Untimely Observations

Nativism Goes Left

According to an article in the Independent, the English Defense League is taking a, shall we say, interesting approach to resisting Islamic colonization of the United Kingdom and the perceived encroachment of Sharia law. Some excerpts:

A white extremist organisation is forging links with Jewish, Sikh and gay communities to fuel prejudice and fear and hatred of the Muslim community, it was claimed today.

New branches of the League, such as the Jewish Division, could exploit the existing religious hostilities caused by territorial disputes in the Middle East, says Professor Copsey whose report was commissioned by the organisation Faith Matters.

It claims that these inter-faith tensions were brought into sharp focus last month when the senior US Jewish leader and Tea Party activist Rabbi Nachum Shifren denounced Islam at a EDL rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London. Israeli flags have also been spotted at several EDL demonstrations across the UK.

As well as aggravating religious tensions, the EDL has established a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Division to "defend" gay people from Sharia law. There are also specialist divisions for women, soldiers and disabled people. The report warns these communities to be vigilant against "selective racism" and the EDL’s attempts at manipulation.

Contributors to the EDL Facebook site confirm that the group wants to work with other minority organisations including those which promote women’s rights. One member writes: "After all, leftists have portrayed themselves for decades as the only ones really interested in promoting a progressive and inclusive agenda: homosexual rights, women’s equality, minority rights, reproductive rights, immigration, world peace, among others."

One member added: "Remember there is a difference between being anti-Muslim and anti-Islam. We are against the ideology not the people. Let’s not forget that many Muslim women and children are victims of their own religion."

On the surface at least, the EDL appears to be less concerned with developing a serious and reasonable defense of Western cultural heritage than in crude, philistine Islamophobia resembling that of American neocons, combined with the hoary leftist habit of denouncing everything to the right of Leon Trotsky as racist, fascist, sexist, and homophobic. Indeed, the Islamophobia of the neocons sometimes comes close to resembling the anti-Catholic tirades originating from American know-nothings of the mid-nineteenth century. It is possible to recognize Islam as one of the world’s great civilizations and religious traditions, and even find much that is admirable about Islamic culture and history, while also recognizing that uncontrolled mass immigration by Muslims into the West amounts to cultural and demographic suicide. It is even possible to at once favor the preservation of Western civilization and agree with thinkers like Michael Scheuer and Robert Pape that much of the problem with Islamic terrorism is indeed “blowback” generated by unnecessary Western, mostly American, interventions and interference in the Islamic nations, and that some kind of apocalyptic showdown between the West and Islam is neither necessary nor inevitable. As Pat Buchanan says, “They are over here because we are over there,” and there is no clear reason why we Westerners should not seek peaceful co-existence with Islam as much as possible. While we don’t want to surrender Western nations to Islamic colonization via mass immigration, there is no reason why Muslims cannot exercise sovereignty in their traditional homelands.

The English Defense League is an organization I admittedly know little about. Perhaps English readers can enlighten me. If the depiction conveyed in this article is accurate, it would appear that the EDL is less interested in defending the Western civilization of Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, and Michelangelo than in defending the Western civilization of Theodor Herzl, Betty Friedan, Harvey Milk, and RuPaul. AlternativeRight.Com contributor Richard Hoste has in the past made the plausible argument that a Europeanized Islam might even be an improvement over much of what goes on in Europe at present: “I don’t know what a Swedish Islam would look like, but it probably wouldn’t be half as ugly as the feminist-communist dystopia that the country is today.  The culture of that Nordic state repulses me a lot more than that of, say, Turkey. “

I’m inclined on one hand to regard these activities on the part of the EDL as one of those “So this is how it ends?” moments. If the principal objection to conquest of the West by means of demographic aggression by hostile immigrant populations is that some of the immigrants aren’t PC enough, then why bother? Surely a civilization that has sunk to such levels would deserve to die. Still, political pragmatism and eclecticism have their place. The approach of the EDL resembles in some ways the Dutch left-nationalist movement of the late Pim Fortuyn, and even my own approach to certain questions (for instance, my blurring of the left/right distinction when attacking the managerial state) bears a casual resemblance on occasion. A commenter on my blog suggests that the EDL’s efforts are largely motivated by a desire to steer anti-Islamic or anti-immigration sentiment away from support for the British National Party. That would seem to be as good an explanation for this spectacle as any. However, the EDL may have the positive unintended consequence of providing an entry level gateway for participants in its activities, particularly young people inclined towards either the Left or neocon sympathies, to eventually develop a more serious critique of the threat posed by uncontrolled immigration and a more solid intellectual and political defense of their cultural heritage and civilization.