THE BLOG

How the EDL Have Made Racism Sort of Alright

10/10/2013 09:52 | Updated 23 January 2014

2013-10-09-dailyraisthuff.jpg

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this.

Just this Sunday gone, I set up the Daily Racist with the express intention to poke some fun at the EDL. They do, after all, have a Viz-load of characters to play with. Or had. Because no sooner am I done laying out the third instalment of the daily rag and boom! The whole bloody thing goes and implodes.

My first reaction, which I ought to be ashamed of, was one of sorrow - the kind you feel when you move in somewhere new and realise the neighbour you were sure you'd have lots of fun with is moving away. There's not much to be proud about my second thought either: "Not to worry. Plenty of other racists around..."

But then, really. Did anyone think for even the hippiest of seconds that the meltdown of a handful of drunken monkeys would spell the end of racism as we know it? That left without a leader to bray behind, the EDL members would awake as if from a trance with all hatred spin cycled out of their brainwashed little minds to start hugging trees and Muslims in their wake?

It does look like the end of an amusing chapter in racism though, and lord knows history doesn't boast many of those. See, I remember when racists were proper scary. Growing up in the 80s, when 'Paki bashing' was very much alive and kicking, gangs of National Front skinheads got what they set out to do: inspire outright fear. Even the non-uniformed but no less dedicated ones were out in full force. Chants of "trigger, trigger, shoot that nigger" from rolled down windows, mums taunted on the bus, cousins laughed out of the nightclub queue, and ask any dark-skinned person who ever went to a pub in the 80s, and you'll hear the one about the "just having a laugh" bloke whose sole mission was to say everything he could to NOT make you laugh.

By the end of the decade, though, everything changed. As well as the fact that the new generation grew up and went on to work with dark people who they didn't class as foreigners, two factors rang in the transition from lots of people being a bit racist to racism being a pursuit reserved for only the truly hateful - and for that we thank gay people and ecstasy.

The greatest thing gay men ever did for us was to steal the NF thug's look - from the shaved head right down to the Doc Martens, a sartorial robbery further compounded by acid warehouse ravers prancing around in bomber jackets. One day, you own the streets, feeling like Romper bleedin' Stomper, next day, you look like you're into amyl and anal.

Ecstasy really ought to be credited with zapping out a lot of racism among my generation. Kids of impressionable ages from all-white areas, who'd only normally ever meet a brown guy in the curry house or see a black person in The Bill, were suddenly in a field getting sweaty and huggy with people of all colours, all dancing to the same breakbeat.

The Criminal Justice Bill put a stop to all that of course, forcing kids to go back to isolated lives with nowhere to go but hang out on their own turf, forever suspicious of strangers, but the foundations for racial harmony had already been set.

Unlike the product of hatred from yesteryear, the angriest of the WWC kid today most likely has a mixed race relative, listens to what his granddad would've called "black music", or smokes weed with a Hindu kid he used to knock about in the playground with. It's just not worth the aggro to go round wanting everyone to go back to wherever their grandparents came from.

But the way society is set up, the downtrodden must have someone to hate. For the past few years, God bless us Muslims, we've given everyone a target. Instead of acting wildly racist to anything foreign, which is something the world-savvy kids of today simply wouldn't be able to cope with, we've supplied haters the tick-all boxes Islamic bogeyman.

It's actually been rather a good thing. All the terrible, terrible qualities that the mythical Islamist beast lives by have been positively denounced by those that oppose everything Islamism stands for: they hate women, Jews, gays? Well screw you Ali Baba, I'm going to respect all those types of people. I'm not racist, my best mate is a Sikh fella, innit?

Which is why I'll be sad if the EDL go. Bunch of unruly monkeys they may be, but ultimately, all they really want to do is go places a day return ticket on the First Capital Connect route can take them, find a street where they can drink beer, mess about and just feel counted.

In Tommy Robinson, they had a leader who gave them their fun in the sun as well as a purpose. Slimy and manipulative he certainly is, but his innate desire for validation and glamour has long kept him from the road taken by the mindless, bloodthirsty psycho.

Because just across the seas, there are many, many other angry young white men, and they are being led by genuinely evil racists stomping their jackboots from Paris to Moscow, preaching violent hatred against everyone.

And I for one find nothing to joke about there.

• Shihab S Joi is the Editor of Daily Racist.