Unite Against Fascism (UAF) claimed a 'victory' against the English Defence League (EDL) after managing to stop a march planned to go through Tower Hamlets on Saturday 3rd September. The UAF group are present at nearly all of the EDL's demonstrations and marches arguing that they are there to stop the spreading of hate and discrimination towards multiculturalism, Muslims and the left.
A sign held by the UAF at the weekend was a drawing a comparison between Tommy Robinson, leader the EDL, and Anders Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who was responsible for the massacre in July. The caption that accompanies the sign argues that 'Breivik boasted of his links with the EDL and was inspired by its ideas. The national demo against the EDL on Saturday 3 September in Tower Hamlets, east London, is a chance to show our opposition to the homegrown racists ...and our horror at Breivik's massacre in Norway. ' The ludicrous link that Breivik was inspired by the 'the poisonous politics' of the EDL shows not only the absurdity and total refusal to any debate but also openly admits that UAF are countering the march just to deny the EDL any form of public expression. Unite Against Fascism are suffering from a similar thing to the EDL, a hatred of multiculturalism of thought. The way in which the UAF try to stamp out any racist, homophobic or antisemitic opinions that the EDL might have is an attack on the freedom of speech that society must allow them.
It appeared for a moment that UAF had fallen on its own illiberal sword when Theresa May announce a ban of all protests in the aftermath after the riots. The Home Secretary proposed a blanket-ban of all protests for 30 days and the UAF retorted with outrage, claiming it was 'our right to march against racists and fascists' citing feeble differences between static and mobile protests. A petition was launched, just scraping past a thousand signatures, issuing a contradictory statement on why they should be allowed to march and the EDL shouldn't, the UAF confirmed their skewed view of freedom and damned their 'liberal' policies. The petition can be viewed here.
The UAF is entirely dependant on the EDL and the British National Party. They openly admit this on their website. However what this also means is that they are fully admitting to censoring thought. It is this thoughtcrime, in the full Orwellian sense of the word, that the UAF should move away from. The group seems to claim an intellectual superiority by branding the EDL as racist thugs and boast an impressive list of MPs, academics and rock bands. It is time that the UAF fought the EDL in the political arena, by allowing the EDL and the far-right a platform, rather than seeing who can shout louder.
The UAF needs to take heed of John Stuart Mill, who in On Liberty wrote 'That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right.'
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