Conspiracies and the Politics of Fear
Britain First positions itself as a vanguard against a ‘creeping’ Islam, the European Union and non-white invasion. For their supporters, the promise of speaking the ‘unspeakable’ is a seductive proposition.
By fusing the language and iconography of militarism and conquest, Britain First promise to remove the impediments that hinder progress towards a utopian vision for Britain.
One example is the recent ‘invasions’ of mosques in Bradford, Glasgow and London. Despite the rhetoric, there was no invasion. The mosque doors were always open. But their supporters need a different narrative.
The few uniformed individuals who wondered through delivered army-issued Bibles and ‘Muslim grooming’ pamphlets.
A quick read of the pamphlet reveals its conspiratorial nature. It alleges that elites allowed for an “epidemic” of child exploitation by framing Islam as a peaceful faith.
It taps into a wider unease around “political correctness” to claim that most victims are white (or Sikh) but never Muslim. Other pages repeat Islamophobic tropes about integration and supremacy. Yet, it ignores the fact that abusive men are driven by power and control and not religion.
After each successful ‘invasion,’ Britain First’s Facebook is alive with tales of success. Only by externalising Muslims as an existential threat can such actions look heroic.
Among the hundreds of Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are comments that range from derision to racism.
Censorship is another key theme that entrenches supporters with a siege mentality. Who are the main conspirators? Elites and Muslims, of course. The only solution is to donate to the cause.
Some do whilst others speak in the language of violence:
“Islam is a cancer of the world. There will.never be peace while they exist. It is an invasive parasite that needs eradicating.“
“Their end is coming. All countries in the western world and all other religions are now fighting this cancer. They have no friends and by trying to take over everywhere, they have made massive enemies. Their extinction is long overdue”
“My dad and husband didn’t fight in the forces for the muslims to takeover. My family are waiting for holy war we will fight for our country.”
Britain First claims the BBC form part of the conspiracy, despite featuring on Daily Politics and party election broadcasts.
The party also allow supporters to read their own insular histories:
“Learn your own heritage, culture, history, myths and legends by exploring our growing library of articles – perfect for young patriots and children!”
Outside knowledge is not trusted as Britain First shapes their outlook. As a result, intellectual fundamentalism grows.
Yet, the most disturbing aspect of Britain First is their “Activist Academy.” Last month, activists learnt various self-defence activities, including Muay Thai and boxing.
Online comments calling for the destruction or removal of mosques are commonplace. Rather interestingly, recent comments from Hindu nationalists and ex-Muslims from abroad (who deserve the freedom to leave their faith), proved equally popular. The latter are viewed as experts within a pre-existing and negative anti-Islamic discourse. But they fail to acknowledge that some from the latter group may have been shaped by their own subjective experiences in singular Muslim-dominated cultures.
Speaking about Britain First’s recent mosque ‘invasions’, the Director of TELL MAMA, Fiyaz Mughal, said:
“The recent pictures that Britain First produced showed them entering mosques and attempting to humiliate old men who had just come to pray. This kind of intimidation is not on in our country where we value the right for people to worship in peace.”
Britain First offers one of the most retrograde and toxic forms of populism. Post-European elections, their online and offline presence will remain problematic.