Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Lunatic Laundry, How May I Rehabilitate You Today?

This apparent change of heart by arch-mentalist EDL leader Tommy Robinson, gamely supported by anti-extremist group Quilliam, provides an opportunity for an interesting experiment.

Before we get into the specifics of Tommy's desire for more political Lebensraum,  let's recall what happened the last time a pressure group put up an allegedly reformed former violent headbanger to front one of its campaigns.

Back in 2010, Amnesty International chose to run a high-profile campaign against the United States' highly sinister and secretive international prison system, into which unknown numbers of people had vanished.  They toured this at a number of gigs fronted by Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee with deeply whiffy politics.

To cut a long story short, this ended with Amnesty taking a terrific monstering in the press from numerous papers and pundits - most of whom, in an astounding coincidence, had track records of hemming and hawing and reluctantly-concluding on the issue of Americans torturing prisoners.

This public punishment beating didn't take the form of constructive criticism, you may recall.  Most opinionistas jumped straight in with accusations that Amnesty had betrayed its entire mission or thrown its lot in with the Taliban, then turned the volume up from there.  Some fervently wished that a spontaneous uprising of somebody else would magic a new and better Amnesty into existence, one that would spend most or all of its time harshing on the Islamic terrorists and, maybe, a little less on the US.

And so here we are, with the "anti-extremist" Quilliam Foundation hosting a PR event for a major realignment of the British far right, hosted by a man who has renounced few of his previously espoused beliefs and whose supposed moderation appears to extend to a desire to reduce the amount of Third Reich imagery at his public events.

I imagine we'll see all those who so furiously browned their trousers at Amnesty leading the pack against Robinson and Quilliam, of course.  Nobody who tore off on a jag about Amnesty legitimising extremist beliefs by bringing them into the mainstream and so on could possibly be fooled by Robinson's newfound position of expelling all the Muslims with the utmost respect.

Given the organisation's record of rehabilitating extremists - apparently by taking folk who believe in killing people with nailbombs and instilling them with firm convictions about killing people with Hellfire missiles -  I'd hope they'd see it as a conjob that involves making a show of transforming people from one type of violence-loving idiot into another, for political reasons.

Or at least, I hope they do. Because if lots of these folk are taken in, that would imply that all of this "anti-extremism" stuff is basically nonsense with little purpose beyond lining up the public behind a general policy of bombing fuck out of half the planet and incarcerating whoever we damn well feel like zapping in the nutsack with a cattle prod.

Why, it would imply that you can be any kind of psychotic cheerleader of mayhem and atrocity you like,  provided you later converted to an advocate of the kind of mayhem and atrocity you can't commit without a multibillion-dollar budget.  It'd imply that it's not extremism that's problematic, so much as a lack of compliance in the service of an ever-more necessary militancy of one particular type.

Still, it will be fun to see who buys Quilliam as a kind of all-purpose lunatic-laundry service. 

Your Violently-Inclined Extreme Bigotry, Dry-Cleaned While U Wait.  Now, there's a slogan.