Monday, 14 September 2009

Thoughts on the EDL

The English Defence League has been busy recently and gained quite a bit of public focus. Much of the discussion has been concerned with whether the group (if they can be called a cohesive group) is racist or not and indeed a lot of time has been spent trying to uncover links to racist groups. This is, in my opinion, both wrong and dangerous.

It's wrong because the EDL are wrong even if they are not racist and it is dangerous because we may convince ourselves that the problem with the EDL is racism and thereby be unable to oppose them if we find that actually they're not racist (the question of whether they are racist or not is one I will come back to in another post soon hopefully).

So what really is the problem with the EDL? Well, I think there are many things and here are a couple.

The first is that we do not need any group to protest against Islamists, we have the police for that. If a group of people are planning to break the law to maim and kill Britons then the British police are the people charged with the responsibility of preventing that. Seen in this light we find that the EDL is little more than a vigilante group. One could argue that it is necessary to oppose the opinions of Islamists and that this is what the EDL is for. But we all know that it is useless for non-Muslims to try and convince those extreme Muslims that they've got Islam wrong. The very notion is absurd.

The second reason springs from the first. If the EDL is a vigilante group determined to fight/oppose Islamists whose definition are they using? A major danger with a group that has been set up to deal with one specific and narrow issue is that they find their remit too small. The number of actual dangerous Islamists in the UK is very small but the EDL will start to find Islamists everywhere because they've set themselves up to find them and oppose them.

The danger of the EDL is not that they're racist; it is that they are a vigilante group. If we treat them simply as racists we will get bogged down in debates about whether or not that is true and how best to oppose them. Treat them as the vigilantes they want to be and we can all take a clear and unequivocal stand against them without concerning ourselves with their ideas and beliefs.

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