The EDL have been busy again over the last week or so, what with pelting a handful of Muslims Against Crusades with sausages in Barking, then being escorted out of Whitechapel for their own safety later that day, holding a badly attended rally in Kilmarnock on Saturday and finally being confronted by mass opposition in the East End on Sunday. Meanwhile, the BNP, following the appalling election results, is now facing a semi-serious leadership challenge from Eddie Butler which is gaining a small head of steam. The pro-Griffinite machine is attempting to smear Butler as either gay and/or a frequenter of Belgian brothels. Butler has released a statement containing his ambitions and a list of what is wrong with the party, most notably the financial irregularities, Griffin’s weak point. Cambridge BNP is organising a meeting this week claiming that the BNP is finished. All of which, combined with the fallout of the EHRC case, the changing in rules on membership and general malaise is benefitting the EDL. Never a dull moment eh? However, the EDL represent a ‘different’ kind of racism than the BNP.
Although the EDL have BNP members in their ranks, many EDL have a low opinion of the BNP which is seen as too inactive on the streets and not particularly relevant or useful. The EDL try to be different and trumpet their ‘many’ Sikh and black members but really they amount to very few. Although the ‘leadership’ like to flag this aspect many of the supporters dislike the Sikh feller and the Joel Titus golliwog Facebook incident demonstrates the Neanderthal BNP politics of some of the membership. The EDL draws mainly on football crews and offers the potential of a brawl and a beer without the drastic repercussions of anti-hooligan legislation and heavy sentencing. And it is important to understand this football mentality in order to see where the EDL’s appeal lies.
The modus operandi of the EDL is to take liberties. For football firms, to forcibly occupy an opponents’ end, over-run or destroy their local boozer or take over their manor for a night is a ‘liberty.’ It is a simplistic territorial achievement. And this is similar to what is going on with the EDL. They choose places likely to cause a reaction – Birmingham, Bolton, East London – and being kettled into a local boozer by the cops for a while winding up the locals is deemed as successfully ‘taking a liberty.’
Football teams have often featured visible and vocal support from local black communities such as in Manchester, London or Birmingham and despite the presence of the racist element some black firms have flourished. At Manchester City in the 70s and 80s the NF dominated firm co-existed with the mainly black Kool Kats with any differences being put aside for the team. The Birmingham Zulus gained considerable respect on the terraces and Cass Pennant was one of West Ham’s ICF. There are other examples. Football firms and the EDL represent a spectrum of views: there are some who refuse to applaud a goal by a black player, others who have respect for the black hooligans’ prowess on the terraces and others who have black mates or are not bothered either way. For many supporters, the strong presence of successful black players who have helped take their sides to victory has changed their attitudes. The influence of pop culture has also played its part. The Black community has physically confronted violent racism in the 1950s in Notting Hill and Nottingham, at Lewisham in the 1970s and police racism was one of the causes behind the riots in the 1980s. They have never been seen as an ‘easy target.’ Many casual racists see the black community as ‘alright.’
However, many firm members still harbour resentment against the Asian community and this is well documented in hooligan literature which tends to downplay the outright criminal and fascist elements. They see everyone, whether from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or India as a ‘Paki.’ They see the local Asian community as isolationist and, despite enjoying a tasty tandoori, see them as an easy target. For the EDL, all Muslims are extremists and privately support terrorism. Which is as simplified as their view of the opposition to their fascist tactics. They naively think that Antifa, local Asian youth and the UAF are all the same and that militant anti-fascists are ‘protecting’ Islam. It is obvious from this week at Whitechapel that local Asian youths are more than capable of looking after themselves. Militant antifascists are there to confront pissed up racist street gangs in their local communities not to attend mosques. The EDL also like to portray antifascists as ‘soft middle class students’: they clearly have not attended a university in the recent years and do not understand the diverse nature of the opposition.
Despite continuing with their absurd claims to be ‘peacefully protesting’ the EDL’s forum contains threads praising violence such as the thread on the Indymedia Conference this Wednesday calling for local members to turn up, sabotage or disrupt the meeting. This could be annoying but we will be well organised to rebuff any serious threat from them. Also, if EDL members hate Indymedia so much, why do they spend so long reading it and posting their ridiculous remarks here?
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