Tommy Robinson, an avatar for the centre-right sits in jail. The furore surrounding his incarceration has a significant political tone. This is dangerous.
Maybe you know who I’m talking about, maybe you don’t – but mark my words, if Tommy Robinson dies in jail, we’re in a world of hurt.
In 2010, a young man named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire and became the reified spark that ignited the Arab Spring. His death simultaneously bundled-together and set-alight the ideological kindling that had long been scattered, baking, in the hot Middle-eastern sun.
Today, we in the West find ourselves in a similar situation. But, rather than being a catalyst for hopeful, democratic, transformation, Tommy Robinson would be martyred to the cause of nationalist-populist rage. If Robinson is killed while in detention his demise won’t usher-in a spring, but rather a “Crusader’s Winter”.
For those who don’t know, Robinson is a self-styled activist-cum-citizen-“journalist”. He was a founder of the English Defence League but left when it became a little too, overtly racist. He’s a nativist, believes he’s a defender of British women and British girls, and has made a name for himself by loudly articulating the anger of small-town Englanders about wide-ranging grooming-gangs that went un-reported and un-prosecuted for decades. Most importantly, Robinson believes the moral decay and vulgarisation of British culture has a uniquely Islamic source.
On Friday afternoon Robinson was arrested by police outside of Leeds Crown Court where he was livestreaming commentary to Facebook, about an ongoing grooming trial. Mere hours later a UK judge ruled his conduct was in contempt of court and had breached the terms of his previous suspended sentence. Robinson went directly to jail, didn’t pass go, didn’t collect $200, no solicitor, no jury, no appeal.
Putting aside the merits of the Crown’s assertion, Tommy Robinson is now in detention, and detention presents the very real possibility of being fatal. There are any number of inmates who would consider it a cultural, religious or personal blessing to “remove him from the system”.
If that were to happen… God forfend!
Also on The Big Smoke
- Australia’s resistance to freedom of speech
- New laws to mute freedom of speech
- Finding the balance between free speech…and free hatred
Tommy Robinson’s fate is not his alone. It affects us all.
On Sunday, hundreds (if not thousands) of supporters descended on London protesting his incarceration, shouting and singing: “Tommy, Tommy…. Rob-in-son!”
400,000+ people have already signed a petition demanding his release.
Dutch far-right leader, Geert Wilders, stood outside the UK Embassy in the Hague on Monday and delivered a statement of support and a threat against his critics.
Here’s the problem: Tommy Robison is an avatar for, and has the potential to unite, otherwise disparate positions on the “centre to far-right” ideological spectrum. Free-speech advocates; anti-immigration; freedom of the press absolutists; anti-Islamists; nationalists; anti-globalist conspiracy theorists, little-Englanders; libertarians; the alt-right, and neo-Nazis. There is something in his person, and in his fate, that each and all can attach themselves to, and partake of. Thus, Robinson’s plight becomes symbolic of their own struggles, his deification becomes their own. Robinson could conceivably become a martyr for all of these groups simultaneously. Cataclysmically, they would and will have only one enemy in sight; one focal point for their rage: the liberal establishment, and their anti-traditionalist, globalist elites in government and the media. That’s an identity-laden way of saying: “all the things we think of as society”.
All of that bubbling rage against the media that “won’t report migrant crime” and “won’t say if it’s an Islamic attack“; against the government that “won’t record crime statistics” and “won’t prosecute the Islamists“; against the universities that “demand safe spaces and feelings over facts” and “shout-down and de-platform conservatives“; the elites that want “open borders”, “diversity” and “multiculturalism“… all that discontent and alienation, all that venom and normlessness that brought on Brexit and Trump, and is driving the AfD in Germany… would have a focal point – a terrifying and combustible focal point.
Whatever happens, don’t let him die in jail. Don’t martyr Tommy Robinson. I’m not saying he should be released – since feeding the mob is hardly any better. Just don’t give the gnashing underbelly of our dysfunctional societies the quasi-religious phenomenon they need to metastasise from a disjointed, incoherent ooze into a nationalist-populist phantasmagoria.
Yesterday “they” wrote him a song: a sad, emotive panegyric:
All the elements required for a Manichaean Crusader’s Winter are at hand; be careful not to give them the clarion call they so fervently desire.