The cause appears to be one particular Facebook page, and the way some people share statuses from it without actually realising who the page belongs to, or what the purpose of it is.
The page belongs to a fascist organisation calling itself Britain First.
Let me dissuade you of any notions that I might have used the word “fascist” precipitously. I really haven’t. Britain First was formed in East Belfast, under the watchful eyes of Loyalist paramilitaries, and its principal founder was a former member of the BNP who had been expelled from that party for making unwanted sexual advances to a female member. Can you imagine a more noxious individual, or more sinister beginnings?
Apart from anything else, it’s the product of a pissing contest. Britain First appears to have been set up at least partly to rival the BNP as the established party of the far right, and if it’s had an actual agenda so far that appears to have been designed to cost its brother organisation as many votes – and as much money – as possible.
Nevertheless, they are a serious, hard-core, extremist organisation, which claims to believe in a coming religious war between Christianity and Islam. To that end, they’ve organised “Christianity Patrols” in Muslim areas, demonstrated outside of mosques and they were one of the primary organisations using the death of Lee Rigby to push their evil agenda.
Britain First propaganda appears all over Facebook these days. Some experts think they have the fasting growing social media network on the British political scene … much more, for example, than the “mainstream parties”, but perhaps surprisingly also better than that of UKIP, many of whose members crawled out of the same cesspit.
Britain First doesn’t spread via social media by discussing its policies. It does it by tapping into Hallmark grade sentimentality, exploiting some people’s devotion to things like the flag, the monarchy and the pound. As far as I’m concerned, people can place great store in fluff like that all they want. People will always exploit that ersatz nationalism for their own ends, but these guys are different, and not just because all of it hides extremist views that no sane person would endorse.
They also exploit the armed forces, pushing stories in the press which mention them, putting up rousing images, even using the names of dead servicemen.
I cannot think of many things sicker, or more cynical, than that. That almost everyone who’s ever pulled on a British army uniform did so in direct opposition to the ideology Britain First espouses appears to have either not dawned on them or is something they’re content to ignore.
They realise they can make ground tugging on those particular heart strings where they otherwise wouldn’t, and they take full advantage of that fact.
This is the level of these despicable people. They will do anything to spread their name far and wide, and that name gives them access to money, through advertising on their Facebook page and elsewhere. Yes, friends, those who share their status updates are actually helping put money in their pockets. They are actually helping finance fascism.
It’s no wonder so many people are getting angry with friends and family over the sudden appearance of Britain First propaganda on their news feeds. Those of us who are aware of who these people are, and what they represent – a marriage of convenience between right wing nutters from the Loyalist paramilitaries, numerous far right organisations, Christian fundamentalists and Islamophobes – don’t like it when our pages are polluted by them.
It goes deeper than that though, and it’s the reason so many are unfriending folk they’ve known for years. The very act of blindly sharing propaganda from a far right organisation is one born of sheer ignorance. Our anger comes from people who’ve not taken the time to think through what it is they are doing, and it doesn’t matter to me whether they’re sharing a Support The Troops image or status, or one that spreads lies about Islam. It takes two seconds to check out where these things originate, and another two to actually go over there and look, for yourself, at who they are.
Some of these people get defensive and stroppy when you ask them – and it doesn’t matter if you do it politely or not, they get equally offended – to keep that stuff away from your news feed. Many of them get agitated thinking you are criticising what’s in the photo instead of the source. Others blurt out their own completely uniformed opinions on any number of subjects ranging from mass immigration to Islamification, the sort of rhetoric that makes you despair and reminds us, again, of that offensive purple blob on Scotland’s electoral map.
It is the ignorance that makes us angry. It is the ignorance that draws blood, and makes us reach for the Unfriend button. All hate is based on ignorance. Without it these people would have nothing to say and no place to say it. We are pissed off because we live in a world where there is literally no excuse for being this disengaged. Even the briefest examination of what these people stand for would be enough to switch off anyone of a rational disposition, and there’s really no alibi for anyone who doesn’t go and find this stuff out.
I despise everyone on the far right. To me, an entire slew of British politics slithered out of the swamp, and it is part of the reason I’m so devoted to the idea of an independent Scotland, where we will not simply marginalise these people but wash them away. They have little political traction here and most of it is still interwoven with the Union Jack. If we replace that flag with the Saltire, we’re removing the crutch on which their whole shabby politics is built.
Social media can expose these people as much as it has promoted them. Last night, I unfriended a girl I’ve known for years over a Britain First post on her page, and she genuinely didn’t get why I’d done it. I explained it to her, and now she understands. I shouldn’t have had to, but I realise that doesn’t matter. Some people will need guided on this issue, and I think it is incumbent on all of us to talk first, and reach for the Unfriend button later.
It is tempting to react out of anger, but that doesn’t put the genie back in the bottle. Some of these people just need a wee steer in the right direction, and not only will they cease to share Britain First propaganda, but they’ll stop their friends and family members from doing it … and slowly we can roll back the advances these evil bastards have made.
Let’s be clear; this is not sharing statuses from UKIP, who in my view are a racist party but only one step removed from the Monster Raving Loonies in their clown costumes. I do not understand how any person can share UKIP posts without wanting to hide under the bed every time one of their elected representatives opens his or her mouth, such is their level of utter incompetence and lack of engagement with reality, which is apparent to anyone with the first clue about the issues. They embarrass their voters every chance they get, revealing a gaping hole where intellect should be.
If people want to reveal the enormity of their own witlessness then I have no problem with them doing so by putting UKIP up on their timeline. They might as well be posting clips of Alf Garnett with a statement about how much he speaks to their worldview. It is cringe-inducing, and they must get laughed at when they go to visit relatives and friends.
Britain First is a different thing entirely. They are hate-mongers, bent on a religious war in the streets of our country. Many of their members are devotees of the cult of Adolf Hitler. They have links to the hard-core gangsters and murderers of the Loyalist organisations, and they have links with far right psychopaths in the States like the Fred Phelps Church and even the KKK. For all the fake love for the “Best of British” their ideology is closer to that of the Nazi Germany our forefathers fought in the very army uniforms these people seek to exploit.
Our friends should know this. They should have this point hammered across to them over and over again until they not only cease promoting these people but actively take steps to reverse their spread on social media. If you’ve helped get that message out there, the very least you should be expected to do is join those of us who are trying to batter it back into the gutter.
Some will refuse to listen, and carry on regardless. That’s just a sad fact of life, and it’s these people who should be cast into the darkness. Any of our “friends” who, having learned this, are still willing to turn their Facebook pages into repositories for hate really are people we’re better off without in our lives, and that is what the “unfriend” and “block” options were made for.
Friends, I’ve been campaigning against the far right in Scotland for years and in one way or another it is a fight that has been phenomenally successful. UKIP’s single MEP in this country offends me but does not concern me. No other party was given such widespread media coverage, including on the now utterly discredited and scandalously biased BBC, and it’s no great shock they made a “breakthrough”. It will be short-lived, and not repeated.
The far right inhabit the fringes of the fringes here, because the left in Scotland is ever vigilant and our distinctive political climate is not suited to their narrow nationalism and appeals to fear, hate and social division. Whenever they’ve tried to capitalise on local tragedy or anger – such as in the case involving Kriss Donald – they have been turned on by everyone, and made to understand that exploiting these things does not wash here.
This is why the single success of UKIP, and the spread of Britain First, has such a resonance and causes such amplified anger. We simply do not tolerate these sort of people, or this sort of politics, here and we’re not about to start now. Scotland is walking, head held high, into an independence referendum in September, and whether it ends in a yes or no vote, things have changed here, once and for all. Our growing sense of destiny is leading us to that Promised Land, whether it’s this year or in another five or ten … there is an inevitability about it now.
These people would condemn this country not only to a future robbed of this hope but one where this multi-cultural, multi-ethnic land of ours tore itself apart, reversing all progress and shattering all optimism beyond any chance of repair or redemption.
That is who they are, and that is what they want.
Every single one of us should be saying “Not in my name.” Our friends should be educated where possible, and dismissed as ignorant racists where they don’t want to be.
It’s as simple as that. We don’t defeat these people by ignoring them. That gives them license to keep on spreading hate. We beat them only when we refuse to tolerate them, when we challenge them head on, when we meet ignorance with truth.
There is no other way. Spread the word.
It’s time to send these people back to the gutter they crawled out of.
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