News & Politics

Tommy Robinson, Untouchable

Tommy Robinson court case. A man is detained by police as supporters of Tommy Robinson protest in Trafalgar Square, London calling for his release from prison. Picture date: Saturday June 9, 2018. (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire URN:36923143, Press Association via AP Images)

Day by day, it seems, Britain is descending even further into the madness of dhimmitude.

On October 8, Tommy Robinson was at a service station along the M1 in Northamptonshire when he encountered four cars full of young British soldiers in uniform. They asked to take a picture with him. He happily complied. In the picture, they’re all smiling. It’s a lovely photo. Apparently all of the soldiers in those four cars (reportedly twenty-eight in all) knew very well who Robinson is, and apparently all of them were delighted to pose for a snap with him. They also let him take a brief video of the encounter, in which they can be seen chanting his name. Both the picture and the video were shared online. Posting the video on Facebook, Robinson wrote: “A moment like this makes it all worth while. Today I met real British heroes.”

And then, of course, all hell broke loose. Sara Khan, described by the Guardian as the British government’s “counter-extremism tsar,” condemned Robinson for posing with the soldiers. “This is typical of the far right,” she charged, accusing Robinson of “divisive anti-Muslim hatred” and of “targeting the military and co-opting its symbols.” Similar statements were issued by Imam Asim Hafiz, described in the Guardian as “an Islamic religious adviser to the armed forces”; by the Muslim Council of Britain; by Major General Rupert Timothy Herbert Jones, assistant chief of the British Army’s General Staff, and by an Army spokesperson, who said that the incident was being investigated and who warned that any soldier violating the Army’s “values and standards” would “face administrative action.” Persons with “extremist views,” this spokesperson explained, were “neither tolerated nor permitted to serve” in its ranks.

Indeed, as one newspaper reported, currently serving British soldiers “are not allowed to be affiliated with any particular political group. They may hold views in private but are not allowed to express them to remain politically neutral.” This rule surprised me so much that I checked it with a knowledgeable British acquaintance. She sent me a report by a group called Forces Watch which affirms that members of the British armed forces “face considerable restrictions on political freedoms that are taken for granted by most of the population.” Among other things, they can’t join unions or political parties, can’t “speak to the media or in public without permission,” and “can be criminalised, and even imprisoned, for relatively minor acts of personal expression.” These restrictions, notes Forces Watch, “are more extreme than those that govern the armed forces in the US and in many EU member countries.”

Sure enough, the news soon came that the British Army had seized the phones of all the soldiers seen in Robinson’s video and was expelling at least one of them. Sky News was told by an Army source that the soldier, who is apparently seventeen years old, “had a long record of disciplinary problems and that ‘this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.’” The bit about the “disciplinary problems” may be true – or it may not be. How long a record can a seventeen-year-old soldier have? In any event, given the systematic institutional dishonesty that has plagued Tommy Robinson in recent months, it’s reasonable to respond to any such claim with reflexive cynicism. Robinson himself says flat-out that, according to people he’s spoken with, the claims about the soldier’s record are lies.

Robinson, who faces another court date and possible re-imprisonment later this month, immediately took up the cause of the fired soldier. In an October 10 video, he was eloquent in his denunciation of Army officials, noting that they show little if any appreciation for rank-and-file soldiers, that for this reason they’re having a great deal of trouble these days signing up recruits, that military veterans are lying homeless in the streets of London while newly arrived Muslim immigrants are given their choice of residences at government expense, and that this episode can only lead to an enormous backlash by men and women in uniform. Indeed, Robinson said that he’d been contacted by hundreds of soldiers who share his fury over this case.

And it’s not just members of the military who are angry. A petition calling for a halt to the investigation of the soldiers who posed with Robinson has garnered over 100,000 signatures. My aforementioned acquaintance in Britain – who notes that most British Army recruits come “from the kind of deprived areas where the rape gangs operate, so these are people who know exactly what Tommy is talking about” – tells me that friends of hers with children in the military have contacted their Members of Parliament to complain about the Army’s disgraceful treatment of those soldiers who posed with Robinson. It will be interesting to see how this story develops. This summer a great many Britons showed up at rallies for Tommy Robinson’s freedom. How many more of them will be moved to anger – and action – by the realization that young people like their own kids, young people who are willing to fight and die for their country, are being treated so shabbily for no other reason than that their leaders are terrified of Islam?