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Britain First: Conversations

Well now, this is odd.

It's probably not important...but I am seeing an awful lot of those 'Britain First,' style posts all over FB. Not so much on other forms of social media. Perhaps I am imagining it.

They are a bit different too. It's hard for me to demonstrate without linking to a couple of images and I would rather not. There's one picture that shows chained little figures in burqas supposedly being led away to meet their husbands, alongside an article stating that "At the 192nd meeting the Council of Islamic Ideology went further and declared that women are un-Islamic and that their mere existence contradicted Sharia and the will of Allah. "Women by existing defied the laws of nature, and to protect Islam and the Sharia women should be forced to stop existing as soon as possible." Women who express their own will (most especially non-Muslim women) will be the first targeted for extermination."

The responses on BF's page are predictably rabid and stupid. However,below are the responses on one friend's page:

Poster 2: Propaganda!
Poster 3: [addressing OP] Do,you realise BritainFirst is the extreme far right political party who are trying to get into power over here? I wouldn't believe too much of what they say. If amnesty international will back these claims up, I'd believe it, but I doubt it.
Poster 4: Pakistan Today is a satirical magazine and the article from which this was taken a satire, not truth. That doesn't deny that women in Muslim cultures are often treated as less than human. This will be used by those who oppose Britain First to say that everything they say is false. There is hatred and prejudice but there is also valid concern about the effect of large numbers of people who not only have medieval attitudes towards women but also seek to impose those on the rest of the country. Britain First has huge support, far more than UKIP, on Facebook at least, and infinitely more than the mainstream parties or the Greens. Support for extreme parties will continue to grow while extremely vocal liberals, utterly oblivious of their own considerable bigotry, dismiss all criticism of the nasty cultural accretions of Islam (the religion itself is benign and tolerant) as 'Islamaphobia' and parrot mindlessly slogans about 'diversity' and 'multiculturalism', rather than address the real problems. And it is all mixed up with huge and growing resentment about a deliberate policy of the Blair Creature's administration to allow huge numbers of immigrants that resulted in around four million people coming in since 1997[...]
Poster 2: The picture has nothing to do with the story. It's all been patched together by hate-mongers.
Poster 4: That's true of this picture and story, but we have to have a reasoned discussion about the ghettoes we've created, the cultural suppression of women and the growing number of fundamentalist fanatics whose intention is to turn Britain into a Muslim country under Sharia law, by lethal violence sometimes.They are absolutely real problems. If we cannot deal with them wisely and without hysteria, then the hate-mongers will grow in strength. And much of the blame for that can be laid directly at the door of those who reflexively seek to condemn viciously and intolerantly anybody who says that these are things we have to address. And, yes, the conversation will attract the bigots on both sides, but if we don't have it now it will only be far more difficult later, and clumsy, unpleasant propaganda like this will be the least of our problems [...] This goes to the heart of the problem, and we have to deal with it.
The majority of Muslims in Europe believe Islamic Sharia law should take precede...
Poster 2: Go back to your Britain First page. I think you're a bit paranoid. There is no creeping Sharia in Britain. English law allows jews and muslims to settle family disputes under their own codes of law. By consent of all parties! It represents the lowest level of the legal system and decisions can be overturned by the next level up.
Poster 4: There's no need to make an ad hominem attack, I'm not 'paranoid' in the slightest. It is exactly this attitude that is allowing the fanatics to proliferate. How's about trying a rational discussion? We have a problem; let's deal with it. I have studied Islam for over forty years, and I have enormous respect for the faith - but not the medieval, cultural accretions.
Poster 2: Just this weekend, there has been a flurry of Islamophobic posts. There is almost a dark machinery of hate propaganda going on. I'm sick to the back teeth of it. People are people: if left to themselves, they are warm and caring. Politics is poison: it seeks to divide. We are not under threat from Islam any more than we are under threat from xtianity or Judaism.
Poster 4 Forgive me if this seems over direct, but you appear to be ignoring the evidence. I don't want there to be a problem, and I certainly don't hate, but there is a problem and if we pretend there isn't then, as I say, we will get the hate propag[...]
Poster 2: There is a problem in your mind. In your mind because you have probably soaked up all the propaganda from the BBC and CNN and Fox News as it it were all true. And you live in your head, instead of going out and seeing people. You consider yourself a 'thinker' but all you are is a propagandist, a sly one but one nevertheless.
Poster 4: What you are doing is substituting personal attacks for rational argument. Not only does that not work but it makes the problem worse. You know nothing about me and yet make superficial judgements that are not true.[...]
Boot: Apparently the Gatestone institute has a reputation for spreading islamophobic propaganda. Theirs is not a neutral stance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatestone_Institute
Poster 2: And the picture....do you know what the picture is of? It's of a religious re-enactment. Like a Mystery Play. And all those people watching the poor mites being led off in chains. They're the audience! [...] I don't know and I don't care who you are but (as Boot has shown) you publish something from the pen or the desk or whatever of John Bolton, arch-neocon, one of the architects of the Invasion of Iraq, who is responsible, with his other neocon friends for the deaths of perhaps half a million Iraqis and tens of thousands of Syrians. You, sir, are a propagandist!"

Now, it could be argued that Poster 4 is being reasonable, citing external sources for their case. The peculiar thing is that they could have cited the study directly from its source at the Berlin Social Science Centre and they didn't. They chose a link to a website with far right affiliations which then refers to a commentary on said study in Die Welt a conservative German newspaper. Why?

Example 2, again from the Britain First website, shows a man dressed vaguely like a Muslim cleric, with a caption over the pic claiming that said man sexually abused an 11 year old girl and was spared jail because his wife doesn't speak English and he is on benefits. Responses below again:

Poster 2: lol
OP: This is really unlikely to be true
Poster 2: Britain First is almost a cartoon site: except that some people will believe them.....
Poster 3: I don't respond to Britain First postings as they are unbelievably right wing !
Poster 4: Right wing propagandists at work again.
Poster 5: I don't think these Britain First posts should even be reposted. They're just slanderous rubbish. Ignore them.
Poster 6: But is it true ?
Poster 7 I have had at least three friends post this thinking it's true. People I would see as thinking, intelligent well read folk. The Islamophopia today is scarily reminiscent of the anti Semitism of 1930s Europe
Poster 6: If you think that some Jews in 1930s Germany were plotting and sometimes carrying out murderous attacks,then I suppose there is a parallel.
Boot: We can't know if it is true without having a name to put to the face, so let's begin with some specifics. As far as I can tell, BF are BS. Whenever poverty rises, so does ignorance and fear of the outsider - frothed up by the insiders who are profiting from abusing the poor. Classic diversionary tactic.
Poster 6: That is true .Clearly motivated by moronic racism rather than any ballanced understanding of where the threats are coming from . ordinary semi secular Muslims have more to fear from islamic radicals than have most others .
Boot: I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that Islamic fundamentalism is an actual threat to the state. It's a tiny minority given lots of airtime by those who want a cheap demon - and of course, said minority have played up to it, relishing extra publicity and gaining extra power, in the mind of the public. Groups like BF are doing exactly the same, and reaping the same rewards.
Poster 6: Of course it's not a threat to the state . The state knows how to look after itself. But it is increasingly a threat to particular minorities like gays,jews and pagans like myself and many of my friends. BF have practically no support base,claiming on one hand to be Christian and then evidencing no Christian belief or practice . Sadly the islamists have enough of a support base within a minority of their community to be a genuine threat . And,as I said,a threat to apostate or secular or heterodox muslims as well. It's not zionists and crusaders who are blowing up mosques all over Iraq. And I seriously doubt if BF have the will or the way to blow up anything at all [...] It just seems to me,on balance,that Islam is just way the worst of radicalisms to threaten ,backed as it is by scripture but without any absolute hermenutical authorities to interprate the warmongering scriptures in peaceful ways. In other words,Islam has no Pope to say that the nasty bits of scripture are not to be interprated nastilly. Literalist Christianity will tell me off and threaten me with Hell. Literalist Islam will kill pretty much everyone on my friends list[...] Being on a christian hit list ,or even a BNP hit list is,I will maintain,less of a threat to any individual than being on a muslim hit list[...]How many people have been killed by radical Christians for criticising Christianity recently. As compared to those killed for actual or even seeming insults to Islam ?"

Again, all seems very reasonable. Poster 6 agrees that of course the story is clearly motivated by moronic racists - so why did s/he start by asking us if it was true?

Hmm. So we start with claims that are clearly absurd in and of themselves, obvious straw men for the more discerning. Said strawman gets knocked down, and some commentator brings us to what seems to be the middle ground of the argument: which is still very far to the right, because the originating premis was so extreme, i.e. of course not all Moslems are baby eating monsters...just a few... but we have to work out how to deal with them anyway. Of course fundy Muslims won't stop women from breathing, but they oppress women anyway, and their influence is growing...From being a big crazy nightmare unbelievable problem, they have become a smaller rationally approached problem. And this might seem very reasonable until we realise how far we have moved from a position of seeing Muslim citizens as no problem at all.

It's a coincidence, a sneaky little nothing. But it is strange to see it, and gives one pause for thought.



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