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    Re-evaluating the ‘no-platform’ policy

    by Sunny on 15th May, 2008 at 4:25 am    

    Should anti-racists continue to have a no-platform policy? The trade-union movement spearheaded this a long time ago and the move was vital in de-legitimising the BNP and National Front etc.

    But I’m not sure it works any more. The BNP has been successfully de-legitimised and it has become an acronym of abuse in most circles. The problem is that it has gone too far. We end up ignoring what the BNP say rather than taking on their arguments and accurately demolishing them.

    My fear is that because the establishment now ignores the BNP, those people pissed off with the establishment (most of the political parties) vote for it in protest. Adam Bienkov argued the same on Liberal Conspiracy a few days ago, regarding Richard Barnbrook - the BNP’s London Assembly candidate.

    I’m coming back to this because Unity has highlighted an instance of Birmingham University hosting a debate by the extremist Muslim organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir. The B’ham Post is now on the case.

    I’ve no problems equating Pizza HuT with the BNP, which is why I ask this question. I’ve debated with HuT myself plenty of times: they’re braindead robots who keep parroting the same lines and pretend they’re lovely and fluffy, with the added annoyance (unlike the BNP) that they actually think they’re intellectuals. Like, they think they’re intelligent for apparently coming up with this utopian society and constructing an Islamic methodology for everything. The other problem is that most of the people who choose to take on HuT don’t know much about them, which provides them an opportunity to play the victim card and pretend they’re just lovely people.

    So what do we do with a problem like HuT? Constantly expose and scrutinise them? Or try and ignore them with a no-platform policy with the danger that they pick up anti-establishment Muslims? I side with the former. But in cases like this, neither should universities actively provide with a platform, neither should stupid anti-racist activists endorse them.

      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Muslim, Organisations, Race politics, Religion

    37 Comments below   |  

    1. ShritiPoliti — on 15th May, 2008 at 8:38 am  

      No platform must continue. The left is wise enough to realize that it should never argue with knuckle-dragging nazi scum when it cannot win the argument. Lies like “race does not exist”, “diversity is our strength” and “immigration enriches us all” are too valuable to the left-wing cause. They should never be exposed to scrutiny. You’ve got to remember that the nazi Enoch Powell had the support of the majority of the country when he called for genocide back in the 1960s. Antiracists had to defend democracy against the will of the majority. No platform has been a key plank of their campaign. Long may it remain so.

    2. MaidMarian — on 15th May, 2008 at 8:56 am  

      Sunny - It is an interesting article but it dances around the one issue that can not be avoided.

      The stark reality, like it or not is that ever more racial intolerance has had a religious face. That is not to say that atheists by definition are not racist, but what has come to the fore, to my mind, is the religious dimension.

      The problem with HuT is that they can make themselves sound like the victims of religious discrimination and that is dog-whistle for ‘must support’ to many.

      The failure of anti-racists over the past few years, in my humble view at least, has been that it has not recognised that the BNP don’t want to win elections as first priority. They have wanted to use the process of politics to whip up sympathy for their awful views. The ‘attack, attack, attack,’ mindset has played into the BNP’s hands. I would hate to see the same mistake made with the religious crowds who are using similar tactics.

      This is where the problem with ‘no platform’ comes in. If it has no platform, others will give it one - it will be anti-Islam, it will be anti-British and so on. No platform can be spun as, ‘we are being victimised/attacked from all sides.’

      Religion does not equal race, but that is where this debate has ended up for good or for bad. I don’t pretend that I have a solution here - I hope someone rather cleverer than I am has something up their sleve.

      But at the moment, no platform looks to me as if it runs the risk of being the worst of all worlds.

    3. David T — on 15th May, 2008 at 9:38 am  

      “with the added annoyance (unlike the BNP) that they actually think they’re intellectuals”

      haha - that is PRECISELY it.

      No platform - in public institutions at least - is outrageous. Private organsations, however, are entitled to do what they want with their “platforms”.

      However, there is also a tendency to invite spokesmen for extreme, utterly unrepresentative, and tiny political groups to speak or participate in debates, or write articles: just for the “shock” value. I’m thinking Nick Griffin at the Oxford Union, or the constant parading of various HuTters on Radio 4 a few years ago. Sometimes this happens because they’re looking for “balance” in a debate: so the thinking is, “We’ve had a sane person, let’s have a nutter to even it out”. Sometimes they get invited because the clueless broadcasters or publishers genuinely believe that these marginal lunatics are ‘representative of an important strand of political thinking’.

      The BNP