With the hype surrounding the BNP, Conor Murphy discusses why nationalism is no excuse for racist policies
Nick Griffin of the BNP appeared on the BBC’s Question Time show just after the last issue of The University Observer was published. For anyone unfamiliar, the BNP are the British Nationalist Party, otherwise known as the British Nazi Party for their policies that believe all coloured people should leave England.
What makes this particularly colourful racist worthy of note is not the protestors labelling him “a disgrace to humanity” outside the gates of his office, but rather the two seats won by Griffin and his party in the European Parliament last summer, and the 22 per cent who now say they would seriously consider voting for the party in a general election.
In the ensuing cries of pain by the establishment, there have been calls to inform people that the BNP’s ‘moderate edge’ is just a sham. To show people that the party’s main policy – which essentially entails deporting minorities for the good of the nation – is just an amazing marketing pitch for the British version of the Ku Klux Klan.
Firstly, one might hope that some realism would rain down upon the 22 per cent in Britain who would seriously consider voting for the BNP and who think the party are moderate. One might pray that these people would have an epiphany of sorts and see that the BNP are actually hard-right racists, whose leader gives talks to the KKK. Some try to defend the BNP by saying they would clean up politics, not being in it (as many others are) for the money. That’s true – the BNP are in politics to stop what they call a ‘bloodless genocide’: the practice of black and white people having mixed-race children.
However the greatest problem is that the BNP’s cover of “national protection” and the protection of “family interests” are not as jovial and easily dismissed as we sometimes make them out to be. There is nothing moderate about saying that the nationality of a person’s grandfather should determine ones right to step on the soil of that country. Nor is it just to say that no matter how hard an Afghani immigrant or an asylum seeker from Darfur may work, they may never leave that land to escape persecution, murder or simply to seek a better quality of life.
Nationalism has been used for so long as a cause for murders which were – and still are – completely unjustifiable, that it has now become a byword for ‘hate with reason’. No one ever seems to stop and point out that the reason behind nationalism is arbitrary geography.
The old saying, “you can’t polish things that aren’t so nice”, is true: a shiny veneer fools nobody, all it does is give people the ability to pretend a blunt stone shiny diamond when it’s not. In England this means that the middle and lower economic classes can now say they’re not racist, but merely nationalist.
Of course, politicians need votes to save their jobs and so the option of simply labelling a fifth of the entire electorate as racist, ensures banalities and political correctness ensue. If human rights groups were to launch a campaign stating ‘BNP = A Shower of Racists’, their support would probably halve – not because people would be shocked by the declaration, but merely because they could no longer plead ignorance.
In Ireland we are lucky, we seem to have escaped the international tendency to gulp down crap to justify nonsense. Flagrant racism and bigoted words are leaving our country but have skipped happily onto fresher political pastures across the Irish Sea. The underlying message has changed, mutating into an uglier, fiercer beast.
Nonetheless the cover remains the same, and has been worn so thin by extremist right-wing groups that not only must we be able to see through it, but also be able to admonish it for its groundless hate. Then nationalism might actually be a force for good, for strengthening a country as a whole, and not shipping off the hard workers who want to be part of it.
In reality though, we can never prevent politicians from spewing populist nonsense. The nice thing about the older generations of crazies was that they at least tended to be honest about their views, and hung out in dingy bars away from our elevated viewpoint of society. They’re learning now, though, growing up and coming out of their shells, using technology (Holocaust deniers with a Facebook page!) and slogans to make their message more palatable to closet haters.
It is our job to be vigilant. Our job is making it as obvious as possible can that groups like the BNP cannot pretend to be reasonable. Our job is to stop ignorance from inflaming our senses and harming the vulnerable.