Off the top of my Head: Tommy Robinson at Speakers’ Corner

Tommy Robinson is a racist thug. Tommy Robinson is a thick as pig shit Nazi. Said me, not so long ago. But then I went on a little journey. It began with me hearing Jordan Peterson saying things I already believed, but in a voice I found more convincing than the apologetic, small reedy thing squeaking away in my own mind, and I found that so invigorating that I sought out more. That search brought me to Joe Rogan, and through Joe’s podcast I stumbled upon some of the other figures that populate what I believe you kids describe as the intellectual dark web. I read and listened to Douglas K Murray on immigration and Islam, and that led me to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maajid Nawaz and always, lurking at the edge of this with his shiny forehead and demonic grin, was evil, racist, Nazi thug Tommy Robinson. He just kept popping up, at the elbows of others, promising to talk to me about themes that interested me, but in a voice that my achey, breaky brain, still reeling from a lifetime of Guardian reading, just couldn’t bring itself to listen to. I could nod in agreement as the Eton educated Douglas Murray warned about the problems of Islam and the dangers of saturating our continent with migrants so rapidly that the existing culture and society could only dissolve under the deluge, but Tommy Robinson saying virtually the same thing…no thank you. But then I didn’t hit pause quickly enough, and that was that. I accidentally found myself giving him a chance, and I was really surprised by the results.

Looking back through archive material I found an increasingly articulate man, passionate about his beliefs and brave enough to voice them despite massive resistance and hostility from all sectors of society. The Islamists hated him, the left wing hated him – Guardian readers certainly weren’t very fond of him. I spent an evening or two digging around, trying to find evidence to corroborate my earlier prejudice that the man was a racist but try as I might, it just didn’t seem to be there. He’s done a bit of jail time for various bits of youthful naughtiness – but then so have some of my family and friends – and he’s had some knobheads following him; but then I know plenty of knobheads who follow Coronation Street and nobody blames Ken Barlow for that. I came to the conclusion – not staggeringly original, I know – that a lot of the prejudice about Tommy is based less on what he says than how he says it. He’s a bit too working class, a bit too much of a geezer, a bit too ‘common’ for some people. Class prejudice, pure and simple. Now, I went to a poxy comprehensive school on a council estate so this isn’t something I should be afflicted by but…maybe a little bit. So I put that to one side and started following him on Twitter and that’s how I got to know about today’s free speech thang at Speakers’ Corner. I certainly wouldn’t have known ANYTHING about it if I’d relied on the mainstream media.

Anyone who’s interested can go to YouTube and see footage of the day, and they can look around for a few minutes and fill in the background to the events. I couldn’t manage to get there myself (excuses, excuses) but I watched the livestream in between flicking back and forth between that and Twitter, and this is what I learned.

Tommy’s response to anyone accusing him of racism is to challenge them to provide evidence to that effect. So far, I’ve seen nobody respond to that. At all.

A lot of white people on the left don’t like it when people of colour act outside their own preferred narratives for them. If you’re black or brown there’s an expectation you should act like you owe the radical left something and you should tow the (largely white defined) party line or risk being called a traitor to your own race. Often by people of another race. Which is…racism, at least.

I’m with Tommy, and many others, in worrying about the pernicious effects of Islam upon our society – but the behaviour of a lot of the English Muslims who were there to heckle at today’s event made me just as proud of belonging to this crazy country as those who were there to support free speech; there was very little trouble, despite the obvious potential for it to have all kicked off big time, and I saw several instances of Muslims seeking to keep things calm. PS: Seems there was rather more argy bargy going on than was captured on the livestreams, so maybe I spoke too soon on this point…

Where was the mainstream media on this one???

 

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Jordan Peterson made me do it

Reader, I blush to admit it, but The Guardian was my bible, my quran, my little red book, for the majority of my media consuming adulthood. I would argue with my Express reading, immigrant fearing, Brexit voting mother until she was blue in the face and I was red in mine. Luckily I didn’t have to endure the same head/brick wall style arguments with my friends, because they all read the same newspaper, so we could get together and weep and wail and gnash our teeth beneath the yoke of oppressive, fascistic patriarchy and feel aggrieved and powerless and disenfranchised together. I thought we should throw open our borders to all comers and I thought Jeremy Corbyn would save us all. True, I thought he may well drag us back to some joyless, brutalist reimagining of the 1970s, but the alternative – I was reliably told – was for the Conservatives to drag us back to the 1940s. They would probably gas a lot of us, or at the very least have the working class plugged into some Matrix-style arrangement of delusion and subjugation, siphoning our hope and vitality to feed the ever ravenous monstrous machinery of global capitalism, something like that. Our society was corrupt, moribund if not already rotting in the streets, in need not of renovation but of wholesale replacement. Virtually everyone was oppressed – and even though I was amongst the oppressed, I was also an oppressor by virtue of my white, male privelege. So I was doubly fucked – I was at the very back of the queue waiting in line for liberation, and I had to feel ashamed to be standing there, and even though I was at the very back I should feel like a queue jumper which, for a well brought up Englishman, is a truly dreadful thing to be.

After standing at the back of this queue for some time, I began to grow niggled by a few things. Not outraged – only fascists are outraged – but niggled. Some things I was being told began to sound less like revealed truths and more like shoddily cobbled together bullshit. In particular the growing stridency of those engaged in identity politics began to exasperate me – though the Guardian told me it shouldn’t. To me all these niche groups of intersectionalists began to look more and more like Wile E Coyote, sawing frantically away at the branch he’s standing on. It began to look to me like those on the left – my comrades – were arguing ever more forcibly for an ever smaller slice of the pie. They didn’t seem to want to share the pie – despite shouting about inclusivity with a mouth full of crumbs – they seemed to want their own, very small, very clearly cut slice of the pie that they could take away to their lair and eat on their own. It didn’t look like inclusivity to me – or equality, but divisiveness. My fellow Guardianistas told me this wasn’t the case – these people had been deprived of pie for too long, and it was now no longer an option that we might be able to share nicely. They were taking the pie back. They took a slice for women and then the women cut that piece up so that black women and disabled women and the gay women and the men who said they were women all had their own piece and then I guess it came down to a crumb per person and it was all a load of nonsense. But maybe not. It just didn’t seem like this was equality – not as I’d understood it, but a demented tribalism which was ultimately going to divide us all into little groups of one, surrounded by our own fences, proudly looking at our crumb, the crumb that we’d struggled so energetically for while the rest of the world fell to pieces outside. Phew.

There were other things. I’d always respected and helped wherever I could in my own small way women’s struggle for equality. And it kind of looked to me, from where I was standing in a succession of minimum wage jobs, having nightmares about not being able to feed my son or pay the rent no matter how many hours I worked, that…well, they were pretty equal. Certainly in my life they were. At LEAST they were equal. But apparently not. And it began to seem like feminism didn’t really seem to be about equality anymore, but about female supremacy. But the Guardian assured me that was my toxic masculinity talking, and while I was taxing my tiny, toxic mind thinking about it, I should know that all the solidarity I thought I’d shown to the universal sisterhood was nothing but a flaccid insult and I should zip it back up and carry on feeling guilty about everything.

And then The Guardian told me about a ‘controversial’ Canadian clinical psychologist whose legions of toxic male ‘followers’ had deluged Channel 4s Cathy Newman with misogynistic abuse and sweaty palmed death threats. I’m not a fan of misogyny or death threats under any circumstances, but I’ve got the same puerile fascination with Canada and psychology and controversy as anyone, so I went to YouTube and watched the interview that had caused all the hoohah.

Red pill moment. Here was a man who was calm and reasoned, not responding with anger to the interviewer’s nonsensical assertions and embarassingly transparent attempts at dialectic sleight of hand, who seemed to be speaking truth to political correctness. He was composed and rational and incisive and logical and had great eyebrows. And that, dear reader, was the moment everything changed.

 

intro

Just a few months ago I was busy celebrating a life of abject nihilism, wallowing in the womb-like comfort of well practised victimhood and bleating to anyone who’d listen about how abjectly pointless everything was. I’m in a slightly different place now. As a result, I’ve trashed all my previous posts which were largely self indulgent monologues picking over the sorry details of my depression and wondering out loud which of the horrible things that have happened to me in the past might be the best excuse for my horrible present and which might prove the most durable excuses for my no doubt horrible future. I hope that some of them might, in some strange way, have provided some comfort to the odd digital nomad who might have stumbled upon them. If anyone who may have found them useful wanders back and feels in any way disappointed to find them gone, drop me a line, as we used to say in the olden days.

I hope this largely invisible little corner of the interweb will now have a more positive influence on those who find themselves here as the result of some distracted wrong turn or other. It’s the emerging tale of how I came to discover how so much I believed about the world turned out to be nonsense and wishful thinking, and a record of how I’m now seeking to re-calibrate my vision to accommodate the changing landscape.

Some of this radical change in attitude is almost definitely down to taking the white pill – 20mg Citalopram each morning with the day’s first cup of coffee – and some of it was initiated by taking the red pill – THAT interview with Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman…