How #CreepingSharia Reminded Me Of My Love For Britain

Tommy Robinson: Fascist and Laughing-Stock

Tommy Robinson: Fascist and Laughing-Stock

Fascism was highly fashionable throughout Europe and North America in the 1930s, and Britain too was affected. Antisemitism and a desire to keep the “lower orders” in check were widespread beliefs among the British aristocracy, the media, the police, the Conservative Party and large sections of the population. My Jewish grandfather and his family, living in the ghetto in the East End of London, faced discrimination and the threat of violence on a frequent basis. The far-right was strong and confident, and the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Oswald Mosley, commanded a membership of up to 50,000, and the support of the ever-moronic Daily Mail.

On Sunday 4th October, 1936, Mosley decided to flex the BUF’s muscles by marching his “blackshirt” street thugs through the East End, the most Jewish area of England. The local Jewish population, including my grandfather, came into their streets to stop the blackshirts marching. They battled the fascists, and the London police who joined the blackshirts in fighting the Jews. But that’s not the full picture: the Jews alone couldn’t have stopped the blackshirts (and their police friends) from marching. The Jews were joined by other immigrants – largely Irish – along with socialists, communists, trade unionists and ordinary Londoners. Local women leaned out of their windows and dropped pots and pans on the blackshirts. The fascists were beaten off London’s streets.

The Battle of Cable Street was a turning point in British history. The BUF never recovered from their physical beating and humiliation. The British people had given their verdict on fascism – unlike in much of mainland Europe or the USA, British fascism was in retreat by the start of the Second World War in 1939. Mosley attempted a come-back in the 1950s and 60s, this time choosing black immigrants instead of Jews as his target, but he was largely irrelevant by then. His fascist mantle was picked up in the 1970s by a new group, the National Front, which targeted blacks, Jews and the latest arrivals: Asians (meaning primarily Indians and Pakistanis). The growth of the NF coincided with the Skinhead cultural movement among young working class whites, and the skinheads were (often unfairly) labelled as fascists and racists.

When I reached my teens, the NF was at its peak, and my black friends would run on sight of a skinhead. But then, in the early-80s, support for the NF collapsed. But why? It wasn’t through official state action: the British police were incredibly racist, and often took the side of the NF in street confrontations. The Thatcher government was riddled with racists who had little understanding of the situation on the streets, and showed no interest in clamping down on street racism.

The answer was culture; or specifically working class culture as expressed through music. In the 60s, while middle class Brits were joining the hippie movement, the young, white working class had discovered Soul music, imported from the US. In the 1970s, the young black British population, with close links to the West Indies, was listening to reggae, the huge new trend from Jamaica. Young white people in the cities, who already had a taste for black music, were discovering reggae, which required going to black concerts and mixing with black people. In the late-1970s, the two-tone movement appeared, blending white skinhead and punk music with reggae and ska from the West Indies. The two-tone movement (including groups like The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter) saw concerts bringing enemy gangs together in the same venues. Rastas and skinheads shared music, danced together and smoked weed together. The National Front lost its constituency of angry, white, racist young men. This didn’t happen because government wanted it to – it happened largely without the knowledge of Britain’s rulers. It happened because of some X-factor in the British population; a natural ability to accept, integrate and mix with immigrant cultures that seems lacking elsewhere in Europe or in the United States.

If two-tone was the first, crude blend of white and black music, it was just the beginning. By the 1990s, mixed couples and mixed music scenes were becoming more frequent. Mixed-race children were becoming a common sight. The Jamaican Dub sound was adopted by musical pioneers in Bristol, who created a new set of genres such as Trip Hop. Jungle music, a London creation, took Jamaican ragga and European dance music and blended them. From this emerged Drum and Bass, and in the late-90s, UK Garage. UK Hip Hop began as a copy of the American version, but was quickly adapted to British styles, from which emerged a truly British poetry form, Grime. Asian sounds joined the mix of Jamaican and European influences. The blender ran ever faster, creating new musical styles that were ever more intertwined, and ever more British.

Outside the cities, most people were oblivious to this. As always, British urban youth were decades ahead of the establishment and the middle class mainstream in integrating their cultures together. The only time the urban scene ever made mainstream news was if a gun was waved at a Garage concert or a stabbing occurred at a Hip Hop rave.

By 2000, it seemed the far-right could never re-establish itself in such a mixed society, so at peace with itself, but 9/11 changed that. The new kid on the fascist block, the British National Party (BNP) quickly rewrote its literature, replacing the word Asian with the word Muslim. Anti-Muslim ideas began to gain traction, especially after 52 people died in the London bombings of 2005. Then the English Defence League (EDL) was born; while the BNP had tried to create a respectable, suited version of fascism, the EDL went back to NF ways, building a street army of angry young white men. The EDL grew fast, but then in the past year or so seemed to have peaked. The EDL’s apparent association with far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik doesn’t seem to have helped them.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen regular tweets about the EDL and its idiot supporters, and especially its moronic leader, Tommy Robinson. EDL supporters on Twitter output a regular drip-feed of hateful misinformation about Muslims, which has been hard to tackle. Until yesterday, that is. Tommy Robinson had tweeted one of his standard pieces of anti-Muslim nonsense. Seeing a picture of a “mosque” on the Twitter home page (it was, in fact, the Taj Mahal), Robinson sent the following tweet:

Welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque What a joke #creepingsharia

The idea being, of course, to convince the British public that Islam is encroaching on every aspect of our daily lives. There have been many such tweets from Robinson and his supporters. But this time, some Twitter users decided to respond, and take the piss out of (to use a British expression) the #CreepingSharia hashtag. By yesterday afternoon, the trickle of tweets was growing into a flood, and by evening it was a tsunami. The British people, in their many thousands, had finally been given their chance to react, in a truly British fashion, to the cancer of the EDL. The response wasn’t anger, threats or hatred. It was a flood of laughter. The EDL was turned within a few hours into a national and international laughing-stock. It was more than a chance to let off steam – it was a turning point. It was a chance for the majority to demonstrate to British Muslims that the EDL is a small, unrepresentative and unliked group of people. The atmosphere on Twitter yesterday can be described as a carnival. I don’t think my grandfather, or other veterans of the Battle of Cable Street, would mind me comparing the two events. Yesterday, 16th April 2012, the British people hounded and humiliated the EDL just as they had the BUF on 4th October 1936.

Here’s a small selection of #creepingsharia tweets (sorry if they’re wrongly attributed – many were retweeted many times):

@DestinyofL: ‘Star Wars’ makes a ‘hero’ of a youth who is radicalised by a bearded old man who lives in the desert wearing robes #creepingsharia

@amna_kaleem: The weather in Britain is always Sunni or Shi’ite. #CreepingSharia

@lacatchat: If you look really carefully, a packet of iced gems looks like lots & lots of little Mosques. #creepingsharia

@stanyalplatford: All the fantastic and clever #creepingsharia tweets utterly nailed @EDLTrobinson . What a fucking prick.

@BristolAF: Fell asleep on the sofa again last night. My lovely Muslim housemate tried not to wake me when she got back from work. #creepingsharia

@ZiaQureshi11: I once had a go at my housemate for cooking bacon in my frying pan and not cleaning it properly #creepingsharia

@KarmaUnc: Marvelous to see the Twittersphere overwhelmingly handing @EDLTrobinson his #creepingsharia arse back to him on a plate today #EDL

@ammaarrahim: RT if the #creepingsharia trend made your day today… certainly made mine :)

It was a reminder to me that, whatever the downside of living on this cold, wet island among a people who enjoy moaning about most things on most days, there’s a huge reason to be proud of this country. As race hate strengthens in Hungary, The Netherlands and the USA, the British can again be an example to the rest of the western world. While patriotism grows in popularity elsewhere, the British don’t do patriotism. We don’t fly flags on our homes or on public buildings. It’s our contempt for those who label themselves British or English Patriots that is quintessentially British or English.

As for my great love, British urban music, this has continued to evolve over the past decade. For those of you who can’t be here in London to experience our mixture first-hand, here’s a taste of what young white, black and brown Londoners are dancing to, together, in 2012. It contains flavours of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the USA, but it’s uniquely British, and it unites young people from all backgrounds. The far-right doesn’t stand a chance.

15 thoughts on “How #CreepingSharia Reminded Me Of My Love For Britain

  1. Watched some debate the other day between one side that wants Muslims in UK governed in accordance with Sharia, and on the other some rep from EDL & allies. It struck me that here were two reactionary factions arguing over which one would impose their values on the other. I couldn’t see a fag paper’s thickness separating them.
    It is worrying that EDL gets to speak on behalf on White Working Class Joe Average, and some other group of reactionary sectarian fools pushes their way forward to speak on behalf of the average Muslim – when neither represents anything but their own fear of the future and change.

    • Yeah – neither side represents many people at all. The UK media loves interviewing ranting idiots from both sides because it makes for good TV. Some of these pro-Sharia people have a couple of dozen supporters. We should never have even heard of them.

  2. It’s pretty obvious that both groups are funded government stooges to distract people from the real issues that are affecting the English.

    Why don’t you see the EDL defending the English from unemployment and a failed economy as opposed to the imaginary threat of ‘islamisation’?

  3. Cracking piece Mr Watch. This bit really made me smile:

    “The British don’t do patriotism. We don’t fly flags on our homes or on public buildings. It’s our contempt for those who label themselves British or English Patriots that is quintessentially British or English.”

  4. Question for you, based on your own comment at 17 Apr 12 at 5:54 pm…

    Do you ever worry that taking on all these nutcases like EDL, BNP et al on Twitter with such commendable enthusiasm and vigour might actually be providing them with coverage and publicity that they otherwise wouldn’t get? After all, for them there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I mean it’s great that you’re so proactive in publicly humiliating these people, but how do you strike a balance between that and inadvertently giving the nutters a free platform?

    • Agree, it’s a fine line, but hatred grows best when it’s left alone. If people didn’t know about the EDL, events like this hashtag wouldn’t happen. Generally, I believe, the “wisdom of crowds” works. People are naturally liberal in the most basic sense of the word, in that most of us don’t like to see other people suffering. Leaving politics or policing solely to politicians or police would leave the rest of us with no power.

  5. This post reminds me of my seeing a black comedian in Edinburgh who showed us video clip after video clip of racism – some naive and some sinister – which we all wriggled at – then he said ‘this is white pride – be proud of your hatred of these views.. not the people – they are mostly old or misguided but be proud – you have address these people and marginalised them – be proud of that.. say it, he made us chant with James brown ‘I’m white and I’m proud’ it felt weird to be proud but I see his point. I have taken to writing under ‘white pride’ graffiti ‘means hating racists’

  6. IMO the emergence of EDL is a symptom of other social issues, and the Sharia etc issue has become a simple object against which the predominantly white working class has fixed upon. Prior to the 1980′s there was a national consensus that everyone should have a share in the national commonwealth and the right to a basic decent life. UK had long established notions regarding the quality of life (i.e. 8hrs Work, 8hrs Play & 8hrs Rest) informed by Non-Conformism from the Civil War onwards which progressively were applied. In the 19thC & 20thC we saw the emergence of social policies that assured working class people of the basics for life (Food, Clothing & Shelter).
    However as we progressed towards the final quarter of the 20thC we took for granted these achievements and values, and focussed upon the individual and short-term enrichment. In the same period we also saw fundamental changes in working class socio-economics. In 1970 it took 36% of the vg man’s wage to provide shelter for his family, at a time when the avg woman earned 50% of a man’s wage. 30yrs later women’s wages appeared to have risen to almost that of men’s. But the cost of housing had increased so much that women’s purchasing power had actually declined slightly. For men this meant that their purchasing power had collapsed, and by 2000 it took 72% of the avg man’s wage to provide shelter for his family.
    In the same period the availability of social housing declined significantly due to government policies and the inefficiency of Housing Assocs. There have also been fundamental changes in housing policies to a “needs based” approach and attempts at social engineering. For the avg white working class family that behaved themselves and worked hard this change in policy disadvantaged them, as they tended to score lower on the needs criteria and social engineering broke up their family / community networks they relied upon.
    As they became more frustrated and disengaged, the far right stepped in to exploit this and focused on the increasing presence of non-white immigrants in their midst, and in particular the extremist demands of some immigrant minority groups. The focus became a culture clash. But the real issue is in competition for resources such as housing.
    As can be readily evidence simply by listening to & observing them, the white working class are far more willing to absorb and assimilate immigrant cultures than their middle class counterparts. But the “liberal left” has hypocritically grabbed the so-called moral high ground and focused on the alleged racial issues, and in doing so has done the work for BNP & EDL etc. The “liberal left” with all its economic advantages has never shown itself willing to actually commit itself to the national commonwealth if it means any economic sacrifice on their part.
    There is a desperate need for working class leadership that can bring everyone together and challenge the exploitative middle classes. This leadership needs to get out there and argue the case for the working class and their right to public resources (the working class BTW subsidise the middle class). Until this leadership emerges then EDL etc will dominate the debate to the disadvantage of everyone.

  7. You do know that it’s not the Taj Mahal, don’t you? It really is a mosque, quite a famous one, too although i can’t recall which off the top of my head. Not that that represents creeping sharia, but worth a correction.

  8. “As can be readily evidence simply by listening to & observing them, the white working class are far more willing to absorb and assimilate immigrant cultures than their middle class counterparts. But the ‘liberal left’ has hypocritically grabbed the so-called moral high ground and focused on the alleged racial issues, and in doing so has done the work for BNP & EDL etc. The ‘liberal left’ with all its economic advantages has never shown itself willing to actually commit itself to the national commonwealth if it means any economic sacrifice on their part.”

    Something else which the ‘liberal’ left has done over the last couple of decades has been to embrace all manner of identity politicians and self-appointed ‘community leaders’, ostensibly in the name of diversity and a postmodern agenda: in practice, what it’s amounted to has been a cynical grab for the votes of ‘key’ demographics, based on the assumption that the white working classes are both politically inactive and culturally conservative, and are therefore best ignored by the political elite. It’s particularly ironic, when one considers just how reactionary and anti-democratic many of the figures whom the so-called left has championed have been revealed to be.

    “As can be readily evidence simply by listening to & observing them, the white working class are far more willing to absorb and assimilate immigrant cultures than their middle class counterparts. But the ‘liberal left’ has hypocritically grabbed the so-called moral high ground and focused on the alleged racial issues, and in doing so has done the work for BNP & EDL etc. The ‘liberal left’ with all its economic advantages has never shown itself willing to actually commit itself to the national commonwealth if it means any economic sacrifice on their part.”

    One can see this both in patterns of inner-city gentrification (with the accompanying grab for control of local politics) and the manner in which mass immigration had almost become a taboo topic amongst mainstream politicians until working class Labour voters switched to the BNP in protest (rather than out of genuine conviction), and continues to evoke the smear of ‘racism’ every time it is raised in public.

  9. Pingback: The Islamification of the Conservative Party | MoronWatch

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