Six Birmingham Muslims have pleaded guilty to planning to attack on an EDL march in Dewsbury. The men were equipped with a homemade nail bomb, as well as knives and machetes. With them, they were carrying a document entitled “Operation in Defence of the Prophet Mohammed”, in which the Queen was named as a “Kafir Female Devil” and the EDL were told “the penalty for blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad is death”. Jihadist literature was found on the men’s phones and computers.
This sounds to me as if the men were wannabe holy warriors who were outraged by the EDL’s insulting of Muhammad and saw the chance to launch defensive jihad. For the Socialist Worker’s Party, though, in the “What We Think” section of its newspaper, they were helpless victims of racism who felt compelled to lash out to defend themselves…
It is not equal to the violence of the state, or of racists or fascists who attack people because of their race or religion.
It was an act of despair against racist thugs.
How do they know? Seriously – how do they know? The men themselves claimed to have been provoked by the insulting of their prophet rather by violence or intimidation. Their reading materials and modus operandi suggests that they were inspired more by the abstract ideas of jihadism than material concerns in England. Their actions seem bold and ambitious rather than forlorn.
I am prepared to be convinced otherwise but, then, the SWP having nothing with which to convince one. They have not spoken to the men. They have not exposed evidence to bolster their argument. They are practicing amateur psychology of the kind that projects a stereotype of a people upon their actions. For them, people act not according to ideas but to material circumstances, and peoples held to be oppressed do not have their own obnoxious cultural trends but merely act according to structural oppression. This is not an inference; it is an assumption. It is also representative of willful blindness.
The SWP is not satisfied with merely sympathising with the motivations of these people – they have a measure of sympathy with their method. To be sure, they write that this “isn’t the way to take on the fascists”. But why is this so?
Had the attack gone ahead, it could have killed or injured people protesting against the EDL.
It could have generated sympathy for the EDL rather than weakening them.
And it could have helped the state increase the clampdown on Muslims and anti-fascists.
In other words, killing members of the EDL is not inherently condemnable. It is only the side-effects of such a tactic that strike these socialists as distressing. Could one execute its members and avoid these consequences it seems that this act might deserve more consideration. As it is, the SWP counsel against it and urge people who might think about slaughtering skinheads to join the “fight for a socialist alternative”. There is something tragicomic about this.
Me, I have always thought that the bulk of the people who turn out for the EDL are lairy young football fans who think that by chanting insults against Muhammad and Allah they stick it to the people who burn poppies and flags. It would be awful, then, if they, their friends and their families had to endure the pain of loss, still less the pain of nails and blades slicing through their flesh. There are those among them who believe that destruction and killing are justified and, indeed, meritorious, and such brutal thugs are abhorrent and frightening. It is not a cause for reassurance, though, that there are others who feel that mass murder would be an understandable response. It is quite the opposite.