Seo thíos litir a scríobh ball de chuid Misneach, Ben Ó Ceallaigh, a foilsíodh i nuachtán ar an Oileán Mhanann. Cé go mbaineann an t-ábhar le heachtra ar leith ar an oileán, tá lón machnaimh sa litir do gach éinne atá ag plé le cúrsaí frith-faisisteacha sa Ghaeltacht, sna tíortha Ceilteacha agus níos faide i gcéin.
The recent publicity given by The Isle of Man Examiner to a dangerous fascist group which is actively trying to recruit on the island, including reproducing their leaflets in full and distributing them on social media, shows a blatant disregard for the welfare of those targeted by fascists and a complete lack of understanding of how these ideas take root. Indeed, the front page of the paper was described by one of the leaders of the group as “amazing publicity” in a recent social media post.
While most readers will recognise fascist ideas for the bile that they are, it only takes a small percentage to be persuaded for people’s lives to be at very real risk. Famously, in the week after the leader of the fascist British National Party was disgraced on Question Time in 2009, 3,000 people applied to join the party – a tiny percentage of the eight million who watched, but a huge increase in absolute numbers for a fringe neo-nazi group. This is the risk of publicising ideas that present an existential threat to all that is decent in society. Across the world, laws proscribe hate speech, incitement to violence and other unacceptable actions such as marketing tobacco to children – very few people are truly “free speech absolutists” who oppose such measures. Likewise, such is the nature of the “paradox of tolerance”, as philosopher Karl Popper called it, that we must not extend freedom of speech to fascists, who will deny this very right to others at the first chance. Reproducing their propaganda and circulating it to a huge audience as The Isle of Man Examiner has done is politically illiterate and utterly ignorant of the nature of the fascist threat. This matter is especially serious given the context of the recent fearmongering about sex education in the QEII High School in Peel.
Groups such as the one recently reported on aim to sow division and hate, scapegoating the most vulnerable in society for problems which are caused by an economic system that makes the lives of so many so difficult. In presenting immigrants and refugees as responsible for issues such as the housing crisis or austerity, fascists serve as useful idiots for the powerful, distracting attention from the real source of people’s woes. As Max Horkheimer, a Jewish refugee from nazi Germany, famously wrote in 1939, “whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about fascism”.
As has often been noted, rather than beginning with death camps, fascism ends with them. By giving such an enormous platform to a nauseating white supremacist group, the Isle of Man Examiner has unwittingly contributed to the growth of this ideology, and in doing so put at risk immigrants, people of colour, LGBT+ people, trade unionists and many more who fall afoul of the disgusting ideas spread by fascist groups. Let this mistake not be made again, and all their propaganda removed from the paper’s online presence immediately.
Anti-fascism is self-defence. No pasarán – cha jed ad shaghey!
An Dr. Ben Ó Ceallaigh