Why Are American Conservatives Defending Violent, Xenophobic British Thugs?
Fox News presenter Brian Kilmeade recently interviewed Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Lennon) of the English Defence League (EDL), saying that Robinson is doing "great work," adding, "Tommy, we got your back and we'll definitely look to keep in touch, it's great what you're doing."
Robinson and the EDL have been getting increased coverage recently after their demonstrations following the murder of a British soldier last month.
The EDL is a group that describes itself as "…an inclusive movement dedicated to peacefully protesting against Islamic extremism."
While peacefully combating Islamic extremism is a laudable goal, the EDL and its leadership have a history of violence as well as the predictable ignorant xenophobia that you might expect from an organization started by soccer hooligans. The EDL has very little public support and its contributions to debate over Islamic extremism in the U.K. can be boiled down to inciting paranoid nativists to protest.
In an eerie echo of anti-semitic claims about Jews controlling the media, the banks, and various countries' governments, Robinson believes that radical Muslims and their allies have "infiltrated" and control the U.K.'s most powerful institutions.
Speaking to Kilmeade, Robinson said that those who support a "silent jihad" in the U.K. have "infiltrated major positions across the whole entire government." During an appearance The O'Reilly Factor, meanwhile, Robinson claimed that Muslims control 48 percent of the British stock market, that Saudi Arabia owns every British port, and that Muslims have "bought" the British government.
No respectable cable news channel in the U.S.–conservative or liberal–would tolerate claims like that about any other religious group. But because two radical Muslims in the U.K. murdered a British soldier, two FOX hosts–and The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher–find it acceptable to allege a Muslim version of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. If only O'Reilly, Kilmeade, and Treacher had the good sense to feel ashamed of themselves.
Robinson has a history of violence and fraud, having been convicted of assault (against a fellow EDL member and a police officer) and trying to enter the U.S. on a fake passport while on his way to the "Stop Islamisation of Nations" conference, for which he was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Robinson's criminal past is not the only reason he shouldn't be touted as a respectable spokesperson for those concerned about Islamic extremism.
Robinson's grasp on reality was also put on display when he implied in a tweet (shown below) that novelist Salman Rushdie, who is alive and well, was dead.
If you are worried about Islamic extremism in the U.K. or elsewhere, as I am, there are many more intelligent and respectable ambassadors for your concerns. Douglas Murray of the London-based Henry Jackson Society who, while perhaps not right about everything, is an eloquent and intelligent man who is able to rationally speak about the dangers of Islamic extremism.