Bloody Nasty People, By Daniel Trilling. Media support for racist extremism has helped to make legitimate the new politics of hatred
The book’s historical, action-packed narrative is underpinned by moral outrage: very unfashionable, very necessary. Though there are frequent implosive power struggles within crypto-Nazi groupings, their adherents are, with remarkable efficiency, managing virally to spread their hate-filled messages. They scrub up well, de-litter neighbourhoods, offer help, distribute lies about migrants and welfare, stir up aboriginal disaffection, spur poorer white families to loathe “outsiders” and even hurt them. That hostility is today considered “understandable” by many with power and influence, some of whom have spun and a new theology of “reasonable” bigotry.
The dispossessed of all races are victims of government policies, the worst being the curtailment of public housing, with cheap, immigrant labour pulled in to facilitate globalised capitalism, an insatiable beast. Yet every PM since Thatcher has shuffled off responsibility for native misery on to incomers. In the middle of the recession, Cameron made a speech attacking multiculturalism; Nick Griffin was elated at his party’s “huge leap” into mainstream politics. They’re in it together. From slum to suburb, diversity, Islam and immigration are now demonised without a flush of guilt.
Vitally, the author locates Fascist racism within key British traditions. Rural idealists, gentlemen like Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton and island poetics inspire Anglo-Saxon chauvinists. Most supporters of the EDL and BNP are not crazies or demons, but solid, sane Brits with babies and grocery lists and a love of picnics. Some have become councillors and MEPs; recruits include lecturers, millionaire, ballerinas, civil servants and Oxbridge students. I once interviewed an EDL fanatic who looked like Kevin Costner and wore Paul Smith shirts.
The worst happened under New Labour, which capitulated to the extreme right while pretending to denounce it. Trilling provides evidence of joint, populist attacks on outlanders by the Blairite clique and tabloids, and of all mainstream parties “borrowing” BNP rhetoric. Once the liberal consensus between the BBC and conscientious post-war leaders like Roy Jenkins and Michael Heseltine kept this barbarism in the swampy fringes. Since 9/11 it has been brought into civil society. Why, Griffin was even asked on to Question Time by the dilettante BBC.
My only big criticism is that Trilling avoids any censure of separatist Muslims or migrants who live by outdated codes, exploit and despise white people. Self-censorship is unhelpful and unwise in a book of such passion, power and urgency. Read it and be afraid, very afraid. As with militant Islamicism, a worldwide web now connects white extremists. We could get our own Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who massacred innocents to punish his progressive, multiracial nation. Perilous laxity and official appeasement have fertilised fanatical British racism. And now it seems unstoppable.
Editorial. Anti-fascist activists will find quite a lot to disagree with in this article, not the least of which is the statement that “most supporters of the EDL and BNP are not crazies or demons”. Anyone who has faced the BNP or the EDL or any of their ilk will tell you very different. Also, there is the notion that fascists helpfully de-litter neighbourhoods, and presumably engage in other community oriented projects. They don’t. It is true that a large chunk of the BNP Activists Handbook is taken up with mounting a communal presence. But in reality, the far right will only ever engage in community action if it presents them the opportunity for a bit of Muslim bashing.
Otherwise this sounds an important book, which will repay close attention by anyone on the left. Marmit has not yet seen a copy so the only comment I can make is that the title seems wrong. Bloody Nazi Psychopaths would have been far more apt.