You may or may not have heard that Terry Jones, a religious person from the United States, is in dialogue with that austere body - the English Defence League. They are apparently inviting Mr Jones to come and speak at one of their forthcoming rallies. This is generating some considerable interest, including the genesis of an entire organisation to quiet this handle-bar moustached geezer.
The English Defence League visited my town in May. Thousands were anticipated, and a mere 800 actually rolled into town and were met by a well-organised police operation (see video, I'm in there somewhere - and another to see what a visit looks like). Note the quality of its participants, the choices of flags for a day supporting England, and the wise and witty chants. The visit galvanised the town, the faiths in the town, and demonstrated that such activity is pointless, if entirely legal.
Terry Jones, apart from being a very naughty boy, is the chappy who suggested that, upon the anniversary of 9/11 that the Qu'ran should be burned. The model of religious pluralism and tolerance is our Mr Jones. He is, in most quarters of intelligent society, a ridiculous figure. Yes, he has an audience, and I can see why the EDL would want to forge contacts with him. Islamophobia must be one of those things, like Tupperware, that precipitates parties.
The EDL, it would appear, are becoming marginalised. Their visit to Aylesbury on May 1st did little for them and their reputation - gained them 12 arrests - and strengthened a town. What they brought with them was the backlash reaction which was formed around the notion of more hate (see post). The reaction would have been more dangerous and inflammatory had it actually bothered to turn up. It didn't. Terry Jones is a figure of relative irrelevance for most people, mindful as I am that some Muslims take him seriously. They needn't - he is not the voice of Christianity, really he isn't.
So, should he be banned? Nope - because to ban him gives him status and kudos. It is akin to trying to ban Mr Blobby - pointless. Should we ban the EDL? Nope - for the same reasons. They have a right in our country to protest, and if they can't then I can't if I ever wanted to. However, they are not the force that they had hoped, and are appearing to fizzle out. The nation is starting to come around to the notion that passively allowing Islamophobia makes them as racist as the active protesters, and the world is also closing in on Nick Griffin by the same token. Terry Jones: websites marking him out as the Anti-Christ grant him more power than he could ever hope to gain by his own words or actions. Don't do it - ignore fools and they soon go away! Bring them all into town, and bring them together. If we ever wanted a case to compartmentalise them for what they are, then that alliance will be our gift.