Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Free speech v Socialst Action

When Denis Fernando of the so-called ‘Lesbian & Gay Coalition Against Racism’ opens his mouth to proclaim the “truth” about something, the listener can usually rely on what follows to be a tapestry of distortions and misrepresentations.

Mr Fernando, a member of  the secretive far-left ‘Socialist Action’ group – brilliantly exposed here – specialises in sowing discord and confusion, much like the green-eyed dwarf Tortuous Convolvulus in the Asterix comics. For sowing discord, Convolvulus was thrown to the lions – but the lions ended up eating each other! Which is, naturally, exactly what Convolvulus expected.

Green-eyed Denis has recently infiltrated the gay Muslim group Imaan. Even though he’s not a Muslim himself, he has been retained as their “political consultant”.  At last year’s Pride London parade he was seen to be cheerleading and orchestrating the Imaan contingent, giving many bystanders the impression that he is himself a Muslim, rather than the lapsed Catholic he really is.

The previously clean-shaven Mr Fernando has recently started sporting a beard. Perhaps this is just a fashion statement, but some wags have wondered if this isn’t another attempt to pass himself off as a Muslim and ingratiate himself with the most devout of the devout.

Denis last week succeeded in getting Imaan to sign up to his press release entitled “’Don't support the BNP’ - the truth about the Freedom of Expression rally”, which, if he suffered from a Pinocchio affliction would allow him to generate enough lumber to stock a regional branch of B&Q.

Of course, the non-Muslim Fernando is the only person quoted by name. The other bit in direct quotes is attributed to “an Imaan spokesperson”. This anonymity is not surprising, since Imaan’s last spokesperson to venture into the mass media did so only on condition that she could don a burqa and have her voice electronically altered. Actually, I don’t blame her. I know enough people who live with death threats to appreciate the position she was in. So sad, then, that Denis manipulates Imaan into defending the very people that force them to hide themselves in a mental ‘panic room’.

So, let’s give the LAGCAR press release a good fisking…

The headline suggests that the Freedom of Expression rally was in reality a BNP rally. The truth is that it was organised by a group of liberal bloggers who solicited support for a perfectly reasonable statement supporting the universal right to free expression. The BNP, including their thinly disguised front-group, ‘Civil Liberty’, were told in no uncertain terms right from the start that they were unwelcome and unwanted.

The organisers said in a statement:

“We have never at any time suggested that their [the BNP] freedom of expression should be denied but we do assert our right to refuse to allow our campaign to be associated with their racist outlook. They are perfectly at liberty to organise their own events. Furthermore, the fascist fringe of British politics, including the BNP, has a history of consistent association with political violence and we are campaigning against exactly that.”

Fascists don’t believe in freedom of expression, and thus were explicitly banned from the march. Indeed, the organisers described the BNP’s fake concern for free speech as “a Trojan horse”. They stated firmly on the free expression blog:

“The principle of freedom of expression is used, by some, as a trojan horse, as a proxy for racism and islamophobia. Not by me. Not by us. Not by this campaign.”

To those who complained that this was anti-free speech and a u-turn, the march organisers took the “good riddance” approach, snapping back:

“To those who are annoyed, I ask what part of this did you not understand:
This will be a march in favour of free expression, not a march against Muslims”

Does any of this sound even vaguely like promoting a BNP agenda?

Of course not! And so, on the day, the BNP were nowhere in sight.

Of course, LAGCAR/SA’s real objection was that the event would include criticism of the same right-wing Islamist reactionaries to which they have hitched their wagon. Just as they pressured Imaan to support the murderously homophobic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, now they’ve managed to use Imaan to attack gay groups who support free speech and push the bald-faced lie that this was a closet BNP rally.

But of course if you’re going to tell one porker, you may as well carry on. Fernando’s next claim is:

“Peter Tatchell is now speaking at a rally which is being built and supported by the BNP and the Libertarian Alliance.”

The truth is the BNP had nothing to do with this rally.

Tatchell’s speech roundly condemned the BNP’s homophobia and Islamophobia, expressing solidarity with the Muslim community. .

It is true that the Libertarian Alliance were invited to speak. Fernando’s objection to the Libertarian Alliance is this:

“[The Libertarian Alliance Director Sean Gabb] defended the right to free speech of an evangelical Christian in Sweden who had been convicted under that country's anti-hatred legislation after describing homosexuality as abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society.”

Excuse me? But didn’t LAGCAR defend Sir Iqbal Sacranie only a month back for saying essentially the same thing? Sure, they said they didn’t agree with him, but they were still willing to share a platform with him. They certainly didn’t support calls for Sir Iqbal’s  prosecution. So, it’s okay for Muslims to insult gays, but don’t dare suggest that Christians have the same right? What a hypocrite Fernando is.

Naturally, once you’ve opened the door to Lies, you may as well let his cousin Misrepresentation in too. For example, Fernando cites OutRage!’s call for the Unite Against Fascism conference to withdraw its invitation to Sacranie as an attack on Sacranie’s free speech. But this wilfully misses the point entirely. OutRage! never said that Sacranie should be shut up, banned, or silenced. In fact, we criticised the police investigation into his comments. Our point was that he was an inappropriate speaker for an anti-fascist conference, echoing, as he does, the BNP’s bigoted view of homosexuality. It seemed absurd – and still does – to ask LGBT activists to stand up to the BNP together with groups who share the BNP’s homophobic attitudes to gay people.

Another favoured trick of far-left sectarian propaganda is the twisted logic that if Group A supports a policy of Group B, then necessarily Group B supports Group A. Watch out for it, it is a favourite trick in their arsenal.

In Denis Fernando’s press release, they claim that because the twits in UKIP have signed a statement supporting free speech that necessarily everyone else who supports the statement must therefore support the UKIP agenda. How absurd is this! Should every person concerned with privacy abandon their opposition to ID cards simply because UKIP are opposed to them too? Is every group that is critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank colluding with the anti-Semitic David Duke – or, to bring it closer to home – the Jew-hating BNP?

The relevant thing, as some of the Muslim speakers at Saturday’s event suggested, is that free speech is the greatest ally of religious minorities and of women’s rights and gay rights. It is precisely free speech that has enabled misogyny and homophobia to be challenged.

The same ‘blasphemies’ that make irreligious cartoons ‘objectionable’, also make gay Muslims proclaiming their identity a ‘blasphemy’.

The gay community was the last target of a successful prosecution in the UK under the (Christian) blasphemy law. Do gay Muslims want to be the next victims if the law is extended instead of abolished? I doubt it.

As one of the few organised groups of gay Muslims, Imaan had better watch out. They will always be targets of opportunists and entryists with other agendas. The LGBT human rights groups OutRage! has first-hand experience of this. In Ian Lucas’s definitive history of the group from 1990 – 1996, a section is devoted to the trouble-making of LAGCAR (see p 126 onwards):

“Throughout the year, OutRage! meetings were being bogged down by report-backs, factionalism and accusations of ‘entryism’. In particular, LAGCAR(F) was seen as a disruptive element and intent on using OutRage! meetings for it’s own ends… They were putting forward very politically correct arguments but in a very disruptive and divisive way. The meetings were full of accusations, completely unfounded, malicious accusations of sexism and racism… to the point where people were driven away from the group.”

So, nothing ever seems to change. Over 10 years later, Denis Fernando and his Socialist Action entryists are still at it, sowing divisions, and diverting gay groups away from their  core objective of struggling against homophobia – and diverting gay Muslims away from defending themselves against the Islamists who threaten their very existence.


At 6:49 pm, Anonymous Richard Farnos said...

Wot no Nazis?

Sadly no one told the BNP to pretend that they weren’t there:

“About 450 defenders of Freedom of Expression gathered in Trafalgar Square on Saturday including a delegation from Civil Liberty, the organisation established earlier this year to defend the rights of patriotic Britons…About 40 CL supporters attended the protest rally and handed out literature which was well received by other defenders of our fundamental liberties.”

Source: http://www.bnp.org.uk/news_detail.php?newsId=838

And they took pics of their little outing: http://www.civilliberty.org.uk/newsdetail.php?newsid=16

As many of you may know Civil Liberty is a BNP front organisation founded and directed by Keith Scott BNP organiser for the North East, and a violent thug.

All the best

At 7:00 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Ah yes, the info is a BNP press release, so it MUST be true!

Yeah right!!

At 7:25 pm, Anonymous Richard Farnos said...

O I see they just made it up, is that what your saying? Why would they do that? And where did they get the photos from?

Moreover Bob Pitt of Islamophobia watch witnessed them giving out leaflets, or is he just lying as well?


Do tell.

All the best

At 9:16 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

So, 2 or 3 people, perhaps with or without a small child, as pictured on Pitt's site go to trafalgar square, sit on a wall at the back by a fountain, take a few phtos, perhaps at some point attempt to hand out a few flyers, and dolts like you then claim it's really their rally?

Pity that nit Pitt didn't take a camera to get some evidence to back up his claim! Oh dear, if he had taken some picturs that would prove he was there... which must mean he supports the BNP...

Evangelical Christian zealots turn up at Gay Pride every year to take pictures and thrust silly pamphlets at people. Does that mean Pride is about suporting the evangelical Christian agenda?

At 11:22 pm, Anonymous Richard Farnos said...

Brett you really are in denial, the BNP where there, and unlike the Evangelical Christians who protests AGAINST Pride the BNP were in SUPPORT of the MFE. The racist overtones of the event are evident in the pictures, and not just those taken by the fash! Moreover I really would suggest that you spend sometime to reading the comments on the March for Free Expression blog where the involvement of the far right is quite apparent.

But to move on, it has been brought to my attention that there is absolutely NO connection what so ever between the former Lesbian and Gay Campaign Against Racism and Fascism and the current Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism. So what ever went on inside Outrage in the mid-nineties had nothing to do with LAGCAR.

Indeed thinking about this all seems a bit odd. After all Outrage used to be affiliated to LAGCAR and when the Outrage website was functioning I do believe that it had link to LAGCAR. This would tend to suggest the disguised between the groups was well know at least to Outrages webmaster, and err isn’t that you, Brett?

Let’s not be cheap, and give you the benefit of doubt that you genuinely confused the two organisations. Nether-the-less this libellous accusation still needs to be withdrawn, not just here but at Harry’s Place, the Guardian boards and anywhere else it has been posted.

All the best

At 10:59 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Richard, just because you have a photo of 3 people who appear to be wearing union jack (or perhaps stars and stripes - it's hard to make out) scarves sitting on a wall in Trafalgar square - who may or may not be tourists, you make the quantum leap of logic that these people are BNP supporters. Now it is quite possible that they are and that at some point they may too have made a half-hearted attempt to hand out leaflets. So half-hearted in fact that no one I know observed this. But, let's for the sake of argument say that they did. So what?

Never mind the fact that the BNP do not typically arrive incognito and sit by a fountain, more prone, as they are to loud-mouth thuggery.

It should be obvious that the far right try to hijack legitimate public concerns to dishonestly set themselves up as champions of this or that. That does not mean that left, liberal and centre political voices should surrender this ground to them. Just because the BNP *claim* to champion free speech, doesn't mean that all who genuinely do should abandon the principle.

The rally organisers were very clear that the far-right and those who simply wanted an opportunity to Muslim-bash would not be welcome. Speaker after speaker at the event denounced the the far-right and expressed opposition to racism and the demomisation of the Muslim community. Indeed, several of the speakers were Muslim.

If you have any specific concerns with either the statement of principle around which the rally was called, or anything any of the speakers said, then by all means, let's discuss it. But if you're only interested in making insinuations that this was a BNP rally, then piss off and stop clogging up the bandwidth.

It is telling that when the organisers made it clear that this was not going to be a Muslim-bashing opportunity, the trolls on their website who thought it might be slinked off back to their caves muttering obscenities.

Now, to your other nonsense. The Outrage website links section strives to be comprehensive. It links to a wide range of gay organisations and even antigay ones. There is a link to godhatesfags, for example. It is a portal for anyone seeking to do research on gay issues, find gay-related materials or find gay groups both here and abroad. A listing there means a group exists - it is by no means an endorsement.

Alas, the OutRage! website is down for maintenance at the moment following a rather nasty denial-of-service attack by homophobic hackers. But when it is restored, you'll see what I mean.

As to the LAGCAR/LAGCARF issue - I understand that it is much the same as teh evolution of TORCHE into Torch into Gay Conservatives. In any event, the strategies and methods appear to be the same.

At 7:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ive looked at the pictures and i agree with brett three people does not a BNP national demo make, it seems to me that the left in the UK is all to ready to condemm something cos the BNP or other far right groups support it.
i have taken part in some gm crop protests but the BNP is also opposed to gm crops does this mean i should now be pro?
we all know the arguments about the far right and free speech and, i think, we have all had enough of the sectarian rubbish thats gets spouted by one left group after another cos one particular group didnt get its own way and thats what this looks like to me.

At 1:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm denis' brother. I'm actually quite impressed how much of an interest you've taken in my brother's activites, and also find it a bit sad you've got nothing better to do.

FYI Den has grown a beard because he's into the Foo Fighters. He gave them a write up which got on the front page of the Morning Star, have a read of it some time.

I don't really get your point about him not being Muslim, yet supporting a Muslim cause. Sven Goran Erikkson is England Manager, yet he isn't English. Den is bonded to these people through the fact he is Asian. Isn't that enough for you?

Find something better to do.



At 1:37 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Glenn, I have no particular interest in squabbling with Denis, but (in the great playground tradition) - he started it. So you might ask him the same question - has he nothing better to than attack other gay campaigners who are simply trying to do the best they can for their communities?

Foo Fighters, eh? Great band!


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