And I got to see them again yesterday night, when a bunch of them turned up, predictably, to try and disrupt the meeting. I have to say that in my opinion the meeting's organisers, among them Councillor Dipu Ahad, showed a great deal of patience in tolerating the dozen or so EDLites who continually tried to undermine the meeting with what teachers call 'low level disruption' before the poor little things finally decided to have a full-on tantrum during questions from the floor and got themselves thrown out. What interests me here is their tactics, and who they remind me of.
One of the most interesting things was the way the EDL constantly strove to present themselves as the victims, and to appropriate the discourse of rights and democracy to try and serve their entirely undemocratic ends. To repeated reminders that their monosyllabic interjections needed to be kept to a minimum, they invariably responded by curling their Aryan lips and moaning that 'this is a public meeting, isn't it', then claiming that the organisers were interfering with their cherished freeze peach.
Not only were the people who want to beat up brown folks fearless free speech warriors, they were also, it seemed, zealous defenders of the right to privacy. When attendees at the meeting started taking pictures of the fascists, as evidence should they need to be charged with anything later, one woman separated from the main EDL group - clearly a plant - began to complain that she didn't want someone 'tekkin pictchas of us, like'.
It seemed they were even ardent campaigners against hate speech, too - one man behind me who seemed inordinately upset that a speaker on the panel had referred to Ukip as racists - now, why might anyone think that? - complained to the police and to meeting security that a gentleman in the same row as him had uttered an unconscionable slur against his person. The terrible slur? This man - who seemed remarkably like a man I saw in ex-military drag, drinking pints with the skinheads leering at me as I walked to Central Station - felt deeply hurt that he had been called a fascist!
It reminded me of another group who've been very vocal this week: this group has claimed that their free speech is being suppressed, has complained about how simply ghastly it is that people refer to them using slurs - and if they haven't been as at pains to accuse their critics of invading their privacy, that's probably because even some of their ideological allies would see that as being a bit rich, given the frequency with which they doxx and harass their targets - targets which have included a sixteen-year-old girl.
Yes, the local fascists reminded me of no-one so much as the TERFs, the so-called 'Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists' - I say 'so-called' because while they certainly are trans-exclusive, I don't consider them either radical or feminist: Alex Gabriel, in the blog linked above, suggests we start using the acronym TEF-LON, to take into account the fact that the UK's trans-exclusive 'feminists' are mainly a London-based clique, while Zoe Stavri at Another Angry Woman prefers the phrase 'violent transmisogynistic bigots'.
|Powerless victims of horrific slurs march in 1930s Germany.|
I think I like the latter term best, capturing as it does the similarity which I've seen, first-hand, between these folks and the violent fascistic bigots who tried to throw their weight around on Wednesday night. And to return to that night, it might be worth noting that a member of the audience from Newcastle University Students' Union informed us that they're currently trying to get Pegida added to their no-platform list.
I look forward to seeing Beatrix Campbell bravely defending the rights of Islamophobic German fascists in the Observer this weekend.