Have you seen the footage of Peter Tatchell confronting Nasty Nick Griffin this week? I think its brilliantly done! Tatchell calmly walks up to Griffin, and then simply stands beside him and asks, in a load voice, a clear and direct question:
“Hi Nick, isn’t it about time you apologised to the British people for your party’s long history of anti-Semitism, homophobia and attacks on the Muslim community?”.
The reaction is both shocking and predictable. Tatchell is manhandled out of the way by Griffins minders, the ugly squad of BNP thugs in suits. But when Tatchell responds by pointing out how this represents typical BNP behavior, commenting in a clear voice that could be picked up by the cameras: “”This is the BNP in action. Look at them, they’re thugs” the thugs and their controllers realise the trap they are in, and retreat, allowing Tatchell to continue his questioning of Griffin.
Griffin simply flees. This shows how broken he is, along with his party. There was no flair or confidence, no attempt to offer a riposte to Tatchell, no attempt to to seize the media situation. Simple thuggery and then a cowardly retreat. Nick Griffin must be a tired and troubled man, his party in crisis, weak and without the energy to spontaneously perform for media. He is just a posh stuffed shirt only able to act in stage-managed situations, delivering pre-written lines.
Griffin crumbles before Tatchell’s calm and courageous tactics. Tatchell has not been well, suffering from past assaults on him by thugs belonging to both Mugabe’s regime and Russia’s far-right homophobes. Once again Tatchell deploys a dignified and principled nonviolence in the face of real risks from the thugs of dictators and fascists.
The fascists of the BNP and the crazed anti-Muslim bigots and racists of the EDL might face certain limitations. The far right attracts bitter and broken people, desperate to lash out, but too submissive to confront the most powerful institutions – the capitalist class – so instead they attack the relatively powerless. They victimise the scapegoats – sticking the boot in to refugees, migrant workers, ethnic minorities. The basic cadre of fascist movements like the BNP is always going to be drawn from the reservoir of sad, failing people on a desperate ego trip, all scheming against each other, driven by vanity and delusions of grandeur, while simultaneously nursing a perpetual victim mentality. The EDL are also riven by fractions, some fascist and some pro-zionist, or rival football firms and competing agendas.
But however much the fascists and the far right may crumble and fall, collapsing under their own internal contradictions and general incompetence, they will always be revived by a certain life-support system. The capitalist system is in a deep and protracted crisis. To deflect the blame away from themselves, the capitalist class need scapegoats. Therefore the capitalist owned media whips up wave after wave of campaigns against Muslims. The Daily Express appears almost as a single issue campaign against refugees, migrants and Muslims, trying to marginalise and demonise these groups still further. But all the ‘tory tabloids’ and the mutinational media empire of Murdoch, with the Sun, the Times and the News of the World play the same dirty game. The Express also showed how it was prepared to go for other targets, to use homophobia as well as islamophobia and more general racism. When it can combine racism, xenophobia and homophobia together in the same story, it responds with an especially vicious zeal, as in the recent attack on LGBT asylum seekers:
In a similar vein, the tuely rancid Daily Star wrote about this issue, going into full-on right wing bigot rant headlined “NO ROOM FOR GAYS”.
Thus capitalism, the capitalist media and pro-capitalist political parties will always stir up prejudice in a crisis, picking on the easiest target they can find from amongst the poor, the weak and the stigmatised. This provides the ideal nutrients for the fascist fungus to keep on growing. But Peter Tatchell’s actions this week showed that with courageous and bold action, fascism can always be confronted and driven back.