Fascists: Should We Just Ignore Them?
Short answer: no.
A few days ago, Brighton and Hove News published this article. It’s an interview with Matthew Cook, one of the organisers of this year’s Kemp Town Carnival. In it, Mr Cook argues we should ignore the planned fascist march in Brighton, and leave it to the Police to deal with, whilst we all party it up at the carnival.
Since “just ignore them” is a fairly common message we get sent, we thought we’d look in a little bit of depth at why this is such a bad idea.
First of all, let’s make it very clear. Fascists want us to ignore them. Being ignored by their opponents on demonstrations allows them to continue the deluded fantasy that they speak for some sort of “silent majority” of people who agree with them. It also gives them free reign to attack and intimidate any locals they don’t like the look of.
An obvious case study of this is Brighton’s own “March for England”. Between 2008 and 2011 they marched relatively unopposed as antifascists took Matthew Cook’s advice and ignored them. During this time they grew in numbers and confidence, and this gave the far-right in general a confidence boost. They felt they could “get away” with things in Brighton. Whilst MfE itself grew more confident and vocal about it’s nationalism and islamophobia, other smaller far-right groups did worse. In 2010, small group of fascists attempted to attack an anti-arms trade demonstration in the centre of town. A year later, a larger group of EDL and MfE attacked a meeting on multiculturalism in Friends Meeting House. Only the robust defensive action of BAF stewards kept them from shutting the meeting down. A year after that, another group attacked an anti-fascist book lauch in Community Base.
However, in 2012 the tide changed. This was the year that (as we’re sure many of you remember) anti-fascists decisively opposed MfE. We sent out a signal that Brighton was not a push-over, and numbers on the far-right march declined year on year until they finally gave up, abandoning the march in 2015. The smaller actions and attacks also totally ceased. It’s also worth noting that, during the heyday of the EDL, almost every city of any size in the UK has been subjected to one or more of their demos, yet they’ve never come to Brighton. Our resistance to MfE is almost certainly a factor in that.
On a smaller scale, left to their own devices, the far-right have proved time and again that they will not hold “peaceful demos” but instead attack anything or anyone they percieve as a target. Without opposition and the subsequent policing operation to contain them, fascists have regularly gone on the rampage in towns across the UK. The very first EDL demo, in 2009 in Luton, was unopposed, and they attacked Bury Park (Luton’s Asian quater), beating up individual Asians and smashing Asian owned businesses. There have also been several unopposed far-right demos in the Yorkshire market town of Rotherham, and, as if smelling weakness, these demos got bigger and bigger until finally culminating in nearlly 1000 EDL, National Front and assorted Neo-Nazi groups fighting the Police and each other in the town centre, doing untold damage to local businesses. These demos have only subsided as the local community has organised and anti-fascist counter-protests have begun appearing.
Closer to home, in summer 2012 a small group called “Casuals United” called a demo in Brighton. Although they were opposed by a strong local counter-demo, due to Police disruption they were allowed free reign in Kemp Town for several hours, during which time they chanted homophobic chants and threw fireworks into several gay bars.
So, it’s clear that ignoring fascists just increases their confidence and numbers. The only strategy to make sure they don’t come back is consistent militant opposition, which Brighton has a strong history of. We call on everyone to head to the train station on the morning of June 4th to make sure these fascist scumbags don’t have a good time. Full details will be announced closer to the time. Check Stop the March for England’s Twitter, Facebook and WordPress for more details. Facebook event here.
In the mean time, if you want to get involved in this debate, come along to the public planning and discussion meeting on Tuesday 31st May at 7pm, at the Brighthelm Centre. Come along and say your piece. Event here.
Posted on May 26, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged anti fascist network, antifa, antifascism, Antifascist, Brighton, Brighton Antifascists, Demonstration, EDL, fascists, ignore, ignoring fascists, Islamophobia, kemp town carnival, March for England, Racism, stopMFE. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.