Friday, November 11, 2011

The Prince of Darkness at the Cenotaph

EDL arrests at the Cenotaph

I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer…

— From “At the Cenotaph” by Siegfried Sassoon

As reported in last night’s news feed, the radical British Islamic group Muslims Against Crusades was banned yesterday by the Home Office. The premises of its leader, the notorious firebrand Anjem Choudary, were then raided by police. For the time being — until it can regenerate itself under yet another name — MAC and Mr. Choudary are out of business.

The Choudary crew were planning another poppy-burning and soldier-reviling fest in London today during the solemn ceremonies of Remembrance Day, and their removal from the scene left the Metropolitan Police all dressed up with nowhere to go. Rather than have all those police vans and riot gear and overtime go to waste, the boys in blue decided to crack down on the English Defence League instead. The EDL didn’t actually do anything wrong, but the police felt obliged to arrest a couple of hundred of them to “prevent a breach of the peace”.

According to The Telegraph:

170 Members of English Defence League Arrested Near Cenotaph in London

More than 170 members of the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) have been arrested near an Armistice Day ceremony in central London amid fears they were trying to target anti-capitalists camped in the city.

Scotland Yard said the group were detained “to prevent a breach of the peace” at a pub near the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

A police source said it was believed the group were heading towards the anti-capitalist “Occupy” protest camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, set up last month after being inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

That is, the EDL people were arrested because, in the esteemed judgment of Scotland Yard, they just might do something bad when they encountered the legions of the unwashed in front of St. Paul’s.

The Met acknowledged that no member of the EDL had broken the law or done anything violent:
“170+ supporters of EDL were arrested this p.m. to prevent a breach of the peace,” the Met Police said on its Twitter website. “No reported disorder between opposing groups at this stage.”

The screen shot at the top of this post was taken from the video that accompanied the Telegraph news article. If you watch the old fellow in the video being dragged off by the cops, you’ll notice that he seems to be virtually unconscious, and not at all well.

There’s a first-hand account of police harassment near the Cenotaph at the EDL website.

According to a BBC report, the arrests were made under a provision of the Terrorism Act. That is, laws that were designed to be used against people who intend to stage another 7/7 attack (or worse) are instead being used against indigenous English people who have done nothing wrong and are planning no kind of “terrorism” whatsoever.

That’s what happens whenever anti-terrorism laws are passed. Their provisions are so sweeping that invoking them for domestic political reasons becomes all but irresistible for the ruling class. The same is true of the Patriot Act here in the USA — all those rumblings about “right-wing extremists” began long before Obama, during the administration of a supposedly conservative president.

Finally, notice that the The Daily Mail makes sure to emphasize how dangerous those EDL guys are. After all, they “clashed” with violent Muslims (and police) in the past:

Trouble flared on Armistice Day last year when the far-right group clashed with Islamic protesters after members of Muslims Against Crusades burned poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall.

EDL founder Stephen Lennon was later charged with assaulting a police officer and five others associated with the group were arrested.

That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.

It’s easy to understand why the authorities had to crack down on the EDL today. After breaking up MAC yesterday, if they didn’t come after the English patriots today, they would have been pilloried for “discrimination” against Muslims.

Tommy Robinson and the Metropolitan Police

They would have been seen as displaying favoritism towards native Britons. And we can’t have that, now, can we?

…The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh.

Hat tip: SB.


Blogger said...

I don't believe in banning any speech or antic like poppy burning, or Quran burning. In a free country people should be free to express themselves in any way they want, as long as it doesn't involve physical harm. People are taking these antics way too seriously. If we censor even hate speech or hate gestures, then we also suppress the necessary questioning, debate or criticism of beliefs because reasoning can only improved if put to the test.

I quote sociologist Frank Furedi (who is one of my favourite journalists):

"When tolerance is represented as a form of detached indifference, or as a gesture connoting mechanical acceptance, it becomes a vice rather than a virtue. Tolerance necessarily involves an act of judgment. According to the
classical liberal outlook,tolerance involved an act of judgment and discrimination; but judgment did not serve as a prelude to censoring another person's wrong opinion, because tolerance demands respect for people's right to hold beliefs in accordance with their conscience.
The capacity to tolerate views of which one disapproves in based on the conviction that this virtue provides an opportunity for testing out ideas and confronting ethical dilemmas. Interference with individual beliefs and
opinions disrupts the creative dynamic of the intellectual and moral development of society. From this standpoint, tolerance of beliefs that we really hate is a very small price to pay for society's intellectual and
moral development.

Tolerance is a virtue because it takes people very seriously. It recognises that, without allowing people the freedom to err, society will find it difficult to find its way to the truth."

Salome said...

They can burn all the poppies they want, but they don't have to be given a public forum in which to burn them. They can shout all the insults they want about their host nation's security forces, but not while that host nation is observing a period of silence in memory of those who were slain. It's about when, where and in what context they are saying these things. No physical harm would occur if I were to walk into a Synagogue with a megaphone and shout anti-Semitic slogans (or if it did I'd probably deserve it!), or to start hurling abuse at a wedding ceremony being lawfully conducted in a park--but it would be a breach of the peace in both cases. Freedom of speech is about the right to hold and articulate an opinion, not about the right to go shouting it over other people's lawful activities and observances. Let them burn poppies in their mosques if they want to. No-one will intrude there.

Kinneddar said...

Obviously, Scotland Yard, acting under pressure from above, undertook this Nazi-like operation. Why? The net result was that the EDL were prevented from assembling (isn't this a basic right in a free society?). The broader results were to paint the EDL again in a negative light: associate the EDL with mass police presence, police dogs, people arrested and hauled (literally) away. All-in-all, bad publicity for the EDL—is David Cameron rubbing his hands in delight today?

This amounts to police harassment and intimidation—something more usual in a police state, not previously free-and-open Britain.

The fall-out will be interesting: how many remain in custody, on what charges, how will the judge look at this? and so on.

RonaldB said...


I agree with you completely. The freedom of expression is absolutely vital to a free and progressive society.

I might quibble with the terminology about respecting the conscience of the other person. The motivation of the speaker is of no interest, as long as the person is not directly inciting violent, illegal actions.

You always have fringe cases. Can Muslims burn poppies in a public square on Remembrance Day? Can Nazis march with swastika through a community filled with Holocaust survivors?

I like the EDL on the whole, and think their organization is vital to the protection of England. I think they are making some very bad choices by tweaking the edge of violent actions against opponents. Were the police justified in fearing that the EDL march would morph into violence? Were the police only trying to balance their actions against the MAC?

I would like to see some further real information about these questions.

I believe that the way to win against the Muslims is to give every encouragement to free expression, unhindered by the threat of violence. It's the unspoken facts that are the most dangerous.

Blogger said...

I believe that the way to win against the Muslims is to give every encouragement to free expression, unhindered by the threat of violence. It's the unspoken facts that are the most dangerous.

Brilliantly said Ronald!

Anonymous said...

Tolerance? Surely it depends who is asking whom to tolerate what!