Tommy Robinson Exits the Field

Oh, That Moral Equivalence

Chair and Co-founder Maajid Nawaz’s statement of support for Robinson was notably unctuous and self-satisfied:  “Tommy wants a chance to prove he is not happy with the neo-Nazi association. I would not be a good human being if I did not allow him to demonstrate that.” Yes, this former jihadist has a good deal of self-love. Nawaz’s comments about the “symbiotic relationship between far-right extremism and Islamism” and Robinson’s mea-culpa, “I thought the EDL was part of the solution but now it is part of the problem," seemed perfectly scripted to drive home the “equivalence” mantra dear to the hearts of the liberal intelligentsia: far-right extremism (of which the EDL is supposedly a symptom) and Muslim extremism are equally dangerous elements in contemporary British life;  far-right extremism is in fact the cause of Muslim extremism. Sitting with Nawaz on the panel, Robinson confessed his realization that “marching through the street saying 'who the f**k is Allah' meant that we were offending moderates."

It is astounding to hear such concessions coming from Robinson, who has been for so many years the most uncompromisingly defiant figurehead of anti-Islamic protest in England. Let’s remember that his comment comes just a few months after the jihad murder of Lee Rigby on the streets of London by two homegrown Islamic converts who felt so alienated from their British identity that one of them, Michael Adebolajo, could refer to “our lands” (meaning Iraq and Afghanistan) supposedly brutalized by British forces. After the attack, which Adebolajo stated on camera was inspired and justified by Qur’anic injunction, the Islam-apologist press and the wider Muslim community went into its now familiar verbal routine of denial, mystification, and self-pity, stressing that Rigby’s murder had nothing to do with Islam and lamenting that Muslims lived in fear whenever random incidents of this sort were used by EDL extremists to persecute them. No Muslim group marched in the street to denounce Muslim violence.

So who exactly is Robinson hoping to partner with amongst these “moderates,” and is there any evidence that the Quilliam Foundation is honest -- as Robinson so courageously once was -- about the religious roots of jihadist violence in the UK? Does Robinson really imagine that any organization dedicated to robust counter-jihad work in Britain will not ultimately be tainted -- as counter-jihad work always is -- with charges of right-wing bias and anti-Islamic animus? No matter how often he apologizes to moderate Muslims and how carefully he seeks to distinguish moderate from radical, his opposition to the Islamic takeover of Britain will almost certainly continue to attract strident condemnation.