The Bucks Herald, our local paper, headlined with the possbility that the English Defence League were planning a visit to Aylesbury www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/Protests-could-be-coming-to.6123689.jp
I have trawled the intergalactic information super-highway for the image that was pasted across that edition of the paper, because it was an alarming picture of some very large gentlemen, stood in a rather menacing arrangement, fists clenched, wearing black balaclavas. They were donning their badges, a kind of replica of the flag of St George - and I could not escape the parallel that the image drew to one that I had seen of the Ku Klux Klan once before. Whether they had intended that parallel or not, I can only speculate, but the similarities rang out to my eyes. Sadly, I could not find that picture - you would surely know what I mean! Other imagery does little to break away that similarity, and it seems that a shaven head and an angry teeth-born sneer is the look of choice for this organistion.
Now, I am one who will defend free speech. However, with any right there is a responsibility, and I am also aware that the spoken word makes up a mere fraction of all our communication. The image that I have offered here does not show a man who is interested in speaking freely. He is concealed and hidden - an irony given that the burka is a bete noir for these gentlemen (sorry, if there are any women, your feminity is lost in the pictures that I saw, often because of the concealment or the snarling). This man doesn't want to speak to anyone, he wants to finger-point and jeer. He wants to intimidate and frighten. This is odd to me, given that they seek to end such behaviour from other extremists.
Extremism lacks any kind of generosity, as far as I can tell. We have an Islamic extremism that has a heritage now for murder and blindness of argument. But, lest we feel unrepresented as English people (is claiming to be English almost becoming a sign of xenophobia these days, or is it just me), we have our Defenders, the EDL, racing to our aid. And what are they using to counter hatred? More hatred. Inspired. So, let me get this straight - in a world where hatred is killing the innocent, we inject just a little more hatred into an already fragile and injured world. Is it me .......
As a Christian, I preach and live by the scruples of love. If someone means me harm, I don't race them to land the first blow. I might talk to them, or I might draw away from them. Either way, I can only respect one who has a view but who has the courage to be open with it. How easy it must be to hide in a mask and preach hatred. It is cowardice. For all I know, just writing this could mean I wake to a burning cross in my front garden (or worse), but at least you know who I am.
And for the record EDL - what you do is not in my name or in the name of my children. You are not solving a problem, you are adding to it - and with you there are some who are just along for the destructive ride. The world is more dangerous with you than without.