Now I don't claim to be an expert about anything! But that doesn't necessarily stop me having my own personal opinions about a diverse range of everyday subjects, from politics to potholes, from Sunday shopping to secondary education, from land banking to local government, some of which I have in common with other people, some of which I don't. As a fairly mature grown-up, I fully accept that some people will share my views and that others will not, but it certainly wouldn't occur to me to get so upset about this basic fact of life that I would then begin publicly and maliciously smearing those people who held an opposing point of view to my own.
On the rather ticklish issues of immigration, nationalism, multiculturalism and religion, all of which have been much in the news of late, according to most of our mainstream media there are only two diametrically opposed points of view to take on the various subjects, for or against, good or bad, believer or unbeliever, racist or non-racist, fascist or anti-fascist. There is no middle ground apparently when it comes to declaring one's preference over the question of migration, national identity, religious affiliation, cultural traditions or gender specifications, there are only a set of absolutes, most of which are being dictated by certain media outlets and covert political organisations that are pursuing their own specific agendas.
Currently, if you're opposed to unregulated migration you're a racist. If you're opposed to the concept or actual imposition of multiculturalism, then you're a fascist. If you're a nationalist, you're both a racist and a fascist. If you're opposed to gay marriage, then you're homophobic. And if you're against the rise of all intolerant religions in our society, then you're Islamophobic.
Of course it's become too easy to label and stereotype anyone who falls outside of the widely accepted norm, so that if you don't "buy into" what we're told, or what we perceive to be the generally accepted view, then it is more than acceptable nowadays to just label someone as a racist, a fascist, homophobic or islamophobic, rather than just accept that they might in fact have a perfectly legitimate point of view, just one that doesn't tally with everyone else's.
In reality however, what is deemed to be the "norm" is often nothing of the sort! In most cases the widely reported attitudes of the country and the vast majority of the people who live within its borders, towards issues like immigration, religion, multiculturalism, gay marriage, etc are nothing like those which are regularly being stated by the TV, press, mainstream political parties, or the bevy of political pressure groups that currently receive their funding from one of the main political parties, or from politically inspired newspaper owners.
In truth, a good many of these so-called social "norms", rules to live by, or standards we should all aspire to, are being drafted, written down and implemented by comparatively small numbers of largely un-elected, unregulated, unrecognisable and unaccountable activists, lobbyists, theorists, or strategists, who are simply ensuring that their own personal opinions and points of view take primacy over everyone else's, without them having first been subjected to any sort of wider counter argument or scrutiny by the wider population.
Just why is a professed nationalist now commonly referred to as a fascist or indeed a racist? Why are those who want a reintroduction of proper national border controls often referred to as being racists? Why are those who oppose gay marriage described as being homophobic? Why are those who attack religious intolerance regularly described as Islamophobic? Is it perhaps because such lazy and wholly incorrect labelling simply helps play into a much more secretive agenda, one where a social problem is created or invented, even though it does not really exist, simply to justify the existence and expense of a social solution that no-one really needs or ever actually wanted.
Central to the perceived problems revolving around immigration, racism, multiculturalism, sexism and religious intolerance, extremist groups like Unite Against Fascism and their sister group, Hope Not Hate, are reported to have been pivotal in managing the public perception's relating to such issues, but probably not in the way most people would imagine. With the general demise of Britain's traditional Far Right parties, such as the National Front and even to some extent, the British National Party, the UAF had essentially become an army without any sort of enemy to fight. Late to the battle; and perhaps raised to protect some of the funds that were being donated by various political parties, newspapers and trade unions, the group Hope Not Hate appears to be the new vanguard of the new and improved anti-intolerance brigade, set up to counter a problem that hasn't really existed in mainland Britain for the past thirty years or more.
In and of themselves, both of these anti-fascist groups would, in normal circumstances, be generally irrelevant to the wider landscape of normal British political life, after all, if they and the English Defence League, who seem to be their main targets, want to square up to one another in the street, get drunk, get arrested, then why would anybody else be bothered? When all's said and done, they are all what they are, unrepresentative street mobs of unrestrained louts, who individually have little to contribute to any sort of meaningful educated discourse on the subject of immigration, racism, sexism, multiculturalism or even religious intolerance.
Unfortunately, the likes of the UAF, HnH and the EDL have all begun to recognise that the battleground surrounding such important social issues has fundamentally changed, from the streets of Britain, to the internet servers of the world, allowing each of them to bring their vitriolic hatred of the other to all of our computer screens. Now no reasoned debate, no earnestly held view, no rational argument or opinion is safe from the uneducated rant of the UAF, HnH or EDL poster, who wants to act as a spoiler for legitimate political debate. As a rule, such extremist groups generally start off from the premise that they are always right and everyone who opposes them is always wrong; and they generally know that to be true because members of such groups rarely disagree with one another, thereby creating a self sustaining lie. As the old adage tells us, a lie repeated often enough; and widely enough can quickly become the truth; a fact that has never been lost on the politically savvy manipulators who can often be found at the centre of such radical groups.
Indicate that you're a member of UKIP; and you're instantly a "RACIST", or a "FASCIST"! Express your concerns about our country's open border policies and the reply is "RACIST"! Complain about the growing influence of Islam in Britain and you become a "FASCIST"! State that you don't agree with gay marriage and you're instantly "HOMOPHOBIC"!
Of course, in most cases the posters are anonymous and offer no justification, rational or any sort of substantive argument to underpin their informed opinion, or their personal point of view, no matter how limited it may be. No doubt that's the label thing again, why have a rational debate when you can just as easily label someone as a "racist", "fascist", "sexist", "homophobe", or "islamophobe", without having to go to the bother of actually substantiating the claim?
The particularly sad thing about some of the UAF and Hope Not Hate supporters specifically is that they purport to be reasonably well educated people, brag that they know what they're talking about; and yet absolutely refuse to make any sort of cogent argument in support of their sometimes outrageously offensive claims. And when they do attempt to justify their positions, or their opinions, it is often in the most ridiculous fashion possible, such as, "if you want controlled borders, you must be a racist", or "if you're against gay marriage, you must be homophobic", or even "if you're opposed to Muslim extremism, then you must be Islamophobic".
Obviously for the political paymasters of such groups, there is very little down side to their financial support, as each group is largely disassociated from the political party, newspaper or trade union body that's actually providing the funds to fight this supposedly necessary fight. However, in the wider political context they inevitably do benefit directly from the work that UAF and Hope Not Hate undertakes, if only by responding to, reporting on and legislating against the very problems that such anti-intolerance groups are thought to be fighting. The problem is of course that the actual scale and depth of the vitally important social issues that they purport to guard against are very much products of their own making and their own imaginations; and do not really exist in fact. However, for them to admit that would fundamentally bring into question the need for these groups themselves; thus threatening their very existences, along with the vast amount of monies that they generate for the people who run such unrepresentative organisations.
The reality is that being a British "nationalist" does not automatically make you a racist or a fascist, only your own actions and beliefs do that. Being opposed to our country's open borders policy does not automatically make you a racist, as only your own personal actions and beliefs do. Being worried by the spread of Radical Islam does not necessarily make you Islamophobic, only your deeply held personal beliefs and actions will ever prove that; and being opposed to gay marriage doesn't automatically mean that you're homophobic, only your actions and personal beliefs would prove that also.
As has been stated before on this blog, personal opinions are a bit like noses and backsides, everyone has them and everyone is perfectly entitled to have them, whether or not the likes of UAF and Hope Not Hate agree with them. And as with noses and backsides, not everyone is going to agree that you've got the best ones going, but you can always be sure that at least somebody somewhere will agree with you about them, so sadly you're never going to be completely right all of the time, but then again you're never going to be completely wrong all of the time either, so always consider that to be a good thing :)