Friday, 30 November 2007

BNP: "Islamic civilization is an oxymoron"

On its website, the BNP has published articles blaming multiculturalism for the riots in France and an article from an Indian writer who claims there is an global Islamic conspiracy trying to destroy western civilization. Since he became leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin has been trying to break down the neo-Nazi image of his party. Appearing to support a global conspiracy by a single religious group reveals that the BNP is a paranoid and racist party underneath the fa├žade. In the 17th century it was the Catholics and the Puritans. In the 1930s it was the Jews. Now it is the Muslims who are the new scapegoats. If the BNP were ever to form a government, they would drag this country into a perpetual 'crusade' against every single country with a Muslim majority.

In such a situation, it is vital for the left to support secularism against the religious bigotry of the far right. Socialists must be consistent in calling for a secular state where everyone is free to express their own views without the state supporting particular forms of behaviour. I think that the anti-clericalism of some Socialists would be misguided and that the state must give people the freedom to wrestle with theological questions for themselves. At present, the Left is hardly consistent on this issue. The Labour Government still pursues a policy of schools maintaining a 'distinctive mission and ethos', and former Prime Minister Tony Blair gave his backing to faith schools wanting to enter the state sector.

Things are not looking good on the far left either: the Stop the War Coalition held a recent conference to which it invited an apologist for the regime in Iran (see Weekly Worker). They say that the regime in Iran is not as bad as it is depicted in the western media. Even allowing for media misrepresentation, a critical eye cannot fail to appreciate the totalitarian nature of Iran's theocratic government.

The BNP has labelled the Left as apologists for Islamic terrorism - an accusation which is embarrassingly justified with regard to STWC. Perhaps STWC follows a philosophy of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend': the Iranians are 'oppressed' by 'Western Imperialism' so we should give their government our full backing. In the first instance, Socialists ought not to support those governments who explicitly oppose progressive values (e.g. gay rights, abortion rights). Secondly, it is important for us to separate a state from its people, especially in a dictatorship. The people of Iran had a reason to vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and most of them probably don't want to see Israel 'wiped from the map'.

I guess that most BNP voters will never read the article which appeared on that party's website. We must accept that the far right must be defeated at the ballot box and this will not be achieved by saying 'Don't Vote BNP' if voters feel so disaffected that there is no alternative. The will judge the BNP by the carefully-worded material which comes through their letterbox: the 'official' image of the BNP. They will also judge the parties of the left by the way they behave on the subject of racial and religious integration.

The left will win over BNP voters if it promotes itself as the party of racial integration, not racial segregation.

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