Well, last night’s viewing was interesting: lacking a suitable drama or entertainment programme, I fell into a documentary about women in the EDL. The EDL, in case you live on Mars (or in another country), stands for English Defence League; a far-right political campaigning group considered by most people to be racist and Islamophobic. I turned this one on because it was about women and I thought that would be an interesting angle; still I gritted my teeth and prepared to swear at the screen.
The main thing that came across was that clearly they have learned that racism is unacceptable – one by one they told us that they were ‘not racist’; they just ‘didn’t like extremism.’ I’m with them there – I don’t like extremism either, and on one or two points I was marginally in agreement: I’m not a fan of the burqa and I don’t approve of jihad. It’s just that – oh, you know what I mean, it’s complicated. Women wear the burqa for a variety of reasons and demanding the right to wear a balaclava in the street in order to be ‘equal’ misses just about every point it’s possible to miss. And most Muslims don’t approve of jihad, blah, blah, blah. But apart from the poverty of their arguments what struck me with great force was the total poverty of these people’s lives. I’m not talking financially; I mean culturally, linguistically, socially and educationally. They were not only ignorant and uneducated; ironically as defenders of a ‘way of life’, they seemed to have nothing worth defending. Their views were defined by fear and paranoia, about Muslims ‘taking over’; about a culture they neither understood nor wanted to understand; one woman commented that she ‘didn’t like Pakis talking on the bus in their own language.’ I wanted to ask her whether if she went to Spain, say, with another English woman she would talk to her in English on the bus. ‘Abroad’ is stuffed with English people who go over there, taking their jobs and not bothering to learn the language: I know whereof I speak. But perhaps that’s not the same. it’s about power; who’s got it and who you think has got it: and clearly these people feel powerless and scared. In the end they were so paranoid, and seemed to have so little in their ‘Englishness’ that was worth ‘defending’, that I felt sorry for them.
The demonstrations were horrible though…
And after all that, what should I watch but – Pride and Prejudice! Yes, the BBC one from the ’90’s which, in my opinion, cannot be bettered:
And so to bed. I am very thankful I live in Leicester where, by and large, we don’t have this kind of bother.
Islamophobia, I mean, not Jane Austen…