There has been much talk about my participation and that of others in the March for Free Expression which was held on March 25 in Trafalgar Square. Though much of it is quite absurd, some need commenting nonetheless.
Let me first say that I find the criticism of being allied(!) with or even in coalition with the rightwing because some loathsome rightwing organisations also had speakers at the event quite astounding. The march wasn’t organised by the rightwing, had a very sensible statement of purpose, and many other good speakers. With this logic, I would be allying myself with Stephen Green of Christian Voice notoriety for debating the notion of religion and the public sphere on BBC TV’s Heaven and Earth programme the day after. And maybe also allying with the BBC – known for its manufacturing of consent… Follow this logic and I would have allied myself with the political Islamic movement had I spoken at an antiwar rally (which I would have if I had been allowed).
This unfortunate stance only helps maintain this Left’s irrelevance by giving it the excuse it needs to turn its back on the power struggles taking place on crucial issues over the fate of society.
They rather scurry off and leave the scene to be dominated by the right – even when no such hegemony exists!
My dear friends, the strike-breaking, reactionary rightwing is incapable of defending free speech and expression as those freedoms cannot be defended in a vacuum.
Rather than stepping in to unequivocally defend these freedoms, you scurry off and vacate the scene, call on others to do so as well and label all who speak or attend as allying with the right! Please do not give away the efforts of others to the rightwing to excuse your own inaction!
I on the other hand believe it my duty to fight at the forefront of the political scene and confront other tendencies and perspectives where I can.
Of course, let me add that I am addressing those who can still be called Left.
For those who deem any defence of universal rights, freedoms and norms, racism against Muslims I can say only this: Allying with the right is something you actually seem to know a lot more about so please do tell – what do you think the political Islamic movement you defend is?