As mainstream politicians justify acts of mass murder in the name of bogus democracy and US control of the world's oil supplies, Joan McAlpine ("Be wary when fascists try to hide behind racist poison" Herald 29/04/04) asks us to focus our attention on a relatively small group of isolationist anti-immigration rightwingers.
We already have clear laws forbidding harassment, assault or incitement to racial hatred. The true liberal tradition has always distinguished gratuitous offence and intimidation from reasoned arguments and radical thinking.
Why should we need to go one step further to curtail intellectual freedom? By raising false alarms about the alleged BNP threat, when the real danger to millions of dark and light-hued people around the world comes from the rightwing cabal behind George W Bush's presidency and the growing concentration of wealth and power in a handful of transnational corporations, Joan McAlpine would like us to set a precedent we may live to regret.
Indeed she correctly observes our government has already gagged an Islamic fundamentalist cleric, which begs the question: Where do we draw the line? Who defines unacceptable Neo-Nazism or Islamic fundamentalism? Who decides which orthodox historical accounts may be challenged? Who decides which arguments constitute hate speech? A commission set up by the state or the corporate media? If they could ban the BNP, would they seriously stop there? Would 9/11 sceptics be incarcerated? These are very serious questions as the new rulers of Baghdad close down newspapers and radio stations and even rebuke the Qatar government over the graphic nature of Aljazeera's coverage of the Iraqi war of resistance.
As Noam Chomsky said "It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the holocaust to adopt a central doctrine of their murderers". Nearly six decades after the end of WW2, it comes as no surprise that today's authoritarians pose as anti-fascists. The German National Socialist Party did not rise rapidly in the early 1930s because they were afforded free speech, but because big business, including many foreign multinationals, bankrolled them. Today the same ruling elite supports Bush, Blair and Sharon.
Published in the Herald 29/04/2004