if it was over 800.

    Victor

    07/11/2010 at 16:07

  5. “They have become a vile waste of time and money”

    You say that, but if the UAF do *some* work, even if we might disagree with them on tactics, etc then surely that’s better than nothing and their campaigning may help to highlight racism to a younger generation.

    It is very easy for us to be critical, but at least they are doing *something*.

    modernityblog

    07/11/2010 at 16:32

  6. I was the one who left the comment about Hope not hate nitpicking – I’m not swp but i am friends with unite against fascism and saw your comment. I found this website by clicking through on your home page. I belonged to hope not hate as well because i wanted to oppose racism and fascism in all forms but frankly am getting fed up with the emails coming from hope not hate – also all references to the demonstration yesterday were removed from their facebook page – theres a lot of people on there that want to do something but the infighting seems ridiculous – also i was horrified by the ‘do something on another day’ approach by hope not hate – so yes I feel cross but it’s as a child of someone who has to flee the nazis during ww2 not as someone with any political axe to grind – you don’t have to be a member of a left wing organisation to understand that ignoring fascism is not the way to defeat it.

    kate mayer

    07/11/2010 at 17:51

  7. Kate,

    Thank you very much for your reply, but you’re making a lot of assumptions:

    1) that I’m doing it on behalf of Hope Not
    2) that I’m arguing in bad faith
    3) that my question wasn’t genuine.

    modernityblog

    07/11/2010 at 17:58

  8. Thanks Modernity. Kate – I don’t know much about UAF but (having just looked them up) I have reservations about George Galloway who is flagged on their front page. I suppose HaH has a rather blander web presence but I think it’s important to draw in people with a range of political views who can come together on this issue.

    Sarah AB

    07/11/2010 at 19:58

  9. Sarah,

    I have to say there is a bit of history between the UAF/SWP and some *other* antifascists, but I am not sure it is helpful to go into it, I’ll have a think.

    modernityblog

    07/11/2010 at 20:13

  10. Slightly off topic but I noted that the BBC News site altered its headline from ‘Roma Gypsy [something or other]’ to ‘Roma Worker’ and then ‘Roma Rights Campaigner’ once you click to read the story. If you google ‘Roma Gypsy Benefit scammer” then you get a lot of BBC hits – so I think this was the original wording.

    Sarah AB

    08/11/2010 at 23:03

  11. Yeah, you’re right, there’s a lot of unconscious racism at the Beeb, as we’ve seen before.

    modernityblog

    08/11/2010 at 23:36

  12. […] doesn’t get more stupid than that. I do wish that the SWP and UAF would get their act together, British neofascism is the real danger not other […]

  13. […] UN Resolution on extra-judicial executions which omits reference to gay people, the very desire to omit antisemitism from consideration signals prejudice or an ominous readiness to cement political […]

  14. […] ghosting out of antisemitism also seeks to omit it as a consideration in official documents and campaigns, or subsume its specifics into more general statements which shine no light, cannot penetrate, and […]


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