No blacks, no Irish, no BNP

Nick Griffin

Nick Griffin

A Harry Potter forum – that’s where my friend’s sister met her BNP councillor fiancée. Ha! The mind boggles (not to mention muggles). Jokes about Nick Griffindor (or ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ ) chasing down ‘mud-bloods’ will be obvious to fans of the books or movies. All I’m saying is that if Big Nick had a Hogwarts House, you know it’d be Slytherin. If Boris Malfoy would let him in. It’s so posh.

But yes,  it’s easy (and fun) to laugh at the BNP. Not just because of gems like picturing a sweating far-right thug with a cape, wand and broomstick, but because their views are caricatures, simplistic as the dubious morality in a children’s book. But in our haste to use the BNP as demonising shorthand to discourage the less confident racisms we know lurk throughout our society, we must make sure we do not ignore the simple, non-militant, domestic racism of people like you and me. Well.. mainly you. I’m an immigrant. (But a white one from South Africa. Damn!)

Last week, the BBC uncovered British letting agents who happily flout equality laws if their landlord clients require it, refusing to rent to ‘foreigners’. But if we are disgusted by a possible return to the estate agent culture of ‘No dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ (and if we are not, we may need to repent), would we be comfortable having the BNP in our houses? How many ministers would not prefer my friend’s sister to go for the civil partnership option rather than having to perform a fascist marriage?

We can learn from our enemies’ mistakes, and one that the BNP consistently makes is in holding to a largely arbitrary but very rigid definition of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Another is a totally disproportionate loyalty to those they consider ‘their own’.

Last week the government, too, was criticized for arbitrary definitions of the proverbial ‘us’. A proposed ‘points system’ for potential British citizens would reportedly see the democratic (if not human) right of protesting against the government as ‘un-British’.

Loyalty, as all of us in our saner moments know, is not eternally uncritical or silent in the face of the unjust actions of friends, family or nation. But is loyalty, even critical loyalty, an absolute virtue?

MI6 (as was revealed on Radio 4 last week) regularly convinced Soviet citizens to betray their country. If betrayal, in a supposedly higher cause, is morally justified for Comrade Gordievsky, perhaps it is justified for Comrade Philby?  Or do we really believe that ‘we’ are always the good-guys, while ‘they’ are always the bad, as if life were a Harry Potter novel?

The BNP are wrong not just because they are traitors (to the ideals Britain fought for in WWII), but because they refuse to become traitors (to their largely fantasized version of Britain) in the cause of something better.

Loyalty is wonderful, but sometimes I wish we’d encourage more traitors. Radical faith and prophecy often require them.

Oscar Romero: Friend of the poor, traitor to the wealthy (Photo: DePaul)

Oscar Romero: Friend of the poor, traitor to the wealthy (Photo: DePaul)

Rahab was a traitor to her people, with terrible consequences (for them). Archbishop Romero was a traitor to his class. Wilberforce: a traitor to Britain’s economic best interests. And was the Apostle Paul not a traitor to Israel and even his religion when he converted? Isn’t every Christian conversion an act of betrayal against our old selves, our old priorities, friends and ideals? Great traitors are always loyal to something. The question is whether it’s the right something.

In Joshua 5 : 13-14, Joshua asks an angel with a sword whether he is on the side of his people or their enemies. The angel surprisingly replies: ‘Neither,” because he is on the side of the armies of Heaven. We should be careful that our good, praiseworthy loyalty to Britain, our culture, our race, our sex, our church or our families does not put us in opposition to him or the one who sent him.

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