Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Nick Griffin and the Poppy

You may have seen the open letter from the British Legion to Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP (British National Party) and now an MEP. For those who do not know, the BNP is Britain's largest Fascist party who believe that anyone who is not purely Caucasian cannot be British. Some members of the BNP have said that Griffin and his fellow MEP, Andrew Brons should not represent non-white constituents in their area. The BNP has labelled Dame Kelly Holmes, Olympic gold medal winner and a real role model in sport (and served in the British Army for a number of years) as not being British because she is of mixed-race origin. The BNP are happy for these people to die fighting to defend Britain's interests but will not give them the recognition of being British. The BNP refer to British citizenship as legal concept unrelated to what they see as the 'indigenous population'. As I have said before, that means expelling everyone who arrived since the Celts were dominant in the British Isles; Welsh/Gaelic/Cornish should become the national language.

This sense of the BNP that black, Asian and mixed race people are good enough to die for Britain but not good enough to be British comes particularly to the fore in Nick Griffin wearing the poppy. I accept that any person can wear the poppy symbol (and it is not the real flower, it is the plastic/paper ones produced by the British Legion to raise funds for disabled service people and their families) around the time of Remembrance Sunday in November, but in June and associated with an election it is wrong. Remembrance has always crossed all political boundaries. People might disagree about going into the particular wars but they do not disagree about the sacrifice. The vast bulk of people who have been maimed or died in Britain's wars have not been professionals, rather they have been ordinary people pressed into fighting and have generally died horribly and in a state of terror that few of us could comprehend. Griffin walking around with the poppy, clearly trying to draw some of the machismo associated with the armed forces to him, is incredibly offensive. We know that he views people's lives as having different values. He sees a white person's life as worth something and a black person's life as worthless. When that person is blown to pieces by a shell or a landmine in Afghanistan and their blood and bone is sprayed all over a road, can you tell whether that person was black or white or mixed race? A person defines themselves as of value by how they act not by whose legs they came past when being born. Everyone can take their lives far away from their roots or cling firmly to them; it is not pre-defined. What defines them as contributing to the UK or not is how they live their lives.

Fascists naturally assume that they have a monopoly on all the things they see as 'strong' notably patriotism and anything connected with the military. What they forget is that the bulk of patriots and certainly military personnel actually disagree with the stance people like the BNP take. If you are being shot at by insurgents in Basra, you are not going to check the colour of the skin of the men around you who are helping you stay alive. This is not to say that there are not patriots and military personnel who are racist, it is just to challenge the easy assumptions people like Griffin make about others views, based on their own perceptions of these things. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to give it, its full title means different things to many people but to the bulk of them, not the twist the BNP puts on it. To assume, 'oh yes, of course everyone in the British Legion must support our views, because they were in the military weren't they' is a massive error on the part of the BNP. They forget that hundreds of thousands of Britons died killing Fascists and Nazis and bringing down their regimes. The British Fascists took no part because they were imprisoned, rightly be suspect as potential traitors: that is the heritage of BNP not the real sacrifice of ordinary people in war to free the world of their brand of politics.

Nick Griffin's life is worthless. He simply brings misery wherever he goes. He insults the millions of men and women of so many ethnicities without which Britain would have suffered far more in its history than it did. The recent case of the Gurkhas shows that Britain possibly even more than any other country in the world has had armed forces drawn from an incredibly wide range of ethnic groups. Nick Griffin has no honour in him, because he cannot bring himself to honour non-white people who have fought to defend the country he pretends to love. I am glad that the British Legion have spoken publicly at him hijacking their symbol for his own sordid activities. They are honourable, they wrote to him privately first, but being the low-life that he is, he ignored them. Of course, Fascists are highly arrogant and believe the rest of us see the world wrongly. As they were shown in the Second World War, it is they who have the view of the world wrong and we need to be robust in emphasising that there can be no successful world if there is no tolerance of all the peoples living on it.

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