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Tommy Robinson, Untouchable

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.