On Wednesday 30th November, 7-9pm, room C50, Portland Building, Nottinghamshire University.
Claire Taylor from the School of History on talk on 'Why no platform for fascists'. Other talks will include: Pete Radcliff from Notts Socialist Green Unity Forum on 'What is fascism and Post WW2 fascism?' and someone from Notts Anti Fascist Alliance (NAFA) on present anti fascist campaigns in the Nottinghamshire area. The evening is organised by Nottingham University Peace Movement (NSPM) and the Lenton Anarchist Forum.
NO PLATFORM FOR FASCISTS
The lies told by the far Right, by organisations such as the British National Party (BNP) are racist, homophobic and sexist; they are not only offensive but also dangerous as they incite hatred and violence. To defend the spread of such lies under the cry of ‘freedom of speech’ is ludicrous; if the BNP were to take power in this country then they would not only silence people’s freedom of speech but also freedom of movement and for many their freedom to live. I believe that the freedom to live without fear of oppression is more important than the unimpeded freedom of speech. Fascists do not believe in freedom of speech but are quick to exploit liberal arguments in favour of it for their own purposes.
The right to free speech is not absolute; it has always been conditional: restricted by laws covering sedition, slander, criminal libel, treason, contempt of court, intention to provoke a breach of the peace and inciting racial hatred. Why is it that the latter is so frequently disregarded?
Giving the BNP a platform in publications other than their own, such as a ‘student’ newspaper, gives them the veneer of political respectability that they crave, providing their ideas with undeserved legitimacy. It is one thing to allow an individual the right to free speech and quite another to allow an organisation of hateful fascist ideology a platform within a community that they are not part of and indeed likely to, at best offend, and at worst provoke hateful attacks. Why are students at our university offering the BNP a platform when they can no longer get their own paper printed anywhere in the country due to its repulsive and offensive content?
Fascism is not simply a set of opinions it is an extremely violent movement, which is alarmingly growing. This year the BNP gained a total of 192,750 votes in the election, four times that of 2001. There are currently 21 local councillors, and in these areas incidents of homophobia and racist attacks have risen. Indeed, in the recent election a post-graduate student from Nottingham University, Sadie Graham, stood as a candidate for the BNP. In Europe the close election of Le Pen’s Le Front National and in Belgium the far-Right Vlaams Belang who won nearly a third of the vote in the last election should be a loud wake-up call to everyone concerned with preserving their freedom of speech. We can’t dismiss these ideas as extreme and held by an insignificant minority, we must actively engage with preventing this abhorrent ideology from spreading.
Largely due to a banal fascism creeping into the public unconscious and a growing acceptance as ‘common sense’ right wing, authoritarian ideas, particularly through the mainstream media, the far Right’s irrational appeals can speak to pervasive unconscious prejudices in a dangerous manipulating manner. Toleration of lies dressed up as part of the “marketplace of political ideas” is an apathetic acceptance of politics as something that is consumerable rather than requiring your active participation.
The publication to which I have been referring did so in a careless attempt at creating controversy without thought to the impact on those who might suffer as a result of the dissemination of such racist material. Rather than reply through them - I am not prepared to share a platform with fascists - I would rather reply on a platform for peace that aims to prevent rather than cultivate killing people - i.e. is not sponsored by dealers in the arms trade.
Stopping short at a call to militant anti-fascist action against those responsible for neo-Nazi propaganda, though for thoughtless sensationalism rather than fully sharing the ideology, I instead choose to take direct action by collecting copies and placing them in the local recycling in the hope that they might one-day serve a useful function by becoming toilet paper.
Statistics sourced from the BBC
Produced as a result of discussions at Lenton Anarchist Forum